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Carbon in your filter


ccurtis
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Starting out in the hobby I used it in all my tanks but I've since given it up. I haven't noticed any real difference. I will occasionally throw a small bag in a tank if I think something funky is in a the water, like a smell. However I do still use carbon regularly in one tank. I like using it in my deep planted tank for water clarity, probably not necessary but it makes me feel better. 

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3 hours ago, MickS77 said:

Starting out in the hobby I used it in all my tanks but I've since given it up. I haven't noticed any real difference. I will occasionally throw a small bag in a tank if I think something funky is in a the water, like a smell. 

Exactly what Mick said above.  I used it when I first got into the hobby.  Once I added plants, I started to read more about it and how it is supposed to remove certain minerals that that plants need.  Since I have removed it, all of my aquariums are still crystal clear and I have good plant growth.  Plus it's one less thing I have to worry about maintaining.  I don't have any personal scientific study to backup anything about carbon that I have done.  I even removed Purigen from my filters and replaced it with a Fine Poly Pad and my water is still crystal clear with no smells and no ammonia spikes.

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I keep it on hand, but only use it when I want to remove some kind of chemical from the water (meds being the best example). For water clarity, I've found that fine filter media (poly fill in media bags, fine poly pads being my favorite) does the job for mechanically cleaning fine particles out of the water. Carbon isn't going to do much for that.

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I don't use carbon but once in a blue moon, but I do always have it on hand. If I want to just spruce up a tank, but mostly for removing meds, should I need to medicate a tank. Also great to have on hand should outside toxins make their way into a tank. Case in point, i caught a cold last year and my girlfriend sparyed a can of Lysol into the air each day so she wouldn't get sick and I run air pumps on all my tanks. 

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I used carbon when I first got in the hobby and thought I had to buy replaceable filter cartridges. It does have its uses, if you have tannins in the water and you wanna get rid of it, if there’s something in the water you wanna remove like meds etc. it’s good excess purification but it’s definitely not nearly as necessary or as much of a go to as it is in saltwater aquariums. I too have heard about it pulling out fertilizers in planted setups. I recently used it when medicating a betta, and to help clean out a tank that had a dead rat in it in my storage unit (probably not necessary but I was extremely paranoid and cleaned the heck out of the tank). Long story short, it has some applications and can be a benefit, but in most cases it’s an extra expense since it stops being effective fairly quickly. 

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Hey folks,

I can echo what the previous posters have stated regarding using carbon early hobby. I knew that carbon pull chemicals out of the water, but used it any way as 'that's what you do' right?

After thinking about it further and watching some of Cory's vids I stopped the 'auto pilot' carbon use and have not seen any problems in my planted tank since.

How does carbon work you may ask? It's basically a sponge by another name except it is used for chemical removal instead of debris removal. In the case of carbon, it has micro pores which attract and trap chemicals in the water. In a very odd tangent, this is actually how some gas masks work. The carbon bed in the canisters pull the contaminants out of the air as you breath in. This is typically a carbon of higher purity made from coconuts if you can believe it.

If you use carbon, put it as the very last stage of your filtrations such that you protect those micro pores so they can do their job for as long as possible. Think of it as a final polishing filter.

How long will it lasts depends on flow rate through it, the depth of the bed, the load in the fluid and any contaminants which may clog the pores.

If you medicate, you should definitely remove the carbon as it will remove the medications you want to use to help your fish. It may even be a good idea if you are using salt for medication

On the other hand, if your fish are better, and you want to remove the salt and don't want to do a lot of water changes or you want to 'get the salt out' faster, then carbon could help you.

Happy fish keeping! 🐟

Edited by Dandy Pearl
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