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confused what to do with my 10 gallon top fin HOB filter

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so as what the title says, I'm confused as to the best way to optimize the HOB filter for my top fin 10 gallon tank. I'm sick of having to replace the cartridges. I've considering buying the aquarium co-op coarse sponge pad and cut it to fit inside it but if I do that, do I also need to insert a carbon infused media pad along with it? or should it be one or the other? also, should I add a medium pre-filter circular sponge around the intake tube or is that not necessary? this is so confusing. 

any help is appreciated, thank you!

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Carbon can remove some dissolved organics in the water, which if present in high enough amounts will give the water a slight yellowish tint. It's largely unnecessary in freshwater tanks though, especially if you have plants, and do enough water changes to keep your water parameters where they need to be. Carbon can be used to remove medication from water as well, but this can also be accomplished with water changes. Like Cory, my impression is that most aquarists don't regularly run carbon on the majority of their tanks without any issues. Coarse sponges provide surface for the bacteria that process ammonia and nitrite, and also capture some debris. Filter floss will help with removing a lot more debris from the water and help improve clarity, though it's ultimately not always necessary. Plenty of people just run sponge filters and do water changes and have no issues with clarity.

Edited by ererer
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I did the same thing that you want to do. I went with aqua clear sponge for the bottom, I bought a bigger sponge and cut it to fit. Then went with some fine filter floss and aqua clear bio media. Be aware depending on what other if any medic you have in your HOB you may see ammonia and nitrites rise like I did. If you want you can take the cartridge out and cut it off the plastic bracket and thei throw away the carbon lay that on top of the sponge so you minimize the amount of BB that you will lose. I had my filter stuffed with mechanical filtration and only removed the one cartridge and still saw a small ammonia and nitrite spike.  

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