08-02-2012, 08:36 AM
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Crystal clear (aka....pure) water is a worthy goal. Although not absolutely necessary, crystal clear water does make a display tank pop....and although not necessarily unhealthy, green, tan or cloudy water just looks bad.
(some time ago I went to a lfs and all of their tanks had very cloudy water - I would not buy a fish from there).
Many fish keepers have heavily planted tanks and make larger weekly water changes up to 50% so do not really need much filtration.
Some will suggest that activated carbon has little value because it doesn't last a long time. In fact, it lasts until it reaches it's capacity and can no longer adsorb impurities from the water.
I'll go on record and suggest that many fish keepers do not have filters setup to filter/purify the water and are [more] reliant on the [somewhat large] weekly water change. Now let me say, that's just fine - but there is another way too.
Before I get too far along...we should not ignore the power of living plants to purify aquarium water.
First, in many situations activated carbon has great value in the fish tank filter. The same reason that it's used in almost every filter used to purify drinking water! I periodically use activated carbon in my Aquaclear 70 filter for my 60g tank.
I also periodically use Seachem Purigen. Purigen is a synthetic resin that adsorbs dissolved organics from the water. This makes the water clearer and trapped organics don't further decompose into ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Purigen is regenerated with a 50/50 mix of chlorine bleach and water and can be reused several times.
I have a problem with high nitrates in my well water. I use products like Fluval Nitrate Remover (FNR) and API Nitra-Zorb. These are synthetic resins that adsorb nitrate. They are regenerated in salt water and can be reused several times. I periodically use these in the tank filter, but I also have a 10g spare tank setup to filter well water for water changes. I tend to mix this 50/50 with treated deionized (DI) water made from the API tap water filter. I am currently using some rain water in place of the DI water.
I haven't used it but wonder about API's Bio-chem Zorb.
Advanced bio-filtration also assists in clearer water. Bio filtration is more than just N2 processing. I have a DIY bio-filter using Seachem Matrix and De*Nitrate (documented in the DIY section in this forum).
I have also recently switched from gravel to a deep sand bed using pool filter sand. As this substrate matures, I will add some rooted plants.
A key to the development is allowing mulm and not disturbing the sand so that the bio-culture can develop in the various layers of the substrate without interference.
NEVER use chemical clarification products. These products 'work' by binding small particles of matter. However, I, like others, believe these are hard on fish by impeding oxygen extraction in the gills. Fine for a swimming pool, NOT for an aquarium.
1) A common myth is we need 4-10x the tank size in filter gallons per hour (GPH). Rather than a fast flow rate, we really need slower flow with finer filtration media.
2) Always use a polyester filter floss in the last stage of the filter to 'polish' the water. You will notice that this material will quickly darken with very small trapped detritus particles. Note: The sponges made for most filters are pretty porous and will trap large particles, but these quickly breakdown into small particles and dissolved organics that pass on through.
3) Don't obsess over mulm on the surface of the substrate as this is very natural and healthy and feeds the substrate biology.
I hope you/others find some value in these ramblings.
Last edited by AbbeysDad; 08-02-2012 at 08:47 AM..