Originally Posted by MrWynO14
I wanted to try a couple plants in my 5 gallon, but the filter pads that I use come with activated carbon in it. I was doing some reading and seen some websites talking about how it was bad for plants. The tank has an AquaTech 5-15 filter. I guess I'll probably have to cut my own filter pad for it because I don't think they sell them without the actived carbon. I've never grown plants, but did read the 4 part thread in this section of the forum. I've seen some planted tanks that seemed kind of murky, is this due to the type of plants that were used? I want my tank to be clear and odor free, do plants do this job?
I also have a Bio-Chem Zorb pouch for my Rena XP4 filter on my bigger tank. I haven't used it yet, because I want to put plants into that tank also eventually. I'm not sure if its carbon or not, but I take it its not good for plants either?
teddyzapper answered you, I'll just expand a bit. Carbon does give out after a while, the time depends upon how much stuff it is adsorbing [and this isn't a spelling error, I mean adsorbing, not absorbing]. When it does, you can leave it and it will do nothing other than act as a media to trap particulate matter and grow bacteria, same as plain pads, etc.
"Murky" means something is wrong. The plants "clean" the water, the filter "clears" the water by trapping and removing suspended particulate matter as the water passes through the media. Having said that, though, in a balanced tank one can go without any filter and it will (or should) be crystal clear. I have a 10g I set up earlier this week, with sand (my first use of sand), plants, heater, and a shoal of 9 Boraras brigittae (Mosquito Rasbora). No filter, no light; it is in a west-facing glass block window. My purpose with this setup is to try the "no filter, no light, sand substrate" planted tank. I fully expect it to work fine, I just wanted to do it for myself.
Tanks should smell like a forest after a rain shower. That's the best I can describe it.
When I bought my Rena XP3 last year, I used the Zorb pouch for about a week just to help clear the initial (but very minimal in this case) cloudiness that is common in newly-established tanks. I removed it and tossed it out. I have the ceramic disks, plain porous rock, and the pads in it now. In a planted tank, a filter is there solely for water movement, nothing more; even this is not necessary, as fish swimming, water convection currents, etc. will create some water movement, but I haven't found a canister filter to do harm in my 15 years, so I use it. And I do stock heavy with fish, that makes a difference; my larger tanks are in balance but are not really "balanced" from that perspective, in the way the 10g will be.