HOB carbon filter question
In a heavily planted tank, is it really necessary to change out the carbon filter or can I just use it until it's falling apart? And if I do have to change it, how do I do that without losing all my beneficial bacteria? Just stick the new one next to it for a week or so?
Carbon will in time wear out (become ineffective at adsorbing stuff from the water), but in the meantime it is removing useful nutrients including DOC (dissolved organic carbon) which the plants can use.
As for the bacteria, this is not an issue. In well-planted tanks biological filtration does not need to be encouraged, as again the plants do it better and faster, and it is better not to set up competition.
As long as you have some media to remove suspended particulate matter--filter pads, foam, floss, etc--that is sufficient. Assuing there are lots of plants and not overcrowed with fish.
So can I get a replacement filter pad that doesn't have carbon in it? The tank is the 36g in my sig, very well planted (including floating plants), but I still have some issues with ammonia and nitrates, whereas my other smaller tank, I don't. Obviously it's not cycled and the plants aren't taking up the slack. Not sure why I can't get it to work as well as my other tank. It's frustrating.
There are not many fish to cause ammonia, so what plant species? Or perhaps a photo? And have you tested the tap water for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? I ask this because the 16g may be biologically different and thus able to deal with ammonia/n itrite in the source water, whereas the 36g is not.
What is the ammonia reading, and the nitrate? And which test kit(s)? If the API for nitrate, are you shaking Regent #2 for 2 minutes before adding the drops (instructions may say 30 seconds but this is insufficient)?
This tank does get some indirect natural light as opposed to the 16g, not sure if that would be a factor.
Okay, the other questions:
I use an API test kit and I do shake the #2 drops for about 2 minutes. I know my water has nitrates, so I use about 3 gallons of RO water mixed with tap when I do my water changes (about 50% every 5-6 days). I haven't checked the tap for ammonia, though.
Plant species range from cabomba, crypts, swords, anacharis, water sprite, peacock moss (3 clumps), a moss ball and a few others I forget the names of.
Ammonia tends to be around .25-.50, nitrites zero, nitrates .40 - .80, although adding in that RO water seems to be keeping it away from the .80 mark.
I appreciate any help you can give me on figuring out why I can't get this tank balanced!
If it's carbon in a cartridge, there isn't enough there to even consider. Just keep using the cartridge. When it needs to be replaced, just go ahead and replace it. There is very little biology in a typical cartridge and your planted tank can easily compensate.
Considering your high nitrates, what is the nitrate level in your source water?
You definitely want to keep nitrates below 20ppm, or lower if you can.
The nitrates in my tap read .20, so keeping it below that right now isn't doable. That's why I'm adding the RO water. In my other tank, my nitrates are zero, so clearly my plants in that tank can handle it whereas in this one, they do not.
The nitrates I can somewhat understand, from what you've now mentioned. But not the ammonia.
Maybe the test is not completely accurate? Also, what is your tank's pH? IF it is below 7, I would ignore the ammonia as it will be ammonium. Though i would still be curious where it was coming from. Those are healthy looking plants that take up a lot of ammonia/ammonium.
There may not be sufficient CO2 in particular to get the plants using nitrates, hence I am not surprised there if they come in the tap water.
Just test PH and it came out around 6.6, then I decided to test ammonia and nitrates since we're discussing it. Of course, because I started this thread, my ammonia is at zero and my nitrates at about 5.
I should have started this thread sooner. lol
Now if I could just get the water to clear up...
Thanks for all the input, Byron.
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