what does chemical filtration really do?
There's so much talk about the nitrogen cycle and mechanical filtration is pretty intuitive - but I have to admit I still have a pretty vague idea of what those little bags of carbon are actually accomplishing.
To put it another way, what specifically would happen in an aquarium with biological and mechanical filtration, but no chemcal filtration?
Um....generally around here we use it just to pull meds out of the water because it tends to strip some necessary stuff out of the water, especially if you're running a tank with plants. It can absorb some heavy metals and chlorine (think Brita) but not enough to actually replace water conditioners. I usually don't have it in my filters.
It removes chemicals from the water. It's hard to be more exact about it than that. It's benefit is something that's not entirely agreed upon by many people. Personally I leave it in because I don't medicate and I have no plants. I just change it out monthly.
I am considering to going to one cartridge with carbon, the other without it but two filter pads instead.
I am probably the biggest believer in chemical filtration on this site. You don't recognize the benefits unless you test Nitrate and hardness frequently.
Chemical filtration, especially activate carbon, removes organic waste directly from the water. These organic compounds have many negative effects on the overall system. For starters, they are metabolized by the biofilter, resulting in Nitrate buildup. Perhaps more important, the process of metabolizing these organics steals buffers from your buffer system, resulting in the need for more frequent water changes and a closer monitoring of pH and General Hardness. Finally, and not to be forgotten, organic compounds taint the water, reducing light penetration which is valuable in both marine reef systems and freshwater live plant tanks.
The only real negative to chemical filtration is the removal of trace elements which might be utilized by live plant or coral growth. Saltwater reef systems face this head on, by adding supplements into the system as needed. My live plant knowledge is limited, but I suspect a similar process could exist in a live plant setup with regular supplementation.
If you haven't noticed, I like carbon.-)
I am with Tyyrlym and Pasfur. I have seen no convincing evidence that using carbon is harmful to fish. In my opinion unless you have a planted aquarium or live rock in SW tank the benefits of carbon cannot be dismissed very easily. I pesonally use the carbon filters until they begin to fall apart. I simply take them out every couple weeks ,swish em around in old aquarium water that I take out and then stick em back in. When they begin to fall apart i replace them with new ones.
I disagree, I find that carbon isn't very useful. I do have planted tanks though, but carbon if left to long in your tank can lead to hole in the head. Plus you have to buy new filter media every month, but if you cut the filter floss and empty the carbon you can reuse the media for wayyyyy longer. I'm all for recycling though.
As for carbon being useful for removing waste from your tanks, its nothing compared to what a few live plants and a good 25-30% water change every week can do.
IMO ditch the carbon and go for some live plants.
I haven't heard or seen anything conclusive about HitH. Everything seems to be purely supposition and conjecture. It also all depends on having left your carbon in too long which is not a problem with carbon, its a problem with your maintenance procedures. Leave your mechanical filter in too long and it'll gunk up, kill your flow and your fish will die from ammonia poisoning. Doesn't mean there's anything wrong with mechanical filtration, just means you keep up on your maintenance.
I wasn't implying that chemical filtration is bad, but that with regular, proper maintenance there is no need for it.
And even if the hole in the head isn't for sure... Its really not worth the risk.
But obviously we all have our own views on this subject, just IMO ditch the carbon.
Come on. Seriously. ANY filter used incorrectly is bad.
Replace your carbon on the proper schedule.
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