Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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-   -   Not using carbon? (

SinCrisis 11-07-2008 02:49 AM

Not using carbon?
Ive heard a lot about how carbon is pretty useless in filters since they only work a day or two. Is there a cheap alternative to using the cartridges that u get for the penguin filters? They come pre-made with the foam and plastic with carbon inside but are really expensive. Is there a dyi sorta thing or can i just fill the area with foam?

1077 11-07-2008 03:18 AM

IMHO, Don't believe everything you hear. To answer your question , yes foam or floss found at some craft or hobby stores can be used.

qpc68 11-07-2008 09:34 AM

Not only does the carbon not last long, but long term exposure can be very harmful for your fish. Your LFS will likely have some foam which is more than suitable. The only time you really need to use Carbon is when there is something specific you're trying to remove from the water, like medication.

1077 11-07-2008 10:10 AM

I would respectfuly disagree that the long term use of carbon is harmful to fish. There is to my knowledge, no evidence other than speculation to support such a claim. Carbon will remove suspended solids that may be present in the water thus cleaner water. It never fails that the moment carbon is mentioned someone declares it harmful to your fish. I have heard this for a number of years and have yet to see any solid evidence.:roll:

iamntbatman 11-07-2008 01:13 PM

We had a good discussion on the topic in this thread:

My two cents on the issue are on the second page.

Tyyrlym 11-10-2008 01:47 PM

I'm with 1077 on this, I have yet to see anyone offer any meaningful proof that carbon is harmful to fish. It's typically speculation at best usually along the lines of "Well my fish got sick while I was running carbon so the carbon is to blame," Well there was water in the aquarium as well so maybe the water is harmful to fish? Also, if the carbon is used up within one to two days then you are either using a very small amount of it or you have a tremendous amount of pollutants in the aquarium.

For alternate cartridges I like:
Aquarium Filter Media: Drs. Foster & Smith Bio3 Penguin Filter Cartridges

I use these in my aquarium with my own filter bags of carbon. Alternately you can use more filter pads if you don't want to run it. I have another filter that runs with no cartridges just the filter stuffed full of polyester fiber fill for water polishing.

iamntbatman 11-10-2008 08:32 PM

In my view, the burden of proof isn't on people who say it's harmful, it's on people who make and sell the activated carbon. I don't need to prove why it's harmful; they, on the other hand, do need to prove to me why it's essential (or even beneficial, I'd argue) before I'll spend my money on their product.

Tyyrlym 11-11-2008 07:02 AM

I disagree. If someone is going to make as sensational a claim as, "but long term exposure can be very harmful for your fish," then it needs to be backed up with some sort of proof.

Activated carbon's ability to remove a wide array of chemicals and pollutants has been well proven. It's also been proven to remove chemicals and impurities from aquarium water. The only remaining question is whether or not you regularly have such chemicals and pollutants in your aquarium water. I've yet to see anyone with proof on that question one way or another and likely will not ever see it as everyone's tap water is different as are their homes and what's in them. Since I have no control over the water from my tap until it reaches the tap I consider activated carbon cheap insurance for the continued health of my aquarium. A ten buck bottle for 6+ months, I spend more on the water itself.

That's my opinion on the subject.

iamntbatman 11-11-2008 03:53 PM

But some of those items removed by the carbon may be beneficial to your aquarium inhabitants.

I still say that "there's no proof that activated carbon is harmful to my fish" is not a reason for me to go out and buy some. Before I ever spend my money on it, I will need some sort of scientific study that says something like, "activated carbon removes chemicals a, b and c, which are absolutely harmful to your fish. Activated carbon does not remove chemicals x, y and z, which are essential nutrients for your fish and plants."

Oldman47 11-16-2008 01:13 PM

Activated carbon does have uses in any tank. It can remove minor odors, medications and when it is very new it can even remove traces of organics such as the tannins that leach out of wood. With that said, I keep some carbon on hand for when I need to remove medications. When there are no medications to remove, I don't fill my filter with things that are not needed. I use the extra space to place more biomedia in the filter.
Refillable filter cartridges are made for the tetra series of HOB filters. These cartridges have a frame that a bag of filter media stretches over and have space inside for the little bit of carbon that would normally be sealed inside a premade cartridge. I'm afraid that if you really needed carbon for something like removing medications, that trace of carbon would be woefully inadequate. If you used the frame that is shown in the Drs F&S listing posted by Tyyrlym, you could cut a piece of floss to fit the frame in a U shape so it covered both the front and back and trap as much carbon between the floss layers as you wanted. The biosponge they are including in the kit would help you not lose the entire biofilter when you do change the rest of the cartridge.

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