Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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andreannestvincent 12-14-2008 03:44 PM

Carbon Bad or Good?
Hey! So I've been reading some stuff about carbon being good and then some being bad, I'm all mixed up on whether I should keep it in my filter or not.

If you guys could give me your outputs on it, it would be great! And also if you could explain why it good or bad.


Cody 12-14-2008 03:48 PM

I say it is good when it is clean (changed every 3/4 weeks), but isn't needed. I stopped using it on my previous 30G FW, and have never used it in my reef.

It is helpful for treating sicknesses and diseases, though.

andreannestvincent 12-14-2008 03:59 PM

Why did you stop using it?

Cody 12-14-2008 04:12 PM

1) Because it was a pain to have to buy and change them so much
2) It wasn't needed

Twistersmom 12-14-2008 04:35 PM

Im glad you asked that question! I have Wonderd about that myself. I use it, because if there is a chance its good I want to do all I can. I know it will help clear you tank from meds. Also read not to use carbon with ammonia remover, it can release ammonia back into the water when salt is added to your tank.

andreannestvincent 12-14-2008 04:38 PM

Ok so if I use Carbon when I add salt in my water it's going to add ammonia? Or if I use ammonia remover with salt and use carbon it's going to add ammonia?

Twistersmom 12-14-2008 04:51 PM

All I know, is that I read once on another site, about a lady owning a goldfish tank. She complained that everytime she did a water and added salt back into the tank she got an ammonia spike. They asked if she is using ammo-carb. She was. They said salt can cause the carbon to release ammonia back into the tank. Maybe that is why its for freshwater only?

andreannestvincent 12-14-2008 06:17 PM

Uh that's wierd... Good to know tho. I add some salt in my tanks for disease prevention and I haven't had any ammonia spikes.

1077 12-15-2008 04:42 AM

Salt should only be added to the aquarium when treating for fish illness. Adding salt on a regular basis is not good for freshwater fish for it does not dissolve or dissipate in the water. Let's say you add salt at each weekly water change (you are changing water weekly aren't you). Over time the salt content of the water will become intolerable for the fish and some freshwater fish don't do salt at all. Carbon in my view, is a matter of choice. It will not harm the fish, It removes many pollutants, suspended solids, some metals,and aids in keeping water clear. Most who use cartridges for their filters that contain carbon don't replace them as often as manufacturer suggests. they simply swish the cartridges around in aquarium water that they take out at water changes and stick em back in. When they begin to fall apart, they replace them. They last a lot longer this way. Carbon is also very pourus,over time the beneficial bacteria colonizes on the carbon just as it does everything in the tank.Carbon such as that contained in filter cartridges cannot release what it has adsorbed back into the tank. Products that contain carbon and or some chemical resin such as ammo-lock are sometimes regenerated with the use of salt or bleach or other chemicals that cause a reaction that would allow that which they have absorbed to possibly leach back into the tank but the regular carbon with nothing else added cannot .Carbon is not usually wanted or used in planted tanks for it removes some of the trace minerals needed for plants to thrive.

Tyyrlym 12-15-2008 07:53 AM

Gonna shock some people to hear me say this but...

Carbon isn't necessarily bad for your aquarium*, but it's not necessarily great for it either. It can remove medications, stray chemicals, and other things in your aquarium. However it also removes dissolved organic chemicals, DOCs. Carbon is iffy at removing metals but DOCs are great at neutralizing them. So you're really removing a natural way to neutralize heavy metals from your tank with carbon and substituting carbon's rather iffy ability.

What it comes down to is a trade off. Carbon is good insurance if you've got odd chemicals in your water that you need out. Just be aware it can make your tank more susceptible to other issues. So it's not a panacea, it's something to be used intelligently with full awareness of its benefits and drawbacks. Also, if you use it then it needs to be regularly changed.

*I'm willing to guess you've probably heard people call carbon responsible for hole in the head disease, well there's no proof of it being responsible other than that some people who's fish got HitH were running carbon. Of course they also had water in their tanks so going by that logic either could be the culprit. Of course that doesn't account for the people who didn't run carbon and their fish got HitH...

Oh, and as for carbon removing tannins from the water... I've got a Coke colored betta tank next to me that says otherwise.

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