OK, how do you run just a filter with the sponge and no carbon? I think the way I understand it is you don't want to run carbon unless trying to remove medicine from the water etc. I'm confused on that part of carbon use and non usage! help! LOL
Yes, from what I know, from others here, there is no use for carbon. It is used to remove meds from water. I have an aqua clear, and also a canister filter, and with both I just put filter media in it I want. I use two sponges on my HOB filter and have sponges in the canister too. I also use the ceramic chips. That's it. You can get a mesh bag and add other things, such as peat moss for lowering ph etc. Lots of possibilities :)
I think it depends on the filter you have. For my biowheel I just removed the carbon insert and bought Rena Foam Inserts because they were about as thick as my previous carbon insert. I then cut the foam insert to be about the same size as the old carbon and slipped it in where the carbon had previously gone. I hope this helps. I loved getting rid of my carbon inserts.
OK so I just add a sponge/foam piece the size of my original and do away with the "stock" carbon insert in my HOB filter?
It's a bit of trial and error getting the sponge piece just right, but you have the basic idea.
OK so what type of material do you use? Can you get just the sponge type material at your LFS?
I've heard of some people using pantyhose but never done it myself. I used the Rena Foam Inserts because they fit best in my filter. You could also try getting the AquaClear sponge inserts and cutting it down to size. It's a bit of trial and error.
Are there reasons not to use carbon? I have no meds in my tank, but the status quo is working very well so I'm hesitant to change anything (including removal of the carbon media in my HOB filter). However, if there are compelling reasons to do away with the carbon, I'm all ears!
The reason not to use carbon except for special situations like removing meds is that it is only effective for a very short period. As an adsorbant, carbon attracts and holds impurities, but it's useful life is very short. After a week or so, it's use life is done. Most consider that is very short use life and it's high cost make it a less practical filter media. And again, unless you have some evil chemical in the water, it's value disappears completely. Might better have some on hand like you would medicine.
As to your other questions about sponges, I'm not sure you mentioned your filter type. You can get sponge(s) to fill the void or even use filter floss (which is finer than many/most sponges). There is also bonded filter pad material you can cut to fit: http://www.amazon.com/Marineland-PA0100-Filter-312-Square-Bonded/dp/B0002565PW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328070404&sr=8-1
For me the biggest reason is cost (because I'm a poor college kid with an expensive hobby). I never have to change the sponge inserts whereas carbon is really only active for the first few days it is in the aquarium and needs to be replaced every week or so. If you add it up, replacing carbon inserts gets very expensive.
I think there are also some plant-related reasons, but I'm a total neophyte when it comes to plants. Byron or one of the other plant gurus should be able to elaborate or tell me I've lost my mind.
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