Carbon Question - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 14 Old 12-14-2006, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Carbon Question

Hi Everyone! How long can I leave a carbon out of the tank. In my 20 gal tank I have 3 black moores, and 1 baby pleco, It has been established for over 2 years, 5 days ago I took the carbon out cause I noticed one of the black moores had a bit of fungus on his dorsal fin, didnt seem sick or anything but I took the carbon out and treated with primafix. Today I did a major tank clean...took all the ornaments out and gave the gravel a good vacuming, cleaned filter and powerhead. I just rinsed the sponge for the filter out and reused it as its only a couple of weeks old, and I rinse it in my aquarium water that I took out...I went to put a new carbon in and Im out!! Big Snow storm here so I cant get one till tomorrow. Just so I know....What is the purpose of the carbon? I know it keeps the water crystal clear...but what else is it for? Thanks for helping!

All the best Terry

20 Gal 3 Black moores
30 Gal 1 Fancytail 1 Oranda 1 Dojo Loach 1 Pleco
2 3 Gal betta tanks
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post #2 of 14 Old 12-14-2006, 05:08 PM
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It removes the odor, tannins, toxic substances, meds and other stains hence the water becomes crystal clear. Usually, 3-4 weeks.

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post #3 of 14 Old 12-14-2006, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for the info Blue!! We are so lucky to have your expertise!! Have a wonderfull Christmas!!

All the best Terry

20 Gal 3 Black moores
30 Gal 1 Fancytail 1 Oranda 1 Dojo Loach 1 Pleco
2 3 Gal betta tanks
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post #4 of 14 Old 12-14-2006, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paintsforyou
Thank you so much for the info Blue!! We are so lucky to have your expertise!! Have a wonderfull Christmas!!
Merry Christmas to you, Terry.

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I'm ready for the pressure.
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I think about it every night and day!
I stand in awe of my body.
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post #5 of 14 Old 12-14-2006, 11:59 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by paintsforyou
Hi Everyone! How long can I leave a carbon out of the tank.
What is the purpose of the carbon? I know it keeps the water crystal clear...but what else is it for? Thanks for helping!
OK Folks: (Another of my “long winded posts”.)

Carbon exists in principally two molecular forms: graphite and diamond.

The carbon element has a valence of +4 (similarly -4: for brevity I do not want to “get into Quantum Mechanics here” ).

Coal (and “charcoal” which are virtually identical) are graphite with impurities.

What “we know as ‘activated” carbon or ‘activated’ charcoal is coal or charcoal which has typically been produced from coal which has been subject to oxidation at a temperature above 250F.

This production results in a material which is very porous at the “nanometer (10^-9)” size.

The porosity and the carbon have two effects.

In the short term (depending on tank water parameters), two weeks to six weeks, the “exposed carbon atoms” in the pores will “attach” to other molecules in the water (ie. chemical filtration) and thus
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue: Posted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 5:08 pm
It removes the odor, tannins, toxic substances, meds and other stains hence the water becomes crystal clear. Usually, 3-4 weeks.
Once the available carbon elements have “attached themselves” to various impurities in the tank water the carbon media ceases to be a chemical filtration media and becomes a biological and mechanical filtration media.

The very small pores and the quantity thereof allow significant surfaces on which ammonia and nitrite digestion bacteria to generate.

Similarly the very small pores also “trap” particulate matter in the tank water.

Once the very small pores become “clogged” with particulate matter the carbon filtration media is useless except for the “very minor effects” of biological filtration along it’s surface.

TR

BTW:

Adam Dagma prepared a very good treatise on "Hole in the Head" disease which includes a section pertaining to carbon filtration.

I will generate another thread (as this post is "so long winded") with the URL of this treatise.
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post #6 of 14 Old 12-15-2006, 12:11 AM
I believe what Ron is saying is that it lasts about 7 days max. I believe your question is how long can your tank go without it in the tank? Forever. I never use the stuff. Does it do a great job of quickly cleaning the water to make it sparkly clear? Yes. So do 80% water changes weekly for a fraction of the cost.
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post #7 of 14 Old 12-15-2006, 07:49 AM
Folks:

Quote:
Originally Posted by caferacermike
I believe what Ron is saying is that it lasts about 7 days max.
CM:
I believe that (note the "believe") with someone who is a member of this forum a reasonable expectation of a minimum of two weeks of chemical filtration would be typical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caferacermike
I believe your question is how long can your tank go without it in the tank? Forever. I never use the stuff.
I did at one time but, like Cm, have discontinued the practice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caferacermike
Does it do a great job of quickly cleaning the water to make it sparkly clear? Yes.
Yep! This it will do it
BUT
Even after dosing my tank with Melafix for 7 days I am slowly decreasing the concentration of the “chemicals” which are in Melafix by 10%-20% daily WC’s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caferacermike
So do 80% water changes weekly for a fraction of the cost.
Cm: you have way, way more experience than I do
BUT
I have never, never done that one!
“You live ‘a bunch’ in the saltwater world” where (as “weird as it sounds”) lighting is as important, if not more so, than filtration.
I believe that the “instantaneous” change in the water parameters, due to an 80% WC, would not be good.for my fishies.

TR
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post #8 of 14 Old 12-15-2006, 08:16 AM
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mike is also a dedicated pleco nut...he has a gorgeous collection of fancy plecs in addition to his saltwater tank, i think he's just saying that there are several ways to keep a healthy tank, and that he prefers not to use carbon.

"everything happens for a reason...the hard part is figuring out what that reason is."
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post #9 of 14 Old 12-15-2006, 08:39 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by girlofgod
mike is also a dedicated pleco nut...he has a gorgeous collection of fancy plecs in addition to his saltwater tank, i think he's just saying that there are several ways to keep a healthy tank, and that he prefers not to use carbon.
yep: me also.

My post was prepared only "to explain (hopefully) the basics".

(ie. in physics, when problem solving, "you always go back to the basics").

TR
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-15-2006, 11:39 AM
Good post.

I, too, used carbon frequently for awhile, and stopped. I still have allot of it left. I believe in more frequent water changes than using carbon. I have never done more than 50% WC, but I know I can, since I use a 38 gallon to for water changes. The water in this tank is aged, dechlored, and heated. I'm sure many of us who are veteran fish keepers use water storage containers for such cases.
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