Undergravel carbon head change frequency? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 05-07-2019, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Undergravel carbon head change frequency?

Just curious as to what the current views are on required frequency of changing carbon in under gravel discharge tubes, my 55 gal system has 4 of these. The heads are slightly sealed and filled with cylindrical shaped carbon granules, volume probably does not exceed 2 tablespoons. I was able to separate the container halves with a sharp xacto knife.
My hang on filter canister filters at 300 gal/hr. per the mfg. specs. and they recommend a monthly carbon cartridge filter change to maintain water condition, the volume of carbon in this filter pad is probably close to 5-7x the total volume of the 4 power head discharge tubes.
No doubt the hang on filter sees a lot more water per hour than the 4 power head carbon filters in total.
Just wondering what the appropriate change frequency range would be for the 4 UG filter heads?

My current 55 gal tank population contains 6 cory's,6 tiger barbs, 3 serape tetras,4 FM betas all fish at or below 2" in length.
Tank is planted with plastic plants and get's 5 gal water change every other day. Ammonia level consistently measures 0.
Any thoughts appreciated.
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post #2 of 4 Old 05-07-2019, 11:06 PM
The big issue I have with carbon is that it releases everything it absorbs when it reaches max capacity. I only use it if there's a major issue or meds I need to remove. I'll change at least once a week, but I would use about 3 cups of carbon. Polyfil pads (chemical absorbing and they change color) are safer as they hold when reaching max. Pumice or sea chem matrix, live plants, and a few different sponge pad sizes are more effective and are less expensive. My 80gal and 20gal are fully stocked and no longer need water changes. My nitrates stay under 25ppm, usually 15ppm. I have pothos growing out of the top and irises out of the HOB filter. Paired with fast growing plants and plenty of media, all is well. I top off to remineralize. Terrestrial/bog plants pull out the nitrates (mostly) and aquarium plants pull out the ammonia (mostly). It's worth looking into the anaerobic side of the cycle. Matrix is useful for it.
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post #3 of 4 Old 05-08-2019, 07:52 AM
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I'm still a novice but I personally think those cylindrical cartridges hold too little carbon to make a difference whether you use them or not.
Regardless if you're using 4 of them at once.

I'd personally just keep them in for added beneficial bacteria to breed in their porous structure.

Also as Genos mentioned, live plants would be more beneficial to the water quality.
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post #4 of 4 Old 05-12-2019, 01:37 PM
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get rid of em, you don't need carbon,

i have not used carbon in my filters for over 30 years, foam only

your bacteria for an under gravel filter is in your gravel, you dont need foam or carbon, just the draw tubes
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