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After reading both the thread and the article, I would say I agree with MOST of it, but not all. There were a few things about the article that I would strongly debate, especially having kept oscars and other lg central and south american cichlids, and after dealing with Hexamita disease many times over, in my own tanks and the stores, and with customers.
The way the article is worded allows for these debates, so I found it a good read. The things I would most debate is the info given in the thread. For starters, nobody should EVER have to do an 80% water exchange. In the case of my oscars, if I used that as an "easy way out" of the carbon issue, I'd have a water bill that exceeded anything carbon cost me in a year. 80% water exchange in a 220 gallon tank is A LOT of water. On top of the water bill, the electric bill would go up from the heater having to heat that amount of water every time I did the change. An 80% change in a large tank is both impracticle and expensive no matter how often you'd do it.
I will agree, carbon doesn't ALWAYS have to be used, if the bioload is sufficient to take care of total waste breakdown, and enough small water changes are done frequently, live plants are used to help with waste... meaning A LOT of plants to a few fish.
What I will say about carbon is that in some of my tanks I use it and some I don't, depending on the situation. The specific situation should help to dictate whether it is needed, not someone's idea or opinion of yes or no overall. For a beginner who doesn't understand the meaning of "natural aquarium" and how to create it, carbon is a good thing. For tanks such as my breeding tanks, where I never know when to expect more fry, it's a good thing because it's there to catch the extra waste when I'm not there. It soaks all the things that Blue listed, but also fish and plant waste, too.
There are dangers to using carbon if it's not used properly, though, and I won't skip those to get a point across. If it's not changed every 30 days, it can leak all of the pollution back into the water. If used long term, it can soak needed minerals out of the water. However, so long as it's kept changed on time and accompanied with regular water changes, which would need to be done anyways, it can be a very good thing in the tank of a beginner or in overpopulated tanks, breeder tanks, etc. Tap water contains all of those good nutrients that the carbon will soak up. If a tank isn't getting regular water changes and additions of tap water, even a tank without carbon will be in trouble at some point.
The trick or "secret" to good fish keeping without issues is really rather simple. Know what you're keeping, what it needs, and provide it. Don't overstock a tank, don't mix incompatible fish, don't put fish in the wrong environment, make sure that large fish have a large enough tank for their needs from the start so you don't hit the breaking points as they go through growth spurts, don't over feed, and do regular water exchanges and gravel vacs. Fish keeping is not an exact science, there are many ways to do each thing, but there ARE some basics that I consider to be the backbone of the hobby, and you simply can't get away with not providing it, such as I listed above.
One last comment before I go:
I believe that when people stop considering this a "hobby" or a form of entertainment for their own benefit, our fish will be in more capable hands and people will be more successful from the start. Right now too many people still view fish as "disposable" and too many people think this is something that can be accomplished without any level of knowledge from the start. That is so untrue. Anything living is going to require some kind of knowledge base to care for it or it dies. 1 + 1 = 2. If it eats it needs to be fed, if it is being fed it produces waste, if it produces waste it needs to be cleaned. This is the one thing I have noticed is missing in the many people who come to me asking for help. I don't wish to insult anyone, but I have found myself asking 1 question over and over during the many years I've been in this industry: Where is the common sense? I see this everywhere, and while I won't ever name anyone in particular, my years spent at the pet store overwhelmed me with the lack of common sense I saw in our customers. Next to that, simple ignorance was the next biggest issue. We had science teachers flood our fishroom every fall, and the number of them who gave us baffled looks when we mentioned the nitrogen cycle and water quality, and the number of them who answered with "huh?" when we asked how often they did water exchanges... it was sickening. I used to wonder at some of these people... some were college science professors, some were high school teachers... and these are the people educating my kids?? Why are our children not learning about the nitrogen cycle in school? They study everything else, but forget the basics?? Because this sort of thing is left out, forgotten, brushed under the rug... the general population never thinks about it, most don't know about it, and yet expect to mimic it at home? This is no more a "hobby" than keeping a dog or cat is a "hobby", and I think it's the responsibility of all concerned to fix the real problem. It is a customer's responsibility to ask the questions, it's the store's/supplier's responsibility to know the answers and provide them. It is also the store's supplier's responsibility to ask questions and to do research when needed. So much information is out there, but it's so scattered and difficult to find, that it's useless to most. It's also the responsibility of those who already have the answers to help teach it to others, even if it's just your children... teach SOMEONE, and keep the chain going. Fish keeping is not a "hobby", it's a responsibility.
 

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bettababy said:
After reading both the thread and the article, I would say I agree with MOST of it, but not all. There were a few things about the article that I would strongly debate, especially having kept oscars and other lg central and south american cichlids, and after dealing with Hexamita disease many times over, in my own tanks and the stores, and with customers.
The way the article is worded allows for these debates, so I found it a good read. The things I would most debate is the info given in the thread. For starters, nobody should EVER have to do an 80% water exchange. In the case of my oscars, if I used that as an "easy way out" of the carbon issue, I'd have a water bill that exceeded anything carbon cost me in a year. 80% water exchange in a 220 gallon tank is A LOT of water. On top of the water bill, the electric bill would go up from the heater having to heat that amount of water every time I did the change. An 80% change in a large tank is both impracticle and expensive no matter how often you'd do it.
I will agree, carbon doesn't ALWAYS have to be used, if the bioload is sufficient to take care of total waste breakdown, and enough small water changes are done frequently, live plants are used to help with waste... meaning A LOT of plants to a few fish.
What I will say about carbon is that in some of my tanks I use it and some I don't, depending on the situation. The specific situation should help to dictate whether it is needed, not someone's idea or opinion of yes or no overall. For a beginner who doesn't understand the meaning of "natural aquarium" and how to create it, carbon is a good thing. For tanks such as my breeding tanks, where I never know when to expect more fry, it's a good thing because it's there to catch the extra waste when I'm not there. It soaks all the things that Blue listed, but also fish and plant waste, too.
There are dangers to using carbon if it's not used properly, though, and I won't skip those to get a point across. If it's not changed every 30 days, it can leak all of the pollution back into the water. If used long term, it can soak needed minerals out of the water. However, so long as it's kept changed on time and accompanied with regular water changes, which would need to be done anyways, it can be a very good thing in the tank of a beginner or in overpopulated tanks, breeder tanks, etc. Tap water contains all of those good nutrients that the carbon will soak up. If a tank isn't getting regular water changes and additions of tap water, even a tank without carbon will be in trouble at some point.
The trick or "secret" to good fish keeping without issues is really rather simple. Know what you're keeping, what it needs, and provide it. Don't overstock a tank, don't mix incompatible fish, don't put fish in the wrong environment, make sure that large fish have a large enough tank for their needs from the start so you don't hit the breaking points as they go through growth spurts, don't over feed, and do regular water exchanges and gravel vacs. Fish keeping is not an exact science, there are many ways to do each thing, but there ARE some basics that I consider to be the backbone of the hobby, and you simply can't get away with not providing it, such as I listed above.
One last comment before I go:
I believe that when people stop considering this a "hobby" or a form of entertainment for their own benefit, our fish will be in more capable hands and people will be more successful from the start. Right now too many people still view fish as "disposable" and too many people think this is something that can be accomplished without any level of knowledge from the start. That is so untrue. Anything living is going to require some kind of knowledge base to care for it or it dies. 1 + 1 = 2. If it eats it needs to be fed, if it is being fed it produces waste, if it produces waste it needs to be cleaned. This is the one thing I have noticed is missing in the many people who come to me asking for help. I don't wish to insult anyone, but I have found myself asking 1 question over and over during the many years I've been in this industry: Where is the common sense? I see this everywhere, and while I won't ever name anyone in particular, my years spent at the pet store overwhelmed me with the lack of common sense I saw in our customers. Next to that, simple ignorance was the next biggest issue. We had science teachers flood our fishroom every fall, and the number of them who gave us baffled looks when we mentioned the nitrogen cycle and water quality, and the number of them who answered with "huh?" when we asked how often they did water exchanges... it was sickening. I used to wonder at some of these people... some were college science professors, some were high school teachers... and these are the people educating my kids?? Why are our children not learning about the nitrogen cycle in school? They study everything else, but forget the basics?? Because this sort of thing is left out, forgotten, brushed under the rug... the general population never thinks about it, most don't know about it, and yet expect to mimic it at home? This is no more a "hobby" than keeping a dog or cat is a "hobby", and I think it's the responsibility of all concerned to fix the real problem. It is a customer's responsibility to ask the questions, it's the store's/supplier's responsibility to know the answers and provide them. It is also the store's supplier's responsibility to ask questions and to do research when needed. So much information is out there, but it's so scattered and difficult to find, that it's useless to most. It's also the responsibility of those who already have the answers to help teach it to others, even if it's just your children... teach SOMEONE, and keep the chain going. Fish keeping is not a "hobby", it's a responsibility.
holy pear! :eek:mg:
what a post! :shock2:
 

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Well, Cam, Dawn did create a very good post.:wink2:

Dawn, it would be best if you try to make one space per paragraph so people won't be confused as to where they are reading.:mrgreen:
 

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Sorry Blue, I hadn't expected to write such a long post. Once I got started, there just wasn't any way to simplify what was going through my head, so I just typed it all out as it played in my head. :oops: Sometimes I think too much, lol. I didn't mean to overwhelm anyone... sorry to all for that. I guess it shows that I'm passionate about my work and about the animals. :oops: :lol:
 

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bettababy said:
Sorry Blue, I hadn't expected to write such a long post. Once I got started, there just wasn't any way to simplify what was going through my head, so I just typed it all out as it played in my head. :oops: Sometimes I think too much, lol. I didn't mean to overwhelm anyone... sorry to all for that. I guess it shows that I'm passionate about my work and about the animals. :oops: :lol:
Lol..I always knew you get carried away with explanations.:mrgreen:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Several Items:

Item One
bettababy said:
... I guess it shows that I'm passionate about my work and about the animals.
Yes: it really, really does!!

Item Two
Please do not let Blue's humorous "aggravation" affect the "detailedness" of your posts.
You have saved me (and I would anticipate many members of the forum also) a "ton of grief" which would have otherwise been acquired by "hard earned" experience.

Item Three
Your post was very, very good.
I have been preparing a response over the last day and every time that I read your post I find additional items which "initially did not log into my brain".

TR
 

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jones57742 said:
Item Two
Please do not let Blue's humorous "aggravation" affect the "detailedness" of your posts.
You have saved me (and I would anticipate many members of the forum also) a "ton of grief" which would have otherwise been acquired by "hard earned" experience.
Humorous aggravation?:sob:
 

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jones57742 said:
Blue said:
Lol..I always knew you get carried away with explanations.:mrgreen:
TR
Ron, I've been wondering what TR means.:squint:
 

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The only thing I would have to disagree is that carbon, overtime, will NOT release contaminants back into the water. I thought I posted a link to a thread on a discus forum, but I can't find it and I'm searching for it on the discus forum. Anyways, I believe it has something to do with adsorbtion not absorption.


EDIT: Found the post here...

lhforbes12 said:
I have to somewhat disagree. Activated carbon should not release anything that it has trapped. btw it works by aDsorption not aBsorption (a sponge absorbs things, actived carbon works in an entirely different way. Particles are attracted to the micro pores in carbon and are trapped there), Having said that I do agree that it isn't needed normally. It has two things which are detrimental to an aquarist IMO
1. For carbon to work properly water must flow SLOWLY past it. Almost none of us have flters which have a slow enough flow for carbon to be truly effective.
2. Cost. Carbon is just cost prohibitive, it fills very quickly and is no longer useful in a very short time (far shorter than the month or so that most users keep it in their filters).

It is excellent, as Paul already said, for removing medications. It is also useful in removing DOCs (Dissolved Organic Compounds). However, also as Paul has already stated, wc's are usually a much better solution to both of those problems.

Larry
lhforbes12 said:
mickeyG said:
Larry,

I don't know that carbon leaches back for sure never having used it. My opinion is based on others. I will say that I have been reading all the techy stuff about aquariums for about 5 years and the predominant (I bet 75% or more?) of the opinions (many from the leaders in the industry & books) is that when the carbon is full - it will release some of its load back into the water.

I can't give you the actual data how or what they base their opinions on, but I'll try and take the time to read more and then repost.

As far as the price being prohibitive - I have to somewhat disagree. I bought 1.87L of marineland black diamond carbon on the net for $9.99. It looks like a ton. I thought I would use it in a little corner filter in my water mixing container but decided not to use it. But if I used it all the time it would last a year or more. I admit I only make 20g of water twice a week, but unless you have hundreds of gallons, it wouldn't be THAT expensive.

Michael
Michael,
This is actually precisely why I decided to address the issue. As you can tell I agree fundamentally with what Paul said. Except that carbon can not possibly leach things back into the water column. The reason is because carbon is not a sponge. It does not work that way. Carbon chemically attracts ions to itself (think of it as a magnet) there is simply no way for it to leach back things once it has them other than to reverse the ionic process, which is something that is so unlikely that it borders on the impossible. As to cost, if you read what I said, and perhaps I didn't say it well enough, for carbon to remain effective you would need to replace it every two days or so, so I stand by my orignal statement, it is cost prohibitive.

Larry
 

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Eddie,
I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't done some experimenting to support it. I had a few tanks, standing with clean water and no fish in them, so I inserted some very used carbon... (had been in a tank for about 6 months) into the filter, and waited a few weeks. What I would have expected to find when testing after 4 wks was nothing... no waste, bacteria culture dies out, everything is in good condition, right? Not! After waiting 4 wks and then testing the water, I found ammonia present... and it was a rather high number. This intrigued me, so I tried it again with another empty tank, different carbon from a different tank. This time I tested the water before adding the carbon to the filter, it was 0 for everything, pH was at 8.0, which is what it read coming from the tap. I waited another 4 wks with the used carbon in the filter, and again I got a high ammonia reading.
If not from the carbon, where did the ammonia content come from? These were both bare bottom tanks, nothing in them but the carbon and water.
Do you have another explaination for this? If so, I'd be happy to discuss it with you... that could be a good learning experience or debate for everyone here... lol.
The other situation that made me believe about cabron leeching stuff back into the water was my oscar tank. I was good so long as I kept up on my water changes and changed the carbon once/month. Anytime I slacked on changing carbon, but doing nothing else different, my nitrate levels were off the chart. When I ran the tank without carbon, my ammonia level spiked within 24 hrs, even with the water changes. This was with 2 oscars, about 6 inces each, in a 47 gallon tank, daily water changes of 20%, and feeding only every other day. (also a reason I tell everyone NOT to put those kind of fish into a smaller tank) This last lesson was to see if carbon actually did any good in using it. If I put the carbon back in and kept it changed, my water quality was perfect, nitrates never above 40. A few of my coworkers did similar experiments at home, and our boss had us do the same kinds of experiments at the store, so that we knew we were giving the best advice to our customers as was possible. Our final stand on it was that yes, carbon does a lot of good, when used properly, and yes, it leeched pollutants back into the tank if not replaced after 30 days... and sometimes less than 30 days if the pollution levels in the tank were known to be high all the time.
I've also had many discussions with the makers of the hang on filters that have carabon enclosed. Their reason for including the carbon was to "complete" the filtration process as much as possible, making their product as effective as it can be.
 

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I'm not sure. As I mentioned before, I'm no chemist. I am not no English major either. LOL

I would have to assume that since it was used media, then there may have been dead bacteria. Maybe the decaying bacteria produced the ammonia?
 

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Or.... maybe.... as has been the big debate... carbon DOES work and DOES have the potential to leech waste products back into the water....
 

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As carbon is not a sponge, I'm sure it will not leach. All the people who have stated it does not leach have some kind of reputable background (scientists, geologist, etc.) I have yet to see a scientist, geologist, etc. to disprove the topic.

But as I stated in your instance, dead bacteria on the carbon or any media you used, could cause ammonia spike. You will probably get the same results if you grab some substrate and place it in the tank. The bacteria would probably die off and cause an ammonia increase. I use depleted carbon media allot in my Emperor 280's and 400 filters and never found any excess ammonia, even in BB tanks.
 

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Con/Myth #4: Old carbon will leach organics back into the water (de-absorption)

This is true in industry, but not in our aquarium. Carbon is widely used in industrial settings to recycle precious metals. Industrial use of carbon involves the capturing of a specific substance at one pH extreme (below 4 or above 10) and then reclaiming the substance by converting to the other pH extreme. If a pH shift of this magnitude occurs in an aquarium, carbon leaching organics back into the water is the least of our worries.
http://www.marineland.com/science/articles/17RevisActCarb.asp
Quoted from this article.

De-adsorption

De-adsorption is another phenomenon that is over-stated in the rumor mills about activated carbon. Again, it is an incomplete statement that is commonly used to described the process. It goes, in one fashion or another, as: don't use carbon because once its adsorption sites are full it will release, or de-adsorb, all the stuff it has adsorbed releasing a large amount of pollutants back into the aquarium. The implication in this sentence that activated carbon works something like a capacitor such that once at its maximum adsorption capacity, it instantaneously discharges all the bad things it has adsorbed is wrong. Carbon does de-adsorb, in fact, that ability is exploited for recycling precious metals. However, in a controlled industrial process, the quick release of the target substance is accomplished by switching the pH of the water. The basic process is to capture the target substance at one pH extreme (very acidic or basic) and then reclaim the substance by switching to the other pH extreme. As stated earlier in this article, these pH values are outside the normal range of aquaria. De-adsorption is not a process to be worried about.
Quoted from this Marineland article.

Basically carbon WILL leach (de-adsorb) if brought from an extreme pH to another. As mentioned, if it there was a de-adsorbtion process, then it should be a no concern, becuase the extreme pH shift should be more of a concern. In an industrial situation, this is feasible. In a home aquarium, not a problem at all.

Found more info...
Carbon does not remove ammonia, nitrite or nitrate from water. It also does not have an effect on water hardness or alkalinity. Some carbons will leach phosphate into the aquarium water. The phosphate can be a naturally occurring part of the carbon or it can be from phosphoric acid which is sometimes used in the activation process. In either case, the phosphate is not toxic, rather it can contribute to eutrophic conditions in the aquarium water and may lead to algae blooms. If you are concerned about phosphates, switch brands of carbon. There are several bituminous coal based carbons available from reputable companies that are phosphate-free.
Quoted from this Marineland article.
 

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So much for the debate.:mrgreen: I wonder if we're still having a heads on with HITH disease, now that we have the carbon issue here.:squint:
 

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Carbon causing HITH is contreversal, as stated here...

Con #5: Carbon may cause HITH
This is a controversial subject. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that carbon plays any role in the development of HITH, despite the fact that several scientific studies have attempted to validate this. However, there are many reported instances of HITH going into remission in conjunction with carbon removal. I happen to be one of those cases. As a result, regardless of my opinion on the benefits of carbon, I do not use carbon in my Oscar tank.
This is the first time I heard about carbon may be a cause for HITH. I know I've used carbon in my Emperor 280 and 400 filters and never had issues with HITH. Most of these fish I had used carbon many years ago are the very same fish that you see in my 125 gallon tank. The only issue I'm having with my original fish is one of my angelfish having swim bladder issue.
 

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Blue, the HITH disease is not forgotten. I guess I lost track of the question??? Can you help me pick it up?
Eddie, I thank you for that link you posted with the MarineLand article. I am printing it out and taking it to the man who trained me, and a few others from manufacturer's reps to their research teams. I now have some pointed questions to ask them. I may even email the author from that article, as I have some questions for him, too. If THAT article is correct, then we're both right and we're both wrong. At the moment I'd like to agree to disagree and leave the carbon issue go until I have the chance to do some more followup. I guess even those of us who spend 90% of our time researching and studying can be fed misinformation. I'll PM you when I've had a chance to look more into this because I'd like to let you know what I find out.
Blue, where are we on the HITH disease discussion? I know enough about that, first hand experiences to speak of, along with the knowledge of a few vets and zoo staff at various public aquariums, and a college professor or 2, lol. HITH is something I have been helping with for a very long time, and I've had some incredible results. About 5 years ago I took in 2 large and orphaned oscars. A customer brought them to me in a kitchen garbage can. The water was so dirty it was hard to see the fish in it. He'd been keeping them in a 55 gallon tank and had never heard of water changes. Sadly enough only 1 has survived, but thrived and spawned since then. I remember that both of their faces were nearly eaten away, with nothing left all the way up through the gill plates and along the lateral line. There were a horrible mess, and I cried when I first saw them. Then I yelled at the customer (my boss didn't like that much, but was at a loss to stop me) and told him that if he couldn't take care of a pet then he shouldn't have one, and then told him to go away because after seeing that I had no stomach for helping him. He hung his head and apologized, and left. (He came back the next day, apologized again, and asked me to teach him to do things the right way, he wanted to learn... which I did do) I still have what was the smaller of his 2 fish, 5 yrs later, and not only is it healthy and happy in the 220 gallon with my other 2 oscars, but ALL of the scarring has managed to heal over the first few years, and it looks like a normal, healthy oscar. I'll snap some pics when I'm at my ex's house for the next water change. (I still go there a few times/month to take care of the tank and play with my fish)
So bring it on, I'll do anything I can to help teach about HITH disease, how to treat it, but more importantly, how to prevent it.
 
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