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Discussion Starter #1
just came across a article on seachems website about carbon, says the non acid washed carbons will release ash and phosphates into your water and can raise your ph due to the ash. makes me wonder if carbon actually good for tanks if you get the non acid washed type? (planted tanks)

heres the article
http://www.seachem.com/Library/Articles/Carbon_Interview.pdf
 

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Hello

Carbon is never good for a planted aquarium. Carbon removes minerals and other beneficial elements that your plants need to survive. I don't use carbon at all in any of my aquariums. My plants are lush and grow very fast. Along with that I also inject CO2 but removing the carbon was one of the best things for my aquarium that I have ever done.
 

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Well, it's still beyond me. I always wondered if the small amount we put in filters really did anything and when I heard it only lasted a couple of weeks, I thought, forget it. Hearing that it removed nutrients necessary to plants just reinforced my decision not to bother with it. In the past it was said that excess phosphates caused excess algae growth. Now there are differing views. I guess we'll see where this goes in the months / years to come. Setting up a couple of small test tanks and doing a comparison might be interesting. I'd be a little leery of using activated charcoal in one of my planted display tanks without doing such a trial.
 

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Activated carbon has been used for decades to purify water in aquariums and for drinking. As mentioned, it gets a bit of a bum rap from hobbyists with planted tanks because it does adsorb impurities that the plants would use as nutrients. This includes any water soluble ferts added for the plants.

Carbon has a use life that's relative to the amount used and the level of impurities in the water. Often the amount used is so small that the carbon is exhausted very quickly. (e.g. the tiny amount inside most cartridges used in cartridge HOB filters).
Unfortunately there's no way to know when the carbon needs to be replaced.

There may be some slight contamination from non acid washed carbon but I don't really know the extent and if that negates the over-all benefit.

I think most experts say that activated carbon use is probably counter productive in heavily planted tanks, but in non-planted tanks, a sufficient amount of carbon can result in much purer water.
As we're all aware, carbon is often used to remove meds.

I'm experimenting right now. I had a mass of floating Anacharis in my tank but it seemed to wane unless I dosed with Flourish Comprehensive like twice a week. It seemed like I was adding impurities to the water so the plants would filter impurities from the water...what? So I decided, at least temporarily, to remove the plants (went into the turtle pool) and added a bag of activated carbon in the filter.
 

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Well, we use activated charcoal in my son's glofish tank. It looks more like a 70s disco than a fish tank. Blue LED light, glowing fake plants and gravel. It just makes you feel like you have to do something. There's no way anything natural is going on in there.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
safe to say though, the article said theat some of the chearper a carbons out there are washed in phoshperic acid that will leech into water that these carbons "the ones included in hob pads" could be a source of algae for fish only people?

it says the ash in some of the carbons can skyrocket the ph, ive never had this happen personally. but I cant help but think this lower grade carbon could be a main source for algae with the lower stocked tanks that are maintained well without plants. I relize algae is natural but possible that new cheaply made" carbon could cause algae blooms?
 

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Guess that could be so. I think Ohio was one of the states that called for low phosphate detergents to help curb the algae growth in Lake Erie back in the 70s. Of course, a plantless tank is algae waiting for a happening unless you're careful. Since our little disco's light is closer to black light than daylight, we haven't seen any algae yet.
 

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I'm only going to point out one issue which has not yet been mentioned in this thread, and that has to do with DOC, dissolved organic carbon.

"Carbon" as in activated carbon in filters removes many substances from the water, and depending upon the amount of whatever is being removed, the carbon does "give out," and at that point has been shown to release toxins back into the aquarium. Others have talked about this, so I will move on to DOC.

DOC is one thing carbon removes, and this is rather ironic, because DOC can do the job of the carbon better. To define DOC:

Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is a general description of the organic material dissolved in water. Organic carbon occurs as the result of decomposition of plant or animal material.
This is why we leave the substrate alone in planted tanks; we want the organics to be broken down (by snails, then bacteria) so it forms DOC. Not only is DOC an essential source of CO2 for plants; it also offers the greatest protection against metal toxicity in natural waters, and in the aquarium. Metals readily bind to DOC. By removing DOC, the filter carbon is thus removing minerals that are essential to plants and also to fish to some extent.

As the fore-going should suggest, using carbon in non-planted tanks may not be so wise either. It all depends upon the state of the biology and water.

Byron.
 
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