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Old 01-24-2013, 08:24 AM   #1
C. King
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Default The Trouble with Tribbles (I mean, Carbon)...

Well, I guess old(ish) dogs really can learn new tricks! On another thread about carbon /ammocarb, I was astonished when a forums member (hi, weedkiller!) stated that we should "only use carbon to remove meds", and that it can actually be bad for the tank, if used continuously. I thought, "preposterous! I've used carbon in all my filters for umpteen years, and it is a fact that every single filter I ever bought had carbon or carbon inserts." Then, member loha chimes in and agrees. Now, if you have been on this forum for any time at all, you probably have guessed that loha is like that investment firm in the TV commercials:when loha speaks, we listen. So I immediately started investigating carbon. And here is what I found: Carbon is great at removing things from the water. Too great. When used every day, it removes even the good stuff that contributes to the health of your fish! Using carbon all the time also introduces carbon dust to the tank, encouraging algae growth. It makes the water so clean that plants will not thrive, which also encouages algae growth. There are two schools of thought about carbon use, and they are about as polarized as White House politicians: One school thinks carbon is agift to the aquarium world. It polishes the water like nothing else, removes funny smells from the water, and since it is an essentially inert matter, it is harmless. The other school thinks using carbon is so bad, I felt like going to Confession after reading them. After all my research, I am taking a middle ground. Carbon is great for a quick water clean up, (which you really shouldn't need, if you are doing enough partial water changes) and it is neccessary to remove any medicines after treatment. But, using it in the filter every day is not a good thing. And if you are using carbon and having algae problems (like me!) the carbon is very likely contributing to the problem. A lot.
Now, in honor of my recently confirmed ability to learn something new, I was going to change my under signature to: "Still Learning Useful Tricks", but I really hated the acronym.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:36 AM   #2
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WhAt? No one on this forum has any opinions on carbon? It's a miracle!
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:45 PM   #3
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well...like we said...great for removing some unwanted things ; but other then that...

forgetaboutit......

i always keep a couple of pounds of carbon on hand just in case of an emergency....

that's ok carrie ; i am still a rookie at this just trying to learn what i can..
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:44 PM   #4
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I have to say something: When you don't rinse the filter cartridge before putting it in the filter, you introduce carbon dust into the tank. I have been using filter cartridges ever since I got my 55 gallon tank and had absolutely no issues with carbon.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:55 PM   #5
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This is a very interesting debate most likely like getting to right winged democrat/republicans to agree to if the wall is black or off black... anyways here is my story / situation... My local fish guy swears by carbon so being a newbie I have run carbon in both my tank from day 1...

I have carbon in the Aquaclear 110 as well as my Marineland 40-60 (the inserts come with carbon already in them) and my 2 corner filter have carbon... To be honestly I understand and believe what you guys are all saying I am struggling to make the change because since having my tanks (only being 6 months)... My water has always been perfectly clear and never had any algae build up or even a spec of algae in my tank parameters are all good and fish are active and healthy...

So I would say I fall more as an independent like C. King I just don't dare remove it... like the old saying if its not broke don't fix it...

just not sure what to do always going back and forth...
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:22 PM   #6
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If you really want carbon to take stuff out, you have to replace it on a schedule. This is the basis of the filter maker telling you to change your cartridge every month or whatever. But because I am cheap and lazy, my experience is that my (hardy cichlid) fish do fine with old slimey rinsed, and reused carbon. "Chemical" filtration isn't that important when you have a nice clean water supply and change water. Old carbon is as good as anything for growing bacteria.

I don't have much in the way of "planted tanks". I have fish tanks with floating masses of green stuff. I would go with whichever mentor you are trying to emulate. I have heard that it nabs trace elements plants need and that it causes hole-in-head by causing a nutritional deficiency, also by nabbing the trace stuff that is rare in soft water. Obviously, adding stuff would overcome this, but it doesn't make sense to pay to add something and pay more for carbon to take it out. But many betta keepers find carbon useful for removing the oily film caused by high-protein foods.

I am for "keep it simple". Use no more that what you need and know what everything that goes any where near your fish is likely to do Everything has pros and cons. Learn them. I don't why people get emotional over stuff like carbon, meth blue or UG filters. Like it can only be always or never. Yes, there are serious problems with most things. Every substance, even water has a LD 50 (dose that kills 50%. Chemicals, and natural substances aren't "good" or "bad". Its all a matter of knowledge, risk, cost. Most products serve some purpose, but if you don't understand them or need them you are taking unnecessary risks and wasting money by using them.

Last edited by emc7; 01-24-2013 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 01-24-2013, 02:39 PM   #7
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like we said.... only use to remove meds
if you want polished water use a polishing pad, i use a thick pad sheet for ponds and cut my pads from it to the desired shape and size.. perfect
we dont make this sh!t up lol
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Old 01-24-2013, 05:44 PM   #8
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I have a couple carbon filters. Never had any problems with them. Of course my plants died, but that's usual for me. Carbon filters or no carbon filters. I am a plant killer. All I can get to live is Italian val. Guess its the Italian in me..... Java moss usually dies with me. My hydrophelia is only doing okay. My hornwort is looking sadish. I killed all my water lettuce. My duckweed disappeared mostly. I actually just made a new record with plants for me. Keeping java moss alive in a tropical tank for over 4 months. Anyways, I have not noticed any differences between carbon filtered tanks and non carbon filtered tanks. All my tanks smell funky. Carbon or no carbon.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:37 PM   #9
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Default The Trouble with Tribbles (I mean, Carbon)...

I got carbon in all my tanks never had a problem the only times I got a alge problem was when direct sun light was on the tanks. But it's keeps the water clear and clean every week I rinse them off in hot water. And replace them every 2 months.


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Old 01-24-2013, 08:11 PM   #10
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Default The Trouble with Tribbles (I mean, Carbon)...

I used carbon in my TopFin 20 (pre-revamp) and never had a problem with it, but it used floss/carbon cartridges, and always forgot to change them every month. I washed them before adding them to the tank which got rid of most of the dust. I now use my AquaClear with peat instead of carbon. I still keep a box of carbon inserts tucked away in the stand in case if emergencies though.


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Old 01-25-2013, 05:38 AM   #11
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Thats great if you have never had issues caused by carbon, maybe you have and have not realised why,
The problems it causes will not necessarily kill your fish ulness you left it in for far too long.
It will give you nice clean water, it does what it says on the tin... its just the stuff they neglect to put on the tin that is the trouble but if you feel you would rather use it for its benefits then its your choice and not our business to stop you, some ask advice and why that advice is given, it is their's as what to do with that advice.
Not everyones advice will be the same and as what has happened here it becomes a debate
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Old 01-25-2013, 05:48 AM   #12
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And the debates are half the fun about this weathers your in the debate your just watching from the outside.... never leaves more a dull moment
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:04 PM   #13
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Once covered in bio-slime, carbon becomes useless anyway in 2 weeks or less.
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