Ask the WWM Crew
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Cons outweigh pros of GAC for Fish Only systems? 1/31/13
I recently came across the linked article below. Do you have any thoughts on this disposition of GAC as potentially harmful for fish?
<Yes; this is actually quite an olde controversy...>
While I can appreciate that low grade carbon is to be avoided, I find it particularly interesting...that pelleted carbon was found to potentially cause micro lesions...20% of professional aquarists surveyed found HLLE reverse progression when discontinuing use of carbon...
<Yes; had read this. The owner/publisher of Coral is a friend, and my US publisher, James Lawrence. Sends along copies of all 'zines>
The source water for my system passes through two carbon blocks - one in my whole house filter, one in my Coralife RO unit.
<Not to worry re>
As I am running a fish only system, I wonder if it is to no benefit (or possibly even to harm) that I run pelleted carbon in my system.
Curious to know your thoughts, Dave
<The "risk" of carbon exposure is far less than the benefits of its use.
Deficiency "syndromes" like HLLE can/are reversed by feeding, the use of some additives. Bob Fenner>
Marc (Weiss); would you allow me to post
your comments below on WetWebMedia.com? Would be helpful to many
AHHS: GAC and HLLE... -- 11/08/11
Research on carbon use link to
lateral line disease -- 7/14/10
Hair Algae and it's
Carbon and Kalkwasser.
Saltwater Aquarium Questions 2/19/09 Poly Filter, Algae Control, Drunk Snails Good Morning, <Hi Jackie> Happy Thursday!!! I have two questions. Will using a Poly pad in my sump lessen the effectiveness of additives i.e. B-Ionics, Iodine, Trace Elements? <Shouldn't have much effect on the B-Ionics but will have some effect on Iodine and will remove heavy metal trace elements.> I think I'm seeing more green hair algae growth since adding the pad. <What are your nitrate/phosphate levels? Do read here Jackie. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeconMar.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm> I have Cerith snails that appear to be passed out (on their backs) during the day, <Kind of how I was last night:)> but are very active at night. Is that normal? <Sure, can be. Mine are most active during the evening.> Your advice/information is greatly appreciated. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks, Jackie
Nitrate Sponge & Phosban Don't Mix! 1/29/09 Hi Crew, <Hello BC> This is more a commentary than a question. Hopefully it might prevent some other person from making the same mistake. I have a 90g Reef Tank with a 40g sump with circulation pumps, heaters and a Turboflotor 1000 Multi Skimmer (which I love and highly recommend). I like to be able to run a little Polyfilter or other media without going full canister filter, so I also have a Aquaclear 110 hooked on the back of the sump. I've run Kent Marine Nitrate Sponge in a twin setup on my FOWLR 90g for years. Where's the problem? I added Phosban to the mix. I've never used the products but was having a problem with hair algae and figured it might help with the phosphates I assume are feeding them even though tests kits read zero across the board for phosphates, ammonia, nitrite & nitrates. <Likely> Anyway, I added both the Kent Marine Nitrate Sponge and the Phosban at the same time. Wince. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have, but there you go. The skimmer immediately started having a fit-- producing copious amounts of super wet foam. I removed both the Nitrate Sponge and the Phosban (once I narrowed down the cause) and slipped in some Polyfilter hoping it might help. I'd just performed a water change so I didn't have any more aged water on hand. The corals and fish looked fine--perky, so I crossed my fingers, disconnected the frothing skimmer and waited until the next day hoping things would "right" themselves. They didn't--although the corals and fish looked no worse for wear. I performed another 20 gallon water change. The skimmer improved marginally--it took 30 seconds to fill the cup instead of 10. I decided a huge water change was in order. The following evening I changed 50 gallons. It seems to have worked. The foam is still a little wet, but its gradually improving. The only thing I can figure out is that there was a reaction between the Nitrate Sponge and the Phosban that effected the water. At first I figured an airline on the skimmer was clogged, but it wasn't. I also tested the unit in my FOWLR tank. It produced normal, dry foam there. I tested the skimmer on the new patch of water, to see if their was something funny coming in through the tap. Again, no problem. I don't use any water conditioner since I always let my water age for at least 24 hours. I'd added nothing else to the tank. Unless it was the Phosban alone (which I doubt), then it had to be the combination of the two. Have you ever heard of this? Do you know of anyone who runs both these medias together? It was a real pain in the rear. Thankfully I didn't loose any live stock to it, in fact, my corals seem happier than I've ever seen them--must be all that nice new water! Anyway, I saw nothing on your site about a possible conflict between the two, so I thought I'd put this out there. <Wondering if the Phosban should have been rinsed out thoroughly before use. As far as the Nitrate Sponge, it's just a porous zeolite that fosters anaerobic bacteria aiding your denitrification system in converting nitrate to nitrogen. It has no properties that directly remove nitrate from saltwater. This product should cause no reactions with Phosban. Might be something else going on here. Bob may have some input here.><<Nope. Nothing new. RMF>> Cheers! <Good day to you. James (Salty Dog)> BC
Black Diamond Activated Carbon and Phosphates - 06/08/2007 Dear Crew, <Andy> I have been battling Cyanobacteria for a few months in my 110g reef tank that has been running a little over a year. I have read and tried everything to eliminate the BGA, but to no avail. I siphon off all the BGA from my rocks each week when I do my water changes, but it grows back full force by the next week's water change. I have limited my photoperiod, I have been very careful about feeding, I upgraded my skimmer to an AquaC EV-180, I employ a 30g fuge with Chaeto, I run a PhosBan reactor with media, I removed my bio-balls, I use RO/DI water for all my water changes/top-offs . . . you get the picture. The one variable that I have not eliminated is the use of activated carbon. <Mmmm, the Chaetomorpha and Phosban material should remove all soluble phosphate> In fact, I believe I can trace the start of my problem to a switch from ESV activated carbon to Black Diamond activated carbon. <Both are fine products in my experience> It seems that since I made that switch, the BGA went from being here and there to being everywhere. I switched because I was thinking the ESV was leaching phosphates and causing the small amount of BGA I had, but this switch seems to have only made matters worse. I've read Steven Pro's article on phosphates in activated carbon, and see that Black Diamond leached 1 ppm of phosphates in the sample, and I'm thinking this must be my problem. My water parameters check out fine--0 ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, silicates and phosphates; pH is a steady 8.3; alk is a steady 3.5 meq/L; specific gravity is 1.026; temp is 78-80. So, today I replaced all my carbon with Purigen and am hoping that this solves my mystery. Has anyone had similar experiences with Black Diamond (or other carbons) and do you think the switch to Purigen was a good one? The guy at the LFS convinced me to try it over Chemi-Pure, as you can regenerate Purigen and it was about the same price. Thanks for your help! Andy <The API product has been known to pose excess HPO4 issues, but again, as stated, this should not be a problem here. In fact, I propose removing the contactor (Phosban) as your real issue may well be a lack of this essential nutrient... that is fueling the BGA, which can exist at much lower levels than is healthy for true algae/thallophytes and other purposeful photosynthetic livestock (e.g. "corals"). Put in another ways SOME phosphate is absolutely essential... the Cyano may well be being favored by its exclusion here. Bob Fenner>
Chemi-Pure Sucks... I Think????? -- 04/01/08 I Recently put a bag of Chemi-Pure in my 46 gal bowfront tank thinking it was gonna help. <<Help what?>> Not 24 hours later mushroom corals melting and flame angel is short on breath. <<?>> Pretty sure he's gonna die. Fungia is no longer extending tentacles and my seahare doesn't look like it's doing to good either. I guess the real question is.. by me changing out regular carbon and adding Chemi-Pure, the amount suggested by the bottle, I was wondering if the addition of too much carbon or whatever Chemi-Pure has is what made this happen?????????? <<Not typically, no'¦especially if you followed the manufacturer's instructions. If indeed the Chemi-Pure is at fault here, it's hard to say what may have caused this reaction as you have provided no information re water chemistry/tank conditions, before and after applying the Chemi-Pure. This is a good and well thought of product, but do remove it and see if things improve. I suppose there's always the possibility of some type of contamination'¦though I suspect there are other factors at play here. Regards, EricR>> <More likely the Seahare itself is the cause of issues here. RMF>
Chemi-Pure Overuse... lack of reading re chemical filtrants, Crypt... 3/6/08 Hello All, <Jackie> I am wondering if my tank may have suffered from carbon shock. About 3 weeks ago I added Chemi-pure to my sump. <Mmm, even this high-quality product gets "used up" fairly quickly... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/chemFiltrMar.htm and the linked files above> I have a 90 gallon reef tank that has been up and running for a little over a year. About a week after adding the Chemi-pure I noticed that my Kole Eye Tang was looking a little pale. A few days later he looked as though he may have developed ich (I think I noticed about 5 or so white dots). I decided to keep an eye on him for a couple of days (in the mean time I setup my QT tank). Roughly two days later my Yellow Tang had a few white dots (which I'll assume was ich). I was able to catch the Kole Eye Tang and move him to my QT tank treated with Cupramine (spelling)<Corrected>. The QT tank salinity, temp, and PH matched the main tank. I was not able to catch the Yellow Tang. <... if there is a protozoan infestation, all fishes need to be captured, moved... Draining the tank/system if necessary, most practical> The next day Kole was upside down pressed against the filter. At this point I'm very leery of adding other fish to the QT tank (I'm sure you think I'm crazy). <... is not a QT, but a treatment tank...> It's been a few days and Yellow no longer has the white dots. <Cycling... will be back... see WWM re Cryptocaryon life-cycle... treatment possibilities> However, she is very pale about the face. Back to the Chemi-pure. The product I purchased supports a 200 gal tank. I was not aware when I purchased it that you can't split it up. So, I called Boyd Chemi-pure and explained my dilemma. He said that I could still use the 200 units in my 90 gal without adversely effecting the tank inhabitants. <I concur> I'm now wondering if he gave me sound advise. <Advice> Is it a coincidence that my fish started to stress out shortly after adding the Chemi-pure? <Likely so, yes> If not, should I remove the Chemi-pure? Not sure if removing it will also cause additional stress. Can too much carbon adversely affect my corals and inverts? <Mmm, can... read where you were referred to... but not likely in otherwise well-set-up and maintained systems> They seem to be doing fine at this point. Thanks, Jackie <Read... then act, but soon. Bob Fenner>
- Carbon removing trace elements... - I have heard that if you use activated carbon in a filter, that it will remove trace elements. True or false?? <True and false, it removes some trace elements, most notably iodine, but leaves plenty as well.> I use a Eheim Professional 2 canister filter, which uses a charcoal filter pad in it. Would this be removing the trace elements I'm adding twice a week?? <Depends on what you're adding. I would only run carbon once a month for 3-4 days or when you notice any tinge of yellow in the water (best seen in a clean white bucket). Have fun! -Kevin> Pat Auburn, NY
Carbon Causing HLLE? Hi Crew, thanks for taking my question. <Sure! Scott F. with you today!> First let me give you a brief history of my situation. I have a hippo tang that developed hole in head disease early on. It is stable (some scaring around the head) and has been there for about a year and a half or so. Anyway, he developed ich a little while back, I believe it was from a wrasse that I added without quarantine. <A lesson learned, huh?> I put all my fish, 1 tang, 2 clowns and the wrasse in a 35 gallon plastic container (quarantine) for 8 weeks while I let the tank run fishless to get rid of the parasites. I decided to use the "siphoning bottom of tank everyday" method to cure (no copper) and it worked great. <Well done! Glad to hear that!> Now to the point. During the eight weeks in quarantine, my hippo tang showed tremendous improvement regarding the HLLE, the scarring around his head was reduced by at least 50%. Problem is, I put him back in the display tank and all the progress has reversed and the scaring went back to the way it was. There is no way the water quality in the quarantine tank was better than the display. I was using tap water, a power head, a heater and a sponge filter. The display tank gets RO + DI water, 20% bi weekly water changes, live rock, live sand, better diet, steady temp, etc. So I figured it was the lack of carbon use that helped reverse HLLE. I did not use Carbon at all in the quarantine and run it constantly in my display tank. So I want to experiment and stop using Carbon in my display tank. <Well, that could be one possibility...I'm quite skeptical, because use of carbon far outweighs any possible ill effects that could happen, IMO. Yes, some people claim that carbon depletes trace elements, but if you are conducting regular water changes, this argument doesn't hold up, IMO. Anecdotally, you could proceed under the hypothesis that carbon contributed to the HLLE condition, but I don't know how it will work out. An interesting experiment, however. I commend you for trying! Do consider other possibilities, such as "stray voltage" in the display tank, or other possible environmental factors, too...Test for all of the basic parameters, and then some!> Will this effect my Coral in anyway? I have a Bubble, Torch, Candy Cane, Various Polyps and Xenia. <Well, activated carbon helps remove all sorts of allelopathic compounds that are released by corals on a regular basis. You might see some differences in the health of these animals if you discontinue its use in this tank.> Should I increase my water changes, or is it not necessary? <I'd consider more frequent water changes to help compensate> Will the protein skimmer pick up the slack? I use a Aqua-C Remora. <Aggressive protein skimming will definitely help, too.> Thanks for you input. Ang. <My pleasure, Ang. Do test your theory, but also look at other possible factors along the way...I'm sure that you'll have some interesting results to report! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>
Carbon Fallout! Hey folks, how's the Q and A treating you? <Excellent! Scott F. here today!> I finally have my tank up and running after months of planning and reading the best site on the net. You run the best show out there, and I cannot tell enough people about it. <Awesome! We're really glad to hear that!> I had a situation arise and I wanted to know if you could help keep me? I had a carbon container come apart in my sump. I woke up to black water, and volcanic ash all over my sand bed and the rock. <Yuck!> I have hooked up my Magnum to filter out the dust, but its going really slow, in fact, I haven't seen any improvement in 8 hours of running it. My protein skimmer (which I know I should dig a big hole in my yard and bury it in and unmarked grave), the Red Sea Berlin Turbo, has been useless. I could use some advice as to what, if any, other things I should be doing to get rid of this catastrophe. <I'd consider some good old fashioned water changes, with careful siphoning of the rocks and substrate. A series of small water changes, in conjunction with fine mechanical filtration, can really help do the trick!> My other question is: I purchased a new Mag Drive, 2400gph pump to supply the closed loop I built for the top rim of the tank for circulation. I put the pump below the tank in the cabinet and plumbed it from there back up to the tank. I reduced the 1" inlets and outlets to 1/2 inch to avoid the bulky 1" around the rim of the tank. I plugged it in today to test it out, and I am getting a dribble out of the 6 outlets I put into the closed loop. Where did I go wrong? <Hmm...Sounds like you are putting a lot of back pressure on the pump with the reduced tubing. Perhaps that, combined with the outlets, is creating a problem here. It may take some tweaking on your part, unfortunately. I can't really give you much more advice, other than to try going for the once inch diameter tubing and, perhaps, less outlets...Sigh> Looking forward to hearing from you, its finally getting above 50 here in Wisconsin, and I need to get outside before it snows here again. Its only April, we could get a blizzard warning any time. Quinn. <Wow! I think it would be cool (no pun intended) to have a blizzard once in a while, but I imagine that it gets old real fast! Hope that the spring and summer are awesome for you! Regards, Scott F>
Carbon Problems Hi, I have been keeping salt water fish for over a year now, and I was trying to move into keeping a reef. I bought a 65 gallon hex tank, to keep the tank for show, in it there is 60 lbs of live rock, 15 lbs live sand, 20 blue leg hermit crabs, 2 juvenile maroon clowns (one 3 inches the other less than an inch, they get along really well), and a host anemone. I have been running a canister filter, rated for 150 gallons, using activated carbon and filter pad and ceramic rings. Also in the tank I have a Prizm skimmer and maxi jet 900 power head for circulation. I have tried purchasing Xenia corals but they have all died out slowly over the course of a week or two. My LFS told me that I could not run carbon with the Xenia, I wanted to know if this was true, and was this true of all soft corals? <I've been using Chemi-Pure for years and have no problems with keeping corals. I do feed DT's phytoplankton and Cyclop-Eeze weekly.> I have already stopped using the activated carbon and ceramic rings and the tank conditions have declined, they told me to stop running it at least 30 days before getting the xenia, and the xenia will filter the tank like the carbon did. <Corals produce most of their food providing ideal lighting conditions exist. Supplemental feedings as I do, benefit the animals. We are trying to duplicate nature here.> That doesn't sound right, nothing I read indicated that, but I wanted to ask to make sure. Thanks for your help, I love the website, it is like my bible, I must have spent 40+ hours reading it over the last few weeks since I found it. <Keep enjoying. Reading is fundamental in this hobby. James (Salty Dog)>
Carbon use 8/2/05 Hey crew.<<Hello - Ted here>> I have a 33 gal. Long, at least 25 lbs. Live rock 30 lbs. Live sand. A Fluval 404,marineland bio-wheel 400 and a red sea Prizm protein skimmer. Should I use carbon <<Yes>> I understand that carbon can produce high phosphate levels my water parameters r great would like to keep it like it is. <<Low quality carbon can leach phosphates. High quality carbon typically does not. Some better brands are Black Diamond, Seachem Matrix Carbon and Rowa Carbon. Read here for more information on carbon (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chemFiltrMar.htm).>> Thanks in advance. Gary <<You're welcome. Cheers - Ted>>
Loss of vitamins, SW - 09/14/06 Hi WWM crew, I have a question for you regarding activated carbon. Should I remove it when I dose multi-vitamins into the tank? If no, won't the activated carbon absorb the vitamins? Thanks in advance. Regards. <Mmm... some... but if the carbon is more than an hour or two old... exceedingly little... More likely to be skimmed... Bob Fenner> Using Carbon and Medication Simultaneously...Mmmm - 6/1/07 Hi, <Hello.> you guys and your page been a lot of help, <Thanks.> but I can't find any info on using these two carbon and kick ick at same time. <You shouldn't use activated carbon and any type of medication at the same time, the carbon will remove/absorb the medication. Furthermore I suggest researching the kick ich a little deeper, let's just say it's not something I would use, and I certainly hope this is being done in a QT tank and not your display. Also please google Steven Pros articles re: ich, they were originally published on reef-keeping magazine I believe.> I been told the carbon sucks the O2 out the water is this true? <Read here; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chemFiltrMar.htm .> thank you for your help <Anytime, Adam J.>
Algae growth (removal of desirable materials by carbon use) Bob, I was told that the use of carbon would remove the chemicals I put into the tank. <Some chemicals> I was using liquid calcium and pro dKH to grow the purple/pink algae. <These are not removed by carbon use... a note though: both biominerals and alkalinity are required for coralline growth, health> Now I am almost out of the chemicals and still no results. Should I remove the carbon or not or should I have gotten better chemicals? Thanks, David Garcia <"Better" chemicals? Let's move this discussion back a bit... to talking about your system (what's in it, how it is/was set-up, maintained)... and what sorts of tests you do, what led you to use such. Bob Fenner>
Carbon, trace elements Mr. (?Dr.) Fenner, <Just call me Bob, please, no doctorate.> My questions concern the use of activated carbon and potential trace element depletion. From your previous discussions, I gather that the pros of high quality carbon outweigh the potential/theoretical cons. <Yes. In almost all settings, circumstances... the types, amounts of materials removed of more use than retained> I am currently addressing a case of HLLE with vitamin (Vita-Chem, Zoecon) and Iodine (Kent Marine) supplementation of food, but I have removed Chemi-pure because of concerns regarding additional trace element depletion. Unfortunately, despite active biological filtration and protein skimming, the water clarity has decreased. <Yes... do agree with your approach, concerns, and understand the inputs, consequences you are observing> 1) As long as vitamin/iodine supplementation of food and regular water changes (20% every two weeks) are continued, do you envision a problem with re-adding "fresh" Chemi-pure? <No> 2) How frequently do you recommend supplementing with Vita-Chem, Zoecon, and Iodine (i.e., do you rotate these additives)? <About once a week with all as a general use, and no to rotation... they are miscible/mixable> (Note: My current lighting for this fish only system would not sustain live rock or growth of Caulerpa algae as you have recommended for HLLE.) <Hmm, perhaps a separate sump/refugium that can/could be linked/attached to the main system?> Thanks for your input. <You are welcome my astute friend. Bob Fenner> Dana Ascherman
Re: carbon, trace elements Bob, Thanks for the prompt response--I'm impressed! Just to clarify regarding my 2nd question: you suggest combining each of these supplements with the food concurrently, but only once per week (?even though instructions for Vita-Chem suggest 5 times per week). <Yes... and not to be confusing... even "spilling" some into the tanks water directly> I assume that adding vitamins/iodine to the water confers little additional benefit if the fish are eating supplemented food. Sorry to pester you. <Not necessarily... as they do drink it... but other living mechanisms in the system also directly/indirectly benefit, in turn benefit the system, other life... and never a bother> Dana Ascherman <Bob Fenner>
Supplements I have an Marineland eclipse running on a soon to be reef. Should I remove the carbon? I have been hearing testimonials about removing the carbon filter. Thanks > I endorse the periodic use of activated carbon in most types of marine systems. It gets "used up" very quickly (minutes to hours) of being added, so I would just change it out about once a month. Bob Fenner
Carbon use bob I was told not to use carbon in my filtration. Reason given is that it will remove trace elements, but trace elements can be replaced .should I use carbon? if the answer is yes why ? thanks Rick. > This myth was/is dismissed by Tim Hovanec in the most recent issue of Aquarium Fish Magazine... no to carbon removing anything of real danger... I would use it about once a month... to remove dissolved organics... color from the water... that can't be taken out practically in other ways. Bob Fenner
Carbon/algae Bob, I have a new reef tank that is 4 wks. old. 20 gal sump with w/d filter, Berlin turbo protein skimmer, 100 or so lbs. LR, 25 watt UV ster. and lighting is CSL 4x55 watt PC's(2 blues, 2 white). Livestock consists of 1 yellow tang, 1 blue damsel, 3 polyps, 2 mushroom, 3 small leathers and a scavenger "kit"(20 snails 20 ea. hermit crabs, 5 peppermint shrimp, 4 emerald etc.) Yesterday I added a 10 oz. bag of Chemi-pure. At the same time I cleaned p/s collection cup. Now p/s is no longer skimming. Is this because of carbon or do you think it needs further investigation. <The carbon, resin mix... the Chemi-Pure> It seems to be producing more bubbles than before but nothing is rising into the collection cup. Algae. I had been pretty easily keeping up with the brown algae removal (scraping it off the glass, stirring up the sand), but now some of it is getting a little "cottony" on certain pieces of LR. It seems to be growing IMO where the water flow is the lowest. <Good observation> My sump pump is 810 gph. I fear it may be hair algae and don't know if I should be patient with it and let it run it's course or should be trying to remove it some other way. <Don't sweat the hair algae... supplanting the brown... all part of "nature's way"> I've thought about buying a powerhead and aiming it opposite from current outflow tube and toward where growth is. Not sure how strong I would need and if it would do anything, water flow now seems pretty strong. <More is better> I've considered keeping the lights off for a day or two but don't know if I should with new inverts in new tank. Also I tested amm, nitrite, nitrate all undetectable? <Don't change the light cycle. No worries> I have not done a water change as of yet because I have not been able to detect any nitrates. I do have a 32 gal. can filled with 4 day old seawater I keep circulating with an old powerhead and heater. <Good protocol> Thanks again for your help/advice. - Kevin <Instruct others on your success. Bob Fenner>