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FAQs on Carbon Filtration 1

Related FAQs: Carbon 2, & FAQs on Carbon: Rationale/Use, Types/Qualities/Selection, Placement, Renewal, Negative Reactions, Sources/Brands, & Marine Chemical Filtrants

Related Articles: Selection and Placement of Activated Carbon in Marine Aquaria by Adam Jenkins,  Phosphates in Carbon; An analysis of the phosphate content of activated Carbon by Steven Pro,  Marine Chemical Filtrants, Zeolite Filters: A Discussion of What Zeolites Are and How They Function by Jens Kallmeyer, The ZEOvit System: A New Concept in Reefkeeping by Alexander Girz,


New Print and eBook on Amazon

Marine Aquarium Algae Control

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

- New Tank Set-up, Follow-up - Thanks for the reply.  <My pleasure.>  With this setup, do I need to add any kind of carbon filtration, and if I do, how would I incorporate it into this system.  <You can... I did... is quite easy to just place a micron bag filled with carbon in the sump, leave there for a little while... couple of days.> Thanks again. Mitch <Cheers, J -- >

Sour-smelling marine tank? Hi, <Hi...> What could cause a marine tank to smell sour? <Egads... sour?> I have smelled before the "fishy" smell tanks get if their chemistry is off, but I have never had a tank smell sour. <Not sure I would be able to discern the difference... sour/fishy - both I would classify as "bad" smells, but I don't have an incredibly sensitive nose. I've heard of rotten eggs before [hydrogen sulfide] but sour??? Could probably be a couple of things - look for something dead [snail, etc.], or if you are feeding any bottled food, perhaps smell that stuff to in case some of it has gone bad. In all cases, run some fresh activated carbon and that should nip it in the bud.> Thanks, Patrick <Cheers, J -- >

Carbon In your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" you say it is best to place chemical filtration media such as carbon in polyester bags and arrange there placement in a pressurized water flow. <And I would agree.> You also say the worst is to just throw the bag and contents into the sump. If all I have is an overflow box and a sump is it better to put it in the sump than to not have any at all? <You can probably rig something so that the overflow water is directed into the carbon. Just do so such that if and when the carbon becomes clogged the water can continue to drain down unobstructed. -Steven Pro>

TMC high Retentive Activated Carbon Hello Bob, Do you know of any retail stores that carry TMC High Retentive Activated Carbon product?  <Yes... a friend's biz, Octopus' Garden (Ron Elander) sells it here in San Diego... and likely some of the etailers mentioned on WetWebMedia.com carry this fine product> I am looking to purchase this product for my new 60-gallon acrylic tank. I have read some of the Q&A articles answered by you regarding this product and this product was your first choice and the second is Chemi-Pure. Many thanks for your help. Michael <Good searching. Bob Fenner>
Re: TMC High Retentive Activated Carbon
Wow! ....I did not realize that I can get your answer that quick! <We aim to please... and not get buried by backed-up questions/input!> I am a rookie to the reef hobby and I am still reading all the articles on your website and intend to do so everyday - this is a good learning for me. <Ah, good> My first 60-gallon (planning to do coral with very little fish) will be setup tomorrow and intended to setup like the plenum system type invented by Dr. Jean Jaubert at the Monaco Aquarium - Is this advisable Bob? <Sure> Substrate: Live sand (60 lbs.) Live Fiji rock (40 lbs. right now) The lighting will be: Hamilton Power Compact with two bulbs with a total of 110 Watt (one blue and one super day lite) - is this strong enough? The tank is 26 x 26 x 23" deep. <Should be fine for now... you can add more wattage/intensity later, as you find you may want more "high-light" livestock> Filters: BakPak 2R Fluval MSF 404 Two Rio pump for water movement I also just purchase a Maxxima RO/DI unit. Try to keep simple and low tech as I am just a rookie and don't want to waste money for things that I don't need. <I understand> Please advise. Many thanks again Bob. Michael <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>
Re: TMC High Retentive Activated Carbon
Bob, Do you have Octopus' Garden Mr. Elander's phone number and his website? Couldn't find his website. Really want to purchase the TMC High Retentive Activated Carbon to put in the Fluval MSF to start up with the tank. <Don't have a website as far as I know. Number: 858-576-7449, 7975 Raytheon Rd., Suite 240, San Diego, CA> I also have some Chemi-pure at home but wanted to try the TMC HRAC. Thanks, Michael <A worthy product. Bob Fenner>

Carbon for removing metals chlorine etc. To whom it may concern, I spend a fortune each month on replacing carbon and Polyfilter on my tanks. Where can I purchase carbon filter similar to Chemipure in large quantity for a low price? <Last time I looked Champion, http://www.championlighting.com, had the best prices.> I would like to make my own mixture if possible at a low price. <Interesting question. My understanding is that Chemi-Pure is a high grade activated carbon mixed with some deionization resin. You could produce something like this with a filter bad, good carbon, and a Tapwater Purifier cartridge. I am not sure if this will be any cheaper, though.> Thanks, Chris <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Carbon Hi there, I have two questions for you: 1. Can I use carbon to break up the bond between chlorine and ammonia rather then using conditioners (de-chlor)? <Yes> And how long should I wait, 24 hour? <Should be sufficient.> 2. My brother asked me a silly question, do fishes know their owner (I think he meant the person who feeds them)? <Fish can definitely learn who feeds them and respond by coming to the top of the tank. -Steven Pro>

Carbon in Prizm Many thanks for your help so far. I wanted to know if I can put a small bag of carbon in my Prizm skimmer. Will this effect skimming? <Yes, probably for the worse.> I know the skimmer is not the best but I bought it anyway do to only using it on a 20gal. <Will be fine for a 20 gallon tank.> I already have a Fluval 204 for mechanical and filled with TBPC for bio filtration. I have just removed all of my crushed coral except for about 1 inch and I am going to add 20lbs of LR if I can get it past my wife. Shaun Nelson <It would probably be easier/better to place carbon in the Fluval if you do not already have it packed. I prefer to use Boyd's Chemi-Pure in canister filters. If not, a simple hang-on filter is a cheap alternative. -Steven Pro>

TBPC and RN What do you know about Hiatt's Tri-Based Pelletized Carbon (TBPC) and Right Now Bacteria (RN) ? <Really just what hype/ads they have produced/released, and a few minutes of conversation with "Snake" Hiatt himself. A very nice, and interesting gentleman> I read an article on it at http://saltaquarium.about.com/library/weekly/aa080598.htm?terms=tbpc I have a 20gal. high FO salt tank and I am slowly converting to reef. I have a Fluval 204 and thinking about adding a Prizm skimmer to keep the nitrates down. I was thinking of adding the TBPC to the Fluval instead of making a separate carbon tube. Does this stuff do what it claims? They suggest 3 pounds for a 20gal tank. Any info would be greatly appreciated. <Please take a read through our site: www.WetWebMedia.com or use the Google search feature on the Homepage (at the bottom) re these topics. Bob Fenner> Shaun Nelson

Activated Carbon in a Reef Tank I know that this question has been asked a million times, but here goes: In a reef with a mix of LPS and soft corals, do you recommend running Activated Carbon 24/7? <Yes and changing often.> Why or why not? <For the why, I am going to refer you to the various FAQ files for further reading.> Thanks! Adam <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Carbon Steven, Your mind has changed, as in prior faq emails you suggest using it once or twice a month for a few days. Why the change in opinion? <Not really sure I have had a change of opinion. I cannot recollect all the emails I have answered, so I looked over the FAQ file on carbon at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/carbonfaqs.htm None of the replies were from me, but they all said to use carbon 24/7.> Also, how often is "often" for changing it while running 24/7? <At least once per month, maybe more often depending of bioload. I like and use Chemi-Pure and Polyfilters.> Thanks! Adam <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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>

Activated carbon/ ozone bob, Is it essential when running ozone, that the returning water from the skimmer be run under carbon???? This seems like a controversial subject. Thanks again. Lee <Not essential in almost all cases... part of an ongoing "urban myth" in the hobby (along with the lack of necessity of thermal acclimation, floating livestock polyethylene bags... please stop me). There is so little O3 produced by corona discharge hobby units there is exceedingly small likelihood of ozone "poisoning" (and extremely tiny chance of "space poisoning" the area around the aquarium/s it's used in...). If curious, get/use a conductivity or Redox meter and measure the change in water quality in/about the use of this ozone-generating device. Bob Fenner>

Slight Discoloration in water Bob, I have been reading your posts and have been impressed with your depth of knowledge.  <Pet-fishing is about all I know anything about... and not much of that.> My question is simple. I have a 55g FO set-up with a live sand bed (3 inches) that has been running for 1 year. I have most of the original fish. (Yellow Tang, Flame angel, 3 green Chromis and a tomato clown) I consider the tank fully stocked. Nitrates have always been <10 and all other parameters are 0 (PH is 8.3). My water however has a slight greenish tint. <This happens... especially when viewed through glass tanks (the glass is slightly greenish)... and accumulation of "wastes"... easy to get rid of with a bit of activated carbon in your filter flow path... Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/carbonfaqs.htm > I run a Turboflotor skimmer 7/24 and it collects about half the collection cup of pea soup every week. I have tried running carbon, but I cannot get the slight green tint out of the water. <Try another brand... like Boyd's Chemipure...> It can only be seen from the end of the tank, looking through 4 feet of the water. Is it the sheet algae that I put in for the tang and flame angel daily? <Hmm, possibly this is adding to the color> Any ideas how to clear this up. <Growing purposeful macro-algae, either in a sump and/or the main tank would help...> Thanks for your help Geoff Goodfellow <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

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

Activated Carbon I'm confused about the use of activated carbon in my marine aquarium. The advice I have read/heard ranges from activated carbon is only good for a couple of days and then should be thrown out to keeping activated carbon up to two months. I have a hang on power filter and would like to know what is the proper use of activated carbon under normal operating conditions, as well as it's other applicable uses. > You can read my take on activated carbons and other chemical filtrants posted in articles, et al. on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com For the short version: Activated carbon is a useful material to use, generally periodically to remove excess organics... Most forms have the shortcoming of removing too much in the way of biominerals and other useful materials as well. Even the best activated carbons only "last" minutes to hours in actual application. So "over-using" them is of small concern... unless you're switching out your AC every day...  Most folks who do use carbon, as I say, do so on a periodic basis... I suggest once a month... And yes, there are "rules of thumb" about how much AC can/should be applied in a filter flow path... The best "assays" are you and your livestock. For you, looking at a piece of white paper, end to end through the long path of your fish tank, before and after the carbon will surprise you... the water will be much less "yellow"... For your livestock, closely observing their reaction to water quality will tell you about how much carbon you ought to use, how frequently. One stipulation here... be careful to not "overuse" carbon... in terms of improving water quality in the way of strikingly improving light transmission... the first time out, it isn't too hard to actually photo-shock (burn) your photosynthetic livestock. Bob Fenner

I HAVE A 75 GAL REEF AQUARIUM. CURRENTLY USING A WET DRY WITH A BERLIN  SKIMMER AND UV STERILIZER. VHO LIGHTING. MY QUESTION IS SHOULD I BE USING  CARBON AND IF SO WHAT BRAND WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?  <I would, do use some (an ounce or so per ten gallons) of activated carbon... changing it out once a month. My favorite brand, bar none, is HR (High Retentive) Activated Carbon, by Tropic Marine Centre (TMC)... doesn't have phosphates, doesn't remove biominerals... Second best is Boyd's Chemipure...> MOST BRANDS SEEM TO HAVE  PHOSPHATES IN THEM.  HOW WOULD YOU RECOMMEND I PUT THE CARBON IN. WOULD YOU PUT IT IN BAGS IN THE  SUMP OR IN THE WET DRY.?  <Place in Dacron/polyester bags (you can buy, re-use) if the product doesn't come bagged, and place between mechanical filter media (floss, or my fave, reusable Fein and Grob flocken by Eheim) in your filter flow path...> WOULD YOU RECOMMEND CONTINUOUS USE OR PULL IT OUT  WHEN ADDING SUPPLEMENTS?  > <Leave it in continuously... though it gets exhausted in actual practice in hours to a few days maximum... And do me/us a favor, and don't type in all cap's.... hard to read. Thanks, Bob Fenner>

Berlin style set-up/carbon Bob- As a follow up question regarding mechanical filtration: I have a Magnum with a canister filter. My plan was to use it two - three days a month with carbon. When I remove the carbon should I replace the canister with the regular filter and run it all the time? I always thought that this would be an ideal place for waste build-up resulting in higher phosphates, etc... Also, what type of carbon do you recommend? Thanks again, Rob <Ah, good to hear... If it were me, I'd just leave the Magnum running continuously, replacing the carbon once a month (though it will be exhausted in a few hours...). I would place the carbon in a Dacron/polyester bag (many units already come in one), behind a layer or disposable filter fiber, and before two grades of permanent (but washable) Eheim Fein and Grob flocken (great plastic media that lasts... forever)... Bob Fenner>

Carbon Dear Bob, There are a lot of opinions on the use of carbon in a reef tank. Some say use it all the time, others say every other month, some say not at all. Even the amount to use is a mystery. What is your opinion? I'd like to know if I should use it all the time, how much to use, and which brand is gives the most "bang for the buck". Thanks again, Tony > Thanks for asking... IMO, most people, for most types of set-ups would/will receive sufficient "bang for the buck" advantage in using activated carbon about once a month... the amount is of course going to vary depending on the livestock, feeding, other filtration, quality of carbon... and much more... but something in the way of about a ounce per ten gallons of real system water (minus decor) is about right... On our old service company accounts we used to have two units of Chemipure (one older, up to two months, the other the newer, less than one month old) replacing the oldest one every month. My favorite brand, bar none is the HR (High Retention) Carbon sold by Tropical Marine Centre out of the UK (distributed in the US by other folks). This superb product holds onto undesirable materials but doesn't interfere with alkalinity or biominerals... an important claim. Place such "free" activated carbon in a reusable Dacron/polyester bag. Bob Fenner, who could go on

Carbon Filtration…Do I need It? - 07/14/07 I have a 55-gallon fish only saltwater tank. I was wanting to add about 50-lbs of live rock. <<I would add a bit less (30lbs) and see how things go…is important to leave swimming room for the fishes>> Should I keep the charcoal in my filter or does this even matter? <<Small amounts of carbon changed-out every couple of weeks are beneficial most any marine system in my opinion>> If I decide to add corals later does this make any difference? <<Will become even more important, yes…do have a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/chemFiltrMar.htm>> A guy at my LFS told me to take it out, but I wasn't sure. <<I do not agree with this. Chemical filtration, while not always a requirement, is most surely always of some benefit>> Thanks. <<Regards, EricR>>

Filter Media/Large Commercial Systems 7/5/07 I just found your website while doing research on toxin adsorption. You could spend weeks here; it's great. Since I don't have that much time, could someone tell me if there are lower cost alternatives to using bulk, granular, activated carbon as a filter medium in 2,000 gallon food fish tanks? GAC must be priced for its potential to form diamonds in the future. <Gary, if this is a marine system, you may want to invest in a commercial skimmer. Prices for these are $700 and up. Here is a link to one site, but a Google search should produce many more. http://www.aquatictech.com/skimmers.htm I know of no other media that would be less expensive than carbon, Mr. Fenner may have some input here. You would get a better price per pound if you bought in bulk. You may want to contact some of the manufacturers of carbon for pricing in this regard.> Thanks. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Gary

Chemical filtration placement question for a hang-on refugium   6/24/07 Good evening, I first want to thank you for your site and all the great information, I don't know if I could have survived this hobby without it. My question is as follows: When adding chemical filtration, specifically Chemi-pure, where should I place it in a CPR hang on refugium/ skimmer unit. I just purchased Chemi-pure and had it in the compartment after the skimmer and now it seems that the Caulerpa in the refugium is turning white and breaking apart. I thought about putting it in front of the return portion of the unit, <Mmm> but I am fearful that the copepods and stuff that is supposed to leak into the main tank from the refugium wont. <Not to worry re this...> The only filtration I currently have is live rock and the CPR and would love to add the Chemical filtration, but the only option I have is to place it in the refugium. I used to use carbon in my Prizm and thought it really helped. I would therefore like to continue with the added filtration with my new set-up. Thank you in advance for all of your help!! Cory <Somewhere in the filter flow path, though not blocking same... toward the exit, return, though most anywhere in this unit would be fine... I would only switch such a product out once a month... using two would be best, leaving one in while changing the oldest each interval. 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.>

Ozone parasite carbon   3/21/07 Hi crew, <Mohamed> Is there a ratio as to how much carbon is required when using ozone or can the same assumption be used 1L carbon per 1000L aquarium water? <Mmm, good question... requires more "knowing" or additional input to make use of a response... That is, other factors, like "bio-load", foods/feeding, the use of other gear (principally skimming...) will/could greatly skew any effect of whatever quality carbon with actual ozone input...> Does one require separate carbon for the tank and the output of the skimmer using ozone or can the carbon for zone usage be sufficient for the entry tank? <I'd say this latter> Will the use of ozone kill off all parasite that eat/kill SPS? <Decidedly not... though it will aid in the prevention of infectious pathogens (bacteria, fungi et al.) indirectly, by improving water quality mostly> Must the effluent from the skimmer pass thru carbon? <No. Though some folks like this arrangement to remove excess O3 that may be liberated, and (IMO) "stink"... there is generally very little of such excess ozone> Thanks     Mohamed <Bob Fenner>

Anemone/ Turtle Weed tank, GAC use, Chlorodesmis comp.   2/27/07 I tried what you suggested, but despite the searches I still couldn't find anything relevant. Can you please just give me a direct answer or at least refer me to a specific FAQ?                             Thanks in Advance,                                        CCS <Mmm, perhaps more of a specific response... There is some value in the use of activated carbon in a setting as you propose... some for absorption, more for an adjunct to bio-filtration... I would use "a few ounces" of GAC in a Dacron bag (that can be easily re-used), changed out once a month or so... Sandwich this twixt some mechanical filter media (to keep off detritus)... And the Chlorophyte genus Chlorodesmis ranks low in relative allelopathogenic properties... perhaps a 3 out of 10... I would not be concerned here with potential effects with Catalaphyllia... BobF>

Will GAC in Ozone reaction chamber effluent support bacteria? Mmm, maybe   12/16/06 Hi folks, <Robert> I understand from my readings that: 1. Effluent from an ozone reaction chamber is likely to have a very high RedOx reading of 600mV plus <Yes> 2. This effluent will contain a toxic level of dissolved ozone and ozone byproducts such as hypobromite <Mmm, can, yes> 3. Activated carbon in regular reef water quickly becomes colonized by bacteria <Very often the case... within a few days... populations climbing under various conditions...> 4. Activated carbon can remove the ozone and byproducts BUT 5. Activated carbon does not affect the RedOx of ozone chamber effluent <Mmm... actually... can to a degree> 6. Very high RedOx potential (much over 450mV) in water is toxic to life <Higher, but yes, there are practical limits> So, if I pass the effluent of my ozone reaction chamber into another chamber containing activated carbon, can I assume that no bacteria will colonize the activated carbon due to the high RedOx in that effluent water? <Highly likely that their metabolism, reproduction would be greatly attenuated... Might I ask... as you have given obvious thought to this "question"... How might one test for this hypothesis?> Many thanks in advance, Rob from Cape Town <Bob F in San Diego>

Re: Will GAC in Ozone reaction chamber effluent support bacteria?   12/18/06 Hi Bob, <Robert> Many thanks for your reply. <Welcome> In answer to your question: >>> <Highly likely that their metabolism, reproduction would be greatly attenuated... Might I ask... as you have given obvious thought to this "question"... How might one test for this hypothesis?> >>> I presume an answer would be to look for metabolic byproducts, probably carbon dioxide. <Perhaps something else... with a tracer or immunofluorescent properties> The flow rate through this chamber would be low, so there should be plenty of time to accumulate CO2 measurably. Two tests, one before and one after the GAC should show whether the carbon chamber is producing CO2. CO2 would drop the pH, so a pH test could possibly be used instead of a dissolved CO2 test. Although, now that I think about it, residual ozone reacting with the GAC would also produce a little CO2. <Yes, especially "when new"> I was hoping to use four reaction chambers in series, namely ozone, GAC, elemental sulphur, calcium carbonate. The ozone would produce nitrate from ammonia and nitrite and oxidize DOC to bacteria-edible smaller molecules. The GAC (I was hoping) would support sufficient bacteria to break down the oxidized DOC further and consume much of the remaining oxygen. The bacteria in the sulphur chamber would remove the nitrate, and I would need less sulphur than the recommended 1% of tank volume since much of the oxygen would already have been removed by the GAC chamber. Finally the calcium carbonate would dissolve to correct the pH and add some calcium. <Sounds like a very nice plan> None of this will work if the water flowing through the system has a poisonously high RedOx level. Do you have any suggestions as to how to fix it? <I think the measure you're talking about will actually work... the RedOx potential won't be so high...> Should I just split the chambers up? Ozone and GAC together and sulphur and calcium carbonate together? <Mmm... I'd keep these separated... for removal, inspection... ease of manipulation> I feel somewhat disappointed. They seemed to work together in such a complementary fashion until I thought about the RedOx problem. Thanks again for your help and apologies for the length of the mail, Rob <No worries re the length of mail... Important to make known what we want. Bob Fenner>  

Re: Will GAC in Ozone reaction chamber effluent support bacteria?  12/20/06 Hi Bob, <Robert> Thanks so much for your help so far. It's invaluable to have someone with experience to talk with. <A pleasure to discourse> I've included a CAD image of the design. Would you mind having a look at it to see if there are any obvious flaws? I'm new to CAD so apologies for any amateurishness. <Ahh, a wonderful graphic!> Each canister is 140mm diameter by 600mm height. This is around 9 liters per canister. <Good size> My main tank volume is 1300 liters. This means that the canister size is somewhat less than the 1% of tank volume recommended by Langouet. I have a low starting nitrate level and other denitrifying mechanisms (plenum, live rock etc.), so I'm hoping this will be okay. <Yes, should be ont hese counts> The flow rate will be around 9 liters per hour. The recirculating ozone chamber will be about 4 liters in volume. This means that a given milliliter of water will be exposed to ozone for around half an hour. The ozone generator I have is rated at 300mg/h (not adjustable). I think this implies an ozone concentration of around 33ppm in the chamber. <Yes... initially... will be quickly degraded... changed into di and mono-atomic portions... the single oxygen used up... readily...> With the low flow rate through the device I'm happy to completely sterilize the water and break down pretty much all dissolved organics into bioavailable fragments. I'm going for a "9 liters per hour water change" sort of philosophy with this. <Yes> I'd very much appreciate any advice before I actually get into my workshop and start making the thing. <I like your diagram showing the true unions twixt the canisters... I would like to add a few union valves here as well... on at least the ends of the array> Best regards,
<And to you. Bob Fenner>

Which Carbon? - 11/05/06 Hey Eric, <<Hi Ken>> Hope to be done with the plumbing today.  I decided to nix the idea of one pump to the chiller and one to the tank from the sump. I'm just going with the one BlueLine 55 and a ball valve and do everything inline.  I have a question about carbon. The ammonia level is zero and I have nitrites now. <<All part of the nitrogen cycle process>> I also have not done a water change yet.  Is it ok to run carbon to make the water crystal clear at this point? <<You could, though pretty much a waste of material/money at this stage of the process...but won't hurt if you wish to do so>> Also with all of the new pipe and gluing etc I thought maybe it would be a good idea. <<No worries re the pipe/glue...but up to you mate>> Only rock is in the tank now.  If so, do you know any brands that are absolutely phosphate and nitrate free? <<Not really, no...regardless of marketing claims...but not a huge issue either, in my opinion.  Buy a quality carbon (I use Seachem carbon) and rinse this thoroughly in freshwater (under the tap is fine) before use>> Do you know if E.S.V. granular activated carbon is? <<As good as most...will be fine>> How much and for how long should I run the carbon, if I should be running it at all. <<A half-pound changed out weekly to start...changed out bi-weekly once the tank is established>> Lastly, when getting sand, should I get aragonite sand (if there is such a thing)? <<Yes...and there is "such a thing."  It is not so readily available any more, but the larger home centers use to carry a "Caribbean" play sand that was pure aragonite.  CaribSea also offers aragonite substrates...though horribly expensive/over-priced>> By the way, I am using a calcium reactor with CaribSea geothermal aragonite as its media. <<Probably fine, but you may want to experiment with media to find what works best for your system>> By the way, I hooked up my H&S skimmer yesterday.  By last night it was pulling out stuff. <<Excellent>> This morning even more.  I'm not sure how much there is too pull out with a tank of just rock at this point and the ammonia being zero. <<Still "plenty" of organics to pull>> I figure most of the die-off has to be done. (I hope I don't get my eye on one of those 2 or 3 1260 pump model needle-wheel skimmers). <<Equipment geek, eh…sure wish my Euro-Reef skimmer had Eheim pumps>> By the way, thanks a lot for putting me in the direction of needle-wheel skimmers.  It was a major help to me. <<My pleasure.  Opinions vary...but for my money, needle-wheel is the way to go.  Eric Russell>> Regards, Ken

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>

Small system - carbon, HOB fuge, and quarantine   8/24/06 Hi WWM team, <Jeff> Thanks for all your hard work. I've had a 29 gallon system running for about 8 months: AquaC Remora, vigorous water movement owing to two powerheads, 35+ lbs of live rock, and less than half an inch of CaribSea substrate (1mm). The tank is currently stocked with a single small mushroom, owing to a move I've long anticipated. (This is still a pretty interesting tank in its own right, as the various macroalgae have flourished absent predation.) I'm about ready to begin stocking this tank in earnest, but know I need to address at least two deficiencies first: 1. I'm not using activated carbon (having opted temporarily for frequent water changes given the low bioload). <Can use/add or not...> 2. I have no media in my tank ready to transfer to a quarantine tank for biological filtration. <Mmm, yes you do... you mentioned some substrate and macroalgae> I don't strictly consider the lack of mechanical filtration to be a problem, but perhaps it will be when I increase the tank's load. <Might> Now my questions: I've been eyeing some of the HOB refugiums lately and was hoping I might be able to place both activated carbon and sponge (for the quarantine tank) in such a fuge. Would this generate enough water flow through the carbon to achieve a reasonable level of chemical filtration? <Yes> Would sufficient bacterial colonies grow on the sponge? <Yes> Or am I better served by a power filter with activated carbon and filter media? <Nope> Of course, I could try both, but real estate is a little scarce. <Not here in S. California... and the price, along with the U.S. economy, will be dropping rapidly and soon> Also, how important is water movement in a quarantine tank? <Can be...> From some of Calfo's posts my sense is that a sponge filter will suffice, but Steven Pro's RK article (2004) suggests one may want additional water movement. Thanks. -Jeff <Need to have some of both. Bob Fenner>

Ozone and Ocean Clear Carbon Reef Tank, carbon...    8/13/06 We have a 250 gallon reef and are planning to use a small amount of ozone - 25-50mg through a reactor at a 300 gph flow rate.  I was paranoid about any ozone getting in the tank (especially with bulkheads in the bottom of the tank), so I purchased a used Ocean Clear Carbon canister filter to pass the water through before returning to the tank.  Now I'm not sure if it was the right thing to do (haven't installed yet).  It holds 7 lbs of carbon. <Yeeikes! An unnecessary expense I assure you>   Will a canister be okay to use in this case even though it is a reef tank (tank is a DSB Acro tank with zero nitrates)? <Would be fine, just not needed> If so, is 7 lbs of carbon okay or too much? <Depends on quality mostly... I would not start with this much material... perhaps a pound or two>   How long can we go between carbon changes - I'm assuming if it is okay to use it would become a bio filter after a few weeks? <Mmm, yes... and progressively more so over time... I'd switch out a pound or so per month (best to use a pre-bagged product... like Chemipure, or get Dacron "purse string" bags and make your own...>   If it is not okay to use, what is the difference between the canister carbon filters and carbon reactors?   Thanks!   Doug <Can be little or great difference in cost, capacity, absorbency... See WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/carbonfaqs.htm and the linked files above. I myself would not worry re the ozone here... this amount will "be gone/disappear" in reaction almost immediately. Bob Fenner>

Carbon in aquaria and human consumption 6/12/06 Greetings Crew, <Hello> I have been reading through past posts about the use of carbon in marine and freshwater systems and have a question. <ok> In answering questions on carbon and how long it lasts, more than one crew member responded that carbons' usefulness lasts only a few hours to a day or two at most. <Yep> It is suggested that after this period it is no longer 'activated' so to speak.  I know that Brita and other manufactures use carbon for their water filters.  They also allow for 30 days or so of usage before replacing.  Does this mean that their filters aren't actually doing anything for 29 of those 30 days?   Thanks for any help in clearing this up...no pun intended)  : ) Eric B. <Some of it is marketing, who would buy a filter that needs to be replaced every day, and some is the environment.  Tap water is going to have a lot less "stuff" in it to remove than the water from your average fish tank.  The city water system sees to that.  Also the amount of water running through a "Brita" like filter adds up to at most probably 10 gallons a day, while a filter on a normal powerfilter could push through 10X that in one hour.  Carbon basically has only so many holes in it to fill up with unwanted material.  The rate which these holes fill up depends on the concentration of impurities in the water and how much contact time with the water it has.> <Chris>
Carbon Questions Part II    6/14/06
Thank you Chris for your feedback <Sure>  So the less impurities in your water the longer the life of the carbon. <Mostly yes, depends on the type of impurities, some are more easily absorbed then others.>  I was confused by the other posts and the mention of carbons' 'half life'.  They created the impression that carbon had a limited life, no matter what; in essence, that it broke down in a matter of hours, regardless of what or how much was passed through it <The reality in aquariums, few hours to a few days.> One final question, what purpose does the carbon serve then, after the initial 24 hrs? <Will work in limited capacity for a while, mostly just not worth taking out.>  Many posts suggest running carbon 24/7. <Like many things in this hobby, opinions differ greatly.  I myself do not run carbon, and when I do feel I need something I run poly-filters in their place.  Many do swear by it and have success using it.> Eric B. <Chris>

Re: From Stocking to Filtration Media  12/26/05 Thanks again for your expert input I am heeding your advice and removing the copperband tomorrow and possibly more fish.   <Great to hear.> I have an unrelated question and could not find the answer on your website. <I'm here to help.> I have just started a CPR refugium with Chaetomorpha and a Venturi skimmer ran by a maxi-jet 1200. I have read a lot about the use of carbon filtration such as ChemiPure being placed in a chamber after skimming and before the return.  I am new to the hobby and I am confused on the use of carbon (ChemiPure) with the system I have.  Can you please explain further and advise if this is something I should pursue?    <Carbon is great for emergencies, such as "accidental' pouring of unwanted substances into the aquarium or to absorb chemicals from neighboring/warring sessile invertebrates. However due tot he half-life of carbon its usefulness is over in about 24 hours. So it's great to have on hand but in a balanced mature system, it's quite unnecessary to continuously run carbon. Chemi-pure however is not carbon; ChemiPure is a product made by BOYD enterprises that claims to be made of an ionically charged generator/exchange unit that stabilizes pH as well as act as a chemical absorption.  I do not know the ingredients of this product and have never used it myself and thus cannot encourage or discourage its use. However I will say that personally I have never used any type of chemically reactive media except the aforementioned carbon in emergencies. The only things keeping my reef alive at the moment are live rock, copious amounts of water-flow, an oversized skimmer and a large fishless/macroalgae refugium and of course weekly/large water changes. For more personal opinions on Chemi-pure and such products I would read through/join some chat forums, we have our own here www.wetwebfotos.com/talk , very helpful folks there as well, tell them Adam sent you.> I look forward to your response. Thanks <You are welcome, Adam J.>

Re: Chemical media  12/2/05 Thank you so much for the quick reply. I appreciate the suggestion to use ChemiPure. I haven't used that for this particular application, but I will give it a try.  <<It's good stuff.  So are PolyFilters (my favorite!).  MH>> I may get a Magnum HOB at some point, but I will try the ChemiPure first. Thank you again.  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Rinse That Carbon! - 11/25/05 Hi Again! <<Howdy>> Well I have finished my treatment with Cupramine and I am very happy with its results.  Now that I have basically done a 100 percent water change, added Bio-Spira and carbon, here is my question. <<shoot>> Might be somewhat stupid. <<Only if not asked.>> I bought a small pre-bagged pouch of activated carbon (from Hagen, it's AquaClear) and put it in the little Cascade filter but I realized that a lot of carbon "Crumbs" and dust came into the tank. I siphoned out as much of it as I could but I can't pin-point every spec.  Does this dust have any adverse effect on the fish? <<Nothing to worry about mate...next time pre-rinse the carbon under the tap to rinse away the dust.>> Thanks so much! -Jon <<Regards, EricR>>

Carbon in a marine tank  9/23/05 A quick question: I've read through the Conscientious Marine Aquarist and your website. In the book it says that activated carbon has an effective life of two to three months. But in a few of the answers to daily questions recently it was stated that in a marine tank carbon only has an effective life of 24 hours. Is there a definitive answer? <The quality of the carbon has a lot to do with how much dissolved waste it can absorb.  The bio-load of the tank the carbon is being used on is another factor along with whether a protein skimmer is being used in conjunction with the carbon.  There is really no realistic time span that carbon is effective.  Case in point.  Chemi-Pure claims a six month life.  Two months max for me. Not saying it's not effective for six months, just not in my tank.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for you help!

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>>

Carbon (use?) formula 7/10/05 Hey there- I'm trying to find a formula for TriBased carbon weight per cubic foot. I have a 190 gallon tank with a 50 gallon sump tank.  THANKS <... for what? How much to use? I would start with a few ounces... in a Dacron bag... in your filter flow path... Bob Fenner>

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)>

Boyd's Chemi-Pure, "Results" After Use Could you please offer some advice? <<I'll try. In the future, though, would you kindly please capitalize all your "i's"?>> I have a 180 gallon Saltwater FO with some LR . Lots of coral pieces ( which I love) from the Marshall Islands. My aquarium is 3 years old. pH 8.3, nitrates high at 40- 60. PO4 =.8 to 1.0, Ca+ = 450. <<Ok.>> I recently have had to start doing very frequent cleaning (I mean daily to every other day) to keep the nasty brown fuzzy organics from sticking to my black overflows and causing quite a unpleasant visual experience. <<Sounds and appears that you have an excess nutrient problem.>> I have cut back on feeding, increased water changes, but I believe the "wastes" are simply from a very large old puffer and 2 other 5-6 inch fish. <<Agreed. Also, know that doing smaller, even if more frequent, water changes will do little to reduce total nitrate. That phosphate/phosphorous is definitely problematic as well, and doesn't emanate from the fish. Have you checked your source water?>> Thinking it was past time for activated carbon, I researched Boyd's ChemiPure. Followed manufacturers' advice for amount, and for 5 days I was thrilled with the results. Water was crystal clear, no more brown fuzz on overflows. My awesome Euroreef skimmer ceased to skim anything (no surprise there with use of carbon). <<Surprise yes and no. The carbon can only do so much, especially in saltwater.>> After 5 days my aquarium took on a very green appearance . The water was clear, but sand and all my beautiful purple coral turned ugly brown or green. I immediately took out 3 of the 10 oz. bags of Boyd's and left only one 10oz bag in place. <<So, you feel that this has happened because of the use of the Chemi-Pure? I disagree on this one. Your water parameters show a high nutrient load, especially good conditions for algae and Cyanobacteria.>> I did water change, tried to clean coral ( Ha!) and kept lights off, turned skimmer to maximum. <<Reducing light can/will only do so much. Won't help at all with the presence of high nitrate & PO4. LARGE (on the order of 50%-75%) water changes are really your only/best way out of this mess. Also, I'm assuming you're talking about dead coral skeletons. Bleach WILL do the trick. Either let dry overnight to NO chlorine smell, or simply dechlorinate a couple of times.>> There is now less algae but coral is still ugly brown. Is there anything I can do to restore my once beautiful coral? <<Bleach. About 1C to 5 gallons water is a start, you may have to make the solution stronger, then let set for a few hours to overnight in this solution (chlorine will dissipate overnight, too). Sodium thiosulfate is the dechlorinating end.>> I would rather have the brown fuzz stuck to overflows than this. Even with one bag of Boyd's, my skimmer is putting out minimal black byproduct. Do I toss the other 3 bags of Boyd's? Has the activated carbon been spent due to my high bio load? <<Spent a long time ago. Once it's achieved saturation with DOCs, et al., you should know that at a certain point it could essentially regurgitate ALL that it's absorbed right back into the system - meaning certain death for fishes most often. It can be rinsed, reused, but with considerably less efficacy, again, especially in saltwater.>> I read on your site activated carbon gets used up within hours to days. How would you proceed (it is not an option to add more life rock or useful algae to my sump)? Thanks, your service is great! <<I would remove the last of the Chemi-Pure, and start doing several large water changes. If you haven't already, get some trash cans (big uns), line with plain black plastic trash bags, get your water mixed, heated, aged at least a day. To do a 50% change on a 180, you'll need to have at LEAST three 33 gallon cans of water at the ready. I'm going to reiterate what you already know (for the benefit of readers), DO make sure that the new water is matched for pH, salinity, and temperature (or a little warmer), well circulated to ensure good O2 saturation. Then, in a few days I'd do another 50% change. Do this until the nitrate and PO4 are down - .20ppm for the nitrate, 0 for the PO4. If you cannot get that phosphorous/phosphate down, then I suggest Phosguard or similar chemical filtration media, something specific to the PO4. I hope this has helped somewhat, know that the Chemi-Pure IS good product, just can't do as much as what you need here. Marina>> 
Boyd's Chemi-Pure, "Results" After Use - II
Thanks for your quick reply and input. <<You're most welcome.>> My coral are coral pieces that came from the Marshall Islands and sold as "live". They have coralline algae and I occasionally see little worms or bugs crawling on and in them. I consider them living and can't imagine bleaching them. <<Ah, understood, neither would I in that case.>> I took your advice and removed last Boyd's bag, did a 40 gallon water change, vacuumed sand and within a few hours aquarium looked much improved. I simply turned all the brown-green coral pieces over to expose their clean white underside.( Just couldn't talk myself into cleaning them with bleach!).  <<No, no.. don't blame you one bit. I wasn't sure, so suggested the bleach. You *might*, however, want to take one small piece and try a mixture of H2O2 (Hydrogen peroxide, 3%), say, 1/2C/1gallon or so. That *might* work and may not/is less likely to kill coralline.>> I have not checked nitrates post water change but am not too hopeful as 3 years ago when I had only one flame angel in tank, my nitrates were 50 -60. I read every article from your site on nitrates. I did massive water changes (as I get my saltwater from local fish store this meant having them come to my home and all but empty my tank and refill from their van). I left tank without fish for 4 months while I continued water changes. <<No fish..? If there is ever a next time, dismantling the setup and tossing the substrate, replacing with new would probably achieve the same result, but in less time/with far fewer water changes.>> I was so discouraged I almost quit the hobby but I hung in there, accepted higher nitrates, and have been pleased until recently.  All my fish are 3-5 years old , they are happy and appear healthy with no disease. I have never had to treat for any parasite or any bacterial or fungal infection. <<VERY good!>> I do understand the levels are excessive for PO4 (and nitrates too) and can shorten life span and will work on getting them down. <<I think that's more of a source water issue, whereas the nitrate level (UNLESS your tap water is coming out with nitrate readings, this can and does happen). The phosphate is more problematic, but I think that you can help mitigate to some degree by using the Phosguard, Rowaphos, et al (ask around the BB's to see which one folks like best). I can't help but believe that using this will help significantly reduce the "Uglies" you're suffering.>> I do appreciate your site and your help. Thank- you, thank you. <<I'm glad to have offered some help. Those water changes should help a LOT. Marina>>

Carbon use 3/11/05 Just a quick question about carbon use. I'm planning to use one of the WWM FAQs recommended brand in small amount on a continuous basis changing it maybe each two weeks. <changing small amounts (weekly) frequently is always better than larger monthly> I understand it is better to have the water forced through it instead of dropping the bag in the sump. <correct... unless it is only used for color/odor control> However, I don't want to kill/trap plankton by forcing the whole flow of water through it. <a small concern> Same for the use of a hang on power filter with carbon. <easily avoided by putting a foam block on the intake... extend the life of chemical media too!> Maybe block part of the water flow with the bag of carbon, but water following the easiest path I don't know if it's much different than dropping the bag in the sump. <over thought... no worries> And then again, some plankton are going to be pushed and trap on/in the bag. What's the best plankton-friendly option for me? Thanks!!! Dominique <best regards, Anthony> -
Carbon Use, Follow-up
Bob, <JasonC here in his stead.> I took your advice and bought the canister filter (Hot magnum) I will probably use it once a month and let it run for a few days with carbon. Do you think I should dispose of the carbon after using it for a couple of days or would it still be good to use a few more times?  <Nope... the carbon is pretty much spent after 24 hours. Does all the good it's going to do in those first couple of days. Do not re-use.> Thanks again for your help! <Cheers, J -- > 

- New Tank Set-up, More Follow-up - With this setup, would adding a hang-on power filter with carbon be a good idea?  <You could do this, but could just as easily put a micron bag of carbon in your sump. See my previous reply to you. Cheers, J -- > 

Carbon placement Dear Bob and Crew, I have a 90 gallon reef with a wet/dry and newly added refugium with a DSB. I thought I would start using some carbon in my system. Do you think it would be a better idea to place a bag of carbon in the top of the drip tray or should I use a mechanical filter (Hot Magnum) with carbon in it for an occasional overnight cleaning? Thanks! <Mmm, would work fine in either placement... I'd likely go with the canister filter for the added circulation and mechanical filtration. Bob Fenner> 

Kent carbon, Phosphates and algae Dear Sir's, I have had an algae problem since setting up my reef tank 8 months ago, mainly hair algae (the usual I know).  I think they call it hair algae because when you get plagued with it you pull your hair out!<HA!!> The tank is 250uk gallons and has around 120-130kg of live rock 3x 250watt 14k metal halide lamps around 6 months old. I use Rowaphos continually. The phosphate measures 0 with the new high accuracy Deltec test kit. Nitrate also measures 0. I have used Kent reef carbon since setting up my aquarium.  I use instant ocean salt and have an AquaMedic 1000 calcium reactor set to 6.7ph and about 2 drips per second effluent. Lots of water flow with 2 Tunze 6100's, all top off through Kalkwasser stirrer with RO. Water changes, about 7% per week. Now, my question, sorry to rattle on....<No Problem.> Just recently I decided to test the carbon for phosphates against the AquaMedic brand. I put a few pellets of each make, 1 week old carbon into some RO water. The Kent carbon went off the scale on the Deltec test kit to around 0.6ppm while the AquaMedic tested around 0.2. I am concerned that this is fuelling my algae bloom and I am not reading phosphate in the tank as the algae is utilizing it. What do you think?<It absolutely could be the situation.> Does this sound like it could be the problem?<Yep!!! Your testing methods was a good step to take.> Any information will be of a great help....I looked under the different carbon topics but couldn't find anything of this nature. Please let me know if you would like anymore information. Kind regards, Lee <Lee, There are carbons that contain phosphate in their molecular structure.  Is there any reason why you are running carbon in your reef tank.  If you have a sufficient protein skimmer then you won't need to use carbon.  I would also recommend testing for silicates.  They can cause algae blooms also.  Remove the carbon and physically remove the algae and see what happens.  Good Luck MikeB.>

Pod culture, carbon Hello Anthony, Bob et al ! <Hi Roger>       Thanks to all of you, your assistance is Priceless.       Read a lot of FAQ's, still haven't found a sound answer.   Just finished building an 22 gal acrylic sump.  Was going to be a wet/dry but I read the section on bio-balls!  Modified it now to a 22 gal refugium. <Ahh, "a stitch in time, saves your mind!">   My Nitrates have long been 0.2 but I'd still like to incorporate a 4' sand bed and really would like to make this a pod factory.  I'll start gathering some LR rubble from the LFS but in the interim, is there anything else I can add to optimize the space? <Some macroalgae> Would lava rock work as a good habitat for the pods? <Not really>   In essence, what would constitute "prime" pod habitat ???? <Mounded LR, macrophytes... there are actually MANY organisms considered "pods" that live in diverse habitats.>       Second question.  I have access to commercial grade anthracite coal used in water purification plants.  Particle size is about 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch long.  Can I use this without harming the tank inhabitants (fish, corals and inverts)? <Likely yes... talk with the "folks in your lab" re this application, find out how much "free" phosphate this product is likely to leach... get their input on preparing it (likely at least soaking for a day ahead of use) and try just a few ounces (in a Dacron bag) to see what sort of effects...>   I "think" I remember reading that "activated" carbon is actually anthracite plus some process.  Could you explain the process or the difference?  What makes carbon "activated" <Not in a short space... Again, I encourage you to ask these questions of the "lab"... and the Net for that matter! Bob Fenner> Thanks a ton !   RJS   Redding, California

Non-Aquarium-Specific Carbon Alternative? Hi WWM Crew! <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Is food grade activated carbon as used in RO systems suitable for marine aquarium filtration? I just found that it's ten times cheaper than activated carbon marketed for aquarium use. Thanks Timon <Well, Timon- I'm always a bit wary of using non-aquarium-specific products for our purposes. Initially, you'd think that carbon used in water purification would be okay for aquarium use- and it might be! However, my concern is the potential of the carbon to contain and leach phosphates into the water; a substance that we as hobbyists are always trying to eliminate. My best thought is to contact the manufacturer to confirm whether or not the carbon contains phosphates or other potentially harmful substances. If you can get positive answers to those questions, it may be possible to use this carbon. Regards, Scott F.>
Non-Aquarium-Specific Carbon Alternative? (Pt.2)
Hi Scott, thanks for your reply. <You're quite welcome!> Is there any way to test for this? E.g., soak the carbon in water overnight and test the water for phosphates? Thanks Timon <Well, Timon- that's essentially the way that I'd test for it. Do be sure to take a "control" test of the water prior to placing the carbon sample in, to get a "baseline" reading of phosphate in the water. Ideally, you'd use RO/DI water for this test. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Carbon placement Hello to all.  I have a question about the use of carbon filtration.  We have a 40 gal. tank and currently use the Amiracle 150 Wet/Dry Filter and the AquaC Remora hang-on skimmer.  I do 2-3 water changes of 4 gal. each a week.  I read all the postings I could find on the site about this before bothering you with a question, so I know the recommendation appears to be 1x month use of carbon filtration.  Right now I have Fluval carbon filter pads just laying on top of the biomedia, directly underneath the plastic diffusion plate (which has the filter pad on it).  I can't think of another place to have it that would put it in the direct flow of water. << That would be fine. >> My preference would be to use the TMC High Retentive Activated Carbon product in a filter bag, but I definitely wouldn't know where to put that except the sump, which obviously wouldn't really be in a flow.  Any thoughts? << Yep, anywhere is better than nowhere.  I'd put it there and just leaveCarbonFAQ2e it there all the time.  But high flow is certainly best. >> Thanks for all the help.  I get information from you site all the time.  You guys are the best. Laura <<  Blundell  >>

Marineland's black diamond carbon <hello guys,> Hi Antonio, this is Jorie. <Is there someone from WetWebMedia who has used or is very familiar with Marineland's black diamond carbon?> I've used the product and think it works quite well, but it is NOT a miracle "cure-all" or substitute for regular water changes and general good husbandry. <I have been researching on the net. and even in Marineland's webpage.....but there are no specific statement that they will remove ammonia and etc.> OK, now you're addressing the lawyer-to-be in me - they are quite smart not to make such a claim.  Truly the only way to remove unwanted toxins is water changes, and lots of them. <I already tried emailing Marineland....but no response :(> Well, that's not good...they should respond.  How long has it been? I'm sure they get tons of e-mails, so do try to be patient... <my questions are: 1.)  will this activated carbon neutralize/remove the following: - ammonia - nitrates - chlorine - chloramines - nitrite - heavy metals found in tap water 2.)  what others "deadly stuff" for fish...can this product remove?> Ammonia, nitrite and nitrates are best removed by water changes - I can't stress this enough.  As for minerals found in tap water, chlorine, etc. your best bet is to go with a de-ionized (DI) or reverse osmosis (RO), or combination thereof, unit.  The other type of filter I like to run is called a PolyFilter - it does a great job of removing phosphates and other unwanted.  But again, even that isn't a substitute for water change! <thanks so much!!!> You are so welcome.  Don't mean to sound like a broken record about the H20 change, but I can't stress the importance enough.  I'd venture to say many, if not most aquarium problems are in fact caused by poor water conditions, so keep changing that water! Good luck. <Sincerely, Antonio> Sincerely, Jorie

Supplements, coralline algae and carbon 9/20/04 Hello WWM Staff,  My name is Jim. I have a 90 gallon reef tank that is 8 months old. I have a UV, Protein skimmer and wet/dry (Removed bio balls).  I use the following Seachem supplements as per GARF website. (3) TBS Reef Plus 2X week (3) TBS Reef Complete 2X week (3) TBS Reef Calcium 2x week (1) TBS Reef Advantage Calcium makeup water 2nd and 4th weeks (1) TBS Reef Builder makeup water on the 3rd week. My Question is. I am having a tough time getting coralline algae to grow. My LFS sold me Seachem Reef Kalkwasser. They told me that would bring down my Phosphates and help grow coralline. <Hmmm.. did you test for Phosphate?  Did they?  What was the result?  What are your Ca, Alk, Mg, Po4, Salinity, temp, lighting and water movement.  All of these will affect coralline growth.  What is your water change routine?  All of the listed additives are perfectly fine, but they should be dosed according to the demands of your tank (determined through testing), not a "standard recipe".> The problem I have is I'm not sure if I should stop adding the calcium supplements listed above and use the Kalkwasser in there place and in what amount? <If proper water changes are carried out (20% a month or so), Kalkwasser is usually the only supplement needed.  It will supply calcium and alkalinity in a balanced fashion.  All other "trace elements" will be supplied through water changes.  If you make the change to Kalkwasser, do be sure to continue to measure Ca and Alk to be sure you are meeting your tanks needs.> Also do u suggest using any Activated carbon in a reef tank. Thanks for your help! <Carbon helps keep the water clear and will remove the noxious defensive chemicals produced by corals.  I personally don't use carbon often, but it has it's place.  Please do use small amounts and change it frequently rather than large amounts left for long periods.  Also, rinse it well before use.  Best Regards.  Adam>
Supplements, coralline algae and carbon follow up 9/21/04
Thank you for the quick reply. I do a 10% water change twice a month using Marin Topic salt. If I am reading your reply correctly I should do away with all those products and stick to water changes and Kalkwasser? <In my opinion, yes.  Tropic Marin salt is excellent and with your water change schedule, it will provide all you need.  Calcium and alkalinity are the only exception, and Kalk should take care of those just fine.  The bottom line rule of thumb... if you aren't testing for it, don't add it!  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Activated Carbon-surprising price in China Hi, Bob Fenner, <Hello Peixu> I got your contact detail through Internet. We are one of the largest Activated Carbon manufacturer, products include Powdered Activated Carbon, Coal-Base Crushed Activated Carbon gas masks, chemical suit, etc. We will offer you our best product at most competitive price. Our products obtain great market share in China and are also favorable in Europe and North America. <Outstanding> You are invited to enjoy China products! Nowadays, China products are of absolutely competitive advantages, because of its quality and price. China has become super manufacturing base of those products. <Yes, your country has had a phenomenal growth in quality of life for its citizens, GDP, numbers and quality of products totally> In the shelf of U.S., China product is prized for good quality, but extremely low price! Why not move your focus on China? <We would, but understand our association does not sell products (other than the books we produce). Am sure you have contacted the big players here (Tetra, Marineland, Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Hagen (in Canada), who are likely to be your largest potential buyers> If it is in your distributing range, please feel free to contact me. I will be happy to work with you! I am sorry for disturbing you, this mail will be sent only once. <No worries. Thank you for your notice. Bob Fenner> With best regards. Peixu Nie

Activated Carbon question 6/14/04 Good morning crew, I bought some Activated Carbon through an e-retailer for my saltwater tank made by Eheim called EHFIKARBON. When I received the shipment, the packaging said for freshwater tanks only.  I thought activated carbon was activated carbon.  What makes some good for use in salt/freshwater and others for only fresh?   <hmmm... I'm sure it is "safe" for saltwater... instead, likely just rinsed in phosphoric acid like most carbon and as such is not as ideal for saltwater aquariums with algae that can flare with excess sources of phosphorous as a nutrient> I bought a pretty large quantity (Doh!),  what would be the harm to my saltwater tank to use this brand/type? Thanks, Scott <I'm sure it is fine my friend... there are so many other ways to import phosphate in to your tank (not the least of which - food!), you were never free from the need to address phosphate in your marine tank. You may even have it in your tap water and will need/want a phosphate chemical media (pad/sponge/resin) anyway. No worries... just keep an eye on it. Any carbon used has far greater benefits than this minor concern of phosphate. Anthony>

How Much Carbon? Thanks Scott, <You're quite welcome!> With a tank of this size how much activated carbon would you recommend? Thanks Mark <Well, Mark, the way I calculate it, your tank holds about 162 US gallons, so I'd run about 250ml of carbon in your sump. You can place the carbon in a couple of small filter bags, and alternatively rotate them out monthly. This is, of course, my opinion. There are many different opinions as to how much carbon to run. I like the stuff, so I use quite a bit. Some people are even against the use of carbon on a continuous basis...All depends upon your point of view, I guess! Hope this helps! 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 in AquaC Remora Pro  Hello there:  Does anyone know of a way to "jury-rig" some carbon on/in the Remora Pro skimmer? I tried Mr. Kim, but I don't want to bother him more than once about something that his product wasn't meant to handle. Thanks, Rich.  <What is your intent here? To reduce the smell of the skimmate?... if so, you might place some carbon in the collector cup... otherwise if you want to use activated carbon as a chemical filtrant of your water in general I would place it in a Dacron bag (can be bought pre-made) and place this in turn in any convenient part of your filter flow path. Bob Fenner>

Thermal Reactivation of Carbon Hello all, I have a quick question as to the re-use of carbon in my reef tank. <Yes, surely> The use of granular activated* carbon (GAC) tends to be the best available method for removing dissolved organics and some inorganic chemicals from our reef tanks by adsorption. It is assumed that the inorganic chemicals are removed through a properly functioning RO/DI process and are not re-introduced into the reef system at another stage. Organics are introduced by various biological processes which are occurring in the reef system. When those organics have saturated the available GAC and it has reached its breakpoint, shouldn't it be possible to regenerate the GAC with the application of heat to burn up the organic molecules which have been captured? <In a lab environment, certainly> In water treatment applications it is mentioned that GAC can be reactivated but at an interval of 1 to 2 years. Any thoughts on this matter? <I have heard many thought on the re-activation of carbon, both in home and in laboratory environments.  I'm not certain why I haven't heard about home success regarding this.  In the business world, I believe something called a "Carbon Reactivation Kiln" is used, but they're typically a custom made item.  This leads me to assume that the resources for obtaining new carbon are less costly than re-activating saturated carbon.  I would encourage you to keep the flow of information coming- Much research on matters like this is unavailable to the daily aquarist because it's private research.  It's in my nature to encourage recycling and reusing extinguishable resources.  Thanks for contributing, Ryan Bowen> Thanks for any information you can supply. <It's not much, but perhaps this is a good starting point: http://webstore.ansi.org/ansidocstore/product.asp?sku=ASTM+D6781-02> David McFadden Dallas, Texas * The term activated refers to the high-temperature removal of tarry substances from the interior of the carbon granule, leaving a highly porous structure.

- Calcium Addition Questions and More - Dear WWM, I recently purchased the 2 part B-Ionic solution (1 gal. ea.) additive for my 240 gallon saltwater system. I have over 200lbs. of Fiji rock mixed with a smaller amount of Tonga branch live rock. <Very nice.> I have a few soft corals growing on the rock although my tank is intended for fish only with live rock. For filtration I run an oversized trickle filter (no bio-balls) with standard foam media pads that are cleaned twice weekly, separate sump with deep sand bed & more live rock. Instant Ocean salt mix is used and my current readings are: Specific Gravity: 1.026     using refractometer kH: 10.2    Salifert test Alk: 3.66   Salifert test Calcium: 320   Salifert test pH:  8.0   Sea Test My question is, with my hardness and alkalinity pretty much within range, should I just use the # 2 portion only? <No... is a balanced formula and both parts should be added - just reduce your dose by 10 mg or so and go into maintenance mode.> My pH is a little low as far as I can tell, so how do I raise pH and calcium without raising the carbonate hardness and alkalinity with this product? <Hmm... I'd be looking for reasons for the pH to be low - perhaps measure more than once in a day - even in systems this large, the pH will shift from high to low over the course of the day. Certainly, with your alkalinity in the useful range, you shouldn't be having pH problems per se. Perhaps it is time to add an algae sump and light opposite of your tank lighting - to balance out pH.> In the future, can I just purchase the # 2 formula only to keep calcium levels higher within the 400 - 450 range? <No. Would not do this and would use Kalkwasser in this case, if all you want to do is maintain calcium - would also help bring up the pH a little, mixed Kalkwasser being around a pH of 12.> My local fish supply store only sells it as a 2 part formula together. It would seem that using Instant Ocean keeps desired levels of kH & Alk. in check but not Calcium & pH. <Could be your source water is dragging down the buffers in the salt - all other things being equal, IO salt is very consistent, including bringing the pH to 8.4 unless your water is acidic. You might want to test there, perhaps buffer before you add the salt.> By the way, the readings above were taken 1 day after a 20% water change which is performed once every two weeks. Interestingly enough, these are the same readings I got 1 day before doing the water change on my tank. I am interested in adding more calcium to my system to help the purple coralline algae re-generate growing on my rock. <Don't go too crazy - the coralline will come along on its own and in the meanwhile you'll spend a fortune in calcium supplements. A little bit of moderation will go a long way.> I posed this question to the folks over at ESV a week ago and they haven't responded, so I have not added either formula yet. Also, I recently received and added six 10 ounce units of Boyd's Chemi - Pure from Doctor's Foster & Smith that I laid flat on the egg crate shelf below the trickle plate in my wet/dry filter. As the directions tell you to do, I rinsed each of the bags lightly after removing them from the plastic jar while moving the media around in the bag until the amount of dust appeared to tail off under the faucet water. Well, I must have got an extremely dusty lot because even after rinsing these six bags for several minutes each, they still gave off enough dust to make my water turn light grey and 3 days later I am still rinsing my filter pads that turn absolutely black after just a day! Is this normal? <Not in my experience.> The poor sponges growing in my sump and wet/dry have become covered in this junk and I have attempted to blow them off with a turkey baster as best I can without dislodging them. <This dust will move on its own.> Luckily, my fish and soft corals don't seem to be affected by the minute dust particles at this point. I remember using this stuff years ago and don't remember it being this dirty. Last night I took them all out and re-rinsed them all and they gave off so much black dust it was like they never were rinsed at all! <Perhaps old inventory - would contact Boyd's directly.> Obviously, I will do a more thorough job next time, but would the fact that the package they came in sat out in 25?F weather for a day effect them in a negative way that would make them give off dust, or I just got the bottom of the barrel mix? <Do believe the latter.> It's the only 2 possible reasons I can think of. Thanks! Joel <Cheers, J -- >

Egging Me On..? >I just did a water change and decided to change the carbon.   >>Alright. >The carbon was about 2 mos. old.  As I dumped out the old carbon I noticed many, many, many tiny dark brown eggs in the carbon and inside of the mesh bags.  I would guess there might be several tablespoons per bag.   >>Wow.. anything like caviar? >These eggs are tiny, about 1/2 the size of a pin head, very dark brown and inside of the media bag.  I do have a lot of copepods in my sump, are they related/desirable?   Mike in Hershey, Pa. >>My goodness, honestly, I wouldn't be able to give you a definitive answer to that.  Assuming they are actually eggs, and those of your "pods", then if you experienced a subsequent crash in numbers you'd have your best answer there, without microscopic examination and reference sources available.  Of course, almost all pods are going to be rather desirable, and if you do experience a crash, then you'll know for next time to find a way to preserve what you find in the bags of carbon (consider adding them to a refugium?).  Marina  <Resin beads... RMF>

Tap Water FAQ (more on chloramine concern) Here's another tidbit of info I found:  Nice to know if you are planning on using a new filter anyways: "Advantages of running carbon include removal of unwanted colors (usually yellow), unwanted odors, and removal of other miscellaneous organic waste products. Carbon also removes chloramine (overnight), but only when the carbon is new (less than 48 hours old). Still, this can be an advantage if your tapwater contains chloramine." <I've added quotation marks... and would like to add a note to you re "testing". There are (relatively) simple colorimetric assays (test kits) for chloramine. I suggest you get and use one to satisfy your curiosity re the issues of dissipation through time and carbon removal. No need/use in being confused, unclear here. Prove to yourself what works, does not. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tap Water FAQ Here's another good resource, it turns out the activated charcoal approach leaves ammonia in the water. http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_chlorine.htm <Thank you for this. Will post. Bob Fenner>

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Marine Aquarium Algae Control

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