View Full Version : Carbon, Add it or dont?

10/12/2011, 05:12 PM
I have a reef tank setup for about 9 months. When I first started i started the sump with 2 carbon bags. I have not touched them since. I have been thinking about replacing them actively month after month. Is this a good idea or not. I did notice clearer water when the carbon seemed active.

10/12/2011, 05:18 PM
After 9 months in your tank that carbon is completely used up. Using two modest sized bags and replacing each of them each month, staggered (i.e. replace one bag every two weeks) would be a good regime. Anthony Calfo in his book recommends an even move active regime: use just a little carbon (one shot glass per 50 gallons) but replace it every week. His rational is that each carbon pellet quickly (in a few days to a week) gets coated in a biofilm, which drastically reduces its ability to absorb.


10/12/2011, 05:21 PM
Oh, and as for whether it's a good idea, let your animals decide. If your corals look better then you did the right thing. :)

There is some research out there that cheap carbon is correlated with lateral line erosion in some fish (mostly tangs), so if you have any of those then get the good stuff (pressed pellets) and keep a close eye on the fish.

10/12/2011, 05:59 PM
ditto on buying good pellets

IMO I've seen better improvement in water quality with the use of a media reactor

10/12/2011, 06:44 PM
+1 on reactor and +q on you need to change it out already.

10/12/2011, 06:47 PM
Any particular brand or supplier?

10/12/2011, 06:50 PM
i use black diamond

10/12/2011, 09:18 PM
Wow thanks for the responses. Yeah i did some research last night and found out that it can cause lateral line erosion in fish. I do want to actively keep up carbon like you stated what brands are good? I actually have always been preached to leave things go in the sump and until recent reading and extreme addiction to the hobby i have learned to clean filters every week or so. Tonight was the first time i cleaned the filter pads in 9 months as well. My levels have always been in check which did not explain my little hair algae problem. After cleaning all the filter pads i think it was the main cause(they were disgusting). I also have bioballs that i am slowly removing over the next month, i have been reading they are bad as well.

10/13/2011, 12:19 AM
It's not that bio-balls are bad, it's just that they are completely unnecessary if you have enough live rock and sand and other filtration. The bio-balls are simply meant to provide surface area for the growth of beneficial bacteria (read up on the nitrogen cycle if you haven't already).

You are running a skimmer, right? A properly maintained protein skimmer takes out a lot of the dissolved gunk that would otherwise quickly decay into ammonia (and proceed through the nitrogen cycle until it feeds the hair algae). Mechanical filtration (pads, floss, filter socks) are another good way of getting gunk out of the system before it decays but, as you've read, it must be cleaned or replaced frequently (every few days). Gunk sitting in a filter pad decays just as readily as gunk floating in the water column. :)

All that said, if you have a lot of big fish and not a lot of rock then I'd be careful about removing all the bio-balls. If you have a typical bio-load then you shouldn't have a problem.


10/13/2011, 06:19 AM
is 7 days too long to not clean a filter sock or other mechanical filter media?

10/13/2011, 06:57 AM
So bio balls are a bad thing?

10/13/2011, 09:49 AM
After a lot of reading over the past week or so, i have come to the conclusion that bioballs can cause unwanted algae. I guess they did this study in 1990 that ruled bio balls out of the filtration system. See bio balls are great but they can only inhibit nitrifying bacteria not denitrifying bacteria. Denitrifying bacteria is deep into the pores on the live rock. Since bio balls dont have deep pores denitrifying bacteria can not live on them. So what happens is the bio balls create lots of unwanted nitrates in your tank. That is what i have gathered. As to remove them im not sure i have heard of a lot of people removing them slowly over the period of a month. This is so you do not mess up your tanks bio load and you allow your live rock to build its bio up.

10/13/2011, 03:49 PM
Ive slowly started to remove my bio balls from my 29g biocube a few weeks ago a handfull at a time. Ive only got 1 or 2 handfulls left before they are gone.

10/13/2011, 04:21 PM
How about occaszionly rinsing them????