How long is it safe to go w/out a carbon insert in the tank filter?

Rikard
Member
I've been treating my fish for ich w/ malachite green (spelling?), so per the instructions I've had to take out the carbon filter. I've treated the tank, done a 50% water change the next day, then waited 3 days & repeated the process 3 times as instructed on the label. The problem is I was using 1/2 doses of the medication b/c most of the fish in the tank are listed as sensative to it on the bottle, & it looks like there's a single white spot on a couple of the fish. So, will I cause the fish harm by doing additional treatments & not having a filter in the tank for an extended period? W/out a filter there's definitely been some increased algae growth on the glass. There's a couple of live plants & an airstone in the tank as well, if that makes any differance. Thanks.

Oh, just to be clear, if there's even a single spot on 1 fish does it have to be ich, or could that be natural?
 
Dlondon95
Member
What do you mean my you took out the carbon filter? Did you just take the carbon out of your filter or turn off the whole filter?
 
kinezumi89
Member
Many members don't use carbon at all. If your filter cartridge is like a package with the carbon inside, then you can cut it and remove the carbon, while leaving the cartridge in your tank. You must leave the media in, as it's what holds your bacteria; if you remove it, you'll have no way to process the ammonia produced by your fishes' waste and it will be as if your tank was never cycled.
 
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Rikard
Member
The filters still on, but I took out the carbon filter that I replace monthly. It's a tetra whisper ex30, it says its got 2 different filters inside: the carbon filter that's supposed to be replaced & a "bio-scrubber" that removes ammonia & nitrites, which I've left in.
 
kinezumi89
Member
That is a bit of a scam by the companies. You should NEVER replace the filter media, unless it is quite literally falling apart. That's what holds all of your bacteria! Every time you throw it away, you are throwing away your beneficial bacteria and your tank has to recycle.

Do you ever test your water? These results should emphasize this fact, if you test before and after you replace the media.

Also, compounds that remove ammonia are not necessary. Once your tank is cycled, the bacteria consume the ammonia produced by the fish waste. If you remove the ammonia, then the bacteria has nothing to eat!

Hope this helps a bit. You may wish to read the stickies on cycling an aquarium, since it sounds like yours may not be cycled, if you replace the filter media monthly.
 
Junne
Member
You could also get some plain media cut-to-fit pads. I used those in my main tank, along with other forms of media ( biomax ) and my pre-filter sponge acts as good media for bb. They just get rinsed in tank water every 6 weeks or when they look really bad ( I check them every other week to make sure nothing is clogging them up )
I agree about the companies who tell you replace the filter media every 3 months. Bad advice! They are also the same people who say to just add water and fish with declorinator and that's it! I learned so much by people who are experienced in fishkeeping ( here on this forum and online elsewhere )
Its best to learn from people who are experienced at this
 
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Rikard
Member
But aren't you supposed to remove the filter media when you treat for ich anyway? Wouldn't you have to replace it once there was ich in the tank? Oh, back to the 1st part, is it safe to treat the fish longer than the bottle reccomends if I'm using 1/2 doses?

And if the tank is going to cycle again w/ fish in it, is there anything I should do to make it easier on them? i.e. compounds that remove amonia.
 
Tigress Hill
Member
Prime will neutralize your ammonia, nitrites, and possibly nitrates for 24 hours, as well as dechlorinate your tap water
 
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Rikard
Member
Ok, but do I need to actually use something like that now? There hasn't been a filter media for 10 days, b/c the ich meds said to remove it while treating.
 
kinezumi89
Member
Agreed with Tigress. The important part is unlike the product you're using, Prime doesn't REMOVE ammonia, it merely changes it to a different substance that is no longer toxic to fish, BUT can still be consumed by the bacteria. Perfect!

No need to remove the filter. Then you won't have any bacteria to consume the ammonia! How you're treating for ich is a factor, though. If you're treating the natural way, by increasing the temperature (which is always recommended first) then you'll be fine. If you're treating with meds, and the filter and carbon are new, then you will need to remove the carbon ONLY but the filter media stays. The filter media stays forever! If it gets a little clogged up, take a bucket of water out of the tank and swish the filter around in there a bit to remove the gunk, then back in the filter housing it goes. You mustn't rinse with tapwater, as the chlorine will kill the bacteria.

If you're unfamiliar with the natural method of curing ich, here is a great thread that describes it: https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/curing-ich-naturally.105665/


Edit: Yes, definitely pick up a bottle right away! The full name is "Seachem Prime;" you can get it at Petsmart and Petco. And put that media back in! (Without the carbon, of course. The ich meds would have directed to remove the carbon, because it will remove the medication from the water, but the fabric-y part of the media stays, forever and always!) The bacteria is of course dead, since the filter has dried out, but it will get to growing again at least.

My suggestions
1. Purchase a bottle of Seachem Prime and dose for the full amount for your tank volume daily, until you reach step 3.

2. Purchase a liquid test kit (if you don't already have one) such as the API freshwater master test kit. This is imperative in determining if your tank is cycled. If you aren't familiar with the nitrogen cycle, click on the underlined text and read up on it. In a nutshell, your fish produce waste, which decays and produces ammonia. Ammonia is toxic to fish, but bacteria grow on surfaces and in your filter media that consume ammonia and produce nitrite. Nitrite is also poisonous, but other bacteria consume nitrite and produce nitrate. Nitrate is only toxic in high quantities, so we do frequent (weekly) water changes to keep the levels below 20ppm. Your tank will be cycled when ammonia and nitrite are 0ppm (because the bacteria consumes it as soon as it is produced) and you have measurable nitrates. This is why a test kit is so important!

3. Purchase a bottle of Tetra SafeStart. This is a bottle of the beneficial bacteria that grow in your filter media. Read up on this thread first: https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/q-a-with-tetra-about-tetra-safestart.58116/ In a nutshell, here's what you do:
A. Test your water and make sure the ammonia is below 1.0ppm. If not, do a water change using Tetra AquaSafe as your water conditioner. Other conditioners may cause TSS (Tetra SafeStart) to fail, so discontinue using Prime for the time being. (Don't worry, you'll get more use out of it in the future, so your money is not lost. )
B. Dump in the bottle of TSS.
C. For two weeks..nothing! Feed your fish of course, but NO testing the water and NO water changes for the two full weeks. Once the two weeks are up, test your water and if your results are 0ppm ammonia and nitrite and you have measurable nitrate, then your tank is cycled! Rejoice!

Now that your tank is cycled: NEVER throw your media away! Don't listen to the instructions on the package, they just want your money. If your media is getting really old and is literally falling apart, here's what you do: Purchase a new filter cartridge. If there is room, stick it in the filter housing with the new one. This may require removing the plastic frame inside the old cartridge, but that's okay, the new cartridge will hold it upright. Wait at least two weeks (but more is better) for the bacteria to start growing on the new cartridge. THEN you can throw the old, fally-aparty one away. This way, you always have bacteria in your tank to process your fish's waste.



About the ich again, I recommend treating your fish the natural way, by simply raising the temperature, for multiple reasons:
1. As your tank is not cycled, you should do frequent water changes anyway to keep the ammonia/nitrite levels low enough to be safe for your fish. (Really, only 0ppm is safe, but before you use TSS you would be dosing with Prime, which will neutralize lower levels.) As part of this natural method, you vacuum the gravel every other day or so, so you kill two birds with one stone - removing the ich cysts that have fallen off the fish and landed in the gravel, and keeping the water nice and clean for your fish!
2. As your fish have been subjected to a cycling tank (which is stressful) their immune systems have been compromised - this is very likely why they became infested with ich in the first place. Perhaps you bought a fish that had ich and put it in the tank; but a healthy fish with a robust immune system would not have succumbed to the fungus. SO since your fish's immune systems are suppressed, it's a good idea to do as gentle a treatment as possible, if that makes sense. Rather than introducing harsh medicines into the tank, I think it would be better to simply make the tank nice and toasty for a few weeks, and keep the water pristine.


Sorry for the lengthy post, but I hope this clears some things up!
 
Tigress Hill
Member
I would use it now. What are your test kit readings?
 
rivulsevplec
Member
First up you need to get some tests, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate before people can help. What fish, tank size, even some photo's if possible. Get your filter going again a.s.a.p, but with out the carbon, this will remove the medication.
 
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Rikard
Member
Thanks kinezumi89 (& co.), don't worry about the lengthy post, you just answered a lot of my questions in 1 shot & now I'm feeling a little better. I've got another problem though, I don't want to raise the water temp too high b/c I've got a few fish in there that would probably be better off in a temperate tank. I added live plants & an airstone so that they'd have enough oxygen in the slightly warmer than ideal water temp (78 degrees), but I don't wan't to make things worse for them by raising the temp any higher. The ich showed up w/ some glowlight tetras btw, I really need to get a quarantine tank.

So if I remove the carbon from the new filter media I just added yesterday & add the safe start (so long as the ammonia checks out), could I continue treating the fish w/ the malachite green? B/c that requires 50% water changes after each use. Or, should I hold off on the safe start until after the treatment, wouldn't the required 50% water changes keep ammonia etc. low anyway?
 
kinezumi89
Member
Since you've started the treatment, you should continue as instructed. Discontinuing medication early can had bad consequences (such as an increased chance of making the a resistant strain). I don't know of malachite green would be bad to use while using TSS, but more importantly you can't do water changes, so all the more reason to wait. (Once you dump the bottle in, it takes a little while for the bacteria to settle and cling to surfaces, so if you did water changes, you'd be throwing them away!)

Before we get any further: What size tank do you have, and what fish? There may be other issues at hand besides an uncycled tank.
 
Cichlidnut
Member
So, I did not read any of the stuff above, wayyy too long lol.

I don't use carbon in any of my tanks. It is not necessary.

I am very against using malachite green. It is harmful to fish. It is illegal to use malachite green in fish intended for food. Malachite green can effect fish on a genetic level and has an accumulative effect. After treating, it will persist in your fish for quite some time.

Heat is the easiest and best way of getting rid of ich. Ich really is pretty easy to cure.

Here's a nice article about curing ICH.
 
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Rikard
Member
Tanks 20gal. 4 neon & 3 glowlight tetras, 2 minnows, 4 ghost shrimp, & here's the kicker: hillstream loach. That's why I'm reluctant to increase the temp too high, & in addition to the tetras & shrimp, why I've only used 1/2 doses of the malachite green. I've completed the treatments the med bottle suggested, but as I said, looks like the ichs still around. I didn't know if I could safely do additional treatments b/c I was using 1/2 doses or not.

Just to head this off b/c I know what's coming.... I know I don't have enough of either tetra, but I was actually just trying to add some neons & the guy at the fish store said theirs were being treated for ich ironically enough, but the glowlights would school w/ them so I could have a mixed group. I'm pretty sure they brought the ich w/ them. Also, I know the loach needs a lot of oxygen, that's why I added the live plants & airstone. He's actually doing fine, he hangs out on the underside of a flat stone I made an arch w/ during the day, & scoots around all over the glass when I turn the light off. At 1 point he had a spot or 2 on him & he was spending time by the filter outlet (I'm assuming b/c of more oxygen near there), but during the treatment his spots cleared up & he returned to his rock at the bottom of the tank. I'm guessing he's fine now & actually the glowlights look fine too, hence why I put in the new filter media. Then I noticed that 1-2 of the neons (who've been there for a while) appeared to have a spot on 1 of their fins. None of the fish are acting lethargic or eating any less, seems like it's pretty minor at the moment. But I wasn't sure if there'd be adverse affects from continuing ich meds or if there was anything else I could do.

Cichlidnut said:
So, I did not read any of the stuff above, wayyy too long lol.

I don't use carbon in any of my tanks. It is not necessary.

I am very against using malachite green. It is harmful to fish. It is illegal to use malachite green in fish intended for food. Malachite green can effect fish on a genetic level and has an accumulative effect. After treating, it will persist in your fish for quite some time.

Heat is the easiest and best way of getting rid of ich. Ich really is pretty easy to cure.

Here's a nice article about curing ICH.
Am I not seeing the link, or......?
 
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Rikard
Member
Thanks, like I said, not sure if I want to risk high heat w/ the fish I have though. Argh.... This stuff is so frustrating sometimes.....
 
cognizant
Member
The only time I use carbon in my filters is after I've finished treatment to remove the medicine. When I put the new cartridge in with the carbon I cut apart my old cartridge and stuff the pieces into the filter.

Also, I have had a lot of luck treating Ich with Microbe-Lift Herbtana. It isn't a medicine to kill the Ich but rather rebuild the slime coat on the fish so that the Ich can't reattach itself and eventually starve to death. Also, it was the only time I used a treatment and didn't lose my cycle.
 
kinezumi89
Member
That does put you in a bit of a pickle. I believe minnows may be coldwater fish too.

Is it feasible to set up a quarantine tank? This way you could either move the affected fish and treat them there, or move the loach temporarily and treat the main tank. Unfortunately the tank wouldn't be cycled, so if you moved the sick fish, you'd have to either way for new filter media to seed in your current tank (put new media in with the old stuff, wait for bacteria to grow on it, takes a few weeks...I think I may have explained it above, I forget) or you'd have to use TSS and wait the two weeks. You could move the loach and do TSS on the tank, then when treating the main tank was done you could move him and the cycled media back, so the media wouldn't go to waste. But I'm not sure what the smallest acceptable tank size is, so that might not be a feasible option either.

Another option of course would be upgrading and getting a larger tank. (I'm just full of expensive ideas, I know.) If you got a new tank that was large enough to house the loach, that could be his new permanent home. Put TSS is, maybe a few new fish you'd like to permanently keep, and then you could treat the tank you have now using the heat method.

If more tanks are not possible, either financially or space-wise, you could try other medicines that are thought to be more safe than malachite green. (I've never used it, so I wasn't aware of possible issues.) Mardel makes a product called Maroxy which treats fungal infections (which ich is); you could try looking into that as well.

I wanted to add that I saw another member mentioning treating ich in a goldfish tank. She said that she raised the temperature to 88 for two weeks with no ill effects to her fish. Maybe this means you could do the heat treatment, even with your loach in the tank?
 
Cichlidnut
Member
I'd try 84F
 
  • Thread Starter
Rikard
Member
I'm just trying to be really careful with the little guy. When I got him I was just looking to trade in a pleco (b/c I didn't have enough room) & some fish that were a little too aggresive for my tank & get a dwarf pleco. Then I saw the loach which looked really neat & they told me he'd be fine in my tropical tank, stay small, & eat algae like a pleco...... Needless to say, they failed to mention the fact that he comes from a fast moving water system & therefore needs high oxygen levels. Between the airstone & live plants it seems like he's fine, but I don't want to make things any more difficult for him. He's the only fish I've named & I don't want to stress him out too much. From what I've read the fact that he's doing well after a couple of weeks in my tank is a pretty good sign. I think I'm going to try that slime coat stuff someone suggested on the previous page, can I use that at the same time as the tetra starter stuff?
 
kinezumi89
Member
Unfortunately the only chemical that can be used with Tetra SafeStart is Tetra AquaSafe, which is Tetra's water conditioner. But the TSS will protect your fish from ammonia and nitrite while the tank is cycling. Other water conditioners such as Seachem Prime and StressCoat (I forget who makes it) may cause TSS to fail, so I wouldn't risk it.
 
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Rikard
Member
So, I guess I'm just in a bit of a pickle. Can't treat the ich & use the safe start unless I use heat, & don't want to use heat b/c I've got a few non tropical fish. Ok, think this is what I'm going to do: 25% water change today, followed by 1 more 1/2 dose of malachite green (after removing the carbon from the filter media), then 50% water change tomorrow per the malachite green instructions, then I'll wait a day so that the green has a chance to hopefully clear up any remaining ich as it seems really minor now anyway. Then I'll do another 25% or so water change, & add the safestart & aquasafe. Then I'll just observe for a couple of weeks to make sure everythings ok, & the safe start has a chance to do its job before changing the water. Sound acceptable?

Oh, in case anyone was curious, the loach is named Scooter b/c of the way he moves. It's really pretty funny the way he just scoots around the tank glass & then almost glides/hovers from 1 side to the other occasionally. Especially when he hits the bubbles from the air stone & he gets lifted like a hang glider in an updraft.

Just curious, w/out any filter media there's been a lot more green algae growth, does that indicate there's still some beneficial bacteria/micro organisms in the tank or are they unrelated?
 
kinezumi89
Member
I was going to ask what his name is.

Just to clarify, you don't HAVE to add Tetra Aquasafe when using TSS, but if you do a water change before adding TSS, then Aquasafe is the conditioner you must use. (If this makes sense.)

About the algae, my guess is that it is because of decreased nitrates in your tank. You removed the filter cartridge which contained the bacteria that consumed ammonia and produced nitrates. Because you have less bacteria, you will have less nitrates. I currently have a bit of an algae problem in my 55 gallon tank because there are a lot of plants and not a lot of fish, so until I started dosing dry fertilizers, there was usually 0ppm nitrates in the tank. Maybe you're now having a similar problem. If it goes away once your tank is back to being cycled, then that might be the issue.
 
cognizant
Member
kinezumi89 said:
If more tanks are not possible, either financially or space-wise, you could try other medicines that are thought to be more safe than malachite green. (I've never used it, so I wasn't aware of possible issues.) Mardel makes a product called Maroxy which treats fungal infections (which ich is); you could try looking into that as well.
Ich isn't fungal, it's parasitic.

My suggestion is to use:

Microbe-Lift Herbtana + Microbe-Lift Special Blend + Microbe Lift Night Out II

Herbtana will starve out the parasite, Special Blend will kickstart a new cycle, and Night Out II will neutralize the Nitrites and Ammonia. They can all be used together, won't ruin a cycle, and work really well.

I have used the three together before, and my fish were without Ich in 2 days (I continued using it for the entire treatment), I never lost my cycle, lost no fish, and my Skunk Loach wasn't affected in any negative ways.

The 3 are made to be used together for the whole purpose of removing the Ich, keeping the cycle, and not harming any fish.
 
kinezumi89
Member
cognizant said:
Ich isn't fungal, it's parasitic.

My suggestion is to use:

Microbe-Lift Herbtana + Microbe-Lift Special Blend + Microbe Lift Night Out II

Herbtana will starve out the parasite, Special Blend will kickstart a new cycle, and Night Out II will neutralize the Nitrites and Ammonia. They can all be used together, won't ruin a cycle, and work really well.

I have used the three together before, and my fish were without Ich in 2 days (I continued using it for the entire treatment), I never lost my cycle, lost no fish, and my Skunk Loach wasn't affected in any negative ways.

The 3 are made to be used together for the whole purpose of removing the Ich, keeping the cycle, and not harming any fish.
How about that! I always thought it was fungal for some reason. You learn something new every day
 
  • Thread Starter
Rikard
Member
The microbe lift trio sounds like that may be the way to go, thanks for the input. I'm sure the directions would say, but if I use all 3 of those together would I also not change water or anything for a few weeks so the the bacteria had time to get acclimated?

Oh, do you know if they carry those products at petco?
 
cognizant
Member
I think it's no water change for 10 days if I remember correctly. I bought mine at PetCo so if they are all the same they should carry it.

Just remember to cut the carbon out of the cartridge, but leave the cartridge in the filter.
 
  • Thread Starter
Rikard
Member
Thanks for the help. I'll do that tomorrow. I feel better now that I've got an alternative to heat or malachite green to help w/ the ich. Appreciate everyones patience.

On a side not, passed 50 posts finally! Now I can go back & add to everyones reputation that's been especially helpfull. Sorry if I miss someone.
 
cognizant
Member
I would do a water change prior to starting the treatment, then if you have any other meds in the tank from earlier try and run a filter with carbon for a bit to get them out. If you have prime throw that in the tank with the water change. Wait a few hrs before adding the trio.
 
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Rikard
Member
I stopped treating a few days ago & added a filter w/ carbon, so the green should be out. I'll do a water change tonight, then by tomorrow should be ok to put in the trio.
 
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Rikard
Member
Hey cognizant, just want to make sure I got the right thing. Went & bought a microbe lift 3 pack today w/ 3 different products in it that are supposed to be used together/in 3 steps. The 2nd & 3rd bottle are the special blend & nite-out II, but the 1st isn't called herbtana. It just says aquatic stress relief on the bottle, but it says that it promotes the slime coat & contains aloe. Is this what I should be using? I didn't see a herbtana specifically, but this sounded like what you mentioned, & it was sold as a 3 pack. Just wanted your opinion before I started w/ it.

Oh, would it make any differance that I did a 25% water change yesterday & used my normal water conditioner? The carbons been in the filter up until this point if that makes a differance.
 
cognizant
Member
The water change shouldn't matter. I did a 75% WC the day before I used it and dosed the tank with prime.

Special Blend and Night Out II are the ones I used. I'm not sure if that 3rd one is the same. Here is a link to the picture of the one I used. That other one you bought may work, but I am not sure.
 
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Rikard
Member
Darn, this is what I got Well, what I got should safely cycle the tank at least. Do you think I could just try the stuff that I bought & keep an eye out for ich symptoms? Like I said, I already treated w/ malachite green & now I haven't seen any signs of ich for at least a day and a half. And the 1st bottle in the pack adds to the slime coat, which someone previously stated might help. Assuming that's what I do, can I use the herbtana concurrently w/ the other products?
 
cognizant
Member
I don't see why you couldn't use the Herbtana with those, but you can try those 3 first and see what happens. I suggested Herbtana because it was specifically designed for the parasites, but if you think the Ich is cured use the 3 you bought, watch for signs of Ich, and if it comes back try and get the Herbtana. I like the Microbe-Lift company because it is the only one I know of that allows you to both combine different items and doesn't hurt the sensitive scaleless fish like Loaches.
 
  • Thread Starter
Rikard
Member
Thanks for the suggestion. When I went to the store I forgot the specific names of the products & just remembered the brand. Since these 3 were packaged together I thought that was correct. I'll give it a try & see what happens. As an aside, the 3 pack was also very reasonably priced at around $12-13 which was nice. Although you'd need more for a tank larger than 20 gal.
 
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