How Long Should I Keep Charcoal Filter Media Before Replacing? Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Fancy, Feb 15, 2019.

  1. Fancy

    FancyNew MemberMember

    Hello. I’ve been running my 45 gallon tank since the beginning of October (that’s when I started cycling it). It is planted, and contains :
    3 khuli loaches
    2 Yo-yo loaches
    3 guppies
    4 Amano Shrimp
    6 rainbow fish
    2 plecos

    I have been researching and it seems no matter the question there is conflicting info on the internet.
    I got some good advice a few weeks ago when I had some troubles with the water in that tank, so looking for advice again. I am running a fluval 306. Looking specifically for tips on the charcoal packs, but will willingly listen to advice on all filter
    Media. Thank you.
  2. A201

    A201Well Known MemberMember

    The activated carbon isn't really neccessary. You'll likely achieve better filtration by removing the charcoal, then fill the void with a sponge or ceramic media.
  3. Ohio Mark

    Ohio MarkWell Known MemberMember

    Interesting. I had been replacing the carbon in my Aquaclear filters monthly and was going to share that and then I read your post.
  4. WTFish?

    WTFish?Well Known MemberMember

    I don’t use charcoal either. You could keep some around if you ever need to get meds out of the water or something but everyday use is unnecessary.
  5. 86 ssinit

    86 ssinitWell Known MemberMember

    Charcoal will clear up the water remove odors from the water and if needed remove medicines from the tank. It’s really just cosmetic. If you remove it and fill the area with media (matrix,biohome or lava rock) you will have more beneficial bacteria working in your tank. Charcoal only lasts about a month whereas media will last for years.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  6. Samanthaljay

    SamanthaljayValued MemberMember

    I am just following this as I feel I do not "maintain" my filter to the best that I could so looking forward to seeing what people comment!
  7. OP

    FancyNew MemberMember

    Thank you!

    Thank you! I will see what my lfs has as a replacement.

    I forgot to mention my school of penguin tetras that are in the tank as well. I have ten of those.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2019
  8. DuaneV

    DuaneVWell Known MemberMember

    If youre trying to remove something from the water then carbon is great. Otherwise, its a waste. Next water change, after you remove some water, take out the cartridge and just swish it around in the old tank water. THEN slit the bottom open, dump the carbon and add a bunch of bio balls and slip the cartridge back into the filter. Then in the space next to the cartridge add more bio balls or a sponge. After a month or so, pull the filter again, dump the bio balls into the filter and chuck the filter pad. They are absolutely unnecessary and a huge waste or money (like I said, unless youre actually trying to remove something from the water). Also, changing them at all will instantly render your cycle null and void as your cycle lives in your filter media. Bio balls or a big sponge would be 100 times better, and you never need to replace them (until they break down which can be years and years and years).
  9. OP

    FancyNew MemberMember

    Thanks for all the advice. This tank doesn’t use cartridges but I will replace the charcoal with other filter media. I will do exactly what you suggest on the tank I have that does use cartridges though. Water change day for me is Sunday for two tanks and Monday for the other one.
  10. DuaneV

    DuaneVWell Known MemberMember

    Happy to help. Filters, pads, cartridges, media, carbon and when/how to change, replace or clean them is one of the most confusing things when starting out and has the BIGGEST impact on a successful or disastrous aquarium.
  11. Momgoose56

    Momgoose56Well Known MemberMember

    Not necessary UNLESS your source water contains chemicals or other contaminants. Otherwise, typically it's recommended that activated carbon be replaced every 1 to 6 months in an aquatic filter depending on level of contaminants in the water and clarity you want in your tank.
  12. DoubleDutch

    DoubleDutchFishlore LegendMember

    Is there any scientific research available on the use of charcoal. I don't trust the aquabrand's info anymore (sorry).
  13. Momgoose56

    Momgoose56Well Known MemberMember

    Yes activated carbon has been used for a millenia as a detoxifier. It's in most under sink filters and it's used in medicine in many forms but most familiarly as the charcoal drink given to oral drug overdose patients in Emergency Rooms to absorb drugs from the stomach and upper GI tract.
  14. DoubleDutch

    DoubleDutchFishlore LegendMember

    Ohhhh yes I know. Sorry I am not clear. I meand the use in a filter.
  15. Momgoose56

    Momgoose56Well Known MemberMember

    Yes, it has the same benefit in an aquarium filter as it does in your Brita or kitchen sink filter. Plus it removes tannin from water if you don't like that discoloration. Read the link I provided. You'll be surprised what activated carbon (charcoal) does!

    Personally, I recommend using activated carbon in aquariums if there are traces of arsenic, fluoride, other dissolved chemicals, mining or industrial contaminants, fertilizer, herbicide or insecticide residue etc in water at different times of the year in your area of the country. Especially well water! Get your well water tested or know what is in your city/community and use carbon if you need it. People that make blanket claims that it is unnecessary are greatly under-appreciating the incredible job it does improving water quality and health of many aquariums.
  16. McGoo

    McGooValued MemberMember

    I never use activated carbon. Some Filter floss, ceramic media in some pantyhose, filter pads. That's pretty much it. You need a lot of surface area for the BB to live on, that's the reason for the ceramic media or bio balls. If you really want to use an amazing media that wont mess with your water parameters, Invest in some Purigen. It polishes your water column like you've never seen and attracts a lot of the smaller microscopic stuff floating around in there that could haze up your water. Put that in the little bags you can get at the LFS(local fish store) and you'll be amazed what it does. Just make sure to get a bag that'll hold it so it doesn't end up everywhere. I'll include a picture of what I use. Best part about Purigen is that its reusable/rechargeable. Just make sure to stay on top of your water testing. Because it works so well, it could lead you to believe that everything is ok with the chemistry, when in fact it may not be. Tank on!

    Attached Files:

  17. Thunder_o_b

    Thunder_o_bFishlore VIPMember

    I recharge the charcoal in my canisters every two weeks. This can be done many times if you are using quality charcoal.

    Charcoal is good for three weeks or so before needing a recharge.
  18. Morpheus1967

    Morpheus1967Well Known MemberMember

    But the link is "" lol. I don't imagine anything you read with a url like that would be disparaging to charcoal.
  19. A201

    A201Well Known MemberMember

    For what its worth; The use of activated carbon in an aquarium is linked to increased chances for Hole In The Head
    (HITH) disease - Heximita, in Cichlids & Gouramis.
    I'm assuming the activated carbon strips out minerals or micro nutrients neccessary to boost the immune system in certain species. That info is readily available on line regarding the cause & treatment of (HITH).
  20. 86 ssinit

    86 ssinitWell Known MemberMember

    There’s no negative to using carbon. Edit except what was written above :). As I said before it’s cosmetic. Does make your water look better and remove harmful stuff. A good supply of bb and water changes also keep your water clean. :).
    I do keep it on hand but can’t remember using it.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019