Is the Carbon part of filter needed?

  • #1
I have a wet and dry trickle filter which is split into 2 halves. One is machanical and biological and the other is the carbon. My question is what does the carbon part really do and if not would it be worth converting it to biological as well.

  • #2
I'm not 100% sure but I think carbon I is supose to break down waste (that's what it says on the box my filter came in). If I were you I would keep the filter the way it is, If its the right size filter for your tank it should do a nice job the way it came out of the box.
  • #3
o and Welcome to the forums!!
  • #4
Hello, and welcome! Carbon is a contentious issue.

I (personally) don't particularly like it in my everyday setups and only use it after I have medicated, and only for a week.

I (personally) think carbon is too high maintenance as you have to change it often. I prefer to just rinse out my normal filter pads.
  • #5
Carbon is used to soak up anything in the water. It's not very picky, though, and will basically take anything out. Generally speaking this is OK, but it does cause problems for some fish. In a typical community tank, (without cichlids) carbon is fine as long as it is changed every few weeks.
  • #6
we used to run carbon in our filters at first, but now the only time we'll put carbon in the filter is to clear meds out of the water. carbon does trap toxins and other stuff in the water, but when it wears out, all that was captured is released. you're better off without it. it can wear out in a week and the best stuff only lasts about a month I think.
  • #7
I don't use activated carbon / charcoal in any of my tanks and my fish are perfectly healthy. Carbon is NOT "absolutely necessary" in your tank UNLESS your water changing habits are poor and your tank is overstocked. It helps adsorb various chemicals/toxins from the water that accumulate in your tank over time. But, water changes will do the same for you if you perforem them regularly. If you use carbon, be sure to change it every month. It's effective for only 1 - 2 weeks or so, and after a month it may start leaching the toxins back into the tank.

Activated carbon / charcoal / zeolite, etc ... are all CHEMICAL substances used in your filter. They're unnatural. I don't know if they can cause diseases in fish in the long run, but in my Rena Filstar XP3 canister filter, the manual says that one component of this filter is known to cause cancer in humans. That means it can cause cancer in fish as well. They didn't want to tell me what component it is when I personally called them. This proves the component is carcinogenic and the company openly denied me my right to know the component's name. After asking people around, they've concluded it must be the chemical medium used in the filter that is carcinogenic. So, all the chemical media may be - in fact - more harm than benefit.

In planted tanks, the chemical media are out of question as they remove nutrients from the water that are necessary for plant growth. The chemical media ARE good, however, for removing medication from the water after you're done with treating your fish for some particular disease.

I simply keep additional sponges in filter compartments where the chemical media are supposed to sit.
  • #8
Not to be disagreeable, but activated carbon and charcoal are quite natural -- charcoal is the result of wood that's not completely burned, and activating it just removes any impurities, leaving pure carbon. And since we humans (and pretty much every form of life on Earth) are carbon-based, carbon doesn't cause cancer.

What the warning on the Rena filter is probably referring to (the 'California warning' ) is the plastic used to make the filter housing itself. California considers most plastics as possibly carcinogenic, and requires a warning on just about any plastic product sold in the the state. If you look around at things you buy every day, you'll find that warning in the darnedest places.
  • #9
Jsalemi, and I don't want to disagree with you either, lol I see a lot of sense in what you're saying, and you may be right. And yes, I know there are warnings on every-day things we use. But the scary part is the amount of carcinogenic substances in our every-day products that do NOT have the warning. Anyway, maybe the carbon isn't that dangerous - as you've just explained - (though it still doesn't mean it's "needed" in your filter) but I am sure it's not all that natural. Nothing that is "manufactured" or is a commercial product for sale is 100% natural, nothing. Not in today's world. Maybe it was the plastic Rena Filstar was referring to, and maybe not. I don't know since the mean people from the company wouldn't tell me, even though I asked them very politely. The least they could have done for my purchasing their product was to be honest and tell me which part of the filter is carcinogenic. Maybe it was zeolite and not the plastic. Like I said, I wouldn't know as they wouldn't tell me.
  • #10
Carbon is used to soak up anything in the water. It's not very picky, though, and will basically take anything out. Generally speaking this is OK, but it does cause problems for some fish. In a typical community tank, (without cichlids) carbon is fine as long as it is changed every few weeks.

So does that mean carbon shouldn't be used in a cichlid tank? I have 6 African cichlids in a 35gal tank and I use carbon in my 303 fluval filter.
  • #11
You can run carbon in your tank, but change it frequently if you do.
  • #12
aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh pulling my hair out after reading that one.... haha???

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