Liquid Fertilizers and Carbon - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 07:35 PM Thread Starter
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Liquid Fertilizers and Carbon

Something I've never been able to get a true answer for is whether or not dosing a liquid fertilizer (or liquid carbon, for that matter) is negated by carbon in the filter? I understand how carbon works, so I fear I might be wasting fertilizer by having that in my tank, but thought I'd ask the experts on this forum what they know. My filter is a simple Marineland Penguin HOB filter with a filter cartridge of carbon and filter floss, so it's easy to modify that and remove the carbon if necessary.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-14-2020, 08:09 PM
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This is a topic that has been discussed many times on the forum.
Just type "liquid fertilizers and carbon" in google search box on right hand side at top of page and you will get more opinions than you ever thought possible.
A "true answer"?
That may be in there too.


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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-15-2020, 05:30 AM
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In general, activated carbon is not effective at removing inorganic salts (macronutrients are generally added as salts).

It is, however, quite good at removing organic molecules, so things like chelating agents would be adsorbed readily.

However, activated carbon loses its efficacy quite quickly as well.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-15-2020, 05:52 AM
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Hi

Im my humble opinion unless you are removing medication from the water after a fish illness Eg ICH, there is no benefit to using activated carbon, in fact quite the opposite may be true if you keep fish.

More study needs to be done but there are suggestions that activated carbon contributes to fish getting hole in the head because it strips out vital vitamins and minerals from the water.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-15-2020, 03:13 PM
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I startup every tank I do with carbon. As mentioned it has none or very little effect on dosed ferts, thus the plants are not affected The reason why it's important to use at start-up especially is because there isn't a bio-filter nor enough plant growth to deal with organic waste that releases ammonia and other toxins. Once the tank matures you probably don't need the carbon, but it certainly doesn't hurt and can prevent issues depending on your setup.

ADA goes even further, as they recommend 75% of filter media be carbon at startup.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-15-2020, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by HairyNoseWombat View Post
Hi

Im my humble opinion unless you are removing medication from the water after a fish illness Eg ICH, there is no benefit to using activated carbon, in fact quite the opposite may be true if you keep fish.

More study needs to be done but there are suggestions that activated carbon contributes to fish getting hole in the head because it strips out vital vitamins and minerals from the water.
Yes, you are correct. You should not use activated carbon long-term if you have cichlids because of the link between long-term use and HHLE/HITH.



I would think all other fish would be fine with long-term use.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by HairyNoseWombat View Post
Hi

Im my humble opinion unless you are removing medication from the water after a fish illness Eg ICH, there is no benefit to using activated carbon, in fact quite the opposite may be true if you keep fish.

More study needs to be done but there are suggestions that activated carbon contributes to fish getting hole in the head because it strips out vital vitamins and minerals from the water.
I do not believe there is any evidence that activated carbon can strip minerals (ions) from the water.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 02:50 AM
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Hi

I wont argue with that just as I wont argue with Activated Carbon causes Hole the head or not as there is no scientific evidence and more research needs to be done, However I do feel the issue should be brought up when Activated carbon is mentioned so that people are aware there may be a risk. I love these types of discussions, Its why forums are so good

I have read several reports on forums where members claim that fish with hole in the head started recovering and healing once they were moved to a tank without activated carbon.

All that aside, I still stand by my comment " Im my humble opinion unless you are removing medication from the water after a fish illness Eg ICH, there is no benefit to using activated carbon".
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 06:22 AM
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Interesting question. I'll have to look up some literature on activated carbon to learn a bit more about its properties. My wild, geeky speculation is that it can rarely compete with water for adsorbing ions. So, no, I would not expect it to remove mineral salts. Uncharged molecules are another matter, and I have worried what it does to things like Fe EDTA. But Wikipedia (all hail the font of all human knowage) tells me Fe EDTA is actually charged in solution, so it's possible activated carbon can't compete with water for binding Fe EDTA either. But these are the sorts of things that need to be confirmed with some research.

So what does carbon bind? Chlorine; it's uncharged. Chloramine; it's uncharged. Primitive WWI gas masks protected against chlorine with activated charcoal. We all add conditioners that remove these anyway, though. Organic compounds? Yeah, if uncharged, So a fair number of pesticides will be removed by activated charcoal. Likewise formaldehyde, malachite green, antibiotics -- which is why we remove activated carbon before medicating a tank.

So activated carbon is probably harmless (modulo whether it can bind chelates; that I need to research) and may occasionally do some good. But it seems hardly essential if you're conditioning your water.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 01:45 PM
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.. Im my humble opinion unless you are removing medication from the water after a fish illness Eg ICH, there is no benefit to using activated carbon".
So we know carbon removes organic waste before it breaks down, as does for example Seachem's Purigen. Is removing organic waste no benefit to planted aquaria?
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 02:50 PM
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You can start here:

The Journal of Aquatic Animal Health published “Effects of Full-Stream Carbon Filtration on the Development of Head and Lateral Line Erosion Syndrome (HLLES) in Ocean Surgeon” in Volume 23,Issue 3.

The Role of Activated Lignite Carbon in the Development of Head and Lateral Line Erosion in the Ocean Surgeon” by Jay Hemdal and R. Andrew Odum.
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Last edited by Discusluv; 01-17-2020 at 03:06 PM. Reason: edit
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 08:47 PM
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I've seen similar studies that support this. In years long past, I used charcoal and GAC but, such studies not being available, I never made a connection to any fish problems. Have you seen any explanation for the effect? I'm wondering if it is a particular critical component being removed from the water or if it is something that leaches from the GAC.

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Originally Posted by zak.payne View Post
Something I've never been able to get a true answer for is whether or not dosing a liquid fertilizer (or liquid carbon, for that matter) is negated by carbon in the filter? I understand how carbon works, so I fear I might be wasting fertilizer by having that in my tank, but thought I'd ask the experts on this forum what they know. My filter is a simple Marineland Penguin HOB filter with a filter cartridge of carbon and filter floss, so it's easy to modify that and remove the carbon if necessary.
Although I know that some members swear by GAC, it seems unnecessary and troublesome since it needs to be replaced every week or so, depending upon the organics load. If a chemical media is desired, Purigen is far more effective and much longer lasting, therefore much greater value. So far, no connection has been made to disease and Purigen. The only use I can see for GAC is briefly using it to remove medications.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 09:50 PM
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So we know carbon removes organic waste before it breaks down, as does for example Seachem's Purigen. Is removing organic waste no benefit to planted aquaria?

Hi


Again this is just my opinion.


You are correct all that organic waste makes great plant fertilizer, Heck I do not even vacuum the substrate.
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deanna View Post
I've seen similar studies that support this. In years long past, I used charcoal and GAC but, such studies not being available, I never made a connection to any fish problems. Have you seen any explanation for the effect? I'm wondering if it is a particular critical component being removed from the water or if it is something that leaches from the GAC.
.
What cichlids did you have when used activated carbon?

How often did you use?

How long did you have these cichlids?

--------



The underlying cause of FHLLE (freshwater version) and MHLLE ( marine version) have, in fact, not been determined. If activated carbon has been eliminated as a possible cause I have not yet read the definitive study/studies. If anyone has come across this in a scholarly/science- based journal I would be happy to read it.



One of the most up-to-date manuals on fish pathology and diagnosis is Edward J. Noga M.S., D.V.M. ( 2010). In his book Fish Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment he states that:


"LLD [Lateral Line Depigmatation] has been linked to many possible etiologies" (2010 p. 333).


He then goes on to list these etiological possibilities based on findings from scientific studies: diplomonad flagellates, a reovirus, mineral imbalance ( Vitamin C is what Noga cites) due to effects of the prior two microbes, water quality, and activated carbon. He quotes Stampers study ( 2009 link above) stating that :
"... there is evidence that either ozonation or certain types of activated carbon can induce LLD in marine fish" (2010 p. 335).

------
I am attaching a link ( a quick one page outline) that provides a good overall outlook of possible etiologies still being examined as possible causes of HLLE:


Clinical Veterinary Advisor - E-Book: Birds and Exotic Pets
By Joerg Mayer, Thomas M. Donnelly
https://books.google.com/books?id=te...chlids&f=false
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 01-17-2020, 10:49 PM
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Hi


Again this is just my opinion.


You are correct all that organic waste makes great plant fertilizer, Heck I do not even vacuum the substrate.
Hi, unfortunately it's not that simple. There's a much larger downside to keeping organic waste in a tank. Completely different from dosing fertilizer.
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