Do you use charcoal? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-16-2014, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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Do you use charcoal?

Apparently some people don't use activated charcoal in their planted-tank filters, because it removes nutrients that the plants need.
Would anyone be willing to explain why they do or don't use charcoal, and the pros and cons of its use?
I love my crystal-clear, non-stinky water, but should I consider ditching the charcoal?

FYI, I have a 29-gallon low-tech tank with easy plants and basic fish. Nothing fancy, but it all seems to be working so far! My filter is the kind that hangs on the outside of the tank and utilizes what I've been told are the Big Three components: foam filter, washed every now and then and replaced every 6-8 months; activated charcoal in a little mesh bag, replaced every month; and magical bio filter with porous, high-surface-area pellet-thingies, never washed and never replaced.

I would be interested in any ideas, suggestions, or points of view, and thanks for helping!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 12:09 AM
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Most people do not for planted tanks. There was another thread on this exact topic that is still going on, you might get more replies in that thread:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=527426
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 12:28 AM
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I don't bother with it, just because it has such a short useful life, and needs to be replaced constantly.

I've heard good things about purigen, and picked up a packet, but haven't gotten around to using it yet.

It might be worth having some on hand, to use on occaisions like adding meds to the tank or something.

Charcoal basically 'catches' the larger organic molecules. Most of the plant nutrients are salts, and won't be affected by charcoal. It might help with odor, but I don't think a tank should smell to begin with, if there is an odor coming from your tank, there is probably something (food, fish?) decaying, and it would be best to remove it directly.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice!

Thanks for the speedy replies, and I did read the earlier comments on this topic -- thanks for alerting me.
Am tempted to try the charcoal-free lifestyle!
Why do the filter companies and fish stores seem to universally promote charcoal for every tank in every situation?
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 12:37 AM
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Probably because most hobbyists are fish only keepers. There are no plants to remove ammonia/waste products, so charcoal does help absorb some of that. Plants remove a lot of the nutrients that charcoal does, so the charcoal is somewhat redundant and unnecessary.

Even fish tanks properly maintained (frequent large water changes) don't really need charcoal. It just helps out a little that is all.

Also, companies like to make cash on whatever they can, so no doubt they promote whatever will make them cash.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 01:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
Most people do not for planted tanks. There was another thread on this exact topic that is still going on, you might get more replies in that thread:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=527426
One of many that is posted at least once a week since you were wondering. Just another example.


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 01:42 AM
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A popular topic it seems.
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