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Old 09-14-2009, 12:37 PM   #1
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Help! Charcoal in water!

I am working at a lab at Penn State where we have a large tank to keep cold water corals. This morning when I came in to feed them the water was black with charcoal dust, almost no visibility at all.

Details:

About 500 gallon tank/sump

A pump (IWAKI Magnet Pump MD-55RLT) pumps water from the sump into the X100 Filter Housing (filled with charcoal) after which it passes through the Smart UV sterilizer. The skimmer is separately connected to the sump.

This set up has worked fine for weeks but all of a sudden it leaked the charcoal overnight. Yesterday I fed them and turned the pump on/off as I always have.

Some weeks ago there was some charcoal dust in the water, but I thought the reason was the sump had gotten too low and the pump intake wasnt fully submerged. This caused the pressure in the filter to flop around and maybe caused the dust to leak into the water. This morning the pressure in the filter was stable and at normal level.

So my questions: what could cause this? How should I fix it? (A full water change would be a giant nightmare, I can only fill about 40 gal of water or so per day) And any ideas how hazardous this is to corals and a couple crabs?

Preemptive thanks for any advice.

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Old 09-14-2009, 12:50 PM   #2
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Did the media bag holding the charcoal break open?
You can probably run some GAC and that should help or use a filter sock to catch the charcoal.
Also, can you get some of it out with a net?
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:54 PM   #3
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Last i heard, charcoal isn't too good for reef tanks. Not 100% sure, but doesn't it eliminate some oils or trace elements in the tank that corals need to live? Not entirely sure.. but i thought i heard it somewhere before. Or something like too much of it will polish the water too much. Something like that. Sorry i couldn't really be of more help :/ Never ever heard of something like this happening.
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:54 PM   #4
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What Ive done is remove the filter housing bag, which is intact and all the charcoal from the bag. Ive put in some filter fiber to hopefully absorb some of the cycling dust. It doesnt look like the bag burst open, im flummoxed as to what could of caused this.
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Old 09-14-2009, 12:55 PM   #5
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Are we all positive that it is charcoal? And not something that all of the corals spit out? Chemical warfare? Are all your corals spaced out properly?
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Old 09-14-2009, 01:02 PM   #6
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It must be.

It has to be the charcoal. The Lophelia are small, there arent too many of them and this water condition happened in under 12 hrs. The water was crystal and then 10 hrs later it looked like the lights had just gone out. Visibility is like 3-4 inches and its pitch black. Looks like an octopus died inside.
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Old 09-14-2009, 01:04 PM   #7
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Dang that just sounds weird. And you said there was no puncture or rip in the media bag that had the carbon or charcoal(whichever)? Maybe you are running too much of it, too often?
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Old 09-14-2009, 01:07 PM   #8
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It does sound weird, I cant think of why this would suddenly happen. The pressure in the filter has been constant for weeks as far as I know, and no rip or puncture was in the bag, I just cleaned it out and looked for one.

But even if there was, would that really matter? The water has been running through the charcoal filter bag anyway, if the dust was in the bag I think it would of made it through the mesh and screen. Shouldnt a rip just cause the small charcoal pieces to fall into the bottom of the filter housing?
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Old 09-14-2009, 05:23 PM   #9
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I know 3 of the professors at PSU who take care of the 500g reef tank in the Hub center. Get in touch with Sanjay Joshi (Engineering Dept), Ken Feldman (Chemistry Dept) or D. Scott Bennett (History Dept). I'm sure they can tell you what happened and what to do about it.
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Old 09-14-2009, 06:25 PM   #10
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Your correct about those. All of those professors were named earlier by the professor I work for and asked for advice.
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