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Old 10-30-2011, 08:50 PM   #1
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Carbon Confusion

Cycling my first marine fowlr.... 3+ weeks. Will be adding a Reef Octopus 4 skimmer Wednesday (if it arrives...fingers crossed).

Tank: 65g with 20g sump/fuge. Lots of Pukani rock in DT; some in fuge and will be adding chaeto and some other macroalgae soon...perhaps with 1" mud? (The mud is debatable as there is so much debate on substrates in refugiums.) Will post photos.

Water is RO/DI. Salinity currently: 1.025 (but may reduce to 1.024). ASW: Reef Crystals but am going to segue to Instant Ocean starting with first pwc.

Return pump is at about 500 gph. Hydor 750 powerhead in tank.

About carbon:

I'm getting conflicting advice on using activated carbon filtration, so I am firmly on the fence - ambivalent and willing to do best practice.

Anyone with advice or experience is welcome to join in here!

Looking forward to the varying opinions pro & con... and how-to best do it if I were to add activated carbon filter.
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:54 PM   #2
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Tank & Sump Photos Here

Tank: Completed Pukani Base Rock Aquascape 65g DT

Sump w/o Skimmer (will be added this week): Sump Build 20g Long

ATO temporarily off-line.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:09 AM   #3
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I run chemi pure, a carbon substitute in my tanks. In my 125g I just added a bag to the return pump section of my sump. In my other smaller tanks I use chemipure elite which also contains gfo to help with phosphates.

It seems to be a personal choice as to whether you use carbon or not. Me, I like it. But keep in mind regular carbon has to changed frequently to be most effective. The chemi pure is supposed to be good for several months so thats why i went with that. and so far so good.
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180g Reef - 60g Rimless Reef -90G FOWLR- 125g Malawi Cichlids- 40b REEF- 34g Fresh Planted-working on- 20L FOWLR- working on
I have a mix of many different saltwater fish amongst my tanks, but I love my Tangs most of all.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:48 AM   #4
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activated carbon from what ive read lasts only a few days to a week, so to use it effectively it can be expensive.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carey View Post
I run chemi pure, a carbon substitute in my tanks. In my 125g I just added a bag to the return pump section of my sump. In my other smaller tanks I use chemipure elite which also contains gfo to help with phosphates.

It seems to be a personal choice as to whether you use carbon or not. Me, I like it. But keep in mind regular carbon has to changed frequently to be most effective. The chemi pure is supposed to be good for several months so thats why i went with that. and so far so good.
Carey, based on your post I did some quickie research on google and Amazon... found other products...none of which I really thought about until now...and noticed one comment from someone use Purigen that he was successfully running a reef tank without a skimmer because the Purigen was so successfully accomplishing that task.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kurtyboh View Post
activated carbon from what ive read lasts only a few days to a week, so to use it effectively it can be expensive.
On the face of it, it surely does seem to make sense to use something longer lasting... I do recall in my freshwater days that activated carbon did get pricey because of needing to be replenished.
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Old 11-02-2011, 12:00 PM   #6
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I guess that for me it's more about what's efficient while taking into account the pros and cons of the decision. Hard to have a preference without the data (by research or experience).

So, I think the question I'm asking: if using a skimmer and all the biological filtration of live rock, substrate, and the refugium obviate the need for a carbon-like filter or is there still a benefit (that does not alter the tank chemistry)?

If yes, what exactly is the benefit above what the skimmer and biological filtration accomplish?

Any before and after stories?
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Old 11-02-2011, 12:35 PM   #7
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Carbon is great at clearing up water and getting rid of things. In a reef tank I would only run carbon every now and then in a reactor because carbon is know to take out trace elements and also in a study it can lead to hlle in tangs. What you really could do to get the same affect as what carbon dose is to dose vodka along with having a skimmer. that being said I was running npx bioplastics in a reactor and ended up getting a bacteria bloom. So I put carbon in the reactor and now everything is cleared up. I say you don't need carbon but I would run it every now and then to clean up the water. Like every 3 months run it for 3 weeks.
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Old 11-02-2011, 12:59 PM   #8
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I don't think Purigen could replace a skimmer in most tanks, but it is possible in the right setup (especially with lots of water changes).

Carbon removes good things and bad things. How long it lasts varies based on the quality and quantity of the carbon being used, and the supply of things in the water that can be removed. Honestly, I think the 'lasts one week', 'lasts two weeks tops', 'lasts up to a month', etc. are BS. There is simply no way to know this with all the variables in home aquariums and I think these people are just restating what they heard the last person say.

The good things that carbon removes are trace and minute, not a limiting factor in most tanks. This means that their removal will not cause any major issues in the average tank because there are other, more significant issues in the tank that are holding back the corals. The comparison with people would be like giving someone a multivitamin and then locking them in a room, there are bigger issues holding them back.

Carbon can be especially useful in tanks with leather corals or with almost any coral that takes part in chemical warfare. It is a good thing to have on hand in any tank.

What it really comes down to is your tank. I suggest you try using it for a few months and then stop for a few months. If you see no difference don't keep wasting your money on it. If you see a problem when you start or an improvement when you stop, stop using it. If you see an improvement when you start or a problem when you stop, keep using it.

Some people only use it for short periods of time, like 24 hours every two weeks. This gives the tank the benefit of removing the bad things without constantly removing the good as well.
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:19 PM   #9
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Thanks guys! Great input all.

Now, I'm beginning to see why the debate... and so much (as always) depends on the tank, the mechanical and biological setup and loads.

That said, reef keeping has it's own special needs and seemingly more finicky (in it's own way) compared to fish-only, it's worth restating that I'm starting with a FOWLR setup.

I've seen fish-only tanks with and without a carbon-based or carbon-substituted products/filters. Hearing that the "carbon" or "carbon substitute" will remove good and bad, I'm inclined to go-ahead now without it...add what's needed if there is a problem, as prophylactic use can have it's own issues. Make sense?

Can the fish-only people jump in here too?
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Old 11-02-2011, 01:24 PM   #10
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Two of my tanks right now are fish only and I run carbon or chemipure in them as well as my reef setups. I find it keeps the water really crystal clean and I never have any smells or anything, even when I do water changes. I'm also kind of old fashioned and from all my years of freshwater keeping I tend to think it's a good idea. I figure if it isnt' hurting anything and my tanks are the way i like them why change anything?
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I have a mix of many different saltwater fish amongst my tanks, but I love my Tangs most of all.
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