How to Use Activated Carbon in Aquarium? Protection Status

Using activated carbon in an aquarium can help keep the water clean and clear by removing impurities and odors. It can be used in different ways, such as in filter media or as a separate media in a filter bag. Before use, rinse the activated carbon to remove any dust and debris. It is recommended to replace the activated carbon every four to six weeks to maintain its effectiveness.

Activated carbon is a specially treated carbon, also known as active charcoal all over the world. People use it for different purposes, and it has also proven to be a very effective agent for purifying the environment. Active carbon can clean the toxic chemicals from both water and air.

Hence, it is widely used for water filtration. Our regular filters have activated coals in them as well. It is also a common name for people with hobbies of fishkeeping. If you are a beginner aquarist, you must be thinking “How to use activated carbon in an aquarium?” Well, using active carbon in your aquarium is not a complicated thing. 

However, you just need to take care of some prior requirements before starting the whole process. Such as cleaning your aquarium water, ensuring no presence of nitrate elements or heavy metals, etc. Once your aquarium is prepared, you can put the Activated Carbon in your water tank.

Where do I Put My Activated Carbon?

As I mentioned earlier, you have to take some precautions before you install the activated carbon in the aquarium. The technique and the location, both are important in this case. Yet, the process is quite simple to follow.

  • First of all, you have to select the right activated carbon for your fish tank. There are many types of Activated Carbons available in the market. For aquariums though, Bituminous Granular Activated Carbon or GAC is the most suitable one.
  • Make sure that your fish tank is clear of any kind of waste. Because these remains will get attached to the carbon filter, as well as block it from functioning. Therefore, before putting in the carbon, set an automatic filter media to clean the tank water.
  • Activated carbon won’t work in the presence of any nitrogen materials or heavy metals like iron, lead, etc. You can use a water conditioner to remove heavy metals from the tank water. This way the active coal filter will work perfectly without any hindrance.
  • The media that will contain the carbon has to be of good quality. Don’t forget to use a proper filter bag for your aquarium. Mesh filter bags with the high flow are useful for holding activated carbon. These bags are user-friendly and reusable. 

The water flow via the mesh has to be easygoing for the carbon particles to act. Because of it, the carbon can absorb and adsorb all the toxin chemicals from the tank water. You need to pick the right-sized filter bag for your aquarium.

Take a mesh bag and put the necessary amount of carbon as per your need. The tank size is very important for this. If the aquarium is big, a large media bag will do fine. For a smaller tank, you can take a smaller bag with less activated carbon.

You can take out these filter bags whenever you want. The opening of these bags allows you to change the contents whenever you need to. After removing the carbon, just wash the bag with distilled water and use it again.

Changing Activated Carbon

Activated charcoal is not a long-lasting component. The particles get exhausted after a certain time of usage. The whole mechanism of carbon is to trap the pollutants or create a bond with them. This way the toxins can not contaminate the aquatic surrounding.

In doing so, carbon particles get stuffy with time.  And eventually, after a while, they stop operating. It doesn’t affect the water in any way though, just that it would become useless in the tank. So it’s better to change the carbon to a new one for constant preservation. You can also clean activated carbon for reuse.

In general, you should change the carbon every three or four weeks. But it also depends on many other aspects of the aquatic surrounding. If your water starts turning yellow, or it starts giving off a stinky smell before the one-month mark, you would know that it’s replacement time.  

There is also a misconception about restoring the depleted active carbon. It is that you can use them again if treated with high temperature. Heating them with extreme temperatures could recharge them again, yes. But this temperature we are talking about, it can not be obtained using our regular ovens. You will need special machines and labs to do that.

Final Words:

Some aquarium owners find using activated carbon is a waste of time. They may feel that regular maintenance of the water tank is sufficient enough. But for most people, activated carbon can give an additional sense of protection. Besides, there is no harm in being extra careful.

Your aquarium might be filled with substances harmful to the fish. Adding activated carbon in the aquarium will help clean all that toxicity from the water. You will also find the aquarium emitting a pleasant smell. Also, Carbon-based filters in aquariums are highly effective in making the water healthier and free from harmful toxins, thus creating a safe environment for fish. If you have any questions about whether you need carbon in your aquarium filter, you are welcome to read our other blog.

Hope this article will help. Happy Aquarist!- Antonia (AquaExpose)

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This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

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