art, science and business of aquascaping

Activated Carbon – how to use it – tank on fire #3

In episode # 3 of the Tank on Fire podcast, I discussed how best to use activated carbon in an aquarium. Using activated carbon is more than just adding it to your aquarium. It’s important to think about how you’re going to add it, how much and how often will you replace it.

Enjoy listening to Tank of Fire episode 3:

How to use activated carbon | Tank on Fire episode 3


You’re listening to the tank on fire podcast. Create a beautiful aquarium, save money and live better. And now here’s your host Art Pennom.

[00:00:20] Hello. Good morning. This is the tank on fire podcast. And I’m Art Pennom. Thank you so much for, including me in your day. I hope you’re getting value from these podcasts and that you enjoy as much as I do like spending a little bit of time during your day, thinking about the hobby that that you love and how to improve.

[00:00:41] So today we’re going to talk about how to best use activated carbon. We’ve been talking about a lot about activated carbon and the benefits that I think it can bring to your aquarium. If you use it the right way and you find the right one. So based on the fact that. You should know what to buy and what the benefits are.

[00:01:07] And we have talked about all those myths that are out there and debunked them. Here’s how to best use it. I think the best way to use carbon is to put it in a place where it can be replaced every week or two. Now I know you’re most likely. Using a canister filter and like most people that use a canister filter that filter at least in the beginning where you’re religious about maintenance gets changed once a month, as time goes on.

[00:01:42] Maybe it stretches to two months. I don’t like canister filters because of this reason. I think that lack of proper filter maintenance is a problem. And the source of problems from a lot of people. And it’s just a pain to, to swap out and, and, and wash everything. The. Mechanical filter that’s in these canister filters should be cleaned and rinsed often.

[00:02:09] Whereas the biological items that you have in there, whether they’re bio balls or lava rocks or something in between the ceramic that Eheim puts out. Those don’t need to be really rinsed that often. So if you have an all-in-one filter, it makes. Dealing with these different timeframes hard.

[00:02:30] And this applies obviously to carbon, carbon is something that is going to wear out quicker than what you would normally change. Your canister filter. There is no hard and fast rule. It all depends on your particular situation. The best way to test it again is to use that white bucket pour water in.

[00:02:49] And if the water is yellow, it’s time to change. So When you have carbon getting clogged up quickly because of the accumulation of slime dirt, the pores are getting clogged up. You need to swap it out and you need to have the ability to swap it out. So my recommendation is that you use a reactor.

[00:03:11] Those reactors that are easy for you to swap out such as the BRS mini reactor, if you haven’t seen those bulk reef supply has a wonderful mini reactor. It’s relatively inexpensive at 30 some dollars. It’s five inches. And what I’ve done in the past is connected it on the return side of the canister filter.

[00:03:36] So what you do, all you need to do is buy yourself that a reactor or something, a reactor similar to that, or you can even make it yourself. If you’re good at do a DIY and have two of the canisters. What I do is I quickly just turn off the filter, unscrew one screw in the replacement that I already have done.

[00:03:59] Turn on the filter again, and I’m done. I then rinse out the used one, put new carbon in there and it’s sitting for the next week or two that I feel like swapping out the carbon. No mess. It takes me all of. A minute, if that once a week, which is when I try and change my carbon being realistic, although I try once a week, even if I go to, I, I know I’m okay.

[00:04:25] And it’s such an easy switch that, you know, sometimes I can even have my kids do it. But that’s, that’s making it easy. That’s valuing the value of the benefits of carbon for your aquarium. And knowing yourself and knowing human nature, that if you make it tough, it’s just going to be difficult. Now, obviously you can also put this in a bag inside of your canister filter.

[00:04:46] If you’re religious and are swapping that out every once or twice a month. I think you’ll be fine. It’s not going to be as efficient as if you were forcing the water volume to truly go through all of the carbon, like you would with a reactor and mind you, I haven’t, I didn’t mention, but you could also buy reactors that hang on the aquarium.

[00:05:05] So there’s many, you just have to think, how can I get the water going through 100% of the carbon? The bags will work. They’re not as good, but they work as well in the canister filter, ideally. And by the way, today I use a sump, so it makes it very easy for me to have a reactor in there. So.

[00:05:23] Think of ways to get the carbon, the water through that carbon efficiently, not passively actively. The second thing you need to be thinking about and using it is one tablespoon pretend gallons of high grade activated carbon. That’s my sort of rule of thumb. Don’t you don’t need a lot, a little bit goes a long way, especially if you’re using the good stuff.

[00:05:47] So, although this can be pricey the premium R O X 0.8 sold online is 20 bucks. For a court. I obviously offer the HG carbon, which I, which is just as good or better check out the video at half that price at $10, if you use too much of it. That can add up. We’re not meeting our goal of trying to save money and being conscious about our budgets.

[00:06:14] So use enough for your needs. And I think that that’s just one tablespoon for 10 gallons. Okay. If you’re using a filter bag or you’re using it passively, you may need more for it to work. Okay. But that, that’s what you should sort of guide yourself by. Make sure that you have a mechanical filter prior to the water.

[00:06:33] Getting into the carbon carbon, remember works through its pores. And if we have a lot of. Detritus gunking up the pores, the carbon surface, then it’s quickly going to get ineffective for you. So not something you want to do make sure you have some fine filter floss or sponge in front of it. And the water going through it is relatively.

[00:06:59] Clean of debris. Now, you’re not going to stop the bacteria accumulation that’s going to happen. And it happens relatively quickly. That’s why the useful life of carbon is not that long. And hence, you need to make it easy for you to swap out and economical as well. And finally, as we discussed in the myth podcast.

[00:07:21] Just keep an eye on your trace elements. Particularly iron. I know some of you don’t like to test for iron. I get it. Just look for How your plants are responding. If you see some chlorosis, the yellowing in between the veins, you can start to suspect that there is a trace element likely iron issue, but.

[00:07:44] W we’ll get into that more in another podcast. As I shared with you, if you use the right carbon and use it correctly, you’re should not have any sort of material impact on your nutrients. Even the ones that are key laded, which are typically iron and a few other trace elements Here, we’re just monitoring to make sure that that’s the case.

[00:08:07] I test my nutrients on a weekly basis at most, every two weeks just because I’m that way. And I like to maintain a certain level of trace in the water column. And I use iron to sort of indicate what I have in there. I am a little bit different than. Most people because I do dose trace elements often.

[00:08:28] Right now, thanks to a thread that started up on a planted tank some time ago. I think it’s going on like 59 pages now go and check it out. It’s I think it’s called something like roll your own micro mix. I’m experimenting with uncorrelated trace elements and my plants are responding very well.

[00:08:50] To be honest with you. I think if you’re going to go that route and many people are thinking about it it, it, it’s a little bit more involved than just putting fertilizer in your aquarium once a week. So if you’re the type that just wants to do once a week, you’re going to need to use some key lights.

[00:09:05] Hopefully you’re using a high quality Fertilizer that has something like deep PTA. I think it’s the PTA, eh, the not EDTA and that better for the environment sticks around longer. It’s not impacted with a pH as much EDTA at 6.5 pH kind of releases the nutrients like iron. And then who knows what happens with that EDTA there?

[00:09:33] What’s it doing is sticking to others creating some inability or unavailability. Of nutrients, et cetera. So look for high quality fertilizer, if you don’t want to really think about this too much. I think if you stick to the high quality fertilizer, you’ll be okay. But if you have any sort of interest, we’ll get into this in another podcast, but uncorrelated trace elements are, are starting to really be a thing.

[00:09:57] And I think that it’s use nowadays is, is very innovative and is resulting in very good plant growth for many. So there you have it. Watch your trace elements. Yeah, make it easy to replace carbon in your setup, use one tablespoon per 10 gallon den. High-grade activated carbon. More if you’re using a filter bag and make sure that you are filtering the water with a, some sort of micron mesh so that your carbon isn’t getting really clogged up.

[00:10:36] With that my friends I hope you are. You have enjoyed this chat. I hope you have a great day. I am going to leave. If you, with a quote, I’ll try and leave you with some of the think about every day until we speak again tomorrow. For me, I like to think of what we’re doing as a craft and that it takes time.

[00:10:58] So the quote I leave you with is to become a master. At any skill, it takes the total effort of your heart, mind, and soul working together in tandem. It’s a quote by Maurice young. I couldn’t agree more, especially for what we’re doing here. So I hope you care about. The hobby and the aquarium more than just a little water box that you have there that you do think of it as a craft for you and a craft that you do want to try and improve constantly and try and master.

[00:11:29] I don’t believe mastery is a and I think the journey towards mastery is the point. So I’m so thankful to be on that journey along with you. And we’ll talk again tomorrow. Please, if you haven’t done so subscribe to the podcast, it’s the best way for you to listen to it? Painlessly. It just appears on your phone go to tank on for exactly how to get that done.

[00:11:51] And while you’re there, sign up for the tank on fire, a tribe. By submitting your email, you’ll get a gift, which is my Aqua scaping analysis form, which is what we’re going to talk about tomorrow. So it’d be great if you have it. It also includes a 30 minute audio as to how to use it and finally pleased support the show as I’ve shared with you before.

[00:12:11] I’ve chosen, activated carbon, a high grade activated carbon that I spent six months researching to make sure it was the best out there. I call it HG carbon and I’m selling that through the web a tank on in order to cover the expenses of this show and, and being able to speak to you on a daily basis.

[00:12:30] So if you do use carbon, please consider purchasing from us. You know, that the what you’re doing is not only getting a great deal and a great carbon, but the money’s going towards a tank on fire and bringing it to you. And so it’s a win-win situation. Appreciate it. Tank on Take care.

[00:12:49] Speak to you tomorrow. Bye bye.

About the author

Art Pennom

Art Pennom is the founder of where he writes about the world of planted aquariums and aquascaping. In the past, Art founded, and the ScapeFu Podcast.

Art lives in Miami, Florida

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art, science and business of aquascaping

Art Pennom

Art Pennom is the founder of where he writes about the world of planted aquariums and aquascaping. In the past, Art founded, and the ScapeFu Podcast.

Art lives in Miami, Florida

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