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T_BONE

Advantages/disadvantages activated carbon

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Anyone here that can offer me some input on running carbon media on a mixed reef tank? Pros and cons? When to run it and when not to? I did search a little on here before deciding to post a new topic. Sorry if this is a noob question as I am still a little “green” in the hobby! 🤪

Thanks in advance for any and all input. 

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Personal not scientific reply:
Carbon has done 3 things for me from my observation. Kept the look of the water clearer, controlled contaminates, and also the smell of the tank in check.

I run it passively in my mixed reef. It's in a media bag in a high flow area of my sump. I have a reactor but just don't like rractors because if the extra flow needed.

There is argument about how long it lasts and how often it should be changed. I change it once a month with a water change. Some say it's only good for a day before it's exhausted while others say it's lasts much longer. I asked mine how long it lasted but it did not answer.

It's accepted that carbon removes things we can't see it test for. I do know my tank looks better to me with it. Could be reefers goggles though. You know that phenomenom of "I'm trying product "x" so in my mind I see that it's doing what it's supposed to do." That being said, if I see stuff in my tank looking sub par as a whole, I'll change carbon. I've noticed things getting beack to normal.

There is also argument that the kind of carbon make a difference. Ive used a ton of them and can't say that I've seen negatives from any. I've read that some of the cheaper carbons break apart and can be linked back to hlle. I have no personal experience with this. I believe purity with affect the absorbtion capacity. Could be wrong though. I think the type of carbon become personal preference. Extruded and what I call flakes. I'm sure someone knows the real name. It's just the shape of the carbon. I like the extruded pellets because they have less dust. Which means if the hlle things is true, this should be true.

I'm currently using rox 0.8 but like I said I've used a lot of different over the last five years. My to requirements are is it extruded and is it as cheap as I kind find at the time I'm buying? You could argue that rox only fits one of those criteria but it was FREE.



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I tend to run carbon when my water gets a yellow hue to it. If you change your water a lot, I wouldn't worry about carbon. If you don't change much water (like me) then I would run it. The Hlle thing is a consideration. Not sure it has been proven or just urban legend, but something to consider  

Edited by 110reef

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Thanks for the input guys. I am running carbon in a media bag that I dropped into one of my filter socks. It has gotten rid of the mentioned odors and has cleared up my water pretty good as well. I do regular water changes in my tanks (every 3-4 weeks) and have not had any real issues but decided to run carbon from the research I had done on it. Before now, I had only ran it after medications or treatments in my tanks. Being fairly new to the hobby, I am kinda hesitant to just jump in and do what others do without extensive research. 

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