Should You Use Activated Carbon In Your Aquarium?

What’s the Word on our Aquatic Experts Activated Carbon?

Is Activated Carbon Right for your Aquarium?

Activated Carbon, also known as activated charcoal, has been on the market for decades.  It is a chemical filtration medium used for water purification, air purification, and even medicine for humans.
In terms of the aquarium hobby, activated carbon is by far the most popular filtration product for saltwater, coral reef, freshwater, and planted aquariums.

Do you have to use activated carbon to have a healthy aquarium?

Activated Aquarium Carbon Close-Up

No, but implementing carbon into your filtration system makes having crystal clear and odor free water much easier.  Our Aquatic Experts Activated Carbon removes impurities from the water that cause discoloration and odor.  Maintaining this balance is possible without the use of activated carbon, but it takes much more work.

Activated Carbon is also used to remove the medication from the water if your fish need to be treated.  However, it is highly recommended to always treat fish illness in a separate tank to not leave persistent chemicals in the water of the display tank.  Medications like Methylene Blue can actually dye the silicone of your tank, and nobody wants to ruin their amazing display!

Carbon needs to be replaced regularly, so depending on your tank size it may need to be changed on a weekly basis, but could potentially last for longer.  A good schedule is to plan to replace your carbon within two weeks of use.

Where does Activated Carbon come from?  

Activated carbon is a coal that has been treated in a way that creates many tiny pores. This creates a huge surface area and allows it to adsorb a large volume of pollutants from the water.

There are four main types of activated carbon, but the one used primarily in aquariums is Granular Activated Carbon or GAC for short.

There are a variety of materials used in the creation of the carbon itself, and the base material results in differing pore sizes in the final activated carbon.  Coconuts, peat, and wood are all elements used to create activated carbon. For aquariums, the best source is Bituminous Coal which is what we currently offer at Aquatic Experts.

 How does Activated Aquarium Carbon help my fish?

Activated carbon adsorbs a large amount of dissolved contaminants such as; chloramines and chlorine, tannins (which cause a yellowish/brown tint in the water) and phenols (which cause bad odors).  So, it not only makes the water healthier for your aquatic friends but also makes for a clear and odor free aquarium for you and your family!

 Where do I put my Activated Carbon?

The method of use and the placement of your Carbon is very important to how well it works.  Activated Carbon needs to be in a High-Flow Mesh Filter Bag, such as the ones we sell at Aquatic Experts.  These bags are designed for the maximum flow of water through the carbon.  This allows for the most rapid and complete removal of contaminants. 

Activated Carbon can lose its effectiveness if exposed to a huge amount of aquarium waste and debris. Therefore, carbon should be placed after the mechanical filtration media in the filter, such as after our premium filter pads and water polishing pads. This method allows the carbon to do its job without becoming prematurely clogged.

Changing Activated Carbon  

Activated Carbon should be changed regularly, as it binds with the contaminants and eventually gets full.  It won’t hurt your aquarium if you forget to change it, but it will eventually just stop working.  Also, activated carbon can’t be “recharged.”  The temperature required to recharge carbon cannot be achieved in a home

It won’t hurt your aquarium if you forget to change it, but it will eventually just stop working.  Also, activated carbon can’t be “recharged.”  The temperature required to recharge carbon cannot be achieved in a normal home because it requires extremely high temperatures that can’t be accomplished in a normal oven.


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