Starting a cycle of carbon

December 9, 2009

Since I've primarily been a freshwater planted tank kind of guy for the last couple of years, I've shied away from using activated carbon in my aquariums. However, after the recent conversion of my 20g Long aquarium to a Lake Tanganyikan shell dweller tank, I've noticed some cloudiness in the water column. I am assuming the cloudiness is due to my stirring about of the sand as well as adding some recent decorations to the tank (drift wood, rocks, rearrangement, etc).

Tonight, I found my ginormous container of MarineLand phosphate-free Black Diamond premium activated carbon. I'm not sure how long I've had this for, but it's nearly 95% full! Might as well put it to good use.  Check out the following from Revisiting Activated Carbon | Cichlid Forum:

Activated carbon removes a class of material called dissolved organic compounds (DOC). These compounds are carbon based and are produced by many different processes in the aquarium. The two major categories of organic substances that carbon removes are tannins and phenols. Tannins give the water a yellow-brown color. They are mainly produced by the breakdown of plant material but there are other sources too. Phenols give a fish tank that characteristic "fishy" smell. Carbon can also remove chlorine and some heavy metals through other processes.

I basically thought activated carbon was used to "polish" the water, but I guess it does more than just that! I'm pretty excited about the tannins removal since I just added a new piece of driftwood to my tank! I'll probably leave the little pouch in for a week or so before taking it out. Maybe I'll do some more research to see if other cichlid folks use activated carbon all the time.
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