Do you know how to use activated carbon water filter better?
Posted On 09/22/2020 04:21:46 by dingxinda9

What Is Activated Carbon?

Activated carbon is made from carbonaceous material that has been heat treated at very high temperatures to create many tiny pores, greatly increasing its surface area. These tiny pores and massive surface area allow the filter media to trap a large volume of material, making it useful for removing pollutants from both air and water. Different methods of creating activated carbon result in different forms of the material suitable for different uses. In aquariums, the form mostly used is GAC, or granular activated carbon.polyacrylamide Forms of activated carbon include:


BAC, or bead activated carbon

EAC, or extruded activated carbon

GAC, or granular activated carbon

PAC, or powdered activated carbon (also available in compressed pellet form)


There are also different sources for the carbon itself, each resulting in a different possible pore size. Materials such as coal, coconuts, peat, bamboo, and wood are all used to create activated carbon. For aquariums, the best source is bituminous coal.


What Activated Carbon Does

Activated carbon adsorbs a number of dissolved contaminants such as chloramine and chlorine, tannins (which color the water), and phenols (which cause odors). It will help keep aquarium water from turning yellow over time.


It is important to understand that there are several important toxins that activated carbon does not remove. Most notably, it does not remove ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate. Therefore, it does not aide in toxin removal during the initial aquarium setup. Water changes or other methods must be used to address elevated ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate levels.


Heavy metals, such as lead or copper, are also not removed. If your water source has heavy metals, use a water treatment product before putting the water into the aquarium.


Activated Carbon and Medications

Activated carbon will adsorb many medications used to treat fish disease. Therefore, before treating sick fish with medications, all carbon should be removed from the filter. After the course of treatment is fully completed, it is safe to add activated carbon back to the filter. The carbon will remove any residual medication in the aquarium water.


Placement in Filter

Activated carbon will lose its effectiveness rather quickly if exposed to lots of debris from the aquarium. Therefore, carbon should be placed after the mechanical filtration media in the filter. Keep in mind that if you do not keep your tank clean, and debris builds up in the filter, the activated carbon will not be effective.


Changing Activated Carbon

Since activated carbon binds with the compounds it removes, it eventually becomes saturated and can no longer remove additional contaminants. Therefore, it must be regularly replaced—once per month is usually sufficient. Longer intervals between replacement will not harm the tank, but the carbon will gradually lose its ability to remove toxins from the water. If you see yellowing of the water, or smell an odor in your tank, it's past time to change the activated carbon.


Myth of Recharging Activated Carbon

Stories about recharging activated carbon abound. Some even give step-by-step instructions, which generally involve baking the carbon in your oven. These stories are myths. The temperature and pressure required to recharge exhausted activated carbon cannot be achieved in your kitchen oven. It is better to just buy new carbon from the fish store when needing to replace your activated carbon, and be sure to keep unused activated carbon in an airtight container or it may adsorb odors and chemicals from the air.



You may have heard that once activated carbon has reached its capacity, it will start leaching some adsorbed materials back into the water. This is not an accurate claim. Although technically possible, de-adsorbing requires changes in water chemistry that simply do not occur in an aquarium.


However, the processes used to create some activated carbon can result in the presence of phosphate in the end product. In this case, it is possible for phosphate already present in the activated carbon to leach into the aquarium water. Some activated carbon products will specifically state if they are phosphate-free.


If you are having difficulties with persistently elevated phosphate and can find no other cause, remove the activated carbon entirely. Perform normal tank maintenance for a couple of months and see if the phosphate remains elevated. If it stays high, the carbon was probably not the reason for your elevated polyacrylamide water treatment

Tags: Activated Carbon


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