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Because of my tannin problems I tossed a bag of carbon in my canister filter. How long does the carbon actually work and how long should I use it? I read some things that suggest people don't use carbon on a regular basis. I've been away from the hobby for awhile now but remember always using a carbon bag in my hob filters before. Perhaps it's a newer way of thinking not to use carbon?
 

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I use carbon sparingly. It will keep the tank clean but you have to remember to change it every 2 weeks or so, or it will probably just leak stuff back into your tank. In planted tanks, it can remove nutrients you are trying to get to your plants. Some HOB filters come with carbon built into the filter pads....again, this is fine as long as you chage filters on a regular basis.

I typically only use it after a round of medication.
 

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I have lots of carbon on hand all the time. It comes in a bag or box every time I buy a filter and I have yet to use any. I use only well aged wood in my tanks so they don't leach too badly and what little color gets into the water gets removed with regular water changes. So far, in the 6 years I have been back into the hobby, I have not had to use any medication except some salt for an ich outbreak in my QT. Carbon can't remove salt, it is removed by diluting it. All of my carbon is on the shelf in case of need but so far so good. The small trace of carbon that comes in the cartridge type HOB filters I ignore completely. It is enough to maybe remove part of the medication from a single treatment on a tank when the cartridge is brand new so it is nothing at all to me. Carbon works by adsorption, not absorption. This means that material sort of sticks to sites on the material until it gets replaced by something that sticks better. The net effect is that anything but brand new carbon might as well be gravel as far as its effects on your water.
There is a reason that a carbon filter breathing mask has a rating in minutes and is only rated for non-toxic substances.
 

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I am sure you could safely put a bag of carbon into the tank but why would you want to do that?
i'm just thinking if i put the active carbon in the canister filter, then i'll need to open it up every month to replace new active carbon. if i just put direct into the tank, it will be much easier.

But just thinking if i direct into the tank will it still have the same result as i put into the filter.
 

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The carbon in a bag in the tank is not going to get good water flow. The minor benefits of carbon will not exist in that situation because the water needs to go by the carbon for it to affect the water. You can build your own filter packaging by using existing pumping systems to move water across things that you place into the flow path but if you really want to use the carbon as a chemical filter, it needs to be in the water flow path.
 

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I use the carbon in the filter for a couple of weeks when I get a new filter to help get the water as pristine as possible as usually I only get a new filter when something has not been working well with the old one and sometimes it needs a boost to clear the water, but remember that once it has lost its effective time period it will not hold on to the things it has filtered out and will simply let them back into the tank. So generally if I am not medicating I use the basket designated for carbon to house more of the ceramic rings or possibly bio-balls depending on which is going to be more help to me in that particular tank. I use filter floss to help filter out the small stuff but it needs to be rinsed or changed out almost as often as the carbon would. I figure I am going to have to open the filter every month to do the impeller maintenance anyway so this works better for me.
 

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i thought canister filter only need to clean about every six months. or am i wrong?
Canister filters can go a long time before cleaning , however it depends on the bio load of your tank, quality of your filter and your personal preference. I clean mine every 3-4 weeks just because but by all means you can go longer before cleaning, depending on your specific requirements.
 

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oh and carbon is a waste of money IMO...i dont use the stuff. I took all the cartriges out of my hob's and replaced with pot scrubbies :) they work great for mechanical filtration and you only need carbon to remove tannins and smell and its only active for a few weeks.
 
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