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carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:31 pm
by potterfish
After reading CatWhat's post it made me start to think about one of my tanks. I have a 36 gallon tank that is planted fairly heavy and stocked with 30 assort. fish. I run two Marineland Penguin Bio-wheel 150 (I use two filters in each) and the tank stays clean and the water is clear but the only thing I struggle with is the growth of some of the plants and I do tend to get a lot of brown leaves. Would taking the carbon out and just using the filter mess be a good idea? I would take any suggestions to maybe help my plants. Thanks all!!!!

Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:15 pm
by ballpc
You don't really need the carbon so taking it out would not be a problem. Yellow leaves are normally a sign you need to feed your plants.


Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:32 pm
by freshfish

Could you post a few pictures of your tank and plants, and what light fixture are you running over the tank, for how long per day?

Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:08 pm
by Crazygar
Yellowing leaves are usually a sign of a deficiently. Usually the most common is Iron. But before you go dosing and adding stuff, can you supply us with some pictures of the plants/leaves effected?


Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:45 pm
by ScottFish
I haven't used carbon in years.

Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:25 pm
by potterfish
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I use the Marineland Aquatic Plant LED for 8 hours of white light. I also dose the tank twice a week with Flourish three hours before the lights come on. If it makes any difference I also filter with two HOB penguin Bio wheel 150 filters with two Carbon filter in each. I check the levels every week and the only thing that is a little high is the Nitrate 20 PPM. The short plants in the front of the tank is vallisneria, oh yeah :sorry: When I first planted the plants it was in the back and it reached the top of the tank, now it barely reaches three inches. The funny things is that it has spread across the tank but just won't grow tall.
I think I will start using just filter bags and take out the carbon filters. Will this cause any cloudiness? As Always thanks everyone for your help.

Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:18 pm
by freshfish
Which "Flourish" are you using? I know the label is a little confusing, but "Flourish" is actually the name for the whole line of Seachem's ferts.

If you're using Excel, that would probably be a good explanation for the melting Vals; Vals typically need to be slowly acclimated to Excel.

If you're using "Comprehensive," that's mostly just micro and trace nutrients- which plants need, but not in the same amounts as they need carbon (most easily supplemented by adding Excel or CO2), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).

Your nitrate levels actually aren't bad for a planted tank, as they indicate that there is a good amount of N available to the plants, and nitrates should not be toxic to your fish at that level- as long as your ammonia and nitrites are stable at 0 ppm.

However, you may need to dose some additional P and K. Seachem carries these in their Flourish line if you want to stick with that line. There's also a nifty little dosing chart on Seachem's website (or at least... there was last time I looked...)

Do you have any algae eaters in your tank? A Nerite snail or some Amano shrimp may be a really helpful addition to your tank without increasing the bioload too much.

Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:45 pm
by potterfish
Thank you Freshfish, your response helps a lot. To answer some of your questions I'm using the comprehensive type, also I have two algae eaters in this tank. The ammonia and the nitrite levels are 0ppm. I have been thinking of purchasing a Co2 system for this tank but I'm not comfortable with Co2 yet. My gut tells me this would be the answer to healthy plants and would also in the long run be easier then added supplements to the tank. What is your view on this and can you give me any input on set up and do's and don'ts.
Thanks for your great advise!!!!!!
I'm going to post about the set up I'm thinking about in the planted section.

Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:44 pm
by freshfish
I personally stick with all low light/low tech setups, and have never run CO2 on any of my own tanks, so unfortunately I can't help you out much past the very basics of CO2!

However, I do know with your size tank, you should be able to make do with a DIY CO2 setup, and there are tons of How To videos on YouTube to help with getting one of those going. I also would recommend getting a drop checker and a calibrated 4 dKh solution to go inside the drop checker to get a more accurate measurement of your CO2 levels than can be guessed at using a bubble counter or just using a pH chart. This solution will change colors inside the drop checker to indicate your CO2 levels.

Keep in mind putting CO2 on a tank does NOT replace the need to dose other ferts. CO2 ONLY supplies carbon. This would be equivalent to trying to raise a child on only calcium tablets with NO other nutrition... instead of supplying the healthy balance of ALL the nutrients a child (or in this case, a plant) needs to grow.

You shouldn't really *need* CO2 using your current light fixture (which is very low light), but if you're interested in expanding the number of plant species you can keep, learning how to achieve and maintain stable CO2 levels is an important step and much more easily managed at lower light levels BEFORE increasing your lighting to mid or high levels.

Looking at your tank, it's pretty much only the faster-growing plants that are struggling, which does point to nutrient deficiency. If you start dosing P and K you might see an improvement just with those?

Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:14 pm
by potterfish
Thanks for the information, your help has been priceless. I think I will hold off on the Co2 system at this time and take your advise and dose the plants with a supplement of P and K. Do you have any favorites that you would recommend? I did read about the Flourish Phosphorus that stated it should be used once or twice a week or to test the water with the test kit the have to try to raise the levels to 0.15-1.0mg/l, does this sound like what you was thinking also?
Just to make sure I'm keeping on track the P and K should be used with or without the twice a week of the Flourish that I'm using now?
I will use your input before placing an order and at the same time I want to order some filters without the carbon since that seems to be the common choice. I've never done this on any of my tanks so I'm confused :think: do I buy just some filter media bags and cut my carbon filters apart to use the frame or is there a better way?
Sorry for all the questions but I'm one of those guys who wants all the details before I make changes. Once again I REALLY appreciate your input and willingness to help me on this adventure, I think my plants and fish will look awesome and benefit from all the hard work.

Re: carbon filter questions

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:00 pm
by freshfish
There are millions of different dosing strategies when it comes to using ferts for aquarium plants. My advice is to pick one (if you're using Seachem's products, the chart on their website would be a logical place to start) and see how your plants/tank respond, and adapt from there.

Keep in mind that under very low light, the plants will be growing very slowly, so demand for nutrients will be low.

As for your filters and carbon questions... there's no harm to leaving the carbon inside your filter cartridges. Or you can remove it if you like. Totally up to you. In your shoes, I'd probably wouldn't bother trying to remove it. Though I would still stuff a bag of Purigen in the filter somewhere, just because I'm such a big fan of how crystal clear it makes water.