View Full Version : Activated Carbon

08-16-2018, 02:34 PM
So now that I have my my 90g up and running, I'm having an internal debate if I should run activated carbon on my system. When I had the exact same tank set up in NC i had carbon and my sailfin tang had hole in the head syndrome but was healthy otherwise. I have inherited my father in laws fish, including a yellow tang, and want to avoid this same misfortune. What are your thoughts on running carbon in the tank?

08-17-2018, 09:47 PM
I ran carbon without any problems.

08-20-2018, 07:31 AM
Lateral line disease caused by carbon is a proven myth. Look to nutrition and make sure the tank itself is not void of important elements like magnesium.

09-11-2018, 10:26 AM
@smpolyp, Thats not exactly true, many article have been written concerning it, what basis do you have that proves that it is not a causative agent? Please send me the article?

09-12-2018, 08:27 AM
Jim your right. I should not have assumed that there aren't some carbons that can cause HLLE.

This ones old. I've also read one that did testing. Unfortunately I cannot find. Maybe due to a publication. One thing that they did not test was different types of carbon, but they did say how much. 15 years ago our carbon may not be as aggressive as some used today. They pointed to nutrition as the major cause.


When you look HLLE up this article seems to be the most referenced that I found. Unfortunately it was only an observation then the screen pooped up with a security warning.


This article is as well anecdotal, but has more data. Moving the fish to another tank to stop HLLE beat, removing carbon helped and implicating that carbon was the cause.


They also stated that there are very few scientific studies done on the subject. With all the different types of carbon, the amounts use we may never see a scientific study that handles it all. Carbon removes elements from water and food has needed elements for fish. Maybe it is a combination. You also need to look at high organic carbon(not activated carbon) tanks as additional stress. With more stress the more nutrition the fish needs. Older tank or ones that have higher organics tend to use carbon.

We have not proven that carbon causes HLLE and the article I read only dealt with one type or carbon.

09-13-2018, 07:25 AM
Found the article that shows carbon to cause HLLE. Full stream carbon filtration means they are using it in a reactor. Using it in a reactor might be causing it to break down and produce dust. Some people report that they do not get HLLE when using carbon. Is it from rinsing the dust out of the carbon as dust seems to be what some people point to as a result of HLLE?


09-17-2018, 12:57 PM
SM, I agree totally, I want to use carbon, but had a rough experience with it last time, wanted to know who runs it and what kind have they had success with. Thanks for the interesting reads.

09-18-2018, 07:21 AM
JM thanks for the interesting topic to discuss.

I'm trying a pellet right now to see if I get the same results. I'm going to run it the full 15 days like in the experiment. I think many carbon should be fine if you use them properly. These are the steps I normally take and not seen HLLE.

1. I always rinse it
2. Carbon removes more when water flows through it. Not around like in a fluidized filter bed. I place it in a plain ole filter sock in the sump where water can go through it.
3 Carbon removes the most out of the water in the first 24 hours of use. I normally pull it out after 4-7 days.

09-25-2018, 08:45 AM
It has been one week and I have some additional info to add. When I use carbon I notice my skimmer performs better so I place the carbon before the skimmer. This time was the same. The first time I cleaned the skimmer it seem to have carbon dust in it. The second time nothing that looked like carbon dust. Even though I rinsed it I still did got some dust. If you do not have a skimmer then you may want to take this into consideration.

10-03-2018, 07:21 AM
No HLLE. I doubled down on my carbon. We'll see if that does it.

10-03-2018, 12:56 PM
So, Im confused on how you have your carbon placed. Could you post a picture here?

10-08-2018, 08:39 AM
I have all the water from my overflow box flowing through the carbon. The carbon is in a mesh filter bag. I added another lb of carbon yesterday for a total of 3 lbs of carbon in my sump.

10-08-2018, 10:18 AM
Forgot to add my flow rate. The box is 8"x 3.5" with 1000 gph going through it, so approx 174 gph per square inch. This number really does not need to be at an exact rate, but is a value that maybe need to be added on how the carbon might break down. Higher flow may cause the carbon to bash together and create more dust, but nothing on what a fluidized filter bed can cause.

10-17-2018, 06:43 AM
Took out the old carbon dropped another lb in. No HLLE signs. I'm going to try another type of carbon next.

10-17-2018, 11:49 AM
Remind what Carbon you use? Also what live stock do you have? I really like how you have your carbon box set up.

10-19-2018, 07:38 AM
For fish I just have a couple of perc clowns and a Chevron tang. For carbon I just bought a pellet off of Ebay for my pond that I never ended up using.

10 lbs Activated Carbon in 10 Media Bags for aquarium fish pond canister filter from aquatic.hobbyist

Here is another picture of the box. The drains from the tank are at top and go into a chamber that overflows in the box with the carbon and all the water flows through the carbon in a bag in the box. The pellets are in a black mesh bag that came with the carbon.

10-21-2018, 01:07 PM
I run a large amount, 1/2 gallon, of Rox-8 carbon when ever I think I have discolored water or I suspect pollutants. usually for 30 days then remove. typical twice a year maybe three times. don't believe it has caused any issues. its palletized and has no dust rinses clean in one pass of RODI. Thats been my choice. The tank react positively in a few hours or not at all.