• Get the NEW AquariaCentral iOS app --> http://itunes.apple.com/app/id1227181058 // Android version will be out soon!

Carbon or not?

Chaucer Ingram

AC Members

I currently use two types of carbon in separate filters. Seachem matrix in an fx6 and zeo-carb in a 406. I rinse obsessively, to avoid LLD


...and over the edge.
Staff member
Most folks will tell you that carbon is not necessary, and I agree to a certain extent. It is excellent for removing most meds. And for those folks that have certain water issues such as odor or discoloration, there isn't anything better.

The best use of it, IMO, is as a media for beneficial bacteria to grow on due to its extreme surface area.

It will not release anything back into the water as most will claim...unless you are running your tank at about 3700 degrees F.


Global Moderator
Staff member
I've never specifically bought carbon for my tank. The box of unused carbon I do have is from what came with filters and media I've purchased over the years.

Instead of using carbon, I use that space within the filer for more mechanical or biological media. As Bob said above, It does allow for beneficial bacteria to colonize on it like most any hard surface, so once it can't adsorb any more chemicals, odors, dyes, etc, you are left with it's bio capability.


AC Members
I think I have a lifetime supply of carbon products, I rarely use it. Except, as Bob said, to remove "something" like meds or odors. I kind of disagree with Bob on the surface area being a long term bacteria "holder". I think the very fine surfaces fills with "filter sludge" that doesn't rinse off as well as other media like sponges. I also think ceramic media has the same thing happen over time but I use it in most filters, rinse it & hope for the best.

As far as carbon's ability to adsorb meds, it's a pretty short term effect, think days or maybe a couple weeks at most. With large water changes too, that's my go to solution for many tank problems at the beginning.

It's been a very long time, but I think zeolite is used to remove ammonia. That's nice in some situations, but the beneficial bacteria needs some to feed on & continue the nitrifying cycle we want in our tanks. I use lots of live plants, lol, instead of "bits" of anything. I want easy to clean filter media & the many benefits of real plants. If you don't have any, try some!!!


Josh Holloway--Be mine!!!
I agree with the above. They know their stuff.