Filter Carbon

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Frequently Asked Questions...

Does filter carbon remove products such as Leaf Zone?

Ok, so I use a plant fertilizer called Leaf Zone in my aquarium, and was wondering if activated carbon in my filter would remove it like it does with medications.

Best Answer...


The only time that you should use carbon is if you're actively trying to remove some impurity -- such as medication -- from the water. Otherwise -- in a planted tank -- you shouldn't need carbon. Activated carbon does remove some nutrients necessary for plant growth, and plants will grow far more poorly in the absence of one or two essential nutrients.

As other posters have noted, old carbon is a time bomb, as it will eventually leach much of its absorbed substances -- particularly phosphate -- back into the water. What defines 'old' depends upon the person, but I know that the lifespan of AC is far less than the month or so recommended by its packaging. Probably a week, and not much more.

Regular water changes to reduce the level of organic wastes are far better (and likely cheaper!) than AC for a planted tank. The plants take care of the nitrates and grow better. And water changes refresh small quantities of nutrients that come naturally in your source water. Just remember to use dechlorinator :)