How often to change carbon in a filter?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Chickerdoodle13, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I have a ten gallon tank the I cycled for six weeks, added my fish in small intervals and has been doing excellent since. I think I've had in about four months now. I've only had to vaccuum once and the only reason I did that was to clean some of the algae that had grown on the glass (Not much, but enough to annoy me!)

    Anyways, how often should I be changing the carbon in the filter? I can't remember if I have changed it since I setup the tank, but I know you are not supposed to when cycling and for a little while after that. I think I may have changed it once in between then, but honestly I can't remember. Anyways, I'm thinking it may be time to change it again. I'm curious to know how often I should be changing it though.
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    You'll get a lot of different answers on this one. It depends on things like how heavily or lightly stocked your tank is, to what extent you do/don't have live plants, your fish-feeding habits, what kind of water you're topping up or changing with and how often, etc.

    Personally I do not honestly believe that carbon does much in a tank managed in other ways for good water quality, *except* provide substrate for nitrifying (etc) bacteria to live on.

    I would not personally do it in a lightly-stocked sensibly-managed tank at just 4 months, not without a *reason* like water starting to smell odd or water chemistry getting funky or plants/fish looking unhappy.

    (Although, next time you do a water change you might turn off the filter for a minute, extract the foam panel or filter floss or whatever you have in addition to carbon, and swish/press it around in the siphoned-off water to shake some of the gunge out of it, then press dry in your fist and reinstall in filter, remembering to turn filter back on afterwards). Unless you are using one of the filters that the manufacturers these days have cleverly designed with combination filter packs, so you *can't* just change part of it [​IMG] You can still turn the filter off and rinse/press some of the crud off that, of course, just not as well. If you do this sort of thing, do not use tap water to rinse with, and I don't even much like using rainwater or distilled; former aquarium water is safest).

    That said, I know the aquarium industry promotes changing carbon paks every few weeks. It will not *hurt* anything if that's what you'd like to do.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2009
  3. ksacres

    ksacres At Your Service

    Nov 16, 2007
    San Antonio TX
    When I had fish, I never never changed the carbon. Just rinsed the filters every month or so. You *want* the bacteria that build up in it.

    Of course, I had a twenty gallon tank with about 6 guppies and plenty of plants, so it was never an issue.
  4. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Thanks pat and ksacres!

    My water isn't smelly and my fish seem very happy. I do have a few low light plants and they are doing well. I have had a little bit of green algae build up and thats really the only reason I had to vacuum the other that I could wipe the glass clean!

    My filter does have two parts, so I will try rinsing it off like you said, pat. I can see some gunky build up on the filter cartridges, but not too bad.

    I had followed your advice with the stocking and I have three small cories, four platies (I tried to get them on the smaller side. I think I have three females and a male...or at least that's what I tried to choose!) and my betta. I'm not too concerned about my platies breeding because my betta seems to enjoy the babies as a nice snack! Of course now I look at my tank and wish I had a 20 gallon! When my guys grow a little bit more, I may upgrade. Right now I think they are fine in the ten gallon but they sure are friendly! I swear they would jump out of the tank to get to me if they could!

    I try not to feed the fish too much and I only do it once every day at the most. I try to stick to every other day. When I feed like that, the platies produce very little waste and I have yet to see the cories produce any. I did try to throw a few snails from our other tank in to see if they would take care of some of the algae, but I think my betta keeps eating them. I saw him going to town on one the other day and I keep finding shells on the bottom of the tank. LOL My betta really is a pig!
  5. greenthumb89

    greenthumb89 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 30, 2008
    pulaski wisconsin
    for algae corys really dont do much imo, i got an oto catfish and i never had a problem with algae

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