Why you should also think about carbon.... Removing the yellow substances common in seawater is an important and often underestimated topic
Activated carbon in the marine aquarium
After a few weeks and months at the latest, and with the arrival of fish and other animals, it becomes necessary at some point to think about the formation of yellow substances in the aquarium. Here there is the possibility of working with ozone, or if you don't want to do that, you can fall back on the good old-fashioned activated carbon. This is certainly also familiar to those who have switched from freshwater aquaristics.
It is very easy to do a test yourself to see whether it is necessary to do something about any yellow substances that may occur. The best way to do this is to take two identical containers that should be pure white. Yoghurt pots, for example, or, as we want to illustrate in this case, the buckets that are used by one of the authors when changing the water, are ideal for this purpose.
If you have yellow substances in the aquarium, you can see it immediately in the case, but this is usually not so easy to see in the aquairum without comparison. These yellow substances must be removed, as they deteriorate the water quality and also cost a lot of light. The clearer the water, the more light irradiation is possible, which is especially important for many flowering animals.
General information about carbon:
Activated carbon is made from peat, wood, brown coal, hard coal, nut shells (coconut shells). It is mainly used because of the yellow substances present in the aquarium. But regular filtration with carbon is not only important because of the yellow substances; it also removes growth-inhibiting substances (terpenes, alcohols) and other pollutants. In addition, it can be used after, for example, a medication treatment.
Coal has the ability to remove substances from the water. This happens with activated carbon through adsorption. This adsorption is an accumulation of molecules on the large surface of the carbon, which can also be reversible. Namely, when other substances with a higher binding affinity approach the carbon. These then displace the previously bound substance groups with the lower binding affinity. This is to be distinguished from absorption, in which a chemical bond occurs and which is not reversible.
A fine filter should be installed upstream of the carbon filtration so that no suspended matter clogs the fine pores of the carbon!
In practice, this means that a carbon should not be supersaturated in continuous operation, but that short-term use is preferable. In our opinion, this is about 2 to 3 days, depending on the load on the water. The two authors always advise the use of a high-quality activated carbon!
But the most important thing in any case is to test regularly whether your water is still transparent, then you are on the safe side.
Frank Diehl, Robert Baur-Kruppas
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