Pros: good amount of surface area for impurity absorbtion, easy to change once a month
Cons: not changing all filtering medium at the same time won't work for everyone
With an aquarium filter, the parts of the system that actually cleanse the water need to be replaced on something of a schedule. My AquaClear Aquarium Power Filter uses three different filtering medium in a basket. One of the most important stages for filtering the water is the chemical stage. When I had an aquarium as a child, I had a plastic triangular thing that sat in the corner with some cotton and activated carbon. Although filtering aquariums has become much more sophisticated in the ensuing years, the best medium for chemical filtration has pretty much stayed the same.
AquaClear Activated Carbon Filter Inserts are pieces of premium research grade carbon in a mesh bag that fits into the filtering basket. I use it as the second stage above the AquaClear Foam Filter Insert, although it states that it can be the second or third stage. Before inserting it into the filter basket it needs to be rinsed very well until the water runs clear. You'll see bits of black coming out of the bag that somewhat resembles soot and this is something you definitely don't want ending up in your aquarium.
Activated carbon absorbs various impurities found in an aquarium. It removes what makes the water smell as well as discoloration and other impurities. The one thing it doesn't work on is ammonia, which is why a third filtration pack is needed. However, this does cleanse the water of undesirable organic impurities. It's safe to use in either freshwater or salt water aquariums.
The design of the AquaClear Activated Carbon Filter Insert allows the water to encounter much more of the surface area of the carbon itself, meaning there is a more thorough filtration of the water as it flows through. The design of the filter itself forces water through all three of these stages, providing for the best filtration I've come across.
Unlike the foam, this cannot just be rinsed off and put back in. The carbon needs to be thrown away when it stops being an effective filtering medium. The directions state every month. I can say I've gotten away with stretching it to six weeks before I start noticing a change in the quality of the water in the tank. The idea would be to rinse this in water right from the aquarium, so changing to a new AquaClear Activated Carbon Filter Insert should be done around the time of a partial water change. I usually rinse it first in water from the faucet, then once the water runs clear I use some of the aquarium water on it.
One of these AquaClear Activated Carbon Filter Inserts will run about $4.00 or they can be bought in multi-packs for a little less – around $10.00 for three. That's not bad at all for the amount of carbon that's in each bag as it is about four ounces of carbon in each bag. It does a terrific job filtering the water and it's an easy and uncomplicated way to change the filtering medium each month or so with the least amount of hassle.
© 2010 Patti Aliventi