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Re: Recommended filtration system

Rob wrote:

>I am interested in starting a planted tank, but I'm a little perplexed at 
>which typed of filter to use.  Right now I've got a Penguin Bio-wheel.  My 
>plans are to inject CO2 into the filter box to allow the gas to slowly 
>dissolve and mix into the tank water.  I guess, my main concern is about 
>charcoal.  Ist it recommended in a planted tank?  The Penguin filter 
>cartridges contain activated charcoal in them, which would prove difficult 
>to remove if need be.

Rob, IMHO, the continuous use of activated carbon is not particularly 
helpful in a planted tank and is probably detrimental in the sense that it 
can remove vital plant nutrients from the water column.  Plants and large, 
regular water changes provide all the chemical filtration that is 
necessary.  In regard to the Penguin, you can cut a slit in the filter 
fiber at the top of the cartridge and dump out as much carbon as you 
can.  A few dabs of silicone will close the slit if need 
be.  Alternatively, you can replace the Marineland cartridge with a 
(preferably reusable) DIY construct.

However, unless you just don't have the money to spend or have a very small 
tank, I suggest you look into canister filtration.  A canister will give 
you MUCH better overall filtration, a lot of versatility when it comes to 
media and accessory selection, and they don't require frequent 
maintenance.  I usually don't have to touch mine for 4 to 6 months at a 
time.  I use a durable and reusable medium -- open celled foam -- so I 
rarely have to spend money on fresh media when I do clean the filters 
out.  Consider how many Penguin cartridges you might go through in a year 
and it's easy to see how a good canister filter could actually pay for 
itself in the long run.

Good luck!
Chuck Huffine
alumnus, Miskatonic University ;)