How Long Does Activated Carbon Last In Aquarium?

How Long Does Activated Carbon Last In Aquarium

No one is born an aquarium hobbyist. At one point in time, we just happen to develop the interests and decide to take it beyond the fascinations and get an actual tank. (But really, sea life is fascinating.)

Activated carbon can last for up to 3-4 weeks in our aquarium and that after this time, it becomes deactivated.

Our curiosity is healthy, starting out. In fact, it will help you every step of the way.

We know you might have a lot of other fundamental questions as well. Like how do you go about setting up your aquarium? What do you need, and what should you use? What should you not use in them?

We want to help you answer all these questions, but we have to take it one step at a time. So how about we begin by letting you in on some essential facts you need to know about having activated carbon in your aquarium?

Sounds interesting, right?

Well then, lets get to it!

Introducing Aquarium Activated Carbon

Aquarium activated carbon is the black substance that is made from wood. It is also made from carbon-rich/fibrous materials such as bamboo, coal, kernels, and coconut shells.

If youre looking for activated carbon for your aquariums, the best choice is to go with bituminous coal.

Bituminous coal has an extremely irregular porous surface. This surface makes it act like a sponge for bad odors and trace elements in both water and air.

Uses Of Aquarium Activated Carbon

Bituminous coal has been argued to be the most standard filtration mechanism when it comes to the maintenance of an aquarium. It used in filtering the water contained in an aquarium, thereby making the tank a safer habitat for your aqua pets.

This activated carbon keeps the water pure and odorless by adsorbing toxic wastes from organic and inorganic materials.

How does this work? Simple!

The small and large pores in the carbon suck in and trap pollutants into its pores. At other times, these pollutants are chemically bonded to the carbon and stuck to it. This process is known as Adsorption.

However, anyone making use of activated carbon as a filtration mechanism in a fish tank must note that the process has to be regular to achieve the needed result.

Does My Aquarium Need Activated Carbon?


As humans want to live in a pollution-free environment, fishes also need a conducive and healthy environment. We can sponsor this with the use of some aquarium kits- one of which is the aquarium activated carbon.

You may ask why.

The primary reason is that it helps remove water contaminants such as chloramine and chlorine, tannins. These add color to the water -when naturally, water should be colorless. It also eliminates the phenols that cause odors.

It will help keep aquarium water from turning yellow in a short time.

The fact that some water coming into the home may have been over chlorinated is one of the reasons why you make use of activated carbon in your aquarium.

This will help create a balance inside the tank by getting rid of the harmful substances contained in the tank and allowing your fishes to breathe easily and thrive in their environment.

This process doesn’t totally shut down the argument of changing your tank water regularly. Just know that activated carbon is necessary because of the reason stated above.

Another reason is that it keeps the water clear, and this prevents water accidents (Yes, there can be water accidents).

How Long Does Activated Carbon Last?

A lot of people want to know just how long activated charcoal can last inside a tank.

The answer is, the activated carbon is still active in your tank as long as the charcoal can still absorb discoloration and bad odor.

However, once you begin to detect a yellowish coloration in your tank, then it’s time for some water change!

This should be close to a month after the first addition of activated charcoal into your tank.

Activated carbon can use up to 3-4 weeks in the aquarium tank, after which it becomes deactivated, and you would need to change the water in your tank.

Why Should I Know How Long Activated Carbon Lasts?

Sometimes what you don’t know might be the death of you- or rather, in this case, the death of your aqua pets.

Some people have no idea as to why their tanks need regular change.

You need to change your tank water because once the carbon has lost its “activeness” and potency.

The toxins in it have sucked into its pores through the absorption process, or the adsorption process begins to leak back into the water.

This can be very dangerous to your fish because they start to ingest toxins into their system, shortening their lifespan and leading to death, sooner or later.

Is Activated Carbon Safe For My Aquarium?

Any argument that carbon is harmful to fishes should be dispelled. So far it’s clean, why not!

Over the years of aquarium maintenance, activated carbon has been known to do a lot of good. It is, however, relevant that some necessary measures should be taken in the process of carbon used in fish tanks.

Among the crucial things to understand while using aquarium activated charcoal is that some toxins cannot be removed by activated charcoal. Some of these wastes include; ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate.

Therefore, another medium as the water changing process or other methods must be used to address elevated ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate levels.

It is also worthy of note that powder activated carbon, when used in the filter system, settles into the aquarium as a cloud of fine dust and gets trapped on the gills of the fish.

Deal Safely With Activated Carbon

When dealing with powdered carbon, there is a need to properly contain the carbon in a media bag in the filter. It is therefore advised that larger pellets or granular activated carbon usage should be implemented.

Also, rinsing the dust off with distilled or deionized water before placing it into your filter media will help prevent the carbon from getting trapped in your fish’s gill and also prevent your charcoal from adsorbing chlorine from the tap water.