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Derek Weise

Alternatives for Carbon & GFO?

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Does anyone know if there is a good alternative for carbon and GFO? I feel like I've seen an article somewhere recently that talked about a bio-pellet like product. I just can't find the magazine that I was looking at.

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Does anyone know if there is a good alternative for carbon and GFO? I feel like I've seen an article somewhere recently that talked about a bio-pellet like product. I just can't find the magazine that I was looking at.
I don't know of any product that can replace the ability of carbon to remove chemicals and TOC in the water.

GFO can be replaced with aluminum oxide products that bind phosphates as well.

There was a biopellet (carbon source) that basically had GFO weaved into the product that would help remove additional phosphates since biopellets mainly lowered nitrates but that's the only thing I can think of.

How come you are looking for replacements to those two products?

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Overall, I feel like carbon has to be changed out too often and GFO is just ridiculously expensive.

I've had a 5 gallon of bucket of carbon for about a year. It's got about a quarter left. The GFO I get is like $90 for one gallon. I get the Bulk Reef Supply brand of both.

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I would echo the same question, why are you looking for replacements?   GFO is great for removing the stuff that causes yellowing and shifts the spectrum and intensity of light corals receive (care does need ot be taken the dust is controlled to minimize the risk of HLLE in fish).  GAC is easy enough to use but does run the risk of creating phospahte defciency in corals if over used.  Neither is something that needs to be used continously in my experience.

To expound on Ty's point about TOC (Total Organic Carbon) and your comment about "bio-pellets" you should know a little more about the roles of Dissoved Organic Carbon or DOC.   First for an excellent introduction to the various roles of DOC and and microbes I would encourage you to get Forest Rohwer's "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas".   TOC is made of of roughly 10% Particulate Organic Carbon (POC) and roughly 90% Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC).  DOC is comprised of thousands of compounds but can be crudely divided into labile DOC (roughly 1/3), semi-refractory (a small pecentage) and refractory (roughly 2/3).   Both corals and algae release DOC into the water but DOC performs very different roles depending on the source.   DOC amounts produced varies by algae types with what we reef aquarists generally refer to as nuisance algae produce copious amounts.    DOC from algae promotes heterotrophic microbial processes (increased CO2, tends to increase eutrophication) while DOC produced by corals promotes autotrophic microbial processes (oxygen enriching).   It's the increased labile forms of DOC from algae called Dissolved Combined Neutral Sugars (DCNS) that has been linked to the increase in heterotrophic and pathogenic microbial processes.  To complicate the picture the labile DOC is the primary food source for some of the cryptic sponges species.  What's amazed researchers is these cryptic sponges are able to remove in 20 0r 30 minutes what it takes bacteria to remove in 3 weeks.  Which is fortunate for many of the aquarists using carbon dosing since most if not all of the various products promoted all fall under the label of DCNS.   So if you do start carbon dosing be aware it's probably not doing what it's touted for and it may have a negative effect on your corals depending on the extent of cryptic sponges in your system.

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That's a lot of acronyms that I don't know! Haha.

I mainly just didn't want to have a pay so much for crumbled rust. That stuff is ridiculously expensive.

I didn't know that GFO dust could cause HLLE. Maybe that's why my regal tang looks like hell.

Edited by Derek Weise

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And those are just the ones the scientists come up with!   :lol:  All the jargon aquarists throw in the mix makes it a nightmare to try to understand what's being said sometimes.

While I've been successful keeping systems, corals and fish for decades using simple systems it might help to keep in mind while most ecosystems can be divided into autotrophs (algae,plants) and heterotrophs (things that eat algae and plants and each other) reef systems are the only ecosystem that throws phototrophs into the mix.  They are very complex and the notions about nutrient cycling that has arisen over the last couple decades don't adequitelly take into account how complex reefs are.

 

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Not trying to be an acronym Nazi but I figured I would correct a couple of things for those that might be confused:

GFO = Granular Ferric Oxide (Phosphate sponge)

GAC = Granular Activated Carbon (Absorbs contaminants from the water)

GAC is what may contribute to HLLE.

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Biopellets and other forms of carbon dosing are primarily used to reduce nitrates. It's not as effective as GFO at removing PO4, but may also reduce phosphates marginally. Other alternatives include natural removal like refugiums or turf scrubbers and manual removal like water changes or filter socks. As far as I know, there are no alternatives to carbon media besides keeping up with water changes. I personally stopped using GFO and GAC in my aquarium and I've been exploring alternatives. The best aquarium that I've kept incorporated a refugium and protein skimmer with monthly water changes. I plan to go back to that method when I figure out the best way to get around my sump problem :eusathink:

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