Yamato Green Aquatic Fertilizers
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Yamato Green Technical Specifications

Customer Reviews

Terms & Conditions


Starting a Planted Tank

Plant Nutrients 101

Phophates in the Planted Tank

Activated Carbon

Fertilizer & the Planted Aquarium

CO2 & the Planted Tank

Algae Control

Safety Around the Aquarium

Cleaning Aquarium Glass

Mysterious Fish Deaths Explained!

Aquarium Photography

New Tank Syndrome

Choosing an Aquatic Heater

Tips for Beginning Fishkeepers

Salt in the Aquarium

Outdoor Patio Tubbing

Malaysian Trumpet Snails



Carbon in the Planted Aquarium?

Perhaps fewer subjects are more controversial among aquarium keepers than whether they should or should not use carbon in the filter.

Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) is frequently recommended for inclusion in aquarium filters.  It is usually manufactured from coal, and occasionally from wood such as coconuts.  It is recommended for use to remove unwanted colors and aromas from the aquarium.  And it does work very well for this purpose.  However, there are also some problems with its use.

GAC works by a process called aDsorption.  (Notice the D where most authors use a B.)  This means that large organic molecules cling to the carbon, and they are not released back into the water.  The process works best when water flows slowly through the carbon, rather than being blasted through at a brisk rate.  Slow-moving water gives the carbon more time to work.  It doesn’t take a lot of carbon to do the job, either.  3 or 4 tablespoons of Granular Activated Carbon are plenty for a 55 gallon aquarium.  It does have a finite life, and will usually clog up in about 30 days.  So, when the filter is serviced and cleaned (you DO service and clean your filter… right?), the old carbon should be discarded and fresh put in its place.

However, there are some potential problems you need to be aware of.  Phosphorus, for one.  Some brands of Granular Activated Carbon contain phosphates left over from the manufacturing process, and can add phosphates to the water column.  This encourages unwanted algae growth.  Normally, you would never want to add phosphates to your water because they tend to stimulate the growth of unsightly algae.  If you notice algae growing in your aquarium and you are running Granular Activated Carbon in your filter, you might want to try removing the carbon to see if that doesn’t solve the problem.

The biggest problem with Granular Activated Carbon is that it removes good things with the bad.  Many of the valuable components of Yamato Green and other plant fertilizers are “large molecule” components, and will be removed by Granular Activated Carbon.  This is NOT a desired result.  If you are adding Yamato Green but not getting the plant growth you expected, check to make sure that you’re not running GAC in your filter.  Some filters include GAC inside the filter element, and they don’t give you a choice about it.  Such filters should not be used on a planted aquarium.  If you are going to run a filter on a planted aquarium, the best choice is one where you have a choice of exactly which filter material you can put in the box or canister.  Despite advertisements to the contrary, probably the best filter material for a planted aquarium is simply filter floss.  It’s cheap, it can be purchased in a sewing store as “pillow stuffing” for a few dollars for a large bag, and it’s excellent for filtering out small particles from the water column.  Best of all, filter floss does not remove any desired molecules, such as chelated iron. 

So, how does one control the accumulation of unwanted colors or aromas from the aquarium?  After all, any aquarium tends to build up a “yellow” color with time.  The answer is regular water changes.  If you are not doing regular partial water changes, you should start.  Nature “changes the water” every few seconds in a river or stream.  Fish and plants are evolved to do best in water that is changed regularly.  No aquarium, whether with fish or without, can remain healthy without regular water changes.  The minimum recommended water change is 10% per week.  This means removing 10% of the water, and replacing it with fresh dechlorinated water.  If you have a large aquarium, or more than one (I know, it’s hard to believe, but there are actually people out there with more than one aquarium), you might want to look into purchasing a water changing hose such as the Pythonã.  It makes quick work of water changes on even the largest of aquariums.  Don’t be afraid to change more than 10%, either.  Commercial aquarium maintenance companies have long changed 25% or even 50% of the water per week without consequence.  It keeps the aquarium healthy and the water clear.  To use, first suck out the desired amount of water that you want to change, then add the required amount of Yamato No-Chlor or other dechlorinator of your choice to the water column.  Then, reverse the flow of the hose and add back water (adjusted for temperature) in the amount required.  If you do this every week, you will be amazed at how healthy and sparkling your aquarium becomes.  Water changes, not Granular Activated Carbon, are the true secret to a healthy, beautiful aquarium. 

If you fertilize your plants (and we HOPE you are using Yamato Green), you can add the fertilizer to the aquarium right AFTER your water change.  The plants will use it for their nutrition.  A week later, most of the nutrients have been consumed, and a water change won’t pull out anything other than waste byproducts.  Then, it’s time to add back your regular dose of Yamato Green. 

By following this regimen, you don’t need GAC in your filter.  Your tank will be very healthy, the water will remain clear, and there should be no unwanted algae buildup in the tank. 

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