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Activated Carbon Filter?


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Hello, I am very new to owning a freshwater tank. I didn't realize putting driftwood in the water would turn it yellow/brown, but after some research it seems to be tannins? I bought activated carbon, but didn't realize it was a filter pillow and it is way too big for my filter. I tried just floating it in the water near the filter, but it doesn't seem to be helping. Is this a longer process than 6-8 hours, or is it never going to work just floating in the water? Any help is greatly appreciated. My 5yo son will be so sad if his two new dwarf gouramis die. 

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+1 on boiling to speed up leaching process if you’d like. Couple hours prob. At minimum you need to remove and scrub the wood with a brush to remove contaminants. Unless you did this previous to placing in tank. Along with a good water change. Some will soak their driftwood for a couple weeks to get the tannins out and allow wood to sink but you will still get tannins leaching as it breaks down. 

Tannins are not necessarily a bad thing for most freshwater systems. If you need to bring your PH down it can used to help accomplish this. Freshwater in nature is not always clear and has tannins in it due to driftwood, leaves, moss, etc. Gouramis come from black water and like many tropical plants will thrive in it. Although you most likely have fish bred in an aquafarm that are more suitable for home aquariums. The crystal clear tank water, just like our marine tanks, is more about aesthetics for us humans vs tank health. Depending. Fish should be just fine and son stay happy. 

You need to have water flowing through the carbon but not too much. It can’t just sit in stagnant water. Running carbon will help have clearer water but depending on how much you use on what size system. Yes it will take more than 6-8 hours to clear up. Amount of time will vary based on your situation and system. Wouldn’t worry about the tannins that much. I would be more concerned about what is on the wood that you don’t want in your tank. Take it out, give it a good scrub, and low boil it for a couple hours.


Some basic things to be successful:


-Use a heater that’s set properly and reputable. Set it to where it stays at a consistent temp. Strive for no fluctuation but a degree or two in a day is ok.

-Have proper filter cartridge and back ups

-get a glass and/or digital temp gauge.

-Use silk plants if going artificial (IMO) but not life or death

-test kits (know what your parameters should be)

-ACCLIMATE your fish ( or anything) properly

-Buy healthy fish from a reputable store (online or local).

-Do some research for some common diseases so you can identify them if purchasing fish.       Ex: ich, fin rot, fungus, etc. As well as algae, pests, aquarium hitchhikers 

-get a cheap manual timer for your lights. Set it and forget it. 8-10 hours a day. Make sure you don’t have a three prong plug and buy a two prong timer. Been there done that.

-if you like a fish pull your phone out and research it before adding with your other tank mates. 
-don’t over stock or over feed

-know what diet your particular fish eat

-dechlorinate your tap water   

-Keep a consistent maintenance schedule 

-siphon your gravel 

-save a gallon or two milk jugs and have top off water prepared and ready to go. Or like me and have 10 lol. 
-consider a gravity fed auto top off

-consider a clean up crew (help keep algae down so less cleaning for you)

-don’t be afraid to add an air stone or bubbler if need be

-dont be afraid to ask questions or admit you made a mistake

I’ll bet money if you do these things you will have a successful fish tank that you and your son will enjoy for years. Probably progress into a full blown obsession lol. 

Welcome to the aquarium community!


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