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I have two Fluval 404 filters for my 150 gallon tank. I've run a search on carbon and a lot of posts that suggest that you don't need it under normal circumstances. I currently am using ceramic rings in 2 of the 4 trays. Should I simply buy more ceramic rings and fill the remaining trays? Should I use Bioballs instead?
 

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Yes, I'd say take out the carbon. I only use carbon after I've dosed the fish with medication (and only back in my EBJD days have I needed to). You could use either bioballs or rings, they are both good for biological filtration. Someone smarter than myself might be able to tell you about surface area and bacteria, but I have bioballs in my sump, and in previous canisters I've used "rings", "stars", "rocks", "noodles", and other various media.
 

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I've been using HOB filters for years, which generally come with carbon built into the prefab filter inserts. So there's always carbon in your filter. I just switched to a canister filter and was surprised to see the instructions telling me to remove the carbon after a week or 2. I know it can become saturated and start releasing chemicals if you leave it unchanged for too long, but - Really?? No carbon at all? What about after water changes if i use a dechlorinater? Should I put in a new carbon pad then? I've had aquariums for 10 years, but this is new to me. What do you all think - is it ok to run an established tank w/o carbon??...
 

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I still use carbon. Stuff gets into the tank through the tap and through gas exchange. Sure you can get by without it, but I still put some in. More bio rings are only useful if you are overloading your current bio system. You wont develop more bacteria than you wastes will feed, rather they will just be more spread out. If you do eliminate the carbon, I would use the extra space for floss to polish the water more.
 

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If you use carbon in your canister then you need to replace it monthly. Otherwise, you can run it for months without any maintenance.

I put an HOB on the back of the tank in addition to the canister so I can use carbon and be able to replace it easily. The Emperor filters are great because changing the media involves just sliding out the cartridges. You can buy the Marineland cartrigdes but I prefer the Bio3 or just filling the reusable trays that come with the Emperor with carbon and a bit of floss.
 

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I dont let any filter go months. If it is removing detritus like it is supposed to it is best to remove it. Letting it liquefy in the filter defeats the point of filtering it out in the firsrt place.
 

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