Originally Posted by LolaQuigs
I have a semi-related question.
I always rip open my cartridges and dump out the carbon/charcoal, and stuff aquarium sponge inside the cartridge. Would it be ok to get rid of the cartridge completely, and just stick some loose aquarium sponge in the filter where the cartridge is supposed to go? Cartridges are expensive, I'd rather not pay for them if I don't have to. And I recently found out that the charcoal is often made from charred animal bones!
I've never seen a coconut walk around and moo.
Yes bone char is used in aquarium filtration but animals aren't specifically raised to make bone char, its just an efficient use of a waste material kind of like using manure fertilizer for organic food growing.
The temperatures used for making bone char are in the 440 to 500°C range. (times nine divide by five add thirty two) 824°F to 932°F. There is no longer anything in them that resembles biological material AND the calcium compounds that remain are very effective at removing the stuff that hurts our fish.
Coconut shell also makes great filtration material but sadly it is hard to mass produce.
Sure you can use just a sponge, but honestly the charcoal protects your little friends from all the nasty chemicals in the house if you're not spending the time to make a full blown natural soil layout.
Funny is most aquarium filter cartridges are laid out for people using the filter on the maximum size tank or worse, so that huge amount of carbon in there is unnecessary! I'm sure you can get your hands on cheap stockings and can buy a container of API charcoal, just rip all the filter material off the frame of the cartridge after it becomes clogged the first time and dump the old carbon. Stretch and lay a tied-off section of stocking over the cartridge frame, add a teaspoon of carbon, close the top with a twist tie, paper clip or what not and then every month just take the whole filter off the back and pour it out into the sink then rinse the stocking off and add a couple drops of dechlorinator by the pump part and another teaspoon of carbon in the stocking, close and you're good to go.
Keep in mind that if you don't have activated carbon in the tank your fishs' bodies are the only chemical filtration you have left (unless you go full dirt planted) and they WILL absorb any chemicals you get in the water.
An alternative to much of this is Purigen. You need to know what you're doing with Purigen because its recycle mechanism is chlorine bleach baths and then a prime bath. It works fairly well for most organic chemicals but won't take out some toxic metals.