Adsorptive performance of granular activated carbon in aquaculture and aquaria: a simplified method

Daniel Taylor, David D. Kuhn, Stephen Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A principle concern for aquaculturists and aquarium hobbyists is the control and removal of dissolved organic matter. Granular activated carbon is a well-established medium for the adsorption of dissolved organic substances associated with these issues. The selection of activated carbon for aquaria and aquaculture is not well-established due to innate heterogeneity of these waters. The means to completely characterize adsorption between carbon sources are generally not available to end users provided their level of expertise and/or resources at their disposal. This study introduces a relatively simple method for characterizing activated carbon quality and filter performance utilizing readily available and relatively safe indicator compounds to test adsorptive capabilities between different sources of granular activated carbon. Methylene blue and a commercial mix of humic and tannic substances were used to comparatively test adsorptive performance between two filter groups (i.e. sources of granular activated carbon) by tracking spectral absorbance with non-linear regression statistics, and validating removal trends against mature aquaculture water. Greater adsorptive capacities were consistently observed in one filter group throughout the indicator testing battery. Similar findings were observed between the two indicator tests, thereby confirming the method. This method can be adopted by commercial aquaculture operations or aquarists to assist in comparatively screening particular types, particle sizes, and sources of granular activated carbon for specific water quality and engineering requirements

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Aquaculture
Issue number3-4
Pages (from-to)291-306
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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