Zeolite and planted tanks


Prolific Poster
Apr 20, 2006
Hi all,
I was thinking of adding a sack of Zeolite into my box filter instead of the Bio-rings. I would like to up my fertilisation and for that reason would like to remove as much of the excess ammonia and organics as possible.

Can Zeolite do this?

The BIG question is;
How to know when to change the Zeolite???

The Active Carbon should be changed every 3-4 weeks but what about the Zeolite?

Another option was to use both; the active carbon and Zeolite together.
Is this a good option.
I will dose more 3x a week followed by a weekly 50% water change.

Sounds good...bad...??

This idea came to me when I saw this Amano sump he uses on one of his large aquariums
http://akuatic.no.sapo.pt/Nature Aquarium Gallery/n2.html
You can see two sacks of Zeolite...am I wrong, see for your self.
I think there is also a bag of Active Carbon and two bags of Peat.
Makes sense, less organic waste, more inorganic ferts and CO2, less algae.

Kind regards, Dusko.

Tom Barr

Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
I can tell you that zeolite may be recharged after several weeks.
You use a string NaCl brine to exchange the Na+ for NH4+.
Rinse, then return, you can do this several times

Now if simply start up or a temporary situation is warranted for NH4 mitigation, then simply adding Zeolite to the filter, say in a new tank, and leaving it there in place of the Bio balls etc great, it's use for this precise reason and application in aquaculture.

After the Media is spent, bacteria will come along an attack the NH4 bound and use it. Any toxicant that's bound is essentially unavailable but most bacteria can get at it.

It just turns to lava rock type bacteria media at that point, after about 1 month, the chemical filtering is done and the bio filter takes over.

Amano is likely using it to respond to NH4 in ADA AS and getting faster start ups.
I'm not sure he's put the ideas of NH4 = algae together yet.

Why would a tank start up better/faster/with more fish/less algae if the NH4 is removed?

There is a lot of correlative evidence there.
It's also an inducible effect suggesting cause.

Sustained NH4 and stable tanks that are perturbed with NH4 cyling can also show this.

But new tanks and over loaded tanks are the least stable of the systems, as are their NH4 cycling.

Large water changes daily or every other day or 2-3 x a week will also have a large positive effect on tank health/less algae for the same reason: removes the NH4.

BTW you can recharge activated carbon as well, bake at 500F for 1 hour, oxidizes most of the organics that the carbon binds.

Again, this recharge has it's limits.


Tom Barr