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Airation Causing Plant Pearling. WTF????

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Noxtreme, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. Noxtreme

    Noxtreme Junior Poster

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    Ok so I've been experiencing something kinda weird the past few weeks. I have a "high tech" planted tank (co2 injected and 3.2 wpg CFL + t5).
    I have been testing some thing out for the past few months because my tank really hasn't been pearling much. I moved my filter outlet so there was no surface agitation, I have been adding more nutrients, I have increased the tank KH and GH, I got a drop checker to make sure my PH KH CO2 relationship wast being overly affected by something, I calibrated and got a new probe for my PH controller. Well, Everything is fine and i stumbled on a few things i'm going to try long term like keeping my KH higher.

    Now for the question:
    I tried adding an air stone because I saw one in a pic of another nice looking planted tank, and about an hour later my tank was pearling A LOT more.
    Anyone have any idea why this might be happening?

    I even tried turning off the air stone for a day and the pearling went back to almost nothing so i know the air stone has something to do with it. I'm hoping someone can tell me what may be going on so i can change my set up slightly and turn off the air stone since i am not a huge fan of having one and it has the obvious effect of using A LOT more co2 to keep that concentration correct via my PH controller. My co2 actually air locked my filter last night which is hasn't done in years(i defuse through my filter). I'm stumped on this one.
    Please help and thanks in advance
     
  2. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Just obvious,

    An air stone or increasing surface movement just increases O2 in water. Plants pearl because water is saturated in O2.
    Read EI guide here and many of the recent CO2 topics to see better how things go

    Overall, adjusting CO2 with a PH meter is a bad idea, pushing CO2 in filter inlet is another bad idea as you expierienced it
    Maybe try to think your CO2 diffusion differently. Also, having a good surface movement while injecting CO2 is what most here do
     
  3. Noxtreme

    Noxtreme Junior Poster

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    OH. Duhhh. so if their is a lot of O2 in the water already the bubbles of O2 produced by plants are actually bubbles. While before i was not adding and O2 so all the O2 being release (pearling) was being absorbed into the water. Am i right here?

    Why is adjusting my co2 via a ph meter bad? It has worked well for years i think. As long as i know my Kh i can get pretty dang close to 30ppm C02 by adjusting my ph.
    I know diffusing into a filter can cause airlock if you have the bubble rate to high but i have used this method for a long time as well. My co2 tank seems to last a lot longer doing it this way.
     
    #3 Noxtreme, Mar 27, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2010
  4. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    I'm sure that you know this, but if you don't ...

    Try a test if you have time. Tweak your controller to get a medium green (not blue-green or lime green) color in the 4 dKH carbonate based solution drop checker. As you know, the green color indicates ± 30 ppm of CO2. Now, measure your KH of your aquarium water and note the pH of your water from your controller. Then find out your CO2 level using the chart/calculator. You should have a reading that you have much more than 30 ppm CO2.

    What do you think?
     
  5. Noxtreme

    Noxtreme Junior Poster

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    i just did this test a few hrs ago. My drop checker is actually a little past green (starting to get clearish yellow, Probably what you would call light lime green). My kh in the tank is very close to 4 dkh and i do have a 4 dkh test solution in the drop checker (I'm not sure what you mean by " 4 dKH carbonate based solution." do you just mean 4 kh ro water that has been adjusted with baking soda? if so this is what i have). Anyway the Ph was 6.5 and the kh being 4 that means i have 37ppm of co2 according to the chart which is pretty right on I'd say according to the drop checker and the ph controller. If anything I'm thinking the ph kh relationship is more accurate then the drop checker sense is numbers and not color judgment. Of course you have to be careful of buffers with the ph kh relationship which is the reason I've added the drop checker.
    I'm not sure that my test results are confirming your thoughts? Correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  6. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    I personally dropped my PH meter once I realized my tanks can go much better without it. It's hard to accept it once you have invested in such a tool, I know this very well, sadly. PH meter makes CO2 plays the yoyo + risks from the PH electrode going out of range despite regular maintenance. But, usually, in low light tanks it works fine as CO2 demand is much lower. I rarely, if never, saw a high tech tank doing stable on long term with a PH meter

    There are many topics about it here. Anyway...

    About your question, yes, plants will pearl when water is saturated in O2, otherwise, O2 dissolves and you won't see it.
     
  7. Brian20

    Brian20 Guest

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    I put adjust 3bps in the regulator, wait for 2 hours, then plants pearling A LOT!!! more than the aireator trick.
     
  8. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    Your test is spot on if you are using the baking soda/distilled water mix that is close to lab accurate at 4 dKH. It's a somewhat rare exception to the way that it normally works out.

    Some folks use their KH test kit to make a 4 dKH solution. This can be 'iffy' sometimes. Some folks use 4 dKH aquarium water and this can be a problem too.

    Before the 4 dKH carbonate based drop checker when people were using the chart/calculator, some were reporting 70 to 150 psi of CO2 or something like that. I know that mine would be high because the water treatment plant adds a phosphate based pipe cleaner from time to time.

    Well, at least you got your original question answered in this thread. :)
     
  9. Noxtreme

    Noxtreme Junior Poster

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    I just flat out disagree with this thinking. i calibrate my ph probe regularly and replace it once a year. This is still less maintenance then a drop checker (although i do have both). If you keep you kh above 2 or 3 (i keep mine at 4) your ph swings very little so honestly its not much of a yo yo. I would say turning off the co2 at night (which i assume you must do) then turning it on during the day is more of a yo yo then keeping it within a .3 range on the ph meter.
    Controlling co2 just seems like the more logical accurate choice to me in order to achieve 30ppm co2 as long as you watch out for buffers. If you use buffers from time to time the the additional drop checker is necessary.

    True my question was answered. To bad i made myself look pretty dumb by asking it. lol.

    As far as making my drop checker solution... I did use my kh test kit and about a hr of trial and error with a water bottle. but i got it spot on eventually. I went way over then dumped out half the water and added new tested again, repeat about 15 times. now i have a bottle of it in the fridge.
    Dylan

    P.S. I learned during these last few months that you must have a KH of at least 2 for plants to effectively use co2 so all you folks using strictly RO better start adding so baking soda. RO Rite does not raise KH enough which was another shock to me.
     
    #9 Noxtreme, Mar 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2010
  10. hani

    hani Lifetime Charter Member
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    I do have both, the ph is not bad to use, here is what i do, open the co2 to max, then wait till the fish start to gasp for o2, look at the ph reading , then start going down if it is 6.1, iwill let the co2 stop at 6.4. usually my DC yellowish with kh4.
    the point is you cant add any more co2 than that when there is fish.
     
  11. Noxtreme

    Noxtreme Junior Poster

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    Thank you hani. I think both methods work very well.
     
  12. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    A drop checker is put it and forget it, change solution every 1-3 months (I find that 1 month is not better than 2-3), adapt bubble count once, and voilà. I doubt PH electrodes are less maintenance, I used them for above a year. Even a good equippement will need a calibration every 1-2 weeks. Electrodes need to be changed yearly as they desperately deviate over time.

    With yoyo I speak about CO2. PH swings don't affect plants or fish despite all what is said around. Otherwise, how people here can breed and keep most fish using EI and Tom recommendations? CO2 affects PH slowly as it is a weak acid (H2CO3). Plants need soluble CO2, so instant variations of it will affect growth while PH will need time to adapt. Also, all PH meters have usually a +/- 0.05 tolerance range bfore turning on/off the CO2. That is +/-0.1 PH. Despite the precision advertised by most manufactures, aquaristic material is really far away from a +/-0.01 PH error margin. The truth is rather around +/-0.2. Add it to KH fluctuations and you get important CO2 fluctuations in your tank. This is the worst for plants especially under high tech conditions.


    How can you explain many beautiful scapes with RO users and low KH then? Plants don't care about KH, yet some plants can be harmed by a high KH. Fish, on many tropical areas thrive in very low KH waters ususlally. Some waters have a high PH yoyo natively too, fish just doesn't care. Gh and conductivity are more important for some species

    The nano in my signature is changed with RO + Gh. KH of tank is 1, RCS and plants are just so happy, despite I'm using rather "difficult" plants and shrimps.

    As with nutrients causing algae theory, many people assume that because they have a problem (algae, diseases, plants starvation...) and identify "an outside the limits factor", then that factor is the cause of their problem. As with your assumption of KH, if this was true, then how do you explain that my tanks do wonderful with high nutrients, PH swings and very low KH?

    Anyway, I won't continue debating the CO2 regulation via PH-meter and KH/PH effects on plants and fish as it was already debated and explained many times by Tom here on even recent topics. Just make a search and you'll see that there are many realities in this hobby. The EI method and CO2 management proposed here are something with a strong evidence based approache.

    Other methods can work, but could put you away from the real cause of disorders when they do happen.
     
    #12 jonny_ftm, Mar 29, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2010
  13. hani

    hani Lifetime Charter Member
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    all whats said is true in away, there are alot of green tanks with no co2 added, there are no wrong or right way of doing things, how come no copmpay gives you a 100% grantee that there set up will work, anyonw can follow instructions (fill up the tank to the marked line, hang the lights at 6in above the tank, follow the dosing schadule...)
    alot of pepole using ph meterr with good results on the other hand some dont use them
    the worst thing you can do is say thats the only way to do things.
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I do not use a pH controller on any of my tanks, neither does Amano.
    We got our reasons.

    You assume that the pH and CO2 is the same at all points within the aquarium, some folks assume it's simply a relative measure(wiser) to overall CO2.
    I'd not put too much faith in the results, in absolute terms.

    Stick with general relative measure, the ppm's will vary a good bit throughout the tank for CO2.

    A CO2 thermo meter showed this fairly well.

    0.2-.4 range for fish is a decent, but involved gassing fish.

    I start lower and slow and progressively work my way up.
    Few seem to have the patience.

    I tolerate some algae during this process, and sub optimal growth. I also know what the growth and tank should look like and can get rid of most algae easily.
    New folks have troubles there.

    Experience is perhaps the best teacher for getting good CO2.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. Noxtreme

    Noxtreme Junior Poster

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    Thank you Tom. From what i gather you are saying that as long as you keep your co2 between 20ppm to 40ppm your ok. However in the upper end your fish may not be so happy so start low and work up. Do you think a ph controller or the drop checker/bubble counter method does this better. Why? Do you think a combination of controller drop checker is the best method? Do you believe there is a best method?

    I calibrate my new probe two weeks after I get it and then every three months after that. It will usually be off .2. which is the difference of about 10 ppm co2. Easy enough for me. My last probe lasted several years without any problems. The only reason I replaced it was because it became sluggish to adjust.
    I don’t have to count bubbles! I find it hard to believe you used a ph probe and found it more difficult then a drop checker. Perhaps you had low of a kh which causes ph to swing quickly and can make things a bit touchy.



    Yes the ph swing is not a problem for fish and plants but too much or too little co2 is. Get your co2 too high and fish will gasp or suffocate. Get it too low and your not benefitting your plants. I feel having a C02 concentration that swings between 37ppm and 23ppm (aka 6.5 and 6.7 ph with 4 kh) automatically at all times is better then guessing based on color and bubble count. I have done both and this just works better for me. Look at Amanos chart in the latest AFA catalog. You will see how much co2 varies throughout the day with your method. I bet the method I would be a much flatter graph.
    I keep my co2 a little higher then 30 to compensate for possible meter error (however rare it might be) and as long as my fish aren’t gasping I know I’ve got more then enough Co2. My drop checker will confirm this. I still don’t have to count bubbles! I have yet to see KH fluctuation between weekly water changes. 7.5ml of baking soda in one of my water bottles during a water change and I always have a Kh of 4.
    Also Milwaukee and pinpoint may want to debate you on ph controller accuracy but I don’t.
    I too have created a few beautiful scapes with strictly RO and I am not saying strictly RO is bad. I'm just saying I am getting better results from my plants and experiencing less touchiness in my water parameters by boosting the KH and Gh slightly. 3-4 is not a high KH but it is enough to give me much less ph swing and a higher ph which I wanted. Ro is usually less then 1 KH this is much lower then i think you would ever find in nature. Tap waer can be over 10. Mine is 15 or more.

    I have a planted nano with cherry’s and CRS that I do absolutely nothing too except strictly ro water changes. No ferts of any kind or co2. It does great. I have an assortment of things in there from java fern, crypt, riccia, 4 types of moss, a few types of Anubis. All plants need are enough light, oxygen exchange, and some source of nutrients to grow and be beautiful. A herd of shrimp seems to provide the nutrients needed. That tank has a kh of less then 1 but it does not use co2 or get ferts so i don’t have to worry about rapid water parameter fluctuation. The elevated KH is to keep parameters more stable in the high tech tank.

    Try raising you KH to just 2 and I bet your tanks will do better and your ph swings will be much less. I said nothing about nutrients. I am just about to set up an EI PMDD system with a peristaltic pump so I think we can agree here. My "Kh of 2 being better for CO2 absorption" is not an assumption at all. It was told to me by a fellow fish keeper who has been doing saltwater and planted tanks for longer then I have been alive! This guy really really knows his stuff.

    Yes. By no means did I intend your method is wrong and mine is right. Amano uses a method like yours. However I don’t think you can possibly say that a method like I use sets me up for some disorder that yours does not. Tom is brilliant for sure but I don’t think he would ever say that my method does not work or that a drop checker is a better method then a ph controller drop checker combo. I can think of at least 4 faults to both methods as well as 50 human possible human errors related to each.
    EI and co2 management are different things. Yes one does depend on the other but the amount of ferts depends on the amount of co2 not the other way around. Both methods of adding co2 give good results but a ph controller is just more constant and you can’t debate this because it is fact.
    When it comes down to it I think you just really want your “new” method to be better then when you used a ph probe. I assume you may have had problems with your ph probe method because you are using a lot of buffers or something. I t works fantastic for me. Look at the links in my sig and you can see proof. I had a habit of taking pictures right after I re-scaped rather then once things grew in but I’m breaking that habit now.
     
    #15 Noxtreme, Mar 29, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2010
  16. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    As I said, I can fully believe that you have full success with your method. But many people have incredible success with just a constant CO2 flow using a high quality needlevalve-regulator combo and a drop checker.

    CO2 concentration is not what makes every thing, CO2 mist is proved to be far more efficient than very high CO2 concentrations. A PH meter can't manage this.

    A high KH enhancing CO2 diffusion is a long and never proved debate, based only on hypothetical observations. Also, many theories advocate the opposite: very high KH causing CO2 issues, but again, never proved with real evidence. If you inject 2bps of CO2 in two same tanks, but one with a KH of 2 and one with a KH of 6, the amount of dissolved CO2 will be just the same: same quantity dissolved in same volume gives same concentration. PH would probably be different depending on the buffer capacity, and not only KH as a buffer. PO4 is a much stronger buffer than HCO3 and in our EI based tanks it plays a role that a PH controller won't account for.

    About electrodes, I'm in lab job and calibrating an electrode in an aquarium every 3 months is in my expierience a real gift you have there. By far, not most conditions will permit it because of algae, dust... Also a deviation of only 0.2 after 3 months is not common, but enough major in my estimation. It is usually a +/0.2, added to the +/- 0.2 error margin of the most common electrodes in the hobby (except professional matrial unavailable in the public market), you see the problem.

    Now, it works for you, good, but it really doesn't work that good for most. Otherwise, controllers would have already been the miracle solution to algae.

    Finally, if I remember well, Tom played with a CO2 meter and showed all these issues with PH/CO2/KH story. But, the CO2 meter also showed the limitation of the drop checker and classic CO2 injecting methods in large/deep tanks, thus the mist and flow ways to achieve good results.

    As of your suggestion that I increase KH, my 60 gal have a 3-4°Kh because of some calcareous gravel and the nano you can see the gallery in my signature is RO+GH only, KH near 1 because of some buffer in the soil too. It's running since 5 months after 4 months of a DSM. I never got such a healthy growing tank with the slow growth and no decaying leaves after many months. So, I don't plan to test again my PH controller or increase KH in it. What I mean is that you can achieve very good growth despite different water parameters and material used. Some methods are cheaper and less complicated then others, all have their issues.

    Finally, about natural water having high KH (as referenced by your tap water...), tap water is all but natural. KH is artificially increased in some areas by sodium bicarbonate. In other parts, PH is altered by other buffers. Most European regulations target for a PH>7.5-8 to avoid corrosion and early destruction of pipes. Most amazonian waters are near KH 0 with conductivities lower than 50. Soft natural waters here are of a KH lower than 1. Hard water sources usually come from lakes and calcareous regions. So, KH varry from 0 to +17 in natural sources.

    Nice tank you ahve by the way.
     
  17. hani

    hani Lifetime Charter Member
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    [CO2 concentration is not what makes every thing, CO2 mist is proved to be far more efficient than very high CO2 concentrations. A PH meter can't manage this]

    what is misting have to do with PH meter?, i usually set my ph meter at a lower level to turn the co2 off, which usually rarely happen, since my co2 setting allow continue to run all day. just in case something happen it will not kill the fish.
    i run AM 1000 with OR PUMP, iT will turn the DC to yellow much,much faster than two rhinox 5000 diffuser in my 75g. (did the test wth the tank full of water only)
     
  18. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Look at misting here, nothing to do with AM1000 or Rhinox, rather wheel pumps or the Atomizer
     
  19. hani

    hani Lifetime Charter Member
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    i tried the atomizer, i did like it, works well, i actully stareed a thread a while back ( CO2 automizer) , its like the rhinox with a smaller bubbles, its misting too.
    too much of it will not make the tank look clear.
     
  20. Noxtreme

    Noxtreme Junior Poster

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    TY Johnny for the clarification ant the tank complement. Honestly i had not idea 1 or less KH water existed in the wild.

    Would diffusing into a filter that uses a spray bar be considered a good way to c02 mist?

    By the way I aimed my spray bars up more (i have 2 because i have 2 filters). and now I'm getting the same pearling results as if i had the air stone on. I like it much better this way though since the air stone is actually pretty noisy (i like a silent tank). I'm still using a lot more co2 though due to increased oxygen exchange. I guess I'll have to compromise.
     
    #20 Noxtreme, Mar 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2010
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