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Can't seem to get enough Co2?

Discussion in 'Talk to Tom Barr' started by Squidly, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    For some time in my 100g tank (50-60g water volume) I've been using an AM 1000 Co2 reactor driven by a 270gph pump at the end of a trickle filter. In addition, I also have a Rena XP3 and (2) koralia powerheads alternating the flow so that there is good flow throughout and surface movement. In testing PH levels throughout the morning, I noted that it took 5-6 hours for the PH to drop 1 point (which is about where the fish start acting up) even though I am turning the solenoid on 2 hours before first light.

    Thinking I needed more flow, I since upgraded to a 375gph pump, applied the Venturi mod you mentioned on the DIY reactor and got rid of all but 4 bioballs. While I now see small bubbles coming from the outlet, overall the time for the Co2 to raise to the right level has not improved much if at all.

    Due to continued problems with algae and the length of time to stabilize the Co2, I thinks I need a better delivery method. I see tons of Co2 going into the AM 1000 reactor, but no real results. Do I need to get rid of the AM reactor and go DIY, or go with a Rhinox 5000 (or a pair) or try a Rio 1000 needlewheel -- or?

    Almost there (I think/hope!)

    --George
     
  2. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    The AM1000 does a good job on a 40-60 gal tank
    If you see bubbles coming out of teh reactor, then you're either injecting too much or pump is too strong (since you removed the bioballs...)

    You're monitoring CO2 with PH, this is, at least, one of your issues. Look at threads talking about "drop checkers" and how to dose CO2. Never use PH to monitor it in my opinion (and that's what Tom and others here suggested). Since I got rid of my PH meter and learned how to adjust with my drop checker, I'm fine with the AM1000 on my 60 gal.

    Also, do you dose EI? 50% weekly WC? Light and plants? Any photo of your tank?
     
  3. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    Thank you. I have two drop checkers on either side of the tank. I presumed performing PH checks would be more accurate since the results are immediate rather than waiting several hours. The DC's begin to turn yellow towards midday which seems to confirm the results of the ph tests.

    Whether using the 275 or 375 pump to drive the AM1000, I continue to have algae issues. The bubbles are the result of putting the relief valve tube of the AM1000 to the input of the pump which acts as a sort of venturi to break up the Co2 more supposedly. There is a lot of Co2 being released, more bubbles than I could count even with a counter filled with mineral oil (that led to a near disaster..)

    The only way I can get things under control is with Excel - and even using that, I typically tend to overdose. I keep the filter media clean, doing weekly 80%+ WC changes and use EI (based on 40-60g rations). I have also tried adding extra Po4. Tom indicated that I should run around (2) T5 lamps, with one in the front and another in the rear. Because my tank is stacked with rock to the ceiling and the frontal area of the tank has a plexiglass top, I use the two front most lamps for 10 hours and a 3rd for several hours to get light to the rear (raised) areas.

    I've got quite a bit of fauna in the tank as well and have added a lot of bunched varieties more recently. The tank overall is doing much better, but that algae just keeps coming back. I've done the blackouts as well. Even when all 3 lamps are running, I don't see as much pearling as I would think to expect - and that doesn't happen until mid afternoon. If I turn up the Co2, my fish (cichlids) tend to hit the bottom and remain rather listless so I presume I'm near the 30ppm rate.
     
  4. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    What light power do you have in watt?

    It is much harder to achieve a stable tank with high light. Drop one T5 like Tom suggested, rise the luminaire higher and turn it to 6-8h/day maximum
     
  5. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    I've got two twin 80 watt catalina T5 retro's installed. The frontmost fixture sits over the plexi top (3/8") reinforcement which I think acts as a diffuser of sorts in which I have two Geissmann Aquaflora's. As to the rear fixture, I run one Geissman Midday 3-4 hours starting at midday which coincides hopefully with my Co2 being at the appropriate level.

    If I run only one bulb in the front, I get no growth on the bottom (eco complete) and little mid-growth (the plants are stacked amongst the rock separations with the highest level in the rear). If I don't have any rear light, the plants all tend to lean forward as one might expect. If I run only a single bulb, I don't think I get any noticable growth except perhaps the wisteria. Besides losing less hardy plants altogether, the overall biomass seems to retract more than grow. Areas that don't have new growth are often covered with what appears to be the same material I see on the surface after a WC (I don't know if this is relevant, but after replacing water there is a considerable mass of brown algae or mulm)

    The bulbs are about 5" from the water surface but I can't raise them due to the oak canopy. I had thought about raising the entire hood but it's quite heavy and above it is a slanted ceiling so mounting would be tricky. I tried some ceiling light diffuser material briefly to lessen the light but it seemed to do more harm than good.

    Curiously I read that many people say that fish go to the surface when there is too much Co2, but mine only occasionally do that and tend to hit the bottom and slow down instead. Anyway, I can't seem to add anymore O2 to prevent that from happening and ultimately have to lower the Co2 to get back to what I think is at the right level.

    Initially I went to 8 hours a day with two bulbs as Tom suggested but the plants started shrinking. When I changed it to how it is currently things have started to grow more
     
    #5 Squidly, Jan 3, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2010
  6. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,

    You have too much light, believe me. Hard to admit, but it is. There are some wall mountings at Giesemann that could solve your issue, your luminaire is too close to water surface, that's the issue. If it was higher, better diffusion and plants won't lean towards the light

    WALL BRACKETS : http://www.giesemann.de/136,2,,.html

    With 2.4wpg T5 close to water surface, you're giving tons of light and algae will be hard to control

    Stop the 3rd T5 burst period you do.
    Try to higher the luminaire with sort of rear wall fixation
    Lower period to 8h/day

    And give your plants 2-3 weeks to adapt
    Maybe some pics of your tank could help us see better how it is
     
  7. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    Tank photo's

    Hopefully these pics will help you somewhat. I have since gone back to the lighting configuration with two bulbs both front and rear. I set the front one for a max of 8 hours and the rear for 5 (starting at midday) so as not to over tax the higher areas as much and still provide enough light. I think I might also try bringing the rear bulb towards the front a slot to bring more light to the deeper areas and put less on the higher regions. I'll give it 3 weeks and bite my nails instead.

    Elevating my T5 lighting while providing the ultimate solution, this would be a very costly one as best as I can figure. I'd have to purchase a whole new lighting system (and likely tank if I don't want to look at the plexi support areas). Then there is the effort and cost that would be required to hang the fixture from the ceiling (or via arms extended from the rear wall similar to the link you provided). Perhaps there is an alternate way using a combination of lighting instead?

    DSC_0813.jpg

    DSC_0819.jpg

    DSC_0818.jpg

    DSC_0810.jpg

    DSC_0776.jpg
     
    #7 Squidly, Jan 3, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2010
  8. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    I see better now,

    You have a lovely tank by the way, and densely planted.

    I thought you already have a separate luminaire, but I understand now that investing in a completely new setup is a no go. You'll have, with your light, to play with CO2, flow, ferts. With your highly planted tank, you could be dosing too low. Ei dosing is based on the full volume, not real one. Better move to 80-100g dosing or higher for 2-3 weeks, then eventually decrease later. Tom showed us that nutrients are not the algae cause, so no fear.

    As for CO2, it's always hard to say it is enough... With 160W of T5 and plants so close to surface and so much rocks, I still think you have too much light, too close to surface which makes it very hard to stabilize CO2 for the need of plants

    Maybe wait when Tom is back in 2 weeks to better advice you or some of the other gurus in lighting here. Meanwhile, you should really increase your dosing with so much plants and high light
     
  9. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    Hey thanks for all your assistance. I will up the feeding regime too.

    I should've paid closer attention to Tom's suggesting about separating the bulbs. Until yesterday, the second rear fixture had been installed behind the front one leaving a good amount of rear space unaccounted for. I moved it since to the extreme rear of the tank with the lighted bulb adjacent to the black border. Unless my eyes are playing tricks on me, the lighting now seems better diffused throughout and not as harsh - not to mention the benefit of added real estate in the far rear making the tank look bigger. Don't know if it will be enough to calm the algae gods, fingers crossed!
     
  10. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Algae are often caused by too much light while nutrients and CO2 are on the low side. So, either you have to decrease light/improve diffusion OR/AND increase nutrients/CO2

    Finding this balance can take time, but definately, the lower the light, the easiest it is

    I, fo my self, had a big trouble when I discovered EI, made on the base of high light. I thought it was a claim for high light. Now, Tom and many light gurus here showed that quiet all plants, including the red ones and carpet will grow with 1.5 wpg of T5 if Co2/nutrients are balanced. Also, the growth speed is much easier to manage with lower light, thus avoiding CO2 fluctuations when the biomass is too much increased before a trim.

    I was adviced to move from 4x54W T5 on my 60gal tank (few inches above surface) to a 2x54W setup hanged 12 inches above surface. Since I did, my tank is giving me peace of mind while trimming my stems every 3-4 weeks only
     
    #10 jonny_ftm, Jan 5, 2010
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  11. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    If you want to reduce intensity but can't raise the light, you may try wrapping the bulbs with strips of paper.
    I do this to reduce the light in fine steps.

    Very dense biomass indeed.
     
  12. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    Well it seems that the obvious was the culprit. The AM 1000 started leaking when I attached the larger pump and/or opening the unit to get the balls out. After reverting to the smaller pump and re-tightening things down, it seems to be doing more work (although now my Co2 is nearly gone!). The tank was sounding a bit like a motorboat after moving to the larger pump, but the lamps were drying the surface of the unit so I couldn't find a leak anywhere before. Despite efforts to fix the leaks, I've gone ahead and order the rhinox unit to try. I might just re-cap the AM1000 with PVC ends (3/4") and mod it accordingly as per the DIY and put it inline with the XP3 and get it out of the sump. That said, I wonder though if the unit it long enough as even without the venturi, there are still small bubbles coming from the output into the tank. This is happening with a pump rated to 273gph pushing through (4) elbows and 2.5" in which the flow has been reduced considerably as the result. Seems then that slower would be better so as not to draw in the Co2 too fast - but any slower and it wouldn't get into the tank fast enough I don't think which is what I thought the problem to be originally.

    Per the lights, I am in denial admittedly. I don't want to have to think about spending that kind of cash (again). I just can't seem to locate someone would could manufacturer a light weight hood of aluminum or plastic in which I would move my retro's into. Those G. wall brackets you linked me too would actually work if I needed just two using the end holes hang from since the midpoint of the light is about 26". from the wall I could also plumb in the Rena connections to hide them and then it wouldn't look too bad with the acrylic top. Alternately hanging the fixture from the ceiling I think might be a bit tricky as the ceiling is slanted. I saw the DIY idea's but my girl would kill me...

    Don't know if you've seen this, but I came upon a dimmable T5 - only sadly it is 4' instead of 5' as per the length of my tank. The upgraded ballast is an add'l $125.

    http://www.fullspectrumsolutions.com/t5_high_bay_111_prd1.htm
     
  13. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    Thank you for your thoughts.

    I previously attempted to both place ceiling diffusing material over the top of the aquarium and also tried placing foil in the reflector area but found in both cases that the plants began to suffer. Not sure what kind of paper you had in mind, but my fear would be it might burn. They sell diffusing tubes that go over the lamps, but not in a 60" length (I suppose I could cut them - but hate to spend all the $$$ and find out it isn't going to work). Been looking at dimming ballasts also but they don't make those for the 80watt lamps nor am I sure they will work with aquarium lighting as I would think everyone would already be hot to buy them

    I wonder what size lamp one would want for elevated lighting? Do you want end to end, or perhaps a smaller fixture to allow for spreading of the light and also when raised, is it better to buy a unit with bulbs close together or do you want them spread wide apart as Tom recommended on my canopy where the lights are much lower. And if wide, then one is stuck purchasing some 8x unit I suppose and using only the outermost fixtures which is really expensive. I used to work in a Reef store and am talking today with the former owner to see if she might know someone who can manufacturer a custom hood. Heck might even start selling them too since no one else does! :)

    Thanks!
     
  14. nipat

    nipat Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,

    They are regular sheets of paper.

    Hmmm, my bulbs are T8's and not very hot. Actually I can touch the bulbs immediately after turning off
    (in a fashion of touching hot coffee mug though). So I'm not afraid of burning.

    [​IMG]

    Foil? That's good idea if you're concerned about fire hazard. But you still
    have to find something to use instead of sticky tape.

    Don't know how you attached it (foil) to the reflector and made plants suffer.
    May be the light was reduced too much?
     
    #14 nipat, Jan 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 6, 2010
  15. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,

    You'll be probably fines with 2x80W T5. Spaced is better of course to optimize diffusion and loose less in "between bulbs" reflexion. I have same ceiling as yours. I used cheapo white brackets that I soldered to the wall, near the ceiling. My wall is white, so they don't look ugly. Made a hole in extremity and suspended the hood to the metallic cables.

    Light is the most expensive part. Most aquariums are equipped by default with very bad lighting systems sadely. There's probably other ways to enhance your lighting without spending extra cash in a new hood.
     
  16. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    Thanks for that diagram...
     
  17. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    I wanted to say that finally I was able to cut a deal with Catalina Aquariums and they took my retro's/moon light system and built a very nice fixture out of it. Now I have to figure out how to hang it but at least I can raise the darn light finally! Thought I owe him a plug at least for saving me a good deal of cash.

    Did up the ferts and lowered the light duration per your suggestion as mentioned prior. While the tank did well (better) initially, certain newer less hardy plants I'd purchased began to disappear/melt and of course the algae started rearing it's ugly head again on me.

    I tried two Rhinox 5000 diffusers and found that one had a small nipple that allowed Co2 to leak and the second had a crack on the diffuser portion which allowed large bubbles to escape. Back to the AM 1000 reactor which just can't seem to keep pace. I guess I could build another reactor with 5/8" connectors and put it inline with my Rena canister but hate to reduce the flow on that filter as well. It currently takes better than 6 hours for the tank Co2 level to come up to speed which I know to be too long. Don't know what else to try?
     
  18. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Maybe give the UP CO2 Atomizer a try, it works amazingly with a nice mist

    You could need more then one on your tank though
     
  19. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Sorry if I missed it, but how warm is your tank? I use an AM1000 in my 100g tank and find it works very well in the cooler part of the year. Here is Australia my tank gets up to the mid 30's making it very difficult to get decent CO2 levels, and certaininly the CO2 doesn't dissolve so well in the AM1000.

    Just a thought...might be of some help.

    Scott.
     
  20. Squidly

    Squidly Lifetime Members
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    My tank averages about 78F. I have tried cooler temps and didn't notice much if any difference, but then I wasn't looking for Co2 variations at the time. I tried putting a larger pump (375gph) to drive the AM1000 and the seals on the top leaked so I had to take it back down to 275GPH. The outflow of the AM1000 is underneath a Rena spraybar so whatever is processed, is getting pushed throughout the tank. I'm going to give the UP Atomizer a try in tandem with a Rhinox 5000 and see if things don't improve.

    I found with the AM1000, that it took perhaps 6 hours or longer to get the Co2 up to near 30ppm and have to keep adding Excel. I see some residual bubbles (pearling) but mainly this is restricted to areas where there is some brown algae clinging to the leaves. Not sure why the reactor doesn't seem to put out but I know I'm put a lot of Co2 in because my canister ran dry very quickly once I began to push things harder. Where all the gas is going is a mystery to me.

    Still waiting for the hanging wire so I can raise the newer light fixture higher. It's currently sitting about 6" above the water. This has helped slightly but things are still going in the wrong direction. The photos I posted showed new and old plant growth but since then (3 weeks ago?) I perhaps have half the mass I did and lost a number of plants, some such as Hippo grass which was flourishing before. Very discouraging and frustrating!

    Thanks -
     

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