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Co2 As it relates to the drop checker

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by Planterson, Sep 12, 2015.

  1. Planterson

    Planterson Junior Poster

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    So I have a new setup running in my 32g. I'm using Aquasoil, and my water is incredibly soft from the tap - undetectable KH, TDS is ~30. I was using a PH controller for the Co2 dosing, but it's proved to be too unstable at this point so I've basically bottomed out the controller (stopped using it, essentially) and tried to dial in my Co2 to run all day.


    First, I was attempting to buffer the KH up to about 2, so I could keep my PH a bit higher, for the sake of some Nerites and Amanos. However, I gave up after I realized that I was losing 1 dkh PER DAY and was buffering with baking soda each and every morning to keep it at 2.


    The way I have it set now, I simply can't get it dialed in accurately... but I think I'm close:


    Drop checker is greenish at lights on, Ph is around 6.1 or so. (10:30am)


    Turns a yellowish-green color by about 3-4 hours into the light cycle, Ph gets to about 5.6 (about 3:00pm)


    Matches the color of the reference solution (deep yellow-green) about 30 mins before lights out at 5:30, and Ph is at 5.5. The controller does kick off occasionally, but I'm trying to resolve this.


    Is this normal behavior for the Co2 level? Should it be matching the reference solution color earlier in the photoperiod?


    I'm getting GSA and hair algae. I've cut the photoperiod to 7 hours (10:30am - 5:30pm), but it does run a low-light "moon" cycle (Radion XR15FW). Now I'm working to get the Co2 dialed in. Am I on the right track with this? Is there going to be a long term issue with my inverts dropping the Ph so low? Should I completely toss the controller so it can drop the Ph even lower?


    Any help is appreciated. Sorry if I'm duping threads, very new here and pretty overwhelmed with all of the information.
     
    #1 Planterson, Sep 12, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2015
  2. Solcielo lawrencia

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    ADA recommends adding calcium carbonate underneath the Aquasoil. Alternatively or in conjunction, potassium carbonate can be added. A light layer will be enough. This prevents the Aquasoil from adsorbing the carbonates from the water column and helps keep pH more stable. CaCO3 or K2CO3 may be better than NaHCO3.


    RE: TDS


    Add Ca and Mg. It's unlikely the invertebrates can survive such high concentrations of acidity for very long or such low hardness levels.


    RE: GSA, hair algae


    I infer you aren't fertilizing.


    RE: CO2


    If the DC is pH=6.6 lime green, then keep it there.
     
  3. Planterson

    Planterson Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the responses. Ultimately, I had hoped that the algae was more related to the light/co2, hence the questions about the drop checker and if my co2 seems correct. Right now, the algae isn't terrible. It's just present, and not quite out of hand yet. I was hoping to straighten out the rest of the issues (KH/GH/Aquasoil etc) after I was more sure in the light/co2 ratios. But, as a bit of background:


    I'm buffing the GH with Seachem Equillibrium, it doesn't seem to drop the way the KH does. It stays around 5-6 on GH, relatively stable. TDS of the tank is ~200ish now, needs to be re-buffered after every water change.


    I couldn't find much info with regard to the ADA recommendations before I set up the tank.. I may need to add carbonate in the form of crushed coral/oyster shells etc in the canister at this point. Would this be a good solution or am I better off keeping up with the baking soda? Pulling the soil and re-starting? It was dropping so quickly I gave up the fight after some other suggestions elsewhere. I was told as long as the GH was up, things should work out... of course this is a separate issue from the co2.


    I am fertilizing... PPS Pro (I know, I know). I chose PPS Pro due to the less stringent maintenance schedule... and I found this forum WAY too late in my setup :) It's looking like it's going to be even more work testing and trying to get the correct mix of everything with this system. I did increase the KH2PO4 based on another suggestion with regard to the GSA. I may switch to EI if things get worse and the co2/light isn't the answer.


    Currently, the DC goes lime green around pH 5.6 - 5.5. It reaches this level 3-4 hours into the photoperiod. The checker doesn't match the reference solution completely until just before lights off. Are you suggesting buffering up KH and working towards a 6.6 pH? Is 3-4 hours too long to reach optimum co2?


    I apologize for the basic questions. Ultimately I want to ensure my co2 is looking good and then pursue the other potential issues.
     
    #3 Planterson, Sep 13, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2015
  4. Planterson

    Planterson Junior Poster

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    Ah I get it. Yes... it gets there, but very late in the photoperiod (about 30 mins before lights out). Would this be normal behavior for the checker? The pH "bottoms out" at 5.5/5.6 right around 3:00pm (about 4 hours into the photoperiod).


    I really got off track there, sorry to sidetrack with the multiple posts, there are several issues going on, but I'll keep this thread dedicated more to the co2 information. I just want to ensure light and co2 are in check before I tweak other issues in the tank.
     
  5. Solcielo lawrencia

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    DCs work via passive diffusion of gasses. That takes a long time. If the opening were placed with strong flow underneath, it would increase diffusion speed, but only a little.
     
  6. Planterson

    Planterson Junior Poster

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    So basically, the checker can vary in response time based on flow and other factors. The pH is key, so since my low point pH is 5.5, it's safe to assume that is the maximum saturation point based on my bubble rate.


    The tank will reach this point about half way through the photoperiod. Should it arrive there sooner? Do I need to keep adjusting until it hits this target right after lights on?


    I may need to either turn up the bubble rate (just concerned it will drop to a dangerous point) or have the gas kick on an hour or so earlier. It's coming on an hour before lights on as suggested.
     
  7. Solcielo lawrencia

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    CO2 is a fickle thing. I don't even understand how to use it or how it works in relation to various factors including plant health. I used to worry about getting the right levels prior to lights on, but experience indicated that it doesn't really matter very much.


    Anyway, the problems you're experiencing sound like water condition problems, not CO2.
     
  8. Planterson

    Planterson Junior Poster

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    Thanks for the feedback. I'll go with what I have for now, continue dialing lights in, and work on water params.
     
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