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CO2 measuring - 1 pH difference method

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by George Farmer, Nov 17, 2006.

  1. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    Recently on another forum there has been much talk of the inaccuracies of pH/KH charts.

    I've only recently heard of the pH difference method i.e.

    test tank water pH
    leave sample for 24 hr.
    re-test
    if the difference is a pH of 1 then that's 30ppm CO2 in the tank

    Is it really that simple? No need for KH testing.

    Assuming this method works, if we have accurate pH testing then all sounds good.

    Are there any flaws to this method?

    PS I'm loving VaughnH's dropper method too. I just don't like equipment in the tank.
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, it's not that accurate, better to try the drop checker KH ref solution method.

    You can use the pH drop method if you eyeball carefully a good pH relative the degassed CO2 (48 hrs for smapled tank water).
    It might be 1.4 , 1.2 or 1.0 pH reduction from ambient.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    The pH of 1.0 reduction method, using the pH of "degassed" water vs. the water in the tank, only works if you know the ppm of CO2 in the "degassed" water. A 1.0 reduction of pH means there is 10 times as much CO2 in the tank water as in the degassed water. But, a 1.3 reduction means 20 times as much CO2. Big difference! And, the ppm of CO2 in degassed water can be between .5 and 3.0, depending on how long you wait and other factors unknown to me. So, this method is a comforting method, but far from an accurate one.
     
  4. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    Thanks for that.

    Do you mind if I copy/paste this to another forum (TFF) where this "new" CO2 testing technique is being hyped? Obviously I'll credit you.
     
  5. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    No, I don't mind, but a reference to the drop checker method would help a lot of people too. My enthusiasm for that method hasn't waned a bit yet.
     
  6. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    Cheers. I'll devote a whole thread to it and the dropper method.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    George,

    The dropper method with a ref KH solution is really useful.
    It's easy, it's cheap and most can quickly look at any point of the day and know it's in good shape or not.

    It does have some resolution issue since it's a colormetric test method.
    So the best you can do there is .2-.4 pH units for color, not bad....but not that great either.

    The pH probe method cost 60-100$ more.
    It uses plain DI water + baking soda for the ref KH.
    The holder is a pair of tubes, one is 2" ID and 1" tall, the other is a 1" ID tube about 3" long and is glued on the inside of the larger one.

    The surface area increase is about 10-20X that of a drop checker.
    The pH probe increase accuracy is 10-20X as well.

    The 1.5" cylinder is glued to a 1.5" disc, 1/4" thick. I drill a 3/4" hole in the center of the disc's top. I next add a grommet to make the seal between the pH probe the chamber below. I then add a 1" disc to the lower part of the 1 ID x 3"L tube. This seals the lower half.

    I glue two small pieces of plastic string, zip ties, whatever to suspend the 1" tube inside the air gap in the larger 3" tube.

    See word doc drawing.
    Note, I've applied for a patent pending.
    Any non commericial use is permitted.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     

    Attached Files:

  8. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    very cool!

    If I am correct, the bottom of the "air gap" is open? This is where the CO2 dissolves into the airgap, right?

    The only thing I do not like is that it is yet another internal device. So we have the internal CO2 venturi device, powerheads connected to CO2 lines and now another internal device. Get's very hard to hide all these devices.
    Could it be possible to make an external design? p.e. with a very big air gap (tube) that enables you to put the pH-electrode outside the aquarium? Think it will increase the reaction time and possibly less accurate.

    well, I think it is very very wise and happening! a major breakthough in the hobby!

    greets,

    yme
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The smaller 1" tube coming down is closed on the bottom, open on the top.
    The larger 3" tube is closed on the top, open on the bottom.

    You may increase or decrease the size of the unit, but you also increase/decrease the contact with the air/water interface.

    Note: the device need not be round, it may be thinner reactangle but such shapes can influence the air/water interface and diffusion rates.

    I think a simple square with a hook or a floating or suction cup version of the round pH probe ref unit is extremely useful, but it does not require you to keep inside the tank all the time, just when you want to measure the CO2.

    Note:
    Such units are easy to remove and add back to the tank again!! They also may be moved from tank to tank easily!!

    You keep them in a small glass/cup with DI water in it till you need to place it in the tank. Give it about 1-2 hours before a reading is to be taken. More time is better.

    The air gap will equilibrate and you do not have to add fresh KH ref solution each time you move it because it's in the inside tube.

    Some folks leave their pH probe inside the tank 24/7, but you do not have to, same deal here.

    So unlike a CO2 reactor, this need not be an eye sore.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  10. George Farmer

    George Farmer Lifetime Members
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    This is brilliant stuff. Thanks Tom.
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, now you all have a design to use, go make one and try it out.:p

    Vaughn, try this vs a drop checker glass bulb version.
    I think you'll note a considerable difference in the response times.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Since my pH probe is pretty large in diameter at the business end, and isn't working right now, the only way I could try this is by using indicator solution in it. I have been wondering about trying that kind of device. But, then someone clued me into a Craigslist listing for a very nice 2 gallon nano tank for only $5 and within an easy drive from me. So, I picked it up today and am off on another crusade for the moment!!
     
  13. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    very much true that this device does not need to be 24 hours/day in the tank. A thing I indeed overlooked.

    greets,

    yme
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Well, once you make one, you will be in demand, it's the ultimate CO2 check.
    It can sit in cup of DI water with a lid till you need it. Check the CO2 right before a water change. This is typically when the CO2 demand and system will be at the lowest level.

    Most folks trim/prune after a water change/during etc. So you have less biomass= less CO2 plant demand.

    There's also less organic matter thus less CO2 from oxidiation of DOC/POC waste, but that places less strain on the O2 supply, also a good thing.

    This is another reason tanks look so good the day or two after a water change, more O2 and more CO2, even if folks test and the test kit does not assume a change etc.

    Point is, now you can measure this slight change and see how CO2 really drives everything in a tank. Now try this for O2.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    yes! very much true!
    The only problem is that I have only one pH electrode that regulates the CO2 supply. So if I use that one for the measurement, the CO2 level of the tank will not be stable anymore. So the thing to do is find another pH meter! :D

    greets,

    yme
     
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