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CO2 newbie...

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by snytiger_92, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. snytiger_92

    snytiger_92 Junior Poster

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    I am thinking about buying a CO2 set-up. My algae problem is annoying, and everyone seems to agree that more CO2 is the answer.

    So,
    1. Do I need a bubble counter if I use a pH monitor?
    2. Also, on Aquabotanic's site, they offer a combo - solenoid/pH monitor. Does the combo not come with all the necessary supplies to make the set-up work (other than the tank)?
    3. Do I need to buy the hoses offered?
    4. What about calibration fluid? Bubble counter fluid?
    5. Does the monitor control the CO2 output? Or does it just tell the pH level and I control the output?
    6. Finally what is this about bubble count? Is there a standard for counting bubbles?

    As you can probably tell, I am completely ignorant about this topic here.

    Thank you for any advice.

    David
     
  2. b4tn

    b4tn Junior Poster

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    Re: CO2 newbie...

    I am only about a month old at this but I added CO2 also

    1. Bubble counter? I wondered the same thing my self. But I don’t think so. I hardly use mine. I just set the PH monitor to the desired PH then adjust the knob till I start seeing bubbles at a regular pace in my reactor.

    2. Looks to me like all that is, is the monitor and solenoid. You still will need the regulator, check valve, bottle, and lines.

    3. The hoses supplied are probably a special hose that can withstand CO2. Regular silicone hose will not work.

    4. Calibration fluid is simply bottles of fluid that have a set PH. You dip the probe from the monitor in them to calibrate it. Not sure on the bubble counter fluid.

    5. Monitor only controls PH. You still need to know what your KH is to keep tabs on your CO2. In the month I have had my tank up my KH has stayed at 7 never fluctuating even after water changes. It is a good idea to test it regularly just in case there is a calcium source in the tank affecting the values without you knowing about it.

    6. Bubble count is the measurement or how fast the CO2 is being injected. The speed will greatly depend on how much your plants are using, how well your reactor works at dissolving bubbles into the water, and how much CO2 any occupants may produce. Before I had the PH controller I set mine to 30 bpm at first and then raised 10 bubbles an hour till I reached my target.
     
  3. CrownMan

    CrownMan Junior Poster

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    Re: CO2 newbie...

    I went out to AquaBotanics and looked at the setup you are talking about. I didn't see a combo with a ph monitor, but I saw a Milwaukee Regulator, solenoid, bubble counter and needle valve and a Milwaukee ph Controller/Monitor. I will assume this is what you are talking about. I have been using CO2 systems both DIY and what you are looking at for about 2 years off and on. Anyway, I will give you my opinion on your questions. Others, I'm sure will correct me if I screw up. Ok, here goes:

    1. I would never set up a pressurize CO2 system without one. IMO, you need to know how much CO2 you are adding to your system and this is the easy way to tell. BTW, I use water in my external and internal bubble counters and change it out when it is looking scuzzy or the the level in the bubble counter drops to less than half. Also, with a ph Controller, you don't want to set the CO2 bubble rate flow high and let the controller turn on and off based on some desired ph you want to keep. This will produce a over/under damped system that will probably cause the ph to go lower than the limit you set because of the CO2 absorption rate and circulation in your aquarium. I prefer to set the bubble rate slightly faster (say 5 or 6 bubbles per minute higher that what is needed for my target ph) so the solenoid is not constantly turning on and off. One thing I can't answer about this controller is whether there is a range it uses. In other words, It will turn on the solenoid when the ph rises to 6.8 and it will turn off the solenoid when the ph falls to 6.6 if I set my desired at 6.7 say.

    2. One thing missing is the CO2 diffuser that actually gets the gas dissolved in the aquarium water. There are many options here, including a great one in the DIY projects on this web site.

    3. You need some CO2 resilient tubing. Normal airline tubing will allow CO2 to break down the tubing and will allow CO2 gas leakage. Roberts tubing is a good choice.

    4. You have to calibrate the ph Monitor so you do need the fluid. You need an accurate ph reading along with an accurate KH reading to determine the level of CO2 in you aquarium. There is a desired level you need to maintain. This is discussed elsewhere, but there are online calculators that will convert the ph and KH readings into CO2 ppm values.

    5. The "ph Controller" does not control the CO2 output. You tell it what ph you want to maintain and if then it monitors the ph. If the ph drops lower than your limit, it will turn off the solenoid that is in the Milwaukee regulator and stop the flow of CO2 to your aquarium. When the ph goes up higher than your desired limit, it turns the solenoid back on and the CO2 starts back up at the bubble rate you set with the bubble counter. You can see that if you left the needle valve wide open, it would dump a lot of CO2 into your system quickly and cause a fast drop. Over time, you aquarium inhabitants would not like it very much. This is why setting the intial number of bubbles per minute rate is important.

    6. Counting bubbles is simple as watching the bubble come out of the bottom of the tube in the bubble counter and counting how many bubbles occur in a one minute time period.

    Hope this helps. There are many articles on the web. Try the Krib web site and I'm sure many here could help you with the more difficult question (and fix the ones I might have screwed up).

    Mike
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: CO2 newbie...

    1.You can simply place the CO2 line into a cup of water/the tank etc to get a feel for the rate. Somewhat convenient item even still.
    It's a rough rate adjustment for CO2 dosing, pH monitor is a good item for measurement of the CO2 when you also know the KH.
    KH will move also, due to water changes or KH removal from plants, bacteria etc, so make sure you meassure that every so often, the pH monitor is convenient and I would suggest getting one.
    I never suggest a pH controller.

    2. No.
    3. No, Silicone works just fine. Do not use vinyl tubing.
    4.Calibration fuild definitely. Bubble counter fluid? haha, no.....
    5.No and yes, you control it, which is good/better since you also need to check the KH before you make an adjustment. The plants will use the same amount of CO2 no matter what pH/Kh combo you come up with, so the needle valve sets the bubble flow rate into the tank.
    As long as that is constant, you are set.
    6. No real standard for counting bubbles, just a rough, very rough, guide.

    Keep learning about CO2. It's the hardest thing for folks and planted tanks. If you get this and master it, you will do very well.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. b4tn

    b4tn Junior Poster

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    Re: CO2 newbie...

    How come? I love mine! I never have to mess with CO2 adjustments I just set the desired PH, set my bubble count, and it maintains a consistant CO2 PPM. At night when CO2 swings low it shuts off, Durring the day when PH is rising it comes back on. As long as you keep tabs on your KH (I test everyother day before dosing) I think it is great.
     
  6. snytiger_92

    snytiger_92 Junior Poster

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    Re: CO2 newbie...

    Thank you guys so much. I now have a clearer understanding of CO2 equipment!
    DP
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: CO2 newbie...

    As long as you keep tabs on ther KH, as long as the system is set up right and as long as the probe is correctly calibrated and in the water and as long as water does not short anything out.

    I'd rather deal with a needle valve and set it and leave it be.
    Generally, pH controllers work fine. But if they are set up to OD the tank if the KH and the other issues come into play, you end up with dead fish.

    I and Amano have both had this happen, most would consider us somewhat competent. I killed shrimp, there were no fish in there.

    The meter allows only you to add more when you have checked things.
    Automation does have it's failings.

    It's certainly not a must have item though........I've used them and do not suggest them nor does Amano.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  8. Simpte

    Simpte Prolific Poster

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    Re: CO2 newbie...

    I find it much easier to set the CO2 solenoid on a light timer. Comes on/goes off 1/2 hr before and after the lights. I test every 3-4 days or after wc day. Easy and cheaper than the controller. An $8.00 timer vs. an $80.00 controller. I can use that money to buy a manifold splitter for more tanks. :)
     
  9. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: CO2 newbie...

    There is that issue, but I like the control, only I can louse things up rather than being complacent/forgetful etc.

    The only control device is the needle valve.
    I look at the pH meter, test KH and dial it up or down as needed.

    That is very simple.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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