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CO2 regulator problems?

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by tedr108, Dec 29, 2007.

  1. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Just got my CO2 canister system (Milwaukee regulator) up and running and planted my new tank with all new plants yesterday. Made some 4dKH water for my drop checker as recommend in an article on this site. I have been able to get my drop checker to turn green for the last couple of days very easily.

    My problem is that I am having trouble fine tuning with the regulator's bubble counter, and I think my regulator may be faulty. I am having difficulty getting 2 bubbles per second (bps) -- which seems about right for my 50G tank and my current plant load -- as the bps seems to change on its own over time (perhaps 1 to 5 mins), i.e. either increase (which is very scary) or decrease. If I stop the main valve while increasing output, the bps will increase over time. If I stop the main valve while decreasing output, the bps will decrease to about 1 bps over time. Just the 1 bps keeps my drop checker fairly green, but once the plant mass increases, I suspect I will need more than 1 bps. I have tried just about every combination of main valve/needle valve and the inconsistency really hasn't changed.

    And, to top all of this off, when the CO2 system kicks on in the morning automatically, I usually end up with no bps until I play around with it -- perhaps because my room is rather cold, not sure.

    It should be noted that my regulator arrived somewhat damaged (needle valve) and I was sent a new needle valve to put on it, which I did.

    Anyway, do you think I am fighting a losing battle with a faulty CO2 regulator? Or, am I doing something wrong? Since my tank is now started, I cannot afford to send my regulator back to the manufacturer without buying a backup regulator. I have seen only Milwaukee, Azoo and Red Sea regulators after quite a bit of research. I am open to recommendations and willing to spend a little extra money for something of higher quality.

    Thanks for any advice you can give.
     
  2. jonathan11

    jonathan11 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Regulator problems

    Would check for leaks, to begin with, at all fittings, but especially at the large tank nut (you did use a new gasket, right?) and where the needle valve is connected. The regulator nut needs to be TIGHT. Be sure your tank valve is turned out, not just cracked open, the valve needs to be positively unseated. The regulator may have been damaged, it would be a fair assumption to believe if the needle valve was damaged that the regulator may also have been damaged due to rough treatment. Rex Grigg offers a sturdy, reliable regulator assembly, but I've had good luck with mine, and it was not one from Rex. Good luck :D :D
     
  3. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Two things just off the top of my head. 1st. you may want to contact Milwaukee Instruments customer service to consider the possiblity of replacing the needle valve. Every once in a while you may get one with an offset drilling. It happens...but Milwaukee customer service tends to be very prompt, and effective. They are great sets for the price point, but can't hold a candle to Rex Grigg's high end regulator, and valve sets. Still you can work the bugs out of them if you have the time and patience.

    The 2nd. point is that if the room is indeed too cold you may have one hell of a time setting a consistant bubble rate, especially with an economy grade needle valve. There is just no comparison to a precision needle valve. They won't look nearly as expensive after you tear your hair out for a month or two trying to adjust a cheap one ! ;)

    I hate to sound like a shill, but Rex sells quality components, and does real nice work. HTH. Prof M
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I found that I could get much more stable flow out of my Milwaukee regulator by setting the output pressure at around 25-30 psi. Then I adjust the needle valve to get close to the bubble rate I want, and adjust the output pressure to fine tune it. So far it has always worked that way. But, until the newly filled bottle of CO2 warms up to room temperature the bubble rate keeps changing with time.
     
  5. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Jonathan -- I checked for leaks as you recommended, and it looked good at all connection points. Thanks.

    Prof M -- I expect to buy a Rex Grigg model very soon ... kind of waiting to see if I want a 2nd tank or not, so I can have him give me a double needle valve. I researched his stuff last nite and it looks very good ... not sure I'll get the top-of-the line needle valve for an extra $65, but I will pay the extra $8 for the minor upgrade.

    Hoppy -- you were right on the money! I kept trying to set the main valve as low as possible -- big mistake. One of the big problems I was fighting is that the low pressure gauge has never worked -- always at zero. It is not warranted, so I guess I'm out of luck on that one. Anyway, I simply cranked the main valve up a little and did more adjusting with the needle valve ... and you could have set your watch by my bubble rate the rest of the day. One little movement of the need valve and I went from 3 bps to 2 and back again, all without a hitch.

    Thanks for your good advice guys. It's a big relief not to have to sit in my room all day watching the bubble counter!

    My new plants are "pearling" all day -- and after 3 days of the new tank using EI, not even a hint of algae anywhere and the plants all look great. Seeing as I'm new to this, I had no "mulm" (whatever that is), and I can't tell if my bacteria has kicked in yet, or not (I put some Bio-Spira in yesterday) -- looking forward to getting a few fish soon.
     
  6. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    If you have no ammonia source in the tank, the Biospira probably won't do you any good now, since they need an ammonia source to start working or they die. You should add another dose when you add fish if this is the case.
     
  7. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Carissa, I read up on tank cycling and see that you are right. I had 2.0 ppm ammonia in my tank today, so I'm hoping the bacteria survive long enough for me to go out and buy an ammonia tolerant fish. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until Wednesday because of New Year's, I'm sure. I just hope the fish store will take the zebra danio or barb back as a gift when I am done with it -- I wasn't planning on keeping these fish in my tank.

    Not sure what caused the 2.0 ppm of ammonia in my tank ... perhaps because there is some dead plant matter in there.

    I also read that you can put pure ammonia in the water to get the cycle started ... I may try that instead of a live fish.
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Whoa!! If you have a fish only tank, cycling the tank to get a nitrifying bacteria colony established is very important. But, if you have a well planted tank you can forget cycling completely. The plants will take care of any ammonia from fish waste, rotting plant debris, etc. Adding ammonia to a planted tank on purpose is just flirting with algae, and accomplishes nothing of importance.

    Plant heavily, using fast growing plants, when you first set up a tank, and cycling is a non-issue.
     
  9. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    That's good news ... I hadn't added any ammonia yet! "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" describes me fairly well at this point. Thanks for the warning.

    I assume, however, that my ammonia reading today of 2.0 is fairly high for your average tetra and that I should wait for that to subside, along with the nitrites, before adding fish? I used ADA Aquasoil ... the source of my ammonia reading, I'm sure.

    I think I got some fast growing plants, but mostly I looked thru a website (AAG) and ordered the ones that looked cool to me: Amazon sword (2 small), cabomba (2 bunches), anachris (2 bunches), japanese fan (3), corkscrew val (3), Ludwiga repens (sp?) (4 - 2 BL, 2 narrow), HC (3 pots), banana plants (3), Golden Lloyodelia (sp?) (1), cardinal plant (1) -- I like most of them. My tank is very well planted, that's for sure. I'll probably have an uncontrollable jungle when they all start growing in, but at least I'll have a decent eco-system fairly soon. It's only my 4th day on EI, but everything looks excellent at this point. I'm definitely no longer planning on buying an army of algae eaters because I think I'd just end up having to figure out a way to get them something to eat.

    Thanks again...
     
  10. swylie

    swylie Prolific Poster

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    Indeed, I wouldn't add fish to a tank with 2 ppm ammonia. In fact, I'd consider an ammonia or nitrite reading above zero to be a problem in an established tank. I've never used aquasoil, so I don't know exactly what advice to offer. I guess you could do some water changes if you want to drop the ammonia level quickly or you could let the plants suck it up if you're not in a rush.
     
  11. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    One of the requirements for using ADA Aquasoil is water changes. That substrate leaks some ammonia during the first few weeks, so at least twice weekly you need to change half the water to get rid of it. Plants can't take care of an unlimited amount of ammonia. After a couple of months the ammonia problem goes away.
     
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