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DIY CO2 newbie :-)

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by Jimbob, Nov 16, 2006.

  1. Jimbob

    Jimbob Junior Poster

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    First of all, I would like to say "wow" with regard to the amount of technical information I have found on this site. Being an engineer myself, I appreciate the technical aspect of any discussion but appreciate the simple language and approach too. I have found both here! :cool:

    Since I didn't see a forum for newbie stuff, I'll take a chance and post here.

    I've been keeping freshwater fish for ~27 years and also kept a reef tank for ~5 of those years. About this time last year, I decided to convert my freshwater community tank over to a planted tank after stumbling upon some pictures of the AGA aquascaping competition :eek:

    One of my biggest goals for this tank, however, was to keep it relatively simple and fairly low-cost. That beiong said, here are some of the specifics on my setup:

    22G glass tank (standard 24"x12" footprint)
    4x15w NO fluorescent bulbs (using the 5,000K "natural sunshine" bulbs from Home Depot)
    Fluval 304 canister filter (I know, it's overkill for the 22G but I throttle back the output alot)
    standard/regular medium gravel bed ~2" in depth

    Fish include:
    Guppies... lots of 'em
    1 - pleco
    1 - red-tailed shark
    2 - clown loaches

    When I started this project one year ago, I began with the following plants:
    1 - Echinodorus amazonicus (mother has gotten freakin' huge and has turned into five plants):eek:
    1 - Cryptocoryne wendtii - red (has spread a lot, ~8 plants now)
    1 - Anubias barteri nana (started out ~3" long rhizome, now has 4 off-shoots each about 3")

    Since all of this has grown well over the past year, even with my so-so, el-cheapo lighting, I decided to add a few higher-demand plants and try my hat at those for awhile. With that in mind, I added the following within the past month:
    3 - Echinodorus tenellus (already sending out runners)
    2 - Hygrophila polysperma ( I was told... brownish stems make me think it might actually be corymbosa sp.?)
    2 - Ludwigia repens
    2 - Rotala indica

    Throughout this first year of my foray into plants, this has been my fert/supplementation regimen:

    50% water change weekly
    daily dosing of Seachem Flourish Excel at the recommended dosage
    every 3rd day, dose Seachem Flourish Iron
    every three months, insert 5 flourish tabs into the gravel bed

    Despite all of my good experience with slow, sustained growth, I have wanted to get into CO2 dosing (was intrigued by it 15+ years ago) while keeping my main goal of a nice planted tank on a budget. After finding this site and a couple of others, I decided on a 2-liter bottle DIY CO2 system and completed my new set-up just two days ago. I'm using the Nyberg yeast method and injecting the CO2 directly into the intake for my Fluval which seems to be doing a fine job at chopping the CO2 into lots of very fine bubbles. After 48-hours, the bubble rate is ~15 bpm which seems pretty consistent with reports from others I've found online.

    Much to my surpise this afternoon when I returned home from work, I found that almost all of the plants were pearling and the large mother echinodorus has steady streams of oxygen bubbles coming from the tips of several leaves!!! :D I did not expect to see results like this quite so fast but I am very pleased that I am.

    My two main questions are this:

    1) With the addition of the CO2, I anticipate healthier plants and faster growth rates; how quickly should I anticipate I will need to modify my supplements to compensate for the added uptake (or will I need to at all)?

    2) Is my current lighting sufficient to sustain healthy yet controlled growth long-term, or should I consider getting one of those AHSupply 55W bright kit conversion kits with 55W PC lamp and parabolic reflector?

    Thanks again for a great site and thanks in advance for your replies.

    -Jimbob
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I would suggest you read the EI "light" version.
    That will address the nutrients easily for you.

    As you increase the growth via CO2 gas/more light, by about 10X faster growth rates, you also place a high demand on the nutrients for the plants that are downstream.

    So EI light will help take care of that.
    The modeling and testing behind it can be overwhelming, but the actual idea is rather simple. It does not take much to do EI.
    A set of teaspoons measuring spoons, a few ferts from Aquarium Plants, Aquatic Plants, Planted Aquariums, and Aquarium Plant Fertilizer for peanuts and you will be set.

    Go to "article's" tab and look for EI and EI light.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    Well Done !

    Sounds like a nice little setup ! :cool:

    A: 1. You said you have the lighting, and Co2 What are you waiting for ? ;)

    A: 2. Given that your setup is DIY yeast reactor Co2, and the depth of your tank your lighting sounds a bit high ? I would go for 2 to 2.5 WPG. I am also partial to PC lights so I'm afraid I am the wrong guy to ask about converting your lighting. Personally I would go with a higher spectrum, but I don't believe it's critical.

    While you appear to be off to a Blazing start I would anticipate your Co2 production to start running short. This is the inevitable cycle with yeast production. Tanked Co2 is more constant or stable.

    Your lighting sounds adequate if not high. If you sincerely want to invest in the system I would consider a decent substrate like ADA Aqua soil or Seachem Flourite or Onyx. You might also consider investing in tanked Co2 ?

    People always seem to jump on the concept of HO lighting, but have to be coaxed and prodded into Co2. WTH ??? :confused:

    Historically the shortfall has always come down to Co2, Nutrients, and Lighting in that specific order. I humbley suggest that your system will probably follow suit.

    Last but certainly not least I would repeat that Substrate is "Always" a key component to Plant cultivation of any type. While I firmly believe in water column nutrients the plants evolved with Roots ! and you cannot overlook that and expect successful results. HTH Prof M

    P.S. Do have a look at Tom's little Co2 reactor. For a system such as your own It's Da Bomb ! ;^)
     
  4. Jimbob

    Jimbob Junior Poster

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    Thanks Tom... I checked out the "light" version you referenced and I think I will probably try it for two weeks and see what I think. To data, my plants have looked very healthy but I'm sure I will start to see deficiencies as the growth rate increases from the CO2. EI "light" looks like it might just fit the bill.

    Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "downstream?"

    Thanks again for the replay... just added some stuff from Mr. Watson's website to my Christmas list:D
     
  5. Jimbob

    Jimbob Junior Poster

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    Thanks! Here's a picture of it just taken tonight (I know the echinodorus is way to big for this tank now but my wife likes it and I need to get rid of the plastic ornaments but the kids like them):
    [​IMG]


    My lighting is probably pretty close to right-on then... the lumen and/or PAR output from my 60W worth of 4x15W T8 tubes is actually less than that of a single 55W PC bulb with a parabolic reflector. I might just stick with the lighting I have and bump up to the 6700K bulbs when replacement time comes.


    Any thoughts on the new Eco-Complete substrate from RedSea? As I originally stated, one of my primary goals for this tank was to keep cost as low as possible (I just enjoy making things work well while keeping them simple... it's a personal challenge to myself I guess) so that is why I went the DIY CO2 route for now. if it starts to show signs of not being enough, I will probably add a second 2-litre bottle, connecting the two by a DIY manifold and putting them each on a cycle two-weeks apart from each other... I could even add a third if necessary for only pennies more than I have into it now.


    These two comments are greatly appreciated and duly noted... I kind of ignored the substrate aspect up to this point and it's probably time to pay a little attention to that. I can get both Seachem and Red Sea products for pretty close to wholesale prices so I'd like to stick with either the fluorite or the Eco-Complete... your thoughts on either?

    That littleCO2 reactor of Tom's looks like a fun little DIY project... I just might "have to" try it! :D

    Thanks for the reply!

    -Jimbob
     
  6. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Now, surely you know, that as a serious aquatic gardener, you do have choices to make. You can, you know, choose to get rid of the echinodorus and the plastic toys, and, as a serious aquatic gardener, the choices should almost make themselves!:D

    Fortunately, I'm not yet a serious aquatic gardener, so I only have one tank in the house - where the missus says it goes.:rolleyes:
     
  7. Jimbob

    Jimbob Junior Poster

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    At least someone else understands my dilemma!:)
     
  8. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Nutrients downstream:

    Light then CO2 (Carbon is the top % of biomass) then N(1.5 % or there abouts, K+(1.0-1.5 % thereabouts) and so on down the line in decreasing order.

    The traces are essential,.but there does not need to be that much.

    CO2 is quite another matter......

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  9. Jimbob

    Jimbob Junior Poster

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    Ahhh!!! Thanks! You're original post led me to believe you were stating "Downstream Plants" ... sorry for the misunderstanding.

    -Jimbob
     
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