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drop checkers

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by anafranil, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. anafranil

    anafranil Junior Poster

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    Hi,I have been using a ph controller to dose my co2 so far.after doing a brief research on the site I have seen lots of people using drop checkers,what's the most frequent and accurate method being used by members here?If it is drop checkers can i have some feedback on them or maybe some links on detailed information on them?thanks a lot
     
  2. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi,
    This is a little reading to get you started. I find the amount of lag time to be about an hour behind the actual reading. You will also get different readings depending on where it is placed in the tank. http://www.njagc.net/articles/co2dropchecker.htm
     
  3. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Drop checkers (DC) can be useful to guage an APPROXIMATE amount of c02, but it is a guess after all.

    A DC solution should be changed weekly and moved around the tank every few days to see how the color is in that part of the tank.

    A DC may take SEVERAL hours to record results, so by the time you see the color, the amount of c02 in solution at that point may easily have changed. Tom has shown with a good meter that c02 can flunctuate from leaf to leaf and minute to minute :)

    An issue with a controller is that they react to ANY cause of ph drop, not just due to increased carbon. So, the gas may be shut off/on incorrectly causing unstable c02 issues.

    Most here just use a timer and have the c02 come on about 60-90 minutes PRIOR to lights on. Turn the c02 off about 30 minutes PRIOR to lights off.

    Read the DC link above and it is pretty simple really.

    A DC is just a TOOL, and even a 'good' color is no guarantee of 'good' c02 levels.
     
  4. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Gerry's post is dead on. DC's are a matter of moving things around and observing for days at a time. You won't get accurate levels for time of day, and you won't notice a 5ppm change. This tool moves slowly, it's fairly general, but it does help one learn principles within the hobby. I still use mine for lack of a better method of measuring when I'm trying to figure out something new.

    -Philosophos
     
  5. Elkmor

    Elkmor Junior Poster

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    Drop checker (kH=4) indicates the amount of CO2.

    Other ways indicates pH wich is not the same.
     
  6. anafranil

    anafranil Junior Poster

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    ok,so the kH/pH chart is the most common used method?aiming in high co2 values near the tolerance levels of fishes,maybe a little lower?on a timer,on when lights on,right?
     
  7. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    the KH/pH chart thing doesn't work if you use the column; there's more to pH in an aquarium than KH and CO2. This is why drop checkers were invented in the first place. The pH solution is DI H2O with some sodium bicarb, the bromothymol blue indicates pH, and so the chart works in a relatively closed system.

    -Philosophos
     
  8. anafranil

    anafranil Junior Poster

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    ok you don't use the chart,you don't use drop checkers,you don't use pH controllers,what do you use?Im not experienced enough to dose by looking the plants, responce.the purpose of this thread was to understand what is the most common method used by people in the forum.i'm starting with EI and have some expierience in dosing ferts but i am a liitle bit worried with co2 as most people here emphasize the importance of maintaining high levels of it.I did not come through a post yet talking about how to dose co2 despite the fact i read lots of them
     
  9. Philosophos

    Philosophos Lifetime Charter Member
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    Drop checkers are the most common method; no doubt. KH-pH from column is being drummed into obscurity slowly.

    People who learn to watch their plants or can afford better methods (pH meters $$) often seem to develop a dislike for them. I can understand having better tools, but drop checkers will alert you about some issues before your eye ever can.

    One mild change in flow that you didn't notice bumping a powerhead or outtake can alter the average color of a drop checker, and alert you to the fact that something is up with your CO2 levels or distribution. The DC will react in 2 hours instead of a day or two, and you can notice any extreme changes from across the room.

    -Philosophos
     
  10. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Folks can use a mix of methods, say pH/Kh and the drop checkers, I use plants/algae/fish.

    Takes time and experience to get good at it and even then, issues can occur if you are too hasty.

    There's no one single cure all method for CO2, it's more about getting close with test(either or both), then eyeball the rest slow and progressively and patiently, not stressing the fish, providing good current, reasonable light intensity etc.

    Many get impatient, or think it's something else, or do not show CO2 the respect required, do not have enough current/mixing, have too much light etc.

    This is why CO2 is the crux of most issues.


    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  11. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Have you looked in the c02 forum section?

    There are zillions of threads on how to diffuse c02. :)

    How are you doing it now?

    A DC is a good tool, just note that it has limitations.

    I think it is one of the better tools out there to help gain experience. They are relatively easy to use and not that expensive. I and others have used more than 1 at times, so they can be positioned at different spots in the tank.

    As far as dosing goes, you can watch the FISH and INVERTS for immediate signs/clues of too much c02.

    SLOWLY increase the bubble rate a bit every few days. Watch the fish for signs of stress:

    1. Gasping at surface.
    2. Darkening of colors
    3. Rapid gill movement
    4. Dis-coloration
    5. Hiding abnormally
    6. General listlessness

    If you see ANY of these signs, turn the c02 down and agitate the surface.

    Adding some surface ripple via a small powerhead can also aid the fish.

    Once you have hit where the fish or inverts are adversely affected, you know you have too much c02.

    Back it down and go from there. You now have an UPPER LIMIT. If all critters are okay, try raising again.

    Do not increase c02 and take off for several hours or the day.

    We have all seen effects days after the change.

    It may take the PLANTS 1-3 weeks before they really start to respond.

    You may also need to increase EI as the carbon will make the plants assimilate better.

    Remember that how you inject c02 is important as well. Any component in that configuration will have an effect.

    For instance using your filter to drive c02 will be impaced as the filter clogs.

    Does this help at all?
     
  12. anafranil

    anafranil Junior Poster

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    Hi,thanks a lot everyone,you have helped a lot,I think I will try to use the drop checker and observing fish to look for the upper limit as mentioned above.I will study some more on the co2 forum and looking at other things as flow,diffusing methods etc..
     
  13. anafranil

    anafranil Junior Poster

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    how about tanks with no fish or inverts,how does this change the approach of co2 dosing?what limits here the amount of co2 dosed in this situation?in generally how much easier is to keep algae free tanks without animals in?thanks a lot..
     
  14. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    Hi,

    Much more easier. When I moved from dry start to immersion in my nano (see signature), I kept CO2 at a deep yellow for 3-4 weeks, plants loved it, algae never showed their face
     
  15. anafranil

    anafranil Junior Poster

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    ok,im starting my new tank without fishes so i can experiment with higher values of co2 without the concern of fish health.What is the maximum i can go?what other issues must i be aware of?for example too acidic the ph harmful to plants..anything else?Also i didn't find a forum here regarding lighting..the tank is 30g is lit by 2x28w t5 bulbs for the moment.I will add more light later on.How many hours per day for the moment?shall i add more bulbs right now?thanks a lot
     
  16. jonny_ftm

    jonny_ftm Guru Class Expert

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    You have enough light,

    I also was too much concerned by light when I came here and surprised why there's no a "light" subforum. Now, I know that light is much less important than ferts and CO2. Go with anything between 1.5-2 wpg T5 and you should be fine. Most will go with 8h/day. I personally find it hard to get a stable tank with more light. On start, to avoid algae, 6h/day is even better. Lower is not good for plants. For CO2, don't care, plants don't really care. Make it that your drop checker is a strong yellow for some weeks and keep with dosing and WC
     
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