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Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

Discussion in 'Advanced Strategies and Fertilization' started by PMC, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. PMC

    PMC Junior Poster

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    Our 40 gallon breeder is now about 2 months old. We're using pressurized CO2 and been trying to establish my routines and would like some feedback.

    Lighting: 3wpg on from 7a - 11a and 4p - 10p for 10 hours.
    Substrate: Flourite

    CO2: I'm using the Aquariumplant.com's "Top Gun" which is a modified Milwaukee with a checkvalve. I've had trouble settling it down for a rock steady bubble count and am toying with getting a different needle valve. The CO2 is on a timer to turn off just prior to the lights lights go off and on about 45 minutes before the lights come on.

    pH is about 7.0 (evening 6.9)
    KH is about 5 (evening about 4.0)
    GH is about 8

    I figure I need to boost up the CO2 a bit to get it to 30 ppm in the evening

    Ferts (from Greg Watson):
    CSM+B - M, W, F (4ml of 1Tb/250ml)

    KNO3 - Su, T, Th (1/2 tsp dry)
    KH2PO4 - Su, T, Th (1/16 tsp dry)

    We've been struggling with rich variety of algae, though I think we're gaining ground after clean ups, trimming some plants way down and a solid maintainence crew of otos, bristlenose and Amano shrimp.

    Thanks, Peter
     
  2. Spar

    Spar Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    Dosage looks good other than you may be dosing too little Traces. Assuming you have 35g's of actual water, you should be dosing up near 9ml 3x per week (of 1T/250ml solution). Especially with high co2 and light.
     
  3. PMC

    PMC Junior Poster

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    Thanks Cliff for the guidance.

    I calculated my 40 breeder to be 43.3 gallons so I'm thinking I'm actually closer to 40 gallons of water than 35.

    So, just to make sure I'm now on the right path:

    30 ppm CO2
    50% water change - Su
    KNO3 - Su, T, Th (1/2 tsp dry)
    KH2PO4 - Su, T, Th (1/16 tsp dry)

    CSM+B: 10 ml (1T/250ml) M, W, F

    Peter
     
  4. Spar

    Spar Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    Looks good.

    If you have any driftwood or any other tanic releasing objects, then maybe aim closer to 40-45ppm co2 just in case the tanics throw off the results a little. I am about to up mine to 60 because of it.
     
  5. Laith

    Laith Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    Any special reason for the break in the photoperiod? I don't think it's helping the plants any...
     
  6. PMC

    PMC Junior Poster

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    Two reasons for breaking up the lighting period. The first and most important, is so the kids and I can see what's going in the tank, remember to feed the fish and fertilize the plants prior to their heading off to school and daycare. I have the light on a timer so that it turns on again about when they come home and goes off when we go to bed.

    The second reason, and it may be a myth, but I read in some British aquarium books that breaking up the light period slows down algae growth. Don't know if it's true, but it fits in with our family viewing desires. Anyone know whether there's any truth to this?

    Any thoughts also on whether breaking up the light period causes problems or has any benefits? I've been wondering if it affects the CO2 intake by the plants. (I have the CO2 on a separate timer so that it goes off before the lights go off and before the lights go on.) I've noticed it takes a higher bubble count to reach 30 ppm but haven't really scrutinized it to speak intelligently about it. The plants, however, do appear to be doing very well.

    Peter
     
  7. Laith

    Laith Lifetime Charter Member
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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    Don't worry about the algae. Take care of the plants and the algae will be controlled.

    The light break is not the optimum growing method for plants...

    Dennerle is also still flogging this concept. I've tried it and noticed that the algae seem to adapt to on/off periods like that very well while the plants don't ever seem to get up to full speed photosynthesis (as seen by rate of growth and pearling).

    Feed the fish and fertilize the plants when you get home ;) .
     
  8. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    pmc, you say your having trouble settling down your bubble count,you may check for a leak. i had same problem,and it turned out to be a very small leak.bubble would gradually slow down.btw a 40 breeder makes for a good plant tank. regards,cornhusker :) :)
     
  9. PMC

    PMC Junior Poster

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    Thanks both of you for the advise. We'll change our light schedule. I'll also play with regulator and tubing to see if there is a leak. I did see a large improvement in control when I raised the low pressure to 30 psi and then set the bubble count via the needle valve, but it's not rock steady and I'm afraid I'll take it for granted, forget about it and then find that it has really dropped over time.

    Peter
     
  10. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    PMC: I also bought a Milwaukee regulator about a month or so ago and find it very difficult to adjust. I had another regulator that was fine before, but didn't have a solenoid so I bought the Milwaukee, but it has always given me grief.

    I have tried setting it two ways, 1) with the method that comes in the instructions (open the needle valve all the way and adjust with the knob) and 2) boost the pressure to 20psi or so, and then adjust with the needle valve: With either method I get gradually decreasing bubbles over 12-24 hours so I constantly have to tweak it. Let me know if you are able to figure it out.

    Cornhusker: where was the leak in yours?

    Also, I would appreciate it if someone could explain to me why driftwood could affect CO2. My KH is around 5 and I have been pushing my pH as low as 6.1 (which is way off the chart in terms of PPM of CO2) without any apparent ill effects in the fish. I have much less algae problems at this "high" ppm, so something tells me the readings must be artificially high. I have a few pieces of driftwood (2-3 months old) and my bubble rate is about 5-6 per second in a 90 Gal, feeding into an eheim filter - is this about right or am I slowly gasing the inhabitants to death?

    Thanks!
     
  11. Spar

    Spar Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    my milwaukee also gives me bubble count problems. mainly after I turn the power off and then back on. drops afterward.

    driftwood does not affect co2, it just affects the co2/KH/pH relationship. in the relationship, co2 is really a measure of the acids in the water (i.e. ppm of total acids). So if you have anything that leaks Tanics into the water (i.e. Driftwood, blackwater extract, etc), you will start off with a higher ppm acids than if you had none. Thus, throwing off the relationship between co2/KH/pH, by already providing a lower pH.

    an easy way to ensure an accuract co2 test is to take out a cup of your water (give it a good 3-4 days following a water change to give the tanics plenty of time to build back up), let it sit out over night (add an airstone for best results), measure the "co2 content/ppm" (knowing that it isn't actually co2 this time, but still measure it as if it were), subtract 3ppm (atmospheric levels of co2 always present in water), and you have your "error margin". From then on, always aim for a co2 ppm of 30 + "error margin".
     
  12. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    I never had problems with my other regulator, I will probably take the solenoid off the Milwaukee and put it on my old one and start using it again - this is the last Milwaukee I'll buy!

    Right, I meant to say driftwood would affect the CO2 "readings" by the KH/pH relationship not the level of CO2 itself, thanks for putting it in better words.
    I like your test method, it makes a lot of sense, I'll definitely give it a try.

    Thanks for the feedback.
     
  13. PMC

    PMC Junior Poster

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    pK1: Here's a thread at the The Planted Tank forum you may find discouraging as it's pretty much a group rant: http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/showthread.php?t=21640. If I blew the link it's under Equipment and titled " Needle valve is a total POS!!" It seems a lot of people have problems with the Milwaukee unit. One respondent came back with a reply that there had been a lot of talk about the unit years ago and the solution was to boost the low pressure to 30psi (thereby ignoring the directions and the advise you get from the factory's tech dept). I've been fairly successful going this route but I don't feel very confident to set it and forget it, especially as I'm using the solinoid. I think the problem is that the needle valve backs up with pressure and chokes. I spoke to a Milwaukee tech on their help desk and he said he didn't feel the valve is made to handle less than 45 bubbles per minute. His advise was to increase the diameter of the airline tubing and/or decrease the length of the tubing.

    Another worry is that there seems to be a deadly end of tank CO2 dump once the pressure falls to less than around 500 psi because of the quality of the Milwaukee needle valve. This could be just a myth but I gather using a higher quality valve eliminates the problem. Does anyone have anything to share on this concern?

    There seems to be a lot of shared confidence in retrofitting a Clippard MAR-1-3 ($10.90 plus an adaptor plus a reportedly very heavy shipping fee). Another route is the Aquabotanic.com's "Precision Needle Valve" ($18 plus shipping) which the site claims to fit most CO2 regulator kits on the market. I may eventually go this route as I like the convenience of the gauges and the (Top Gun) bubble counter with check valve of my unit.

    Peter
     
  14. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    pk1, the leak i reffered to was on the manifold.i use a spray bottle mix of dish soap and water. i too had trouble with milwaukee regulator.needle broke,and also solonoid worked for all of five minutes. needless to say i sent it back. i have good luck with beverage factory commercial reg. just $38.00 . another good brand is harris at your local welding supply co.,but way more money. regards,cornhusker :) :)
     
  15. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    Ok guys, here's an update:

    I sent an e-mail to Milwaukee through their website and they sent me the following:

    From Milwaukee:

    =================================================

    You are in experiencing a typical problem. Please see the troubleshooting guide below,

    Trouble Shooting MA957

    The procedure is as follows:

    If you have a pH controller unplug the solenoid from the controller and Plug your solenoid into a wall socket or power strip. Do not have it plugged into any type of controller or timer to do this adjustment.

    Turn your CO2 bottle off. Go to the regulator and turn the main knob counterclockwise till you feel no pressure. Next go to the needle valve underneath the bubble counter and turn it counterclockwise all the way out.

    Now go back to your CO2 tank and turn the tank to full open. At this point, even with the tank full open you should have no bubbles coming through the bubble counter.

    Very slowly, turn the big knob on your regulator in until you start seeing some bubbles come out of your regulator bubble counter. Do not pay any attention to the right side gauge. All we are interested in is the bubble counter.

    You must proceed very slowly when trying to adjust the CO2 regulator. Go slow, slow, slow; take your time, we want to slowly work the bubble count up.

    Turn the knob one eight to one quarter turn and wait about 30 to 45 seconds or longer before making any further adjustments. Continue with this process until you get a bubble count that is equal to or a little greater than what you're looking for. At a bubble count of 60 bubbles per minute, you might want to take it up to 80 bubbles per minute and then use the needle valve to crank it back down

    The right side gauge is not relevant to adjusting your gas flow. Indeed, we have been trying for several months to get them to take the right side gauge off of the regulator because the bubble counter is your true an accurate gauge. Therefore, any reference to the right side gauge serves no purpose.

    This procedure, when followed, works about 90% of the time in getting regulators consistent in their flow. The primary problem for poor flow consistency is that too much gas is backed up behind the needle valve causing the diaphragm in the regulator not to function properly.

    If you're using a pH controller plug your solenoid back into the pH controller box at this time.

    =================================================

    They suggest it is a typical problem and that this procedure (which is the same instructions included with the unit) will fix the problem "90% of the time" - obviously they are aware of the issue. I then called them and they agreed to send me a new one if I send the old one back at my cost. I agreed to it. When I receive the new one I will give it a try, if it doesn't work I will attempt to return it and try a different brand. I'll keep you posted.


    This is not a myth. Although it has never happened to me, I have seen it reported many times. I believe the problem lies within the regulator itself (different brands are affected) and not the needle valve. There are two-stage regulators on the market that fix this problem (expensive). I guess the easiest way to avoid it is to fill the tank as soon as the pressure stops falling. A pH regulator would probably also work...
     
  16. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    pk1,sounds like to much hassle to use a particular brand of regulator. regards,cornhusker :) :)
     
  17. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    Yep.

    I have already ordered a solenoid for my AquaMedic regulator so I can start using that one instead, never had problems with it in the past. Set and forget. I will give the replacement unit a try when it comes in though. If it is the same it will go back out the same day, and no more brand X for this hobbyist.


    Question for Spar (or anyone else that can help):

    I tried your method of leaving some water overnight with an air stone. The next day I had a pH of 7.6 and KH of 5 => 4 ppm CO2, so not much effect from the wood. I am now baffled, with a pH of 6.2 and KH of 5, I have 95 ppm of CO2 in my tank but no fish has died.

    Anyone ideas?
     
  18. matpat

    matpat Prolific Poster

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    I have similar issues but no driftwood in my tank. Do you have your Water Quality report? I'm still not sure what my problem is but I have had a KH of 4.5 and a pH of 5.78 and had no fish stress. That should be 200+ppm of CO2. Fish at the time were Cobalt Blue Discus and Apistogramma borelli 'Opal' alon with Cherry Red Shrimp. I'm not sure of the actual CO2 measurements any more!

    I have been adding Baking Soda (thinking I may have a bicarbonate issue) to raise my KH up to ~6.5-7.0 dKH and keeping my pH in the 6.4 range and I still do not get stress from the fish. If I only include the 2-2.5 dKH of bicarbonates from the baking soda in my KH reading that would give me 47ppm of CO2. I think this may be close.

    Yesterday, I added 5 rummy Nose tetras to my tank. They swam for about 2 minutes (long enough for me to put my net away and toss their bag) then they were all floating! Very strange.

    I removed them from the tank and put them in a container with an air pump. In a few minutes they were all swimming around so I slowly acclimated them to the tank water instead of just dumping them in. I would like to think this was a good indicator that my CO2 levels may be a bit high and the other fish have adjusted to it but that is just a guestimate on my part.
     
  19. Cornhusker

    Cornhusker Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    matpat, never dump fish in a tank,allways acclimate them slowly.the rummynose can play dead on you also.they are like cardinal tetras,need to be slowly acclimated,very slow if you want them to live.they both are very touchy fish at first,but they can also live a long time.i had a rummynose for six years.they are beautiful fish. regards,cornhusker. :) :)
     
  20. PK1

    PK1 Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Help Needed in Settling into Schedule

    A couple hundred PPM of CO2 will probably help matters somewhat!!! :D :D

    I am getting a school of cardinals tomorrow, I'll be sure to introduce them to the gas... er... tank nice and sloooow. :)
     
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