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KH and CO2 levels

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by laka, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. laka

    laka Prolific Poster

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    I have a heavily planted 180g tank that i have just added CO2 injection. Bubble rate is 3bps. My drop checker with standardised 4 degree KH is always blue. CO2 is linked via solenoid to lights. I have 24 hr gentle water rippling. Tap water KH is 2 but i initially added KH buffer so it is now 5. My pH meter shows 7 before lights on and 6.4 just before lights out.
    My question is will softer water ie. KH 2 allow me to reach my desired 30ppm of CO2 quicker than say my current KH of 5? Otherwise i may have to crank up my CO2 even further. I have an Aquamedic 1000 external reactor powered by an external pump . I see lots of very small bubbles at the outlet that is at the bottom of the tank. Pump flow rate is 2000 litres/hour.
    LAKA
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    The only way to get more CO2 into solution with the water is to add more to the water. Raise the bubble rate, wait a few hours, see if the drop checker is green yet. If it isn't repeat the above. The only thing KH does is change the pH of the tank water for a given ppm of dissolved CO2. How much it changes it depends a lot on what other stuff is in the water, such as your KH buffer.
     
  3. laka

    laka Prolific Poster

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    I thought the lower the KH the more free CO2 is available in the water to dissolve in it whereas a higher KH means CO2 is then bound into the carbonate/bicarbonate system thus less is available for plant uptake.

    Another way of viewing this is as follows. We have 2 identical tanks in every aspect except KH. One is KH of 1 the other is KH 10. Both tanks get same rate of CO2 infusion. Which tank (if any) will achieve 30ppm CO2 quicker?

    LAKA
     
  4. VicPinto

    VicPinto Junior Poster

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    *Sigh*

    Laka, I already replied to your thread on the APC forums. You are now shopping for the answer you want to hear. Fortunately, chemistry isn't going to change for you.

    Like I said there and say here again. The only way to increase you ppm of CO2 is by adding more CO2. KH has nothing to do with it.
     
  5. laka

    laka Prolific Poster

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    The reason why i am posting the same thread on this forum is because no one answered the question i have put forward. I am still waiting for an answer. Please read the question and answer it. I KNOW i can just open the needle valve to get more CO2. But if i can conserve CO2 and still get 30ppm at a lower KH is this not a smarter way of doing it?
    LAKA
     
  6. dapellegrini

    dapellegrini Lifetime Charter Member
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    Well I thought that no matter what your kH, you are basically always driving your pH down by about 1.0... A quick look at a pH/kH chart for measuring CO2 confirms this. Your base water should measure ~3ppm of CO2 so with a kH of 2 your pH should be 7.3 before CO2 injection. From there you need to get to 6.3 for ~30ppm of CO2. At a kH of 5 your base pH should be 7.7 with a target of 6.7 to get your CO2 to 30ppm.

    Any way you look at it, you are bringing your pH down -1.0. I don't think more or less kH will change that.
     
  7. laka

    laka Prolific Poster

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    OK it appears the general or actually the unanimous consensus is Kh does not affect CO2 levels. I will reduce the Kh to 2 with water changes keeping CO2 constant and see what happens to the drop checker. Will keep you all posted.
    LAKA
     
  8. yme

    yme Lifetime Charter Member
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    if you add CO2, the KH will raise a very very tiny bit. But this is not detectable with our testkits. So in practice, the KH will remain the same.

    greets,

    yme
     
  9. JamesC

    JamesC Lifetime Charter Member
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    To answer your question, yes. It requires less CO2 gas to be dissolved in water with a low KH to reach a certain ppm of available CO2, than with a high KH. So for your 2 tanks the one with the KH at 1 will achieve 30ppm CO2 before the one with a KH of 10 when the bubble rates are the same. It can be calculated using Henderson-Hasselbalch Equation. This is all very well in theory but in reality you'll be hard pushed to notice any difference with the KH levels we normally operate at.

    Actually the chemistry of adding CO2 to water is quite interesting - if you're that way inclined :)

    James
     
  10. laka

    laka Prolific Poster

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    Thanks for the reply James C I always thought that to be the case but if the differences or going to be almost negligible at the KH levels we're working at then it probably wouldn't make that much difference.
    HOWEVER dapellegrini makes a very interesting observation. If a pH level drop of 1 unit is equivalent to 30ppm CO2 increase then why use a drop checker at all??
     
  11. dapellegrini

    dapellegrini Lifetime Charter Member
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    The drop checker is a good cross-checking tool and a great visual warning if there is something wrong with your CO2 level. I don't think it is absolutely necessary, but mine has let me know that my CO2 tank was empty on more than one occassion for example.

    A few more reasons for a drop checker. - Apparently there are also other "things" that can throw off your kH/pH relationship in some cases, and of course if you have close to 0 kH.

    Otherwise, if your tank water is coming from a controlled source (say reconsitituted RO), I would think one of those intank pH testers could be nearly as effective...
     
  12. neil1973

    neil1973 Prolific Poster

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    A drop of 1 pH unit doesn't equal 30ppm CO2 it equals a 10x increase in co2 concentration. So if the original concentration was 3ppm then a 1 pH unit drop will give 30ppm but if you were starting at 0.5ppm then you would only be at 5ppm after a 1 unit decrease.

    The CO2 concentration of water at equilibrium with the atmosphere will depend on atmospheric CO2 concentration, atmospheric pressure, and temperature. This makes it very hard to track down exact figures for equilibrium CO2 concentrations although at typical aquarium temperatures it is probably around 0.5ppm.

    There are several problems with using the pH drop method to try and determine CO2 levels in the aquarium. Most significant is that a very small difference in the CO2 concentration of the ‘degassed’ water relates to a large difference when the pH has been lowered by a given amount. Other related problems include: The CO2 concentration of air in a typical room with the windows closed may be several times higher than the air outside, the final stages of reaching equilibrium with air will be slow, and if the sample is left too long then evaporation may cause an increase in KH and hence pH.

    When I have tried using the pH drop method I have used an air pump to aerate the water with air from outside. I found at the time that I needed a drop of around 1.6 pH units before there were any noticeable effects on any fish (e.g. increased respiration rate).

    I wanted to include a table that gives CO2 concentrations (ppm) in relation to starting (equilibrium) concentration and pH drop but was not sure how to add it here.

    Cheers
    Neil
     
  13. dapellegrini

    dapellegrini Lifetime Charter Member
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    Neil - It seems that I may be learning something new as well.

    I was under the impression that water at equilibrium with atmospheric CO2 would settle to 3ppm in most cases. I can't remember where I heard it first, but that has always proven to be true for me.

    It sounds like you know a lot more than I do about the subject, outside of my own experiences, but I am intrigued by the comment about equilibrium at .5ppm in the tank instead of 3ppm...
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Hi Neil, send me a PM and I can add it etc for you, not any problem at all.
    Good idea also.

    I'd like to stomp this issue good because some will try it and avoid doing the right method.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  15. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I did some testing to see what ppm of CO2 my water would degas to. The problem I ran into is that it takes about 48 hours for the pH of the degassing water to stop rising, and the end point is closer to 1 or 2 ppm than it is to 3 ppm. I tried to limit evaporation of the water as I did this, but I'm sure some did occur. One thing it definitely proved to me is that letting a tank sample sit out over night does not yield a 3 ppm level of CO2. Like use of the KH/pH/CO2 tables, this method does give a number for ppm of CO2 but the number is extremely unreliable and variable. The drop checker gives as much accuracy as your ability to judge the color of the solution in the drop checker, which isn't great at best, so our 30ppm measurement with a drop checker is really about a 25 - 40 ppm actual reading. That is the best we can do without the next step in improving the drop checker, which I think is the addition of a reference 6.6 pH water solution of the same geometry as the test solution in the drop checker and with the same amount of pH reagent in it. That gives a color reference to compare to, viewed with the same light, same background, etc and the drop checker fluid. After that, we need to switch to a pH probe using a very small gas permeable membrane contained 4 dKH reference solution around the pH probe junction, to get a better accuracy. Two years from now we may all be using just that.
     
  16. neil1973

    neil1973 Prolific Poster

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    I totally agree with VaughnH that the pH drop method has serious limitations. This is really what i was trying to highlight in my original post along wiht a drop of 1 pH units not equalling 30ppm CO2. The use of a drop checker as well as careful observation of livestock are almost certainly the best methods at this stage.

    While i doubt anyone will be rushing out to buy one of these for their tank :) i thought this sort of thing may be of interest...
    http://www.amt-gmbh.com/pdf/CO2%20sensor%20english.pdf

    cheers
    Neil
     
  17. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    That optical sensor is very interesting. It looks like a drop checker, using a membrane instead of an air gap, and a colorimeter to measure the color. I wonder why they didn't just use a pH probe instead of the colorimeter. I don't know what this costs, but somehow I can't see it being $20.
     
  18. dapellegrini

    dapellegrini Lifetime Charter Member
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    Very interesting. I have never actually taken tank water out and aerated it to off-gas the CO2 for measurement. Instead, I just measure the pH/kH relationship of my water source (i.e. tap water). It seems to match out to ~3ppm of CO2 before added to the tank. I use both a drop checker and a pH probe but have made the general observation in my case that I always seem to be dropping my pH 1.0 - 1.1 from my water source levels.

    So, are you saying that there may be a significant difference between the ambient CO2 level of my source water and my tank water if I let it off gas all of the injected CO2? Sounds like there are a lot of variables at play.

    I have stopped testing most things now-a-days, but I think I may start testing and measuring this again on my end to make sure that my own assumptions are still true...
     
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