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Need CO2 and O2 balance?

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by Mr_Bubbles, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    I posted on another thread about having issues with my fish breathing heavy in my 75 gallon aquarium and assume it's an O2 issue. When I turn the Co2 up, my bolivian rams and leopard bush fish breath faster/heavier, to try and help this I have one of the 2 output nozzles on my FX5 hitting the surface for some agitation, despite this, the fish still breath heavy. Even turning the co2 down to 2bps (milwaukee regulator w/in tank atomic diffuser) still doesn't seem to help. So I then turned the two bubblers I have in there on that I usually run at night and this seemed to help a lot. Based off sites I've read it seems that o2 and co2 do not compete for space and therefore I'm wondering if I should just run the air bubblers 24/7 and try turning the co2 up a bit to get proper co2 levels without stressing the fish. I guess I'm just wondering if this sounds like the smart thing to do or if any of you experienced folks would suggest a better remedy. Are some fish just not well suited for a planted tank, is this why most show tanks I see have a school of small fish (they use less O2 perhaps?), Also, i've read that large canister filters can use a lot of O2 for the colonizing bacteria and wondered if this was part of the problem. The FX5 is a large filter, rated for up to 400 gallons. Is it possible this is eating up a lot of O2? I currently have the diffuser under a maxi-jet 400 (in circulation mode) with one filter output nozzle hitting the diffuser, blowing the co2 down and then when it comes up the maxi-jet helps push the co2 to the other side. This aquarium has glass tops due to jumpers and i find there's a lot of co2 bubbles sitting on the water surface. Any thoughts?

    Sorry for the long explanation, but i figured details might help. Feel free to ask questions if you think it might help!

    Thanks you :)
     
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Your Potted Plants Will Be Happy


    Hi,

    Your “other” sites are correct in the water CO[SUB]2 [/SUB]does not displace O[SUB]2[/SUB].:D


    The problem with aerating while injecting CO[SUB]2[/SUB] is the surface agitation and the “air” pulling and pushing toward the surface mean increased gas exchange, commonly referred to as “outgassing.:rolleyes:


    Something may be sucking up the O[SUB]2[/SUB] or you simply may not be getting enough O[SUB]2[/SUB] in the first place.:eek:



    On the other hand, it could be something else entirely.:eek:


    It does sound as though you are (or should be) wasting a lot of CO[SUB]2[/SUB] and that causes me to think there may be other issues.


    First, would you do me a personal favor? :confused:

    • Can you leave some “white space?
    • Long replies and information are fine but breaks at paragraphs even sentences make it easier for us older folk to keep track.

    Second, help me understand your set-up…


    • You say that the aquarium is covered.
      • How is it covered?
      • Is there air circulation under the cover?
      • Does the cover form any sort of seal?
    Third, the fish.


    • Does there appear to be any redness around the gills?
    • Any redness about the eyes?
    • Any red streaks?
    • Do the fish seem agitated or lethargic?
    • Do the fish congregate in a particular location when breathing difficulty occurs?

    Off hand, as a first guess, your CO[SUB]2[/SUB] probably only works because your cover is forming a bit of a seal, increases partial pressures and so forth, though that means the O[SUB]2[/SUB] and other gasses are not being properly exchanged.:(


    Try replacing the cover with a screen, mesh or (plastic) hardware cloth.:)


    My guess is the critters will be happier but the plants will suffer since the CO[SUB]2 aqueous[/SUB] in your tank will drop to that of the atmosphere in your home, which will be somewhat elevated since you are pumping all that CO[SUB]2[/SUB] into the atmosphere.:rolleyes::)


    Biollante

     
  3. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Nothing much to add to Bio's answer, but since the heavy breathing is based on assumptions, do you have anything to compare with? You could start to see if there's a difference without CO2 addition. Just start adding CO2 later on a particular morning.

    Also there are O2 test available, which could give you an indication.
     
  4. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    Thanks for the reply :)

    My apologies about the spacing, I have a bad tendency to get wrapped up in what I'm typing.

    First off, to give an idea of my setup, here are some images to give you an idea (i apologize for the quality, these were taken at night - lights off) :

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You can see the tops on image #2, I also took some plastic and cut holes in it to cover the back so the fish couldn't jump out but would still allow some air to get in and out.

    In image #3, you can see how I have the flow setup, in behind the driftwood is the filter intake, in the corner in the back, is the filter output, one is hitting the surface for agitation and the other is aimed towards the atomic diffuser, then I have the power head in circulation mode to help push it to the other side.

    As for the fish themselves, I haven't noticed red gills, i have noticed red streaks on the small tetras but I've noticed that even when they were in quarantine. The bolivian rams and Bush fish breathe heavily and faster, and the bush fish definitely seems lazier.

    You believe my issue is with the glass tops? If i remove these, this will help O2 levels allowing me to boost my co2? Is it because with the tops the surface agitation is not able to collect O2 from the atmosphere?

    Sorry if these are dumb questions, I'm quite new to the hobbu (only a year, with little success) and spending my every waking moment trying to find answers so I too can enjoy a beautifully planted algae free tank that my fish can be healthy in :)
     
    #4 Mr_Bubbles, Oct 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2011
  5. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    dutchy : Are O2 tests big bucks, or pretty readily available? I figured this would be some sort of expensive equipment you'd need. If i don't have co2 on, the fish are fine, no heavy breathing, I recently had to refil my co2 canister so i didn't have it running for a day, the heavy breathing doesn't start until the co2 has come on for a bit. It's only the rams and bush fish that clearly show heavy breathing, but I'm not expert on fish, as i've said, I'm new to this and just have been spending hours upon hours nightly trying to learn how to make this work.
     
  6. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    Also, if you feel i'm doing anything wrong, or would recommend going about my setup differently, please feel free to point this out, I'm totally open to suggestions, you guys clearly know your stuff, and no one else locally I know is into this hobby to turn to for advice, so I can only go by what others recommend on forums.
     
  7. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    O2 tests are not very expensive. Viewing the ripple on the water surface, this should give enough gas exchange. I wouldn't really worry about it. If you are at fish max, just ease off a little bit, that should be enough for your plants.
     
  8. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    The thing is I must not have enough co2, I'm being over taken by BBA, i backed it off a little for the sake of the fish, but even at like 2bps it's still happening, weirdly enough, in my 55 i had previous to this, i never noticed this problem (had glass tops for that too) and had the bubble rate higher. I'm feeling very lost. I intended to use some excel to kill the BBA but unless i resolve the problem, it's just going to come back :(
     
  9. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    Any CO2 max during the day doesn't necessarily mean you have consistent CO2 during the day. Maybe you should think about using a pH controller.

    I also had a 55 g before which had a higher bubble rate than your 75g. I know bubble rate is very difficult to compare, but anyway.
     
    #9 dutchy, Oct 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2011
  10. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    How far below the top of the tank is the water line?

    How well do those tops seal and is there any air movement around the tank?

    You said adding air to the tank helps. Can you raise the covers up a little bit? Even something like putting chopsticks or pencils under the corners of the glass and resting on the tank rim so you life the entire cover up over the rim ~1/4". Maybe with a fan in the room aimed at the tank? Basically what I'm looking for is to see if you aren't getting a layer of CO2 trapped on the water surface causing a problem with gas exchange. It's heavier than air and if the air in the room is pretty still and the lids fit tightly, this is a definitely possiblity. Basically, the only place you're going to get rid of CO2 and get O2 in are at the top of the tank and that's got what appears to be a pretty tight cover. Aerating helps from what you've said, but you're injecting air into the tank, causing not only surface movement, but the air being pumped in will help displace CO2 if it's trapped up there. This is why I'm suggesting looking there. Of course if you have cats and they like to jump this probably won't be the best solution, but it might let you rule this out pretty quickly over maybe an hour or two.

    How are you controlling your CO2? Timer? pH controller?

    For the fish that are breathing heavy, how "hard" do they breathe? A breath every second, less, more? Does it look like they're taking huge gulps of water?

    -
    S
     
  11. GillesF

    GillesF Member

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    Maybe you could consider lowering the light? Or is it a low-light setup already?
     
  12. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    shoggoth43 : Well there definitely seems to be a lot of co2 bubbles floating on top of the tank so that would make perfect sense, Maybe I can find some sort of small fan to help blown on it, I will also try and raise the tops a bit, I just know I can't tank them off or the giant danios will jump out, i've had it happen a couple times. I have no cats, so that's a non issue. I have my co2 on a timer, and use drop checkers to help aid levels.
     
  13. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Plastic Hardware Cloth

    Hi,

    To state the obvious; we do not know anything about your system you do not share with us, we cannot see (beyond pictures you provide), smell or feel anything.:rolleyes::gw


    Removing the cover was a guess (educated?) based on the photographic evidence I think warranted.


    I agree with Dutchy you seem to have plenty of surface agitation, I really think you need to get rid of the cover for now, replace it with a screen or something.

    The red gill question was more of an elimination question, making sure it wasn’t ammonia related. All the crème puffs around here get so weirded out when I ask them how the tank smells.:rolleyes:


    • So, what does your tank smell like?:eek:
    • Compared to your tap water, how does the water feel?


    For CO[SUB]2[/SUB] to be the direct cause of your critters distress the CO[SUB]2[/SUB] levels would need to be above 60-ppm, ranging into the 100-ppm range, most of the danger being the reduced pH.


    • My best guess is you are not getting 15-ppm CO[SUB]2(aqueous)[/SUB] into the water column;
    • at best you are making your potted plants happy; :D
    • at worst you are adding to Dutchy’s global warming.:eek:;)

    My best guess of the moment is poor O[SUB]2[/SUB] saturation due to lack of good gas exchange, contributing factors would be your critters, though your stocking levels do not seem too bad, your canister filter, decomposition of organic material, nothing terrible, and the lack of or slow growth (photosynthesis) of your plants.:)



    Since you reside in New Scotland, the warmest of the great northern wastelands, elevation is not going to play much of a role in O[SUB]2[/SUB] saturation.:)


    • O[SUB]2[/SUB] saturation for you is going to be around 8-ppm at 25C
    • (Yes I am assuming 6-ppt salt, really 8-ppm is just easier.)
      • (High-pressure day maybe +0.4-ppm, low-pressure day maybe -0.5-ppm)
      • (Add or subtract [SUP]~0.2-ppm[/SUP]⁄[SUB]degree C[/SUB]).


    I really like to see O2 saturation above 80%, around 6.4-ppm in this case.
    Based on your descriptions I doubt your DO levels got into lethal range, but the system is weakened, the fish are not going to be happy…



    Remove the cover and see what happens.:D


    We can work on the other issues later.:cool:

    Biollante


     
  14. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    Thanks a lot for the reply once again :)

    I do not notice an odor from the tank. Today, I had the co2 going at about 2 bubbles per second, I did a PH test last night, and it read 7.6 (the highest marker, so maybe higher?) on the sheet, i just did it again, and it came back with 6.6, based off this, I assume I have about 30ppm of Co2?

    I was wondering, since there seems to many co2 bubbles sitting at the surface, would I be smart to buy another canister filter, and employ a spray bar to help push these bubbles down? Would this leave more room for O2 to enter the tank? I hate to remove the covers because the lights I have are not made for aquariums, and therefore have no sort of splash shield or anything.

    I took a closer look at the fish and do not notice any red gills.
     
  15. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    I should also point out that the tank temperature seems to be between 78-80 most of the time, I haven't had much luck trying to get it down, i'm sure the tops don't help there, which probably doesn't help O2 levels I'm guessing?
     
  16. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Well, removing the covers and checking that hypothesis shouldn't take more than an hour or two at most I would think. IF this is what's going on, and it's only one possibility, then I don't see how getting the CO2 bubbles to float around the tank underwater is going to make much difference. You're pumping CO2 IN, but where is it going? If it's not converting to O2 and it's not being dispersed, then it's just building up. The only place you're going to get O2 into the system is at the water surface or from the plants. You already know the CO2 isn't all being used by the plants at the moment although this is probably more of a dispersion issue.

    -
    S
     
  17. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    Ok, tomorrow when I get home from work, I'll still have 2-3 hours before lights out, I'll take the tops off and see if it makes any difference. If not, I'm not sure what to try next.
     
  18. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    most of my water agitation happens on the side of the filter while the other side is much more calm, i thought maybe having some flow on the other side might improve things. I did however try putting a small aqua clear 30 i had laying around on the side just to see if i had an impact on the co2 bubbles and it didn't seem to have any impact. Mind you, this was only for about 15 mins, i'll keep the tops off for a few hours and see if there's any improvement :)
     
  19. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Lights? Splash Guard? Eh? (Speaking Canadian)



    Hi,

    If you need a splash shield, simply raise the glass as Shoggoth43 suggested.


    • Why Wait?

    What are the lights? Are they hot?


    The lights look typical to me, basic shop light setup; I guess I do not understand the anxiety.:confused:


    The temperature is fine just means the amount of O[SUB]2[/SUB] it is capable of containing is a bit less.:)


    Assuming your carbonate hardness is mainly bicarbonate then a 1 degree drop in pH is roughly 30-ppm CO[SUB]2(aqueous)[/SUB], based on the photos and your descriptions I do not see how your CO[SUB]2(aqueous)[/SUB] could be above 15-ppm. If I am correct and the poor gas exchange and/or an area of increased partial pressure that 15-ppm CO[SUB]2(aqueous)[/SUB] will drop to less than 7-ppm.


    • Never fear, there are remedies available, just one thing at a time.

    Should removing the cover not work, I have some other possibilities… ;)


    As Shoggoth43 points out, it should not take long to see significant improvement.

    I have seen this with uncovered tanks with poor air circulation, fans help.
    :cool:


    Biollante

     
  20. Mr_Bubbles

    Mr_Bubbles Prolific Poster

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    Biollante : I'm a bit confused how you know I have no more then 15ppm of co2. I really don't understand a lot of the science behind this stuff, so I apologize if this is something that should be obvious. Also, I very much thank you, and everyone for taking the time to try and help me with my problem. I'm very envious of everyone with these beautiful tanks and hope I too can find the balance that allows me to achieve this.

    Sadly, being in Nova Scotia Canada, anything related to this stuff is quite hard to come by. Plants are extremely hard to get here, I had to order from the west coast, and for 6 plant types, it ran me $85. I've put a lot of money into this hobby (or well, a lot for someone poor like me, haha), and spend a ton of time reading forums and websites about planted tanks, this site seems like the place to be to get great help from people who get results, understand the science behind it, and do testing to find answers (as opposed to just giving advice based off what they've heard or assume).
     
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