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One drop checker is good, but two are better. (or, wet killed a bunch of fish.)

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by Wet, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. Wet

    Wet Lifetime Members
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    So I killed a bunch of fish earlier after moving my CO2 injection point to right after my Mag pump. I am pissed with myself for this. So I decided to finally do something I've been thinking of doing for a while: find out (almost) exactly how much CO2 is in my tank.

    Now, the problem with regular drop checkers is it's hard to know what "green" means. Our human eyes and, well, nerds in general, have difficulty differentiating such minute color shades as available on low range B. blue-based pH charts. For example, this is a regular drop checker with 4dKH.

    [​IMG]

    If it is perfectly green, I have 30ppm CO2. But I am human and a nerd and my eyes suck. If my eyes can only tell shades of green +/- 0.2 degrees pH, it only says I have between 18.9 and 47.5ppm CO2.

    Pretty crappy, right?

    So, here's a second drop checker at 9dKH. It is green, so it says I have between 42.9 and 107.8ppm CO2.

    [​IMG]

    I use both of them together, and both are green, so now I know I have between 42.9 and 47.5 ppm CO2.

    The calculator:
    http://wet.biggiantnerds.com/drop_calc.pl

    Suggestions and thoughts appreciated.
     
  2. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Sorry For Your Loss

    Hi,

    Alternatively, you could stop being a cheapskate and hire someone or a lab to test your water. Perhaps in a variety of places and find out rather definitively what is going on? Essentially provide calibration for your drop-checker. :gw

    I do like the technique; I might suggest a-half-dozen to a dozen drop checkers, for a while anyway, not against the glass. :)

    Down and dirty though it ain’t pretty. I use cheap 125 mm X 15 mm rimless test tubes, fill the test tubes 1/3 to half full in pairs with your KH solutions and Bromothymol blue, I use a nine drops of B. blue, easier for me to see. With a length 9⁄16-inch tubing, situated to allow the open end of the tubing to reach the point of interest in the aquarium. ;)

    Attach the test tube to the outside of the tank place the tube carefully, obviously keeping water out of the tubing, into the point you wish to measure. I recommend almost anywhere except against the glass.

    I found it interesting to look at front corners forward, high and low. A couple pair high and low in the middle of your plants.

    Have fun. :cool:

    Might even figure out where the CO2 is actually going. :eek:

    Biollante
     
  3. Gbark

    Gbark Guru Class Expert

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    I keep an eye on my ph, as the ph decreases there is more co2, and vice versa.
    Even though i don't use a ph controller, if you had one set up you could set it stop the co2 at say 6.1pH and therefore not kill anymore fish.

    I too lost a fish :( when i first started to set my co2 up, reason why i now have a ph monitor.
     
  4. Wet

    Wet Lifetime Members
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    I really hope some of you try this idea and let us know how it goes. I updated the pics earlier today to take advantage of light, and noticed the 9dKH sample may be closer to blue at that point in the day, which is still cool because I have the 4dKH sample for another range. But +/- 2.5ppm might be too close for a photoperiod -- also neat to see happen. (I think we all knew this already, but the range may be relevant for the effectiveness of this tool.) I'm adjusting down now.

    Biollante,

    The test tube and adjustable measuring spots idea is great. With a sweet test tube holder that makes a tank on those days look like... well, something cool, too :) The future?

    In terms of cheapness, well, I think that's what is exciting about this idea. Low cost (initial and long term), smaller ballpark for CO2 levels.

    I did lose many fish I care about and thought of as pets. But I don't think this idea or really any other would have saved them vs me knowing better and not making some CO2 adjustment without properly taking time to watch the fish and make sure everything is still okay. No tool makes up for not being dumb. I was dumb. :)

    Gbark,

    Thanks. I think pH control and better measurement (speed, accuracy v drop checkers) is going to be a requirement for me when going to my first big tank. Vs cost I've lost more than the cost of a monitor with bonehead CO2 things. Your idea and that saftey limit is smart. Maybe it's time I do it for my current tank.
     
    #4 Wet, Mar 13, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2010
  5. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    A Word Of Caution

    Hi,

    Just wish to put in a word of caution about pH monitors, the hobbyist grades are really not to be trusted, I am not sure I would trust the technical or lab grade monitors either. :(

    Setting limits on how large a change in pH you will allow yourself to make is in my ever-humble potted-plant opinion, the best way to avoid these tragedies. I have been impatient and killed fish in my time, I think of all the critters in my care as deserving of my best attention and a healthy environment. :gw

    The big bucks solution are mass-flow controllers, they are expensive. :eek:

    Biollante
     
  6. Gbark

    Gbark Guru Class Expert

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    I agree that like all electrical equipment they need looking after, i use many different types of lab and technical grade pH probes, ranging from hand held to permently fixed fed back to DCS systems. they all wonder over time. ( in work not aquarium)

    The key is to keep the ph probe calibrated, this can be done by using buffers.

    I use a lab grade ph probe for my aquarium and it works fine, but i do use it only as a monitor not a control.
     
  7. barbarossa4122

    barbarossa4122 Guru Class Expert

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    Hi Wet,

    Maybe this is a stupid Q but, if I have a good co2 system (needle valve, regulator and so on ) I will be able to keep a constant and desire supply of co2 right ? How can I kill the fish ?
     
  8. Wet

    Wet Lifetime Members
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    Hey, barbarossa4122!

    CO2 is a complicated subject, but the short of it is your equipment doesn't guarantee anything in regards to your ability to maintain a given target for CO2. The very nice equipment folks have helped with will prevent many things, though: your nice regulator and needle valve will avoid end-of-tank dumps -- a situation where an enormous amount of CO2 enters the aquarium in a very short amount of time -- and the mass casualties often associated with them. Your nice valve should also make it easier to adjust CO2 in small increments, and if you're getting a Vernier, too, will allow you to revert to old settings should you decide to experiment. *And, of course, when you don't buy cheap you don't buy twice.*

    However, these tools will only make it more efficient for you to control the input of CO2 into the aquarium and make your life easier. To effectively maintain stable dissolved CO2 throughout the tank there's also variables of quality of diffusor(s), flow/current through the tank and its plants, and surface agitation to consider in the design of the whole (not just input) of the system.

    In terms of avoiding fatalities in our animals, I am convinced there is no more effective solution than taking it sloooooow and gradually increase CO2 input over a number of days while watching the animals. Tools such as this drop checker calculator, like your nice equipment, make these adjustments easier to track and avoid tank wipeouts, but they're no replacement for good practice, a watchful eye, and time.

    We (or equipment failure) can kill fish by cranking CO2 too high, too fast, or by getting so concerned about maintaining CO2 we don't allow proper O2 exchange with the atmosphere.

    HTH and sorry for the length, but CO2 is trickier and higher risk than anything else we do for our plants. Questions about it are not stupid :)
     
    #8 Wet, Oct 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2010
  9. barbarossa4122

    barbarossa4122 Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks a lot Wet. I'll be using pressurized co2 for the first time very very soon. I think I spent many many hrs in the last week or so reading about it. Lol, I have a new 10g tank, my wife's, for a total of three tanks. This is like a full time job but, lucky me............I have plenty of time.
     
  10. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you know what signs to look for, I doubt you'll have a problem with gassing your fish. I use one drop checker with 4dkh (just recently started using it).

    Just remember that it takes a few (couple to a few) hours for the CO2 levels to register in a drop checker. The first day you inject CO2, stay home and watch your tank every hour or so.

    Signs of discomfort are: fish gasping at the surface of the tank for air, shrimp passing out, etc.

    I've never killed a fish from injecting CO2.

    The other thing that is important is to figure out a general ballpark of how many bps you should start out with for your size tank. although this isn't an accurate way of dosing, it acts as a starting point...

    If you overdsose CO2, shut it off, do a couple water changes (>50%), and increase current.

    for instace, I started my 20 gallon long at 1 bps and worked it up to 3 bps before the plants started pearling and streaming.

    Don't rush adjustments, stay around during the adjustment phase.

    Do not inject co2 prior to adding fish.If you are going to add fish that day, inject co2 after the fih have acclimated.
    check the tank after a few hours.
    check the tank at the end of the photoperiod to make sure the fish are okay, ect.

    I think GLA sells a double drop checker, too.

    To fix an overdose:

    do several 50% water changes (2 or more)
    increase current in tank
    shut off your co2
     
    #10 Matt F., Oct 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2010
  11. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you overdose, anything you can do to increase surface agitation will help, spray bar or powerhead aimed at the surface. If you have a tight fitting cover, remove it temporarily so you don't have a high CO2 concentration sitting on top of the tank water. You should be able to remove any excess CO2 within a half hour or so without needing the water change which might cause more stress to the fish and will likely include a new dose of CO2 as many people get a pretty good amount of CO2 enrichment during a water change.

    It goes without saying that it would be best all around to avoid this problem in the first place.

    -
    S
     
  12. barbarossa4122

    barbarossa4122 Guru Class Expert

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    Hi Matt and thanks for the advice,

    I would like to know a little more:

    How long it took you to work your way up to 3bps ?

    Before I'll start dosing co2 (about 10 days) I'll make sure I will ask more Qs. Lol, wife will kill me if I gas the fish. I finally convinced her that co2 is the way to go and I promised that the fish and rcs will be OK. I'll probably have to be extra careful with the 10g.
    ( I have a 55, a 30 breeder and the 10)
     
  13. barbarossa4122

    barbarossa4122 Guru Class Expert

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    Hi shoggoth43,

    Thank you for the advice

    I have plenty of flow in case I need it.
    55g : one xp3, one AC70, two Koralia Evolution 750gph and two 12" air stones.
    30g : one xp2, one AC70, one Koralia #1, one Koralia Nano 425gph and one 12" air stone.
    10g : one AC30, one Whisper ex45 and one Koralia Nano 240gph.

    Lol, the plants are moving and the fish seem to like it. I was thinking/wishing of getting an xp4 for the 55g and switch the canisters around (xp3 to the 30g and xp2 to the 10g). Btw, I love the Rena canisters.

    I forgot to mention........all tanks are uncovered.
     
    #13 barbarossa4122, Oct 29, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2010
  14. darkoon

    darkoon Prolific Poster

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    barbarossa4122, flow does not equal to surface agitaion. especially in planted tank, if you see a film built up on the surface, you don't have enough surface agitation.
     
  15. barbarossa4122

    barbarossa4122 Guru Class Expert

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    Hi darkoon,

    Thanks for the advice.

    No surface film whatsoever in my tanks right now.
     
  16. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Not to disagree with you at all, but I have near gassed my cardinal school when I first introduced them to my 55 Long, 80% of the 35 fish turned belly up.

    I stupidly injected CO2 the day I introduced them in my tank...the CO2 wasn't up all that high, but the fish weren't used to it.

    The only thing that saved them was major water changes to reduce the level of CO2 in the water. I don't thin kthe CO2 levels in tap water can outmatch those of injection. The agitation and current produced by major water changes are the only thing that saved my fish in that emergency situation.

    I didn't lose one although 80% passed out from initial lack of O2.

    Just something to think about. I've never lost a fish from a major water change.

    In an emergency, I'd say do the major >50% water change. Experientially, it saved my whole lot of cardinals. It gave them enough O2 to survive their stressful ordeal.

    Food for though.
     
  17. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    There is no conclusive evidence as to what causes surface film. I have two Eheim Pro 2s pumping full blast with spray bars across the surface of my tank, and I still get a bit of surface scum from time to time.

    Some people say it's protein build up, others ferts, still others a lack of circulation and surface agitation. Some people even claim that the surface scum prevents O2/CO2 outgassing and light transmission.

    Right now I have suface build up everywhere except where my spraybar isn't shooting at the surface (ripples with surface scum...how can that be?)...
     
  18. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Just to give some evidence to back up my claims...

    Here is my outflow configuration (to maximize sruface agitation w/o outgassing too much CO2):

    [​IMG]

    See the presence of surface scum despite good surface agitation?
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #18 Matt F., Oct 29, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2010
  19. evandro.carrenho

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    Drop checker discussions in the context of this forum are not only meaningless but also contradictory. I have heard thousands of times that testing is misleading (at least the hobby grade ones) and CO2 is the hardest element to assess, so what would be the value of a drop checker?
     
  20. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    A drop checker will get you in the ballpark if used correctly. Without one (or another semi-accurate measure of CO2) you're shooting in the dark. You could be injecting air for all you know.

    Sure, you could use the plants as a guide, algae, and fish/shrimp behavior as gauges, but to help you get into that sweet spot a drop checker does help, imo.
     
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