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struggling with co2 , need help please .

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by dazedandconfused, Jun 9, 2013.

  1. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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    sorry for a long winded post , but the more info i give the better you can help me hopefully .

    im trying planted for the 1st time . im running a 125 liter tank , with 2x24w t5s on for 6.5 hours, ada aquasoil amazonia and ei dosing . pressurised co2 via fire extinguisher . co2 comes on 2 hours before lights on , gos off i hour before lights out . (both on timers)

    dosing regime is
    macro mix t tsp potassium nitrate,4 tsp potassium phosphate,8 tsp magnesium sulphate , dissolved in 500ml dosing bottle . 25ml 3 times per week
    micro 2ts chelated trace in 500ml dosing bottle 25ml 3 times per week
    each are dosed on alternate days with rest day friday and 50% waterchange and macro dose saturday

    my problem is with co2 . try as i might i just cant get it right . initially i was running an eheim 2213 with up inline atomiser on the outlet and a 1400lph circulation pump . everything started brilliantly . the 1st few weeks i had great plant growth and all was well . ....... then i started to get hair algae problems, melting plants etc . researched a little and all pointed to poor co2 . drop checkers were both yellow , so lots of co2 . figured it must be poor flow/circulation .

    recently changed to a co2 reactor , powered by a 1200lph pump and into the tank via a full length spraybar on the rear wall of the tank . flow is good and strong . problems ive been having with the reactor is 1st the drop checker were barely dark green at lights on . i changed the timers so co2 comes on an hour earlier than before . even injected easilly 4 or 5 bps i am just about getting barely lime green drop checkers .have checked all joints for co2 leaks . plants are just not growing , blyxa has melted . only things doing well are the ludwigia repens and anubias nana .

    really at my wits end and considering ditching pressurised co2 and going low tech instead , although i really dont want to give up .

    please please help a desperate noob
     
    #1 dazedandconfused, Jun 9, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2013
  2. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    Many on this forum think drop checkers are not that reliable, but lime green should be pretty good.

    Are you using aquarium water in your DC? 4 dkh is what is required.

    Turn Co2 up very gradually until fish gasp, then back off a little.

    6.5 hours of light is pretty light, most use 10 hours as a starting point.

    Light seems about right, but how high is light fixture from substrate?

    You say 1200 lph for your reactor, I guess that's about 300 gallons per hour, but is there any head pressure that would reduce the flow?

    Is it a dedicated closed loop for the Co2 or in line with filter?

    Why do you think its Co2?

    Filters clean? You clean filters with non-chlorine water or tank water?

    Do 2x a week water change until you get it resolved.
     
  3. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi,

    Please note that drop checkers can be pretty useless in determining sufficient and stable c02 levels :)

    as an example, they are on a time delay for between 2-4 hours AND they are usually located in one place..

    You may do better using PH and KH as a measuring device as well as the plants and fish/critters...A yellow drop checker means nothing really....sorry. Only that the ph MAY have been approx N value at some time (?) in the past.

    Also note that each tank is different. 4-5 bps is meaningless when talking about the vast # of tube sizes, and c02 configs out there..that may work for another similar size tank, but the contents and setup may be very different.

    Note that surface ripple and 02 is vital when injecting c02. It is a balance between them.

    C02 is the most difficult thing to master in a planted tank. Do not expect to get it right first time every time.

    Make slow adjustments over time and observe closely. Have patience. observe, and experiment. Be careful as fish as very easy to kill with c02.

    Slow and easy does it.

    When the plants are ALL growing, no melting, or NEW algae, you are getting somewhere. Small increases in c02 coupled with 2-3 days of observation in between can be required to adjust c02. Keep any eye of fish for hiding, panting, surface gulping, and loss of coloration for signs of c02 stress. Immediately add surface agitation and/or lower the c02.
     
    #3 Gerryd, Jun 9, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2013
  4. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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    thanks for the replies . gsjmia i am using 4dkh bromo blue in the drop checkers . its a dedicated loop for the co2 . powerhead --> reactor--> spraybar . not sure what you mean by head pressure , do you mean head height ? if so powerhead is in tank , reactor stuck on the outside of tank , same end as powerhead . water isnt being pumped very far . flow strength seems good and strong . pushing so much co2 through the reactor i get a few bubbles in the tank . filter cleaned every 3 weeks using old tank water on water change day

    im think co2 is the problem because from what ive been reading hair algae and melting plants are symptoms of poor co2 . light is in the tank hood , so about 40cm from substrate . id like to extend the lighting period to 8 hours , but fear that with the current issues , more light would equal more problems . or am i wrong there ?

    gerryd , i have a slight surface ripple , but with no splashing . i just use the bubble counter to mainly confirm co2 is coming out of the cylinder , and as a rough guide of how high its is running at .
     
  5. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    I had similar situation couple of years ago and defensively reduced light to 8 hours. Henry told me to set to 10 and I did-didn't seem to help or matter. My problem cleared up when I put in wet/dry sump, which tells me that my cannister filter wasn't doing it or I wasn't cleaning filter often enough.

    If powerhead is in tank and reactor is on outside, then you shouldn't have loss due to head pressure (pumping to a higher height). Spraybar should be under surface so no splash.

    What are you using for reactor?

    Describe PH.

    Double up on your water changes until you get if figured out.
     
  6. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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  7. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    I built a Grigg's reactor http://www.rexgrigg.com/diy-reactor.htm but with clear PVC so I can see what's going on.

    You may want to invest in a decent PH meter.

    Be patient.

    I found this hobby to be not only expensive but really frustrating in the beginning (five years ago). There was no where to get any info or help. Worst part was hearing confusing things like "The plants need to out-compete the algae" and other incorrect mythology.

    Follow this forum and eventually you will get there.
     
  8. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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    i hear what youre saying about the expense , ive spent a fortune already on the planted side ! even though i did quite a lot of reading before taking the plunge , i was however quite unprepared and surprised just how difficult it is to successfully implement co2 injection . determined to nail it though . im certainly open to the idea of getting a ph meter . im guessing this offers a more accurate indication of co2 levels based on the difference between base ph and ph with co2 injected ?
     
    #8 dazedandconfused, Jun 9, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2013
  9. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    More knowledgeable people than me should answer, but as I understand it (and practice) the drop in PH is an educated guess as to what is going on with Co2. I have read and observed that a drop of 1 value in PH is the Co2 ballpark starting place. For example, my tap water is 7.2, so at the beginning of the process I aim for a ph of 6.2.

    Gradually increase the Co2 and observe over a couple of days. If Fish not gasping/distressed/hiding, then repeat the process until they show negative effects. I start to get the distress at around 5.8, but find 5.9 a lot easier to maintain without killing fish and shrimp. Its sad to see them die or float upside down-if it starts, turn off the Co2 and cause some surface turbulence (pump outflow or even wave your hand rapidly) to get the gas out.

    A good meter will be digital and have 2 decimal places. I had a Milwaukee meter for years and then got an Apex controller with a lab grade probe (I wanted data logging). I still have them both operating and I was amazed at how off the Milwaukee is. I think some people have used the pocket digital meters but I don't have any experience with those.
     
  10. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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    im looking at ph meters in ebay at the moment . today i have cranked the co2 up higher , fisj seem ok with it so far . should i leave it and see if there is any improvement , or keep going until the fish start gasping , then back it off ?

    also , should i increase my lights to 8 hours , or leave at 6.5 ?
     
  11. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    As said before, 10 hours is pretty standard. Generally, it is best to change only one thing at a time and then observe result before changing something else.

    But it would seem that in order for you to get going, increase the light gradually to 10 hours (about an hour per week?).

    More light will consume more Co2, so keep gradually increasing Co2.

    Keep doing 2x WC until you get stabilized.
     
  12. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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    will do . thanks . il get it nailed if it kills me :D
     
  13. dan_lup

    dan_lup Prolific Poster

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    hi. i recommend you to run some water tests. Ph and General Hardness are very important. if you have water with a high General Hardness (~18) you will not be able to lower the Ph
     
  14. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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    if that was the case where would that leave me in terms of options?
     
  15. aamir9110

    aamir9110 Lifetime Members
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    High Gh

    Perhaps.
    But if its just Gh, it may have not much to play with Ph, its the alkalinity that matters.
    It is quite possible for natural water to have a very high Gh and yet a lower Kh. ( mix CaSO4/ Ca Cl in water , see what you get). Ph will drop a LOT with CO2.
    In fact you can easily have a very high apparent Kh with a Gh ~ 0 ( add NaOH/ KOH to water) / Water from alkaline soda streams etc.

    Ph will drop regardless as long as there is CO2 reacting with water ( CO2 + H2O >=< H2CO3 ). That makes for a great buffer. In fact the same physiology works in us as well to keep us alive !!! ( no wonder some of us love planted tanks , its in our blood ) :surprise:http://www.chemistry.wustl.edu/~edudev/LabTutorials/Buffer/Buffer.html

    Regards,
    AR

     
    #15 aamir9110, Jun 12, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2013
  16. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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    interesting . correct me if im wrong , but isnt it ph drops that drop checkers react to ? therefore if the liquid in the drop checker gos from blue to yellowish green , then it must mean ph has dropped ?
     
  17. aamir9110

    aamir9110 Lifetime Members
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    Drop checkers

    Indeed. As the concentration of CO2 rises in the water, it slowly eqilibrates with the buffered solution mixed with a colored indicator ( http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/2630-Making-Standard-KH-solutions, The Carbonic acid thus formed is in constant flux 2H2CO3 >=< 2H+ + 2HCO3- , The concentration of H+ cation in Moles/ Lit presented in a logarithmic scale is what we call as pH. Bromothymol blue is just one of the many indicators we can use to then assess the hydrogen ion concentration to change color. In fact there is many other pH indicators, the ones useful to us are the one that respond to a pH range useful to us in a planted tank. http://www.dlt.ncssm.edu/tiger/diagrams/acid-base/pH_RangeForColorChange.gif
     
  18. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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    right , so i can safely say that my ph is in fact being lowered , but guess that it would be helpful to know how much by . maybe get a ph meter and test straigh after waterchange , and progressively , say every hour throughout the day ?
     
  19. dazedandconfused

    dazedandconfused Junior Poster

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    touch wood i think i may be turning a corner . whilst you guys have been helping me out with advice , ( which i greatly appreciate by the way ) , i have been doing extra water changes and gradually increasing co2 injection rate as suggested. yesterday i noticed that my Hydrocotyle leucocephala seemed to have notably perked up . at the same time i noticed that there was a fair bit of algae over the open areas of aquasoil that i hadnt previously noticed . so i did a big waterchange , at the same time syphoning off the top layer of substrate , gave the plants a good trim , made sure the moss was free of debris and inched the co2 up a little bit more .

    this evening every single plant is pearling away like crazy even my echinodorus ozelot is covered . heck the hydrocotyle "japan" that was turning yellow is even throwing out bubbles .

    not going to get all excited and say ive cracked it yet , as there is a little hair algae on some of the java moss, and i have yet to see how the trimmed back plants grow . But hopefully this could be a sign that the extra work is about to be rewarded
     
    #19 dazedandconfused, Jun 14, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2013
  20. Tug

    Tug Lifetime Charter Member
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    :confused: Are these numbers correct? They look off.
     
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