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Transition from Excel to CO2 -- It's a Gas Gas Gas!

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by Christophe, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Hey all, thanks for the terrific source of information and discussion -- I hadn't yet posted any questions yet in my months of reading this site, simply because the answers are mostly already out there!

    I'm going to make the transition from daily Excel to injected CO2 for my 40 breeder (actually 37 gal, it's a bit narrower than a proper 40b) -- my system will arrive in the next week or so. My aim initially is to run light-limited (my lights are a claimed PAR 30umol at substrate), with the possibility of adding a second of the same light later on. The scape is loosely inspired by Tom's "Woodagumi" tank. I didn't attempt to rigorously follow the Iwagumi pattern, between the wood I could get, and other space and layout considerations. I've planted staurogyne repens, eleocharis acicularis, a bit of lobelia cardinalis, and some Java Fern on the wood.

    I'll be using a Grigg reactor on the return from my cansiter, a Fluval 306. Strap a Hydor 200W inline heater on the return side of the reactor, and the set up in the tank will be pretty clean.

    I anticipate that I'll have to change my dosing regimen somewhat due to increased uptake of nutrients, just not sure by how much. I test NO3 and PO4 a couple times a week anyway just to keep tabs on it.

    Specific Questions:
    Magnesium -- Since GH doesn't seem to change in the tank from one test to another, I assume that Mg levels are holding up sufficiently from the 8ppm I put in during my weekly water changes. Do plants metabolize Mg in a way such that more supplementation is required, even though the GH value appears to hold steady? Can I expect to see more Mg consumed and GH fall off, due to improved CO2 availability?

    Phasing in the CO2 -- I'll have a drop checker in place, but I understand that might take 2-3hrs to respond to CO2. I hope to get CO2 up and running over the holdiays, when I have a block of several days that I can be around watching it. The tank is populated with rummies, cories, otos, Amano shrimp, and a pair of rams, so I'll be keenly interested in keeping everyone alive. At what bubble rate should I start off? My water volume is about 32 gallons, adjusting for substrate/wood/plastic castles/pirate ships/etc.

    Wow, thanks for reading all that!
     
  2. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Doing a bit of pre-assembly before the CO2 rig arrives. Here's my Grigg reactor and heater setup.

    [attachment=1643:name]

    IMG_8084.jpg
     
  3. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think 8ppm a week of Mg is plenty.........no worries there if that's your tap water.

    I'd say use the pH/KH target of 30-40 CO2 ppm initially and then see how fish respond.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think 8ppm a week of Mg is plenty.........no worries there if that's your tap water.

    I'd say use the pH/KH target of 30-40 CO2 ppm initially and then see how fish respond.
     
  5. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Hacked in the CO2 system yesterday, drop checker is a jolly lime green now. So far, everybody seems to be looking good.

    Here's a pic for growth reference, taken right after introducing CO2.

    IMG_8182.jpg
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Add more plants if possible.
    I'd do 2-3x a week water changes for the 1st -2 months.
    Dose after water change only.

    Do not assume the CO2 is correct based on a drop checker.
    Your plants are low demanding plants, so you likely will do well, but it'll take sometime before they fill in, so you will need to do more work till that point, after that, it'll be an easy to care for tank.
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Add more plants if possible.
    I'd do 2-3x a week water changes for the 1st -2 months.
    Dose after water change only.

    Do not assume the CO2 is correct based on a drop checker.
    Your plants are low demanding plants, so you likely will do well, but it'll take sometime before they fill in, so you will need to do more work till that point, after that, it'll be an easy to care for tank.
     
  8. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    I did buy up all the staurogyne and eleocharis I could get my hands on a few weeks ago. The pic is a bit deceiving as this is a peninsula tank. The other side is more heavily planted, the wood is hiding a lot. That said, I’ll buy up some more plants today if they’re available.

    Why the short-term increase in water changes? Is it just a general beneficial move to kick-start growth in the new plants?

    I’ve been testing pH along with the drop checker. It’s come down from 7.2 to 6.4, my KH in the tank is 2dKH, using API test kits.

    The CO2 has made a big consumption difference already. Just two days in, it’s eaten nearly all of the 10ppm nitrate that was there after the last water change, also phosphate has gone from 2ppm to maybe 0.5.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I did buy up all the staurogyne and eleocharis I could get my hands on a few weeks ago. The pic is a bit deceiving as this is a peninsula tank. The other side is more heavily planted, the wood is hiding a lot. That said, I’ll buy up some more plants today if they’re available.

    Why the short-term increase in water changes? Is it just a general beneficial move to kick-start growth in the new plants?

    I’ve been testing pH along with the drop checker. It’s come down from 7.2 to 6.4, my KH in the tank is 2dKH, using API test kits.

    The CO2 has made a big consumption difference already. Just two days in, it’s eaten nearly all of the 10ppm nitrate that was there after the last water change, also phosphate has gone from 2ppm to maybe 0.5.
     
  9. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    OK, I filled in a bit more hair grass and staurogyne, plus trimmed some and replanted what clippings I could use. Things are holding up really well, I'm seeing some visible growth in just a few days!
    [attachment=1649:name]
    Here's two sides of this peninsula tank.

    IMG_8205.jpg

    IMG_8207.jpg
     
  10. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Transition from Excel to CO2 -- It's a Gas Gas Gas!Reply to Thread
    Reply to Thread
    Post a reply to the thread: Transition from Excel to CO2 -- It's a Gas Gas Gas!
    Preview
    Time for an update!

    I’ve been doing twice-a-week water changes which I’ll continue for a few more weeks. Over the course of the changes, KH in the tank has come up from 2dKH to 3, the same as the water I’ve been putting in. It seems that without CO2, the plants were consuming some of the carbonate, now they don’t need to.

    Staurogyne and Lobelia are filling in well. The dwarf hair grass is melting back from the dense clumps I originally planted. Were the plugs too big, too dense for my low-to-mid light situation? Seems like it’s staying alive and spreading once it melts back to a lower density so far.

    I got the CO2 level to about 40ppm but under a noticeable surface film layer. pH was only swinging from 6.4 to 6.6 from day to night. Surface ripple is pretty good, but not enough to break up the film. I pulled a water sample out & offgassed it for 24 hours, pH was 7.6, so it seems I could do with better gas exchange for oxygenation.

    I added a Tom’s Surface Skimmer just yesterday. Works like a champ pH swing day-to-night is now 6.6 to 7.2. Now I need to jack the CO2 some more to get the pH back down to 6.4!
    [attachment=1661:name]
    [attachment=1662:name]

    - - - Updated - - -

    Transition from Excel to CO2 -- It's a Gas Gas Gas!Reply to Thread
    Reply to Thread
    Post a reply to the thread: Transition from Excel to CO2 -- It's a Gas Gas Gas!
    Preview
    Time for an update!

    I’ve been doing twice-a-week water changes which I’ll continue for a few more weeks. Over the course of the changes, KH in the tank has come up from 2dKH to 3, the same as the water I’ve been putting in. It seems that without CO2, the plants were consuming some of the carbonate, now they don’t need to.

    Staurogyne and Lobelia are filling in well. The dwarf hair grass is melting back from the dense clumps I originally planted. Were the plugs too big, too dense for my low-to-mid light situation? Seems like it’s staying alive and spreading once it melts back to a lower density so far.

    I got the CO2 level to about 40ppm but under a noticeable surface film layer. pH was only swinging from 6.4 to 6.6 from day to night. Surface ripple is pretty good, but not enough to break up the film. I pulled a water sample out & offgassed it for 24 hours, pH was 7.6, so it seems I could do with better gas exchange for oxygenation.

    I added a Tom’s Surface Skimmer just yesterday. Works like a champ pH swing day-to-night is now 6.6 to 7.2. Now I need to jack the CO2 some more to get the pH back down to 6.4!
    [attachment=1661:name]
    [attachment=1662:name]

    IMG_8257.jpg

    IMG_8261.jpg
     
  11. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Update after another couple of weeks -- There's a very noticeable difference in how things are growing after adding the surface skimmer. I've had to bump the CO2 to keep pace, but no big deal. DHG continues to lag a bit in growth. It's down to either slower circulation in the areas where I put it, or it needs more/better light distribution. As low as my light is, changes take a while to show up, but the absence of algae is worth it. I'll give the DHG another month to fill in, replace it with more stauro if it's not working out -- that's all coming in very well.
     
  12. Christophe

    Christophe Subscriber
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    Here’s my last update for this thread, I consider the process of transitioning to CO2 pretty much complete at this point. Hope you find this useful if you’re considering making the leap to CO2.

    I’ve not done much adjustment of CO2 since adding the surface skimmer, just verify that my pH reduction holds at about 1.2 lower than what it is when fully degassed.

    Everything else has just been a matter of moving some plants around to where they make more sense. As the stauro ground cover has filled in, I’ve added a few stems of cabomba to fill in some space on the side opposite the big wood chunk. The wood was spotting up with GSA with as much light as the higher reaches get, so I added some moss there, the bands will come off in a couple of weeks.

    I’ll trim the stauro and replant the cuttings in the next week or so — I’ve not been impressed with how hairgrass has done in my particular circumstance. It grows and spreads, but bits of it uproot at a rate that pretty much offsets the growth. Stauro doesn’t have that problem, and seems to grow better in my conditions.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Upshots
    Ferts are the easy part. Just make sure that they are present. Focus on your CO2!

    CO2 at 30-40ppm has been about right. The fish don’t seem stressed and never have through the process of starting the gas. I spent about 4-5 days dialing it in when I first set it up. I see very little algae, just a touch of GSA here & there.

    The surface skimmer has been a big addition to my setup, since I use a canister filter. The surface film I had is gone. The improved gas exchange has been very important to oxygenation. CO2 level has probably been more stable as well - since I don’t have the surface film, the gas just has to be turned up enough to maintain 30-40 ppm. That level isn’t a problem for the fish when oxygenation is good enough.

    All of this with pretty low light. I will consider increasing the light, but for now, I don’t see any reason to. Things just happen a bit more slowly.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Here’s my last update for this thread, I consider the process of transitioning to CO2 pretty much complete at this point. Hope you find this useful if you’re considering making the leap to CO2.

    I’ve not done much adjustment of CO2 since adding the surface skimmer, just verify that my pH reduction holds at about 1.2 lower than what it is when fully degassed.

    Everything else has just been a matter of moving some plants around to where they make more sense. As the stauro ground cover has filled in, I’ve added a few stems of cabomba to fill in some space on the side opposite the big wood chunk. The wood was spotting up with GSA with as much light as the higher reaches get, so I added some moss there, the bands will come off in a couple of weeks.

    I’ll trim the stauro and replant the cuttings in the next week or so — I’ve not been impressed with how hairgrass has done in my particular circumstance. It grows and spreads, but bits of it uproot at a rate that pretty much offsets the growth. Stauro doesn’t have that problem, and seems to grow better in my conditions.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Upshots
    Ferts are the easy part. Just make sure that they are present. Focus on your CO2!

    CO2 at 30-40ppm has been about right. The fish don’t seem stressed and never have through the process of starting the gas. I spent about 4-5 days dialing it in when I first set it up. I see very little algae, just a touch of GSA here & there.

    The surface skimmer has been a big addition to my setup, since I use a canister filter. The surface film I had is gone. The improved gas exchange has been very important to oxygenation. CO2 level has probably been more stable as well - since I don’t have the surface film, the gas just has to be turned up enough to maintain 30-40 ppm. That level isn’t a problem for the fish when oxygenation is good enough.

    All of this with pretty low light. I will consider increasing the light, but for now, I don’t see any reason to. Things just happen a bit more slowly.
     
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