07-08-2008, 11:51 AM
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A good indicator of CO2 levels with DIY CO2 is your PH levels. If you have a PH in the range of 6.5-6.8, you are adding the right amount of CO2. If PH goes up, that means that your CO2 levels are getting lower, and vice versa. I would put in a control valve, so that you can turn on/off you CO2 and change the BPM (Bubbles per minute) rate. You should aim at 2-3 Bubbles per Second, or 120 BPM. At night, you should turn off your CO2 because the plants USE oxygen at night when they aren't photosynthesizing. Plus then at night your PH will rise naturally, and in the morning when your lights come on, you can turn you CO2 on, and the PH will slowly fall. You will want to insert a control valve so that you don't over inject CO2, and drop PH too low, and vice versa.
My next tidbit of Info depends on your answer to my next question: Do you have a tight budget, or can you invest some $$ into this tank?
If you can spend some $$, I would invest on a full auto CO2 system. Full Auto means that the system monitors PH levels, and when PH is high, CO2 is turned on. When PH is low, CO2 is turned off and allowed to rise natural. AquariumPlants.com has a great system that I use. This is a little pricy though, but I think it is worth it. If you ever want a bigger tank, this can just be moved over. When your CO2 tank is low, you can take it into a welding shop and they will refill it for you for about 40 $. You only need to refill about ever 8-10 months though. This is the way to go, because the injection system will monitor itself, and you don't have to worry about injecting too much CO2 and dropping the PH too low, and vice versa.
If you plant to stick with DIY, I would definitely find a way to insert some kind of control valve so you can control you BPM. Hope this LONG explanation helps. :)