Question about CO2 system
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Question about CO2 system

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Question about CO2 system
Old 07-31-2011, 10:23 AM   #1
 
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Question about CO2 system


I would like to think about using a cheap CO2 system for my planted tanks, but it's very confusing the pros/cons of a DIY project, or if I should just purchase a cheaper system via amazon.

Any ideas if making one yourself is worth it? I have to find some way to diffuse the CO2 once it's in the tank. Sounds like air stones aren't effective. Is there anyone out there that's done their own system that can offer me advise?

I have 2 tanks, both with plants. One is 25 gal the other is 45 gallons.

Gwen
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:00 PM   #2
 
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Gwen, the first thing to ask yourself, is what you expect from your planted tanks. As you may know, I never recommend adding CO2 because it is not necessary to have healthy plant growth in a fish tank. But, having said that, there are situations where it is needed, for example, some very difficult plants do stand a better chance, or if you want a lush planted tank with plants the priority and fish secondary, or you want to propogate plants faster. Aside from these, I would stay natural.

Adding carbon via CO2 means increasing light to balance, and increasing other nutrients to balance. More of one aspect in this "balance" does not normally increase plant growth without increasing everything else. Unless of course everything else is already higher than a "natural" balance level.

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Old 07-31-2011, 12:47 PM   #3
 
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Gwen, the first thing to ask yourself, is what you expect from your planted tanks. As you may know, I never recommend adding CO2 because it is not necessary to have healthy plant growth in a fish tank. But, having said that, there are situations where it is needed, for example, some very difficult plants do stand a better chance, or if you want a lush planted tank with plants the priority and fish secondary, or you want to propogate plants faster. Aside from these, I would stay natural.

Adding carbon via CO2 means increasing light to balance, and increasing other nutrients to balance. More of one aspect in this "balance" does not normally increase plant growth without increasing everything else. Unless of course everything else is already higher than a "natural" balance level.

Byron.

Okay, thanks Byron, this is the stuff I need to understand better. I'm wanting it more to help lower ph, though if plants grow faster, that's fine too, but I can't change my lighting. My plants do alright with florish comprehensive, but growth in most cases is pretty slow. Some plants do grow faster than others. I'm finding in my smaller tank (23-25 gal) with adding RO water with a ph of 6.3, the ph level is not staying constant. It will be at about 6.8 when I do a WC, adding 10 gal of RO water, but 5-7 days later, it's up around 7.2 I only have 8 Cardinal Tetras in the tank now, but the plan is to add 2 German Rams when I feel I've got things stable and running well. I'm hoping adding CO2 would help with ph. Of course, my worry is will it fluctuate all over the place? I'm doing some reading on this, but it's very confusing, and I feel like a need a biology and chemistry degree to fully understand all there is to know. I'm wanting someone to tell me do this. . and it will all work :)

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Old 07-31-2011, 01:39 PM   #4
 
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Okay, thanks Byron, this is the stuff I need to understand better. I'm wanting it more to help lower ph, though if plants grow faster, that's fine too, but I can't change my lighting. My plants do alright with florish comprehensive, but growth in most cases is pretty slow. Some plants do grow faster than others. I'm finding in my smaller tank (23-25 gal) with adding RO water with a ph of 6.3, the ph level is not staying constant. It will be at about 6.8 when I do a WC, adding 10 gal of RO water, but 5-7 days later, it's up around 7.2 I only have 8 Cardinal Tetras in the tank now, but the plan is to add 2 German Rams when I feel I've got things stable and running well. I'm hoping adding CO2 would help with ph. Of course, my worry is will it fluctuate all over the place? I'm doing some reading on this, but it's very confusing, and I feel like a need a biology and chemistry degree to fully understand all there is to know. I'm wanting someone to tell me do this. . and it will all work :)

Gwen
We should explore the rise in pH. That has to be caused by something. What is the substrate? Any rocks? And what is the initial GH, KH and pH of your tap water [this may be asking again, but it is not in this thread and I need to know this]?

In an established tank, pH should remain constant. The hardness (KH esp) is important, along with other concerns like substrate, wood, fish load, feeding, plants. Let's explore.

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Old 07-31-2011, 06:47 PM   #5
 
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We should explore the rise in pH. That has to be caused by something. What is the substrate? Any rocks? And what is the initial GH, KH and pH of your tap water [this may be asking again, but it is not in this thread and I need to know this]?

In an established tank, pH should remain constant. The hardness (KH esp) is important, along with other concerns like substrate, wood, fish load, feeding, plants. Let's explore.

Byron.

I need to go buy a test kit for KH, because I don't know what it is. Tap water ph is 8.2, but I continue to only add RO water with a Ph of 6.3. Now, what could be the explanation, is last week I did boil and soak for over a day a piece of nice dried out wood I found, and did put in the tank. So, I'm thinking that probably did soak up lots of high ph water, and is going to take awhile now to keep my ph stable. Also, I bought lace rock (I think that is what it's called) at my LFS, and he said that will raise ph, though that's been in the tank for almost one month. I guess if that is what is causing it, than if I continue to do WC with RO water, than I will likely achieve a ph of what the RO water is (6.4ph). My other reason to explore CO2 is because in my other tank which is 43-45 gallons. Though my fish are doing fine in high ph, I figure they would live longer and be happier if I could lower the ph, but don't want to do that by buying and lugging more RO water home, that I use 5 gallon containers to fill and do my WC with in the smaller tank. If it is not good for me to try getting more CO2 in my tank, than I won't, it just doesn't seem that hard to do as a DIY project, with a 2 liter bottle and tubing. Thanks for your help with this. I did contact that person from the water company that came to my "Career Day" but she didn't understand ph or hardness at all. I'm going to go back on my cities water site and see if I can see if they do list KH. I'll post it if I find it. Thanks again!

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Old 07-31-2011, 06:51 PM   #6
 
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Okay, Byron - can't find anything about that. I'll go buy a test kit for KH. If you want to try to understand more about my water, that I may be missing, you can cut/paste this link below to see what it says.

ABCWUA - Water Quality Report 2010 - Zone 3 Data

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Old 07-31-2011, 07:10 PM   #7
 
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Gwen, save your money. The "Alkalinity" and "Bicarbonate" on that water report is the KH. It says it is 103/105 ppm on average, which is about 6 dKH. That is not causing this; I didn't think it would be, since you are diluting the tap with RO, but wanted to check the number just in case.

The lace rock may be the culprit. I have some of what I thought was lace rock in my 70g, I've had it for years, and didn't think it was raising hardness/pH. But then my tap water is so soft, near-zero GH and KH, it would take a lot of rock to be noticeable.

Diffusing CO2 will tend to lower pH, during the day when it is on, but at night it is not. CO2 doesn't seem to lower pH drastically, from what I've read. I would stay with the diluting tap water. Add some more wood, dried leaves. Might want to consider removing the lace rock and see if that helps.

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Old 07-31-2011, 07:26 PM   #8
 
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Thanks Byron. Wouldn't the lace rock eventually not effect the ph though? I bought that because the petstore has it in their tank with their German Rams and I thought it looked great. I only learned after I put it in, that it can effect ph. I hate to remove it - I have java moss attached and it's part of my various hiding places. I'll continue with the water changes with the low ph water, and if it still makes my ph raise after a few days, then I'll take it out. Adding leaves is an interesting idea - don't they have to be dried? I could pick leaves and dry them out. Come fall, they'd already be dried :)

The fish store guy said that it can sometimes take a "long time" to get ph down by only adding RO water. With all the WC I've done so far, it would be hard to believe there is any tap water left in that tank, but I guess it all sort of makes sense why it would take time. I'll continue to wait until I know ph will stay stable before I buy my German Rams, but the Cardinal Tetras are all doing fine. I really appreciate your expertise!

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Old 07-31-2011, 07:34 PM   #9
 
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Oops, sorry Byron, you did say "dried" leaves. Missed that during the first read. Thanks!

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Old 07-31-2011, 07:40 PM   #10
 
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Thanks Byron. Wouldn't the lace rock eventually not effect the ph though? I bought that because the petstore has it in their tank with their German Rams and I thought it looked great. I only learned after I put it in, that it can effect ph. I hate to remove it - I have java moss attached and it's part of my various hiding places. I'll continue with the water changes with the low ph water, and if it still makes my ph raise after a few days, then I'll take it out. Adding leaves is an interesting idea - don't they have to be dried? I could pick leaves and dry them out. Come fall, they'd already be dried :)

The fish store guy said that it can sometimes take a "long time" to get ph down by only adding RO water. With all the WC I've done so far, it would be hard to believe there is any tap water left in that tank, but I guess it all sort of makes sense why it would take time. I'll continue to wait until I know ph will stay stable before I buy my German Rams, but the Cardinal Tetras are all doing fine. I really appreciate your expertise!

Gwen
If the lace rock is calcareous, then it will continue to add mineral to the water (raising hardness and corresponding pH) basically until it is completely dissolved. This is why I like dolomite in the filter for tanks that need harder water, it lasts years. It is slow unless the quantity is very high.

The pH will lower but only when the water is soft and obviously nothing in the tank is adding mineral which is counter-productive.

Leaves have to be completely dry. Oak leaves, beech leaves work if you have any trees nearby. I collect them in the autumn after they fall, then spread them out to thoroughly dry. You can also buy almond leaves in some fish stores; no idea on cost. Again, all of these will soften the water and acidify it, but any counter-agent will work opposite.

From what you've said of water replacement, it seems to me that the rock is the culprit. Would be worth removing it just to see, after a couple weeks. Add some bogwood in its place, the Malaysian driftwood i am seeing in Petsmart and other stores now is ideal, it is heavy and sinks immediately, is not bad for tannins, and looks very realistic--which it should, it is bogwood after all.. Rams and cardinals love wood.
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