My first post
Well, my tank has been up and running since April and everything was going great.
Let me give you my rundown:
Eco-Complete substrate (40lbs)
Fluval C-Series C3 (love it)
Heater (generic) set at 80 (not sure why so warmer but has been like that for 7 months)
Nova Extreme Lighting T5HO 10,000k and Freshwater (pink)
DIY Yeast CO2 with chopstick diffuser
local pet shop plants (micro swords, java ferns, dwarf baby tears, corkscrew vallisneria, large leaf duckweed, lemon bacopa)
tag along snails (tiny...never let them get big)
Mostly livebaring paties, neons, tetra, oto cat
When I first started, I didn't have any kind of CO2 dosing except for the Seachem Excel (no replacement for CO2, but I only have a 20gal). I bought the full line of Seachem and was dosing according to their regime (a bit modified as needed). I realized maybe 3 weeks in that I needed CO2 so I have been making my own CO2 via the yeast method. I tried using a pH KH cart, but found it very unreliable so I got a drop checker and made my own standard 4dKH in a chemistry lab I have access to. Over the 6 months, I tried the gelatin yeast method, the baking soda and yeast method, the proofing the yeast first method and all combinations of the a fore mentioned methods, and the very quick "just dump it all in the bottle, shake, and walk away" method. I never really saw one being better than the other. It worked so well that I out-gased my fish because the Aquaclear 50 I had didn't create the surface ripple to keep the O2 up. So I got the Fluval C-Series C3 which corrected the problem. I actually like this filter better than the Aquaclear (and I have been an Aquaclear fan for 20 years)
So now 6 months in, no matter what I do with the yeast, my drop checker remains blue (even with refreshing the 4dKH standard and waiting a few days). So I decided to head back to the forums to see if others had the issue. I found one post (can't remember if it was here or somewhere else) that mentioned the room temperature being an issue. Now I should have put two and two together because yeast is proofed around 107F and rises best in a warm environment, but hey I'm not baking break so I didn't think of it. Sure enough, about a month ago, it started getting cool here at night and the windows have been open to enjoy the nice cool temps. The house temp has been steady (at least in the basement) 68F. Over the summer, my A/C is not that efficient and the house stays round 78F during the day and 73F at night, a nice temp for DIY yeast systems. To combat the cooler temps I tried increasing the yeast (proofed first and alive) to 2 tsp and still just a trickle of bubbles and a blue drop checker. My cat decided to help out with an experiment and kindly donated his electric basket warmer (a constant 102F..like a heating pad that never turns off); low and behold I had a pale green drop checker the next day. I took away the warmer and what a pretty blue the drop checker turned...so the obviously solution is to let my plants CO2 starve until next summer when the house heats back up...ok not really. Now I have to look at a pressurized CO2 that is less than $100 if I intend on having plants through the winter. Oh and did I mention that in that month that the CO2 has been very low, the pH has been 7.4 or so and now I am seeing BBA and some course green hair algae? Wonder why...I know why...low CO2.
Checking the sponsor forums I found the Aquatek mini CO2 regulator w/ solenoid for paintball tanks. So I ordered that from the Aquatek store on ebay ($79) and a 20oz tank. Total cost was right around $100. I can't afford a $160 system and the Aquatek had good reviews on Amazon. I got a 20oz tank for $17 on amazon and found out for $3 I can get it filled locally. Not sure how this will work, but it has to be better than my DIY system which seems like it won't work all winter considering I keep my house at 68F (saves on gas and I can always throw on a blanket).
The moral of my story is: Grandma was right, bread rises better over the oven vent as it is preheating for the bread loaf or aka...DIY yeast systems don't work except when the house is warm.