I apologize if you saw the "I'm writing, be patient..." message here, but I accidentally submitted a partial post, then put up the in-progress message, then fell asleep before I'd finished writing the whole message. LOL. So sorry about that.
OK, so I got the everything but the needle valve (with check valve) and reactor in earlier last week. Then the reactor and needle valve (with check valve and tubing) were supposed to come it at the end of the week. Friday, nothing came for me in the mail so I called the retailer I bought the reactor from to find out the status of my reactor and it turns out they lost my order!!! I was furious because I'd been counting on that coming in around the same time as the needle valve! So here I was high and dry on Saturday with everything but the last three pieces when all of a sudden, my needle valve, check valve, and tubing came in (thank you, Rex Grigg!!!).
I was SO excited because then, I could hook everything up but the reactor!
But the problem was that the nipple on my beveragefactory.com regulator was fairly large (like 1/4" or something--just a guess) while the tubing was all about 1/8". So today (Saturday) I decided to make the trip to Lowe's and try to adapt the regulator. After spending a very long time in the Lowe's plumbing department looking at all the different fittings and connectors they had, I wound up with the right bushings/adapters, valves, and nipples so that I could remove the ball valve and large nipple on the regulator, replace it with a new ball valve, then wind up with a tiny 1/8" nipple on the end. JUST what I wanted to do! Then I got a connector that essentially put a male nipple on the female connector on the oxygen humidifier I'm using as a DIY bubble counter. I also bought a pump, trash can, and extension cord so I could experiment with using some RO water for water changes.
I got home and started connecting everything together (using paste-like Teflon pipe dope) and was really happy with the way everything went and looked. UNTIL I [like an idiot] left the CO2 tank standing up on my carpet, went in another room, and heard it fall.
Turns out it fell on the high-pressure gauge and pretty much broke it (it bent it and now the needle's WAY off).
Fortunately, I don't think this gauge is that big of a loss and I can surely replace it before the tank starts nearing empty. Speaking of which, what good does the high-pressure gauge do you if the tank pressure only drops when the tank is essentially empty (or is this not the case?)? If I understood more about how I'll know the tank is getting low, that'd be nice.
So anyway, I hooked everything up (including the DIY bubble counter) and things seemed to work just fine! So I decided to get a head start on the whole injection thing and try to use the Emperor 400 as a reactor until I get the Plant Guild reactor. I used a rubber band to hold the tubing at just the right position near the filter intake so it'd suck the bubbles into the filter and sure enough, a few hours after I started the 1 bubble/1.5 second flow rate, the pH had dropped from ~8.8 to more like 8.3! I have since increased the flow to ~1 bubble/second and the pH is at about 7.7.
Interestingly enough, the KH has also seemed to have fallen from 23 dKH to 19 dKH. Perhaps this is wrong since I read that KH doesn't change with the addition of CO2, but I repeated the test and sure enough it's at 19 dKH right now. :?
Since the CO2 calculator says that a pH of 7.7 and a KH of 19 dKH gives a CO2 level of 11.37, I've increased the CO2 flow rate even more to about 2 bubbles/second. I'll watch the water parameters over the next few hours to see what this does. Meanwhile, the fish appear to be doing just fine. Hopefully, here in the next day or so, I'll be able to see some improvement from the few free plants that GulfCoastAquarium sent me. They're looking a little sick right now. lol
OH, and when that reactor gets here on Tuesday, it's going to be REALLY interesting to see what I have to do to the flow rate to maintain the same water parameters. I imagine I'll be able to reduce it quite a bit and still keep the same CO2 levels. 8)