Solenoid or no Solenoid - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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Solenoid or no Solenoid

Hey guys..

How much of a pain is it really to operate your tank effectively with out a Solenoid?

If I understand things right.. leaving Co2 running 24/7 will put too much Co2 in the water not to mention be a waste when the plants are not using it..correct? I assume this is harmful to the environment?

Leaving c02 off (vacation, forgetfullness, etc) - how detrimental is this?

Ultimately, I'll buy the Solenoid if the above two answers are harmful to the tank. With all the money we spend and work we put in..I don't want to mess things up..but if I can save a few bucks..

TIA


you all have been awesome with answering questions so far.. I really appreciate it...as a new Planted guy..
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 03:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bigbites View Post
Hey guys..

How much of a pain is it really to operate your tank effectively with out a Solenoid?

If I understand things right.. leaving Co2 running 24/7 will put too much Co2 in the water not to mention be a waste when the plants are not using it..correct? I assume this is harmful to the environment?

Leaving c02 off (vacation, forgetfullness, etc) - how detrimental is this?

Ultimately, I'll buy the Solenoid if the above two answers are harmful to the tank. With all the money we spend and work we put in..I don't want to mess things up..but if I can save a few bucks..

TIA


you all have been awesome with answering questions so far.. I really appreciate it...as a new Planted guy..
it's not a pain if you can remember to shut off your co2 every day manually. If you leave it on overnight, you could over gas all your fish/shrimps in your tank. f you forget to turn it on then you'll get a tank full of algae. If you leave it running 24/7 you'll run out of co2 a lot quicker. etc. Solenoids aren't even that expensive don't cheap out... you have a pressurized cylinder in your house cheaping out may be a costly mistake.

-Neil
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 03:27 AM Thread Starter
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Did you just tell me not to cheap out???? Im so insulted!!!

LOL.. Im just kidding.. I agree with you.. really I do.. I just wanted to know if it was a hassle with out one.. and I think I already know the answer..
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by neilshieh View Post
it's not a pain if you can remember to shut off your co2 every day manually. If you leave it on overnight, you could over gas all your fish/shrimps in your tank. f you forget to turn it on then you'll get a tank full of algae. If you leave it running 24/7 you'll run out of co2 a lot quicker. etc. Solenoids aren't even that expensive don't cheap out... you have a pressurized cylinder in your house cheaping out may be a costly mistake.
I agree. If you've already put up the money for a pressurized system you may as well spend just a tiny bit more and get a solenoid. They really can help you (especially if you're gone on weekends).

~Kyle
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 03:42 AM
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You could leave it on 24/7 with no ill-effects as long as it's stable and doesn't build to dangerous levels. A lot of problems occur when CO2 is being added at greater the outgassing rate which leads to extremely high concentrations.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 03:46 AM
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Be patient and gather all the parts you need first.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by bigbites View Post
Hey guys..

How much of a pain is it really to operate your tank effectively with out a Solenoid?

If I understand things right.. leaving Co2 running 24/7 will put too much Co2 in the water not to mention be a waste when the plants are not using it..correct? I assume this is harmful to the environment?

Leaving c02 off (vacation, forgetfullness, etc) - how detrimental is this?

Ultimately, I'll buy the Solenoid if the above two answers are harmful to the tank. With all the money we spend and work we put in..I don't want to mess things up..but if I can save a few bucks..

TIA


you all have been awesome with answering questions so far.. I really appreciate it...as a new Planted guy..
Solenoid + timer is about $30. If your tank costs $15 per refill then you get your money back in 4 refills as you will consume CO2 at half the rate.

I have run CO2 overnight a few times and did not notice any big benefit or loss.

Another tip to maintaining high CO2 in planted tanks is to minimize surface agitation and keep the tank covered. I just replaced a waterfall type HOB with a canister and set the return below the surface. Overnight with CO2 off my drop checker stays green and during the day I run at about 2-4 bps for a 200 gall setup.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your advice guys..

I just ordered a Solenoid to go with the sytem I have.. and I will be patient and wait till I have everything before I go live..
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 04:55 AM
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I think everyone should run a ph probe controller connected to your solenoid, then your system is error proof. I wouldn't run it without one. Too many people on these sites talk about killing their fish with c02. I never have to worry since I run a Milwaukee ph controller and it won't allow the ph to drop below the level I set, in my case ph 6.

Plus at a quick glance I know what my PH is at, and if my C02 is working properly etc. If you have over $100 of livestock it's well worth the added expense to keep them safe.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Fiftymeatballs View Post
I think everyone should run a ph probe controller connected to your solenoid, then your system is error proof. I wouldn't run it without one. Too many people on these sites talk about killing their fish with c02. I never have to worry since I run a Milwaukee ph controller and it won't allow the ph to drop below the level I set, in my case ph 6.

Plus at a quick glance I know what my PH is at, and if my C02 is working properly etc. If you have over $100 of livestock it's well worth the added expense to keep them safe.
Not exactly. pH and kH are directly related so this may be somewhat true if you have a low kH, say 2-3 degrees. Once you get up to 5,6, 7 degree range small changes in pH cause large changes in co2 concentration.

Look at this table:



If you're aiming for the standard 30 ppm of co2 and have a kH of 7 your target pH is 6.8. That results in 33.3 ppm of CO2 at that pH and kH. If the pH goes to 6.7 suddenly your CO2 concentration is 41.9 ppm. HUGE difference. That's just a tenth on the pH scale. The electronics we use aren't even that accurate. If your probe is just two tenths off that could be the difference between 33.3 ppm and 52.7 ppm. This is hardly error proof especially once you factor in that the kH of your tap water likely swings a degree or two throughout the year. This is due to snow melt, etc. A degree or two can be a lot if you look at the chart. Too many factors, too many unknowns, which is why using co2 to control pH is something I stay away from.

It's much safer to start at a low co2 level and SLOWLY turn up the needle valve while watching the fish and plants. Then your only real worry is an EOTD, which is easily avoided with a 2 stage reg.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 07:07 PM
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I have a solenoid and a Milwaukee pH controller.

Using my handy dandy Tetra test strips. I believe I have a KH somewhere around 7 or 8 (hard to read the test strip accurately). I run my tank at pH 6.8, which means I have CO2 in the 30's, maybe low 40's according to the chart above. My water is from Lake Michigan and has a pH of 7.4 out of the tap.

I still have BBA and can't figure out why. Obviously more complicated than just running CO2 with a pH controller! I do dry ferts with med/high Finnex lights.

I know "inconsistent" levels of CO2 are one of main causes of BBA. What exactly does "inconsistent" mean and wouldn't a pH controller keep the CO2 consistent? This has frustrated me for quite a while because I am fighting BBA on a daily basis.

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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-08-2014, 07:34 PM
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I don't think Co2 is really being used at half the rate because you shut it off at night. You have to consider that your co2 levels will decline while it's off. Which means when it is on it will have to be at a higher rate in order to rebuild those co2 levels every new day.

I used to run 24/7 at 1 bps in my 20g and that maintained my levels right where I wanted them. When I started using a solenoid it took 3bps to get my levels back up during the lights on period.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-09-2014, 05:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goneRogue View Post
Not exactly. pH and kH are directly related so this may be somewhat true if you have a low kH, say 2-3 degrees. Once you get up to 5,6, 7 degree range small changes in pH cause large changes in co2 concentration.

Look at this table:



If you're aiming for the standard 30 ppm of co2 and have a kH of 7 your target pH is 6.8. That results in 33.3 ppm of CO2 at that pH and kH. If the pH goes to 6.7 suddenly your CO2 concentration is 41.9 ppm. HUGE difference. That's just a tenth on the pH scale. The electronics we use aren't even that accurate. If your probe is just two tenths off that could be the difference between 33.3 ppm and 52.7 ppm. This is hardly error proof especially once you factor in that the kH of your tap water likely swings a degree or two throughout the year. This is due to snow melt, etc. A degree or two can be a lot if you look at the chart. Too many factors, too many unknowns, which is why using co2 to control pH is something I stay away from.

It's much safer to start at a low co2 level and SLOWLY turn up the needle valve while watching the fish and plants. Then your only real worry is an EOTD, which is easily avoided with a 2 stage reg.

Good info, seems I didn't think about it on the higher KH end. I have low KH 0-1 from the tap. I also do not dial my C02 in where my fish are gasping and then pull back a little. I think running C02 that close to maximum is too close for comfort. I like to leave a small gap for error and also room for leaching KH from my hard scape rocks.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-09-2014, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Fiftymeatballs View Post
I think everyone should run a ph probe controller connected to your solenoid, then your system is error proof.
Not entirely true; if your solenoid fails to close, then your pH controller won't be able to stop the flow anyway.

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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 03-09-2014, 12:05 PM
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Why would anyone want to try and do this without a solenoid. Too much opportunity for disaster.

Probe controllers require periodic calibration, cleaning, and replacement to be reliable. IMO, they don't have much use in a planted tank. Wastes CO2 also.

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