The Importance of CO2 in a Planted Tank
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:43 AM   #1
puopg
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The Importance of CO2 in a Planted Tank


Hey Planted Tankers,

So I thought I would start a thread concerning the significance of CO2 in a planted tank and my experience thus far as I am relatively new to this hobby.

When I first began my planted tank, i decided to dose Flourish and Flourish Excel, a fertilizer and a bio-available source of CO2. My plants did grow a bit better but it was still a very slow growth. I decided that I wanted to use real CO2 via a DIY method. I argued that although it may be less effective than a more elaborate CO2 setup, for now it was a cheaper alternative to introducing actual CO2. It cost me ~$30 for a few months supply of CO2 this way and in just a few days, already i can tell my plants are significantly better. I notice the color is stronger, the roots are growing insanely fast, the overall growth rate has increased, and my favorite was the pearling on some plants that I never had seen with Excel.

I feel that everyone who runs a planted tank and who is contemplating to run CO2 or not should think about investing ~$25 into a tube and nano diffuser of some sort and then $5 for the sugar and yeast. Real CO2 is far superior to organic Carbon imo. And DIY is cheap so if you don't like it, you can always just jettison that stuff.
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:26 AM   #2
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Don't get all too happy with your yeast activated CO2 yet. If you have a chance, go order a CO2 drop checker and to measure the actual CO2 level in your tank. The recommend level is 35ppm with the drop checker color in light or yellowish green. People with medium to high light tanks would need more than 35ppm of CO2. You may be surprised that you may not have enough CO2 level in your tank. When algae kicks in for some reason, you would realize that you can't further increase your CO2 level without adding another bottle of yeast. Often times, increasing your CO2 level is the best way to combat algae, especially with BBA. Or you can also reduce your lighting. Well, $30 for few months? It only costs me $18 to refill my 10lb CO2 tank which can last me 3 months. For some, it can last as long as 6 months if they don't inject a lot of CO2 like I do. If you look at it this way, your DIY CO2 is no longer cost effective.
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:45 AM   #3
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Devil's advocate: C02 is a useful tool for a lot of specific applications but much of what it can achieve can be done over a longer period, less expensively in a lower-tech setup. Rampant growth can be exciting, but it can also be a monumental PITA with the additional pruning and fertilizing needed.


If you decide c02 is necessary for what you want to achieve, I'd advocate for going pressurized from the start. Easier and simpler to start with the finished product than go thru multiple periods of adjusting and re-learning what works with DIY only to do it all over again with pressurized.
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tetra73 View Post
Don't get all too happy with your yeast activated CO2 yet. If you have a chance, go order a CO2 drop checker and to measure the actual CO2 level in your tank. The recommend level is 35ppm with the drop checker color in light or yellowish green. People with medium to high light tanks would need more than 35ppm of CO2. You may be surprised that you may not have enough CO2 level in your tank. When algae kicks in for some reason, you would realize that you can't further increase your CO2 level without adding another bottle of yeast. Often times, increasing your CO2 level is the best way to combat algae, especially with BBA. Or you can also reduce your lighting. Well, $30 for few months? It only costs me $18 to refill my 10lb CO2 tank which can last me 3 months. For some, it can last as long as 6 months if they don't inject a lot of CO2 like I do. If you look at it this way, your DIY CO2 is no longer cost effective.
He spent 5 on sugar and yeast, not 30. While pressurized is supposedly the best, I see nothing wrong with him just trying out co2 by going DIY first. Either way is better than just dosing excel.
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:33 AM   #5
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He spent 5 on sugar and yeast, not 30. While pressurized is supposedly the best, I see nothing wrong with him just trying out co2 by going DIY first. Either way is better than just dosing excel.

Read it again, he said $30 for few months.
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Read it again, he said $30 for few months.
He spent $25 on a tube(?) and diffuser and 5 on the sugar and yeast.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:09 AM   #7
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He spent $25 on a tube(?) and diffuser and 5 on the sugar and yeast.

Oops, you are right. However, that $5 sugar/yeast CO2 won't last for few months. Couple of weeks top, assuming we are talking about just one bottle. Generally, in a larger tank, something bigger than 20g, the cost is no longer cost effective.
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:41 AM   #8
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Oops, you are right. However, that $5 sugar/yeast CO2 won't last for few months. Couple of weeks top, assuming we are talking about just one bottle. Generally, in a larger tank, something bigger than 20g, the cost is no longer cost effective.
He has a ten gallon, and I actually used to use DIY Co2 on my ten gallon too. I bought a $4 bag of sugar and I only used a quarter in the month and a half I kept the Co2 going. I had a very high bubble count also. I think that too many people are scared to use DIY Co2 because it is "obsolete." For a ten gallon tank, I believe that changing the mixture every two weeks isn't so bad. The only reason I stopped using Co2 was because I got tired of having to constantly trim plants, which is pretty evident that it worked well for me. Don't get me wrong, if you have the money, pressurized is the way to go. It's precise, constant, and easy. But for tanks under ten gallons or for just testing out Co2, DIY is great!
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:42 AM   #9
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What about no CO2?

In a small tank, with low light plants, the CO2 isn't really required is it?

I am new to all of this and it is mind boggling the amount of info in these forums. If I am not expecting record setting growth, and my tank isn't large (say 10 gallons), do I really need the CO2?
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfer_d View Post
What about no CO2?

In a small tank, with low light plants, the CO2 isn't really required is it?

I am new to all of this and it is mind boggling the amount of info in these forums. If I am not expecting record setting growth, and my tank isn't large (say 10 gallons), do I really need the CO2?
You don't need it in any size tank if you don't want it. I'm happy with my slower growth =less maintenance.

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Old 10-12-2012, 04:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by starrlamia View Post
You don't need it in any size tank if you don't want it. I'm happy with my slower growth =less maintenance.

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Is not optional with medium to high light
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:13 AM   #12
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Is not optional with medium to high light
You're right, but that is easy to remedy. :P

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Old 10-12-2012, 04:14 AM   #13
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So it is just used basically to help plants grow quicker?

Or some plants really do need it to even grow at all?
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Old 10-12-2012, 04:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfer_d View Post
So it is just used basically to help plants grow quicker?

Or some plants really do need it to even grow at all?
All plants need it, and it is present in all tanks, however plants can only grow so much when you limit their needs (light, food, co2). Plants that need higher light will need more co2 than is in your tank normally so you would need to add it. Hopefully that makes sense

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Old 10-12-2012, 06:27 AM   #15
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Yes, some plants NEED the addition of Co2 to even live. These are usually carpet plants. Otherwise "low-light" plants just grow slower without additional co2.
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