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Old 03-16-2013, 05:26 PM   #1
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Non CO2 No water changes and EI


I have looked up many old threads on this and other forums looking for advice for non CO2 added low light methods. I keep seeing people, mostly Tom, advising that water changes can and should be avoided in certain, almost Diana style, low light, low dosed non CO2 setups because of the temporary addition of CO2 which is brought about by the water changes screwing with the plants reaction to the levels (Rubisco, I think). I get this. He says that we need to do W/C's if we begin to add CO2. I don't get WHY need to begin doing W/C's when we add CO2 and have not found the answer explicitly stated in any of the threads and really want to know why. My best guess is that it is an indirect necessity brought about by the related higher dosing levels which brings about the need to reste levels, but I am guessing here. I want to know why because I am considering the ramification of bringing up CO2 levels not to 20ppm but merely to 4-6ppm and want to know if this will require or preclude the need for W/C's. Also if these levels will aid in plant growth.

Thanks!
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Old 03-16-2013, 07:37 PM   #2
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Water changes seem to help CO2 enriched tanks and it also helps us regulate the ferts very easily.

We also garden and trim, uproot, 10-20X more frequently, which tends to make a mess, so water changes can help remove the dirt, leaves and clean the tank up nice.

If you simply add the plants and only trim once every 6 months, then it's likely you do not need to do much water changing.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:50 PM   #3
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Thanks. That makes sense. What about the ~5ppm levels of CO2 I am thingking about generating? Is it high enough to leave the plants in "normal" carbon uptake mode or could they end up bouncing back and forth between normal CO2 use and scrounging desperation methods like we see in ~1ppm CO2 tanks?

P.S. If it seems I am going about things oddly it is because I am interested in new techniques even though I am new to the hobby and low in background planted tank science knowledge. Fortunately for me I am not, however, one of those who disregards the science when it does not suit me. If 4ppm CO2 won't work I will add none.
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:29 PM   #4
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The amount of CO2 in the water that comes from the CO2 in the atmosphere can be as high as 4 ppm, if not more, in a not well ventilated house. If you add CO2 I think you should aim for around 10-20 ppm. If you use 2 dKH standard water in a drop checker the CO2 concentration when it turns green should be around 15 ppm.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:05 AM   #5
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Thanks, I thought common non CO2 added levels were lower than that. I guess some comes from the air interface and some comes from the bio filter and to a lesser extent the livestock. I won't be adding CO2 mechanicaly in any case, but was considering the effects of bumping it up as much as possible using (constantly on/ 24 hour) bio-organic means. If I can't reach the 20ppm level Is it not a good idea to aim for bumping the normal 3 or up to 6 or 8 ppm or would this cause the plants to switch back and forth between uptake strategies and trigger problems?
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:35 AM   #6
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In other words, at what concentration does CO2 become beneficial for our purposes ( no photorespiration)? I think it is relative concentrations of O2 to CO2 which determine this. that is, the plants don't ever photorespire or use other high energy means but only CO2 photosynthesis if the CO2 levels are high enough reletive to the O2 levels. If so, I suppose the question cannot be answered except to say that 20ppm works and 4ppm works and that in between it depends on the O2 levels... Otherwise I guess that some people who didn't want maximum growth rates would be regularly dosing 10ppm for the safety of their fish, and I don't think anyone does. So my guess, just for fun, is that your answer will be "inject up to at least 20ppm or inject nothin".
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:59 PM   #7
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I am sure Tom knows more than I do. On some of my low tech tanks, water changes don't seem to make a difference, for good or for bad. However, on some of my tanks, more frequent water changes lead to algae outbreaks. They types of algae are always ones that are said to be cause by inconsistent CO2 levels. I always assumed that the added CO2 gets used up quickly since it's not usually available in much quantity which gives a situation where you quickly raise the CO2, only to quickly bottom it out, which seems to cause algae.

From a practical matter, my last 3 low tech tanks got either minor or major algae outbreaks. Usually some form of BGA. This is an algae I have never been able to get rid of without using antibiotics. Stopping water changes was effective in all 3 to get rid of it. I tried the same on a high tech tank, totally not the case, had the opposite reaction, BGA just got out of control.


As per injecting less than 30 PPM, I would guess you would reap the same benefits as injecting more, just with less growth, less need to add ferts, and likely less water changes. A few people do an essentially low-medium light tank that doesn't need CO2 to be algae free and inject less and have seen benefits. It's usually because they have expensive fish and want a margin of error. I have never personally done it because I either want low tech, or high tech, the cost of injecting CO2 into a tank that doesn't need it isn't appealing to me. Other members have been successful.
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:53 AM   #8
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Thanks for the reply Matt. I Guess as long as it is a constant supply a CO2 increase is good even at low levels, though not much good. I will probably try to minimize loss and maximize non mechanical CO2, but not pump it in. Is there any way to drop check low levels like 1-6ppm range?
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
The amount of CO2 in the water that comes from the CO2 in the atmosphere can be as high as 4 ppm, if not more, in a not well ventilated house. If you add CO2 I think you should aim for around 10-20 ppm. If you use 2 dKH standard water in a drop checker the CO2 concentration when it turns green should be around 15 ppm.
Thanks again Hoppy. My impression (as tenuous as it is) is that a 4 dKH checker solution gives you a green reading around 30ppm. You say a 2 dKH solution reads green around 15ppm. So would a 1 dKh solution read green around 7.5 ppm?

I am hoping to monitor the effects of various factors on my levels in a non CO2 added tank where I do everything I can to raise it as high as possible. I will be testing CO2 level factors like actively ingassing by breaking the surface tension vs. maintaining (not degassing) by avoiding surface turbulance/rupture, etc.
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:23 PM   #10
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Perhaps I would really need to do a diy pH pen CO2 checker for my needs. Anyone done one?
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Old 03-20-2013, 04:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Perhaps I would really need to do a diy pH pen CO2 checker for my needs. Anyone done one?
My recommendation is to just buy a pH pen. They are fairly cheap and inexpensive.

I have done a DIY one, but using a (more precise) pH probe; then again, the function I required it to do (aquarium controller, pH control was one function) was different than simply getting a quick measurement of pH.
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Old 03-20-2013, 05:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gold Finger View Post
Thanks for the reply Matt. I Guess as long as it is a constant supply a CO2 increase is good even at low levels, though not much good. I will probably try to minimize loss and maximize non mechanical CO2, but not pump it in. Is there any way to drop check low levels like 1-6ppm range?
I can't find a chart but I feel like for every degree of KH, it is about 7 and 2/3 PPM of CO2. So you could mess around with different dKH solutions if you have a good digital scale and see what actually registers as green. It really isn't as significant, from what I can tell, for you to actually estimate the PPM, you just need something to keep track of it.

Their was a good chart that showed the blue, green, and yellow range for different dKH solutions but I can't find it. Not sure if it went down far enough for your needs however.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkblade48 View Post
My recommendation is to just buy a pH pen. They are fairly cheap and inexpensive.

I have done a DIY one, but using a (more precise) pH probe; then again, the function I required it to do (aquarium controller, pH control was one function) was different than simply getting a quick measurement of pH.
If I do go ahead with monitoring CO2 I will buy a probe then DIY it into a CO2 meter. I saw a post where Tom said it was very accurate and said how to do the diy. What I want to know now is how good is a cheap pH pen? Will I need to buy a good probe?
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:55 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talontsiawd View Post
I can't find a chart but I feel like for every degree of KH, it is about 7 and 2/3 PPM of CO2. So you could mess around with different dKH solutions if you have a good digital scale and see what actually registers as green. It really isn't as significant, from what I can tell, for you to actually estimate the PPM, you just need something to keep track of it.

Their was a good chart that showed the blue, green, and yellow range for different dKH solutions but I can't find it. Not sure if it went down far enough for your needs however.
Thanks Matt, That gives me a lot to think about and I will look further into it. I can see how the specific ppm is less relevent than the trend. Maybe I will go with a drop checker. It should be able to tell me what setup maintains the highest level (in/out gassing, high low filter bac, fish load etc.) and then act as a visual alarm after that.

I just became aware that ~110% O2 saturation kills fish. A NEW concern since my ATS is pumping in the 02 like mad.
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:07 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gold Finger View Post
Thanks again Hoppy. My impression (as tenuous as it is) is that a 4 dKH checker solution gives you a green reading around 30ppm. You say a 2 dKH solution reads green around 15ppm. So would a 1 dKh solution read green around 7.5 ppm?

I am hoping to monitor the effects of various factors on my levels in a non CO2 added tank where I do everything I can to raise it as high as possible. I will be testing CO2 level factors like actively ingassing by breaking the surface tension vs. maintaining (not degassing) by avoiding surface turbulance/rupture, etc.
Any increase in concentration of CO2 in the water helps the plants. At low light, it helps a lot. Yes, 1 dKH water in the drop checker would turn green at about 7.5 ppm, but the reading accuracy would make that actually be about 3 - 10 ppm, since it is very hard to judge what tint of green you need. When I was using DIY CO2 on a low light tank I tried using a drop checker with 1.7 dKH water, and watching for yellow - at yellow you are approaching more than enough CO2. It worked well for me, but I quit using the drop checker after I learned what level my DIY CO2 was going to give me.

If you want to play around with a drop checker you could figure out what KH the water would need to be so the CO2 ppm is about at the level you want to see, then use yellow as the target color. You just need a good fresh KH test kit, some distilled water, some baking soda, a graduate to measure water quantity accurately, and lots of bottles.
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