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Old 08-29-2013, 04:25 PM   #1
av3ngeme
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Need some advice please


Alright I'm going to be as thorough as I can possibly be. I'm fairly new to plants, I have I guess what you would consider a high tech tank. Dimensions are 48" long x 24" deep x 16" wide (80 gallon tank) My light source is a T5HO quad bulb which sits approximately 3" from the water surface. There is no lid on the tank so it's open top (due too how the lights sit) Right now I am running just 2 bulbs, one being a grow light @ 6700k and another T5HO daylight bulb @ 6500k as I was told anymore than this is overkill based on the PAR rating. I am using a Red Sea CO2 kit, injecting co2 at approximately 2bps, a fluval dropchecker for monitoring levels at the opposite end of the tank from the red sea reactor using the 4dkh solution NOT tank water.

When I first set this up I read A LOT, now unfortunately there is A LOT of conflicting information out there and what I can only assume to be blatent mis-information as well. I have been told and I have read that Ph swings from Co2 injection are not harmful to fish, I have to say I call BS on this as when I was turning my lights on and Co2 on first thing in the morning (6:30am) and shutting it off at night ( 9pm approx) I was losing 1-2 fish A DAY, when I would wake up in the morning I would find a fish or two dead....without fail, every morning. Generally they would only be tetras, so I attributed it too angels picking on them....then I started losing corys, ottos, and angels as well, then I noticed the angels gills turning red and one getting popeye, and the final straw was losing a 3 year old clown loach to popeye...I was pretty upset about that.

At that point I was so fed up I stopped EI dosing, stopped turning on the lights in the morning and kept the co2 off.....my fish stopped dying. So at this point I would turn the lights and co2 on when I got home at about 5pm and keep them on until about 11ish or whenever i decided to go to bed and I haven't lost a single fish doing this....not one, i even managed to save one of my angels with popeye and red gills and he seems to be back to his old self now. I have also put root tabs near my swords, and other rooting plants and reduced my EI dosing too once a week. My ph would fluctuate from about 7.3 to 6ish when turning on the co2 and lights all day.

So my predicament now is obviously I'm barely dosing EI, I'm barely giving the plants light, and barely giving them co2 but I'm not putting the fish at risk for the plants. I really want to start growing some baby tears for my foreground carpet but I'm not about to buy ANYTHING at this point until I figure out wth was going on. I do not have a ph controller hooked up either just FYI...so I'm looking for comments in general and specifically on the points below as to whether I'm doing this right or if I need to change something

Water parameters are perfect but nitrates are a bit high @ 60-80ppm and I can't seem to bring these down no matter how many water changes I do.
  • I'm running 2x54w T5HO bulbs on a 2ft deep tank with them 3" above the surface, your thoughts?
  • I'm dosing 2bps of co2 but it's barely changing the drop checkers colour after an hour of being on should I increase this? My concern again is how the fish react to the pH swing (I am also injecting oxygen via an oxygen pump hooked up to air-stones)
  • I'm doing the EI dosing for the 60-80 gallon tank, with the exception of the kn03 because my nitrates are high enough as is, should i modify this at all?
  • Can I leave the co2 running at night?, I ask this as it will keep the pH steady....my fear is gassing the fish at night...again I've heard people say its ok and people say it's not. My question is does the co2 "build up" if the plants aren't using it at night or will the co2 level remain the same with lights off even though the plants aren't using it? DO NOT comment on a waste of co2 as I don't care if I waste it at night...I'm more concerned with the health of the fish and if keeping it going all the time will help the plants without stressing the fish out due to pH swings I'll eat the cost.

I want to have happy fish and a nice planted tank, I didn't think it would be this friggen difficult. I've tried to be as thorough as possible but if anyone needs any more info just ask

Thank you
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Old 08-29-2013, 04:58 PM   #2
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Well 6:30am-9pm is a very long time for light.

8 hours or less on a decently planted tank. Add your ferts and co2 in the morning or an hour before the lights come up. Go grab a 10.00 timmer from Walmart and put your lights on a timer. I have a 50 gallon just like yours. My lights come on at 11:00am and kick off at 8pm in the winter. During the summer it turns on at noon and kicks off at 8pm. I add my ei in the morning before I leave for work. I'm using Excel for my co2 atm on this tank. My 29 gallon has co2 running 24 hours. I have an air stone that runs at night only.

The one thing I have learned being in the planted tank game for a year now. Don't rush the process. Let your fish/plants tell you what the tank needs. If the tank has just recently been set up, it may take some time for the nitrates to come down. Just keep up with regular maint.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:23 PM   #3
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I forgot to mention that this tank has been established for 3 years now, though about 3 months ago I did change the substrate from white to black but I never experience a mini cycle at all when I did this as the filter media still had the bacteria colonies in it. (this was necessary as this tank used to be an African tank with crushed coral to buffer the ph higher.)

I was aware it was too much light, but I kinda just had my fingers crossed...now with that said i was told the only adverse affects I would get with too much light would be algae growth which i was keeping under control with some algae eaters and light maintenance.

What your saying is that I can keep the co2 on constantly....even with the lights off and it will NOT gas the fish?

I'm hesitant about letting the fish tell me anything at this point because the fish would appear perfect and the next morning a few would be dead...none showed signs of stress at all that I could tell anyways. My only guess to this is the ph upswing at night when the co2 was turned off, and the fact that it's not happening now when i turn the co2 off I'm assuming is due too the fact that it's not on long enough for the ph to swing too radically.

What about lights? Not enough bulbs, too many, etc..?
Your doing EI dosing daily? From what I've read 2-3 times a week is more than plenty, why are you dosing dry ferts daily?
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:41 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by av3ngeme View Post
I forgot to mention that this tank has been established for 3 years now, though about 3 months ago I did change the substrate from white to black but I never experience a mini cycle at all when I did this as the filter media still had the bacteria colonies in it. (this was necessary as this tank used to be an African tank with crushed coral to buffer the ph higher.)

I was aware it was too much light, but I kinda just had my fingers crossed...now with that said i was told the only adverse affects I would get with too much light would be algae growth which i was keeping under control with some algae eaters and light maintenance.

What your saying is that I can keep the co2 on constantly....even with the lights off and it will NOT gas the fish?

I'm hesitant about letting the fish tell me anything at this point because the fish would appear perfect and the next morning a few would be dead...none showed signs of stress at all that I could tell anyways. My only guess to this is the ph upswing at night when the co2 was turned off, and the fact that it's not happening now when i turn the co2 off I'm assuming is due too the fact that it's not on long enough for the ph to swing too radically.

What about lights? Not enough bulbs, too many, etc..?
Your doing EI dosing daily? From what I've read 2-3 times a week is more than plenty, why are you dosing dry ferts daily?

I broke my weekly dosage down into daily ML amounts. My liquid solution I make is based off dosing 2ml daily instead of 5+ml every other day ect. If I don't do it daily I will just forget to do it.
Your lights are fine. I use to run my lights about 12 hours a day. I noticed a decrease in growth and a loss in lush color. 8 hours or less does the trick for my tank. When it comes to a planted tank, each tank is individual in what it needs. I completely understand your statement about their being a lot of contradicting information out there. I don't have much experience in the co2 injection world yet. Besides my hagen/diy system on my 29H gallon. It runs 24 hours a day through a sump. No issues with the fish. PH swings can kill your fish. I think general rule of thumb is to let the co2 run an hour before your lights kick on.

You and I are pretty much the same. My 50 gallon has been running for years. In april I decided to redo it and go planted. I read everything and just developed my own method from all of the information. That's about all you can do. Take the suggestions you get and see what works best for your tank.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:20 PM   #5
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Ahh ok that makes sense, I'm dosing the following (right now just once a week, but I think I'm going to go back to 3x a week)


3/16 tsp KH2P04 3x a week
1/4 tsp K2SO4 3x a week
1/4 tsp Trace 3x a week

I'm going to pick up a timer for the lights and keep the co2 going continuously 24x7 @ 2bps.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:33 PM   #6
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My experience is that the PH fluctuation is NOT what caused fatalities in my similar situation. When I first installed my CO2 system, I started very, very slowly and gradually increased over the course of a week as I, too, have 3 clown loaches that I've had for 11+ years and I was concerned for them. When I finally got my drop checker green, I started adding more Otos and shrimp. Next day, all of the new shrimp and Otos were dead, but the ones that were already in there were perfectly fine. After that when adding new fauna I degassed my water, left it off for 24+ hours with air running, added new fish/shrimp, and again SLOWLY added CO2, gradually increasing over several days. No more fatalities. Perhaps you just have to give your fish a chance to adapt to the CO2...?
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightspell View Post
My experience is that the PH fluctuation is NOT what caused fatalities in my similar situation. When I first installed my CO2 system, I started very, very slowly and gradually increased over the course of a week as I, too, have 3 clown loaches that I've had for 11+ years and I was concerned for them. When I finally got my drop checker green, I started adding more Otos and shrimp. Next day, all of the new shrimp and Otos were dead, but the ones that were already in there were perfectly fine. After that when adding new fauna I degassed my water, left it off for 24+ hours with air running, added new fish/shrimp, and again SLOWLY added CO2, gradually increasing over several days. No more fatalities. Perhaps you just have to give your fish a chance to adapt to the CO2...?
What your saying and what your describing are polar opposites unless I'm completely misunderstanding what you're saying. You say pH fluctuation is NOT what cause fatalities in your situation yet your gradually increasing the flow rate which would have gradually lowered the pH, you then added fish from "most likely" a drastically different pH level and they immediately died. Then when you added fish to water with a closer to neutral pH and gradually amped up the co2 again and they were all fine.

Your initial statement and your findings are completely backwards, why do you say that pH fluctuation was NOT the cause exactly? Defend your statement please, I want to know why your saying this.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by av3ngeme View Post
What your saying and what your describing are polar opposites unless I'm completely misunderstanding what you're saying. You say pH fluctuation is NOT what cause fatalities in your situation yet your gradually increasing the flow rate which would have gradually lowered the pH, you then added fish from "most likely" a drastically different pH level and they immediately died. Then when you added fish to water with a closer to neutral pH and gradually amped up the co2 again and they were all fine.

Your initial statement and your findings are completely backwards, why do you say that pH fluctuation was NOT the cause exactly? Defend your statement please, I want to know why your saying this.
My CO2 runs 9 hours per day, then shuts off and runs air the rest of the night/morning. My pH goes from 7.3 in the morning to 6.1 at the end of my photoperiod. What I'm saying is that my theory, as I have no way to prove this aside from my own experience of exactly your problem, is that it's more of an intolerance to the CO2 than the pH. The exact same fish and shrimp died immediately while the ones that had been in there and gradually acclimated to CO2 were not affected at all. When I started from completely degassed water, added the new shrimp and fish, turned CO2 on at 1 bps, increased to 2 bps about 5 hours later, and just a nudge the next day and so on until GRADUALLY reaching my target CO2 concentration, everyone was fine and nobody died. The shrimp and fish stayed near the water surface throughout this acclimation process and were notably lethargic, but eventually returned to normal behavior within 2 to 5 days of reaching my target CO2 concentration. According to the information I've gleaned from this forum and references therein, CO2 related mortality is a result from CO2 TOXICITY as opposed to oxygen deprivation or pH shock, so if fauna of the same species in my tank are doing perfectly well but new stock from non-CO2 tanks instantly die several hours after the CO2 kicks in, I'm led to believe that my fish have developed a tolerance to a toxic condition that the others had not. I don't know, I'm no expert by any means, I'm just relating to you my own experience and suggesting a possibility, I'm sure someone here can shoot me down in short order. But IF you do decide to write off CO2, I might be interested in your equipment if the price is right...
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:57 PM   #9
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Av3ngeme,

I would make a 'guess' that you're right in saying co2 is killing your fish, but based on my exhaustive lurking on this forum, I would suggest that it's not the ph. Yes, your ph swings, that's fine. My ph has swung from 7s to 6s as I gas and degas. However, co2 itself kills. It'll even kill you/me and all other non plant based oxygen breathing life. You're gassing for 15 hours. Since that's killing your fish, clearly that's too much. You started gassing for 6 hours and that works. You never mentioned if your ph is still swinging. If you're getting a good amount in, I'm inclined to say that it still swings. What did your drop checkers show when you gassed for 15 hours? What does it show when you gassed for 6?

Your fish is also probably suffocating because your O2 levels may be low. You might need to search on co2/o2 relations, or co2 toxicity. There's something there but I'll leave that one for the experts to answer. Try this thread:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...=141206&page=5

I'll try to find more for you but many have suggested that they can push the 30ppm co2 envelope further when they introduce extra O2 into the system. Usually this is done by surface agitation. What do you use to circulate the water and break up the surface?
Here's a link that suggest extra aeration will stabilize your CO2 from going beyond a lethal point.
http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/c...ed-tank.26559/

Did you ever notice a surface film building up when you used to gas for 15 hours? There's also readings that suggest a surface film building on the water will prevent proper co2/o2 exchange and thus causing things to go awry. Did your drop checker get progressively more green to yellow the following day when you did your 15 hour injections?
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=125368


As for me, I inject co2 on a timer cycle close to my light cycle. I gas for 8 hours. My ph swings pretty vastly. I completely degas at night because I run an HOB to break up the surface film and introduce more o2 into the system. You'll find that some people run an aerator for this very purpose. Some people don't bother. They probably have enough surface agitation from their various filtration systems or koralia units or so on.

Sorry that you lost your fish to co2. You have a safe point right now. Seems to be 6 hours. Nightspell is suggesting that you increase it slowly. There's some results from people who introduce their livestock to co2 slowly and sort of build their tolerance. I've not looked into this one but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. I'll echo the wisdom of the many before me in suggesting that you do it only on days when you're home. Perhaps put the co2 on a timer and add a half hour to an hour and watch your fish closely -- especially towards the end of the injection cycle to see how much you can push it. Add in some aeration somehow and see if you can push it even further. There's a balance to be obtained but only you'll know what that is in your tank. Hang in there. Your cause lies in the co2. The ph only indicates that the co2 was there.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:19 PM   #10
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Heh, I guess I forgot to directly answer a few of your questions:


Quote:
Originally Posted by av3ngeme View Post
[*]I'm running 2x54w T5HO bulbs on a 2ft deep tank with them 3" above the surface, your thoughts?
Nice lights there. Just mind your photoperiod and balance your ferts and co2 with it. Powerful lights free you to grow a lot of things -- including algae if you're not careful.

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Originally Posted by av3ngeme View Post
[*]I'm dosing 2bps of co2 but it's barely changing the drop checkers colour after an hour of being on should I increase this? My concern again is how the fish react to the pH swing (I am also injecting oxygen via an oxygen pump hooked up to air-stones)
This puzzles me. Clearly, you're injecting oxygen but I wonder is it enough. Airstones introduce oxygen into the water by breaking up the surface of the water and initiating gas exchange. At 80 gallons, how much surface of your water are you truly breaking up? How violent are the bubbles? Are these tiny mini bubbles that barely agitate the water? Do you have powerheads? Water circulators? Spray bars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by av3ngeme View Post
[*]I'm doing the EI dosing for the 60-80 gallon tank, with the exception of the kn03 because my nitrates are high enough as is, should i modify this at all?
This will probably answer itself as you watch your plants vs algae growth

Quote:
Originally Posted by av3ngeme View Post
[*]Can I leave the co2 running at night?, I ask this as it will keep the pH steady....my fear is gassing the fish at night...again I've heard people say its ok and people say it's not. My question is does the co2 "build up" if the plants aren't using it at night or will the co2 level remain the same with lights off even though the plants aren't using it? DO NOT comment on a waste of co2 as I don't care if I waste it at night...I'm more concerned with the health of the fish and if keeping it going all the time will help the plants without stressing the fish out due to pH swings I'll eat the cost.


Thank you
I wouldn't attempt this *yet* if I were you. You state that your 15 hour injection period was already killing fish. Now you're talking about 24 hours. In my experience, co2 definitely builds up -- unless you degas it somehow with surface agitation. See my previous post about surface film.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Nightspell View Post
My CO2 runs 9 hours per day, then shuts off and runs air the rest of the night/morning. My pH goes from 7.3 in the morning to 6.1 at the end of my photoperiod. What I'm saying is that my theory, as I have no way to prove this aside from my own experience of exactly your problem, is that it's more of an intolerance to the CO2 than the pH. The exact same fish and shrimp died immediately while the ones that had been in there and gradually acclimated to CO2 were not affected at all. When I started from completely degassed water, added the new shrimp and fish, turned CO2 on at 1 bps, increased to 2 bps about 5 hours later, and just a nudge the next day and so on until GRADUALLY reaching my target CO2 concentration, everyone was fine and nobody died. The shrimp and fish stayed near the water surface throughout this acclimation process and were notably lethargic, but eventually returned to normal behavior within 2 to 5 days of reaching my target CO2 concentration. According to the information I've gleaned from this forum and references therein, CO2 related mortality is a result from CO2 TOXICITY as opposed to oxygen deprivation or pH shock, so if fauna of the same species in my tank are doing perfectly well but new stock from non-CO2 tanks instantly die several hours after the CO2 kicks in, I'm led to believe that my fish have developed a tolerance to a toxic condition that the others had not. I don't know, I'm no expert by any means, I'm just relating to you my own experience and suggesting a possibility, I'm sure someone here can shoot me down in short order. But IF you do decide to write off CO2, I might be interested in your equipment if the price is right...
Ok I see what your saying now, I thought I had missed something there. So your using the ramp up to get them used to the co2 than doing a general on @ lights on /off @ lights off scenario. I figured I was missing something there lol.

I appreciate the input, thanks for taking the time to clarify what you meant for me. I'm still going back and forth on what I'm going to do about leaving it on or turning it off with lights off...I'm still undecided, hopefully quite a few more people will chime in so I can get a good balance of replies from multiple people. Thanks again
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
Av3ngeme,

I would make a 'guess' that you're right in saying co2 is killing your fish, but based on my exhaustive lurking on this forum, I would suggest that it's not the ph. Yes, your ph swings, that's fine. My ph has swung from 7s to 6s as I gas and degas. However, co2 itself kills. It'll even kill you/me and all other non plant based oxygen breathing life. You're gassing for 15 hours. Since that's killing your fish, clearly that's too much. You started gassing for 6 hours and that works. You never mentioned if your ph is still swinging. If you're getting a good amount in, I'm inclined to say that it still swings. What did your drop checkers show when you gassed for 15 hours? What does it show when you gassed for 6?

Your fish is also probably suffocating because your O2 levels may be low. You might need to search on co2/o2 relations, or co2 toxicity. There's something there but I'll leave that one for the experts to answer. Try this thread:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...=141206&page=5

I'll try to find more for you but many have suggested that they can push the 30ppm co2 envelope further when they introduce extra O2 into the system. Usually this is done by surface agitation. What do you use to circulate the water and break up the surface?
Here's a link that suggest extra aeration will stabilize your CO2 from going beyond a lethal point.
http://www.ukaps.org/forum/threads/c...ed-tank.26559/

Did you ever notice a surface film building up when you used to gas for 15 hours? There's also readings that suggest a surface film building on the water will prevent proper co2/o2 exchange and thus causing things to go awry. Did your drop checker get progressively more green to yellow the following day when you did your 15 hour injections?
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=125368


As for me, I inject co2 on a timer cycle close to my light cycle. I gas for 8 hours. My ph swings pretty vastly. I completely degas at night because I run an HOB to break up the surface film and introduce more o2 into the system. You'll find that some people run an aerator for this very purpose. Some people don't bother. They probably have enough surface agitation from their various filtration systems or koralia units or so on.

Sorry that you lost your fish to co2. You have a safe point right now. Seems to be 6 hours. Nightspell is suggesting that you increase it slowly. There's some results from people who introduce their livestock to co2 slowly and sort of build their tolerance. I've not looked into this one but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. I'll echo the wisdom of the many before me in suggesting that you do it only on days when you're home. Perhaps put the co2 on a timer and add a half hour to an hour and watch your fish closely -- especially towards the end of the injection cycle to see how much you can push it. Add in some aeration somehow and see if you can push it even further. There's a balance to be obtained but only you'll know what that is in your tank. Hang in there. Your cause lies in the co2. The ph only indicates that the co2 was there.
I want to take the time to respond to this fully and I'm about to leave the office in 15 mins so I'll respond in more detail when I get home, but for the time being some points. I'll test the swing by doing a pH test when I get home and another before I go to bed tonight and see what the swing is, the drop checker is not showing 30ppm like it was when I was gassing for 15hrs though, it's an aqua blue / green color....lots of surface agitation from a aquaclear 500 HOB and an eheim eco 2668 pointed upwards to break the surface. No film on the top during the gassing, I've also got an air pump now that's rated for a 100 gallon tank pumping air in 24/7.

So what your saying is running the co2 24/7 is just going to wipe out the tank....and this is where I run into confusion because there are so many people that do exactly that and have no issues...arghh lol

...oh and I can't put the co2 on a timer, there's nothing mechanical hooked up to it to control the valve, I turn it "off" with the needle valve to cork the flow of co2 to the tank.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:52 PM   #13
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Glad to offer what little I can... I should also add that I have a pH controller (bought it with the intention of tieing it into my CO2 / Air pump system, however I have ended up using it only for monitoring the pH) so I have the advantage of real time monitoring of my pH and I can more accurately track my pH dropping throughout the day just by glancing at it as I walk by my tank. My drop checker takes HOURS to change colors. SO, if my DC is yellow, that means that I'm already 2 hours into an emergency situation. Might be a good idea to test your pH frequently during the dial-in process to chart how fast it gets to what level and where/if it levels off at some point, or if it just keeps compounding to a toxic level (if, as ipkiss mentioned, you have insufficient surface flow or a film preventing gas exchange).
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:52 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by av3ngeme View Post
So what your saying is running the co2 24/7 is just going to wipe out the tank....and this is where I run into confusion because there are so many people that do exactly that and have no issues...arghh lol

Did you have the eheim, hob, and air pump doing all of their agitation goodies back in the day when you did the 15 hours?
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Old 08-29-2013, 10:14 PM   #15
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Did you have the eheim, hob, and air pump doing all of their agitation goodies back in the day when you did the 15 hours?
I did, yes. I added the airpump in the middle of the shenanigans because I thought that may have something to do with it but it didn't help. Just tested my water pH is between 7.6-7.2 (closer to 7.2)

Just making supper and I'll read your long one and offer any more info that I can

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