Why does my drop checker stay green all the time? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 05:00 AM Thread Starter
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Why does my drop checker stay green all the time?

I've been trying to get my co2 dialed in and notice once my DC turns green - yellow, it stays that way. I have plenty of flow in the tank and run a bubble wall at night...why does in not change change back to a color that would indicate a decrease in ppm of co2 early in the morning when the co2 has been of for 8 - 10 hours. I recently have had is stay yellow for a couple of days after I over did it a bit on the co2. It's important to me because I'm using it to figure out what pH to set my co2 controller at.

I'm having problems with my controller injecting too much co2 and stressing my fish and killing some shrimp after water changes. Something in my tank is dropping the pH of the water before co2 injection and prevents me from directly measuring the pH of the water to correlate co2 levels. I know aquasoil and wood can drop ph artificially. My KH is 2 and the pH has measured as low as 5.0 with no signs of stress, and recently I've killed some shrimp with a reading of 5.4 the day after a water change. I've calibrated and rechecked my controller using 7 and 4 ph standards often throughout this process and it seems to be working correctly.


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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 04:55 PM
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Be sure to use a standard 4dKH water solution in the drop checker. That has to contain nothing but bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate, mixed with distilled water. Don't use tank or tap water. And, if you are using the indicator solution that came from one of the vendors in Asia, I suggest you use API pH test reagent instead.

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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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I'm using 4dK solution I made using R/O water and baking soda, should I still consider buying a commercial brand? I double checked it using an API KH test kit, and I'm using bromothymol blue from a Hagen nutrafin test kit.


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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 03-11-2010, 10:14 PM
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I'm not sure that RO water will work well enough. RO/DI water should work ok. You can buy a gallon of distilled water from most grocery stores, in plastic jugs, for about a dollar. Of course you are then just taking the word of the "manufacturer" that the water really is distilled.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2011, 02:58 AM
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I have the same issue. I have tried a 4 dkh standard using both RO water and distilled water. I made both using sodium bicarbonate. However, regardless of the type of water I use my DC still does not change. This leads me to ask two questions:

1. Should I just use my tank's water like the instructions stated to do anyway?

2. Is this an issue with the cuttlebone I'm using to keep my pH above neutral? I use cuttlebone pieces in my filter to ensure that my pH is at least nuetral for my snails' shells. Is this throwing my DC off and if it is what can I do to make this device effective??

Thanks again, I love the experience and knowledge that can be gained from this forum. You guys have saved me one more than 1 occasion.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2011, 03:10 AM
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Wait a minute. Could someone possibly explain the validity of this information or possibly produce a work around? I pulled this information from here and it states:

Quote:
The pH-KH-CO2 Relationship: pH, KH, and CO2 have a fixed relationship as long as carbonate is the only buffer present (no phosphate buffers like pH-UP and- DOWN, Discus Buffer, etc). There are some parts of the country that have high levels of phosphates in their water supply. For those cases, determining CO2 levels will be difficult, as the phosphate will throw off the pH-KH-CO2 relationship, which means the CO2 charts and calculator below won't work. Note that the commercially available CO2 test kits will also be invalidated by the phosphates.
Transitively this would mean that if you have fish there is no way of even ball parking co2 levels if you have a tank whose bioload impacts calculations. I'm basing this information on the fact that all of the fish food that I have checked has a recordable amount of phosphorus. Can anyone comment on this? This has really got my wheels turning.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2011, 03:15 AM
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That's why you use a 'pure' distilled water, bicarbonate solution instead of tank water. You are using this for your measurement and the status of your tank water doesn't matter. You're using a drop checker not the chart.

What did the catfish say when he ran into a concrete wall?... "Dam!"
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2011, 04:26 AM
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So your saying that I shouldn't even worry about any calcium bicarbonate buffer that I may be using in the tank water because the co2 gas exchange is happening as co2 dissapates from the tank and into the DC which houses a pure standard?

That still has me wondering why my DC doesn't change color. I mean how am I suppose to use the DC as an at-a-glance tool if it never changes color...?

That makes me wonder about the co2 burn off rate. I mean surely it can't be staying in my tank all night. I don't think there should be a reading 14 hours later if no co2 has been running.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2011, 04:38 AM
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I also have a hard time dialing in my CO2. My drop checker is emerald green, my ph controller says 5.8. The fish are happy but the plants aren't that excited. If I didn't have the ph controller, I'd probably just bump up the CO2 even higher but the ph seems like it might get too low.

So, I slowly move the controller down about .1 ph every few days. So far, fish are fine and plants are slowly getting happier.



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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2011, 04:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Abrium View Post
So your saying that I shouldn't even worry about any calcium bicarbonate buffer that I may be using in the tank water because the co2 gas exchange is happening as co2 dissapates from the tank and into the DC which houses a pure standard?

That still has me wondering why my DC doesn't change color. I mean how am I suppose to use the DC as an at-a-glance tool if it never changes color...?

That makes me wonder about the co2 burn off rate. I mean surely it can't be staying in my tank all night. I don't think there should be a reading 14 hours later if no co2 has been running.
Your drop checker isn't changing because co2 is not changing. It Sure can stay in the tank all night. Mine does. Remember that they react slow, too.

Take the drop checker out of the tank, does it turn blue?

The kh/gh/ph of your tank do not matter. What matters is that the drop checker offers GAS exchange and then reacts. It isn't based on any of the tank parameters other than gas, particularly co2. Your ph could be 3 and you could still have a blue drop checker.
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post #11 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2011, 06:10 AM
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You following me OS? hehe

I also meant the co2 staying in the tank all night. You mean the co2 won't burn completely off in 14 hours?? That just seems hard to believe.
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post #12 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2011, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Abrium View Post
You following me OS? hehe

I also meant the co2 staying in the tank all night. You mean the co2 won't burn completely off in 14 hours?? That just seems hard to believe.
Drop checkers take a considerable length of time to revert to their original hue when submerged. Your DC won't change back to blue overnight even with the CO2 completely off; this is a fact. As OS stated-take it out of the tank...it will turn blue within half an hour or so (as one would expect...atmospheric gas levels); you may then reinstall it. I'd change the solution, though.

I wouldn't rely on the DC as your guide to all things CO2. Observation first, drop checkers/CO2-KH cross reference charts second.
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post #13 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-29-2011, 06:54 PM
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my guess would be bad fluid. just buy some solution for a couple dollars. one less thing to worry about.
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post #14 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-30-2011, 05:20 AM
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I'm testing it right now its been out of the tank for roughly 20 to 30 minutes and is changing color. I'm going to see if it goes back to the royal blue color.
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post #15 of 20 (permalink) Old 04-30-2011, 05:01 PM
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I had the same "green drop checker" with 4dkh/API ph test n didn't know why my DC was forever green after the first day of set up. I took it out twice and set it up again thinking it was me or the way I mixed it.

I added air stones that turn on at midnight and turn off at 6am and by the time 4pm hits, my drop checker is blue awaiting the Co2. I've checked my DC as early as 7:30am and have seen it blue every time. Maybe this is an option for you?
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