Help me understand Ph drop with CO2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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I have a hi tech CO2 set up controlled with a Ph probe and my Apex controller. I'm not clear on the starting point of the 1-1.2 Ph drop I want. I know I'm getting there because Ive choked some fish.

My water totally degassed Ph is 7.8. At night off-gassing results in a Ph at 7.5, so not totally degassed.

Is the 1.2 drop I want measured from the 7.8 or the 7.5? I did have the lower ph limit set at 6.45 but fish where definately affected. Now I have it set at 6.55 but I'm still losing fish occasionally.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 05:31 PM
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I have a hi tech CO2 set up controlled with a Ph probe and my Apex controller. I'm not clear on the starting point of the 1-1.2 Ph drop I want. I know I'm getting there because Ive choked some fish.

My water totally degassed Ph is 7.8. At night off-gassing results in a Ph at 7.5, so not totally degassed.

Is the 1.2 drop I want measured from the 7.8 or the 7.5? I did have the lower ph limit set at 6.45 but fish where definitely affected. Now I have it set at 6.55 but I'm still losing fish occasionally.
I measure the drop from the fully degassed, so for you it would be 7.8.

The thing with CO2 is being sure you have enough surface agitation to promote healthy levels of O2 in the water as well. CO2 and O2 levels are not dependent on each other, meaning you can have high saturation of both.

My degassed pH is somewhere around 8.0, and the tank bottoms at 6.4 (ish) with the controller, turning on again at 6.6 (though usually hover around 6.5, 6.6 all day). I have heavy surface agitation and experience no issues with the fish.

Can you provide more details on the tank, including filter type, surface agitation, stocking, etc.?



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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 05:34 PM
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The problem is not high CO2 but low O2, need more aeration.

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses.

I have an overflow and sump with 6 or 7 times tank volume falling through it every hour. Total water volume about 57 net gallons. I did just increase this flow and it has resulted in more degassing at night. It used to degass to about 7.3, now to about 7.6. Fish load has decreased due to death to one 4" bristle nose pleco, two 2" siames algae eaters, and five tetras. I've had at least ten fish die one by one over the last few months.

I have measured dissolved oxygen and it's sufficient; 8 mg/l on a Salifert test kit. With the increased flow I assume it's a bit higher now.

I am thinking the problem was my previous 1.4 drop from 7.8 to 6.4? And now 1.3 is still too much for the fish?
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 09:04 PM
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With die off of fish like that there may be something other than dissolved O2 at hand. What fish? Anything unusually about their appearance when they passed?
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Gasping at the surface of course. White swelling around bulging eyes on a couple serpae tetras. Guppies and Endlers were first to go. Water is clean with consistent changes. It's just strange that they've died one a by one, never even two on the same day.

I do have 100 plus Potassium levels due to 50 50 mix of RO / potassium softened water, but can't imagine that's an issue.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 10:52 PM
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I do have 100 plus Potassium levels due to 50 50 mix of RO / potassium softened water, but can't imagine that's an issue.
Do you mean > 100 ppm K? How do you know that? If true then it is a part of a substantial mineral imbalance affecting both plants and fish.

Water parameters from softeners can be quite unpredictable. I wouldn’t mix it with RO because why to go through the process of making RO and then destroying it with after softener water? Reconstituting RO is easy, why not use 100% when even smaller water changes get better results than larger with bad water.

When you use the pH/KH/CO2 controller, you are already adding KH for it to function properly. Ca and Mg also because RO and after softener water don’t have any. So it is a matter of RO quantity at this point.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 02:35 PM
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Water softeners cause such extreme issues...
I used to use 50/50 RO with my softeners on 'low'. I still had some kh/gh in my softened water but ran into significant issues: When I hooked up the CO2 on one of my tanks (the only one with CO2), my fish were gasping even at a 1 point drop in pH. Terrified I disconnected everything....

Now I use CO2 at the lowest lvel (.5 bps), but I get the water from my garage spicket- It does take hours to get to the right temp, but the fish are much happier. However I have more algae in all my tanks??... go figure.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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"Do you mean > 100 ppm K? How do you know that? If true then it is a part of a substantial mineral imbalance affecting both plants and fish".

I had it tested by a testing lab. Its 105 ppm potassium. TDS is higher due to the salts.The only reason I make a 50/50 mix is to save time and a ltlle money.I add back Ca, Mag, and baking soda to get good parameters. The softened water not only goes though the softener but also a 5 ft carbon whole house filter so the water is clean and San Diego water isn't that bad anyway.

Did research and didn't find any reason not to use the potassium softened water; I but maybe I should do more on its affect on fish, I was just looking at the affect on plants.

I've been thinking of going 100% ro. I know how to do all the chemistry. I've had two museum quality reef aquariums in the past.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks gentlemen, I think switching to 100% RO and figuring my Ph drop from the completely degassed Ph level may be the answer. Here's the tank, just replanted last weekend and changed to T5s. So much better color than LED.
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