Why a PH controller is so important!!! - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2006, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Why a PH controller is so important!!!

Well, I just had my biggest nightmare. Came home yesterday and was feeding my fish. I noticed I couldnít see any fish anywhere in the tank except for one SAE who was lying in the front portion in the grassy fields. So I put some food in to attract them. No fish in sight. Food even falls right onto the SAE and he doesnít even move. But I can see heís breathing. So I start to look around to see what the heck was going on. I look behind and see some fish in the back but not really very active. Then I find my pleco dead. Then I see my nice rainbow shark whoís not really doing much. I freak out! So I take out my test kits and start measuring.

HOLLY CRAP! PH is WAY out of wack. My low PH kit measures only a low of 6.0 But it was SOO bright yellow that I think it was WAY lower. At this point Iím really freaking out. Iíve had these fish for over 2 years in this nice 46gal tank with pressurized CO2. Iíve never had this problem. So I yank the top off, turn the CO2 off and drop an air stone in. But come onÖ 46gals at levels below 6. WTF are you supposed to do? I could do a massive water change but getting the water ready would take time. Honestly, the fish didnít look like theyíd last another five minutes.

Iíve got a second 36gal planted tank. Itís loaded with about 25 glass and neon tetras. I think about itÖ HumÖ Doesnít seem like a good idea to drop in >3Ē fish in with neons. But at this point I donít care. So in a desperate attempt to save them, I start yanking the fish one by one. Both thanks are at a similar in parameters (except for the low pH!!!). No time for them to get used to the water. Just grab the fish from the big tank into a bag and dump them into the 36 gal tank. It was so sad. I was actually able to just pick up my fish in the main tank and put them into the bag. When I would put them into the 36gal, they would just sink to the bottom upside down. So I grabbed them one by one and held them upside right into my hands in the new tank and helped them move around. They were burping CO2 bubbles!!! Slowly but surely, they started to have enough strength to stay upside right and swim away. Needless to say, they were very tired and didnít move much the entire evening.

This morning I woke up to find them nicely active. All are moving about as if it was all normal. Iím not sure what kind of damage this did to the fish and if my luck will change over the next couple of days. But I really really hope they make it!!!

It turns out my needle valve on the CO2 tank somehow got out of wack. It was almost a steady stream of CO2 coming out of it. This might have been happening for days now or even weeks.

So for now, half a dozen large fish are enjoy the company of 25 neons. Hopefully they donít develop an appetite for neons! Including my prized possession, a nice 4Ē rainbow shark.

On another note. Just wondering if anyone has any ideas of anything else I could do to help my fish recover? I'll have to keep an eye on the parameters of this 36gal tank cause that will be a HEAVY load onto it despite the fact it's planted. Other than that, I will be doing a massive water change into the bigger tank and waiting for a few days for it to settle. Thinking about moving my fish back into it this weekend. Is that too early given the trauma they just suffered?

Thanks for reading!

Yves

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2006, 02:23 PM
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Good save!
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2006, 03:13 PM
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A pH controller can still kill all of your fish if your KH goes up on you, which has happened to folks in the past.

Regards,
Barry
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-11-2006, 09:26 PM
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Or the pH probe gets knock out of the water, or if the pH probe breaks.

Remembers, the pH controlled system must have a higher setting to throttle back and forth between too little(CO2 on) and too much CO2(CO2 off setting).

therefore the amount of CO2 rate is always higher than a tank's demand, should anything go wrong, then it will error on adding too much.

Needle valves are safe unless you mess with it or something monkeys with the setting. Clippard valves have a another pre set disc to prevent that from occuring by preventing the valve to be turned further, other's have a lock out, some do not though.

You should check it every so often also.

If you do a large uprooting, pruning etc, reduced water surface moevement etc, anything that changes the CO2, then you can have a spike.

Any one of the systems can go terribly wrong.
Both Amano and myself have killed things with pH controllers also, I killed a marine system.

I've not killed any fish to date with CO2 in FW planted tanks using just the needle valves.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 04:54 AM
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In the meantime, take the filter from your 46 tank and put it in your 36 until you're ready to move the fish back. This will aid your 36 now, and keep your filter cycled until you move the fish back.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 05:04 AM
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I had a similar experience, I thought the CO2 was too low so I turned it up a bit - came home to feed the kids and no one showed up = I just turned the
CO2 off because I thought that a gradual change was better than just shooting them into the other tank (no criticism intended) they were fine -
I've just order a PH controller/monitor - is this a waste of $?
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 07:19 AM
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Any peice of equipment can malfunction. IMHO a needle valve is acutually more reliable and safer to bet your fishes lives on than and electronic controller. Using both is actually the safest. If one item fails no big deal. You have time to catch it and fix it.

I have both. I have it set up so my controller never kicks in to turn off my co2. It is just a fail safe in case the regulator or needle valve malfunctions. I have the bubble rate set to maintain a PH of about 6.4. I have the controller set to turn off the CO2 at 6.1.

So far this has worked great. It will take 2 malfunctions to kill my critters. I test the controller when I change out co2 bottles.

Rick

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 08:04 AM
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what brand needle valve , yves? my milwaukee, after being untouched and working fine for 2 months, suddenly fizzled out and although the PH controller was "on" and "alarm"ing, no co2 could pump thru as the needle valve totally shut it off, i still don't know why. the PH went from 7.0 to 8.3 overnight, clowns got ick.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 05:40 PM
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The needle valve sound like it got contaminated with some debris. Can happen at any time. With that large an increase in pH, your' CO2 must have been quite high. Usually, pH changes alone aren't enough to cause disease. How often do you change water, what's the temp? Bad luck if it did.

One problem that can occur, that has not been mentioned, is the end of tank phenomenon where the pressure of the CO2 goes up dramatically when the liquid CO2 is gone and the tank fills with gas when the tank is nearly empty. This can cause a large dump of CO2 into your tank, possibly killing your fish. I just ordered a pH controller just for this reason. I will also use it only as a fail-safe device, using the needle valve as the primary controlling unit.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 06:15 PM
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well i didnt mention that after i saw the ph 8.3 i immediately pumped the co2 back to 7.0. the day before i also just purchased 15 rummy nose tetras, they were the ich'd ones. they then spread it to the cardinals and clowns. so i guess taking all that into account you can see where the ich came from.

as far as my co2 being quite high... yah my tap water peaks out at 8.3 after sitting there for awhile. with co2 i have it lowered to 7.0, and i also have some wood in there, i think that lowers ph too. nevertheless the fish dont suffer with my co2 level and its been like that for a coupla months (the life of my tank). i try to do water changes once a week, usually ends up being every 10 days. temp is 79
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. Just received today my SMS122 controller. I will be doing like most have recommended, use it as a secondary failsafe.

I think I'm part to blame for not doing frequent water changes. Also, the bubble counter was dry (so I never noticed the bubble rate). Probably because it evaporated all the water in it with such a high stream of CO2. The brass nozzle of the bubble counter is pretty oxidated. So I'm assuming maybe the needle needs cleaning too.

I also try to maintain my CO2 levels with the bubble counter. But at least I could have possibly avoided this issue with the controller. Which is why I bought it now.

I have a question for everyone, how deep are you guys putting the probe? And with what are you holding it with? Oh and what's the idea location?

Thanks again everyone!
PS. All my fish seem to be doing well!!!

Yves

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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2006, 08:48 PM
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I just have the top 1/8 inch or so of my prob out of the water. I attached it to a suction cup with a tie strap. The strap goes around the top black part of the prob. The suction cup of course just sticks to the glass. I have mine mounted opposite from the co2 regulator. On the theory if it is far away from the co2 source I am measuring co2 in one of the lowest concentrated areas of the tank.



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