Problem with CO2/ph/kh - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2007, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
 
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Problem with CO2/ph/kh

O.k., I have an established 20 gal planted freshwater tank. I test using the Nutrafin Hagen/Nutrafin master kit. I have had a yeast co2 generator in the tank for a while. The ph stays around 7.2. I have about 3 watts/gallon of compact flourescent light on for about 13 hours/day. I have not seen any of my plants flourishing. I add flourish, flourish with iron, and flourish with potassium. I never really got on a schedule with dosing these, as when I started, it seemed to have no real effect. ( I know this isn't true, but that's how it looked) So I stopped dosing. It seemed with frequent (weekly) water changes and dosing, I ran into more problems, so I laid back on the water changes and testing all together and everything seems fine with a monthly water change. I have just added some new plants and I would like for them to do well. This seems wierd, but when I test the ph and kh to estimate the co2 level, I am never in the green zone, only the white. I added a second co2 generator (the fizzing tablet kind) but this doesn't seemed to have helped. My ph is currently 7.6 and my kh is 80 ppm. That gives me a co2 level of 3.391. I know that this is way too low for my plants. I added some kh+ and the ph went up along with the kh. Originally, my ph was 7.2 and kh was 5. I am not seeing the co2 generators produce a ph drop. I don't know how to increase the co2 level in the tank. I also must mention that I have a piece of driftwood in the tank. I got that from Big Al's, so it is fine for the tank and has been in there for at least a year. This all might sound like a newbie ranting, but I do need help. Any suggestions would be great. I just want to increase my co2 level. Thanks
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2007, 07:11 PM
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The fizzing CO2 tablets will only generate CO2 for about a minute then nada. I used them once with a pH monitor and was surprized at the sudden plunge back and forth of pH - can't be good for fish and the white dust everywhere wasn't exactly great either.

If you are using DIY CO2 using bread yeast (hint: the packets that come with the Hagen kit are bread yeast and baking soda) then keep in mind the solution really only works for max two weeks. I used to have a 25 gallon long, and had a hard time keeping the CO2 levels high enough with two 2-liter bottles of DIY CO2 (my tank typically had 15ppm of CO2 with that setup).

There's actually two problems with DIY CO2: 1) getting enough CO2 and 2) keeping the levels of CO2 consistent. Either one will lead to algae problems. Having two bottles helps with issue #2 a bit since you can alternate when you change solutions to keep things evened out. I found that it also helps to use Champagne yeast (order online or go to a local brewing supply shop) which not only lasts longer but also has a more even output of CO2. The bread yeast would have this big spike the first day or so and peter out the next 10 days or so.

Also, you don't say what your filter is - if it's a HOB (hang-on-the-back) then you're losing a lot of your CO2. You may want to consider complementing your DIY CO2 with a little Excel everyday to boost your levels and even things out, especially if you have issues with losing CO2 to filtration.

P.S. Boosting your KH or lowering your pH with chemicals or driftwood, has ZERO effect on the amount of CO2 in your water. Only the amount of CO2 you inject into the water affects the amount of CO2 in your water. We use the levels of KH and pH simply as an indirect way to measure CO2.

P.P.S. The EI dosing regime (for example WolfenxXx's superb Dosing Regime sticky) is really ONLY for a typical high-tech tank: high-light, pressurized CO2. That is NOT your tank. You need to cut down on the amount and frequency of water changes (leads to inconsistent CO2 levels), and only dose in small amounts and then only the things that your plants are telling you that you need (small holes=more potassium, GSA=more phosphate).

Remember the Golden Rule of Planted Tanks:
more CO2 => more lights => more Ferts
less CO2 => less lights => less Ferts
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2007, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the quick reply! I do have a H.O.B. filter. I just want my plants to grow and look healthy. I will stop messing around with the kh test and booster. I have no idea when to add what. My leaves seems to decompose on the plant (ie turn brown and then translucent). I think this is a sign of potassium deficiency and I have flourish potassium, but I don't know how much to add how frequently. Since there is no reliable way of measuring it. Should I just add 5ml/day until the leaves stop dying? How will I know if I have too much? I will chill out on the water changes. I can just top the tank off every week or so and do monthly or bi-monthly water changes. I never thought I had to be a chemist to have nice looking, healthy plants in my tank. Also, with the fizzy co2 tablets: That system came with a large plastic diffuser (I think that's what that part is called) It sticks to the side of the tank upside down so it looks kinda like an upside down piece of tupperware. When I put a fizzy tab in, the diffuser fills up with co2. It seems to be absorbed into the water over the course of one day. I do not see a ph drop like I expect. I realize I was doing the wrong thing by adding the kh+, but it does get confusing. I have also been dosing flourish iron every day or every other day to try and keep the chelated iron around .25 or .30. I will continue to do this, but how often should I dose regular flourish? The potassium I will add 5 ml/day until I see some sort of change... either positive or negative. Thanks again for the advise. Just want my fishies to have a natural looking home.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2007, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
 
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This is the style of rock I have in the tank. Could this be playing games with my ph so I don't see a drop from the co2?
Mine is like the one on the left.

http://kijiji.ebayimg.com/i11/03/i/0...57/ec70_18.JPG
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2007, 09:46 PM
 
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that pic is so small it looks like an eight
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2007, 10:52 PM
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the rock not sure about at worst it will gradually boost your KH values but don't sweat it. If you boost the KH the only thing that will happen is the pH values will just shift up. For example my pH is 5.65 in the morning and 5.8 at night. If I add baking soda to boost the KH, the values shift to 5.8 and 6.0. When was the last time you changed the solution? How much splashing do you have from your filter? These are the real questions.

If you have a HOB filter, just save yourself a big headache and use your Hagen CO2 kit and supplement with Excel. The nice thing with using Excel is that you don't have to worry about the carbon gassing off with surface turbulence and it helps with preventing algae. The browning leaves etc is due to low CO2, don't start messing with ferts you really don't need much other than the Flourish unless you start seeing specific issues. BUT you need to get the CO2 sorted out first and let it sit for a week or two, so you know what is causing what. Keep the water level as high as possible to reduce the loss of CO2 also.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2007, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
 
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Here is the link to a pic of my tank. I will get some Excel and supplement the carbon with that. I keep the water level really high in the tank to minimize surface turbulence. Thanks for the help and let me know what you think of my tank pic.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2007, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-01-2007, 01:56 AM
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Take a few minutes and read my Guide. Pay particular attention to the Nutrient section. Your plants are starving to death by your own admission.

And head to Aquarium Plants, Aquatic Plants, Planted Aquariums, and Aquarium Plant Fertilizer and get some dry ferts. It will take just about 6-7 capfuls of the Seachem Potassium to get to the recommended 20 ppm. And you would still need to find a source of nitrates and phosphates. Greg Watson is your best and cheapest source.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-01-2007, 02:32 AM
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That big plant in the back? Isn't that a terrestrial plant? If so, it will slowly rot in the tank.

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-01-2007, 04:51 AM
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That sure looks like a terrestrial plant to me. Because if it was an aquatic plant I'm sure both Hoppy and I would have one.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-01-2007, 08:10 AM Thread Starter
 
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I don't kno0w what the name of that big plant in the back is. I just got it at petco and it was labeled as an aquatic plant. I never buy plants from a tank at that store... snails. It was in one of those aquagel packs.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-01-2007, 08:16 PM
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The big yellow and green plant in the back is definitely not a true aquatic. I'm not sure about the others. Unfortunately, Petco's are notorious for selling 'aquatic' plants that aren't really aquatic. If you don't have a good independent LFS (i.e. not a Petco, Walmart, Petsmart, etc.) then I would only get plants from other plant geeks at the forum here or through a local club. Definitely use dry ferts from greg watson, for less than $20 you can get a year or two's supply of everything you need. But get your CO2 situation fixed first or the plants won't be able to use the nutrients in the water.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-01-2007, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, I spent the day at work on my sidekick trying to figure all of this out. I did find a lfs that's only 15 minutes away that I didn't know about. I went there after work and they were slightly helpful. I picked up a moneywort, baby tears, and 2 more that I still don't know what they are. My excel and 6700 cf 55 watter should be here on Saturday, so what I am doing is adding 5 ml of flourish pottassium every other day and trying to keep the chelated iron at around .25 - .30. I will start the excel as soon as I get it and dose that according to package directions. I hope to see some improvement within a week of starting. Will I get a ph drop from the excel like with the co2? I still have both of the cheapo generators connected. I will keep the hagen yeast generator going and I will only use the jungle one as backup. The main question I still have is will I see the ph drop from using the excel? I hope so, because that way I can tell, according to the ph with the measurement for the kh added in, what the actual carbon level will be. Does that calculator work with the excel form of carbon or only co2? I will give it a few weeks maybe a month with the excel before I order the dry ferts from greg. I won't change the water until after I start the dry ferts so I can see the results of the flourish potassium and the excel.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-02-2007, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
 
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O.k., Here is an update. I just got my order from foster and smith. I got the 6700K cf bulb and a replacement versa top glass top. I broke my old one and had to buy a regular sub hood until this arrived. I also put the legs on the aqualight and man it looks great. The 50/50 bulb it came with just wasn't good enough for the plants. It was 65 watts as opposed to 55 watts for the 6700k, but this gives the plants the part of the spectrum they like. I put in a bunch of flourish tabs in the substrate to help with the bottom end fertalizing. Believe it or not, I had to lose the 3 new dwarf gouramis I just got because they were eating the plants. I never knew that they ate plants. Even with some seaweed on a clip in the tank. Still waiting for the flourish excel to come. That should be here on Tuesday. Once I get the co2/carbon issue stabilized in the good zone, I'm gonna order the dry ferts from Gregg Watson.
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