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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-30-2014, 02:22 AM Thread Starter
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CO2 Issues

I have a 40-gal breeder set up as a planted, turtle tank. There is about 22-25 gal of water in the tank. I have a 5lb CO2 tank with solenoid and pH regulator hooked up to a diffuser in one corner of the tank. In the opposite corner, I have a CO2 drop checker.

I just cleared up an issue with my KH being quite high (~15dKH; now down to about 8dKH). During the time KH was off, I started going through my CO2 tank way too quickly - all 5lbs didn't even last a month, but my drop checker has just about always read green. I was told the KH was the problem. But now that I've corrected that problem, my CO2 issue has gotten worse. I've used almost half the tank in four days, and when the system has switched off, the drop checker turns blue.

I've calibrated my pH probe - it wasn't off. I've adjusted my pH controller to only kick on above 7.0pH.

What could be going wrong? Thank you for any advice and help!
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-30-2014, 04:50 AM
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Not to wanting to ask the obvious, but have you checked for leaks?
Maybe some CO2 is leaking from the regulator or the tubing?
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-30-2014, 08:18 AM
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Smile Valley of the Sun is More Romantic Than Salt River Valley

Hi,

Why would the KH be the problem? What was the problem that led to the advice that KH was the problem? While 15-dKH is on the high end; for much of the Salt River Valley, 15-dKH is rather normal.

In addition to checking for leaks, can you tell us what your pH controller was set for before the reduction in KH?

  • Hint; setting the pH controller to for pH 7.3 (pH 7.27) should yield the same result CO2 wise as pH 7.0 for 8d-KH water.

How did you reduce the KH?

Basically any information you can share will help, filtration (turtles are messy), water change, aeration, so forth may help.

Respectfully,
Joe
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-30-2014, 11:07 AM
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Dont trust your drop checker whats your ph tap and tap.
Have you added aeration or surface agitation?


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-31-2014, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you

Thank you for all of your responses!


Quote:
Originally Posted by flynruff View Post
Not to wanting to ask the obvious, but have you checked for leaks?
Maybe some CO2 is leaking from the regulator or the tubing?
I have checked for leaks, but haven't found anything. As I am still learning the system and concerned that there could be a leak I'm not noticing, my boyfriend, who has more experience with systems like this, is coming to help me this weekend. Thank you for the reminder to go further with that check. Kept thinking it has to be the tank.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeRoun View Post
Hi,

Why would the KH be the problem? What was the problem that led to the advice that KH was the problem? While 15-dKH is on the high end; for much of the Salt River Valley, 15-dKH is rather normal.

In addition to checking for leaks, can you tell us what your pH controller was set for before the reduction in KH?

  • Hint; setting the pH controller to for pH 7.3 (pH 7.27) should yield the same result CO2 wise as pH 7.0 for 8d-KH water.

How did you reduce the KH?

Basically any information you can share will help, filtration (turtles are messy), water change, aeration, so forth may help.

Respectfully,
Joe
FBTB

I have a ZooMed Canister filter that is rated for a 75-gal turtle tank. I only have one 2" Sawback Turtle (a.k.a. Map Turtle), which is not even close to the messiest turtles for which that filter is rated. On the return, the filter runs the water through a UV sterilizer. The water return runs at the top of the tank line about 5" above water level.

I am looking at putting the in-line diffuser on the filter return. I haven't done it yet because this tank is in my classroom and (mainly) parent funded. I have to show need before I can purchase. (I'm seeing a need for the in-line diffuser.)

When I started the tank back in July, and prior to adding plants, I was using straight RODI, but my pH was very acidic - i.e., 4.2. I realize now I must have only been getting RO. In the transition, I started using "plant water" from a local planted tank/fish store. I was also adding a pH buffer which raised the KH, hense the KH problem.

Finally, it was explained that the "plant water" already has a KH added so adding the pH buffer means I'm throwing it off even more. To get the KH down, I did two 10-gal water changes, one week apart, which is just shy of 50% on my tank. I'm now sitting at 8dKH consistantly for four-five days.

Originally, I set the pH controller for 7.0. At one point, I dropped it down to 6.8 because I was watching the drop checker. I've been told in a couple of places now to just set it at 7.0, and it should be safe. I fluctuate between 6.9 and 7.1

I started working on all of this when I kept seeing my plants getting holes in their leaves. I've now been adding Leaf Aquatics' liquid Potassium and Elements. I'm seeing repair and new plant growth already.

Being as beginner as you can get (only three months in the hobby), I welcome any advice you have. Thanks!!



This is the right side of the tank.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-31-2014, 07:47 PM
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Your spray bar is above the water level and agitating the surface. This is probably causing all your c02 to gas out of the water. Put your spray bar under the surface.

Make sure your turtle is getting enough calcium or else the low ph will start to damage their shell.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 12:27 AM
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I don't know about the spray bar up that high. I don't agree with devilduck that it's pushing "all" the CO2 out of the tank with the surface agitation though. I think it may be a circulation issue. With the CO2 being in the corner beneath the spray bar that shoots out away from it, I would think most of the CO2 is just bubbling up and out of the aquarium and not being circulated around the tank.

Also, pH is not a good indicator of CO2 concentration because there are more ions buffering the water than just carbonate (phosphate, mainly). I believe the drop in pH of a sample of tank water with a given hardness will give you a more accurate estimate of CO2 concentrations. Unfortunately, that's not a quick check. The drop checker is good, but can take several hours to give you the true reading of the CO2 concentration. Do you have a bubble counter?

Oh, and I agree with most others, probably a leak. I had the same thing happen my last refill and I found the washer between the regulator and the cylinder was not seated correctly and I burned through the whole thing in only a month where the last tank lasted me 4 months... So I'd check for leaks as suggested. I guess related...how are you checking for leaks? Soapy water or just feeling with your hand?

Old tanks, all torn down:
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Hope to get a new tank (or two) up soon...
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 12:35 AM
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Hi Megan,

I am with devilduck, the spray bar is an obvious source of CO2 loss, move it under the waterline. The type of diffuser you are using is not particularly efficient (wasted CO2), it should be adequate.

At 8-dKH, setting your controller to pH 6.9 should give you 30-33-ppm CO2, at 15-dKH (I recommend going back to tap water) setting your controller pH 7.2 will also give you 30-33-ppm CO2, which is convenient since it takes about 30-ppm to saturate Prantl’s boundary. Though given the plants 10-15-ppm CO2 is helpful.

I seriously recommend staying away from the expensive fertilizers; they are a ridiculous waste of money.

It is of no use to provide excess CO2 (for our purposes, a fertilizer) without providing excess macronutrients and micronutrients.

As I mentioned earlier I also think you should go back to tap water, your life will be easier.

Mainly have fun with it; it looks a very nice palladarium.


Respectfully,
Joe
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 07:03 AM
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Hi Megan,

While I agree with Ethan the spray bar will not be responsible for all the loss of CO2 (yes, devilduck making a point, made a modest overstatement, a little literary license among friends), I think the “waterfall” is certainly not helping CO2 retention.

I also agree checking for leaks is a very good idea, ultimately though every bubble you can see coming out of that diffuser is wasted CO2 as far as adding solvated CO2 that 30-mg per liter we desire.

In Phoenix, water pH and KH are a reasonable indicator of CO2. Obviously, it is not difficult to test.

Megan, if I read your last post correctly you indicated that setting the pH controller while watching the drop checker and I understood you to set controller based on that reading. Assuming I did not misunderstand and you were within the ranges it is fair to say the bicarbonate/carbonate (KH) buffer is in control.

It is correct to say that drop checkers need a couple of hours. Drop checkers are just fine, especially when starting out, after a while your plants will tell you everything you need to know. Even if phosphates or something other than KH buffered your water, the drop checker will still give you a reasonable reading. Adjust your pH controller referencing the drop checker if there is a disparity.


The calculation everyone is using is correct for bicarbonate/carbonate solutions at 25C (77F). The more other stuff we add, the less precise the calculation.



Our little food-fights aside, the calculation is reasonably safe and reasonably accurate for bicarbonate/carbonate (KH) solutions from 10C (58F) to 30C (86F) and from 1-dKH to 20-dKH.

Notice that your drop checker probably has a 4-dKH solution with three or so drops of 0.1% Bromothymol blue and should not have anything else in solution; the only significant effects on the reading are the temperature and the observer’s ability to determine the colorimetric scale.

With drop checkers if the temperature of the solution is under 25C (77F) the reported CO2 will be somewhat high, over 25C and the reported CO2 will be a bit low. We are not looking for absolutes, more a range, I like something like 32-ppm CO2, the atmosphere is providing around 3-ppm CO2, your drop checker is reading that as well.
Honest, it is not as complicated as we are making it sound.


Respectfully,
Joe
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-01-2014, 02:11 PM
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Alright "all the co2" maybe an overstatement. Let me rephrase, the spraybar is most likely the main source of your co2 loss.

When I first started using co2 and using a cheap needle valve, I nearly gassed my fish several times. I get home from work and they will all be at the surface gasping. The quick solution was to raise the spray bar above the water line, just like you have it, and literally within minutes the fish would start behaving normally.

PS. I envy your lovely planted turtle tank btw. I have a 27 year old red ear slider that destroys the toughest of silk and plastic plants.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-02-2014, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeRoun View Post
I am with devilduck, the spray bar is an obvious source of CO2 loss, move it under the waterline. The type of diffuser you are using is not particularly efficient (wasted CO2), it should be adequate.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeRoun View Post
As I mentioned earlier I also think you should go back to tap water, your life will be easier.
FBTB

We did the soap test - no leaks. We are getting an inline diffuser and then moving the return under the water line. Our problem is that it doesn't give a lot of aeration. Since we have fish, we need to make sure the oxygen level is high. Having the return bar above water level took care of that issue. We are still looking at the best way to solve that problem.

I live in Arizona, and we have city water. Our tap water is not safe for a tank, and I do not trust the additives that claim to make it safe. Due to that, we don't use tap at all.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-02-2014, 06:19 PM
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I'm in Phoenix. I use city water in all my tanks. Conditioned with Prime I have had zero issues.
Without trying my Blue Rams and cardinal tetras have spawned.

From my understanding all you need for adequate gas transfer (oxygenation) is a rippled surface. My outflows are underwater and pointing up to ripple the surface. I inject CO2 to around the 30ppm mark and see no distress in the fish.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 08:01 PM
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Hi Megan,

I agree with flynruff a little surface agitation is enough for Oxygen requirements and that Phoenix water is fine for aquarium use, even drinking. I am a fan of running tap water through a charcoal filter, takes out the chlorine and copper; my tap water isn’t as good as yours. I like whole house filtration, cheap, easy and effective.

I spent a little time studying Phoenix water; the only things added to your water are flocculants to clear the water, which are removed, fluoride, for tooth health (or a plot to subjugate humanity by those in the hollow moon) and Chlorine, Chlorine dioxide and Ozone.

Since Phoenix, water is surface water and there is no killing freeze cycle, there are high microbial populations and total organic carbon to be dealt with hence the Chlorine is dosed at a very high rate.

High Chlorine levels result in high, though by no means lethal by-products of disinfection. Haloacetic Acids and trihalomethanes (chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform) are the big problems, though there levels are highly regulated. Thankfully, charcoal filtration reduces these and any free Chlorine; this is the process better bottled water companies use.

Total organic carbon (TOC) among other things reacts with disinfectants producing higher levels of disinfectant by-products (DSB). By law in the United States, water must contain at least 0.2-ppm Chlorine when it leaves for distribution. Chlorine dioxide (ClO2) and/or Ozone (O3), as disinfectant or oxidizers remove iron, manganese and destroy TOC, thereby reducing the DBS nasties.

Every solution of course brings a problem the use of Chlorine dioxide produces Chlorite (ClO2-) and while the regulations keep ClO2- from being much of a problem, charcoal filters do an excellent job removing it.

Ozone, produce Bromates, I confess the dangers of Bromate is unclear to me. It is highly regulated in drinking water but not in food. Still once again, charcoal filters come in the first run through activated charcoal reduces Bromates by 45%, second run reduces another 10% (50.5% total reduction).

The fluoride would require reverse osmosis (RO) to defeat the people of the hollow moon.

This is more information than anyone wanted, I know, I just cannot help myself.

My recommendation to most folks is whole house filtration ($20 or so from the big box stores) at minimum two charcoal filters; in my house, I have a sediment filter in front of the charcoal filters. If you have a water softener, the whole house filters go before the water softener.

Your Phoenix water is fine for the system you have…

Respectfully,
Joe
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Last edited by JoeRoun; 11-03-2014 at 08:03 PM. Reason: color; use
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-03-2014, 08:30 PM
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Honestly I think surface agitation is the root of your issues.

Your spray bar is gassing out a ton of CO2 - enough so that it is a large detriment to inject CO2 in the first place. Get that thing underwater and eliminate 95% of that agitation. You do not need a waterfall to get enough agitation to get O2 into your tank. A light ripple is enough - I run my spraybar like 3" under the surface and it creates ripples across the top. It never breaks the surface though - that is when you get serious air exchange / gassing out of CO2.

While I don't think this is your entire problem I think it is the first thing you need to fix.

As others have said the flow in your tank is most likely wack with that setup. You need a good current that hits all areas of the tank. Dead spots = no CO2 is getting there.

IMO don't waste time and energy chasing water parameters. There are no 'magic numbers' you need to hit in regards to KH / pH / whatever. Deal with your tap water and make it work. Trust me - you will run into far more problems by constantly changing things vs. just figuring out how to succeed in your particular situation. Stability will come as a result of trial and error. It honestly pisses me off when users give advice like "oh your KH is too high - lower your KH and you'll be fine". It's silly. Just because their tank has good results at a certain KH does not mean that your problem is KH. There are no defined answers to getting everything to work - only guides that you can follow for your own specific tank.

FYI I also use a pH controller to dial in my CO2. What you really need to do is find the point where you know there is a lot of CO2 in there and set it at that pH. It is different for every tank. Again - there is no 'magic number' here. I set my pH controller to inject CO2 down to 6.1 pH. Yours may be 7.5 - who knows. My drop checker is totally yellow but my fish are all totally fine. Once you fix your spraybar and flow just start to see what happens as you add CO2. You will know when you hit the point where there is too much. Your fauna will be lazy or at the surface - this means they're struggling. It that happens get some surface agitation in there by pointing the bar up at the surface or do a water change.

I started out the same way. I looked up what my KH and pH and all that crap needed to be and tried to mimic others' tanks. My high tech really only started to succeed when I stopped hunting numbers and made it work my own way. Instability = problems. Just roll with what you got and it will come together eventually.

This is a good chart to reference as a starting point to CO2. Drop checkers are not even close to 100% accurate. They are just good indicators to use as a guide. Again use this chart as a starting point to adjust your pH controller - not a target - it is not 100% accurate and varies per tank.
http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...O2-pH-KH-table

According to that chart I am dosing like 70PPM of CO2 but I don't care or trust it because, again, my fish/plants are fine. Gauging how your flora / fauna react to CO2 is the only true way to know if your CO2 levels are adequate (or not).

Good luck


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Last edited by klibs; 11-03-2014 at 08:44 PM. Reason: do what i want
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