New CO2 - balancing O2/CO2 with surface agitation - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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New CO2 - balancing O2/CO2 with surface agitation

Hi all - I've searched, but still hopeful for some specific advice on the setup I've got going, and my balance of needs for both flora and fauna.

I decided to stock my tank with two free swimming species - zebras and white clouds. I started dosing as of a few days ago. Yesterday, I switched my platies to another tank, and acquired a large addition of white clouds, so the new occupants, as of yesterday, amount to 7 white clouds, 4 RCS, 3 amano. The tank now totals 6 zebra danios, 9 white clouds, and the shrimp.

I began dosing pretty conservatively, as I hadn't received my drop checker yet, and the other day, when I did goose the CO2 a bit - from 1b/2s to 1b/1.5 s, I noticed my platies going to the surface under what seemed like oxygen duress, within an hour of the increased CO2.

Today, a gentler increase of CO2 - currently, from 1 b/2 sec to 1b/1.67 seconds. Nevertheless, within 30 minutes, many of the white clouds had gone to the surface.

I had thought I had adequate flow from the Fluval 205 set to maximum, in this 20H - there was surface ripple. The outflow was about 2" below and parallel to the surface. Representative pic:



and from below:



Thinking to try to maintain O2 while providing for adequate CO2, I've unclipped the outflow hose, so it now "shoots" at the surface, from just below the surface. As it stands now:



from below:



The fish seem "happier," and there is a good deal of small air dispersed, now. However, looking at a primitive DIY drop checker I rigged (until my glass checker and standard solution arrives, I made this ugly thing, and a reference solution using one of Hoppy's formula of 6 g. H2C03, 1L, diluted to 4 dkH - thanks, Hoppy). I know measurement errors, and the volatile nature of bicarbonate can skew the checker, but as a rough estimate, I wanted to get it into the tank now, rather than waiting until the proper equipment arrived. The checker has stabilized at a blue-green, which tells me I'm somewhere around 20 PPM CO2, certainly not 30 PPM:



The pic is a bit off - it is bluer in reality than in the pic. Not as blue as "pure" reagent, but not green, either.

My question is this - and I know it's hard to tell from the pics - but as I'm splashing a fair amount of water under the "higher" agitation regime, and it runs more noisily, I'd hope I've enough agitation to maintan adequate O2 under the "low agitation" orientation, above. I've nothing to compare it to, to know what "proper" agitation means. Can anyone offer any thoughts on which of the two orientations above would likely be necessary, to sustain O2 for these animals, while increasing the CO2 rate to ensure CO2 adequate saturation for the plants?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 08:56 PM
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Some fish will choke a lot faster than others, mainly the ones you have chosen,
molly's, platy's, white clouds etc. injecting Co2 into the water, you are in turn
making the water acidic, you want too choose fish accordingly.

During the time you are burning your lights for plant growth, you want the least
amount of surface movement you can get, doesn't have to be perfect.

At lights out raise out-pipe to lightly break the surface for a good aeration,
or add an air stone.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by WfxXx View Post
Some fish will choke a lot faster than others, mainly the ones you have chosen,
molly's, platy's, white clouds etc. injecting Co2 into the water, you are in turn
making the water acidic, you want too choose fish accordingly.

During the time you are burning your lights for plant growth, you want the least
amount of surface movement you can get, doesn't have to be perfect.

At lights out raise out-pipe to lightly break the surface for a good aeration,
or add an air stone.
Well, that's not great news! I love the clouds - in a large school, their color is very nice, I find, and I enjoy their character. I am puzzled though, since from what I've read, clouds like a slightly acidic pH?

The zebras, the same, I'm presuming? I should add that my kH is 140-144 ppm. Any recommendations, or a source that specifically sources a better fauna fit for CO2-regime tanks, with a lower pH, such as this?
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 09:06 PM
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Most any South American/Amazonian fish.

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 09:17 PM
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Paul,
You may wish to read over this thread at barrreport.com, it has photos and videos of surface movement in various tanks. Judging from your photos I would say you would be better off somewhere between those two extremes. I can't speak to the fish concerns, as I've never kept those, but I have never had issues with black mollies in my tank.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 09:29 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by imeridian View Post
Paul,
You may wish to read over this thread at barrreport.com, it has photos and videos of surface movement in various tanks. Judging from your photos I would say you would be better off somewhere between those two extremes. I can't speak to the fish concerns, as I've never kept those, but I have never had issues with black mollies in my tank.
Imeridian, thanks - fantastic resource. I guess my game plan going in is to increase the agitation on a line with the images you linked to, and watch my CO2 content at the same time - incrementally increasing the bubble rate until I get reasonable CO2, while preserving the O2 content. Reasonable?
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 09:39 PM
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Yes, that's what I would do. Set appropriate surface movement and then adjust the CO2 injection level to compensate. I like to keep the surface agitation consistent between night and day, it's one less thing to worry about that way.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 09:47 PM
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If you could list more info about the set up, it will be helpful.
Tank size, CO2 injection method, and the typical pH and hardness of your water will all be useful.

Also, what are you using as a bubble counter? There is no standard size of bubble... Please make sure you are counting BPS using a stop watch, and not guesstimating.

Getting the appropriate levels of CO2 in a tank can be challenging at times, the more info you provide, the more likely we can help.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minsc View Post
If you could list more info about the set up, it will be helpful.
Tank size, CO2 injection method, and the typical pH and hardness of your water will all be useful.

Also, what are you using as a bubble counter? There is no standard size of bubble... Please make sure you are counting BPS using a stop watch, and not guesstimating.

Getting the appropriate levels of CO2 in a tank can be challenging at times, the more info you provide, the more likely we can help.
Minsc, thanks for the reply.

Tank is a 20H - 12W" x 24" L x 16"H.

Co2 injection is pressure, with swagelok needle, JBJ counter, and a reactor in the tank off of "Nico's" method, using a Hagen mini elite. I have stopped counting bps by the JBJ, and listen to the "spritz" of the CO2 hitting the Mini-elite impeller as a bubble counter. I count out anywhere from 30-60 "pulses" (depending on whether I've just changed the rate or not, so take a longer read to minimize variation errors), to get a BPS rate. I also have the above DIY drop-checker installed.

Follow full EI.

pH of my tap is about 7.8. I have a huge piece of mopani in this tank, long as the tank, about half as tall; tank pH yesterday was 6.6. Chicago kpH is 144 ppm (I use tap water, Prime treatment, at weekly 50% water change).
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 09:59 PM
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CO2 is pretty cheap - I filled my 5 pound tank today for $18 and it lasted me about 2 months last time. So, the goal shouldn't be to minimize loss of CO2 from the water with pressurized CO2. When you use DIY CO2 you have different concerns, since just getting enough CO2 that way is a problem.

I think it is best to have significant surface ripple, so the entire water surface has some ripple. The link imeridian posted is what I consider good surface ripple, even though Tom Barr has much more than that in his 180 gallon tank. (Probably because it is much bigger than my 45 gallon tank.)

I keep that ripple the same 24 hours a day. I don't have any plants near the water surface, so I want the concentration of CO2 in the top quarter of the water to be lower than the rest of the tank, and I think the ripple helps it to be that.

Mollies tend to suck at the water surface naturally, CO2 or no CO2, so I don't think what you saw with them was CO2 distress. This is how a drop checker helps us. I know I was very concerned when I used to try to increase my bubble rate, because I thought I saw terribly distressed fish. Once I got the drop checker going I could ignore the fish for awhile and get the checker to be green, knowing that I would not have too much for the fish. That let me start at the green drop checker, and very slowly try to increase the bubble rate a little every day. I soon found out what real fish distress looks like! Now I know that a drop checker can be green to yellow green and it isn't likely that you will have distressed fish. But, beyond that it becomes much more likely.

Little fish tend not to be as disturbed by CO2 as big fish are. My "lambchop" rasboras never seem to be bothered until all of the other fish are clustered at the surface. But, my Yoyo loaches, the biggest fish I have, seem to be the first to show distress, usually by first just laying on the substrate, sometimes on their side, and later by swimming at the very top, in the corner, with their mouth up at the surface.

Unfortunately, my cheap Milwaukee regulator/needle valve isn't suitable for making small bubble rate adjustments, so I too often get to see fish distress. I am stopping that activity until I get a better needle valve some day.

Hoppy
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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I knew White Clouds to be surface guys by predisposition, and wondered whether I mistook a normal behavior for stress. Regardless, many thanks for the excellent information, as I was under-agitating the tank anyway. As I mentioned in PM, the only issue I foresee are my tall spiralis, which have a tendency to grow and lay on the surface - but I think I'll clip them anyway, since the mat they form will eventually occlude too much light, anyway.

Thank you all - valuable lessons learned.

Paul

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
CO2 is pretty cheap - I filled my 5 pound tank today for $18 and it lasted me about 2 months last time. So, the goal shouldn't be to minimize loss of CO2 from the water with pressurized CO2. When you use DIY CO2 you have different concerns, since just getting enough CO2 that way is a problem.

I think it is best to have significant surface ripple, so the entire water surface has some ripple. The link imeridian posted is what I consider good surface ripple, even though Tom Barr has much more than that in his 180 gallon tank. (Probably because it is much bigger than my 45 gallon tank.)

I keep that ripple the same 24 hours a day. I don't have any plants near the water surface, so I want the concentration of CO2 in the top quarter of the water to be lower than the rest of the tank, and I think the ripple helps it to be that.

Mollies tend to suck at the water surface naturally, CO2 or no CO2, so I don't think what you saw with them was CO2 distress. This is how a drop checker helps us. I know I was very concerned when I used to try to increase my bubble rate, because I thought I saw terribly distressed fish. Once I got the drop checker going I could ignore the fish for awhile and get the checker to be green, knowing that I would not have too much for the fish. That let me start at the green drop checker, and very slowly try to increase the bubble rate a little every day. I soon found out what real fish distress looks like! Now I know that a drop checker can be green to yellow green and it isn't likely that you will have distressed fish. But, beyond that it becomes much more likely.

Little fish tend not to be as disturbed by CO2 as big fish are. My "lambchop" rasboras never seem to be bothered until all of the other fish are clustered at the surface. But, my Yoyo loaches, the biggest fish I have, seem to be the first to show distress, usually by first just laying on the substrate, sometimes on their side, and later by swimming at the very top, in the corner, with their mouth up at the surface.

Unfortunately, my cheap Milwaukee regulator/needle valve isn't suitable for making small bubble rate adjustments, so I too often get to see fish distress. I am stopping that activity until I get a better needle valve some day.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CagoPaul View Post
I knew White Clouds to be surface guys by predisposition, and wondered whether I mistook a normal behavior for stress.
With my black mollies, if they begin to sort of hang listless at the surface, instead of flitting around at the surface, then I know something is amiss.

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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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With my black mollies, if they begin to sort of hang listless at the surface, instead of flitting around at the surface, then I know something is amiss.
Helpful distinction - the white clouds do flit, and they were just hanging, as a suspended school, with their noses to the surface.

Interestingly, at a higher bubble rate from yesterday, but increased agitation, the checker moved to green this afternoon, yet all the fish have returned to "normal" - the clouds are just being goofy as ever, seemingly lost, trying to figure out which 2" burst/direction to go to next...LOL.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 10:50 PM
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Some fish still choke sooner than others, regardless, so choosing fish according to tank standards I should say is still of benefit.

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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-26-2009, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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Some fish still choke sooner than others, regardless, so choosing fish according to tank standards I should say is still of benefit.
I'd agree, Wolfen, it makes sense - I'm still very much in a learning phase, and hoping to isolate one variable of things at a time to learn properly, but your point is understood and well taken, and it's in the mix. Thanks for the thoughts.

By the way, I was again on your 29 tank profile today - considering some HC, E. parvula, or both, in lieu of attempting to get a thicker C. parva cover up front, on mine. You've a really beautiful tank.

Paul
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