CO2 and pH ... do I need to worry? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-20-2009, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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CO2 and pH ... do I need to worry?

Talk to me about pH, CO2 and hardness. My was GH 5 and KH 3 when I last tested (over the weekend). I have pressurized CO2 running at about 45 bubbles per min. I just got my Drop Checker and better diffuser from GLA yesterday. The Drop Checker was blue after a couple hours, but the lights were off when I finally got home to see it.

I am going to cover my Sump to hopefully help with CO2 retention and reduce my out gassing.

I have started to add Barrs GH Booster. at the rate of 1/2 TSP each 50% water change.

Question I have is about my pH trending downward. The pH when I set the tank up no CO2 was around 7.2. It has steadily trended down to 6.45 with the addition of CO2. Is this anything to worry about. I know CO2 will drop my pH, but with the Drop Checker blue, I still need to add more...Should I be doing anything to keep the pH higher while trying to achieve my proper CO2 levels?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-20-2009, 03:41 PM
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The instructions on the drop checker i have say that you need to keep the KH at or above 4. I dont know if you have the same one but check your instructions, most likely they are the same. If KH drops below 4, the drop checker might not be accurate.

At the same time, when you start increasing your KH, your PH will rise as well. You can do this by adding baking soda. In a 50Gallon aquarium, 1 teaspoon of baking soda raises the KH by 1 point. So do the math to match what you need. Mix the baking soda with water in a cup first, and then pour it into the aquarium.

Also, 45 bubbles per minute is less then 1 bubble per second. You didnt say how big your aquarium is, but if its anything higher than 30 gallons, you might not reach a proper level of dissolved co2. I have a 50gallon and i'm running 3bps (180 per minute) to get the drop checker green. It can vary depending on how good your diffuser is.

First get your KH above 4, then see if you need to add more co2.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-20-2009, 04:23 PM
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Whoa! A drop checker works whatever the KH of the tank water is. The water in the drop checker bubble has to be about 4 dKH for the drop checker to be green at about 25-40 ppm of CO2. You don't need to worry about the tank KH, as long as it doesn't get too high so it is hard on the fish.

Tank water pH is meaningless for a planted tank with CO2 injection. Adding CO2 will drop the pH, but that drop doesn't affect either the fish or the plants.

Adding baking soda or any other substance to raise the KH can be harmful to the fish, unless it is done gradually, not all at once by just dumping teaspoon of stuff into the water. Sudden changes in KH are bad for fish. Low KH is not a problem for fish. Very high KH is a problem for some fish.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-20-2009, 04:28 PM
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edit- Ninja'd by Hoppy because I had to stop typing mid-post to scold my freaking cats

Whoa, first things first, let's talk about the drop checker... the solution that you put inside of the drop checker should be certified kH 4. Not lower than, not higher than. You should NEVER be using aquarium water inside of it. That's some eBay seller myth that somehow escaped the confines of eBay. If you don't have a certified kH of 4, you are not getting accurate readings.

Now, that being said, the kH of your tank water will have no effect on the kH of your drop checker solution. The two are unrelated.

I highly advise against adding any baking soda, or anything for that matter, to raise your pH. As far as hardness, if you are not happy with having softer water (not sure why, but to each his own!), use a product designed for increasing hardness in aquaria, like Seachem Equilibrium for instance. But don't start fighting the pH of your tank, because you are going to make this tank into a frustrating hassle for yourself!

A pH of 6.45 is good, so you are fine. And yes, I recommend upping your CO2 to about 1.0-1.5 bubbles per second to start with. You may need to adjust that as necessary depending on your diffusion method.

LOL, I can tell that you are coming fresh from the reef world. But in planted tanks, slightly acidic, softer water is a GOOD thing.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-20-2009, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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Cool... Thanks guys. I am trying to be methodical as I move through the process. I want to fully understand what is going on. I like th pH monitor, only because I can keep an eye on stability, I don't care where it is, as long as it is in the range of OK, and stays in that range

Bubbles will go up tonight. As for diffuser, I have one of the ones GLA makes. So lets talk about that since it was brought up, oh, 3 times now

I have my GLA diffuser, in the sump (waits for the gasps to stop) (LOL) right in front and below the intake on my return pump. so the fine mist of bubbles leaves my diffuser, gets abused by the impeller on the pump, travels up 3 feet of PVC to be ejected through one of 2 returns (I have an Ocean Motion 2-way) so the return is cycling left to right to left again, 1 minute to make a full cycle giving a great pattern in the tank for co2 to get everywhere.

What I am seeing (my reef roots show yet again) is a bunch of what I call Micro bubbles entering the tank from the sump. they go all over the place, down to the dirt, in the nooks and crannies, etc. Question, is that what we are looking for? In the reef world we work real hard to get ZERO micro bubbles, so it goes against my nature to pump bubbles into the pump But if that is the sign of good distribution and diffusing, then I am on the right track there.



Thanks again!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-20-2009, 06:23 PM
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Yeah, the microbubbles are a sign of CO2 presence, so it is a good thing. Many people don't like the "7-up effect" as it is sometimes called, and I can't say I disagree even though I'm ambivalent about it in my own tanks, so these people end up using a CO2 reactor instead of a diffuser. This pretty much gets you about 100% diffusion,and you don't see bubbles anymore (for the most part). Reactors can even be DIY'd very simply and cheaply. Check ye olde searche engine for more info. (sorry, I just finished watching the King of the Hill episode where the Renaissance Fest comes to town!)

I think it's safe to say that you are on the right track.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-20-2009, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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yarrr, then it may be a reactor I been searching for. Alas, me gold has been spent of dat little crystal maker of tisy bubbles, and that be where I's be layin my bed on fer now. It may be 2 moons before i's convinced me efforts are not in vein. Tis been a true pleasure chewin yer ear for now. Yous been spared da yardarm, fer I's thinkin that picking yer mind may be a better bet than tossing ya over board. Tell the bar Wench, next ale is on ol WarDaddy.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-21-2009, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Ahoy, glass box keepers.

So I have made 2 adjustments, will be interesting to see if it helps the CO2 levels

I have upped the BPM to 75 ish
I have covered the 2/3 of the sump (final 3rd this evening)

I had a piece of plexi that covered about 50% of the sump. I covers another section with some styrofoam insulation stuff I had. I wrapped it in Plastic wrap, then covered that with packing tape to keep it dry, and hopefully CO2 proof. Used the foam board so that I can cut notches in it for wires and pipes.

I can not wait to see what color the drop checker is when I get home
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-21-2009, 04:26 PM
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Are there any fish in the tank? If so, it is not a good idea to make changes in the CO2 delivery process, then go off to work, hoping to come home to a thriving, beautiful tank, with healthy growing plants, happy fish, etc. You may well come home to a tank of fish floating upside down at the top

The best idea is to make small changes in CO2 delivery, bubble rate, etc. then watch the tank carefully for a few hours to be sure the fish don't begin clustering at the water surface "gasping for air", or are starting to lay down on their sides at the bottom. Those are signs of CO2 poisoning of the fish.

The advantage of a drop checker is that you can pretty safely raise the level of CO2 in the tank to where the fluid in the drop checker is green, without worrying about the fish. Then, you can make the final adjustments much more carefully, monitoring the fish.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-21-2009, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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No fish... I am getting it dialed in, then adding fish

Yea I meant to mention 2 changes at once, not the best move, but since It is only planted the risk is low.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-22-2009, 01:22 AM Thread Starter
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bleh... it is lighter blue, but still blue.

I completed the sump cover. I may have an old XP3 in the rafters, been 3 years since it was run... might have to go that route. the question is how to convert the tank use a canister... I will give it a few more days an some tinkering to see where I can get it.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-26-2009, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Everything I read says do not worry, so I am not. Plants are growing, so that is good.

the pH slide continues, it now reads 5.91

Drop checker is about into the green now. I was thinking it would be a bright green like the blue was so bright when I made the solution, but looking at color charts posted in threads here I see that it is more a murky teal like color, more green than blue, but not Green Light green

so I think I am on track to getting CO2 dialed in. created a little DIT Reactor out of a Phos Ban reactor I had. Cute little design.

DIY CO2 Reactor from Phos Ban Reactor - I have the top 1/3 of a large gatorade bottle with my ceramic defuser under it. Little bubbles work their way up the inside of the gatorade bottle to a MaxiJet 400 that has its inlet jammed through the top of the bottle. I cut up a piece of 1/2" pvc into 1" sections and filled the reactor with that. The bubbles are assaulted in the reactor until the water and some bubbles make their way down the the bottom and then up through the center tube. The water then goes into the intake of the return pump pushing the co2 rich water into the display.

My BPM are around 110.

The return pump I am using is a QuietOne 3000 pushing near 400 gallons per hour through the sump, or about 8x my system volume. Should I back that down to a smaller pump like the QuietOne 1200 which would reduce my flow to about 150 gph, or about 3x my system volume. The sumps primary function is Heating, and CO2 injection, water cleaning through filter socks. It will also be a secondary source of bacterial filtration as I get more biomedia in the sump, most likely through more cut up PVC pipes, because it is cheap I have a 100 feet of the stuff.
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