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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-12-2005, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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DIY Newbie ?s

I'm currently battling what I think is staghorn algae (see my thread in the Algae part of the forum for photos and info) and I'm considering doing a quicky DIY CO2 system to try to get some CO2 in there and get rid of the staghorn.

Here's my situation -- I have a 29g tank with 15w of fluorescent lighting (I know, I know...I'm going to order the 65w Coralife Aqualight later this summer). Ultimately, I want to get the Red Sea Turbo CO2 system which has a pump-driven reactor and is supposed to work for tanks up to 40 gallons on a yeast/sugar mix, but at the moment I don't have any CO2 running at all. (I will not, in the foreseeable future, be able to afford pressurized CO2, hence my decision to go with 65w and the Red Sea system instead of a higher light setup with pressurized.)

I've seen several people who have had good luck adding DIY CO2 to a tank with very low light -- plants grow better and algae dies back a bit. So what I want to rig up right now isn't a permanent solution -- just something to help my plants out until I can add light and a better CO2 solution, and something to help me get rid of the algae.

In the tank, I have crypts, a sword plant, java fern, and dwarf lily bulbs. Inhabitants include 2 small clown loaches, 6 zebra danios, 3 swordtails, 2 dwarf gouramis, a small angel, and some ghost shrimp. I do a 9-10 gallon water change every week. Ammonia and nitrite is always 0, nitrate usually runs about 10-15. PH is 8. Water is very hard, but I don't have a GH/KH test yet to give you those numbers -- there are white spots on everything the water drips on, though, if that gives you any indication. I currently dose with Flourish and Flourish Excel.

And now my questions (thanks for reading all of this so far -- I'm trying to be detailed because I know the devil's in the details with this stuff):

1. I want to do something cheap and easy since it's a temporary fix. I have a 1 gallon plastic jug with a screw on cap, airline tubing, and a check valve. My thought is to run the tubing into the intake for my filter (Penguin 330) so that I don't have to get a ladder. Will this work okay?

2. Can I use one of the 2L bottle recipes on here, or will I need to add more yeast and sugar for the gallon jug?

3. What's the best way to get the tubing going through the neck of the bottle? Drill a hole smaller than the tubing and cut tubing at an angle to force it through? Drill a hole roughly the size of the tubing and use silicone sealant? I also have a rubber stopper that goes over a 1 gallon jug mouth for wine/beer brewing purposes that I could use, but I think the rigid tube that goes through that is a larger diameter than airline tubing.

4. Would a one gallon jug rigged up in this way, running through a bio-wheel-type filter produce enough CO2 that I'd have to worry about my fish at night? Should I run an airstone? Unhook the CO2 at night? Buy a GH/KH test before I think about doing this? (I have a PH test kit.) Or should I just wait until I get my lights and my Red Sea system?

I was just thinking about giving this a shot today and wondered what advice/warnings/tips I might glean from the DIY folks. Thanks for any ideas you might be able to share.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-13-2005, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, so I decided, while I was out today, to pick up a KH test and a 2L of Diet Coke so I now know my KH (12) and have a 2L bottle to use, so I can use the recipes posted here without worry, and I know the bottle is designed to hold up to pressure from CO2.

My PH is 8 and KH is 12, so should I have to worry about CO2 causing problems overnight in a 29 gallon tank?

Also, I have some silicone sealant around (for plumbing, not specifically for aquariums) -- is that okay to use, or should I get something else?

I have a Penguin 330 filter with a strainer over the intake. Is there a good way to get the CO2 into the intake without removing the strainer?

Thanks for any suggestions!
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-14-2005, 12:46 AM
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Sounds like an adventure, but don't be afraid. DIY CO2 is easy and fun

<<1. I want to do something cheap and easy since it's a temporary fix. I have a 1 gallon plastic jug with a screw on cap, airline tubing, and a check valve. My thought is to run the tubing into the intake for my filter (Penguin 330) so that I don't have to get a ladder. Will this work okay?>>

If you get all connections tight, it should work. You will need to keep track of pH, to see if the CO2 gets dissolved into the water and not outgassed by the Penguin.

<<2. Can I use one of the 2L bottle recipes on here, or will I need to add more yeast and sugar for the gallon jug? >>

Yep, I would use two cups o' sugar instead of one, and a little more yeast, maybe half a teaspoon, although it isn't that critical.

<<3. What's the best way to get the tubing going through the neck of the bottle? Drill a hole smaller than the tubing and cut tubing at an angle to force it through? Drill a hole roughly the size of the tubing and use silicone sealant? I also have a rubber stopper that goes over a 1 gallon jug mouth for wine/beer brewing purposes that I could use, but I think the rigid tube that goes through that is a larger diameter than airline tubing.>>

Either one... Silicone sealant doesn't bond so well with tubing, so either you use some sort of plastic nipple and glue it in, or use the smaller hole / pull airline through sort of deal. Rubber stopper sounds good too, maybe you can soften up the airline and get it over that rigid tube.

<<4. Would a one gallon jug rigged up in this way, running through a bio-wheel-type filter produce enough CO2 that I'd have to worry about my fish at night? Should I run an airstone? Unhook the CO2 at night? Buy a GH/KH test before I think about doing this? (I have a PH test kit.) Or should I just wait until I get my lights and my Red Sea system?>>

Nobody can tell you, you just need to know the kH and keep track of the pH and see what happens. I'd say that you don't have to worry at night, and should worry about getting CO2 into the water at all with the biowheel.

<<I was just thinking about giving this a shot today and wondered what advice/warnings/tips I might glean from the DIY folks. Thanks for any ideas you might be able to share.>>

Just start slowly, read a lot because most ever possible problems have been discussed here


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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-14-2005, 12:55 AM
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<<Okay, so I decided, while I was out today, to pick up a KH test and a 2L of Diet Coke so I now know my KH (12) and have a 2L bottle to use, so I can use the recipes posted here without worry, and I know the bottle is designed to hold up to pressure from CO2.>>

You may find that you have to go to 2 bottles or 3l bottles or two 3l bottles but you will find out.

<<My PH is 8 and KH is 12, so should I have to worry about CO2 causing problems overnight in a 29 gallon tank? >>

Again, it depends how much CO2 you can get dissolved. Normally I would say don't worry, but of course don't want to be liable for anything going wrong. So I would suggest to monitor the pH. With the high kH you don't have to worry about pH crashes, and with the HOB filter, you'll have to worry keeping any CO2 in the water.

<<Also, I have some silicone sealant around (for plumbing, not specifically for aquariums) -- is that okay to use, or should I get something else?>>

My experience with silicone sealant and plastic bottle caps has not been good. It's even worse with flexible tubing. I would try something else. Leaks are the single most common and most frustrating reason for failure of such projects.

<<I have a Penguin 330 filter with a strainer over the intake. Is there a good way to get the CO2 into the intake without removing the strainer? >>

Don't remove the strainer. You could just drill a hole on the bottom of it and push the airline inside. Make sure it doesn't get too much inside and close to the impeller as it might be sucking out the bottle (negative pressure). Also, keep in mind that when you turn off the pump for a while (think power outages) it starts to fill up with air and might need some manual intervention to start up again. Not sure about Penguins, the AC's actually prime themselves (if the decide to start up).


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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-14-2005, 04:22 AM
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If you are going through all of the trouble of getting this DIY stuff set up from the start, I would consider a DIY reactor for the CO2. They are easy to build and an aquaclear powerhead hooked up directly to the gravel cleaner works great. I use a 20 on mine. I cut the cleaner down about 3 inches, reversed the cut edge into the top housing, and cut the silicone tubing down to about 1 1/2 inches. Then I connected the powerhead directly to the short side of the tubing. The tubing diameter (on the outside) was 1/4 inch, so I drilled a hole in the top of the gravel cleaner that was about 7/32 in size. This gave me a tight fit around the tubing, but it doesn't restrict the flow of CO2. I also used an aquaclear mini filter sponge to close up the underside of the gravel cleaner to keep the CO2 from escaping out of the bottom of the gravel tube.

I am actually in the process of building a sump that is going to house the majority of my equipment so that I don't have a bunch of stuff in my main tank (like the CO2 reactor).
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-14-2005, 05:01 AM
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What's up with all this worry about DIY co2 poisoning fish overnight. I had my pH drop to 6 (that's as low as the test goes) kh 4.5, co2 134 ppm overnight with an Emperor 280 with no fish or shrimp loss. Is the Emperor a good oxygenator or something.

40 gallon SeaClear Acrylic, 192 watt Orbit Lunar PC, Filstar XP2, Filstar XP1, JBJ Regulator, Rhinox 5000 glass co2 diffusor, 9 watt UV sterilizer, Hydor Inline Heater, Pool Filter Sand substrate
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How comes shoppings so stupid, looks at all this stuff I haves, what do I do's with it.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-14-2005, 01:56 PM
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uscskainch I have a 29 gal tank with a penguin 150 filter. I tried to have my DIY C02 setup go through the filter. With every bubble you hear a satisfying crunch as the C02 is broken up. But I never saw any ph drop. I found there was too much out gassing from the turbulence of the bio wheel. Even with having the water line almost even with the filter there was too much out gassing of the C02. I have had better results using a ladder. I was able to lower my ph from 7.2 (as delivered by my water co.) to 6.8. I have soft water, so that only computes to 15 ppm of C02. I am trying for 30ppm so I am going to build a reactor.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-14-2005, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips and advice, everyone. Do you this a DIY bell, like this one: http://www.petfish.net/DIY_Diffusion_Bell.htm might do the trick? Worth a shot, I suppose. I can always replace it with a ladder later.

I'll try to get this running this weekend and will report back. I appreciate all the encouragement and good suggestions!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-14-2005, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, and I'll try making this reactor -- https://www.plantedtank.net/co2reactor.html -- in the near future if the CO2 gets going well. It looks easy enough -- are those submersible pumps noisy at all? I had an airstone running for a while and the air pump about drove me crazy it was so loud.

I just don't have a pump or spare gravel vac tube handy and won't be out and about this weekend to pick one up, so I'll have to wait a bit. I figure the DIY bell will get some CO2 in there in the interim.

Thanks again, everyone!
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-16-2005, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks All!

Bubbles are gathering in my DIY diffusion bell as we speak! Thanks, everyone, for the advice and encouragement. I plan to run one bottle for now, test the PH a few times a day to get a feel for how much CO2 it's putting in the water, and then add a 2nd bottle if need be. Any more advice for a DIY newbie?
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-17-2005, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
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Maybe working a little too well?!?

I took my KH readings 3 times and get 11 every time. I took a PH reading several days last week and always got 8.0. So I'm fairly sure of my KH and no-CO2 PH test results. Yesterday, I started CO2 with one 2L bottle and a DIY diffusion bell made from a piece of soda bottle.

So last night, I was getting 7.8 on the PH scale and this morning it read 7.6 -- the highest rating on my high-end PH test so it may have been higher. So today I bought a new test. About an hour after turning on the lights, my male powder blue dwarf gourami was dead on the bottom of the tank. No other fish showed signs of stress.

This morning, I went out and bought a check valve so I can run an airstone at night, just to be on the safe side. I also bought a normal range PH test, which reads 7.0! Which figures out to 33 PPM CO2! Is that even possible with this kind of set up? If so, perhaps the DIY diffusion bell deserves a few more props!

Anyway, I'll hope that the airstone at night will help keep things stable. Is there anything else I should do? How often should I check PH and what warning signs should I look out for in terms of problems? Thanks for any help!

(By the way, this is a 29 gallon tank with 20w of lighting. I am planning to add more, but had been encouraged by several people's good experiences with adding DIY CO2 to a came-with-the-tank-lighting setup so thought I'd get the CO2 going.)
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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After thinking it over, I decided to go without the airstone overnight. The PH last night was 7 and the PH this morning was 7, so I think things have stabilized. I'm going to chalk up the death of the gourami to the PH shock of going from 8 with no CO2 to 7 with CO2 so suddenly.

My KH reads at 11-12 which makes for a CO2 PPM of 33-36, which is much more than I expected. I know with weak lighting I shouldn't expect any miracles, but I'm boping the CO2 will help my plants along until I can add more light.

Cheers, and thanks to everyone who helped me out with this! I don't know what I'd do without all the knowledgeable people on the forum.
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