DIY CO2 reactor mishap - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 01:05 AM Thread Starter
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DIY CO2 reactor mishap

Hey all,
I recently built a DIY CO2 reactor with the powerhead connected to an old gravel vac tube. At the outlet is a piece of coarse filter foam. I am running a DIY CO2 generator with 2 three-liter bottles started on alternating cycles two weeks apart.
This system has been in place for one month and was functioning well until tonight when I got a frantic call from my wife. She said the fish were acting like they were drunk and one of our new cherry shrimp was upside down. She tested the water and she said the pH was less than 6.4 (limits of the multi test strip). I told her to disconnect the reactor from the power source and to perform a 10 gallon water change.
Twenty minutes later I was paged again (I'm on call tonight). She stated that the pH was now 6.5 on the individual wide range pH test kit and the fish seemed to be perking up. My pH usually runs at 6.7-6.8 and hardness is approx 150ppm. I asked her how frequently the airstone in the reactor was bubbling and she said that it was sending three bubbles up every few seconds, and the bleed-off hole in the top of the reactor sent a large bubble up every 10-15 seconds.
Here is the interesting part. She said that the foam had fallen out of the bottom of the reactor. She asked whether this could have contributed to the change in pH. I had noted once in the past that the reactor seemed to function more efficiently without the foam in the bottom (the bubbles seemed to have more movement and weren't escaping from the reactor). Has anyone else noted anything like this or did I just have over injection from my DIY bottles? Any help with this is appreciated.

p.s. I have been reading the forum a lot lately and I have read the instructions for starting a new thread. Searches of the site did not yield an answer. Sorry if I have improperly started a new thread.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 01:52 AM
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That's a pretty amazing result from DIY CO2 on a 75 gal tank. Even 6.7 is too much CO2, assuming your method of testing pH gives you the correct result.

Quite possible that you get a better CO2 dissolution without the foam. Powerheads really lose a lot of punch when you start to restrict the flow. Personally I don't see a reason for the foam, just another thing that gums up and needs maintenance. If the powerhead and gravel vac are compatible there shouldn't be much CO2 escaping from the bottom anyway. (Same with bioballs).


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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 04:11 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply wasserpest. I thought 6.7 was probably too low after looking at the CO2 conversion charts, but the plants were going bonkers and the fish and shrimp seemed pretty happy. I also had a hard time believing the results of the test kit after reading how everyone seems to say that DIY CO2 isn't feasible for larger tanks. I went and bought another test kit to verify the results and sure enough my pH was 6.7 (down from 7.5 prior to addition of CO2).
I think I will back it down to one three liter bottle again. With the single bottle the system seemed more stable. Maybe I got a little greedy with the fermentation bottles.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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Finally got home this afternoon. Things look okay. Nothing dead, that I could find anyway in that jungle.
Water test today showed total hardness at 120ppm, pH of 6.5. The CO2 reactor's powerhead has been off since last night. This means that it is functioning as a co2 bell. Also, I removed the sponge, since it the water seemed to be stagnant in the gravel vac chamber.
I guess everything is okay. I am a little worried about the amount of CO2 in the water, but I will watch and see.
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