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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 07:08 AM Thread Starter
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CO2 and Aragonite

I'm going to set up an African cichlid aquarium for some shell dwellers. It will be partially planted with Vals and Anubias. The substrate will be CaribSea's Seaflor™ Special Grade Reef Sand aragonite in front and Seachem's Silver Shores aragonite in the back behind the rocks. The rocks are CaribSea's Moon Rock which are a form of calcium carbonate. I have three choices of substrates for the plants. They are Black Flourite, ADA Amazonia (original) and some Mineralized Substrate. Would the Amazonia cause a problem?

I want to add pressurized CO2, maybe around 15 ppm. Will this be a problem and will I have somewhat drastic changes in the pH, KH and GH?


Seaflor™ Special Grade Reef Sand


Silver Shores


Moon Rock

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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 03:01 PM
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Watch your PH.

I would caution dosing CO2 in an African cichlid tank. Your shellies from Tanganyika will appreciate hard, basic water, KH of 8 degrees+ and PH 8.0+. IMO I feel it is important for aquarist to replicate the natural habitats of the species they keep as closely as possible. That said, it could be difficult to determine the exact amount of CO2 in your aquarium because of the calcium carbonate(from your substrate and "moon rock"), especially if you use a ph probe controller on your CO2 system. The two will be in constant conflict causing extreme levels of CO2. With the right lighting I would think that you anubias and vals would do fine w/o CO2. For more info on PH/KH/CO2 relationship check out this article from Chuck's Planted Aquarium Pages :
http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_plant_co2chart.htm
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 03:03 PM
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Try dolomite instead. Has both Ca and Mg, and the structure is more resistant to CO2 than aragonite of calcite.

It will still harden the water in terms of GH/KH.
I use it in one of my tanks.

No real effect with typical large weekly water changes etc.
The other way to avoid CO2 and the effects on carbonates is to use Excel and low light.

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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bherren1 View Post
I would caution dosing CO2 in an African cichlid tank. Your shellies from Tanganyika will appreciate hard, basic water, KH of 8 degrees+ and PH 8.0+. IMO I feel it is important for aquarist to replicate the natural habitats of the species they keep as closely as possible. That said, it could be difficult to determine the exact amount of CO2 in your aquarium because of the calcium carbonate(from your substrate and "moon rock"), especially if you use a ph probe controller on your CO2 system. The two will be in constant conflict causing extreme levels of CO2. With the right lighting I would think that you anubias and vals would do fine w/o CO2. For more info on PH/KH/CO2 relationship check out this article from Chuck's Planted Aquarium Pages :
http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_plant_co2chart.htm
Except 99% of these fish are tank bred, hardly "natural" don't ya think ???

Are you sure it's the CO2 also and not the hardness/KH/GH?

Recall the pH so called preferences and the fact that CO2 enrichment makes such pH preferences nil. I've kept Rift cichlids going on 30+ years and have bred maybe 2 dozen species.

I've kept tangy's in planted tanks without issues at 30-35ppm CO2 over years.

So.......caution and fear could be stated the same way you presented it for all fish and using CO2 gas. But clearly, that is not the case if CO2 is used correctly. Cichlids are tough beast. A few Xeno's, Cypris are more sensitive, but they are more sensitive anyway , even without plants, CO2 etc.......I've kept these as well.

Malawians are tough as nails. Julidochromis as good as as the shell dwellers. And they are mostly tank bred, not wild and have never seen a natural environment.

The salts are mostly Ca,K+, Mg and SO4, CO3, but they adapt well to a wide range, pH in and of its self is less critical.

Regards,
Tom Barr




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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-15-2009, 04:44 PM
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Really, I’m just glad that you want to add a few plants to your African set up.

While it is true that most of the African cichlids available to us here in the US are tank bred, and are very tough and adaptable to varying water parameters, I think (emphasis on I) we should try and keep all fish in as close to their natural habitat as possible so as to bring out the most natural behaviors, coloration, ect. as possible. But this is a discussion for other forums....I was merely raising caution in using such calcium carbonate rich materials, which is always a plus when used in African cichlid aquariums, in an aquarium when using C02. And I was hoping to allow us a moment to ponder if CO2 need be added at all in this case. Really, I’m just glad that you want to add a few plants to your African set up. Only rocks and sand does get old as far as African cichlids go. BTW, love your site Tom.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 12:17 AM
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Nature just means that's where those critters/plants etc are found at that point/space in time. It does NOT imply that is what is "best" for the critter/plant/fungi etc is terms of quality of life, breeding, life span, gene pool, aesthetics that we place on them etc

Aquariums, farms, livestock etc all take on their own Ecology and Genetics and these are decisively different from natural systems. While derived from nature, they are not "natural".

Many are tempted to make this assumption.
Then you get yourself in a pickle.


We have altered natural selection for our own benefit. They adapt to the new environment and we provide no competition, protection, selection of desired traits and lots of food etc.

So it's really a question that is not answered from the view point of nature, rather, what we have experienced in aquariums, the real test (how a fish responds in an aquarium to a given treatment, in this case: CO2 enrichment). From that, we can learn more about them and what are the real causes for stress and health in natural environments where we CANNOT change the CO2 and manipulate parameters practically. Lab vs field test.

You cannot argue that a lab situation is the same as a field test.

Most aquatic plants do not come from CO2 enriched waters at 30-40ppm.
But clearly, they do much much better when CO2 is added.......There are many examples that suggest "natural" systems are not what is "best".
You could make the case that all fish should not have 30-40ppm of CO2 added, not just rift fish. But they do quite well. So focusing on having harder KH and GH, not worrying about pH/CO2(unless there's too much CO2, just like for any fish) seems more applied and something that has already been demonstrated. Same for plants and soft water fish being raised in harder water and vice versa. I think it's more about having a good stable CO2 level added during rhe day, when the O2 levels are also equally higher, is the best way to look at fish health and CO2. While independent in the aquarium chemistry(CO2 and O2) , they are dependent in terms of fish respiration, and the larger the fish, the less tolerance they have for higher CO2. So high O2 all the time and some plant O2 production, and add CO2 only during the day time and keep a good tab on the fish. Non CO2 is a good goal and more like nature is many ways also. It's certainly more sustainable.

But LeftC is likely too addicted to the "CO2 dope"
So.........

I used water sprite when I lived in IN decades ago in all my cichlid tanks, floating because it had plenty of light up there and some CO2 from the air, the tap water was hard anyway. IN, OH, IL, MI etc all form what I called the "cichlid belt", lots of breeders there still today.

But all fish could be suggested to have issues with higher CO2, mostly due to respiration, the salts, remain the same whether or not you add CO2.

Adding CO2 does not alter those salts that are found in the rift lakes.

Regards,
Tom Barr




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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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CO2 dope! Yes ... Yes ... It's all true. I have seen the light!!! I am addicted to CO2.

I've seen how well CO2 works with moderate light and even low light planted aquariums. I couldn't help it when I became engulfed with Victor dual stage regulators.

Thanks very much for the responses so far. Rift Lake cichlids are something that I wanted to do for a while and shell dwellers don't eat plants, but many species are great diggers and they do their own aquascaping.

I want to use pressurized CO2 because I have all the parts already including an Ideal or a Swagelok metering valve. I'm going to use a drop checker to monitor the CO2 level. I'm going to use a timer for the CO2 and not a pH controller. A pH controller would cause problems, like you mentioned, bherren1. I have some 4 dKH solution. I could make a little bit of 2dKH solution for a 15 psi CO2 solution. If 30 psi is OK, I might not bother with making the 2 dKH solution.

I just looked at what Wikipedia says about Dolomite. "Dolomite is the name of a sedimentary carbonate rock and a mineral, both composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg(CO3)2 found in crystals. It has physical properties similar to those of the mineral calcite, but does not rapidly dissolve or effervesce (fizz) in dilute hydrochloric acid unless it is scratched or in powdered form. The color is white, gray to pink." I have some dolomite already, but it is pink. That won't work. Maybe I can find some in a gray color somewhere. I do see why you suggested Dolomite, Tom. It doesn't break down nearly as fast as aragonite. I'd like to use the substrates that I have already, though. The grain size of my substrates is much smaller than the pictures show and my Moon Rocks are a lighter shade of gray.

My tap water is very soft, I picked up some Seachem Cichlid Lake Salt which is a little different than GH Booster or Equilibrium, but it does the same job. The Cichlid Lake Salt has:
Guaranteed Analysis
Calcium (min) 3.24 %
Calcium (max) 3.50 %
Magnesium (min) 11.83 %
Potassium (min) 10.08 %
Sodium (min) 3.53 %
Sodium (max) 3.75 %
Aluminum (min) 0.90 mg
Iodine (min) 0.02 mg
Iron (min) 0.20 mg
Amounts per 1 gram.
Ingredients: magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium sulfate, sodium chloride, aluminum sulfate, iron sulfate, and potassium iodide.

I also picked up some Seachem Malawi/Victoria Buffer. It buffers around a pH of between 7.8 and 8.4. That is what the local pet shops keep their African cichlids regardless of which lake their ancestors came from. I thought that Seachem's Tanganyika Buffer which buffers at 9.0 to 9.4 may be way different than the water that they are raised in. It may be a bugger to work with since I have soft tap water. If I do need to increase the pH and KH more, I'll pick some Tanganyika Buffer up. I don't think that baking soda increases the pH above 8.5. It might even be a bit lower.

Wouldn't the Amazonia be problematic because of its ability to lower the pH and the KH in these conditions? I don't know of anyone that has tried it. I know that the Black Flourite and the Mineralized Substrate will be fine as a lower layer for the Vals.

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Last edited by Left C; 06-18-2009 at 03:03 AM.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 02:43 AM
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I would be cautious with CO2 and the argonite. This combination is used in calcium reactors for reef tanks.

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 03:06 AM
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That Amazonia would lower the pH and soften the water. I wouldn't have CO2 in a Cichlid tank, as that would lower the pH too, and it isn't necesarry for anubias and and vals.


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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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I'm a little concerned about the rate of the KH and GH increases when CO2 is added to the aragonite and calcium carbonate (an acid and a base combination and the amount of pH/KH/GH altering precipitate formed). Will the small and more frequent water changes that (I have read) shellies enjoy be sufficient? Some people have coined the words "false pH" with CO2 addition.

From an "African Cichlid" Seagram by Seachem: http://www.seachem.com/Library/SeaGr...n_Cichlids.pdf
"The primary goal of any aquarist, be it freshwater or marine, should be habitat restoration for the housed species. This purist concept is firmly embedded in the marine hobby, but has not been prominently accepted by the freshwater hobbyist. Habitat restoration is more imperative within the Cichlid family than any other freshwater group. It is considered the largest and most diverse in the world of fish keeping, and continues to grow with the discovery of new species almost weekly. Most Cichlids are easily adapted to environments other than those from which they came, but in doing so, the aquarist sacrifices the coloring, behavior, and development seen in nature. Although Cichlids are easily adapted to a variety of environments, they will not thrive under such conditions. ... "

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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 08:47 PM
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Still going forward with CO2 enrichment? I like your moxie Left C.
I guess anything could work if we are willing to put forth the necessary effort. As far as the rate of KH increase, I guess it would be on a case by case basis (tank size, frequency of water changes, ect …you get the picture). Determining what type of acid/base rxns will occur and their effects on ph/KH/GH would be difficult with out some type of formal chemical analysis. This undoubtedly would be extremely complex and a job better left to chemist. Especially as you alter your tap water with buffers and salts, then take into account the aragonite and calcium carbonate and CO2(and probably a million other things I’m forgetting to mention)
But I suspect we may be making this harder than it needs to be. At this point I would just try it and see what happens. Monitor the fish. I would suggest altering your water to meet the ph/KH/GH of the tank prior to putting it in the tank during water changes to minimize ph/KH/GH swings.

P.S. thanks for sharing the rather informative excerpt from the Seachem article.
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-16-2009, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks bherren1!

I'm going to try it first with some cheap fish (goldfish feeder fish - if they don't gobble up my plants) and see what happens. I have a spare pH controller that I can use as a pH monitor.

Like Tom suggested, Dolomite would be a better choice for the substrate, but I'm going to use the 50# of Moon Rock (calcium carbonate), 44# of Silver Shores (aragonite) and 40# of Seaflor™ Special Grade Reef Sand (aragonite) that I have already. Also, there will be one of the plant substrates that I have mentioned already.

I think that many people who have tried CO2 in a Cichlid aquarium might of used an inferior needle valve with varying results. I'm going to be using either an Ideal or a Swagelok metering valve to control the rate of CO2 flow and, of coarse, a Victor dual stage regulator. The drop checker will be very important for what I want to do whether I use 2, 3 or 4 dKH solutions..

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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 01:13 PM
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While often quoted: "Experience is the best teacher." The second part is far too frequently omitted: "And a fool learns by none other!"

You are in for a ton of problems. I think you are truly underestimating how fast you will dissolve these into the water column. You will not get enough CO2 into the aquarium for the plants; but not shoot your KH/GH skyrocketing. It's one things to use these carbonate rich substrates in a tank where no strong acid is involved; a completely different beast w/ pressurized CO2. John (jjp2) hit the nail on the head w/ the comparison to reef tanks & calcium reactors.

I had to re-do all substrate in my 75g after I switched over to pressurized CO2. I discovered my pea-stone gravel had minor chips of limestone contaminate mixed in. Probably less than 1% by volume. But my Kh would double and water would turn cloudy by the weeks' end. (My tank did start as a goldfish tank, but then progressed to a fully planted tropical fish tank.)

More than just monitoring the pH w/ a controller. You need to measure KH/GH daily & measure CO2 w/ a drop checker to see if you ever reach a good amount.

Good Luck! Looking forward to your reporting back!

Tom's suggestion for lower light and Excel as a carbon source is the best if you are firmly decided in using these substrates.

PS.
I think you can run this experiment for one or two weeks without involving a poor goldfish!
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 02:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the warning. I'll watch it closely. I have a 2L bottle of Excel standing by and CO2 is easy to cut off. That is exactly the info that I am looking for. I have some Cyperus helferi that I can try instead of Vals since Excel can melt Vals when the concentration is high.

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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 06-21-2009, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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I didn't mention that I have plenty of Whale's Eye Shells for the fish.



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