Do I need a drop checker for co2? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Do I need a drop checker for co2?

I'm converting my 38 gallon low tech set up over to co2 and ei dosing. I filled my tank and have my co2 ready to go.

Do I need a drop checker if I keep it under two bubbles a second?

I can't fit a drop checker into my budget for a couple weeks.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 06:25 PM
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Heck no. Just use your pH test kit to monitor.

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Ok thanks I'll research it.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 06:36 PM
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It's hands off and only costs $15 or so. Worth the ease of mind.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 07:24 PM
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You certainly dont "need" a drop checker. But at the same time, saying you'll keep the co2 at under 2 bps really means absolutely nothing and in no way guarantees the concentration of co2 in your water column. Comparing bps from one setup to another is like comparing apples and oranges. So as said above, you can go without the drop checker but you should be manually checking by doing the ph tests. Lots of cheap drop checkers out there though so you shouldn't have to break the bank. One here is about $10....and I know someone on this site often has this exact version for sale via the for sale forum. https://www.amazon.com/U-P-Aqua-UA-5.../dp/B005VS1HD0

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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 08:30 PM
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You can get drop checkers on eBay for $4 shipped. Keep in mind they may take a couple of weeks to arrive since many ship from China. You'll also need a 4dKH solution and indicator. Both of which you should be able to find for cheap on eBay as well. You can also make the 4dKH yourself if you have an accurate scale available. Either way, you can have everything you need for less than $20. Otherwise you can just monitor the fish while you try to find a good injection rate. If they start to hang around the surface and/or start gasping you need to back off the CO2. Personally, I'd go with the drop checker and just slowly turn up the CO2 over a couple of days while watching both the color change in the checker and the behavior of the fish.

As Iksdrinker said do not rely solely on the bubble rate. You really to have some idea of how much CO2 is in your tank. If you set it too low there's a good chance you'll find yourself with an algae outbreak.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 09:09 PM
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Skip the drop checker's and use pH. Remember a drop checker tells you roughly what the pH was a couple of hours ago, not in real time. I fail to understand why folks find that helpful. Oh well. Just my opinion.

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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-09-2016, 10:15 PM
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If your new to it and you have fish I would recommend a drop checker. It' a passive indicator of what's going on. Comparing tank ph to your tap is good to, but it's still proactive.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 12:51 AM
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Watch your fish - everything else is either too late or lies.

Start very slow and be patient. When you start co2 or increase the rate, plan to be at home for some 4 hours to watch the tank.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 02:15 AM
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lksdrinker touched the more important aspects. A drop checker is a cheap way to double check your CO2 distribution and conc. It also acts as a visual warning in case something went wrong with your CO2 setup... timer got bust, solenoid stuck, CO2 tank empty, etc. Unlike, KH/pH CO2 conc. calculations a drop checker is not influenced by things dissolved in water (except CO2). For most KH/pH works, but there are aquariums where the results of alkalinity is not a good approximate of KH.

If you use a liquid pH test or one of the pH pens, you also sample the top layer of water... what about that bottom corner where the HC doesn't grow ? A drop checker can give a general idea of what is happening there. BTW a drop checker tells you nothing about the exact aquarium pH unless you have a KH of 4. Fish tolerance varies and fish can adjust in time to higher CO2 conc. But it is good practice to observe the fish behavior. If they gasp at the surface you might need to increase water surface agitation. If they stay at the bottom, kind of drunk , bouncing from one side to the other reduce the CO2.

Can you run your setup without it, sure just as you can without a pH test. They are both just tools that aid in achieving your purpose if you understand and apply correctly. I would add it to the list of things I would buy ...

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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 02:29 AM
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Drop checkers are not accurate. Check co2 by ph drop.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rare View Post
Drop checkers are not accurate. Check co2 by ph drop.
Testing isn't always accurate either. Redundancy is always a more reliable indicator.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 12:47 PM
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Or get a PH monitoring probe...

Pinpoint pH Monitor by American Marine - Buckeye Hydro


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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 02:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rare View Post
Drop checkers are not accurate. Check co2 by ph drop.
A drop checker is essentially checking the ph drop for you!

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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 08-10-2016, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrill View Post
Skip the drop checker's and use pH. Remember a drop checker tells you roughly what the pH was a couple of hours ago, not in real time. I fail to understand why folks find that helpful. Oh well. Just my opinion.

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If you use a drop checker to measure pH, that is what it does. That means you put tank water in the drop checker. But, if you use it to measure CO2 you use pure water, with only bicarbonate of soda in it, with a known KH, and it doesn't measure the tank water pH, but it does measure the CO2 in the tank water. In either case it can take 2 hours before it is in equilibrium with the tank.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rare View Post
Drop checkers are not accurate. Check co2 by ph drop.
That also is of limited accuracy, because you don't know with any accuracy how much CO2 is in the "degassed" tank water. It can be about 3 ppm, but it also can be 2 or 4 ppm.

If your tank is "low tech", and if that means you have low to low medium light, you don't need a lot of CO2 in the water to greatly benefit the plants. If you only add 3 ppm of CO2 with your CO2 system you have roughly doubled the amount of CO2 in the water. I have found that is the difference between barely growing plants, and very healthy growing plants, when using low to low medium light. 30 ppm of CO2 is for those using high light, not low to low medium light.
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