CO2 Experts get inside.... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-20-2018, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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So here it goes. I have a somewhat heavily planted 120 gallon tank, that is planted with low to medium light requiring plants. So, you have all the facts its organic potting soil with root tabs capped with eco complete and then capped again with black diamond blasting sand.

The tank has a over flow and a sump. (I sealed both with 6 mil thick plastic and taped securely) I placed a order, received and then setup my GLA system. I just got the basic setup with the 5Lb tank. No PH Controller, just the dual gauge rig with bubble counter. I also opted for atomic diffuser and the drop checker, which I am getting around to asking a question about. But want the specifics out the way so yall have as much info as possible.

So the first day I had everything setup the diffuser was positioned below the intake on the sump, made the entire tank look like it was filled with Sprite. I wasnt really a fan, but also the drop checker didnt change color at all. I had it set at about 4 bubbles per second.

Next day goes by and I upped it to 8 bubbles per second, then 10, and 12 (slow mo camera to count) any way what I am getting at is I had a crap ton of bubbles in the tank that all seemed to be gassing off with a non color changing drop checker so I looked into other options. I decided yesterday to build a Griggs style reactor. I got it constructed out of 3" PVC with 1 1/2" reduced couplings that reduced into my 1" return piping. Immediately I was happier with it. I started at 4 bbs and I never seen one pop out of the return pipe. But I noticed nothing in the tank, so I stepped it up to 8. About 2 hours later I got light pearling out of my plants and a few bubbles escaping from the return spray bar, drop checker became a dark green. Today is the second day, and next go around on upping the bubble count. I have it at about 10-12 Bubbles per second, plants are pearling pretty well but Drop checker is still this dark green color. I have a fair amount of bubbles escaping from the spray bar, but not a ton.

So my questions are this, as long as bubbles are leaving my spray bar am I wasting gas? Should I dial it down until the bubbles stop or fall to a absolute minimum? Or is some waste inevitable and crank it until I find my lime green shade in the drop checker?

Should I worry about the drop checker color or should I care more about the fact my plants are pearling? I want to get the ideal amount of CO2 in the water, but since these aren't high requirement plants.

Ill see if I can get a short video posted to show the gas escaping the spray bar. Also, the pearling plants.

https://youtu.be/4lCcpxLMwQ8

Last edited by Darkblade48; 05-20-2018 at 10:59 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 02:24 PM
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I would definitely give more attention to the drop checker color. Pearling is nice, but that's not how I would measure my CO2.

Extra bubbles in the tank can be annoying. I don't like thinks looking like seltzer water. Like me, you have a big tank. You may want to consider multiple reactors. I had a pair of them running my 180G before I switched to a Red Sea Ocean Clear canister filter. The advantage with those is the return comes from the BOTTOM of the canister so the CO2 is already diffused when it enters the tank. But there are a zillion solutions to the problem. This is just the one I like best for big tanks.

Other elements to consider in regards to gassing off are:
How much surface tension is there? Do you have ripples on the top of the tank? A little surface tension is good. A lot is definitely going to cause gas-off.
How low in the tank is the spray bar (with CO2)? You want that as low as possible.
Is there good water circulation in the tank? You need that CO2 to get around.

Hope this helps.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 02:52 PM
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Understand that the drop checker is a slow motion method of checking for change in the PH. Much the same as doing a liquid test of PH and then doing another quite a lot later. Remember that it does take some time for the gas in the tank water to go into the air above the test solution and then "transfer" to the test solution. We run this layout through some pretty small spaces so expect slow reactions?
But it is also true that we don't get the best PH test done. The solution in the checker has to be right and sometimes what we buy is not. There are quiet a few reporting the solution is not working and they have to do their own mix. Something to be aware of if the drop check is not changing. Maybe it is no good? Pearling is thought to be a good thing and it does show something is getting into the water to change things!
Wasted gas is something of a relative thing to me. I don't like waste but gas is pretty cheap and I have to admit that I waste more by leaving leaks than I waste through unavoidable tank loss by gassing off. So given the choice, spend more time/effort to avoid leaks and once certain that is not there, maybe look at gassing off as "waste". A leak can cost 100% of a tanki overnight while gassing may cost 10-20% over several months, so set the priorities right and eventually get the gassing off done the best we can.
I adjust the surface agitation to a point where there is not a film forming that would cut the gas exchange we need to keep O2 in the water. O2 for fish , first, CO2 content second, for me.
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Last edited by PlantedRich; 05-22-2018 at 02:53 PM. Reason: typos and added
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-23-2018, 11:22 PM Thread Starter
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I appreciate the replies. I think I have it all tuned in now and it seems to be running very well. Yall are right in the regard to the drop checker taking its time to make changes. I have the CO2 turning on 2 hours before the lights. So CO2 kicks on at 1pm, then lights on at 3pm. At this point the drop checker is a dark green, by the time 4pm comes around plants are starting to pearl and drop checker is slightly lighter in color. At 5pm plants are in full pearling mode and the drop checker continues to turn a lighter green all the way up until about 7 when it hits the lime green color. Right at that time the CO2 solenoid shuts off and the plants keep doing their thing absorbing CO2 until the lights go off at 8.

The system seems to be doing well, all the plants have shown some form of response. Especially the hygro and crypts. I ordered a Crinum Calamistratum today from aquarium co op. Have the perfect spot in the tank for it. Excited to see how it fills in.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-26-2018, 01:01 PM
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Did you make 4dkh solution or did it come with it? You don't use tank water in drop checker. That's the only variable I can see.
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