A New take on an old idea...? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-10-2018, 02:49 AM Thread Starter
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A New take on an old idea...?

So, I'm pretty new to the whole planted aspect to this hobby, but for as long as I can remember I've wanted to try it. I bought a little ten gallon tank and have been hard at it for the last two weeks. During that time, I've been pouring over this forum and other sources. I highly enjoyed the "10 years of stumbling" by ipkiss and many others. Lots of wonderful insight here.
I've recently returned to the aquaria hobby after a number of years on hiatus. Due to a financial crunch, I've been looking at starting a DIY co2 setup. Last night I ran across John Levasseur's Treatise on DIY co2 systems for Freshwater-planted aquaria. In that paper, he mentions the use of a co2 bell as a method of infusing the gas into the water. I've also seen where many people have also mentioned using carbonated water to get co2 into their systems. Now my little tank has no animals of any kind just yet. The general assumption is that starting a DIY system will take 3 days to build up enough gas to start infusing itself in the tank.
In the interim, I am in desparate need of co2 as my plants are on their way downhill fast. (You don't have to look too closely to see my inexperience showing through here. &#x1f609
Logically, I figured that since most people have said that the co2 would escape too fast through displacment or what-not, that I'd try something that occurred to me that I as of yet haven't seen mentioned anywhere by anyone. It seemed best to take a 16.9 ounce bottle of Perrier upside-down under the water and slowly crack it open, and secure it that way to act as a make shift co2 bell of sorts as a short term fix until my DIY unit is up and running. Theoretically, it ought to work on the same principal, shouldn't it? Trapping the co2 gas to allow for infusion into the water should still work in this manner as a short term solution, correct? Or am I missing something? The idea fascinated me and I wondered what thought a there might be on such a concept.
I hesitate to mention this, but as you will no doubt notice, I am new here and this is my first post. I'm just hoping that you'll bear that in mind and that I am hoping for candid but civil answers because I am fascinated by how things work and why they may or may not work in a certain instance. Thank you in advance for your time.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-13-2018, 08:54 PM
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Hey GWYII,

as no one has previously replied to this question, I'll take a crack at it. I think the logic of being able to supply some co2 via your method is alright. I believe the legendary Takashi Amano poured soda water straight into the tank when he first discovered co2

Using Carbonated water

and there has been chat about it

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...o2-method.html

However, I think where most tend to abandon the thought is that it's much too slow and too little in modern tanks with high lighting to make a difference. Even in the treatise you mentioned, John puts forth forced reaction as the most effective way. The time and effort you spend on setting up bell diffusers and ladder diffusers ..not to mention eyesores.. you could've just made a simple little reactor from scavenged parts.

But you know what? here's another thought. How about not worrying about CO2 until you're ready? What plants do you have? What you have not seen is one of my other low tech and other people's low tech tanks on here that do not require CO2 at all. Initial plant melt may just be that. Given time, the plants should bounce back, albeit slower in a low light, low tech tank.

Since you're reading, it may be a burden to be lead in different places and down rabbit holes that may waste your time. Here's a great site that one of the forum members had put together if you haven't seen it already:

https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...h-plllars.html

Here's the section that focuses more on going without CO2, but even then, you don't have to go as far as he did.
https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...ng-plants.html

A simple tank with low light, gravel, no co2, some fertilization will house java ferns and anubias plants easily and perpetually.

It's all about the balance, if you haven't noticed already. No co2 simply means you need to apply less light and less fertilizers.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-15-2018, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Hi @ipkiss,

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post so thoroughly. In response to your reply to the message I left on your board, I don't consider you long-winded. If I had to put a label on it, I'd call it informative!☺️ Glad to know I'm in good company.

I read that about Amano several place here. 10 years ago, when first trying out live plants, I'd never heard of him but had heard those whispers about co2. I had a silimar reaction at the time as you had to water chemistry boards....yawn! Too boring. But evidently, my take on this idea isn't so new. According to the recommended reading you supplied me with, I got the sense that there has been discussion about all kinds of applications in the past. I figured it couldn't be a NEW idea. I knew someone had to have mentioned it somewhere in the course of history.

I agree with you that John did say forced reaction is the way to go. Unfortunately, that was proving to be somewhat difficult under the time and budget constraints I was (and still am) facing.

As far as my proposal was concerned, I intended it more as a short term fix until I could get a reactor activated. A way to conserve enough of the gas long enough for decent infusion into the water. One major concerns with the idea according to what I'd read was whether, when dumping carbonated water into a tank, most of the gas would be lost in the air at the surface before mixing into the water enough to reach a significant enough level to be beneficial to the plants. I admit that bellhouses are effective (albeit, not very effective) but not practical in most cases. And I also readily admit that carbonated water is too expensive a practice to keep up with for any real length of time. It was mostly a question of whether I could glean enough of a benefit to carry me through until I had a reactor up and going. My plants were looking pretty rough.

As far as melt, this is also a fairly new concept to me. I've tried this week to make better sense of it. It possibly could be some to do melt. I still can't be positive. It's also possible that the new growth I've been seeing is purely coincidental. I have had new growth. This is big for me! I don't know that I've see new growth on most of the plants that I've tried out. And there have been a few...Currently, I am working with a red fluoride substrate, 2 amazon sword plants, 1 windelov java fern (which I figured out this time around NOT to bury in gravel), water wisteria, and altrenanthera reineki rosea (had to look that one up again).

I've had many different "easy" or "beginner's" plants - hornwart, hair grass, java fern, wisteria, various algae growth (the one thing you don't pay for and can't kill if your life depened on it), etc. - and have sucessfully been able to say I've squander my money on every attempt up to this point. Well, that and battling an invasive snail species for almost a year and then a couple months after I ended up having to break that tank down. But I digress. And that's another story...

To your point about not using co2, I can only say that I've never used it before this attempt. And that should catch you up to my line of thinking today. You're correct! Balance IS what needs to be achieved (lol! And, yes, I have been catching on to that - it does seem to be a recurring theme). But I needed to know a correct formula for balance before figuring out what was missing from the equation.

This time around I have decided that there's no need to involve innocent life (fish) in my experiments until I can get it right.

The ultimate goal (once my financial conditions improve) is to get my 100 gallon tank back up and running. Then I can stock it with fish and plant it.

Finally....Why, YES!! I have noticed that there appears to be a staggering lack of low tech setups available here to see. Why is that exactly? No doubt it is some sort of conspiracy against us newbies. I guess I can't blame you all though. Why not show off the good stuff to entice the rest of us to join in the headaches....lol!! They do say misery loves company. ☺️
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-17-2018, 02:26 PM
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I don't think CO2 is really your answer. In my low tech tanks, the plants grow fine with modest or no fertilization and no CO2. CO2 only really becomes required when there's high light and high fertilization. Oh CO2 is not a bad thing, but if your plants are 'melting' (a word used for transplant shock), it won't help much.

I think your answer is most likely modest fertilization, appropriate light intensity/duration, and PATIENCE. :-)
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-19-2018, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GWYIII View Post
Hi @ipkiss,


I agree with you that John did say forced reaction is the way to go. Unfortunately, that was proving to be somewhat difficult under the time and budget constraints I was (and still am) facing.
That's quitter talk! J/k. Time, yes, budget, probably not too bad. Couple soda bottles, yeast, sugar, valves for generation, a pvc pipe, a little in-tank pump/powerhead for the reactor will get you good co2. But beware, it takes a lot of fiddling and it may just get you the algae farm that I had when I didn't keep up with the generation part. But, it's still fun to read and wonder..

the generation / lab experiments -- just to show you how far some have taken it
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/2...byproduct.html
citric acid method -- heck there's even kits for it on fleabay -- just attach two 2liter bottles
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/2...da-co2-58.html


the reactor
Tom Barr's DIY Internal Reactor w/venturi

Quote:

As far as my proposal was concerned, I intended it more as a short term fix until I could get a reactor activated. A way to conserve enough of the gas long enough for decent infusion into the water. One major concerns with the idea according to what I'd read was whether, when dumping carbonated water into a tank, most of the gas would be lost in the air at the surface before mixing into the water enough to reach a significant enough level to be beneficial to the plants. I admit that bellhouses are effective (albeit, not very effective) but not practical in most cases. And I also readily admit that carbonated water is too expensive a practice to keep up with for any real length of time. It was mostly a question of whether I could glean enough of a benefit to carry me through until I had a reactor up and going. My plants were looking pretty rough.

As far as melt, this is also a fairly new concept to me. I've tried this week to make better sense of it. It possibly could be some to do melt. I still can't be positive. It's also possible that the new growth I've been seeing is purely coincidental. I have had new growth. This is big for me! I don't know that I've see new growth on most of the plants that I've tried out. And there have been a few...Currently, I am working with a red fluoride substrate, 2 amazon sword plants, 1 windelov java fern (which I figured out this time around NOT to bury in gravel), water wisteria, and altrenanthera reineki rosea (had to look that one up again).

I've had many different "easy" or "beginner's" plants - hornwart, hair grass, java fern, wisteria, various algae growth (the one thing you don't pay for and can't kill if your life depened on it), etc. - and have sucessfully been able to say I've squander my money on every attempt up to this point. Well, that and battling an invasive snail species for almost a year and then a couple months after I ended up having to break that tank down. But I digress. And that's another story...

To your point about not using co2, I can only say that I've never used it before this attempt. And that should catch you up to my line of thinking today. You're correct! Balance IS what needs to be achieved (lol! And, yes, I have been catching on to that - it does seem to be a recurring theme). But I needed to know a correct formula for balance before figuring out what was missing from the equation.
Like @AbbeysDad said, patience is all you need right now. Just wait and see. You may entirely be overthinking it. Aside from Alternanthera reinekii, I've seen those other ones do fine without co2, and I can vouch for java fern windelov without co2. Rushing headlong into something you're not prepared to do will probably only beget headache.

Quote:

Finally....Why, YES!! I have noticed that there appears to be a staggering lack of low tech setups available here to see. Why is that exactly? No doubt it is some sort of conspiracy against us newbies. I guess I can't blame you all though. Why not show off the good stuff to entice the rest of us to join in the headaches....lol!! They do say misery loves company. ☺️
I dunno, have you visited the low tech forums? Also, @AbbeysDad 's tank is a pretty good example. I recalled reading in his journal that he did pretty well without CO2 to begin with:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...rney-time.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
I don't think CO2 is really your answer. In my low tech tanks, the plants grow fine with modest or no fertilization and no CO2. CO2 only really becomes required when there's high light and high fertilization. Oh CO2 is not a bad thing, but if your plants are 'melting' (a word used for transplant shock), it won't help much.

I think your answer is most likely modest fertilization, appropriate light intensity/duration, and PATIENCE. :-)
Yes! Patience! haha!

Here's a couple more "low tech" tanks for inspiration:

This is a recent one and has got to be one of the most impressive ones I've seen:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...h-mixture.html
He even shows you the melting stages and subsequent recovery.
Beware though, I feel his tank's margin of error is pretty thin with that kind of lighting, and it would take some thinking to emulate, but his success should inspire.

This thread doesn't seem to have as much activity on it as before, but some of the tanks posted.. would put mine and many a high tech tank to shame..

Not trying to keep you away from the CO2 club, but just trying to tell you not to worry about it until you're well and ready to tackle it properly because there's a decent amount of things to think about without even overthinking it.


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-22-2018, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for weighing in @AbbeysDad! Patience is certainly key. In my experiences so far with live plants patience can also be a killer. I try different things each time but seem to have the same results (more or less) as everything ends in the slow decay and eventual death of all plants I've ever tried. That's a good observation on your part though as I am torn between action and inaction. There are many worse feelings in my current circumstances than taking a chance with money only to have it fail.

I have been adding some fertilizing agent (I'll have to check on the name later) for most of the last few weeks. I put in about 6-10 drops every morning. I haven't had anything to measure it out with. Besides it is old and is going to expire in January anyhow so I thought I'd just use it until it's gone. This is all an experiment that I wasn't sure would work or not.

One mistake I made this time was NOT having patience enough to let my tank cycle an appropriate amount of time. I am quickly learning that was a costly error. A good call on your part @ipkiss.

I have not had a chance to do that and only discovered that there was such a thing the day before you'd told me about it.

Although I haven't had a chance to do too much reading this week, I have looked at the stages of melt a few times on that low tech thread that you posted. It kind of starts out similar to mine. But I always seem to continue on in degradation of my plants. They never show the bounce back that I saw in those pictures. It is very helpful to me though that those posts are labeled according to week. It sure put it into perspective! I've lost 2 of the 3 Alternanthera reinekii that I had. My Java fern seems dried up (LOL!! Is that even possible under water?) and I trimmed off all the established leaves from my amazon swords to allow for the nutrients to be taken by the new growth. There wasn't anything I could really do for them. They were too far gone. The new growth is continuing to improve which is a welcome sign of things moving in the right direction!

I finally switched from a phone to a computer (computer has been down for a while too) so hopefully I'll get the hang of quoting the replies people leave.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-23-2018, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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I thought I ought to just give a little update about how things are going:

2 of the 3 Alternanthera reinekii that I got in the package I bought have died. I don't think it was melt - at least not completely. It almost looked like there was some kind of algae or something in the lower part of the plant and down into the roots. I am assuming that must have developed partly because of the melt it may have gone through. But, as I don't know much about these things I can't be sure. I finally pulled them out about a week ago.Now the 3rd one is showing signs of distress though.

My Windlov Java fern seems to be drying out. It seems dry and leathery to the touch. The root ball (....that doesn't sound right) doesn't seem to have anything that looks like healthy roots of any kind. I have had it attached to a piece of wood for the last couple weeks but nothing wants to attach itself to the wood. I loosened the rubber band yesterday to see if it would hold on by itself yet. It couldn't.

I can only shake my head and laugh at the little oops I made about 2.5 weeks ago regarding my 2 Amazon sword plants. Although I did learn a little about (and finally experience) healthy roots and new growth.

This all started a couple days before I joined the forum here. So, I was looking up some care tips on my plant when I noticed the leaves were starting to turn slightly wavy. I some how had it in my head that they were Java fern, and of course, looked up Java fern care. I saw that I made a mistake in planting them in the gravel. Meanwhile, as time pasted, the leaves were getting yellow spots on them and decided to fix my "error" by pulling them out of the gravel and attaching them to the piece of drift wood I have. Super glue wasn't working for me, so I got some rubber bands out. Then, I lashed the plants (along with the actual Java fern) to the piece of drift wood I have. At the time, I'd been reading about bad looking roots. These were all limp and brown with 1 or 2 healthier looking roots. Anyhow, a week went by and I noticed that the leaves were trying to make a comeback and I thought that perhaps I would see if they started grabbing onto that piece of wood yet. They hadn't.

"Okay, no problem." I thought. So I left the one loose and pinned it into a crevice with a rock. Another week went by and still no anchoring. During all this time I had joined the forum and started this thread. But now the leaves were again regressing.When asked what kind of plants I had, I had to go back to the containers to make sure. That was when I realized my mistake! Although they showed signs of bouncing back, the leaves were getting progressively worse. I could even see through one of them now. But there appeared to be new growth. My thinking was that in an effort to promote the new growth further, I'd better take off the bad stuff (by this time it was beyond all help anyways). I also started seeing a lot more health roots growing all over. Since they still hadn't attached themselves to the wood, I took my Amazon "Java ferns' out to prune them. Then I figured I'd put them into the gravel again. That's what I see that you are supposed to do with them. All the roots are long and health looking now when I stuck them into the gravel. My water parameters are starting to show marked signs of improvement as well. So I'll have to see how it goes from here.


You guys may be right about not needing CO2, and I'll add that I am not dissuaded from the idea in the least. I don't feel left out of the CO2 club. Time has been a bit of a problem in setting up my little reactor for now anyway. I have had too many other things on my plate (Christmas, car troubles, computer crashes, etc. - I won't bore you with the details) I just finished the last of the carbonated water I had 2 days ago so I guess I'm going to see how that goes, too.

Finally, I obviously didn't get that quoting just right yesterday. @ipkiss - In regards to the low tech forum, I only discovered the day before you'd posted your reply. So, no, I hadn't seen that at all. But you can believe I'll be checking it out now.

I hope everybody has a very Merry Christmas!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-31-2018, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I finally got my reactor started this evening. I had to light a fire under my own butt because I made a quick (albeit a little rash) decision to get a few more plants during my holiday travels. I realized that I am getting algae growing on my drift wood so I thought I ought to try to get some plants to use up any extra nutrients. I got some Cabomba and Bacopa (although I like the term Water Hyssop better) which I learned do like to have co2. I realize that I may have another imbalance somewhere - I'm thinking in the lighting.

However, I'm noticing a deficiency in the new growth on my amazon sword plants. There are red spots or blotches that have shown up as the new growth has been developing. I figured I'd better pick up some new liquid fertilizer. I picked up a bottle of Flourish at my old pet store in the Twin Cities area and I finally got an eyedropper to dose with. I'm really hoping that will turn things around for me. I have very hard water out in the farmland area where I live now. Although we do technically have city water it isn't great for drinking. Perhaps it could have something to do with the water, but I'm not sold on that for a solid explanation. I've been reading about many other people that have similar water conditions.

I also broke down and bought some animals this afternoon. I got some shrimp hoping that they can help curb the algae blooms. They're cheap! I've never had shrimp but I am hopeful they can help me.

I decided to try a little different way of feeding the co2 into the water. I'll get into the details a little later, but I think it'll work okay for now, at least until I can get myself a little different set up. The only thing I am not sure about is how to go about measuring and/or monitoring the co2 level in the water. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-31-2018, 04:10 AM
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Since you expressed an interest in passive reactors, take a look at this one by @Edward:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...tration-4.html
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