Dosing to make up for CO2? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 05:55 AM Thread Starter
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Dosing to make up for CO2?

So I flooded my tank after dry start was starting to get mold. I thought I was ready with the CO2, but due to plumbing issues still don't have it up, it's been about 2 weeks now. I've used tap water, and been trying to dose Flourish to make up for carbon I wasn't getting otherwise, upping it here and there, but the drop checker always stays blue. Also have been dosing the amounts recommended by Seachemm in Nitrogen, Potassium, Iron, Trace and Enhance...really just trying everything while the plants slowly seems to die away. Most of the Christmas Moss is holding steady, hairgrass seems to be mostly the same with some patched dying. The Anubias which was previously growing has started to get black spots on the leaves, and the alternathea reinekki is turning green then dying looking quickly. What could they be missing? I feel like I'm providing them with everything, unless the CO2 really is that important. Also some of the substrate seems to be getting some brown spots

Any help to keep these things living appreciated!
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Last edited by tylo255; 04-12-2019 at 06:23 AM. Reason: Forgot to add something
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 01:10 PM
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Liquid Co2 is not the same as Actual Co2 that is the reason your checker is not changing color. What kind of pumbling issues are you having?
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 01:18 PM
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The only liquid CO2 that can be found is within your pressurized tank, not in a fancy fertilizer bottle.

Flourish (assuming Excel?) is a mild glutaraldehyde based algaecide that provides very little actual CO2, but rather helps kill algae and break down protein films on plant leaves, better allowing them to utilize atmospheric carbon and allowing the user to run slightly more light without actual CO2.

That is why your drop checker is not changing colour, no carbonic acid from CO2 = no pH drop = no change in drop checker colour.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 03:07 PM
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Bit of basics as mentioned above may help to clear some confusion. The drop checker is a way to measure PH change and that change is brought about when CO2 is added and there is a reaction which form carbonic acid. Adding acid does the change to make the PH more acidic! But when we use other forms, like Liquids, we are adding carbon for the plants but it doesn't do the reaction to change the PH and the drop check is still reading the same, no PH change, no color change. It is easy to miss that the drop check is very close to doing a PH test where we expect the colors to change but it is done in a different way inside the drop check rather than in a test tube.
The learning curve can be a mind-bender but hang in there as it does get easier to get it in mind. ----
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 03:29 PM
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I'll just add that if you've been increasing amounts of Excel, that could be your problem as Excel can be hard on some plants.

(I'll admit that I don't like excel or metricide. Anything used in higher concentrations to sterilize heat sensitive medical/dental equipment can be hard ON BB, plants, and fish. We know it kills algae!)

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-12-2019, 03:45 PM
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I'd consider the balance of light/CO2/ferts in this situation. Without sufficient CO2 present, the plants will not uptake nutrients at an optimal rate. Thus, the ferts that you are adding are not fully being consumed by the plants, and instead are promoting the growth of algae and bacteria. I'd recommend minimizing the use of ferts until you have CO2 injected regularily, and doing water changes to remove the excess nutrients that are already in the tank. I'd also check the water parameters and make sure they are in a good range for the plants. With tap water, it's probably a safe assumption that the GH is much higher than the plants prefer. You can lower it via water changes with remineralized RO or distilled water. Another factor to consider without much CO2 present is water circulation and surface agitation... your only real means to ensure that the plants are getting any CO2 at this point is to optimize gas exchange at the surface. Successful low-tech tanks usually have a decent amount of surface agitation, so gas exchange is providing the plants with at least some CO2.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-13-2019, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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My plumbing issue is that I don't have the correct tubing to hook up the inline diffuser, however the correct parts are on the way. Just inconvenient it takes like a week and a half for anything to arrive. And I've been reading the Seachem bottle recommendations are pretty minimum to be able to apply broadly to everyone, and it still seems like things are dying quicker than they should even with no CO2. And thanks for the CO2 info, had no idea they weren't quite the same with the drop checker!

I do have surface agitation, but my balance likely is quite off. 12 hours light from Finnex 24/7. I have no idea what the water is. I'm in a new community and first time doing a planted tank, could anything harmful be in the water? Would I be better off using the RO unit and just added ferts?

Last edited by tylo255; 04-13-2019 at 08:52 AM. Reason: Forgot
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-13-2019, 12:12 PM
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I doubt that CO2 is the reason stuff is dying. You said that you flooded the tank after you were having mold issues: what the dry start complete or still mid way through? Your tank may be still cycling, causing the issues. Have you tested your water? Can you post your params?
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-13-2019, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylo255 View Post
My plumbing issue is that I don't have the correct tubing to hook up the inline diffuser, however the correct parts are on the way. Just inconvenient it takes like a week and a half for anything to arrive. And I've been reading the Seachem bottle recommendations are pretty minimum to be able to apply broadly to everyone, and it still seems like things are dying quicker than they should even with no CO2. And thanks for the CO2 info, had no idea they weren't quite the same with the drop checker!

I do have surface agitation, but my balance likely is quite off. 12 hours light from Finnex 24/7. I have no idea what the water is. I'm in a new community and first time doing a planted tank, could anything harmful be in the water? Would I be better off using the RO unit and just added ferts?
I start with the basic idea that plants grow in almost all the world's water, from the soft acidic to the hard alkaline, there are almost always plants in the water. So that leaves us two ways to go and lots of varied combos in between. We can go with trying to get the water to match some given set of parameters that we might read in books or we can go with using the plants which grow best in the water we have.
The first has to assume that we have the same water and same plants as the experts who write the book and if we are lucky, our water matches the "ideal" as stated. But if our water is not what the info suggests, some would have us go into changing our water to match but that can be a very long hard struggle as we may need to actually stop using our tap water and buy RO equipment or the water itself and mix to the right levels as well as search out which plants actually like the water we build. Many do this and I certainly do not intend to start any disagreements with those who do like doing it this way. I just do not want to do it that way!
I far prefer doing it the low labor,low expense way and find what my water has as a guide to what plants I can use best with the least effort. In my case, I have extremely hard alkaline water as it runs in limestone most of it's life. That means I can do best with the plants which live in the water that matches mine and there are certainly lots of those. The local springs are full of plants, so I go for those.
All successful gardeners do adapt what they grow to the local conditions in their gardens but for some reason, it seems to change when we start a tank in the house and we try to change the conditions to meet the plants rather than the other way around. Perhaps we have some sort of self-destructive gene?
I would suggest that the lighting is an easy one to change and 12 hours would seem to be way too much as I find 6 is more often where I wind up. If you want the lights on at times that you are there, like before and after work, consider putting siesta/ break in the middle when you are not there. Too much light or too long is often blamed for too much algae.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-13-2019, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Alright, I lowered the lights to 10 and will eventually wean to 6-8. The thing is though, there isn't really much algae in there, this pic is today and it's still pretty clear. I also ran all the tests in the "master" test kit...

Ammonia:0 ppm
Nitrite: 0-0.25 ppm
Nitrate: 5 ppm
pH: Looks to be about 7.6, give or take 0.2

It was my understanding the nitrogen cycle being completed wasn't a necessity for plants...but my plants aren't doing well, so somewhere along the line my understanding is faulty.

And I don't mind starting from RO, I already have the unit from SW and working towards something, I would prefer control.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-13-2019, 10:31 PM
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Control is certainly good in most cases and that might be as good description as most of us have for our operations. We do try to keep some sort of control, even when everything nature does seems to tilt toward getting out of control. I've had gardens for a really long time and planted tanks for a while but about the time I think I have it under control, something happens. Plants grow so something gets shaded, lights get dim or quit, I move or just get tired of the same old routine, so I now allow myself far more room for things that are not under control and it does seem to work out pretty much the same!
Perhaps we should look, learn, and adapt as needed and part of that adaptation might be to let ourselves enjoy more and worry less! I'm guessing again but would say that most of our tanks will be a work in progress as long as we keep at it.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-16-2019, 11:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylo255 View Post
And I don't mind starting from RO, I already have the unit from SW and working towards something, I would prefer control.

I would advise strongly for RO. It does give you more control, yet ultimately requires less control... if that makes any sense. Compared to treated tap water, it much more resembles natural rain water; which is the purest water on the planet. The closer you can establish and maintain an aquarium in relation to what occurs in nature, the better. Less work, fewer unknowns, more enjoyment, and healthier plants/livestock. The only consideration needed with RO is remineralization and the likely need to slightly increase the KH. Beyond that, just proper lighting, CO2, and ferts. Sounds like you have good lighting, are on the way to CO2, and have some ferts. Rock on!


My only advice beyond that is to be conscious of the balance of macro and micro nutrients when adding ferts. I like to reference this article on the subject of ferts, as well as the other articles on this site for good in-depth info: https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/adv_nutrients.html
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