CO2 Drop Checker and Water Agitation - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-23-2020, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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CO2 Drop Checker and Water Agitation

Hello, everyone. I hope you are staying safe.

I recently took a dive into CO2 diffusion in my 20-gallon tank. I started using CO2 about two days ago. I have an inline diffuser and I use an Eheim 2213 canister filter. I would say my tank is moderately planted, as nothing has had the chance to grow that much yet. I am using a drop checker that comes with de 4dKH solution. My CO2 was on from 3 PM until 11 PM; I use an LED light that is pretty bright (Lominie Asta 20). I was running my bubble counter at 1.5 bps. During that period the drop checker started to get dark green basically at the end of the photoperiod. By then my fish were gasping for air, so I freaked out and turned on a spare air pump I had in my old aquarium. I am also adding 2 mL every day of Flourish Excel and 1 capful of Flourish Advance. Once a week I use Easy Green as a fertilizer after each water change. My parameters are the following: pH is 7.0, KH is 40, GH 60.

My takeaway questions from this experience are the following...

1. I am using the appropriate amount of bps even though my drop checker did not turn lime green?

2. Does the fact that the drop checker did not turn lime green but my fish were gasping of air mean that my filter is not creating enough water movement or that the I was bombing them with CO2?

3. Would I be able to use an air pump at the same time that I run the CO2 diffuser or should I turn on the air pump after dosing CO2 at night?

4. Does this have to do with my parameters?

Thank you!
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-23-2020, 10:35 PM
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Stop dosing Excel.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-23-2020, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Could you elaborate as to why? Thanks!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-23-2020, 11:39 PM
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Ok lots going on with this.

1. Problem here is that a drop checker is great for casual confirmation but they take a really long time to give an accurate result or rather adjust to the conditions in the tank. So it's difficult to know what is happening right this second with drop checkers. Bubble counters are OK, but kind of meaningless if you don't know how much co2 needs to go into your tank. A better way would be to measure the ph of your completely degassed water and then shoot for a 1.0ph drop. Once you hit that, figure out the bps you need to keep you at that level and then you know what bps you need for your tank. Just know that the 1.0ph drop is not a hard, fast number. You need to play around with it to see how the plants and fish react. Some people go lower, upwards of a 1.5ph drop and others stay higher. Just going for a nice .5 to .75 drop that give them a lot of room to wiggle with co2. Depends on your plant needs.

2. Is there surface agitation? Not necessarily white caps but a little ripple from the outflow? If so you should be fine. It's more a problem with drop checkers taking awhile to adjust. With fish gasping it does mean you were bombing them with co2. lol!

3. It's good that you turned on the air stone when the fish were gasping but don't when the co2 is on and really not needed for when the co2 is off. Since you have it, it wouldn't hurt but not required.

4. So you are giving ppm for kh/gh right? Your gh is low for plants. And fish really, lol! Ideally you would want that more in the 120ppm range for gh. kh is fine. I wouldn't touch it.

I think what DiscusStu was getting at was that Excel is typically used as a carbon source for planted tanks (it's also used for algae control). If you are injecting co2 into your tank. It doesn't make sense to continue to use Excel, unless you are using it for algae control and even then that shouldn't be on a long term basis.

I will also mention that I used an Asta 20 over my 10gal high tech tank and I would classify it as more of a medium light. On a 20 gallon you're going to have areas that are more intense and outlying areas that are not so much.

On your use of Seachem Flourish Advanced. It's meant more for getting root growth kick started than for providing any kind of important nutrients for your plants. If anything, when you add co2 you will want to be using your Easy green every day and cut back on Advanced and Excel. Since you said you didn't have that many plants and I would not call your light high lightling, you might be able to get away with their maximum dose but I follow people doing high co2 aquascapes that use 4x max dosing on their tanks. To give you an idea of what all-in-one fertilizer dosing you will need when adding co2.
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Last edited by pauld738; 04-23-2020 at 11:41 PM. Reason: added details
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-24-2020, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauld738 View Post
Ok lots going on with this.

1. Problem here is that a drop checker is great for casual confirmation but they take a really long time to give an accurate result or rather adjust to the conditions in the tank. So it's difficult to know what is happening right this second with drop checkers. Bubble counters are OK, but kind of meaningless if you don't know how much co2 needs to go into your tank. A better way would be to measure the ph of your completely degassed water and then shoot for a 1.0ph drop. Once you hit that, figure out the bps you need to keep you at that level and then you know what bps you need for your tank. Just know that the 1.0ph drop is not a hard, fast number. You need to play around with it to see how the plants and fish react. Some people go lower, upwards of a 1.5ph drop and others stay higher. Just going for a nice .5 to .75 drop that give them a lot of room to wiggle with co2. Depends on your plant needs.

2. Is there surface agitation? Not necessarily white caps but a little ripple from the outflow? If so you should be fine. It's more a problem with drop checkers taking awhile to adjust. With fish gasping it does mean you were bombing them with co2. lol!

3. It's good that you turned on the air stone when the fish were gasping but don't when the co2 is on and really not needed for when the co2 is off. Since you have it, it wouldn't hurt but not required.

4. So you are giving ppm for kh/gh right? Your gh is low for plants. And fish really, lol! Ideally you would want that more in the 120ppm range for gh. kh is fine. I wouldn't touch it.

I think what DiscusStu was getting at was that Excel is typically used as a carbon source for planted tanks (it's also used for algae control). If you are injecting co2 into your tank. It doesn't make sense to continue to use Excel, unless you are using it for algae control and even then that shouldn't be on a long term basis.

I will also mention that I used an Asta 20 over my 10gal high tech tank and I would classify it as more of a medium light. On a 20 gallon you're going to have areas that are more intense and outlying areas that are not so much.

On your use of Seachem Flourish Advanced. It's meant more for getting root growth kick started than for providing any kind of important nutrients for your plants. If anything, when you add co2 you will want to be using your Easy green every day and cut back on Advanced and Excel. Since you said you didn't have that many plants and I would not call your light high lightling, you might be able to get away with their maximum dose but I follow people doing high co2 aquascapes that use 4x max dosing on their tanks. To give you an idea of what all-in-one fertilizer dosing you will need when adding co2.

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain of all of this. This is my first venture into planted tanks and it is so much more interesting than just having fish in.

I apologize. My GH was 120. Not sure why I worte down that value. Is there a specific range that I should keep in mind for my GH and KH values? My tapwater is really soft, but I have some seiryu stone which, I guess, buffers it out. I measured my pH right now and it is about 6.5. So basically, as long as my pH drops about one value or half a value, my plants are getting enough CO2?

I do have some slight ripples that are visible. I have a glass intake lily pipe with a built-in skimmer, and I believe yesterday my skimmer was taking away from the main filter pressure. Possibly, that might be why there was not enough water movement.

In terms of the Easy Green, should I use one pump daily?

Thanks!
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-24-2020, 01:33 AM
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Thank you so much for taking the time to explain of all of this. This is my first venture into planted tanks and it is so much more interesting than just having fish in.
No problem! This forum is a great resource and has helped me tremendously so love to give back. Now if I can just start that tank journal, lol!

Quote:
I apologize. My GH was 120. Not sure why I worte down that value. Is there a specific range that I should keep in mind for my GH and KH values?
A GH of 120 is plenty. The range would be roughly 100- 133 but you can have tanks that could go lower than that without seeing any issues and of course you can always go higher but going higher wouldn't help the plants really it would be more for fish, invertebrates.

Kh can be a hotly contested matter though, lol In my experience it really doesn't matter what your kh is as long as that kh doesn't fluctuate. I have actually kept fish and plants in 0 kh r/o water without incident but it's not for everyone. I keep all but one of my tanks at 1kh just for ease of remember how much to reconstitute my r/o water. A kh of 40 ppm is perfect for plants and most fish sold in the hobby today will be just fine in that environment. Just keep in mind that fish like guppies, livebearers, etc like harder water. Mostly that is gh but in nature when the gh is high so is the kh.

Quote:
My tapwater is really soft, but I have some seiryu stone which, I guess, buffers it out. I measured my pH right now and it is about 6.5. So basically, as long as my pH drops about one value or half a value, my plants are getting enough CO2?
Enough co2 depends on your goals but to get your drop checker to turn green you will need a 1.0 ph drop. That number is not a hard and fast number though as many factors play into how much co2 you actually have. That's where your drop checker would come in to play. But the ckecker takes awhile to catch up. Use the ph to keep fish from gasping then use the drop checker to dial in the recommended amount.

I will say that I don't use either a drop checker or bubble counter anymore but rather rely on a ph monitor continuously checking ph to gauge how my co2 is doing. do use a ph monitor that is on 24/7 to see that though.

Quote:
I do have some slight ripples that are visible. I have a glass intake lily pipe with a built-in skimmer, and I believe yesterday my skimmer was taking away from the main filter pressure. Possibly, that might be why there was not enough water movement.
Most of the tanks that I follow that use Lilly pipes just make sure that the surface is rippling at the out-take. I don't know what was going on yesterday but my 10gal high tech has purposely low flow for my Phoenix Rasboras and I have never had them gasping at the surface. Maybe the Excel you have been adding was causing problems to arise prematurely? Excel is actually used as a disinfectant at higher concentrations so maybe there was some kind of interaction there.

Quote:
In terms of the Easy Green, should I use one pump daily?
That's about right. With lower plant population and mediumish light that would be ok, if not on the low side.

One way to check if your doing things right is to test nitrates. Not perfect by any means but it will give you an idea if you are in the ballpark. Nitrates should be around 20-30ppm. If they are below 10, not enough ferts. Above 30/40. Maybe too much. I see tanks on here that are absolutely gorgious and they have nitrate readings form 50 to 70 (from ferts) so again not a hard and fast rule. And of course the tank will change over time. You will more than likely need to adjust occasionally but the plants will tell you. Slower growth or more algae productions, maybe time to look at more ferts.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-24-2020, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! I will definitely follow your recommendations and see how it does. I have some dwarf hairgrass that I am dying to see grow and cover the substrate! Thanks for taking the time to respond to my message and clear up my doubts! Please stay safe!
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