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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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my new/switchover tank (need guidance)

Here's my situation. I'm a teacher and I have a 20 gallon High tank in my classroom that I've had a few fish in over the years so it's been set up for a while. I love the idea of having a planted tank so I'm in the process of switching it over. I thought it would be best to start this build thread of sorts to ask questions along the way instead of asking a million others or searching for stuff that doesn't exactly fit my situation. I love the search feature and use it a lot but I'm a little neurotic about making sure it applies to what I have going on.

Anyways, along the way of switching it over, I've slowly added a few plants that my lfs said would be okay with low light. Not to be one to want to hold back I want to expand my options. I've set up a diy yeast CO2 set up that seems to be working really well. My lights are pretty crazy right now as I'm trying to up my watts per gallon to compensate for having C02 (I hope I've understood this right.) I have three fixtures over a 20H!!! I have two normal freshwater fixtures with 15w bulbs (one is GE aquarays and the other is an eclipse daylight bulb). In addition to this I have a corallife t5 fixture leftover from a nano reef tank. It has two t5 Normal Output bulbs in them that are used up and need to be replaced. They are currently running actinic and 10000K bulbs. I ordered two GE 6500 bulbs to replace these and they're on the way. I'd like to replace the other two generic fixtures with another similar coral life NOT5 fixture in the future.

As a substrate, I still have a pebble-like rock substrate. I've been using Flourish tabs to help with the plants. I also use Flourish supplement and dose 1/3 a cap twice a week. I have a HOB filter that I run carbon in a media bag in. I also have the output from the C02 going into the intake of the HOB filter.

The plants that I've already added are:
  • Anubias Nana
  • Amazon Sword
  • Sprite plant
  • banana plant
  • java fern (i think)
  • stringy moss like plant (sorry don't know what it is)
Current Fish (other stuff) include:
  • 2 small angels
  • 2 cory catfish (sp.)
  • 2 guppies
  • 3 snails
  • In the future, I'd like to add two larger angels and more guppies but haven't yet (okay to do??)
My plants seem to be doing great. They are producing bubbles and I've seen a lot of growth since adding the extra light and C02.

Sooo, what have I done wrong? Any suggestions on what I should change? My main questions/concerns have to do with my fish as I'm accustomed to running an airstone to make sure the water is oxygenated enough and now I've taken that out and put C02 in!!! Seems dangerous.

Thanks for helping out!!!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 07:37 PM
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I wouldn't add any more angels to that size tank. They get big and can be mean.

As for lighting I think the two T5 lights should suffice, just becuase your using CO2 doesn't mean you want to drown the plants in light.

As for the co2, IIRC the surface agitation should add enough oxygen to keep the fish happy, along with what the plants will produce.

I am about to set up a new tank for my wife's classroom to go back in after christmas break. It is a 15g with DIY co2 and two 6500k CFL bulbs. This tank will house RCS and some tetra's. I am also using MTS capped with PFS for cheapness.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 08:07 PM
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I agree with SlammedDC2...2 Angels is plenty for a 20...they can be moody little jerks...more so when they get cramped, and that tank is short. They are Cichlids after all.

As long as your Co2 is on a timer and your not going crazy with it the fish will be fine. A HOB filter will ensure decent o2. The "need" for an air stone is completely overblown, not needed in a planted aquarium...and arguably worthless in a non planted as well.

Just to be safe...keep an eye on your Cory cats. You might have noticed every once in a while they dart to the top of the tank and grab some air...that's normal...every once in a while. If they start heading topside a lot more often, you may be lacking o2.

FYI...if your Guppies start humping, your Angel fish will eat the fry. It's a nice balance in the real world, but your students may not like watching the young be ravaged by grumpy Cichlids, lol.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Daximus View Post
As long as your Co2 is on a timer and your not going crazy with it the fish will be fine. A HOB filter will ensure decent o2. The "need" for an air stone is completely overblown, not needed in a planted aquarium...and arguably worthless in a non planted as well.
I don't have a timer. How do you put a diy on a timer? How can I make sure I'm not overdoing it??

Thank you!!
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SlammedDC2 View Post
I wouldn't add any more angels to that size tank. They get big and can be mean.

As for lighting I think the two T5 lights should suffice, just becuase your using CO2 doesn't mean you want to drown the plants in light.

As for the co2, IIRC the surface agitation should add enough oxygen to keep the fish happy, along with what the plants will produce.

I am about to set up a new tank for my wife's classroom to go back in after christmas break. It is a 15g with DIY co2 and two 6500k CFL bulbs. This tank will house RCS and some tetra's. I am also using MTS capped with PFS for cheapness.
Thank you! No more angels! The ones i have are just small and kind of plain so I was hoping to get some nicer ones. I think I'll be fine though :-)
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-05-2011, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob.morgan78 View Post
I don't have a timer. How do you put a diy on a timer? How can I make sure I'm not overdoing it??

Thank you!!
Oh my bad...you can't. Didn't catch that part. The good news is most DIY Co2 isn't robust enough to over saturate a 20 gallon tank...especially one with a HOB filter. HOB filters are great for degassing aquariums...Co2 gasses off much faster than o2. Don't ask me why, lol.


To make sure sure you would need to get a Co2 checker. Other than that you can just watch the fish, if they start looking crazy and sucking air off the top you have an issue. From my limited experiences, like I said, most DIY Co2 setups aren't capable of saturation a 20 gallon with a HOB.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
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Nice, thank you! Any guidance on a decent affordable co2 checker?
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 02:36 AM
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check the sponsor/power seller section. Should be able to find one for a couple bucks.

Edit: here you go:
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sp...r-awesome.html

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sp...s-10-4dkh.html

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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For some reason, I can't figure these things out!!! I understand WHY they work but I can't understand what I would need to have and do to get them to work. I can figure out it needs a reference liquid and dKh solution. I guess I would need to hold this thing and see the directions to put it together but I would like to make sure I know what I'm doing before buying it. Is there a place where I can find some really dumbed down directions.

I guess I need to know:
1) What do I put in the bulb?
2) When do I put it in the bulb?
3) What do I need to mix up before putting it in the bulb?
4) Does the entire thing go inside the aquarium or just the open end?

Sorry for the stupid questions...
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 01:56 PM
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I fill my bulb about halfway with 4 dkh (so that it has the largest surface area, if you fill too high the surface are shrinks again as you go past the "equator" of the sphere

I add 2-3 drops of PH indicator (should be Blue at this point)

Wipe off some aquarium glass where you want to measure (I actually spread 5 drop checkers throughout my tank at different heights and locations) and attach to the wall.

The whole thing is underwater - just be careful to keep your air bubble between the solution and the tank water! Co2 diffuses into that air and then into the solution, and a green/lime green solution means its dissolved into equilibrium around the amount of CO2 people shoot for.

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 02:15 PM Thread Starter
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I fill my bulb about halfway with 4 dkh (so that it has the largest surface area, if you fill too high the surface are shrinks again as you go past the "equator" of the sphere

I add 2-3 drops of PH indicator (should be Blue at this point)
Do you buy the PH indicator? I've seen where you can buy the dkh but not the indicator. Thank you!!!

Wipe off some aquarium glass where you want to measure (I actually spread 5 drop checkers throughout my tank at different heights and locations) and attach to the wall.

The whole thing is underwater - just be careful to keep your air bubble between the solution and the tank water! Co2 diffuses into that air and then into the solution, and a green/lime green solution means its dissolved into equilibrium around the amount of CO2 people shoot for.

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That's very helpful! Thank You!

So are these about the best way to keep an eye on co2 levels?
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 03:57 PM
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That's very helpful! Thank You!

So are these about the best way to keep an eye on co2 levels?
Other than watching fish its the only way that I know of short of buying some sort of industrial element sniffer.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 05:11 PM
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The drop checkers can lag behind the main tank water by up to two hours. Additionally they only measure the location they are placed; CO2 concentration in that exact spot will be affected by flow, distribution method, plant mass, etc. That’s why I set up 4-5 for my new tank first few weeks.

The indicator fluid is the normal PH indicator from my API test kit. Not the “high range” fluid. It should be blue when you first mix it with the 4 dkh water.

I also change my solution in each drop checker every week, sometimes 2-3 weeks. It does seem to read differently before and after I change it but I can’t say for certain.

When you get more comfortable with the system you may start using animal and plant health as a CO2 indicator.

With pressurized CO2 I agitate the heck out of my water surface – all I need to do is turn the needle valve a little more open so I don’t care about losing CO2. The oxygenated water is much better for the fish and possibly the plants. Not so familiar with DIY CO2 and how much agitation to aim for.


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