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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Red face HELP! Newb Failing at Planted Tank

So my setup is a 29G aquarium with a pressurized Co2 system from Green Leaf Aquariums, a 30Ē Coralife T5HO light with 10k and 6500 bulbs, and a Cal Aqua Pearl drop checker. I am continue to struggle to keep plants alive in the tank and itís getting frustrating. I believe I should have enough light going in, and Iíd think that I have enough CO2 going in to help, but I canít get anything to register on my Pearl drop checker. Iím putting in 3+ bubbles per sec CO2 and I still canít get my drop checker to register anything. It was installed per the instructions and seems like a simple tool, but it doesnít matter how many bubble per sec I put in, the testing solution never alters from the original blue color. If I put anymore CO2 in then I just blow all my bubble counter solution up through the tubing! surely I'm getting plenty in there no?

I canít think of any other variables that might be influencing my success. Being pretty new to a planted tank Iím hoping that some of the experts can help guide me in a direction.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 05:42 PM
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How did you go about setting up your drop checker and what is your photoperiod? You say "bulbs" -- how many?


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 05:51 PM
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How are you getting the co2 into the tank? diffuser? reactor? are you certain the co2 is going into the tank and there are no leaks between bubble counter and tank? can you see co2 bubbles?

As long as no leaks pressurized co2 should be helping

I had a problem with too much light on my 55, using two 48" t5ho. My plants kept growing pale and sickly and I got algae everywhere. Raised my light and reduced photoperiod to 8 hours and problem solved.

good luck
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 05:57 PM
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Are you using a CO2 reactor or are you simply bubbling it straight into your tank? If so, then you are not actually dissolving enough CO2 in the water to be effective. This would explain the drop checker results.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 06:00 PM
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Just a note: all the CO2 in the world won't do you any good if there aren't enough nutrients in the water to utilize it. What is your dosing regiment?
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TexasCichlid View Post
How did you go about setting up your drop checker and what is your photoperiod? You say "bulbs" -- how many?
I set up the drop checker according to directions. The reference solution in the small interior and the reference solution filled to up to the bottom of the "pearl" interior (green inside the pearl and blue outside it). I then submerged it about 2" under the water leaving air trapped inside between the reference solution and the water as it looked like it should be.

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Originally Posted by TexasCichlid View Post
How did you go about setting up your drop checker and what is your photoperiod? You say "bulbs" -- how many?
sorry, my 30" coralife has 2 T5HO bulbs. it came with a 10k and a 6500 out of the box. I have them on a pretty long time, from about 5:30am to 8pm. I get up early and feed the fish in the morning before work which is why I have them on so early. Am I actually putting too much light in there? I don't have any algae problems. I put a variety of nice plants and they are ok for a little while, but then eventually turn sickly with leaves that get thin and the middles wilt out (like ferns and swords).


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Originally Posted by norbot View Post
How are you getting the co2 into the tank? diffuser? reactor? are you certain the co2 is going into the tank and there are no leaks between bubble counter and tank? can you see co2 bubbles?

As long as no leaks pressurized co2 should be helping

I had a problem with too much light on my 55, using two 48" t5ho. My plants kept growing pale and sickly and I got algae everywhere. Raised my light and reduced photoperiod to 8 hours and problem solved.

good luck
I don't believe I have any leaks in my CO2 system. I have it set up using a nano diffuser to get it in the water and I get all kinds of very fine bubbles coming into my tank. The bubbles are definitely diffused and visually there's a lot going on in there, enough to make me think that if anything I am putting too much in and my Pearl drop checker indicator solution should be more on the yellow side rather than the original blue signaling not enough.

Thanks for the speedy responses. I've had aquariums in the past but never planted ones. I didn't think it would be so difficult. I've put a good deal of money into this system and definitely haven't gone "cheap" which makes it a little more frustrating. I know that expensive doesn't really mean better, but I was hoping that a pressurized system might be a little lower maintenance and help things out......that of course after thinking the lighting wasn't enough.

I appreciate your help guys. Happy to provide more details and listen to any suggestions. I've looked around on the web and read a lot but I've kinda come down to asking directly for help.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 06:37 PM
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That is weird I'm also new to planted tanks, and I have three planted tanks now that are growing nicely and I don't even use CO2.

Like the others say check for leaks and then I would say check you water parameters and just check everythinglike it was a new tank, most times we tend to overlook the simple stuff.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 06:38 PM
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It sounds like you are getting co2 in there, maybe your drop checker solution is bad. Try using the ph/kh chart to get a ballpark of how much co2 is in there.

IME I would reduce the photoperiod, give it about three weeks, if things don't improve try something else.

As mentioned, you should consider dosing ferts if you don't already
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 06:39 PM
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Tell us about your filtration and, as mentioned above, your fertilizer/water change routine
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mojo028 View Post
That is weird I'm also new to planted tanks, and I have three planted tanks now that are growing nicely and I don't even use CO2.

Like the others say check for leaks and then I would say check you water parameters and just check everythinglike it was a new tank, most times we tend to overlook the simple stuff.
I think I have pretty good water quality. I keep Discus in there and so I'm constantly monitoring the water quality for the fish since they are on the sensitive side. I do 20% water changes about every other day. I would think I should be ok but I will research more on water quality for the plants.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-16-2013, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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I'm starting to think that my pleco might be the cause of some of my leaf issues. It does seem to be more of the broad leaf plants that I have issues with looking unhealthy. Course, that really doesn't help me understand how the indicator solution in my Pearl never changes and constantly looks like I don't have much CO2 at all saturated in my water.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I think I've found the answer to why my Pearl didn't seem to be picking up any change in CO2 in my water. I had not really thought about this, but I had a bubble wall running in the tank, mainly just for looks. Apparently that was running off my CO2. I took that out last night and wouldn't you know it, my Pearl started picking up a change in CO2 levels not long after. I guess I wouldn't have thought that the aeration would have driven my Co2 off as I always had a bunch of small Co2 bubbles moving throughout the water in my tank. I guess I thought those would eventually dissolve in the water. Also, I transferred the pleco I suspect might not be helping my broad leaf plants to a different tank. Hopefully I start to see some improvement! I tend to think that I am getting enough light but the plants were just starving as they weren't really getting any CO2. Now I just need to be careful not to gas my discus!
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 01:40 PM
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Re: HELP! Newb Failing at Planted Tank

Air stone or the bubbler is something good for the tank with fish. You just have to find out how much CO2 you need for the plant to be happy and algae free. I dont think your bubble wall is a problem. Sorry, I didnt read through all your post but what give you the idea that your plabt is not.taking CO2?

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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Air stone or the bubbler is something good for the tank with fish. You just have to find out how much CO2 you need for the plant to be happy and algae free. I dont think your bubble wall is a problem. Sorry, I didnt read through all your post but what give you the idea that your plabt is not.taking CO2?
Well, I've had my pressurized CO2 system set up for over a month. My plants didn't seem much better off than before as I was still having issues keeping them alive/healthy. I was uncertain how much CO2 to inject and since it's not an exact science with a bubble counter, I decided to purchase a Cal Aqua Pearl just to monitor my CO2 level. I was worried about gassing my fish so I was very cautious. The instructions for the Pearl said it should even out wihtin a couple hours. after several weeks of adjusting my CO2 flow into the tank through a diffuser, I could never get the Pearl to pick up any change in CO2 level. It always read low regardless of how much I was pumping in. Upon reading a blog about water quality for plants, I noticed some comments about bubble sticks being used as a method of removing excess CO2. I thought I'd try to cut the aeration out of my tank and see what happened. Sure enough, after weeks of doing nothing, my Pearl picked up an increase in CO2 level even though I had not changed the amount I was injecting. That appears to have been the problem. I have a Fluval 306 canister filter running in my 29G tank, so I'm not all that worried about the water movement that the bubble wall was providing. I think I still get plenty or circulation in there just from the filter. I'm going to give it a week or two like this and see if I can tell an improvement in my plants. Crossing my fingers.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-17-2013, 03:59 PM
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I just want to let you know, the solution that came with the CO2 checker aren't correct. I believe they are just regular pH testing solution. You actually need a 4dkh solution to get it working. Some easy way is to look how the fish is doing if they are surfacing alot or not. Surface movement is actually very good for plants. There are couple of reason why your plant are not doing so good,

1. No fert in your soil
2. Plant are changing form from emerse to submerse.
3. tank was not cycled.

Circulation and surface movement is different. If you see a layer of stuff on the surface, then you need to increase the surface movement. Co2 is a important part of plants but not all.

Make sure you get a 4dkh solution for your CO2 checker. After you have the solution in there, drop the pH tester in to the solution in the Co2 checker and put it in your tank.

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Originally Posted by resharp001 View Post
Well, I've had my pressurized CO2 system set up for over a month. My plants didn't seem much better off than before as I was still having issues keeping them alive/healthy. I was uncertain how much CO2 to inject and since it's not an exact science with a bubble counter, I decided to purchase a Cal Aqua Pearl just to monitor my CO2 level. I was worried about gassing my fish so I was very cautious. The instructions for the Pearl said it should even out wihtin a couple hours. after several weeks of adjusting my CO2 flow into the tank through a diffuser, I could never get the Pearl to pick up any change in CO2 level. It always read low regardless of how much I was pumping in. Upon reading a blog about water quality for plants, I noticed some comments about bubble sticks being used as a method of removing excess CO2. I thought I'd try to cut the aeration out of my tank and see what happened. Sure enough, after weeks of doing nothing, my Pearl picked up an increase in CO2 level even though I had not changed the amount I was injecting. That appears to have been the problem. I have a Fluval 306 canister filter running in my 29G tank, so I'm not all that worried about the water movement that the bubble wall was providing. I think I still get plenty or circulation in there just from the filter. I'm going to give it a week or two like this and see if I can tell an improvement in my plants. Crossing my fingers.



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