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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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Help with new setup !!

Well, I got a 55 up and running with plants on Friday.
For those of you who may have read the other threads I posted to in reference to a 29, with the existing stuff I had, the 55 was more practical.

Here's the initial setup.
55g obviously, 2 litre DIY CO2 running through a Hagen ladder and popping the extra to the surface, 3 lamp 4 foot flouro. fixture 4" above surface, 2x40W 6500k, and 1x40w "Gro-Lux" installed. "Normal" aquarium gravel approx. 2-3 inches deep. Tufa rock, a small amount of limestone rock, and a small piece of coral. Fluval 304 can. and magnum H.O.T hang on.
With just fish and plastic plants on Friday evening water was :
GH=12
KH=8
PH=7.8
Nitrates=60ppm
Nitrites=0
Ammonia=0

Today with DIY CO2, melon swords,hornwort,anacharis,pennywort,water lettuce,water hyacinth,jungle val,radican sword, and dwarf sag.(I think)

The water is:
GH=12
KH=6
PH=6.4
Nitrates=40ppm
Nitrites=0
Ammonia=0

The Nitrate drop could be due to a 10g water change friday night before planting, instead of the new plants having dropprd it that much already.

By the CO2 chart, that comes to 71.7 for CO2 !!
Is this correct? Should I dump some baking soda in the thing to raise KH to 7, or vent the CO2 down to a lesser bubble rate?
At full tilt it's popping bubbles out the ladder at approx. 2 per sec.
Recipe for CO2 was 2 cups sugar, 1/4 tsp. yeast, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and lukewarm water to the neck.

Am I worrying about nothing? The fish seem to be breathing faster, but not at the surface gasping. Not seeing any plant activity as of yet.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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Couple of quick pics.



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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 04:48 PM
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The CO2 chart is not accurate always. There are LOTS of things that can throw off the results (phosphate, nitrite, temperature, etc). When adding CO2 to the water, it forms carbonic acid. This lowers your pH, not your kH. I'm not sure why your kH dropped, but the addition of the plants might be suspect. It could also be an inconsistancy with your test kit (they are notoriously innaccurate also).

Here's the good news - you don't need to worry about getting a 100% accurate measurement! Tests will give you a rough idea (none, some, lots) of levels, but don't take them as gospel. Watch your fish, watch your plants - adjust accordingly. Do you water changes, dose your fertilizer, and you'll have a happy healthy tank without worrying about testing.

I highly highly doubt you have that much CO2 in your water (it would have killed off your fish 20 ppm before now!). The best way I've found to get the CO2 right when using a compressed system is to turn it up slowly over the course of a couple weeks until you see the fish gasping in the morning. Then turn it back down until they quit. You want as much as you can get without being harmful. With DIY CO2, especially in a 55 gallon, it will be very very difficult to come anywhere close to an unsafe level for your fish. In fact, I would recommend adding another DIY bottle. I use one bottle on my 15 and it is barely enough to keep the plants happy. After a few months of using DIY CO2 on a tank this big, I bet you'll want to start researching the compressed CO2. It isn't as tough or intimidating as most newbies think.

As far as your water chemistry, DO NOT add baking soda to raise your kH!!!! Use what you have - straight up tapwater. I bet every tapwater source in this country is suitable for growing plants, you just have to figure out which ones will work for you and keep your CO2 high and dose those ferts. Don't fight it - it will give you more headache that it will be worth. This hobby should be fun, wrestling with your water chemistry and trying to find some mythical ideal parameters using innaccurate test kits is NOT fun. Your tapwater is just fine (I know, I also live in Indy - we have hard water, but it grows plants great!).

That being said, you also have several things in your tank that will raise your kH. kH is also called carbonic hardness, because it is a measure of the carbonate in your water. Calcium carbonate is one of the main components in limestone and also in coral (not sure abotu tufa rock). If I were you, I'd take all the CaCO3 out as soon as you possibly can. The only exception to this would be if you were raising shell dwelling cichlids and wanted shells for them to hide in. Other than that, do not put anything that will mess with your water chemistry in your tank. You won't be able to control how fast it dissolves and it will cause you trouble down the line almost guaranteed.

I noticed that your pictures aren't showing up... try putting the url in between img tags, like this - [img#] YOUR IMAGE URL HERE [/img#], but leave out the # in the tag. I put it there just so the tags would show up.

If you live close to Indianapolis, consider swinging by the Circle City Aquarium Club sometime! It is a great group and there's no cost or obligation for showing up just to check it out. (Circle City Aquarium Club)


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Jen, the pics. showed in preview, so I assumed all could see.
Your post makes me feel better, I was kinda wiggin' at that CO2 chart.
I'll remove the coral and limestone ASAP and see how it goes. Also try to round up another bottle for some mix.
I think pressurized is not far off for me. Also probably brighter light as well. Just want to get a better handle on things first.

Thanks again.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 05:58 PM
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I tried editing your post to see if there was something wrong with how the tags were typed, and I also could see them in preview and again when I saved, but when I reloaded this thread they disappeared. Not quite sure what is going on there though.

I peeked at the URLs and your tank looks very good! The only thing I'd say, like I always say, is more plants. If you ever come to a club meeting there are always a ton of plants for sale, and it is a really good way to stock a new setup! I also really like your gouramis - some of my favorite fish. I have a pearl gourami that I'm just crazy about.


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-2006, 10:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Jen. They really do look better in "person"
Not to worried 'bout the pics. right now.
I took the coral and limestone out, and made another batch of CO2 mix like you said. Put a tee in the line to run both bottles and just now went down to peek at it. Every fish was at the surface gasping. Even the pictus cats (who never come up) were gulping.
So I immediately removed the second bottle, put the first bottle on a gang valve to use as a vent to slow down the bubble rate, and threw a ceramic airstone hooked to both outlets of Whisper 20-60 air pump.
15 min. later, they seem to be getting back to normal.

What's going on ?? Am I missing something/doing something wrong?
Can one bottle really put too much in a 55?

I'm lost I guess, need some more help please.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-11-2006, 03:47 PM
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Wow, I really wouldn't think 2 DIY bottles would come even CLOSE to saturation on a 55 gallon. Several people around here use this type of setup without problems, so it is pretty surprising. Perhaps your pump is just really really efficient at dissolving those bubbles! If your plants look like they are doing well on 1 bottle of CO2 and you have no algae then that's great. I would think that with about 2 watts/gallon on the 55 that you'd need at least 2, but everyone's setup is different. Hopefully the algae will stay at bay.

What works for me might not work as well or at all for you - that's one thing that makes this hobby so intersting is the experimentation. Were the fish gasping first thing in the morning? That is when CO2 concentration is highest, because plants reverse respirate at night. If it was just in the morning, you could try running both bottles again but also have an airstone hooked up with a timer to go on when the lights go off to outgas any extra that builds up.


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