Worst disaster in my 20+ years of fish keeping - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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Worst disaster in my 20+ years of fish keeping

I've been obsessed with aquatic life since I was a small child and have run many tanks with dozens of fish and invert species over the years. I've always been very careful to provide a proper environment for my little critters to thrive. As a kid, before the internet was available, I would go to the local library and spend many hours reading before ever filling a new tank. These days virtually limitless information is literally right at our fingertips and any question one might have can be quickly answered by browsing a forum such as this or by simply asking a search engine. When I finally made the transition to planted aquaria about a year ago I spent a tremendous amount of time on this site and most of what I know about the hobby came directly from this forum. Recently I've been studying up on DiY CO2 as the next step in my planted tank journey. I've found many very informative write-ups on this site including one about brewing your own wine while providing Co2 for your tank. So I took the plunge a couple weeks ago and set up a two liter soda bottle and connected it to the pump intake of my standard 55 gallon tank that has been running since February. I turned up the lights a bit was was delighted to see new growth throughout the tank in short order. Then, one day last week, I come home from work to find the tank so cloudy I could hardly see the back glass. And we all know how shallow 55's are front to back. Every breathing thing in the tank that was still alive was within a couple inches of the surface. Shrimp, snails and even the ottos, typically extremely reclusive as they are currently the only fish in the tank, were huddled in masses along the waterline on the glass or clinging to the floating plants. Horrified I dropped everything and started a water change as I searched for the cause. Didn't take long. This embarrasses me as someone who takes great care to provide for the little critters who depend on him. I set this tank up with low maintenance as a priority. The only thing that does require regular attention is the foam pre-filters on the canister filters intake. I must clean them often or they will become clogged and the flow from the pump is significantly reduced. I failed to check them the previous weekend and as they began to clog the pressure from the pump collapsed the plastic soda bottle sucking the CO2 solution into the tank. I lost a lot of shrimp but fortunately so far there have been no other casualties. A few of the ottos lost fins and some of the anubias leafs have yellowed a bit but overall I think I got off easy. I was really worried the alcohol would wipe out the bacteria colonies and the tank would experience a mini cycle but ammonia levels have remained at zero. The lessons here are obvious. Despite the low maintenance design of the tank complacency can be lethal. And I will be investing in glass bottles as an insurance policy in the near future.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 04:54 PM
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Get a 5lb tank and reg. Life will be so much easier.


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 04:59 PM
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did u have a check valve?
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 05:31 PM
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Well, DIY CO2 IS not low maintenance. Is relatively cheap and budgeted way to get CO2 in to the water column. Dosing Excel would accomplish similar result over DIY CO2.


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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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@ maximusprime Many things in life would be easier if I could simply throw money at it.

@ du3ce No check valve. I've read most don't hold up long due to CO2 degrading the plastic. And as long as you have no leaks a check valve should be unnecessary. In addition, check valves are typically installed to prevent tank water from backing up into the CO2 generator, not the way around. If installed in such a way to prevent the CO2 solution from entering the tank wouldn't there be a chance the CO2 flow itself may close the valve causing a rupture? I would think a better solution would be a separator bottle. I may go that way if I can't find cheap glass bottles.

@ tetra73 I dosed Excel for about six months and while it was effective to a point I was never happy with the growth I was seeing. Especially from the NL java ferns which make the main biomass in this tank. It was odd really, I have philippine java fern in the tank that grew well with Excel only as did various anubias and mosses but the Narrow and Needle leaf ferns remained almost dormant. I'm only a couple weeks into the DiY CO2 experiment so its still to early to tell but how it will do long term but everything has responded well so far. I have two bottles in rotation at the moment and changing one out only takes a few minutes with ingredients I keep around the house anyway, easier to me than refilling CO2 bottles and certainly cheaper.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 09:51 PM
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Did u have a little bubble counter bottle setup?? I used a little 20oz bottle with two holss drilled in the cap and one hose to the bottom of the bottle from the co2 reactor. The other hose was cut off just under the cap and went to the tank.

It was an easy way to count bubbles and see if any co2 solution had left the reactor... vould have maybe prevented your situation or at least lessened the severity of it.

25 gal.-api renastart xp1 anf xp2- 2 custom spraybars with diy inline heater and water change valve (so key!)-odyssea-4x24w t5ho. 4in raised.-injected co2 via up inline diffuser-florite and sane substrate.-java fern-amazon sword-marsilea minuta-water wisteria (crappy)-dwarf hair grass-anubias afanzeli (spellcheck)-telanthera cardinalis-10 tiger barbs-6 glofish tetras-7 otocinclus -1 german blue ram. females died.-2 albino corydoras. I know need 6
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by FWKiller View Post
@ maximusprime Many things in life would be easier if I could simply throw money at it.

@ du3ce No check valve. I've read most don't hold up long due to CO2 degrading the plastic. And as long as you have no leaks a check valve should be unnecessary. In addition, check valves are typically installed to prevent tank water from backing up into the CO2 generator, not the way around. If installed in such a way to prevent the CO2 solution from entering the tank wouldn't there be a chance the CO2 flow itself may close the valve causing a rupture? I would think a better solution would be a separator bottle. I may go that way if I can't find cheap glass bottles.

@ tetra73 I dosed Excel for about six months and while it was effective to a point I was never happy with the growth I was seeing. Especially from the NL java ferns which make the main biomass in this tank. It was odd really, I have philippine java fern in the tank that grew well with Excel only as did various anubias and mosses but the Narrow and Needle leaf ferns remained almost dormant. I'm only a couple weeks into the DiY CO2 experiment so its still to early to tell but how it will do long term but everything has responded well so far. I have two bottles in rotation at the moment and changing one out only takes a few minutes with ingredients I keep around the house anyway, easier to me than refilling CO2 bottles and certainly cheaper.

Ferns by nature is a slow grower. I won't expect much from it. I certainly wouldn't complain about either my crypts or ananubis growing slow because they are supposed to grow slow. A 5lb CO2 tank can last you from 3 months to 6 months. You only need to refill once for how much? $15 to $20? Stuff around the house costs money too. How much money you have spent on sugar alone per month? $6 for a 10lb sugear at Walmart? Do the math. Of course, we haven't gotten into if you have injected enough CO2 in the tank. Maybe you don't have enough CO2. Your 2 bottles would lead to your 3rd and the 4th one.


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-26-2013, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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Its true, ferns are slow growers and I chose them for this tank in part due to this fact. But when the anubias and philippine java ferns are each putting up a new leaf every 1-2 weeks and the NL ferns are as I stated almost dormant something is clearly wrong. Plenty of people on this forum and elsewhere in the hobby have had success with DiY CO2 and hopefully I see the same results. A ten pound bag of sugar on my current schedule should last around seven months. It is certainly possible I will add more bottles to the rotation at some point but that decision is at least a few months down the road. These low tech tanks take a lot of time to develop.

I do not have a bubble counter of any kind atm Jeff but that is a good idea. I was thinking of adding a separator bottle anyway and one that doubles as a bubble counter seems like a good plan.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-26-2013, 04:11 PM
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Excel daily is far more maintenance than dumping a few ingredients into a container every couple weeks IMO.

I started DIY about 3 months ago, been using excel for 6-7 months previous. I'd say I'm getting at least 2x the growth now, and much better quality (aka better color, wider leaves, thicker stems).

75G; DIY turtle top, Zilla T5/halogen combo, Sunsun 302, Skim350, Aqueon pro, Saftsorb
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-26-2013, 04:16 PM
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btw that sucks man, but lesson learned I'm sure...

75G; DIY turtle top, Zilla T5/halogen combo, Sunsun 302, Skim350, Aqueon pro, Saftsorb
50G; Aquasun 2xT5HO, Sunsun 302, Aqueon pro, Aquatek CO2 reg, UP aqua atomizer, Saftsorb
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-26-2013, 04:23 PM
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That's awful! I'm sure this experience will help you in the future with other tanks. I sure learned plenty from bad things happening to my tanks when I first got started.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-26-2013, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by etk300ex View Post
Excel daily is far more maintenance than dumping a few ingredients into a container every couple weeks IMO.

I started DIY about 3 months ago, been using excel for 6-7 months previous. I'd say I'm getting at least 2x the growth now, and much better quality (aka better color, wider leaves, thicker stems).

Dosing Excel is as laborious as feeding your fish daily.


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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 08-27-2013, 07:16 PM
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Touche.

Just one more thing to do though; late night at work, forget, at the bar, on vacation.

75G; DIY turtle top, Zilla T5/halogen combo, Sunsun 302, Skim350, Aqueon pro, Saftsorb
50G; Aquasun 2xT5HO, Sunsun 302, Aqueon pro, Aquatek CO2 reg, UP aqua atomizer, Saftsorb
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