CO2: How much is too much? Why aren't my plants pearling more? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 04:22 AM Thread Starter
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CO2: How much is too much? Why aren't my plants pearling more?

So, I hacked the hell out of my tank and pulled as many algae infested leaves as I could out of it. I then turned my CO2 sky high.

Since there are only 4 guppy fry and a bunch of pond snails in my planted tank right now, I upped the CO2 to ridiculous amounts. I can't even count how many bubbles per second I've got going on right now. The drop checker is a pale green color, almost yellow.

The problem is that my plants still aren't pearling like they used to... why is that? Is it possible that I have too much CO2 now? The little bit of algae I have left is pearling... lol. The plants are pearling a little bit, but nothing like they used to. Is it possible that my bulbs are getting worn out already? They're only 4 months old... The plants were pearling more when I first set up my tank, even before I started fertilizing it.

The 4 guppies don't seem to mind the outrageous CO2. An interesting and unexpected bonus was that I just scooped out about 50 snails that couldn't tolerate the CO2 and floated to the surface to get some air. Muwahahaha! A new snail eradication method!

As soon as the hair and thread algae stop making appearances, I want to lower my CO2 and then put my fish back in the tank. I'm getting tired of seeing all of my pretty fish in a boring and bare tank. And I'm sure they're not too happy either. About how many BPS should I shoot for when I lower my CO2? I have a Rex DIY reactor now, so I'm not sure how well my CO2 is being diffused. I thought that you needed less BPS with a Rex style reactor to get the same amount of diffusion, and it seems like I'm using more than I did with my Dead Sea reactor.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 07:34 AM
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A lot of people use 3-4 with good results. I would change it, then watch the drop checker for a couple of hours.

Diffusion doesn't have much to do with BPS. Diffusion is how much of the CO2 gas is being dissolved into the water. Rex's reactor design works pretty well because it puts the CO2 in the middle of a stream of water going in the opposite direction of the bubbles. This way, the bubbles keep getting churned until they are dissolved. It is possible you have a large CO2 bubble in your reactor if you are using a lot of gas and your drop checker is already yellow. I am surprised that your guppies are doing fine, though.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 10:33 AM
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Ridiculous amounts of CO2 aren't going to help out your algae situation as much as you might hope. There is only so much carbon that plants will absorb in the course of a day. The rest is pretty much wasted. Plus killing off the snails will only make it easier for the algae to stay alive since snails eat algae.

Keep the CO2 at a normal rate.

Try:

Reducing light time. (Maybe a blackout or two.)
Flourish Excel.
Algae eating creatures (shrimp, SAEs)
Getting your phosphate and nitrate into balance.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by echoofformless View Post
Ridiculous amounts of CO2 aren't going to help out your algae situation as much as you might hope. There is only so much carbon that plants will absorb in the course of a day. The rest is pretty much wasted. Plus killing off the snails will only make it easier for the algae to stay alive since snails eat algae.

Keep the CO2 at a normal rate.

Try:

Reducing light time. (Maybe a blackout or two.)
Flourish Excel.
Algae eating creatures (shrimp, SAEs)
Getting your phosphate and nitrate into balance.
I agree and disagree with some of these statements. As mentioned above, the diffusion is important for the CO2. If you boost the CO2 and the diffusion isn't that great then you are spinning your wheels. A reactor IMO diffuses the CO2 very well.

Reducing the photoperiod will help with algae in relation to how much light you are using. I have a very high amount of light and I have found that 8 hours is about all I can have for a photoperiod before I start having major algae issues.

I wouldn't dose Excel before checking to see if my plants would take it. Vals don't handle Excel and tend to die/melt.

I wouldn't get animals to control algae other than ottos. Combatting algae should be achieved through balance of different parameters, not animals. IMHO.

Getting the ferts balanced for your tank is important. I would check the following thread:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/wa...-regimes_.html

This dosing regime has worked very well for me. I am, however, not following it exactly. I have modified the numbers a little to suit a balance for my tank.

As far as CO2 goes, I am pumping about 3 bps into a DIY reactor based off of Rex's design. I would consider it to be pretty high. I don't have any microbubles in my tank except when the plants begin to photosynthesize like crazy. I also don't have any algae issues to speak of.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 01:32 PM
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Phosphate was what did me in. I cut my lighting period from 8.5 to 7.5, increased weekly water changes to 60%, increased to 2 diy CO2's, and cut all phosphate. Hair algea was gone in about 3-4 weeks after a major hacking on day 1. I've since gone back to doing about half the "recommended" phosphate dosing and haven't seen those nasty hairs yet (fingers crossed).

Good luck.

Edit: getting SAE's/Shrimp/Black Mollies isn't a long term solution from what I've read. Water conditions are more important.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 01:40 PM
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Phosphate was what did me in. I cut my lighting period from 8.5 to 7.5, increased weekly water changes to 60%, increased to 2 diy CO2's, and cut all phosphate. Hair algea was gone in about 3-4 weeks after a major hacking on day 1. I've since gone back to doing about half the "recommended" phosphate dosing and haven't seen those nasty hairs yet (fingers crossed).

Good luck.

Edit: getting SAE's/Shrimp/Black Mollies isn't a long term solution from what I've read. Water conditions are more important.
Phosphates haven't caused any problems for me algae wise, but they did cause my glosso to melt a bit. If anything it helped get rid of the GSA in my tank. I have over dosed phosphates at about 3 times what I shold have been using and it never caused an algae problem of any kind. I think increasing the CO2 probably had a bigger impact than anything for you.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 01:44 PM
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 02:52 PM
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 05:47 PM
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Comparing or counting bps is should never be used to verify Co2 levels...get a DC.
I couldn't have said it any better either .

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 06:04 PM
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There is a thread somewhere around here that discusses the cause of pearling. According to Tom Barr, it is related to the rate of growth of the plant. If the plant is growing quickly, it will pearl. So, it looks like something else is the issue. If you have your CO2 high enough for the DC to turn yellow (but test your DC, and change your DC solution just to be sure), you are probably good on CO2. Try adjusting your macros and micros.

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 06:04 PM
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.... Plus killing off the snails will only make it easier for the algae to stay alive since snails eat algae.
Don't know about that. I just tore a tank down that I had a out of control snail problem. They were literally dozens of them in my HOB filter and media every week when I was cleaning out my filter. They never did much for the algae either, at least that was my experience. Plus these snails are hardier than anything I have ever seen. I treated the plants from the tank to a 3 day alum and water soak and used the plants in another ADA Aquasoil based tank that I set up(15 gallon high). It seems that the soak did a number on quite a few of the plants that are not rebounding, but lo and behold, the snails have reappeared. To try and jump start plant growth, I hooked up 3 DIY c02 Litre bottles. Two with a t connector going to a Hagen ladder diffuser and the other directed fed into the intake stem of the Aquaclear 150 HOB filter. The drop checker is a bright P*ss yellow color(indicating 40 + ppm c02) and the plants are even pearling, but the snails are happily gliding along the glass unphased by that excess c02. Truly amazing as I think that that amount of c02 would have killed any other fish placed in the tank.

If you are going to keep snails, be sure to get yourself a loach, otherwise be prepared for an explosive snail growth and a tank overridden with snails. And good luck trying to minimize their numbers. The old bait them with zucchini and dispose of them in the morning trick literally did not make a dent in the problem.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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I already have a drop checker... see my first post!

The problem is I don't really believe it's operating properly. I have to turn the CO2 waaay up before it will turn yellow.

3 BPS?? That would leave the DC liquid still an aquamarine color in my tank.
Is it possible that the reactor I have right now is too big/small for my tank? It's 15" long. Also, I have no media in it, should I throw something in to help churn the bubbles better?

I don't think phosphates are the problem: I only just started dosing my tank again 3 days ago, and this algae issue has persisted even when I wasn't dosing.

I've only got about a 9 hour photoperiod right now, and the CO2 comes on an hour and a half before the lights.

Can't use Excel b/c some of my plants apparently aren't well suited to it.

I'm just so frustrated...this tank was doing so well until that damn Red Sea reactor broke on me, and now I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. From day one my plants pearled gorgeously, then I started dosing and they grew like gangbusters...then a few days with a broken CO2 reactor and my tank went to sh*t and now I can't seem to get a handle on it!

I will try pushing back the CO2 today and see what that does for the tank. No sense in pushing it sky high and wasting it. Thx for the suggestions!
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 06:48 PM
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I have never melted anything with Excel, including Vals.

Where does the CO2 enter your reactor, top or bottom, where does the water enter the reactor (from the filter) to or bottom?

What are you dosing? You could be limiting on some nutrient as well.
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 07:00 PM
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One thing that is rarely discussed when algae or CO2 and plants are brought up:

Time.

How long does it take for the plants to get growing really really well after being subject to neglect?

1 day?
1 week?
1 month?

It can be all of these.
It depends on the intensity of the neglect, how much effort to put into rectifying things etc.

So do not assume a dosing routine is bad, good etc, without going to distance, and also using a good control tank.

If you stop adding PO4, what will that do?
Will it increase of decrease CO2 uptake?
Decrease, because the plants are no longer limited by CO2, they are now limited by PO4!

So limiting CO2 is really the issue, not excess PO4.

And that's why you have/get algae, not PO4 or non specific tank "balances" etc.

You create limitations for plant growth and provide good cues for algae to germinate(CO2 variations, NH4 build up, organic detritus dirty filter).

You can use these limitations to your advantage to some degree, but it's highly variable, which is why we have so many folks claiming all sorts of muckery about algae.

You must have a well running stable tank and add the treatment of interest to "test" anything with respect to growth, algae blooms etc. If you cannot or are unwilling to do that, your test has no power to conclude a dang thing.

It seems that a longer time frame is needed to get rid of and control some species of algae. That makes sense.

Do you want to beat it back very aggressively?
Or hit it softer and wait a few weeks?
Which method is easier on the plants?

Do you just work on the algae once and then wait, or keep up some treatment over time?

Good long term maintenance habit are what allows folks to have nice tanks over time.

Good CO2 is not the easiest thing to do, but rather than using PO4 to limit plants, try less light.
Here's a tank with 1.5 watts a gallon using T5 lights:



Less light= less cost to you and the electric bill, cooler temps, less junk in the way, more manageable growth rates, and of course, like PO4..................less light= less CO2 demand by the plants.

So it's much easier to balance and wiser/cheaper, easier, no testing involved than using PO4 to control CO2 demand.
It's basic plant growth physiology, but I still get folks that want to argue that point.

Light drives CO2 uptake which drives N and P uptake.

More light= things will crash much much harder if you mess something up(and you will at some point) than at lower/less light.

If you limit CO2 and provide stable low CO2, such that the plants adapt to the low CO2, they will grow slow and need only low light, so that light is low, CO2 is slow, what do you think they requirements are for NO3 and K+, and PO4 are in such tanks?

About 10-20x less than a higher light CO2 enriched tank.

What about the requirements for water column dosing if you louse that up and have good sediment sources such as ADA As?
Less.


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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-10-2008, 07:26 PM
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