Moving to pressurized CO2 - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 07:03 AM Thread Starter
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Question Moving to pressurized CO2

Hello everyone!

I've been lurking on here for a month or so and quite enjoying it. Predictably, all the images of heavily-planted tanks has been giving me ideas - I'd like to run them by you and see if you think what I'm planning is reasonable, and to see whether I'm overlooking anything important.

Right now I've got a pretty low-tech 65G tank, with 2 55W HO T5 lights, no added CO2 and some fish/plants. I'd like to move towards a higher-growth tank, with some additional lighting, pressurized CO2 and fertilizers. My general plan is something like this:

1) Raise KH/GH. I've got extremely soft water in my tank at the moment, so I'm planning on raising my KH to around 3 over the course of the next few weeks to get the tank ready for the CO2. After reading up a bit, I'm also planning to raise my GH as well, as it's also extremely low. I'm thinking I will just mix up the appropriate amount of calcium carbonate and Epsom salt (or baking soda + calcium chloride + epsom salt) into a solution and add it slowly over the course of a week to avoid shocking the fish.

2) Add CO2 + more lights, possibly with a pH controller hooked up to the CO2 (not sure if the controller is really necessary, but it does have computer nerd appeal...) For lights, I've got my hands on a 96W power-compact fixture, and I've also got some old dual-28W NO T5 lights kicking around that I could add as well. For CO2, I'm thinking of ordering a regulator from Rex Grigg and a 10lb tank from a local supplier. I might also look into getting a drop-checker.

3) Start dropping in some form of dry ferts and let it go.

Does this sound reasonable? I suppose the addition of the CO2 is what unnerves me - I'm a bit concerned that the slow rise of pH caused by my KH-fiddling and the (presumably sharp) drop from the CO2 will be detrimental to my fishes' health. Am I being paranoid here?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 07:42 AM
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Let me ask a question: why raise kH? What kind of fish are you trying to keep? If your fish don't need alkaline water, I think it's probably better not to raise kH at all. Many people on this forum, in fact, use straight RO water. If you are doing a planted tank, though, just make sure to dose traces. If you want to raise gH, try some of Rex Grigg's gH booster. The pH drop from pressurized CO2 only looks alarming, but is generally not harmful to your fish.

Definitely add CO2 if you are going to upgrade your lights. The pH controller is kind of nice, I suppose, but I think using just a solenoid works just as well. I would definitely get a drop checker if you are going to add CO2, particularly if you are going to adjust gH. Read through Rex's CO2 guide for all the parts you need, that way you can save on shipping. Any plans for diffusing the CO2 yet?

Finally, dry ferts are IMHO the best way to go. Much cheaper. I would just avoid dosing macros and trace on the same day. I think it was potassium that combines with iron in the trace and makes it precipitate out of solution. Not a huge deal, but makes the iron inaccessible to plants and makes the water a little ugly. There was a thread earlier today on it.

Sounds like a good plan, post a journal when you're ready. Welcome to the forum!

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 09:40 AM
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I wouldnt be too fussed about raising the KH.

My tapwater (and tankwater) is between 0 and 1 dKH.

My CO2 is on a timer so its only on during the daylight hours. pH is around 6.0 at its lowest.

I used to add baking soda for a while only because I kept reading on the internet about "needing" KH around 3-4... but this is old information. Provided your KH is not absolute zero out of the tap then you'll be fine. I stopped adding the Baking soda and let the waterchanges return the tank to an equilibrium matching the tap water - if anything plant growth has improved.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-06-2008, 12:45 PM
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My tap water is also very soft, 0-1 dKH/GH, TDS is 45. I do add a little bit of buffer and mineralize just a little at every water change. I don't target any sort of range, I do though add 1tsp each Equilibrium and baking soda for my 75 gallon tank. If you do the math you'll see it's not much at all, because to go any further would create more of a gap between the fresh new water and old water in the tank than I would like. Anyway, just a slightly alternate viewpoint to those already expressed, but otherwise I agree, the less one fiddles with the water, the better.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-07-2008, 07:22 AM Thread Starter
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Lots of great replies here - thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishscale View Post
Let me ask a question: why raise kH? What kind of fish are you trying to keep? If your fish don't need alkaline water, I think it's probably better not to raise kH at all. Many people on this forum, in fact, use straight RO water. If you are doing a planted tank, though, just make sure to dose traces. If you want to raise gH, try some of Rex Grigg's gH booster. The pH drop from pressurized CO2 only looks alarming, but is generally not harmful to your fish.
I don't have any fish that need more alkaline water - in fact, most of the fish that I've chosen either like it somewhat soft or don't really care (apistos, corydoras, gouramis). I was planning on raising it just to keep the tank's pH up after I added CO2, but if doing so isn't that important then I won't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishscale View Post
Definitely add CO2 if you are going to upgrade your lights. The pH controller is kind of nice, I suppose, but I think using just a solenoid works just as well. I would definitely get a drop checker if you are going to add CO2, particularly if you are going to adjust gH. Read through Rex's CO2 guide for all the parts you need, that way you can save on shipping. Any plans for diffusing the CO2 yet?
OK, good to know - I might look into just hooking up a solenoid to my light timer or something and try to resist the gadgety approach.

I hadn't thought about how I was going to diffuse the CO2, actually. Any suggestions? I've come across some prebuilt diffusers and reactors, as well as a bunch of plans for DIY reactors, but I haven't really made any decision one way or the other. I might just go for some sort of off-the-shelf bit for simplicity's sake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishscale View Post
I would just avoid dosing macros and trace on the same day. I think it was potassium that combines with iron in the trace and makes it precipitate out of solution. Not a huge deal, but makes the iron inaccessible to plants and makes the water a little ugly. There was a thread earlier today on it.

Sounds like a good plan, post a journal when you're ready. Welcome to the forum!
Ah, didn't know that about the macro/trace combining like that - also good to know.

I'll definitely post up some pics or a journal or something, but I might wait until the tank is looking a little less embarrassing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grubs View Post
I wouldnt be too fussed about raising the KH.

My tapwater (and tankwater) is between 0 and 1 dKH. My CO2 is on a timer so its only on during the daylight hours. pH is around 6.0 at its lowest.

I used to add baking soda for a while only because I kept reading on the internet about "needing" KH around 3-4... but this is old information. Provided your KH is not absolute zero out of the tap then you'll be fine. I stopped adding the Baking soda and let the waterchanges return the tank to an equilibrium matching the tap water - if anything plant growth has improved.
OK, I must have read the same information as you then - I'd read lots of stuff that kept repeating how vital it was to have a KH > 3 when you're using CO2. As I mentioned above, that was my only real motivation for raising the KH at all.

My tapwater's KH is not at zero, but it is pretty close - it's around 3ppm carbonate hardness according to my local water authority. Total dissolved solids are something like 17ppm. If my dodgy cheapo KH test kit is to be trusted, my tankwater is somewhere in the region of 0.75 dKH.

Quote:
Originally Posted by indiboi View Post
My tap water is also very soft, 0-1 dKH/GH, TDS is 45. I do add a little bit of buffer and mineralize just a little at every water change. I don't target any sort of range, I do though add 1tsp each Equilibrium and baking soda for my 75 gallon tank. If you do the math you'll see it's not much at all, because to go any further would create more of a gap between the fresh new water and old water in the tank than I would like. Anyway, just a slightly alternate viewpoint to those already expressed, but otherwise I agree, the less one fiddles with the water, the better.
Yeah, I generally try to fiddle with my water as little as possible too - the prospect of doing so was what was concerning me a bit. I might do something similar to what you're doing - toss in a small amount to bring it up from near zero, but otherwise leave it be to avoid any big tapwater/tankwater difference.

Thanks again!
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