how do I determine how much CO2 I need and how much I'm putting in? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 04:32 AM Thread Starter
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how do I determine how much CO2 I need and how much I'm putting in?

Hey guys,

I'm brand new to the CO2 stuff, and hopefully I'll have my system up and running soon...

Is there a thread or other website where I can calculate how much CO2 should be put into my tank?

and then, other than the bubble counter, is there some way to determine how much I am actually putting in?

Thanks much for your help!

Todd
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 06:29 AM
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i use a drop checker


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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 06:56 AM
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I second that... use a drop checker.


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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 09:13 AM
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How big is your tank? Like they said you need a drop checker. Place it on the other side of your tank from where your co2 diffuser is located. It will take a few hours for the color to change but it should turn from blue to green. If it is green you have enough co2.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 10:37 AM
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IMHO, the drop checker is an evil fish-killing $10 gizmo. By the time it is the color you *think* it should be, your fish is long dead. Different species have different co2/o2 tolerance levels and no fish cares about your drop checker color.

Instead of relying on unreliable crutch do it the hard way: start low, increase slow, and watch your real limiting factor: your fish.

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjurhs View Post
Hey guys,

I'm brand new to the CO2 stuff, and hopefully I'll have my system up and running soon...

Is there a thread or other website where I can calculate how much CO2 should be put into my tank?

and then, other than the bubble counter, is there some way to determine how much I am actually putting in?

Thanks much for your help!

Todd

1) yes, your shooting for 25-35ppm. you'll need the drop checker, some 4dkh solution (don't use tank water) you can make your own or buy it.
it's very cheap and it'll last you a long time.
use the bromothymol blue found in any PH test kit.
and a KH test kit

2) for co2 ppm you use a color chart to cross reference KH, and then PH drop (by color change) to determine the amount in the tank






(some reading to help you before you start)

http://www.aquariumslife.com/aquasca...2/drop-checke/

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...rs-Why-and-How

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...O2-pH-KH-table

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...4dkh-solutions
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 11:16 AM
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start using your bubble counter and add upwards through adjustments over time. This tuning is a necessary evil as the factors vary by available water volume, surface tension, filtration turnover, plant density just to name a few. All these variables will effect the rate of co2 needed to sufficiently saturate the aquarium but know that its far easier to overdose and kill all fish than it is to master this tuning so work your way up rather than down. Start by 1bps and adjust over a few days after watching where the tank is after 3-4 hours. Are the plants pearling or have you seen noticible growth in some of the plants you are familiar with?


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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 01:34 PM
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Will it not help the plants if you add small amounts of CO2 right at the plants while not saturating the entire tank?

Thanks

Last edited by MeCasa; 05-07-2014 at 02:18 PM. Reason: Grammar
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 02:24 PM
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A drop checker gives an indication of the CO2 disolved into the checker's testing solution. The CO2 first has to out gas from the aquarium water into the air pocket in the checker and then into the solution itself and this all takes time, a few hours anyway. As such it is not much good as an immediate measure of the CO2 in the tank and as OVT points out that by the time it has indicated a change in color the fish may well be stressed.
It is a good day to day check on CO2 levels however. I usually look at mine in the morning to see that the color has gone back to a greenish blue and then again when I'm home from work to see the lime green color. If I notice a change in the colors it becomes a good indication something has changed and I need to look at it to determine what.
As the others say turn your CO2 up a little bit at a time each day and monitor your fish's activity and the color on the checker. Do the KH/PH testing if you want or need more accuracy. I keep my CO2 up fairly high to combat algae and I notice the fish will be less active at this time. When the CO2 shuts down and the air pump starts up the bubbles their activity begins to pick up again. When I add new fish I try to do so at lower CO2 levels as they take a bit of time to get used to it and can be seen up near the surface to begin with.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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GLA drop checkers are expensive!

OVT, I have no fish, so let it kill them that don't exist

BUT! so long as the CO2 won't kill my snails, I like my snails!

I already have a API pH kit, will the KH kit have directions to follow to test for CO2 amounts? what is meant by "to cross reference KH"

buckwheat, PERFECT, thanks for the chart and the reading links!

Last edited by tjurhs; 05-08-2014 at 03:25 AM. Reason: correction
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 09:09 PM
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Do you have to change the drop checker fluid?

According to my drop checker, green, the CO2 is good. If I use the above chart, it's 35. Which is correct?

Do you need to turn the lights on before the CO2 comes on and turn them off after the CO2 goes off? If you have canister filters, do you still need an airstone?

I hope you don't mind the extra questions since we both need to learn.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-08-2014, 01:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kntry View Post
Do you have to change the drop checker fluid?

According to my drop checker, green, the CO2 is good. If I use the above chart, it's 35. Which is correct?

Do you need to turn the lights on before the CO2 comes on and turn them off after the CO2 goes off? If you have canister filters, do you still need an airstone?

I hope you don't mind the extra questions since we both need to learn.
I change out my fluid about once a month. It's cheap enough to do it more often, if you want.

A drop checker is a rough way of estimating the amount of CO2 you have; if anything, it only serves as a visual indication to check that you have about 30 ppm of CO2.

Most people have the CO2 come on about 30 minutes before the lights, and go off 30 minutes before the lights (the opposite of what you stated). This is so that when the lights come on, there is already CO2 in the water that plants can use. Of course, when there is no light, plants are not photosynthesizing, and CO2 is not required.

An airstone is not necessary if you have your CO2 turning off at night (regardless of whether you are using a canister filter or not).

Anthony


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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-08-2014, 03:47 AM
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Thank you for straightening me out! I'm new to this.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-08-2014, 11:34 AM
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"will the KH kit have directions to follow to test for CO2 amounts?"

no. the test kit tests KH only.

" what is meant by "to cross reference KH"

this is how you get an estimate for CO2 ppm
on the left of that chart (going down) is KH, above, (left to right)
is PH.
so you test your water for KH (me 3.5ish)
then PH (me 7.5)
so I look at the KH side at 3.5, move left to right till I get to what is 33.2ppm on the chart. then move up and I see i'll need to inject the CO2 till I get around a 1.0 drop in PH (7.5 to 6.5) and that puts me around
33 ppm of CO2

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"Measured your KH, then see how much you need to reduce the pH to get your target CO2 ppm.

Say you tap water is a KH of 5m say you want 35-40ppm of CO2, you should add enough to get the pH to 6.6 and be able to keep it there.

Warning, KH may not be entirely carbonate hardness. This means you will think and believe you have MORE than you actually do, thus you may be under dosing CO2.
This issues will never be the reverse, eg, you are adding more CO2 than you think.

So the error is always on the safe side usign this method.

As the KH in your tap drops, say your KH is 1-2 degrees, there's just not much room for other sources of KH other than carbonate, at 4-5 and above, there may be.
So assuming most of the KH is carbonate hardness for a KH or 1 degree is likely okay.

Say you want a CO2 of 50 ppm for a KH of 1 degree? the chart does not cover those ranges of pH's, but you can scale using a similar higher KH to see what the pH adjustment would be.
So about 5.9 pH would give about 39 ppm and a pH of 5.8 would give about 48 ppm of CO2."

-----tom barr------


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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-08-2014, 12:12 PM
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Granted, I'm a newbie at this stuff, but the guy at the LFS, who has been very knowledgable about everything else, said a drop checker was unnecessary. He said, "Just use a bubble counter at 3-5 bubbles per second. Make sure your fish aren't showing signs of CO2 distress. Increase if you want a little more growth. Dial back if you want to slow down your growth."

This approach has served me admirably well so far. I have great growth. I have healthy fish. Worst comes to worst, I'm wasting a few dollars in CO2 per month. Who cares?

Can anyone who is more knowledgable than I am point out what is wrong with this approach?

Zachary

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