CO2 For the Beginner - More Questions - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2009, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Smile CO2 For the Beginner - More Questions

Hello, all..,

After having read a few articles, I have come up with some questions specific to the topic of CO2. I have recently begun using Flourish Excel as a source of carbon in my aquariums, but have discovered it may be expensive to continue with this regime. The tanks I have to use it on are 55 gallon, 20 Gallon, and 10 Gallon tanks. With this in mind, I began to wonder if it may be more economial, and more natural, to use a CO2 system. I wonder what are the differences between tanks supplemented by Flourish Excel as compared to naturally generated CO2.

The biggest question in my mind is regarding the stability of the GH and KH in relation to the CO2 supplement, and what I might have to do to keep this in balance. Having reverse osmosis water, would it cause these numbers to crash even more, affecting the overall stability of the water?

Also, I wondered if it would be advisable for a beginner to go this route? I am familiar with testing water parameters for my fish, and would have no problem doing the same for my plants if need be. I don't see there being a problem for me as far as complexity or level of maintenance, because I enjoy the challenge. But I don't have a lot of money to work with, which could be a problem.

Is there a low light/low co2 type set-up that would be an intermediate balance between totally low-tech/no fertilizer and high-tech/high-light/high expense? I would like something that would be challenging but not overwhelming. Is there such a thing? After all, as much as I love my plants, the fish are my main concern. I would not want to get ahead of myself and create a situation that could get out of control and harm my fish. I might also add that some of the fish I keep/plan on keeping enjoy an environment with some level of algae, such as Loaches and Garras. I also have plans to convert this tank to a River Manifold, so there would be a good level of circulation.

I would be pleased to see any recommendations you might have a well as hearing about your experiences when you began to supplement with co2.

Thank-you!
leafshapedheart

Last edited by leafshapedheart; 02-28-2009 at 06:18 PM.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2009, 08:11 PM
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Adding CO2 to any planted tank is a benefit to the plants, and increases the rate of growth of the plants. A low light aquarium, with CO2 grows plants better than without CO2. You don't need as much CO2 for a low light aquarium, and you can relax a bit about keeping the CO2 concentration the same every day, so it is a much easier tank to take care of.

With the CO2 added, if the plants still grow too slowly to please you, you can then add some more light and increase the growth rate of the plants. Of course, the faster the plants grow the bigger their demand for fertilizers, so trying for a faster growth rate also means paying more attention to fertilizing.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2009, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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Hello, Hoppy..,

Thanks for the info! It makes a lot of sense. After having the standard set-up, I am ready to try something a little more challenging. It has been somewhat painful for me to see my plants not growing when I know I can do better. As long as adding the CO2 is not a serious threat to my fish, I think I will try it, at least in the largest tank. This way I will have something to compare it to with the non-co2 tanks.

Another quick question; if I change the substrate to a half soil-half sand mixture, would this make a large impact on its own? What I need to do is to prioritize the changes I would like to make on my tank, so I can do them, one at a time. Would you say it would be better to change the substrate before trying co2, or would it be OK to try it right away?

Thanks..,
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2009, 09:30 PM
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Changing the substrate can make a impact on the health of the plants and the nutrients they get. By going over to a nutirent rich soil, the plants will have the nutrients they need immediatly.

It doesnt matter what you do first, substrate or C02. Either woukd be fine to do at once.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2009, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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Thank-you, Blown..,

It is good to know that either or both can be used right away. I will have no trouble locating a co2 system, or making one myself, but unfortunately where I live, I will have to special-order any quality plant-based substrates. I can see that patience on my behalf is going to be a key element in success. I have been doing some research on which substrate would be the best for both my Loaches and plants. If I were to use a soil underlayer, would the top material be as important? Of course aesthetics is a further concern, however, if I can get my plants growing the way I would like, you wouldn't see the bottom much anyway! LOL

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2009, 10:19 PM
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It's always a bit intimidating making the transition to CO2 injected tanks, but it's well worth it. It may seem a bit counterintuitive, injecting CO2 into a system in which fish and inverts need oxygen to survive, and no doubt you'll find yourself checking your tank often after the switch to ensure everything is okay. After a while, though, you'll realize that just as nutrient levels need not be maintained at highly-specific levels, CO2 only needs to be non-limiting to be effective.

Hoppy pretty much answered your question spot on, but I would add that I believe that it's easier to control and manage CO2 levels using a pressurized system, replete with bubble counter and some type of diffusion device. You turn it on during the day, and off at night (or use a "controller" that turns on/off CO2 injection based on pH readings), helping assuage fears that you'll murder your fish as they sleep. Remember: CO2 is only useful for plants while lights are on and photosynthesis is being carried out (but you know this).
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-27-2009, 10:32 PM
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Also with pressurized you can get one larger tank and a regulator with 3 needle vlaves so you can run all your tanks from one source.

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"C'mon, they're just plants, man, no big deal -- try some"
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-28-2009, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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Hello..,

In doing some more reading, I have come up with a couple more questions. In a highly oxygenated environment such as a river manifold, with a CO2 system would the CO2 delivery be impeded by the flow, or would it be improved? The second question I have is regarding using Flourish Excel with floating plants. Would the Excel harm the floating plants, if it were to be delivered, say, by syringe into the mid levels of the tank? Or how about if it were just dumped as per normal onto the water, or added to a small amount of dechlorinated water before administration? In my 20 Gallon I have a beautiful floating Water Wisteria or something similar, which, unlike my other plants, is growing quite rapidly. I would not want to harm it by overdosing it with Excel.

Thank-you
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