made a mistake, how to proceed now? long post. (co2 related) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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made a mistake, how to proceed now? long post. (co2 related)

Since i got my co2 system at the end of jun, I have been using a ph pen probe from amazon in order to monitor my ph and roughly estimate my co2 levels.

Well today i was doing some water parameter testing and decided just for fun to see what my api liquid ph test shows vs my ph pen probe. well the numbers were way way way off. liquid test kit shows 7.4 and ph pen was reading 8.2.

I then decided to use one of the calibration powders that came with the probe to test it against the probe and api liquid test. sure enough the liquid test was near bang on and the probe was way off (again about .8 off).

Because I have been using my ph pen, it has lead me to overdosing co2 which I can confirm based on some observations which are all making sense now.
1. i always had a hard time (using cerges reactor) reaching the desired ph levels that I was aiming for. This was because when I was trying to reach 6.9ph based on my kh this would give me around 40ppm I would of actually been at around 6.1 or somewhere around there. My point is I would of been at very high co2 levels, much more than I thought.

2. I have been posting about always requiring such a high bps rate to achieve the co2 levels. I always though it was due to a leak or cerges reactor not working right. but since I now know I was actually way above my target 30ppm co2 it makes sense that I needed that much bps to get there.

3. my fish since I started co2 have been sluggish and some even drunk looking. on several occasions I has some deaths and gasping. I normally corrected the gasping by doing a huge 60+% wc. because i added new fish at aeround the same time I assumed the deaths were due to a disease and treated the tank because of it. its likely was due to co2 poisoning...

4. i needed to maintain such a high level of surface agitation in order to not have my fish gasping all the time. this now also makes a ton of sense, i had to off gas a lot of co2 since the concentration was way higher than original thought.

5. also had some micro bubbles which i assumed was just a cerges reactor problem and because it wasn't working right. knowing how much co2 was in the water now, this makes sense too. the water was soo saturated it couldn't absorb any more co2.

6. burned through my 15lb co2 tank in just 2.5 months

7. huge air pockets were always trapped in the cerges reactor only a few hours after the initial turn on.

8. i use aged water which i have in a 55g food grade barrel that is heater to 75 which is exactly what my tank is. I have a 900gph pond pump in there that circulated the water and created a ton of splash. I run it for about 10 hours overnight prior to a water change in the morning of the next day. every time i perform a water change my fish (all 60+ fish) go to where the new water in coming in and stay directly in it. i know understand way they loved that new fresh water soo much.

I clearly wasn't looking into all the red flags enough to catch this sooner but I am glad that I finally did this morning. Now I want to correct the issue and this is were you guys and gals come in.
During this process I never used a drop checker as I thought the ph pen was enough. Would a DC be the best and easiest solution at this point to get the right level of co2?

Should i just use my liquid test kit for ph to come pare to my kh and go that route?

I want to ensure I am at around 30ppm co2 and don't want to spend a ton of money to do it.

thanks in advanced for helping
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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 03:14 PM
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Did you calibrate the pH pen when you first got it? Or was today the first time you calibrated it, over 2 months later? I guess either way, if this is the first time you've calibrated it since the initial setup that could be your problem. Have you had to increase the BPS over the past two months since initial setup? Or I guess have you seen your co2 running for a longer amount of time as the months have passed? If so, again it's probably due to the pH meter falling out of calibration.

They say you're supposed to calibrate them once a month and I couldn't agree more, maybe even more than once a month. When I first got my pH controller I didn't recalibrate it for a good 2-3 months and when I finally did I can't remember the exact numbers but I think it was almost a whole 1.0 pH off.

I've been calibrating once a month since then and it's only been off by a couple tenths by the end of the month which isn't a major deal.
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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 03:20 PM
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When using the pH pen I calibrate it at least once a month. Its never been off by much. Calibration solutions are also on amazon.
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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 03:47 PM
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Which pen are you using may be important. Since there are so many brands, type and qualities of PH probes out there, it would not be fair to label them all with the same problems. I used the Milwaukee controller and found there was little need to calibrate more than once or twice a year. I would also assume that would depend a fair amount on what was in the water to collect on the probe point where the reading is taken.
Just as in tanks, filters, lights, etc. the price we pay can have a big bearing on the results we get.
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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 06:05 PM
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If you want to trust the PH probe then you have to calibrate it. I would go as far as purchasing a lab grade PH probe and calibrate it every month to ensure the readings are correct.

The bottom line is the fish will tell you the upper limit of your C02. It is very easy to see the signs of stress and from there you can scale back little by little.


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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-12-2015, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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I just bought a ista drop checker. This should be good enough to give me an idea of where my co2 is at and from there I should be able to fine tune based on plants and fish response.

Hopefully I can start getting a bit longer on my next co2 fill. 15lb tank in just 2.5 months is kind of a lot.

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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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update: co2 was dialed back a lot, drop checker was put in, and the results are much better now.

i still might be a bit high on the co2 as my drop checker color seems to be a lime green and getting close to the yellow zone, but the lights are not on yet so the co2 levels will likely come down a bit when the plants start using it.

my working pressure has been reduced to 10psi as opposed to the 30psi i was running previously. my bps is a steady stream but nothing to extreme and my cerges reactor is far less noisy and doesn't have a huge co2 pocket at the top like it used to have.

my fish are swimming all over the tank and seem much happier and more energetic.
after spending some time calibrating the ph pen and taking new readings, things are looking much better and make a lot more sense now.

since my co2 is getting close to running out, i am going to get it filled either tomorrow or Tuesday. hopefully i will get a longer run time on this fill now that i am not using so much co2.

Here is some photos of the drop checker color from this morning. I tried adjusting my camera to take the photo to match the color I see best. Once the tank light comes on I will take some more photos and compare.

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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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So the lights have come on and to my surprise my drop check is solid yellow... Even with my dialing back my co2 a ton already I am still overdosing co2.

Also interesting to note the location of the drop checker is on the opposite side of the spray bar and near the bottom of the tank.

Here are the pictures, again I have tried to capture the color best I could.Click image for larger version

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75 Gallon Low Tech w/ Green Terror Pair
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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 06:18 PM
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hi.
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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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hi.
Hi.

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post #11 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 06:48 PM
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Hey Philip. Ran into a similar problem with my Milwaukee pH controller - did not calibrate the probe often enough. I have now learned that i need to do calibration every 3 - 4 weeks. Oddly enough, the 7.0 calibration does not drift much (.2 ish at best). The 4.0 drifts maybe .5 to .8.
Once I get the probe calibrated, it seems to match up better with my API test kit (of course, the test kit is not super accurate). My CAL drop check is slow to respond, as I suspect most are, but after enough time, it does show a nice lime green.

In your case, it is likely you are still dumping in too much cO2.
Your fish sound much happier for your efforts, which of course is a good thing.

I have not used an ISTA brand yet but I would assume it operates the same as what I have. Question, in the morning before the cO2 starts, is the drop checker some what blue in color?


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post #12 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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I dont know about the morning yet because last night I ran the co2 right through the night. Normally I cut it when lights go out. I will do that tonight.

I start it up several house before lights on to ensure proper co2 levels are met.

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post #13 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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My problem was I assume that the probe was already calibrated when I bought it and therefore I never calibrated it until now. big mistake on my part, and I will be sure not to do something like that again.

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post #14 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 07:25 PM
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Any time a device is shipped, it should be calibrated. In professional environments standards suggest calibration or verification before every use. If the device is used a lot then once a day is usually enough. For your application this is excessive, but it serves as a reminder that calibrations are not to be trusted until proven.

The best way is to check your new device frequently until you've determined how long your calibration lasts and then calibrate it based on that schedule. Then you could repeat the process every couple of years to make sure your calibration schedule is still appropriate.
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post #15 of 37 (permalink) Old 09-13-2015, 08:48 PM
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Be sure to use 4dkh solution in the drop checker or it's liable to show anything.


Also +1 to frequently calibrating the pen.


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