Moving Beyond CO2 Injection? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Moving Beyond CO2 Injection?

Hello,

So full disclosure, I have never run a high tech tank, though I am in the planning stages of my first. I was/am planning to run injected CO2 from a 10 lb tank via a DIY reactor.

While I was thinking about this I began to wonder if "Injected" CO2 is necessary for any plant we might want to grow. In nature there is no injected CO2. Instead you just have really large bodies of water possibly with enough flow that what CO2 is naturally in the water from surface contact is enough to keep plants alive. Or at least that is my theory. I actually have no idea for certain where CO2 comes from in natural water. Maybe its all from dissolved rocks? Who knows. Anyway if it comes from the air then I wonder if we could replicate the process in our tanks by running an airline into a big reactor.

If we can dissolve enough air in a reactor into our water then could we replicate the natural CO2 environment that all of our plants originated in?

If this would work then the benefits would be substantial. 1) We would not need to have pressurized gas in our houses, 2) We would not need to buy CO2 anymore, 3) It would be impossible to gas our fish since we would actually be oxygenating the water at the same time, 4) You wouldn't need a solenoid anymore because it wouldn't matter if it ran all the time.

There are some downsides. 1) You would need some kind of air pump which would make noise, 2) while plants may live fine you likely could not get the concentrations of CO2 in the water with dissolved air as you would with CO2, 3) You need a BIG reactor since apparently air does not dissolve in water as easily as CO2.

This is not completely off the wall on my part. I was watching videos on venturis and I kept running into people in hydroponics making use of them to aerate their water. Apparently its super important for them to get good growth. I also saw a video from Aquarium CO-OP where Cory was speculating that sponge filters are good for plant growth because they are constantly bringing in air which has CO2 in it. And finally I saw a video about a gas "contactor" cone which was being used with room air to oxygenate water for waste management. The air was being completely dissolved into what we would call a reactor. This idea spawned from all those.

Has anyone ever tried this?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 09:15 PM
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Hi @minorhero,

No injected CO2? Sacrilege! Blasphemy! Perish the thought! Don't you dare take away my bottle! J/K.
What I feel about this is similar to what I wrote about in another thread: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/2...l#post11205137

The gist of it is... our tanks, ironically, are not natural. Especially the really nicely scaped ones with odd plants. A lot of our plants would rather grow out of water, but we admire their in-water form instead, so we force them to stay underwater. Then, some of our plants have been gathered from far corners of the world where co2 concentration is markedly higher than equilibrium. So, for a lot of us, we have created this artificial need for serious co2 injection due to our own collectoritis and the way we want to present said collected items.

Or perhaps, see this site with a more in depth explanation. https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...g-co2-why.html

If you run a low tech tank with simple plants, I have no doubt that you can do quite well with equilibrium amounts of CO2.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 10:11 PM
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In hydroponics it is very important to keep O2 levels up.. Plants really don't drowned but the water replaces air (O2) spaces..

You need to remember that CO2 is just like fertilizers..and is as necessary or not as that is.

We like to control things and injection has more control than hoping our gas exchange due to turbulence is adequate..

Use or not depends on ones goals..

Injection isn't to get it always to air equilibrium which seems what you could do best, at best, but increase above equilibrium.. anyways it's complicated.. like this:
pH of Water with dissolved Carbon Dioxide and Calcium
https://eos.org/research-spotlights/...xide-in-rivers

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Last edited by jeffkrol; 05-16-2019 at 10:34 PM. Reason: edit
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-16-2019, 11:26 PM
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Decomposition of organic carbons in deep lake or ocean beds where water is colder and also under very high pressure is also a major pathway for CO2 in nature. Every shoreline and pond bottom also breaks down carbon sources and releases CO2 back into the water as well.

Many pathways in nature for adding CO2 including weathering of carbonate bearing stone etc.

All part of carbon cycle.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 12:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minorhero View Post
Has anyone ever tried this?
Maybe.

But if it actually worked, I am sure you would see loads of beautiful healthy tanks using it.

For someone starting out, best advice is to find tanks of similar size and goals to your own. Study their methods, and it will give you a head start.

I am pretty certain you will not find a single one doing what you described above.


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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you Jeff for the link! and thank you Dave for the shortcut. The data Jeff provided essentially say the same thing. Studies of streams showed that water coming from underground was high in CO2 and once it reached the surface it began to dissipate. The study was mostly about buffering but it made clear that CO2 was from the breakdown of organics after the water as at the surface. Downstream had lower levels of CO2 then upstream which would not have been the case if CO2 was primarily coming from surface exchange with the air.

Soooo, not what I was thinking.

Back to just using pressurized CO2. Thank you folks for the feedback and info.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 03:59 AM
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I heard Cory mention this and itís pretty straight forward to test; run a tank with out air and then add air and see if the ph drops in any noticeable way over a short time period (couple of hours) so as not to confuse a lowering ph with nitrate build up. In theory yes of course co2 is being added when pumping in air from our environments but not to the levels that the above people mentioned we need for what we typically strive for in a Planted tank. Check out the walstad method as well as it is another way to make carbon available to plants by breaking down the soil over time with bacteria instead of using remineralized top soil which speeds up that process to avoid algae issues as well as make the nutrients in soil more available quicker.


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willcooper View Post
I heard Cory mention this and itís pretty straight forward to test; run a tank with out air and then add air and see if the ph drops in any noticeable way over a short time period (couple of hours) so as not to confuse a lowering ph with nitrate build up. In theory yes of course co2 is being added when pumping in air from our environments but not to the levels that the above people mentioned we need for what we typically strive for in a Planted tank. Check out the walstad method as well as it is another way to make carbon available to plants by breaking down the soil over time with bacteria instead of using remineralized top soil which speeds up that process to avoid algae issues as well as make the nutrients in soil more available quicker.


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I probably will run an experiment when I setup my new tank since its so easy to do. I will just test water out of the tap, test it after it out gasses, then run my reactor with an air pump instead of co2 and test water again. If there is a significant increase in co2 then it could become a cheap way to get healthier plants without needing co2 even if co2 reins supreme.

I would normally love to do a dirted tank but my next tank will have a crayfish in it which means I really need a homogeneous substrate. I have no desire to do a low tech tank at this point, I just enjoy the DIY aspects of the hobby plus trying out new ideas.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 03:38 PM
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A small point to keep in mind is that greenhouses and weed growers who want increased growth also add increased CO2 to higher than free air levels. So when we want more growth than the low tech tank, we do often need more CO2 than we can get from the air.
And, yes, it is certain that lots of folks have tried it as there are so many who would rather not have the trouble and expense of adding CO2. Kind of like inventing the wheel and then somebody comes along to ask if it's really needed? If it was not needed/useful, most would not be doing it!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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/shrug I can't help but suspect that most inventions look obvious in hindsight to those familiar with the technology. Someone built the first DIY CO2 reactor and then shared it. Pretty soon everyone was building them. The price of entry into this experiment will be an air pump and a few days. All other parts I will be assembling for my DIY CO2 reactor anyway. I am already planning to build a large reactor.

Certainly everyone with an air stone is doing this experiment already but only to a very limited extent. In order to make this work you need to dissolve a lot of air which means a reactor. If this works then that would be the reason why folks haven't figured it out before. I mean, how long have we been building large CO2 reactors to keep plants? 20 years? Less? Certainly the internet has not been disseminating this information widely much longer then that.

Anyway it sounds like fun! So why not?
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