CO2 and Drop Checkers - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-19-2020, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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CO2 and Drop Checkers

So, I'm new to using CO2 in my aquarium. I have a Green Leaf Aquatics system with a paintball cannister set up and running successfully with all the important parts, including a solenoid. Right now, both my lights and the solenoid are plugged into a timer to run 8 hours a day. I've read that the drop checker is more important than the BPS, but I'm not quite sure how to monitor it.

With my co2 being off at night should the drop checker solution revert to blue (low co2) by morning, and if so, how long should it take to turn green again once everything is on? I assume I'm looking for a balance where the solution is a nice green most of the day, to show that there's enough co2 for the plants but not an excess? The drop checker solution is NilogC and is "4dkh/PH".

Any tips for getting this right would be greatly appreciated. Attached a couple pics of the aquarium, to show how planted it is.



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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 01:29 AM
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Hi @Rosalaine. This is my understanding, but sure the experts will be along shortly to confirm.....

CO2 drop checkers typically take 1 to 2 hours to respond to changes. Some recommend having your lights and timers on separate timers with the CO2 turning on in the morning (and off at night) an hour or two before the lights come on (turn off). This is to allow the Co2 time to build up to the right level before the lights come on and the plants 'wake up', and to save a bit of CO2 in the evening. Others have CO2 running 24/7, so guess you take your pick with how you want to run. Important to observe livestock behaviour and back off CO2 if fish are gasping at surface etc.

My drop checker is still semi-green the next morning, but I think this will depend upon how high your CO2 was at the end of the previous day and how much surface agitation / aeration the tank has overnight to drive out the dissolved CO2. There are CO2 liquid test kits available (for example here) which can give you a more 'exact' (not sure how exact) value with which to calibrate your drop checker and get things more finely dialed in.

Regards, James
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-20-2020, 08:03 PM
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@en7jos is right on with the schedule- you want to turn your Co2 on before the lights turn on and turn it off before they turn off. The reason you don't want Co2 injecting at night is because of the build up of carbonic acid which will probably kill all your livestock. I turn mine off a half hour or so before my lights just to get rid of the rest of the carbonic acid (This is the same reason your Ph drops).

There are multiple ways to monitor Co2 in your tank and it all boils down to the Kh-Ph-Co2 relationship illustrated by this chart. If you know the Kh of your water, you can easily test the Ph (which will drop in value when there's Co2 from the carbonic acid) to know about how much Co2 is in your tank. This way you have an instant answer.

The drop checker is another great way to test for Co2 but it is important to know that has delayed readings (takes about 2 hours to change colors). This uses a solution with a predetermined Kh value (4 dKh) that changes color based off of the PH of the tank.

The reason the BPS isn't a good indicator on how much Co2 is in the tank is because it's simply the flow rate that's going in. There's many things that differ in each aquarium that affect actual Co2 absorption into the water (you want to read the Co2 absorption) like size of tank, plant stock, aeration, closed top/open top, etc.

Hope this helps!

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-21-2020, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice! I'm going to return my current power strip since I can only do one schedule with it. I've purchased another normal power strip and two timers for it, one for the solenoid and one for the lights, so I can stagger them by an hour.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-22-2020, 06:42 AM
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There are lots of cheap wifi timers now that you can program with an app on your phone. Or even wifi power strips where you can control each outlet independently. These are great! So much easier to setup than the old fashioned timers, and you can do so much more with them.

For example, I prefer to turn off the canister filter when I feed my fish so that they get to eat the food rather than the strong flow blowing it off somewhere before they get chance. Problem was always with remembering to turn it back on again, and of course I never ever forgot and only remembered the next day when the tank was looking a bit too calm. Now I have a wifi timer setup with a routine that turns it back on exactly 2 mins after I press the button to turn it off. So now I press the button, feed fish, they eat up in still water, I walk away, and canister turns back on all by itself without me needing to remember. Definitely my best aquarium gadget of 2020 so far!

Also means you can entertain kids with your magic ability to turn things off with a wave of your hand (with other hand discretely controlling everything by phone app)!
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