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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am having trouble figuring out what is happening with my CO2 injection on my 75g planted tank. This week I switched from a Co2Art bazooka in-tank ceramic diffuser to a sera flore 500 reactor hooked up to its own canister filter rated at 525gph. With the bazooka diffuser my drop checker would turn lime green within an hour of the lights turning on. But with the reactor I'm struggling to even get a dark green color while running at the same bubble per second rate. In addition to that, the reactor is not chopping all of the bubbles up. While its not nearly as bad as the sprite look caused by an in-tank diffuser, the filter output is still pushing out a lot of fine bubbles.

My questions are:

1. Was my drop checker inaccurately displaying lime green because the in-tank diffuser's micro bubbles were going up into the drop checker? Meaning that I should have to increase my CO2 injection with the reactor to get a truly appropriate level of CO2 saturation?

2. Is the reactor not as efficient as the in-tank diffuser for some reason?

3. What can I do to reduce the amount of bubbles output by the reactor? In other words, how can I make the reactor's blades "chop" the bubbles up further? My working pressure is 20psi, would changing this one way or another matter?

My drop checker solution is from NilocG so in theory it should be fine. I changed it out this morning with fresh solution just to be sure that it hadn't gone bad.
 

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I am having trouble figuring out what is happening with my CO2 injection on my 75g planted tank. This week I switched from a Co2Art bazooka in-tank ceramic diffuser to a sera flore 500 reactor hooked up to its own canister filter rated at 525gph. With the bazooka diffuser my drop checker would turn lime green within an hour of the lights turning on. But with the reactor I'm struggling to even get a dark green color while running at the same bubble per second rate. In addition to that, the reactor is not chopping all of the bubbles up. While its not nearly as bad as the sprite look caused by an in-tank diffuser, the filter output is still pushing out a lot of fine bubbles.

My questions are:

1. Was my drop checker inaccurately displaying lime green because the in-tank diffuser's micro bubbles were going up into the drop checker? Meaning that I should have to increase my CO2 injection with the reactor to get a truly appropriate level of CO2 saturation?

This has occurred to me as a possibility in the past (bubbles getting into a drop checker and skewing its readings). You might consider checking your co2 via the pH drop method. That would get you more responsive and accurate readings and would not be susceptible to 'bubble skew', if that is in fact a problem.

2. Is the reactor not as efficient as the in-tank diffuser for some reason?

Reactors generally? Definitely not. That said, I have no experience with the one you're using. Reactors can require some fiddling to get the most out of them.

3. What can I do to reduce the amount of bubbles output by the reactor? In other words, how can I make the reactor's blades "chop" the bubbles up further? My working pressure is 20psi, would changing this one way or another matter?

I've never used a reactor with a mechanical bubble-chopping mechanism, but I don't think anything you can do other than changing rate of water flow through it will change how well that mechanism works. Changing the regulator's working pressure will have no effect.

If you're getting bubbles coming out of the reactor, you probably need to throttle down your flow. You might try installing a ball valve on the reactor output so you can slow things down a bit. You may also get a bit of back-pressure which helps co2 dissolution.


My drop checker solution is from NilocG so in theory it should be fine. I changed it out this morning with fresh solution just to be sure that it hadn't gone bad.
 

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Its probably the micro bubbles that made the drop checker read higher than reality

Drop checkers arent very accurate or reliable. At best they give an indication of where the co2 was a couple hours ago.

Bust thing to do is use a digital PH pen, nothing fancy, 20$ on amazon. Sit a bowl of tank water out and let it stand 24 hours. Check the PH. This is the ph of your tank with no co2

Once you have the baseline PH level. What you are looking for is a full 1 point drop from co2.

So for example if the water in the bowl read 7. you want the tank to be 6 when the lights come on, or shortly there after.

A 1 point drop in PH (from co2) generally indicates about 30 ppm. Which is about the minimum most folks shoot for
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm going to try to figure out a way to reduce the flow and see if this allows for more dissolution of the CO2 into the water. I'll look into putting in a ball valve like you mentioned.

Its probably the micro bubbles that made the drop checker read higher than reality

Drop checkers arent very accurate or reliable. At best they give an indication of where the co2 was a couple hours ago.

Bust thing to do is use a digital PH pen, nothing fancy, 20$ on amazon. Sit a bowl of tank water out and let it stand 24 hours. Check the PH. This is the ph of your tank with no co2

Once you have the baseline PH level. What you are looking for is a full 1 point drop from co2.

So for example if the water in the bowl read 7. you want the tank to be 6 when the lights come on, or shortly there after.

A 1 point drop in PH (from co2) generally indicates about 30 ppm. Which is about the minimum most folks shoot for
I'll invest in a pH pen and give this a shot. I've done this method using the API kit, but since I have ADA aquasoil, my tank's pH is already close to the bottom range of the test kit and its hard to measure any significant drops.
 

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I am having trouble figuring out what is happening with my CO2 injection on my 75g planted tank. This week I switched from a Co2Art bazooka in-tank ceramic diffuser to a sera flore 500 reactor hooked up to its own canister filter rated at 525gph. With the bazooka diffuser my drop checker would turn lime green within an hour of the lights turning on. But with the reactor I'm struggling to even get a dark green color while running at the same bubble per second rate. In addition to that, the reactor is not chopping all of the bubbles up. While its not nearly as bad as the sprite look caused by an in-tank diffuser, the filter output is still pushing out a lot of fine bubbles.

Hi,

I do have a 72 gallons aquarium with a sera 500 reactor.


My questions are:

1. Was my drop checker inaccurately displaying lime green because the in-tank diffuser's micro bubbles were going up into the drop checker? Meaning that I should have to increase my CO2 injection with the reactor to get a truly appropriate level of CO2 saturation?

Probably so. In my tank it takes several hours to see the drop checker lime green but I know I have 1 point diffrence because I have checked it before with a digital PH pen. Also SALIFERT CO2 test kit works good. Not sure how many BPS you have it on but mine is quite a few, probably 6-8 BPS.

2. Is the reactor not as efficient as the in-tank diffuser for some reason?
Best changed I did was to get a reactor. I had before a bazooka diffuser then an in-tank difusser. Very happy with the SERA reactor. I have it connected to an OASE thermo 600 at 1/2-3/4 speed.

3. What can I do to reduce the amount of bubbles output by the reactor? In other words, how can I make the reactor's blades "chop" the bubbles up further? My working pressure is 20psi, would changing this one way or another matter?

I see bubbles at times but very minimal. With the bazooka was a lot of bubbles (didn't like it at all) and with the in-tank diffuser was ok but not as good as the reactor.

My drop checker solution is from NilocG so in theory it should be fine. I changed it out this morning with fresh solution just to be sure that it hadn't gone bad.
I change mine more or less every month.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks! I'm going to try to reduce the flow going through the reactor and hope that helps with the bubbles and diffusion rate. My drop checker eventually turned lime green right before my CO2 shuts off. Hopefully I can confirm good CO2 levels on Monday when my pH pen comes in.
 

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You're not actually injecting as much CO2 into your tank now as you were before, even though you're "at the same bubble count". A bubble under pressure (as in your diffuser set up) holds more gas than a bubble w/ less resistance like your current reactor set up. It may be too early to tell, but you should see that w/ your current rate your CO2 bottle is lasting longer than it did previously.

Re: reducing bubbles in the tank, you could try putting a coarse sponge in the bottom of the reactor.
 

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I’ve personally switched over to a bazooka style because my reactor was taking too long to saturate the water and was way less efficient. I have a sumped setup and “sealing” it really isn’t an option at the moment. I don’t have much movement in the sump to begin with but most of the CO2 escapes out of the overflow any way.
 

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I'm going to try to figure out a way to reduce the flow and see if this allows for more dissolution of the CO2 into the water. I'll look into putting in a ball valve like you mentioned.



I'll invest in a pH pen and give this a shot. I've done this method using the API kit, but since I have ADA aquasoil, my tank's pH is already close to the bottom range of the test kit and its hard to measure any significant drops.
I use a Griggs reactor, DIY 24" x 2.5" with a filter rated at half the flow. 265gph.

IMO, if the reactor is pushing out undissolved bubbles, there is an efficiency problem somewhere. I don't know if the problem can be rectified with a larger reactor, or a lower flow rate. I'm still running the 265gph canister because it works with the CO2/reactor I built. I have thought that if the flow rate was increased, I might run into undissolved gas.

In my 75gph, with about 3 bps, the pH will drop a point in about 1.5 hours before lights on. I then turn it on for a couple small intervals a day to keep the level up. If you were getting a faster drop with a diffuser... must be a false reading. Those aren't nearly as efficient as a reactor. Most of those bubbles you see are venting to atmosphere.

Edit: I just checked that reactor, and its about a foot long. If undissolved CO2 is being pushed out, the reactor is not big enough.

My advice, instead of getting a valve to lower your flow, build a bigger reactor with PVC pipe. It will cost about the same as the valve and you wont lose flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I use a Griggs reactor, DIY 24" x 2.5" with a filter rated at half the flow. 265gph.

IMO, if the reactor is pushing out undissolved bubbles, there is an efficiency problem somewhere. I don't know if the problem can be rectified with a larger reactor, or a lower flow rate. I'm still running the 265gph canister because it works with the CO2/reactor I built. I have thought that if the flow rate was increased, I might run into undissolved gas.

In my 75gph, with about 3 bps, the pH will drop a point in about 1.5 hours before lights on. I then turn it on for a couple small intervals a day to keep the level up. If you were getting a faster drop with a diffuser... must be a false reading. Those aren't nearly as efficient as a reactor. Most of those bubbles you see are venting to atmosphere.

Edit: I just checked that reactor, and its about a foot long. If undissolved CO2 is being pushed out, the reactor is not big enough.

My advice, instead of getting a valve to lower your flow, build a bigger reactor with PVC pipe. It will cost about the same as the valve and you wont lose flow.
I may see if I can exchange this reactor for the larger model. Have to double check if I'm in the exchange window for my LFS. Worst case I'll just purchase the larger one and sell this one.

You're not actually injecting as much CO2 into your tank now as you were before, even though you're "at the same bubble count". A bubble under pressure (as in your diffuser set up) holds more gas than a bubble w/ less resistance like your current reactor set up. It may be too early to tell, but you should see that w/ your current rate your CO2 bottle is lasting longer than it did previously.

Re: reducing bubbles in the tank, you could try putting a coarse sponge in the bottom of the reactor.
Thanks, I'll give the coarse sponge a shot during my next water change when I shut the pumps off.
 

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If you have bubble coming out your outflow it means your reactor is too small for the water pushed in the reactor. You will need a Longer reactor for your CO2 injection rate so it prevent the CO2 bubble escaping before mostly dissolved into water. And you don't want to lower flow rate with your current setup, it will jus take longer to reach your ideal CO2 ppm.

If you have the place to use a Cerges DIY, i would recommend this. These are really effective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have the SERA 500 as well in my 72 gallons tank. Your tank is almost the same as mine, besides this is rated up to 160 gallons.

Sera Flore Active CO2 Reactor 500 - Small 66-160 Gal
So you're saying that this size should be sufficient for the 75 gallon tank?

I don't want to jump up to the larger Sera reactor since it will reduce my flow even further. I think I'm going to put a coarse sponge in there and see if that does the trick. My Co2 saturation has gotten better, still need to calibrate my new pH pen, but the drop checker is lime green by mid-day which sounds about right given the lag in time it takes for it to change color.
 

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So you're saying that this size should be sufficient for the 75 gallon tank?

I don't want to jump up to the larger Sera reactor since it will reduce my flow even further. I think I'm going to put a coarse sponge in there and see if that does the trick. My Co2 saturation has gotten better, still need to calibrate my new pH pen, but the drop checker is lime green by mid-day which sounds about right given the lag in time it takes for it to change color.
That is the one I have for my 72 gallons, I do not think you need the larger one. As I said earlier my CO2 is probably at 6-7 BPS and that gets me to 1 point difference. You did not have the PH pen before so you do not know if your CO2 reading was correct.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That is the one I have for my 72 gallons, I do not think you need the larger one. As I said earlier my CO2 is probably at 6-7 BPS and that gets me to 1 point difference. You did not have the PH pen before so you do not know if your CO2 reading was correct.
Correct. I'll be able to take my first true reading once I calibrate the pen. (need to find our measuring cup in all the moving boxes first!) So if the Co2 saturation is good, then I just need to figure out the bubbles issue.
 

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Correct. I'll be able to take my first true reading once I calibrate the pen. (need to find our measuring cup in all the moving boxes first!) So if the Co2 saturation is good, then I just need to figure out the bubbles issue.
FYI, I bought mine from AMAZON and it was already calibrated. I think your issue will be corrected with the BPS output.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
FYI, I bought mine from AMAZON and it was already calibrated. I think your issue will be corrected with the BPS output.
Great! I got a reading of 6.05 just now. I'll leave that cup of water out and test in 24 hours. Thanks for all the advice folks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Quick update: the water left overnight measured a pH of 7.5 after 24 hours sitting out. Measured the tank at the same time and it was between a 6.3 and a 6.4. So it looks like I'm actually beyond the 1 degree pH drop level. The fish appear happy and healthy so I don't see cause for concern about oversaturation at this point. But it does mean I can probably turn my bubble count down a bit to perhaps combat the bubbles escaping the reactor.
 

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Sounds like you're in a decent spot. Many folks run CO2 higher than 1pt. Some up to 1.5. depends on your plants, light level, and goals, but higher than 1 can be fine for fish. Going above 1 makes having consistently high agitation/gas exchange more important though.
 

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Quick update: the water left overnight measured a pH of 7.5 after 24 hours sitting out. Measured the tank at the same time and it was between a 6.3 and a 6.4. So it looks like I'm actually beyond the 1 degree pH drop level. The fish appear happy and healthy so I don't see cause for concern about oversaturation at this point. But it does mean I can probably turn my bubble count down a bit to perhaps combat the bubbles escaping the reactor.
Good it worked out ok!!

What is your BPS rate right now? I see your working pressure is 20psi and mine is 30 psi. Does anybody know what is the difference between 20 and 30?
 
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