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CO2 or not

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This is my first post to the forum. Currently, I have a 75 gallon non-planted discus tank and a new 45 gallon planted tank which has been set up for about 2 weeks now. Since I had the 75 gallon, I was able to use filter media, etc. to establish a good biological cycle in the new tank. That being said, I am receiving conflicting opinions on adding CO2 to a planted tank. I did purchase the Red Sea’s CO2 Bio Kit and found that the CO2 contents were used up in the 2 week time period. Does anyone have a "recipe" to make a DIY refill for this system with the right amount of yeast and other ingredients. I live in the Boston area and purchased my equipment from Tropic Isle Aquarium. The owner was insistent upon selling me this CO2 kit. I also purchase fish and plants from Uncle Neds Fish Factory and Lovely Pets for those of you who live in this area, you know that there are not a lot of good aquarium store options here. Any advice will be well taken.:fish1:
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with that size tank i wouldn't bother with DIY CO2, any thing larger than a 30 gallon it became really hard to get a steady amount of CO2 from DIY. if you do want to go with CO2 i would suggest a good Pressurize setup. or you could say lowtech planted and not have to deal with all the stuff that goes into a high tech planted tank, with disuc i think this might be the best selection.
 

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If you decide to go with CO2, definitely go pressurized. You might take a look at the GLA web site. I bought my stuff spur of the moment at the LFS. Not the cheapest or best alternative.

I agree with Ozymandias, if you are committed to Discus for this tank then probably limit your light to 1.5 - 2 watts per gallon and go low-tech no CO2.

Thanks,
Rod
 

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My experience with CO2 leads me to offer this advice: Go big, or go home. I have done the diy CO2, and it was a pain. That lasted a few months. Even with the pressurized, it is important to get it absorbed into the water and spread around the tank. It took me a long time, and it took some scratch, to get some CO2 to the plants.

No matter which route you choose, there is going to be some element of DIY. I have been thrilled with the results of pressurized.

I can't offer any advice regarding Discus and CO2.
 

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A 96 watt PC light on a 45 gallon tank will give high enough light intensity to require a CO2 supply, or you end up with lots of algae. You could raise that fixture a few inches and lower the light intensity enough to do without CO2, but not if you leave it on top of the tank.

One of the major expenses for a well planted tank able to grow almost all plants is a pressurized CO2 system. There are no good shortcuts. But, you can get lucky by watching your local Craigslist, and by watching the swap n shop forum here, and be able to pick up a used system for a much cheaper price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hoppy,
The light is about an inch from the glass top. If I lower the light intensity how will the plants grow. I am getting so much conflicting information on CO2 and light intensity. I am just a bit above the 2 wpg. What type of CO2 would your recommend?

Joyce
 

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DIY CO2 is only useful for small tanks, up to 20-30 gallons or so. Beyond that it takes too many bottles of DIY mix, with staggered start times, to get a steady high CO2 level. That leaves you with only one choice - pressurized CO2, with a regulator, needle valve, and preferably with a solenoid valve and bubble counter.

I know from my tank that you get too much light with PC bulbs and good reflectors at 2 watts per gallon, to be able to avoid algae problems. I now have one 55 watt PC bulb, raised 6 inches above a 45 gallon, 20 inch deep tank, and I get 45-50 micromols PAR light intensity. I have mostly lower light plants, but even Ludwigia repens is growing well, just slowly. And, I still have a constant battle to keep BBA from taking over. CO2 is far more important for growing "high light" plants than super high light is. With good CO2 concentration, well distributed around the tank, "high light" plants grow, but grow slow enough that you aren't constantly pruning them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So, you are basically saying that my 96 watt compact flourescent is too much for my tank? I am still new to all of the lingo on this site, what is a PC bulb, BBA, etc. Will I be able to grow plants using this light, will I grow more algae with this light. Why is it that all of the tropical fish stores that I do business at (not the chain stores) tell me that I do not need CO2. I am extremely confused now! What is the real bottom line here.
 

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You asked a straightforward question so I'll offer a straightforward answer.

CO2? Yes, absolutely.

DIY? No way.

Red Sea? Get your money back.

Pressurized? Yes!

You can go through low tech this and that, which is great! But since you are already talking about getting Red Sea CO2 and DIY, it seems you are wanting to do more than just low tech. Also, as pointed out, the light you have now pretty much dictates that you either add CO2 and ferts or find a way to reduce the lighting or grow algae.

I honestly believe the biggest thing for growing plants is a pressurized CO2 system. Not everyone can or wants to afford it. Not everyone wants to mess with it. If that's the case, that's fine. But when it comes to growing plants, a pressurized CO2 system is the way to go.

Remember, many of the conflicting answers you receive are not always due to what's best for the plants, but people's recommendations based on their desires for a low or high tech tank. A low tech tank person will offer you a lot of great help on having a low tech tank without a CO2 system. And that's great IF that's what YOU want. Then there's people like me who have high tech systems who would never dream of having a planted tank without pressurized CO2. So there's more going into the answers you are probably receiving.

But all things put aside, pressurized CO2 is the best choice for growing plants in a planted tank. I think that is something everyone can agree on. Whether to get a pressurized CO2 system is where each person offers their own opinions which, naturally, can be conflicting.
 

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Why is it that all of the tropical fish stores that I do business at (not the chain stores) tell me that I do not need CO2.
1. Because they don't sell pressurized CO2 systems so they won't make any money talking you into one. They make more money talking you into the Red Sea thing you bought.

2. Because there is a big difference between need and want. Do you need a pressurized CO2 system? Absolutely not! But do you want one? I don't know, but I know that I want one! I love the results I get!

3. Because they have no experience with a pressurized CO2 system and, as is very normal, it's hard to recommend something that you know nothing about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks, Complexity, for the honest information. Unfortunately I was talked into getting the Red Sea "thing" which is nothing more than yeast and sugar and not even sufficient for my 45 gallon tank. Can you recommend a pressurized system that I can either purchase locally at a good fish store or on the internet.
Joyce
 

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Don't feel too bad. I think we've all gone through our share of "things" before getting a real pressurized system. You're actually ahead of the game by doing it now.

Given what you've said about your local fish stores (LFS), I wouldn't get it from them. If money is not a problem, get the best system GreenLeafAquariums.com has to offer. Check out their options: http://www.greenleafaquariums.com/co2-systems.html

Green Leaf Aquariums is a sponsor of this site, but moreover, Orlando, the owner, is a wonderful member of our community. He only offers really good equipment.

You can buy cheaper systems out there, and they will work, but if you can afford it, get a nice system. I'm currently changing out my regulator to a better one. I blew one of them (that was my fault) and I'm not happy with the two I am using. Better regulators and needle valves make a huge difference.

If you knew precisely what to get, I'm sure you can piece mill it together with stuff from eBay, etc. And if that's what you need, there are plenty of people here who can help you with the parts and brands to look for. But if you can afford it, just get one of the systems from Orlando.

(PS. I receive nothing from my recommendation. I'm just a happy customer.)

Sumo also offers some top notch regulators. I don't believe they have a full system available. They seem to be focused only on the regulators. They do not have an online store, but you can email them. From what I understand, Sumo is created by two avid planted tank people who wanted to offer high quality equipment to those of us who want it.

There may be other people with good suggestions. If I had it to do all over again, I'd do what I'm suggesting to you now. I regret getting inferior equipment that I need to replace now.
 

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Thanks, Complexity, for the honest information. Unfortunately I was talked into getting the Red Sea "thing" which is nothing more than yeast and sugar and not even sufficient for my 45 gallon tank. Can you recommend a pressurized system that I can either purchase locally at a good fish store or on the internet.
Joyce
There are some 'all in one' solutions out there, but I bought this one and wished I hadn't after I learned more: http://www.petsolutions.com/Default.aspx?ItemID=30751070

I am not the most experienced person here, so take this as free advice, and not a rule book.

You will need a CO2 tank. I recommend finding it locally. There are threads on how to find them, but you are looking for a welding supply store, a fire extinguisher store, or a beer brewing place. Expect to pay about $100 for a filled tank, and $20-$30 to fill it. There are better deals out there, but I've not been lucky enough to find one.

You need a regulator and a bubble counter. There are a few selections on this page. http://www.greenleafaquariums.com/co2-regulators.html I think you could search and find the stuff cheaper (ebay), but these guys have a good reputation here. I've only bought a drop checker from them, but they have a great reputation here and I'm happy with the service I got.

You need a check valve (or two, some people put them on either side of the bubble counter). Same as the regulator, greenleaf is one of a million places to buy from.

You may want some way to turn the CO2 off. I use a solenoid, some use a pH based controller. A solenoid is most budget friendly, at around $40 shipped. A pH controller will be more, and you will probably hear a lot about the accuracy of pH in measuring CO2, which is limited.

You need a way to get CO2 into the water. This isn't what I do (although I may some day), but I think the most straightforward way is a needle wheel powerhead. Danner is the brand some people like right now, but I don't know squat about them. I use a diffuser into a canister, but that is one of a million different ways.

Good luck. There are lots of posts around here about this. This site also has some info: http://www.rexgrigg.com/index.html
 

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BTW, while you're at it, go ahead and get dry ferts and dosing bottles. You're going to need them and Orlando offers both. Maybe you can save on shipping by ordering them together.

Orlando put together a package with the ferts most people need. I use what's in his package.

http://www.greenleafaquariums.com/aquarium-fertilizers-supplements/micro-macro-fertilizers.html

I also like his dosing bottles for dissolving the micro ferts. Here are his offers. I originally got the big one, but I got some smaller ones later and like them very much. Look for the "Fertilizer Dispensers" at the bottom of this page:

http://www.greenleafaquariums.com/aquarium-fertilizer.html

When you catch your breath after all this, feel free to ask what to do with all this stuff! It's a lot to absorb all at once, but it doesn't take long to catch on.
 

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You need a way to get CO2 into the water. This isn't what I do (although I may some day), but I think the most straightforward way is a needle wheel powerhead. Danner is the brand some people like right now, but I don't know squat about them. I use a diffuser into a canister, but that is one of a million different ways.
Whoops! I totally forgot about the diffuser. FWIW, I use a "Rex Style" diffuser. I cheated and let Orlando build both of mine for me, but this is something that can be done pretty easily.

At some point, your head will stop spinning, I promise! When you're ready, I and many others here can help explain what you do with all of this stuff. :smile:
 

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I'd go with 2x 54 W T5 light for the tank.
Here's a 70 Gal with this much light, good CO2, layout etc:



Make the fish look good also.

Load it with wood, and place Java fern narrow leaf in the rear, back edges.

Leave space in the front for fish, low foreground plants etc.

The lower light will make the CO2 much easier to target and don't worry, plants still grow pretty fast at low light. CO2 is the key here.

Not more light.

You'll read a lot of baloney about light, various plants requiring "lots". Don't fall for it. Then they will say things about less is better for nutrients, but miss the big picture with less light:icon_roll

Again, do not fall for it.
You have some good CO2 system advice already.

Even with the wood, ferns etc, maybe Crypts, you can still leave the front open with plain sand, say white or many go with black(white looks better and makes the fish look better).

That's easy to care for, easy to add CO2, nice darker colors for the fish.
Moss can be added etc.

Focus most of your energy on CO2, water changes, dosing consistently.
Basic stuff.


BTW, you can use the single gas tank/single regulator and add 2 needle valves to independently add CO2 to different tanks(as long as they are close by, or relatively so).


Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Ah, but Tom. Show him your other tank! The one with color! :biggrin:
 
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