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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this is more or less a basic question but I'm getting closer to starting my complete conversion to a high-tech planted tank and I want to make sure I have all of my bases covered.
How do you measure CO2 PPM? Is it just calculated based on your bubbles per second? Or is there an actual test?
I know that CO2 effects PH. I ordered a drop checker to help with that. But I want to know how to determine the exact CO2 level in my tank.
By the way, I have a 75g tank that will have x4 64w T5 HO bulbs and a pressurized CO2 system. Thanks.
 

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I know this is more or less a basic question but I'm getting closer to starting my complete conversion to a high-tech planted tank and I want to make sure I have all of my bases covered.
How do you measure CO2 PPM? Is it just calculated based on your bubbles per second? Or is there an actual test?
I know that CO2 effects PH. I ordered a drop checker to help with that. But I want to know how to determine the exact CO2 level in my tank.
By the way, I have a 75g tank that will have x4 64w T5 HO bulbs and a pressurized CO2 system. Thanks.
You can measure the Ph and KH and compare it to a Co2 chart. I guess the more accurate way is to get a drop checker.

I've done it in the past with the fish. If the fish start looking like they are dying, then I turn down the Co2 :icon_lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok. Wow, the fish idea sounds exactly like something I would do :)
I thought the drop checker was just to determine if the PH was too high. But, I guess you use it to measure PH and then you measure KH. How do you measure KH? And, where do I get a CO2 chart to help figure out the PPM?
Sorry for all the questions. Thanks for the help.
 

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Ok. Wow, the fish idea sounds exactly like something I would do :)
I thought the drop checker was just to determine if the PH was too high. But, I guess you use it to measure PH and then you measure KH. How do you measure KH? And, where do I get a CO2 chart to help figure out the PPM?
Sorry for all the questions. Thanks for the help.
Guns
I’ve posted the same question about CO2 concentration on several forums.
The most common answer is to use a DC.
When the DC is green the CO2 concentration is ABOUT 30 ppm.
I’m now using a DC and a pH controller to monitor the CO2.
About once a week, I also check using a GH and a pH test kit.
In one of the threads, a well known aquatic plant expert,
said that DC’s are a waste of time. He observes the fish and the plants.
Good luck
Charles
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Charles. Well, I'm nowhere near an expert so I'll take all the help I can get :)
So, the bottom line is CO2 PPM is measured by checking the PH level with a drop checker. Let me ask you this, where would I find a color chart to that lets me know the different colors as they relate to PPM? If green is 30ppm what color would it need to be for 15ppm?
I ordered my DC from another member of this forum, so if a chart usually comes with the DC, I'm not sure if mine will.
 

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A drop checker is a tool which will get you in the ball park. Its color to ppm is determined by the kh of the liquid you use, 4kh turns green at 30 ppm. Its limitations are that it does not change color quickly, is fixed in one location, we inteprete the color so it is not accurate (green doesn't guarantee a CO2 ppm of 30).

Once you get the drop checker to green, you need to watch your fish as you continue to adjust up. They will display the signs of too much CO2. Some are more sensitive than others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok jjp. A DC is not the absolute answer. The guy I bought the DC from is sending me a bottle of 4dk solution. How is that going to change the color that I'm looking for? What's the difference between 4kh and 4dk?
 

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the 4dh should be the 4kh solution. This will turn a green color the CO2 causes the ph of that liquid to change to be around 6 - 6.6. We assume this means a CO2 level of 30 since the 4kh solution has no other buffers in it (should be distilled water and baking soda). This gets you close to that 30 ppm number. Place it way from the return, ideally the furthest away from it. Then watch the fish.
 

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Some will disagree with me, but I've come to the conclusion with planted tanks at the end of the day the margin of error tends to work in your favor. Very few know for certain whether they have 28 ppm co2, 32 ppm or 35 ppm co2 and as long as the plants are doing fine it doesn't matter. Only 3 measurements necessary with co2 - not enough, enough or too much. Most of the other nutrients only have 2 measurements (enough and not enough).
 

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A lot depends on how much growth you want. I read that 15ppm was plenty for healthy vigorous plants, so I haven't stressed about reaching 30ppm. Currently I'm at ~15ppm in my 84G tank and everything I've planted is healthy. Some of the new stems are growing slowly so I may bump it up for a while. Once the scape is where I want it though, I'm thinking back to 15ppm to reduce maint.

As Canuck and Jip2 said, don't sweat too many details. You've been asking the right questions and seem to have basic components in place. Best advice I could give is don;t spend a lot of money on expensive plants and fish right away. Let your tank develop, your skills grow and have fun.

Good thing about plants is that you can rip them out, sell or trade them and replace with something new that interests you. As you may have read, plant heavily with easy to grow plants....many are very nice keepers....and evolve over time.

Have fun.
 

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Thanks Charles. Well, I'm nowhere near an expert so I'll take all the help I can get :)
So, the bottom line is CO2 PPM is measured by checking the PH level with a drop checker. Let me ask you this, where would I find a color chart to that lets me know the different colors as they relate to PPM? If green is 30ppm what color would it need to be for 15ppm?
I ordered my DC from another member of this forum, so if a chart usually comes with the DC, I'm not sure if mine will.


Guns

There is no color chart for a drop checker.
And there are many shades of green that range from blue to yellow.
So, it’s not an accurate measurement at all.
Some may call me foolish, but I’m relying on my pH controller being accurate.
AND, I don’t really want to increase the CO2 till the livestock start hurting.
Actually, I don’t like the thing inside my tank, just haven’t pulled it out yet.
Just more “stuff” inside the tank.
Like others have said, go ahead and use the DC (with the 4KH),
plant your tank and have fun with it. That’s what it’s all about.

Good luck
Charles
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you, everyone, for all the advice. I think I have a handle on things now. I took a look at the SUMO stuff and I think I'm going to place an order Thursday.
I plan on documenting my progress, start to finish, on the journal thread so you guys will get to see the finished product.
Thanks Again
 

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A drop checker is a tool which will get you in the ball park. Its color to ppm is determined by the kh of the liquid you use, 4kh turns green at 30 ppm. Its limitations are that it does not change color quickly, is fixed in one location, we inteprete the color so it is not accurate (green doesn't guarantee a CO2 ppm of 30).

Once you get the drop checker to green, you need to watch your fish as you continue to adjust up. They will display the signs of too much CO2. Some are more sensitive than others.
Exactly and I can only speak from my experience but once it turns green you should slowly and I do mean slowly turn it up just a touch and watch the fish. Be patient and turn it up once a day if needed. Again be patient and once you reached the point where the fish becomes lethargic then back up just a bit.

A lot depends on how much growth you want. I read that 15ppm was plenty for healthy vigorous plants, so I haven't stressed about reaching 30ppm. Currently I'm at ~15ppm in my 84G tank and everything I've planted is healthy. Some of the new stems are growing slowly so I may bump it up for a while. Once the scape is where I want it though, I'm thinking back to 15ppm to reduce maint.
Actually cutting back on the CO2 is the worst thing you can do to control plant growth. What one should be concentrating on is excellent or close to it CO2 saturation into the aquarium, then if you don't limit ferts and limit light, you'll be fine.

Light and only light should be the only catalyst used to control plant growth. Anything else is just asking for trouble. Cutting back on CO2 to control plant growth will most certainly induce algae.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Has anyone used the SMS122 PH/CO2 Controller? I saw it on E-bay for a good price but, is it worth it? It seems to take the guess work out of balancing PH and CO2.
And NJAquaBarren, I am planning on following the PPS-Pro dosing plane and it calls for 15ppm CO2. That seems to work for you?
 

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The problem with the PPS Pro dosing plan and its call for 15 ppm of CO2 is that the measurement method used to determine that you have 15 ppm isn't accurate enough to tell you that you have 15 ppm. More than likely the 15 ppm the author of that plan thinks he has is much closer to 5 ppm. If you really want to have 15 ppm, you need to invest lots of money in a specialty CO2 measuring probe that can accurately tell you just how much CO2 you have at any location in the tank, and it does vary widely around the tank. Wouldn't it be better to just increase the bubble rate, slowly, of course, until you get pearling of the plants within a couple of hours after the lights come on? That might end up being 15 ppm.
 
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