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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've read somewhere that Co2 chart based on KH/PH is not a reliable indictor. Rather what some people are doing is dialing up the Co2 level gradually and watch there fish behavior. Once, there's a sign of stress, they would dial it back just a tad. This would be the ideal Co2 level.

Since I am starting a new tank and would like to max out my CO2 to promote growth, this approach would work well for me. My question is what stress signals do you look for and when is it too much? All fish hanging on the top or just some? I have Amano, SAEs, and Otos.
 

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Snail Races

Hi johnnyboy,
Are you thinking of ways to maximize the amount of O2 without losing any CO2? How long have you been adding CO2? If your adding CO2 and it's just gassing off it wont be much help to your plants. What type of filter will you have?
 

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Suggest you get a drop checker and some 4 dKH standard water to use in it (don't use tank water, the instructions with most drop checkers are wrong). The reagent you need to add to the 4 dKH water is standard pH test reagent. Once you determine a level that turns the drop checker green (approx. 30 ppm) you have a baseline for making slow, gradual increases to CO2 (preferably over a series of days) until you find the limit that your tank inhabitants can handle. Never adjust CO2 and leave for the day, always make changes when you can monitor the tank. Remember that it takes a couple of hours for the drop checker color to register a change. It also takes plants time to adjust to changes in CO2. Ultimately they will grow best and you will have the least problems with algae if levels are kept stable. You need O2 in the water too so don't stress about gassing off any CO2 you just turn it up a bit more to compensate. Having a good level of O2 does not prevent you from also having enough CO2, your fish will be a lot happier if you keep the water oxygenated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm using pressurized CO2 with Aquamedic 1000 reactor hooked to a PH controller. I have two Eheim pro canister filters for my 110 gallon. The large bubble that is coming out the reactor is about 100bps.

I think my CO2 level should be pretty good but I would like to get it tad higher, just below stressing the fish. My New York tap water is super soft with less than 1 degree of both KH and GH. I use Equilibrium to boost my GH to 4 but I don't use baking soda to raise my KH. I've read somewhere that it's not absolutely necessary and that extra bicarbonate are not good for the plant. My fish are fine, my ph swing are very gradual.

PH out of my tap is 7.2. After CO2 injection, my PH drop to 5.9 in about 8 hours or so. I dont run airstone and I don't have any surface movement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would like to try upping my BPS from 100 to 120 then maybe to 140BPS. My question again is what kind of stress sign I should looking for? And how much BPS to back down if I observe stress.
 

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The easiest way to do this without stressing out your fish is with a drop checker with a 4 dkH reference solution, as captain bu mentioned.

Alternatively, if you want to monitor your fish, I would look for gasping at the surface, mostly. When you reach that point, you can (say) reduce your bps (it is hard to say a number, it depends on how high you've reached), and then do a large 50% water change to get rid of as much CO2 as possible. For a heavily planted 110g tank, I would start off with perhaps 5 bps.

Your shrimp will be more sensitive to the CO2 levels than your fish, I believe.
 

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i just had a horrible co2 accident and killed some fish. it was my own ignorance. live and learn.
anyway, my fish werent really displaying the "traditional" signs of too much co2 like rapid breathing and floating up towards the surface of the water and "gasping" for air. the only sign i had was death. drop checker is ideal. you dont need more than 30 ppm so putting more in than you need is wasting your co2. another good method that i heard from tom barr is to tie some riccia down and wait till it starts to pearl. in my tank everything works together my drop checker indicates 30ppm at the same time that my riccia starts to pearl. and the co2 chart says that i have 30 ppm according to my kh/ph.
 

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Using the fish signs can be a bit of a false signal as well. Fish will adjust to a wide range of CO2 levels but they take time. You can't just slam them with 40ppm all of a sudden. Slow changes are better.

Since you have a controller, I would suggest dialing the pH setting down 0.1 or 0.2 per day at a time. Every time you dial down, stick around for a couple hours and keep an eye on things. If you see nothing, then you are probably OK to go to the next setpoint. To me the key sign is the plants. If they are all pearling after a few hours of full lights and CO2 on, you are probably in a good growth range.

It is a good idea to keep a drop checker as well as a pH controller though. Redundancy in a tank is always helpful. The drop checker will have a slow reaction to change though, so even if its greenish yellow, you may have exceeded 30ppm and won't know for a few hours. By then your fish may be floaters. The key is patience and a controlled method.
 

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Clown loaches seem to be super sensitive to excess co2 levels. Its really hard to bring them back from co2 overdoses however.
 

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Watch plants, then algae, not gassing your fish to do this.

Sort of cruel don't you think?:icon_evil

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well Tom, I've read hundreds of diffent posts on EI and I've followed direction to the tea and yet I still get tons of problem with EI, such as stunted growth and algae issue. I don't think I'm alone here. The remedy at all EI folks seem to espouse is to check you CO2 level, check your CO2, and make sure it's high, it's not your nutrients. Make sure your CO2 is HIGH. So that's what I'm doing! All of my other parameters are good.
 

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Well Tom, I've read hundreds of diffent posts on EI and I've followed direction to the tea and yet I still get tons of problem with EI, such as stunted growth and algae issue. I don't think I'm alone here. The remedy at all EI folks seem to espouse is to check you CO2 level, check your CO2, and make sure it's high, it's not your nutrients. Make sure your CO2 is HIGH. So that's what I'm doing! All of my other parameters are good.
Lots of folks have followed directions and do not have issues also.
Maybe it's the folks and not the method?
After all, every method has some folks that have issues.
Every method has examples of failures and successes.
Given that, it seems that the people are the variable more than the method itself.

Don't neglect the human factor in this.

If you cannot produce a reference aquarium, eg one that has no algae, no plant growth issues, is doing well and has been for some months, then you cannot know what it is, you lack the control to do any testing and ruling anything out.

However, others can and can say that it's not the nutrients directly.
This is not a questionable statement either.

There is more to growing plants than mere dosing of nutrients.
There is more to fish and and aquarium keeping than dosing also in general.
Folks kill fish all the time without ever keeping any plants/dosing anything.

I know you are frustrated, but that does not mean it has a thing to do with the dosing method or saying folks have issues and you are not alone.

Same could be said for aquariums without plants.

Respiration for fish is a 2 way street, it's not all about adding more CO2.
You have several things occurring and CO2 is not some simply thing, nor is it easy to test and measure with certainly.

You have CO2 and O2.
Plants care only about the CO2, fish, the ratio of CO2/O2.

So how does one make management easier?
Less light is one way(nothing to do with EI or any dosing method)
Good current, with enough ripple to not break the surface of the water is a good rule of thumb.

This adds O2, but also degases CO2, simple enough, now you have good O2, adding more CO2 is easier with less stress to fish and ,more wiggle room.
Less light also means less demand for nutrients and importantly, much less demand for CO2.

Riccia makes a good bioindicator for CO2, if it pearls the last 1/2 of the day you likely are in good shape for CO2. Still, CO2 is not some simple parameter(To measure, add, gauge). I do not think I've ever implied otherwise, many others may have, but not myself.

Most folks that do well, master CO2 well.
Balancing light and CO2 is much more of this, as well as having good O2/current.

Nutrients are easy and one of the simpler things we can rule out as a problematic cause.

Light can be measured with a meter easily.

You are also starting off with a messed system with algae, that is hardly a good point to start with when trying to figure out what is the reason why plants are not growing. You have even more of a challenge/uphill battle at that starting point.

Excel can help kill some algae and add some CO2 while you adjust the gas system. Water changes about 1 hour after the lights come on also help.
Adjusting the lighting down.

Being careful with CO2 and patience. Those last two are lacking with many of not most folks. And it's clear that both have nothing to do with dosing of any nutrient.

We all are guilty of it to some degree at some point.
So the solution is to be aware, less light, better care with CO2, experience, testing once you have the ability to control so you can help others etc.

I've seen all the same issues for the last 2 decades.
Even if the solutions have become better, and are stated here and elsewhere, many folks will still stumnble and have issues.
Some of us make more mistakes learning than others.

Not everyone is the same there.

Regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks Tom. I've been in the hobby for many years and I still feel like a newbie sometimes. This hobby is so CHALLENGING with so much variables and everything has to be just right inorder to maintain a balanced tank. It's like a never ending big jigsaw puzzle.

The analogy I like to make is that when I first started with the hobby, I was driving a Honda with 2wpg. Now that I've progressed, I've upgraded my light to an Aqualight pro which is capable of up to 5wpg. All of sudden, I'm driving a Ferrai at full speed with tons of turns and curves.

I really want EI to work for me. I've read countless of stories of people swithing to EI and getting FANTASTIC results. Is what I'm experiencing just a new tank syndrome? I need some directions from experts like yourself.

Currently, my dilemma with EI is that I get huge GDA outbreak. My nitrate consumption in a week is less than 1ppm. Tom, would daily water change with EI work for my situation? I've created a new thread. Here it is below:

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Here's my situation, I am starting a new tank and would like to maximize growth so that the tank can fill-in quickly. The problem that I'm having is that whenever I follow EI, I get massive GDA breakout. Plant would growth well for the first few days after water change but then goes down hill. GDA would take over and my plant would start to stunt, especially on fast growing stem plants. When I reduce nitrate to below 5ppm and reduce my light output, GDA decrease but so do growth. So, that is my dilemma.

All of my other parameters are good and I have pressurized CO2 with 30ppm. I'm using Coralife Aqualight Pro, so I can easily adjust my light output from 2wpg to 5wpg. It uses 2 150watt MH and 2 6700K power compact. GH is raised to 4 degree with Equilibrium. KH is below 1ppm. PH is around 7.2 without Co2 injection and 5.9 with Co2 injection. Phosphate is at 2ppm from the tap. Since it's a start up tank, it's very lightly stocked with 10 SAEs, 10 Otos, 10 Amanos, and 6 Black Mollies. The tank is lightly planted, filling about 1/5 of total tank space. Those are my parameters.

So how do I maximize growth during this early start up stage? I've spent a lot of money on my lights and It's a shame that I have to dial it back in order to prevent algae. I'm willing to do water changes every day and up my nutrients and my light. Would this help?


Thank you in advance for any advice you can provide. I've been in the hobby for many years and I always find tank start up situtation very difficult, partly due to my lack of patience and my need of immediate gratification.
 

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See other thread on daily water changes, mistergreen gave you good advice.

This tank uses 2.1 w/gal and ADA AS + EI, and has the light about 14" above the tank, the tank is also 24" deep and is on 10 hours, the fixture is coralife aqua pro.



As far as being in the hobby a long time yet still feeling you do not know Jack, I still feel that way myself. I do know how to manage things well however.

That's a good attitude to keep.

You might try the DSM, or use less light.
I think anyone that cannot do it with 2w/gal, has no chance at 5w/gal.

I'd suggest focusing strongly on CO2 and light balance. CO2 is much more tricky for many than most seem to think. Many things go into it and it changes faster than any nutrient and the light.

O2, current, the rates of degassing, changes through time and species as the tank grows, filters, clogging issue, diffuser issues etc.

Stay on top of that, get good at CO2 and all the facets.

regards,
Tom Barr
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Gorgeous Tank. Actually, I'm trying to get to the next level. I could succeed at 2wpg, no problem, but just need a lot of patience. I'm trying to get to the next level by upping my light yet still balancing everything else - that has been much more challenging that I thought.

As to your CO2 comment. I have it on a PH controller. I set it at 5.9 and forget it. Isn't it as simple as that? Maybe I'm wrong? I know the PH will flucuate depending on the intenisty of the light source and weather it's day or night. But since it's on a controller, my Co2 should be constant - no?
 

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Gorgeous Tank. Actually, I'm trying to get to the next level. I could succeed at 2wpg, no problem, but just need a lot of patience. I'm trying to get to the next level by upping my light yet still balancing everything else - that has been much more challenging that I thought.

As to your CO2 comment. I have it on a PH controller. I set it at 5.9 and forget it. Isn't it as simple as that? Maybe I'm wrong? I know the PH will flucuate depending on the intenisty of the light source and weather it's day or night. But since it's on a controller, my Co2 should be constant - no?
The controller will hold the pH nearly constant, but that doesn't mean the ppm of CO2 is constant. The CO2 concentration varies all over the tank, being highest near the water inlet where the CO2 enters the tank, and farthest from fast growing plants. It tends to be lowest in the midst of a heavy plant growth. It will be lower at the water surface than near the middle of the tank. Probably lower near the substrate than in the middle. To reduce that variation a good consistent water flow throughout the tank is necessary, so new water gets to all of the plants all of the time. The Koralia type of powerhead is one good way to get that good consistent water flow.

But, as the plants grow they start blocking the water flow a lot more, so what starts out as good water circulation can soon be a tank with lots of stagnant areas. And, the more plant mass in the tank, the more CO2 is consumed by the plants, further reducing the concentration near the plants where it is needed the worst. A consistent, regular pruning can reduce that effect.

If you use an external reactor, like the typical DIY reactor, in the canister filter return flow, you need to keep the canister filter clean so the flow doesn't drop off with time. If you use a ceramic disk diffuser, you need to keep it clean to keep the CO2 flow consistent.

If you have good surface ripple, as you should have, that must remain consistent too, and growing plants, reduced filter flows, dirty filters, etc. can affect that.

So, the pH controller may hold the pH, near where the probe is, constant, providing you do regular calibrations of the probe, but it will not assure you of having enough CO2 available to the plants.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
What is the DSM method? Can someone provide the link. Is this the method in which you start up a tank without any water and let everything establish well in its emerersed state before adding fish? I really like the idea, but I'm a bit too late for that.
 
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