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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

currently have a 75 gallon aquarium and posted a few days ago regarding paintball co2 and diy co2. I got some nice responses and am realizing that unless I commit to a expensive pressurized system, I would need to replace the diy and paintball co2 biweekly which is def not possible since I travel and work away from home. Therefore, I’m considering just dosing with excel and can have a family member dose it biweekly on the tank.
My question is given my plant stock (listed below), will excel, medium lighting (using a shop light from Costco), and decently rich substrate (fluval stratum topped with eco complete) be better than one of those cheap pepsi bottle diy co2 systems.

Plants:
  • jungle val (growing with no problem currently)
  • water wisteria (growing well currently)
  • ludwigia Palastrus (growing “decent” but not as red as I would like)
  • ludwigia ovalis (growing decent, but not amazing)
-ludwigia arctuata (growing decent but not amazing)
- s repens (planning on getting)
-dwarf Sagittarius (planning on getting)
Please let me know what you would do in this situation and whether co2 is necessary to make these plants grow well. By well I mean thriving and super healthy, not just barely staying alive 😅
 

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May have issues with the val and sag with excel. Ludwigia will definitely not wow you using excel (some may not make it). Wisteria would do fine, s repens I'm not 100% on but I know it's known for its relatively slow growth in high tech settings but it may do okay. Also- excel is dosed daily for the purpose you're inquiring about.
 

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Hey guys,

currently have a 75 gallon aquarium and posted a few days ago regarding paintball co2 and diy co2. I got some nice responses and am realizing that unless I commit to a expensive pressurized system, I would need to replace the diy and paintball co2 biweekly which is def not possible since I travel and work away from home. Therefore, I’m considering just dosing with excel and can have a family member dose it biweekly on the tank.
My question is given my plant stock (listed below), will excel, medium lighting (using a shop light from Costco), and decently rich substrate (fluval stratum topped with eco complete) be better than one of those cheap pepsi bottle diy co2 systems.

Plants:
  • jungle val (growing with no problem currently)
  • water wisteria (growing well currently)
  • ludwigia Palastrus (growing “decent” but not as red as I would like)
  • ludwigia ovalis (growing decent, but not amazing)
-ludwigia arctuata (growing decent but not amazing)
- s repens (planning on getting)
-dwarf Sagittarius (planning on getting)
Please let me know what you would do in this situation and whether co2 is necessary to make these plants grow well. By well I mean thriving and super healthy, not just barely staying alive 😅
Two things, first is that excel (or any 'liquid co2' product) is not actually liquid co2. It's a highly dangerous (to humans) chemical which at best provides an alternate carbon source to plants and at worst just kills algae. The science behind it's use for plant health is mostly theoretical. It is not a replacement for pressurized co2 by any means.

Secondly, none of the plants you mentioned need pressurized co2. Any plant will do better with co2, but the ones you mentioned are pretty easy growing. They will need regular fertilization (I assume you are providing, if not you should start).

Hopefully this is helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
May have issues with the val and sag with excel. Ludwigia will definitely not wow you using excel (some may not make it). Wisteria would do fine, s repens I'm not 100% on but I know it's known for its relatively slow growth in high tech settings but it may do okay. Also- excel is dosed daily for the purpose you're inquiring about.
Okay thanks for the info. I may replace the repen with something else. Thanks!

Two things, first is that excel (or any 'liquid co2' product) is not actually liquid co2. It's a highly dangerous (to humans) chemical which at best provides an alternate carbon source to plants and at worst just kills algae. The science behind it's use for plant health is mostly theoretical. It is not a replacement for pressurized co2 by any means.

Secondly, none of the plants you mentioned need pressurized co2. Any plant will do better with co2, but the ones you mentioned are pretty easy growing. They will need regular fertilization (I assume you are providing, if not you should start).

Hopefully this is helpful.
Thank you this is helpful! Yes I know that liquid carbon is not co2 and am glad to know that the plants can grow without it. I’m currently not dosing any fertz but the first few months I dosed flourish comprehensive. I kinda got lazy and didn’t see any major changes and am relying on the fish waste since this tank has been established for around a year now. What dosing schedule do you recommend? What products do you use? Also will root tabs help? Thanks!
 

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I think that most of us that use pressurized CO2 transitioned to it via DIY CO2 ...and discovered why DIY is a problem. Plants do very poorly with fluctuations in any light, CO2 or nutrient supply. DIY CO2 is a bear to maintain and can cause great fluctuations in CO2 levels.

I would recommend Excel in a low-tech setup, particularly where light is being pushed a little too hard (this is exactly what I did for many years). It is a carbon source (nothing close to pressurized CO2) that can be easily dosed with consistency.

Excel works well in supplying carbon for plants in a low-tech setup. It is a common mistake to characterize glutaraldehyde (Excel) as “liquid CO2.” Excel is not CO2. It is a carbon supplement. However, when dosed daily, as per instructions, it may melt Anacharis (Egeria/Elodia), Vals, Duckweed and Marimo moss balls (which are a form of algae). These plants can be trained to use it if adapted slowly by not doing the recommended “initial” weekly dose and then just half-dosing every other day, gradually building up to recommended levels. Vals, for example, will initially melt and then re-grow fully acclimated to it. Another benefit is that it will hamper hair algae, although these low doses typically won’t completely eliminate problem algae.

As with much in life that we handle, be careful that you don't constantly expose your skin to it (allergic reactions are possible), don't drink it and don't serve it your kids. I would also make the same recommendations for half of what is in your medicine cabinet and garage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Also, with medium light, will a citr
I think that most of us that use pressurized CO2 transitioned to it via DIY CO2 ...and discovered why DIY is a problem. Plants do very poorly with fluctuations in any light, CO2 or nutrient supply. DIY CO2 is a bear to maintain and can cause great fluctuations in CO2 levels.

I would recommend Excel in a low-tech setup, particularly where light is being pushed a little too hard (this is exactly what I did for many years). It is a carbon source (nothing close to pressurized CO2) that can be easily dosed with consistency.

Excel works well in supplying carbon for plants in a low-tech setup. It is a common mistake to characterize glutaraldehyde (Excel) as “liquid CO2.” Excel is not CO2. It is a carbon supplement. However, when dosed daily, as per instructions, it may melt Anacharis (Egeria/Elodia), Vals, Duckweed and Marimo moss balls (which are a form of algae). These plants can be trained to use it if adapted slowly by not doing the recommended “initial” weekly dose and then just half-dosing every other day, gradually building up to recommended levels. Vals, for example, will initially melt and then re-grow fully acclimated to it. Another benefit is that it will hamper hair algae, although these low doses typically won’t completely eliminate problem algae.

As with much in life that we handle, be careful that you don't constantly expose your skin to it (allergic reactions are possible), don't drink it and don't serve it your kids. I would also make the same recommendations for half of what is in your medicine cabinet and garage.
thanks for this in-depth reply. I appreciate all the experience and points you have made. I’m thinking of using excel with lower doses daily and maybe adding a easy diy yeast sugar co2 and try to be as consistent as possible (adding sugar and yeast shouldn’t be too difficult to assemble lol). Will stopping the diy co2 (while adding excel) cause plants shock or will it be more helpful than harmful. I was planning on using co2 for a montecarlo carpet, but I’m reverting to dwarf sag (a easy carpet from what others are saying) and considering a repens or something else. Any recommendations for no co2 carpeting plants? Again thanks for your reply!
 

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Thank you this is helpful! Yes I know that liquid carbon is not co2 and am glad to know that the plants can grow without it. I’m currently not dosing any fertz but the first few months I dosed flourish comprehensive. I kinda got lazy and didn’t see any major changes and am relying on the fish waste since this tank has been established for around a year now. What dosing schedule do you recommend? What products do you use? Also will root tabs help? Thanks!
I like Nicolg Thrive fertilizer. For my low tech tanks I use ThriveC which contains a liquid carbon supplement as well as ferts. I dose it once a week after a big (greater than 50%) water change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I like Nicolg Thrive fertilizer. For my low tech tanks I use ThriveC which contains a liquid carbon supplement as well as ferts. I dose it once a week after a big (greater than 50%) water change.
Okay thanks. How often should I dose flourish comprehensive if I was to continue to use what I have? Also would getting root tabs be helpful to ludwigia? Finally, I’ve heard red plants get redder with iron. Is it worth getting an iron supplement or should I skip on that? Thanks again for your expertise and knowledge!
 

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I had no problem with Dwarf Sag in my low-tech tank (it likes iron and, at least, medium light).

Regarding DIY CO2 with Excel.Yes, you can dose both, but treat them independently, they don't trade-off of each other. If you dose CO2, maintain the level consistently. If you dose Excel (Nilocg has an equivalent called "Enhance"), be consistent. If you can't be consistent with either one, it may be better to not use it, especially the CO2.
 
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Okay thanks. How often should I dose flourish comprehensive if I was to continue to use what I have? Also would getting root tabs be helpful to ludwigia? Finally, I’ve heard red plants get redder with iron. Is it worth getting an iron supplement or should I skip on that? Thanks again for your expertise and knowledge!
Dose per package directions. BUT, do a test for nitrate before your next water change. If it's not reading anything you need to consider a different fertilizer. Flourish doesn't contain much nitrogen.

Root tabs can help if the plant has roots near the tab, and the tab doesn't completely get depleted before the next tab is put in, and that the plants pulling nutrients don't need more than the tab can provide.... I prefer dosing the water personally.

Iron can make plants more red if it's the right kind of plant and it has other nutrients it needs and enough light etc. Iron can also cause algae blooms if it's out of balance. Personally I don't dose iron but some folks like it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Dose per package directions. BUT, do a test for nitrate before your next water change. If it's not reading anything you need to consider a different fertilizer. Flourish doesn't contain much nitrogen.

Root tabs can help if the plant has roots near the tab, and the tab doesn't completely get depleted before the next tab is put in, and that the plants pulling nutrients don't need more than the tab can provide.... I prefer dosing the water personally.

Iron can make plants more red if it's the right kind of plant and it has other nutrients it needs and enough light etc. Iron can also cause algae blooms if it's out of balance. Personally I don't dose iron but some folks like it.
Okay sounds good!

I had no problem with Dwarf Sag in my low-tech tank (it likes iron and, at least, medium light).

Regarding DIY CO2 with Excel.Yes, you can dose both, but treat them independently, they don't trade-off of each other. If you dose CO2, maintain the level consistently. If you dose Excel (Nilocg has an equivalent called "Enhance"), be consistent. If you can't be consistent with either one, it may be better to not use it, especially the CO2.
Okay thanks! I’ll probably make sure to dose excel daily and supplement diy co2 when I can. I’ve seen people talk about a cheaper version of excel that has the main ingredient called metrex 14. It’s apparently more concentrate. Will this work? It seems to be much more affordable too since you use way less. Thanks!
 

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Yes, Metricide 14 will work. make sure that you throw away the "activator" when it arrives - DO NOT use the "activator." Also, do not buy the Metricide 28, which contains surfactants. Be aware the Metricide has an expiration date on it, Excel has been stabilized so that it does not expire.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes, Metricide 14 will work. make sure that you throw away the "activator" when it arrives - DO NOT use the "activator." Also, do not buy the Metricide 28, which contains surfactants. Be aware the Metricide has an expiration date on it, Excel has been stabilized so that it does not expire.
yeah read about not using the activator. Do you know how long the expiration date is? Would it be worth it overall to get the metricide 28 even with expiration date (daily dose) 75 gallon compared to excel? Also what are the consequences of using the expired?
 

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No: don't use the Metricide 28, use only the Metricide 14. The expiration date will be a function of when your particular lot was made. I don't use glut anymore, other than as an occasional algaecide, so I don't remember how long my batch lasted. I think it was about a year. You would have to contact Metrex to find out what happens when it expires. I don't recall.
 

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I have hard times getting my hand on Excel. Even Petco and -smart don't seem to carry it (with consistency) in bottles smaller than XL. I ordered off Amazon Sera CO2 tabs which do the trick in my nano but won't be economic for a big tank setup. I dose a quarter of a tab every other day for now plus Flourish once a week (might change to twice a week half dose to see if it improves results). On YT, the channel The Art of Water has tanks that are dosed with Excel and Flourish, and they seem to thrive just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
IMO any planted tank greater than 60 cm warrants the need for pressurised CO2 injection since DIY CO2 injection becomes too cumbersome and dosing Excel becomes unviable.
How does dosing Excel become unviable? I get that plants may need co2 to flourish in this larger environment, but I'm resorting to more low tech and easy plants like dwarf sag for a carpet so I think without co2 it should be fine. Additionally, most of the plants are growing well rn so I was only trying to get pressurized co2 to get the montecarlo carpet growing. Thanks for the input as always!

I have hard times getting my hand on Excel. Even Petco and -smart don't seem to carry it (with consistency) in bottles smaller than XL. I ordered off Amazon Sera CO2 tabs which do the trick in my nano but won't be economic for a big tank setup. I dose a quarter of a tab every other day for now plus Flourish once a week (might change to twice a week half dose to see if it improves results). On YT, the channel The Art of Water has tanks that are dosed with Excel and Flourish, and they seem to thrive just fine.
Thanks for this! I will check the youtube channel out. Yeah I've looked into the tabs but I would need to spend a fortune if they were used in the large tank so I'm just gonna dose with excel or something similar and save up for a correct co2 system in the future!
 

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Although I’m a supporter of Excel use in low-tech setups, I’m not so sure that this video is reliable. He states that “Excel has a great base of iron in it”. In fact, it has zero iron in it. What Seachem claims is that Excel reduces iron from the ferric to the ferrous (more easily consumed by plants) state. This means that you must already have iron in your tank (and you should). Apparently, Excel can break the iron chelates.

Additionally, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that Excel helps plants use the organics in your tank to help the plants fight algae. Although, in a sense, it does, it is because any increase in plant health (which the carbon from Excel or CO2 does do), means healthy plants and healthy plants do impede algae development for a number of reasons. However, Excel does kill/impede small levels of hair algae, directly, without plant involvement. For large outbreaks of hair algae, much larger doses of Excel are required than the Seachem recommended amounts.

I’d also discount the somewhat questionable comments on dose timing of the “game changer” use of potassium, Excel and Flourish (a trace mix).
 
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