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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is a drop checker necessary? I've never ran CO2 before and I'm planning on ordering the rest of my set up this weekend (diffuser & check valve) but was wondering if starting at 1 bps would be safe and just seeing the reactions in the fish,shrimp and plants? I don't have a pH probe. This is for a 40B that's heavily planted. No major algae issues (just some gsa and a few very small bits of bba which I've been able to manually remove off of slow growing plants) and medium light. Thanks.
 

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I'd say it's probably important if you don't want to over-dose your fish and inverts with too much CO2.

I've always used DIY CO2 setup in the past, a kH test kit combined with a wide range LaMotte pH test reagent, set my tank's kH at about 3~4, and try to keep my pH tests colored somewhat turquoise-ish.
 

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A drop checker is not going to keep you from over-gassing your fish. It is nice to see how quickly your co2 levels in your water raise, but the best indication of effect on fauna is gradually increasing your co2 levels and monitoring the fauna for stress, cutting back co2 a little to where they are good, then as they adjust gradually increase more.
 

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A drop checker is not going to keep you from over-gassing your fish. It is nice to see how quickly your co2 levels in your water raise, but the best indication of effect on fauna is gradually increasing your co2 levels and monitoring the fauna for stress, cutting back co2 a little to where they are good, then as they adjust gradually increase more.
In the name of moderation, if I was the OP I'd be doing the initial testing of the CO2 levels using the drop checker to set averages. I'm well aware of the checker not responding to rapidly changing pH, but they still are a good tool for setting your initial levels.
 

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This is a hobby, so we could accurately say everything we buy for that hobby is a waste of money. When you first start using pressurized CO2 you very likely are extremely worried about killing your fish, so you want to start with a small "dose" just to be safe. And, you have no experience to let you judge how much CO2 you are using, or whether it is improving your plants growth. Also, you haven't yet seen fish that are stressed by CO2, so you have a hard time spotting it when they are, tending instead to see stress any time your fish do anything you hadn't noticed before. This leads you to run far too little CO2, see no improvement in the plants, and start wondering if CO2 is even worth the trouble, let alone the expense. With a drop checker you can easily see that you are getting significant amounts of CO2 in the water, not trivial amounts, so you can start your cautious adventure with CO2 at a level where you will see the plants improve. For me that was well worth it.
 

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A drop checker is a waste of money


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If it saves me having to set up two reagent test vials to test kH and pH against each other, hey, I'm all for just looking into my tank and seeing the color vs. messing about for 15~20 minutes with test vials.
 

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If it saves me having to set up two reagent test vials to test kH and pH against each other, hey, I'm all for just looking into my tank and seeing the color vs. messing about for 15~20 minutes with test vials.


Understood, but why not start at one BPS and work your way up. If plants are pearling and fish are fine then you are good to go. FWIW it is far better to teach yourself how to do things properly than to constantly depend on a crutch.


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Understood, but why not start at one BPS and work your way up. If plants are pearling and fish are fine then you are good to go. FWIW it is far better to teach yourself how to do things properly than to constantly depend on a crutch.


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It's more of a time saving tool than a crutch. It gives you the luxury of making more time available to learn about CO2 dosing levels. I mean 1 BPS could mean a big difference in pH change in a 10 gallon versus a 120 gallon. It's readings can adapt fast enough to set a conservative baseline, so your not taking a week to get the CO2 dialed in.

Plus I would consider working with a kH to pH and temperature graph table if it's truly that critical. The Krib archives has a table for just that..Aquatic Concepts
Check the Tech Briefs: Water Chemistry, Carbon Dioxide..

The half second you spend looking at the drop checker, frees up more time = priceless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok so please explain what you mean about kH and pH in correlation with co2 levels. I understand pH will drop with co2 injection and that we want co2 levels roughly 30 ppm and that's what the drop checker shows. Also, I was reading something about gH and kH with the indicator solution and if you have a high gH/kH you need to use a different solution. Did I read that wrong? Our gH/kH was 8 last time I tested it.
 

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I would definitely use a drop checker especially when you start out. Eventually if things are very stable you could probably do without it. The more visual indicators the better. Even an intake diffuser is another visual indicator of how much co2 is entering the tank compared to a reactor, etc. Both work but their is something helpful in all those bubbles.
 

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Ok so please explain what you mean about kH and pH in correlation with co2 levels. I understand pH will drop with co2 injection and that we want co2 levels roughly 30 ppm and that's what the drop checker shows. Also, I was reading something about gH and kH with the indicator solution and if you have a high gH/kH you need to use a different solution. Did I read that wrong? Our gH/kH was 8 last time I tested it.
You have described exactly why a drop checker is so useful for those of us just starting to use CO2. Used correctly, a drop checker has water in it that has a known KH, caused by having bicarbonate of soda in the water, and nothing else in the water that has any effect on pH or KH. With that standard water you can be sure that the pH of that water is affected by nothing but how much CO2 is in the water.

Like almost every piece of equipment in an aquarium, a drop checker requires maintenance - cleaning and replacing the water in it. Eventually that will become a nuisance to you, but you should by then know about what bubble rate of CO2 addition gives you the best results with your plants, and doesn't distress your fish. So, you can then just store the drop checker, until you replace your tank with a one considerably different in size. It would make no sense to keep using it until you make that change.
 

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I really think most of you guys try to find all these little ways to find out what's best for this and that but you miss the biggest thing.... Look at your tank! The reagent color depends on so many variables that you won't learn anything other than "oh it's blue I better add more co2". This is a dumb way to go about trying to have a successful planted tank.

There are tons of threads on this forum and others than are the same ole blah blah about this and that but 90% of the time people are just chasing a number or in this case a color. It's a very simple process that people make so complicated.


Start off slow and work your way up. If your lights are on for 3 hours and your plants are not yet pearling add a little more co2 until you reach this point. Once your plants are pearling, do not do anything else different. If after a week you do not have a increase in algae then you have sufficient co2 for your plants to have higher growth rate and out compete the algae.

If you start to get algae, don't lower your light period - up the co2 slightly until you can have pearling healthy plants, and no algae. If you take these steps you will learn on your own, from your own experiences, what to look for in YOUR aquarium versus trying to use what other people know and apply it to your tank. There are too many variables.

Remember algae is not caused by light, it is caused by excess nutrients in the water. If your nutrient level is in check( water changes and not over doing ferts) and you have adequate co2 you will grow plants and not algae.

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My LFS guy told me that a drop checker is overkill. I'm starting CO2 tomorrow so that I'm home throughout the weekend to keep an eye on the fish. He told me that just start a 1 bubble per second and keep an eye on the fish to make sure they aren't at the surface, trying to breathe. After a week or two, increase to 2 bubbles and keep an eye on the tank again for another week or two, and so on till about 3-4 bubbles per second for my 55gallon. He said exactly, "If your plants are happy and growing, and your fish are doing well, then that's your equivalent of a green drop checker" So that's my plan rather than spending $50 on one. I'll see what happens over the next few weeks.
 

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Start off slow and work your way up. If your lights are on for 3 hours and your plants are not yet pearling add a little more co2 until you reach this point. Once your plants are pearling, do not do anything else different. If after a week you do not have a increase in algae then you have sufficient co2 for your plants to have higher growth rate and out compete the algae.
Wouldn't the ability for the plants to pearl be related to how much light there is and what type of plants.

Remember algae is not caused by light, it is caused by excess nutrients in the water. If your nutrient level is in check( water changes and not over doing ferts) and you have adequate co2 you will grow plants and not algae.
So if algae was caused by excess ferts, the majority of users tank here would have algae. Since many use EI and other methods that dose in excess. Having adequate co2 can obviously help curb algae by increasing uptake, but it's effectiveness is related to how much plant mass there is and how fast it grows. It wouldn't have a large impact on a tank that's thinly planted.
 

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My LFS guy told me that a drop checker is overkill. I'm starting CO2 tomorrow so that I'm home throughout the weekend to keep an eye on the fish. He told me that just start a 1 bubble per second and keep an eye on the fish to make sure they aren't at the surface, trying to breathe. After a week or two, increase to 2 bubbles and keep an eye on the tank again for another week or two, and so on till about 3-4 bubbles per second for my 55gallon. He said exactly, "If your plants are happy and growing, and your fish are doing well, then that's your equivalent of a green drop checker" So that's my plan rather than spending $50 on one. I'll see what happens over the next few weeks.

I think that is a great choice. By the time you buy the drop checker, solution, etc. that is money wasted that could be spent on more plants or other aquarium needs.
 

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The solution in those little bottles on that link have never worked for me. Getting a quality drop checker and solution would run at least $20. The $50 is probably what the local shop charges for a $20 drop checker and since very few places locally sell them people buy them that do not shop online.

I just saw the above poster is in the Dallas area. I am just east of Dallas. Local shop pricing around here is horrible.
 
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