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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 55 gallon newly cycled tank. Trying to get plants going. CO2 indicator has never been anything but blue, indicating low CO2 levels (picture included below).

However, the drop KH test is 8 drops to turn yellow (which I believe indicates 8 dkh... right?) and the PH (while it is hard tell them difference between the color results) seems to indicate a PH of 6.6 (picture also included to show this). Which would make sense bc we are in southern CA and we started with a PH of 7. So when I plug those numbers into the calculator, it shows that my CO2 is over 60ppm. So high it’s toxic!!

But my fish aren’t gasping... they are eating normally and everything. And I only have the tiniest bit of pearling on the moss growing on the driftwood... no pearling on the other plants. I included a picture of the pearling...there are a lot of free bubbles all over. Some of them are from the pump that’s pushing out the CO2, but it does seem very bubbly. So I’m wondering if that’s some form of pearling?

Ugh. I’m lost!!

Anyone know what’s going on?
 

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You should start off by looking for about a ~1-1.2 pH drop between degassed water and tank water when your CO2 is running. Get a cup of tank water and let it sit for at least a few hours, overnight even. If you stir it occasionally you may be able to get it to degas quicker. Measure the pH of the water in the cup after it has been sitting for a while and then compare that to the pH of your tank after your CO2 has been running and lights have been on for a couple hours. If there is <1 pH difference you should turn up your CO2. If you said your water from the tap is pH 7 and water in the tank during CO2 is pH 6.6, then you have only a 0.4 pH drop which explains your blue drop checker.
 

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If your KH is 8, it is highly unlikely that the pH of your tap water is 7.0. Would expect it be in the area of 7.8. And if tap really is pH 7.0, then would expect KH to be 1.0 or less.

So something is not making sense there.

When you test the tap, are you testing directly out of the tap? If so, degas a cup of tank water for a few days and see if the pH changes. My guess is that it will rise.

What fluids are you using in the drop checker?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
For some reason I couldn’t see the replies!! Ok, I’m de-gassing a cup of tank water.
Maybe I’m doing the KH test incorrectly? I’m attaching a picture of the test I use below. The instructions are to fill test tube with water and count the number of drops it takes to turn yellow. It’s been 8 drops every time.
What am I doing wrong?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have a couple of people pm me with suggestions and I don’t want to duplicate so here is the update. I have discovered that you guys are right —the pH of our tapwater is a lot higher than I thought. It’s 8. Tank Kh is now 7 and ph is 6.8ish. Hard to get a solid read on the ph test! It’s in the picture below on the left... curious how others interpret that? But the kh has definitely gone down a bit since this morning!! So that puts me at 33.3 ppm. I just Refreshed the CO2 indicator. Not sure how long these things take? It’s been a few minutes and it’s still blue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The problem is though that there’s no pearling coming from the low carpet plants! Anyone know why my CO2 seems to be so high but there’s no pearling of the low plants? Eco complete substrate and the lighting is finnex 24/7.
 

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The problem is though that there’s no pearling coming from the low carpet plants! Anyone know why my CO2 seems to be so high but there’s no pearling of the low plants? Eco complete substrate and the lighting is finnex 24/7.
Not having pearling isn't necessarily a problem. A plant can be perfectly healthy without pearling. Pearling is more than just good co2, it's light, ferts and overall conditions that are allowing the plant to photosynthesis at such a fast rate that the o2 produced can't be absorbed seamlessly into the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes absolutely! I wish I understood how to reply to individuals on this thread but I’m not sure how to do it. Right now, I’m using the equivalent of 5 2-liter bottles with yeast/sugar. I didn’t have enough of the 2 liter bottles so some of them are smaller, but I’m estimating that it’s roughly equal to 5 2 liter bottles. I’m diffusing it with 2 powerheads. One is an aqua clear 20 and the other is a topfin 50. I bought a sera flora 500 reactor (see picture attached) for the purpose of getting better diffusion but I’m not totally sure how to set it up with my diy bottles.
 

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Ah. I see. It was sort of hard to make out from the pictures. So it looks like there's two tubes near the powerhead? One is its own tube to grab oxygen on the output and you run another tube for co2 down to the bottom of the powerhead's intake in attempt for it to suck it into itself and break up the co2 bubbles to smaller ones?

While that method may work, it may not work well enough for your needs as the bubbles are possibly not being chopped up fine enough to make a big difference. As such, the bubbles when it comes out of the powerhead, just floats up to the surface and .. well, vanish (wasted) instead of fully dissolving into your tank water. Is this what you're observing?

The reactor that you have may help if you feed the powerhead to its intake, feed the co2 to the little tube connector up top and let it all swirl around in the reactor as it dissolves the co2 into the water. The theory of the reactor is that it keeps your co2 trapped until its all (or almost all) dissolved into the water before it lets it out. And you'll probably need some sort of elbow on top of the reactor for the new water outflow lest it shoots straight up from your tank! Otherwise, most people run reactors inline with their canister filters as there are already expected inflow and outflow tubes.

Here's a nice guide on how co2 reactors work and it's a very good site overall for all things planted tank!

https://www.2hraquarist.com/blogs/choosing-co2-why/how-to-distribute-co2-optimally


To reply to multiple people, if you're accessing the site from your desktop computer, you'll notice that there's the 'multi-quote' button on everyone's post. Just click as many as you wish to reply to, then click quote on the last one and you'll see that all the post's you've selected are brought into the reply window.

Or you can just click one post to quote to just reply to that post.
 

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Drop checkers are nice and all, but sometimes it's not the best indication, I have the same issue except that mine seems to fluctuate, and it's because of whatever you're blowing the bubbles around, I use a wavemaker to make the bubbles go everywhere else. Testing pH is your best bet.
 

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If you want consistency with your CO2 with a 55 Gallon tank you will eventually want a Regulator and CO2 bottle. Everyone serious about this hobby ends up doing this eventually. You also will also want to plant much heavier, a higher plant density helps to control algae and keep water parameters more stable.

If you already invested in an API test kit and a reactor you are half way there :) welcome to planted tank.
 

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As mentioned before, a decent pH pen will help you a lot. I use an Apera pH pen to dial in my co2 dosage and a drop indicator as something I can quickly glance at to make sure things are working. My tap has a dKH of roughly 5-5.5 and an off-gassed pH of 8.2. At full saturation, my pH is in the 6.6-6.5 range making my drop checker a light, lime green.

I'd invest in a good pH probe and go from there.

Also, co2 isn't the only thing that gets plants to pearl. Strong lighting and proper levels of nutrients are also needed.
 

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..

Also, co2 isn't the only thing that gets plants to pearl. Strong lighting and proper levels of nutrients are also needed.
Great minds, think alike...

...Pearling is more than just good co2, it's light, ferts and overall conditions that are allowing the plant to photosynthesis at such a fast rate that the o2 produced can't be absorbed seamlessly into the water.
What people don't agree on is what causes pearling?
 

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Its more that some people beleive you don't have healthy plants unless you see pearling. I am not one of those people.
I agree with that. I have plenty of healthy plants that never pearl, but I think you could say that all plants that pearl (true pearling) are usually healthy, but not all plants that don't pearl are.
 

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What people don't agree on is what causes pearling?
I don't believe pearling is essential to having a healthy tank. There are many great tanks that don't pearl at all but are great tanks.

My tank does pearl quite a bit. I won't pretend to explain the science. But I do know the harder I am "driving" the tank (high light/high CO2/rich dosing), the more pearling there is. I know for sure I can crank up the PAR and CO2 and create some soda pop!:wink2: Have done it many times, but crazy pearling does not necessarily equal better health in my tank. Sometimes means I am teetering on the edge of trouble.
 
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