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Hi all. I am trying to decide if I want to use Excel as my source of carbon or spend the money for a pressurized CO2 setup. I can't really justify spending that kind of money if Excel would provide the same benefit. I would be dosing ferts, so dosing one more thing isn't a problem.
So my question is, does it provide the exact same benefit? I am currently trying the DIY CO2 method but I'm not sure if my recipe is actually making CO2. I don't see any bubbles coming out of the airstone.
 

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Excel provides carbon, so does CO2. So they do the same thing in different ways. What affects the decision for people are:

1) size of tank - Excel will get expensive pretty quickly if your tank is 75 or bigger.
2) lighting levels - same as above - higher light = higher carbon uptake

If you are comparing Excel to DIY, Excel is way easier. And in a small tank, Excel makes perfect since. With DIY, you have big swings in CO2 output (at least I did).

If you go DIY, the best route is to go with Excel to supplement also.
 

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ehh.. I don't personally think you get the same benefit from Excel as you do with true CO2. I used to use Excel and DIY on my 20 gal. All I wound up with is green sludge. once you get to a certain light level excel just dosen't cut it.

IMO Plants have to work harder to utlize Excel then they do CO2. and as such do not grow nearly as well. I do use excel in my large tank and my nano. since I haven't gotten around to setting up CO2 for them. But without a doubt I'd rather run CO2 then excel anyday. Sure upfront it costs more. But in the long run its way cheaper. And down the road if you decide you want out. you can still sell your equip and make a decent amount of money back. Where with Excel all you can do is recycle the plastic bottles.

As for your DIY setup. not seeing bubbles is actually normal. there isn't enough pressure to make a high constant flow of CO2 bubbles like with pressurized. So long as you feel pressure in the bottle you should be ok and know that the CO2 that is making it's way in is getting fully diffused. (a good thing). To be totally sure you can still put a bubble counter in there somewhere.

There is no "carbon" in Excel. It is polysysloglutaracetal that fills the place of carbon and can be converted by most plants to fill the void of carbon. However some plants are not tollerant of excel and will melt away if exposed to it.
 

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There is no "carbon" in Excel. It is a synthetic polymer that fills the place of carbon and can be converted by most plants to fill the void of carbon. However some plants are not tollerant of excel and will melt away if exposed to it.
Actually there is carbon in Excel. Otherwise it could not have carbon for the plants to use. I have yet to see any plants with a small fission or fusion reactor.
 

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ehh.. I don't personally think you get the same benefit from Excel as you do with true CO2. I used to use Excel and DIY on my 20 gal. All I wound up with is green sludge. once you get to a certain light level excel just dosen't cut it.

IMO Plants have to work harder to utlize Excel then they do CO2. and as such do not grow nearly as well. I do use excel in my large tank and my nano. since I haven't gotten around to setting up CO2 for them. But without a doubt I'd rather run CO2 then excel anyday. Sure upfront it costs more. But in the long run its way cheaper. And down the road if you decide you want out. you can still sell your equip and make a decent amount of money back. Where with Excel all you can do is recycle the plastic bottles.

As for your DIY setup. not seeing bubbles is actually normal. there isn't enough pressure to make a high constant flow of CO2 bubbles like with pressurized. So long as you feel pressure in the bottle you should be ok and know that the CO2 that is making it's way in is getting fully diffused. (a good thing). To be totally sure you can still put a bubble counter in there somewhere.

There is no "carbon" in Excel. It is a synthetic polymer that fills the place of carbon and can be converted by most plants to fill the void of carbon. However some plants are not tollerant of excel and will melt away if exposed to it.
In some ways Excel is actually easier for plants to use for a carbon source than CO2.

Excel is this month's Product Spotlight at Seachem. Go to: Flourish Excel. Under the Excel bottle on the left side, you'll see:

Flourish Excel™ is this
month's Product Spotlight.
Learn More

Click on the site's Learn More and see what it says.

Near the end, it says: "...the reason plants need CO2 is to produce longer chain carbon compounds also known as photosynthetic intermediates. Photosynthetic intermediates includes compounds such as ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate, and 2-carboxy-3-keto-D-arabinitol 1,5 bisphosphate. Although the names are complicated, the structures are quite simple (5 carbon chains). See Figure 2. Flourish Excel™ does not contain these specific compounds per se, but one that is quite similar. By dosing with Flourish Excel™ you bypass the involvement of CO2 and introduce the already finished, structurally similar compounds. It is in its structural similarity that Flourish Excel™ is able to be utilized in the carbon chain building process of photosynthesis. Simple chemical or enzymatic steps can easily convert it to any one of the above named compounds (or a variety of others). Because Flourish Excel™ is an organic carbon source it does not impact pH."
 

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Excel works fine, but is not the equivalent of 30 ppm of CO2 in the water. On the other side of the ledger, Excel keeps some algae in check better than CO2 does. (CO2 doesn't keep algae down, it just makes the plants grow better so the algae doesn't.)
 

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Are there any other known plants aside from anacharis that are sensitive to Excel. I know Vals are as well, but wasn't sure of any others.
 

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^Unfortunately, I found about the riccia the hard way. Didn't know that about the moss. Thanks.

So when using it, will the above mentioned plants do ok if it's underdosed?
 

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really depends on the type of plant. But at least with ricca and mosses I would douse on the oppisite side of the tank to allow it to disperse and so the moss/riccia dosen't take a heavy direct dose. I don't think even that will help much with Vals and anacharis. I learned that the hard way when my beautiful anacharis and vals melted to mush.
 

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I dose Excel regularly in tanks with Vals (Jungle and corkscrew). But I don't do general dosing, I use a syringe to target areas (I use it in those tanks mostly for spot bba control), and I turn off my pumps. I do not inject Excel on any of my Vals, because as many here have already posted, they have an adverse effect on them. If you do not use the overdose method, the Vals won't be affected too much by Excel.
 

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I am weighing my options on Excel vs pressurized since I am looking at a new 75 gallon tank. Everyone would probably suggest pressurized but it really looks like about even to me on the benefits and costs.

You would dose 7.5 ml, 6 days a week and 37.5 mL on water change day in a 75 gallon tank. So 48 weeks to use 4 liters of Excel.

You can buy a 4L bottle for $45. If you figure you will skip some days here or there and push back your water change a few days every once in a while then that bottle will last you about a year.

You add up tank ($50), regulator ($150), tubing ($10), glass diffusers ($20) for $230 initial cost not counting if you go with a pH controller or not.

So it would take 5 years for pressurized to break even with Excel as far as cost. If you figure in $10 to refill your tank at least yearly, then more than that. So Excel wins there.

The downside of Excel would be melting of certain plants. Not that big of a deal to me at this point. I guess you could put daily dosing as a downside but with a syringe it takes 15 seconds and I was going to use EI dosing anyway.

The downside of CO2 would be possibilities of end of tank dumps or any other mechanical failures. If we are looking at 5 years from now, who knows if a better product will be out or if the regulator/diffuser will last that long.

Anyone want to weigh in on this? Are there any comparisons between an Excel tank and a 30 ppm tank?
 

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The biggest downside to Excel, unless you rig up an autodoser, is maintenance time. If you go away for a week, the tank could be a mess. With an automated pressurized setup, all your time is spent enjoying your tank.

I know there have been reports of end of tank dumps, but how many are there exactly? Maybe you should put up a poll. In my local club, I don't know a single person who's experienced it.

The downside to pressurized is that it's not going KILL algae if you get it, whereas Excel will.
 

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Yeah the constant dosing is a big downside. Of course if you are gone for a week you could just turn the lights down, you wouldn't be dosing ferts anyways.
 

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Yeah the constant dosing is a big downside. Of course if you are gone for a week you could just turn the lights down, you wouldn't be dosing ferts anyways.
I think pressurized would be better in the long run. Especially if you're spending the money to setup a nice 75 gallon tank.
 

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You add up tank ($50), regulator ($150), tubing ($10), glass diffusers ($20) for $230 initial cost not counting if you go with a pH controller or not.

So it would take 5 years for pressurized to break even with Excel as far as cost. If you figure in $10 to refill your tank at least yearly, then more than that. So Excel wins there.
I just bought a 10lb. tank for $55 and everything else for $95. That is $150, or about 3 years of excel dosing. And then I can still sell the regulator and tank it I want.

How much is your time worth? Dosing excel, 30 seconds a day for 5 years...sounds like a lot of money to me, and a royal PITA.
 

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I just bought a 10lb. tank for $55 and everything else for $95. That is $150, or about 3 years of excel dosing. And then I can still sell the regulator and tank it I want.

How much is your time worth? Dosing excel, 30 seconds a day for 5 years...sounds like a lot of money to me, and a royal PITA.
I'm going to have to agree with Macclellan on this. I just dont think Excel can fully replace pressurized CO2. You can try it but I dont think you're going to be happy with the results. Some plants dont even do well on Excel. I killed several of my plants with excel and I didnt even use it all the time. You will definitely save yourself alot of hassle and can even sell your equipment at the end like Macclellan said.
 

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I think a big advantage of pressurized CO2 is tweakability. Not enough? Crank it up. Too much? Crank it down. Poor dispersion? Use a manifold and have two outputs? Don't like diffusors? Use an inline reactor. Basically, you have a lot of flexibility to tailor your system to meet your tank's needs, whereas if you have complications with Excel, like your growing Vals, but you need more carbon, you won't be able to just put more Excel in.
 
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