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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys I'm sure this is covered a lot, but I am thinking of starting c02 in my 125g. I have lower light plants, but they're still not doing great. I've been dosing excel daily, but it seems like it's not doing a thing.

So, wanting to be as cheap as possible and knowing nothing about all this regulator l/diffuser/etc talk, are there any cheap kits or basic diy methods I can try? I'm lost. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 

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If you will give the maximum dollar amount that you are willing to spend, someone may chime in. Cheap is kinda relevant to the individual defining it.
 

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I started an aquarium a couple of months ago. Still learning, but I settled on the following to get started with CO2:

DIY CO2 Planted System : Amazon prime - $16.00
Two 2 Liter soda bottles: anywhere - $2.00 (if you don't have them already)
Rhinox Diffuser: Amazon prime - $9.90
Citric Acid (5lb): Amazon - $17.00
Baking Soda (5lb): Walmart - $3.50

Total: < $50.00

Check Valve & Airhose if you don't already have them as well.

A mixture for me last 2 to 3 weeks at 2 bubbles/sec for 8 hours. I'm going to try running at a slower rate 24/7. I was not keeping the CO2 running consistently and was getting some poor plant health and what I believe is BBA (Black Brush/Beard Algae).
 

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If 100 is your budget, forget about pressurized even if you wanted to learn to build your own it would be more than that. I definitely suggest diy instead. If you want to get a decent prebuilt rig, your gonna spend at least twice your budget.

I just noticed you have a 125g. That is way too big for diy. You would need at least a 5 pound co2 tank for pressurized. They are typically around 40-70 bucks. Your at a loss at your budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I need to research as I'm afraid of gassing out my fish. I'd only be running it when the lights are in full swing each day. All of these valves and bubble counters, I feel so lost lol
 

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You turn the co2 on about and hour before the lights come on and about 30mins before they go off. It is very unlikely you would gas your fish unless you are careless or buy garbage, especially with a 125. Honestly to get something decent up and running your looking at 250$.
 

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All the ones who said it can't be done for $100 don't know how to search and monitor craigslist and other places. ;)

I agree that you should go with Pressurized, but it can also be a challenge to do on a budget. Doing Pressurized Co2 on a budget means you need patience and you need to watch all the used classifieds in your area. There is never any guarantee how long it may take for items to pop up for the price you want to pay.

Here locally I picked up both a 20lb and 5lb Co2 Tanks w/ 3 regulators used for $100. Shortly before I bought these someone was selling 20lb Co2 Tanks for $50 nearby.

The first step will be to find the right deal on a tank, and your going to want to spend less than $50 on that tank (preferably full) to do this for under $100.

Your next step will be finding a Co2 Regulator, again used. Look for one that was previously used for Hydroponics w/ a solenoid on it. You can always upgrade the solenoid later. I've seen these around for $30 to $50.

An SMC Needle Valve w/ adapters is going to run you around $20 w/ shipping.

Now go dig up some PVC and repurpose it into a DIY Co2 Reactor. PVC pops up off and on for free here on Craigslist, just have to clean it up and glue it.

If you want this running in the next two weeks you may not be able to do things as I mentioned simply because it takes patience to find the parts that cheap.

Cash outright, buying all new, you would probably need to budget $250. If you can at least find the tank used that could shave a lot off the cost.
 

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Don't know what lights you're running, but you might want to check you're getting enough light to those plants esp with a 125. If the tank is not heavily planted, and there's enough nutrients for them, they may not grow quite as fast as with CO2, but they should still be healthy. Don't get me wrong - pressurized CO2 is awesome and I love it - just wanted to be certain there was enough light for the plants before you invest on the CO2.
 

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Would one of those little starter kits for like a 40g be effective at all? Or pretty much a waste of money
Probably a waste of time. To get to the defacto standard 30 ppm C02 in a 125 you will need to use multiple diffusers or a reactor with a pressurized system. You will also go through CO2 much to fast to make those kits worthwhile. I go through 5 LBs every three months on my 60 gallon system, a 125 will use more - probably want at least a 10 lb tank.


I would echo what's already been said: Adding CO2 isn't a magic bullet and won't automatically fix everything. How are you fertilizing? You mentioned you are dosing Excel, but what else are you dosing? A heavily stocked low tech tank will often have enough nitrogen and phosphorous for your plants, but you probably need to dose micronutrients and potassium. How quality is the light in your tank? This is probably the #1 most important part of a planted tank, doesn't matter what else you do if you don't have enough light for the plants you are growing. Also, which plants are having a hard time? Some plants don't deal well with Excel - I've never been able to grow vals in an Excel tank, and crypts will often melt when they change to a tank with excel - IME crypts usually will come back after the melt and do very well with Excel, as long as water parameters are fairly consistent.

EDIT: Saw your post about your lighting, sounds like your light should be good to go - probably enough to make CO2 worthwhile if you decide to go that route.

-Justin
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
For dosing, I ordered the Micro/Macro pack from GLA. I've been dosing the recommend dosings on the jar.

One of my swords is doing well. The other 2 are just barely staying green. I use Rutabs for them from Peabody Paradise.

My vals are shooting a lot of new plants up, but they usually melt and fall apart before they reach the surface.

Java ferns are all turning brown. I've had them for a year or 2 and this is the first time I've seen this. I have new baby plants form and they turn brown also.

Anubius is doing okayish.

Wisteria, one of them is doing good but the others are turning brown nearly immediately after putting them in the tank.

Water sprite so far is doing well.

The Java fern and wisteria exploded in my 55 with no c02 or excel. I had one 48" Planted+ on that tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It's just incredibly frustrating on these plants and this tank when my 55 did so well. I really miss that tank just for how well the plants did lol. This 125 is driving me crazy in this area!
 

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It is frustrating. Did I miss your water parameters? The more information you can provide the more people can try to help out.

I see Cardinals and Discus in your pictures. If you had them for more then 3 months then you have already done a lot of things right. Now you just need to get the rest of your tank back on track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Parameters are:
0 ammomia
0 nitrite
Between 5 and 10 nitrate
7.4 or so pH

I've had all of our discus since August, and 1 since January. Got the Cardinals in January also. Lost 3 originally and had either 1 or 2 more die but the rest are doing great now.
 

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This now makes a bit more sense. My oppinion is that your N is low for a planted tank. Your Vals melting when they reach the surface and the new growth diying off farther supports my oppinion. The rest of the plants are also looking hungry to me.

I like to see 30++ ppm of N in my tanks, but with Discus I would go for stable 20ppm first.

I have no idea what's in the GLA ferts mix and in what proportions. You will have to figure out what would be the best way for you to raise N (dry KNO3, or Seachem Nitrogen are some of your other options). Do it incrementally and slow, say over 2 - 4 weeks) and watch your Discus for stress. Check your K level.

Do avoid the temptation of changing more then one thing at a time. If you do not get significant improvement in your plant growth and / or algae control, then you start evaluating your next steps: keep increasing N (maybe), check and bump K (likely), turn off one of your 30" lights (eh), decent root tabs for your swords (can't hurt in moderation).

In short, my primary goal right now would be to get new healthy and vigorous growths from your existing plants without hurting your fish.

Best,
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
That does make sense as I for a while had a 0 nitrate reading. Is this because I have so much biological filtration in my canister?

1.Filter pads, 2. bio max, 3. scrubbing pads, 4. Seachem matrix, makes up my canister levels. Should I remove one and add just another level of pads?
 
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