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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings all,
I'm new here, though I've been lurking the last few days, getting information on setting up my planted tank. I recently set up a 7g bow front with a whisper power filter. I decided to experiment with DIY CO2 - the problem is that when I run it for a few hours, the fish start to gasp at the surface. I used a recipe someone here recommended for a 10g tank, which was 1/4tsp yeast and 3/4 cup sugar (and water to an inch of the top of the bottom).

I assume the problem is too much of something and it is producing too much co2 for the size of the tank. Should I be reducing sugar? Yeast? I don't want to discontinue the use entirely as there is a noticable difference in plant growth in just the time since I started running the co2, even though its only for a few hours.

For lights, I am currently using 1 14w powerglo by hagen.

Also, I notice when I unhook the co2 and just leave it sit open, the bottle oozes sugar/yeast mixture. It hasn't done it in the tank, but I'm worried it will. Anyone else notice this? There is a check valve, but its to keep water from returning into the co2 bottle.

Thanks all!
 

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Hi! Tami and welcome to the planted tank. :icon_bigg

Before starting C02 you need to test your PH & KH, the KH needs to be at least 3 or better; if not you will have a PH crash.

For now unhook the C02 do a PH & KH test, post the readings and we can go from there.
 

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I run a bubble counter between the yeast bottle and the diffuser to scrub the CO2 and catch any overflow. Sounds like you may have too much mix in your bottle, what size is it?
 

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More than 1 inch of gap

And, you ought to have more than one inch of gap between the cap and the water surface.

But, until you know your water parameters you should not be injecting CO2.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone. By asking those questions, you answered my question. I had buffered the kh to around 3-4 using baking soda, but it drops to 0 almost overnight (without co2 and with) any ideas? I was thinking of putting a small piece of limestone in the tank to see if I can stablize the kh, but I'm worried about raising the kh & gh too much, as I want to put soft water fish in eventually. Any thoughts? I use r/o water and have been reconstituting using a product called "recon 50" and baking soda.

Oh, and for the diy co2, I filled it to nearly the top, that's probably why its spurting yeast/sugar mixture. I didn't expect it to be such an active process.
 

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I'm not sure why your KH is dropping to 0 overnight but a KH of 0 is extremely dangerous due to the risk of pH crashes.

Does the KH drop if you stop injecting CO2? Normally injecting CO2 should not change the KH of your water but maybe something else is happening.

Also double check you KH test kit by either using another test or having your lfs test some of your water. You also need to test your pH to find out what your CO2 concentration is.

I find the best way to reconstitute RO water is by adding some normal tap water until you get the KH/GH values you're looking for... never did trust those chemicals that claimed to reconstitute RO water: don't know what's in them.
 

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As you are suggesting, your pH must be pretty low, so adding baking soda is not the long term solution to raise KH. At a low pH the HCO3 (from baking soda) hooks up with H+ and becomes CO2, being used up/escaping. An accelerated picture of this would be adding baking soda to vinegar which you know what happens - it foams up really badly. Thats just the HCO3 being changed into CO2 cause there's a lot of acid. For lower pH's calcium carbonate is much more tolerant at increasing your KH. It also isn't very soluble so you won't have to worry about it increasing too much.

Whats wrong with your tap water? Using tap water is best and as Laith said, diluting it with RO is the way to go if you think it is too hard. BTW, fish will adapt to most any water. I keep rams and cardinals in a GH of 15 and KH of 18. Most of all they need stability, not 'perfect' parameters. IMHO hardness parameters only become important when you are breeding.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I have well water. It is extremely hard and extremely rusty. It goes through an iron filter and a water softener before it reaches our faucets. I could get it from the hoses outside which don't go through the filters, but that's impractical in wisconsin in winter.

. . . And I just don't trust it. I've been keeping exclusively saltwater for the last 5 years, and the idea of intentionally using tap water is all wrong. I realize the reason you don't use tap water for saltwater (excessive phospates, nitrates, etc . . .) is actually beneficial for plants - but my gut tells me its just wrong. :)

Today the readings are:
kh 2
ph between 6.5 and 7
gh 7

(I'm pretty sure the gh is from the recon 50)

Last night when I added baking soda, I had it at a kh of 4 and a ph of around 7.5. I did add a pagoda stone and do some minor redecorating late last night so I wonder if the pagoda stone has something to do with why the kh hasn't bottomed out. Though the only information I could find on the composition of pagoda stone is that it is Ferromagnesium Silicate, which I don't believe would have an effect on kh (would it?)

And to verify, I tested the kh this morning with both the tetra test kits I was using and a tropic marin one on hand, and they both read 2, so I assume my earlier readings are correct as well.

I have not used co2 since the first day I posted, figuring I should get the kh stable first.
 

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potassium chloride

If you can change the softener salt to KCl insted of NaCl then that softened water might be great for the tank after the iron filter. Not to mention that it'd be healthier for your family, also.

At the minimum, you could use it to reconstitute the RO water to the parameters you want. Otherwise you'll then be having to add nitrates and phosphates and potassium right back in. Unless you just love messing around with this stuff, which some people do love, but a planted tank ought to be a whole lot simpler for you with that water.
 

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I agree with anona. At the least it couldn't hurt to reconstitute the RO water with tap. This will solve your KH issues. I too have very hard water, which several times a year is brown tinted from iron (minnesota water/wisconsin water, same thing). Also have a water softener, but the kitchen tap isn't soften, so I use that. Unless you're in farm country and your nitrates and phophates are way, way off the charts - I'm talking 50-100+ppm it shouldn't hurt to use diluted tap.

Except anona, using KCl softened water isn't very practical. For every Ca and Mg atom replaced, 2 K atoms are added. If I were to use KCl on my water with a GH of 15, the K concentration would be roughly 200ppm, as well as Cl. Then of course you need to dose Ca and Mg.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Unfortunately, every tap inside is softened. The previous owners must have been off their rocker a little, because ever other house I've known to have at least one tap with regular water. Though to be fair, I probably would never use the faucet that wasn't soften except in this case - and the former owners didn't have fish (at least I don't think!)

The recon 50 is supposed to be specially designed for ro/di water, but when I add it, only the gh goes up. Though I don't know if its even made still, I had it from my last freshwater tank several years ago. . .

The only other source of tap I can think of is at work, but then I run into the problem of using chlorinated water. And, my coworkers might start thinking I've lost it when I start hauling water home from work for my fish. :)
 

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A little bit of chrushed coral in a filter bag will take your kh up. I have to
do it all the time, my citi water is soft below kh of 3.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Update: I added honeycomb rock (a limestone based rock) to the aquarium and last night the kh was at 3 (ph 7.5). This morning, the kh was at 3. This afternoon, the kh was at 3 and ph 7.5 s I added the co2 back on... that was around 4 or 5... Just now, all the fish were gasping at the surface again. Checked the perameters - kh still 3, ph 7.

I'm lost then. I don't know what the problem is. The ph & kh values according to the chart included with my tetra test kit show that the ph would be around 10, which is in the ideal range on the chart so I don't know what the problem is.
 

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When fish gasp at the surface it means they aren't getting enough oxygen. While dissolving CO2 does not drive out O2, it does decrease their the affinity of O2 and hemoblogin - But at 10ppm of CO2 this isn't possible. You might want to get another KH and pH kit (AP is accurate) just to verify you're not injecting a ton of CO2. This seems possible b/c dropping the pH 0.5 in just 1-2 hours is very fast! Actaully that might be the reason they are gasping.

Also, what is your surface agaitation like? What kind of fish do you have and what are their numbers?
 
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