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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

My bubble rate changes from day to day. Once you turn it on it stays steady and can be adjusted easily, but every time the solenoid turns off and on again the bubble rate may be different. Does anybody know why this could be happening?

One obvious answer is a leak. However, I've checked it over and I can't find it if there is one. Everything looks good up through the solenoid, as I closed the cylinder overnight and turned off the solenoid and lost no pressure in the regulator (gauge readings held up). Then after the solenoid, I did soapy water tests all the way up to my reactor and found nothing.
 

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Leaks, too low of a working pressure, faulty NV, faulty regulator.

What is your operating pressure? What type of regulator? NV? Solenoid? Check Valve? Tubing? Reactor/Diffuser?

Typically some of the cheaper setups do better running a higher pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Operating pressure: 15psi (just turned it up to 25psi to see what would happen a few minutes ago)
Regulator: Union Carbide double stage
NV: Fabco NV-55
Solenoid: Burkert 6011
Check valve: brass, attached to output of needle valve
Bubble counter: JBJ style, on top of check valve
Tubing: Clippard CO2 tubing
mid-tubing check valve: cheapo metal kind bought from shrimplab
Reactor: Cerges style reactor inline on my Eheim 2217

picture: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/535/sam0288d.jpg/
LP gauge isn't straight because I wasn't strong enough to tighten it further than that, but it's not leaking and I can read it so I don't really mind.
 

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I've had a couple of instances of erratic bubble counts in the past that were resolved each time by replacing the JBJ style bubble counters I was using. After the second time I changed over to an inline glass counter and the BC has remained steady since then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Possibly the check valve before the bubble counter. Also the one in the bubble counter, if there is one.
There is one. I actually have 3 check valves on the setup:

1) one before the bubble counter because I've heard that the built in one sucks
2) the built in one on the bubble counter
3) the one in line in the middle of the tubing to prevent water from flowing back into the bubble counter and filling it up when the solenoid shuts off.

It could be one of these, not sure. However, after turning the working pressure up to 25psi yesterday, the bubble count today was the same as yesterday's, so hopefully it was just a simple working pressure issue (fingers crossed; don't want to have to get more parts or fix more leaks than I already have).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ugh... thought I may have solved it but now I notice that my high pressure gauge shows 850psi when it started out closer to the 900psi mark... meaning that my psi is starting to drop, signifying that the tank is almost empty... so now I'm thinking it was probably a leak. If it was though, I have NO idea where it would be leaking from... I seem to have checked everything so many times...
 

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Ugh... thought I may have solved it but now I notice that my high pressure gauge shows 850psi when it started out closer to the 900psi mark... meaning that my psi is starting to drop, signifying that the tank is almost empty... so now I'm thinking it was probably a leak. If it was though, I have NO idea where it would be leaking from... I seem to have checked everything so many times...
How long have you been running this tank? At what bubble rate?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well... hard to say... I've been trying to get CO2 set up for 4 months now and I've still not been successful. haha... hard to even think about it... 4 months of attempting to set up pressurized with no success. This current refill of the tank has been going for about 1.5 months, but I've only actually been running the CO2 for about 1 week 2 days... have gone through two regulators and two postbody kits but have been using the same bubble counter and tubing. Burned about $300 and have nothing to show for it. Hate it so much. Hate it hate it hate it... if there's one thing that will make me leave this hobby it's pressurized CO2. I think I've spent more time trying to get this to work than I have on every other aspect of aquarium keeping and maintenance.
 

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i have this problem from time to time as well. the only way i was able to fix it was by adjusting the working pressure on the regulator then changing the dial on the needle valve, then making sure the lock screw is tight on both the regulator and needle valve so that the settings don't change. if it doesn't work then i just keep adjusting the pressure until it stops changing the next day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
well... just did another soapy water test on all joints post solenoid and found absolutely nothing again... Could it be that a bubble test can't find this leak? Someone suggested that it might be my JBJ style bubble counter... I tested:

top of BC to tubing: no leak
top brass part of BC to clear cylinder part with O-ring in the middle: no leak
bottom of clear cylinder to bottom brass part: no leak (i think there is an o-ring inside there)
bottom of BC to 10-32 hex nipple: no leak
10-32 hex nipple to check valve: no leak
check valve to NV: no leak
NV to solenoid: no leak

As for everything before the solenoid, I closed the solenoid and CO2 cylinder on two consecutive lights out periods and found no loss of pressure in the gauges, so I feel good about that (seems like a more reliable test than soapy water since you can verify no CO2 loss by reading the gauges).

So unless I'm missing something here, I'm completely stumped at this point, and if my CO2 tank starts running empty tomorrow I'm going to be incredibly pissed, not because it will be my 7th leak but because I have no idea where this one is and I have no clue how to proceed from here on out because I find 0 leaks and there clearly is one. So let's hope it's something else.
 

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Mine was caused by hot weather.
I was just going to suggest temp swings if your house is cooling quite a bit at night and warming up during the day. I experienced that problem, myself. But I can't tell from your original post when your solenoid is coming on - is it coming on with a timer once each day with your light cycle? If so - don't rule out that swings in temperature can cause the pressure to change in your CO2 tank.
 

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That regulator is intended to operate at higher output pressures than 15 psi. You can't read 15 psi with any accuracy on the gauge, and the setting may not be the same from day to day at that pressure. At 30 psi it should hold the pressure setting much better and that would keep the bubble rate much more steady.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well... the pressure didn't drop more today so it may have been a temperature change and not a leak that caused the pressure change (still not sure, it's only been one day at the new pressure). The bubble count did change slightly from yesterday, but it changed by less than 1 bps. I have it running at 30psi now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey, I have a new question for all of you. When I'm counting bubbles at a bubble rate higher than 3bps or so, a few bubbles (one every 7-8 bubbles) show up in rapid succession. Not sure how to describe it that well, but imagine you are clapping your hands at a steady pace, and then suddenly you clap twice really quickly and then go back to clapping at a rhythmic pace. Now imagine each clap is a bubble. My question is: do you guys see that also, or are your bubbles always even and rhythmic?
 

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Hey, I have a new question for all of you. When I'm counting bubbles at a bubble rate higher than 3bps or so, a few bubbles (one every 7-8 bubbles) show up in rapid succession. Not sure how to describe it that well, but imagine you are clapping your hands at a steady pace, and then suddenly you clap twice really quickly and then go back to clapping at a rhythmic pace. Now imagine each clap is a bubble. My question is: do you guys see that also, or are your bubbles always even and rhythmic?
My erratic bubble counts displayed the first pattern you described and as I mentioned earlier for me it was the check valve on my JBJ bubble counters. Since ditching them and going with an inline model my bubble counts are rock solid. FWIW my working pressure it set at 20psi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
My erratic bubble counts displayed the first pattern you described and as I mentioned earlier for me it was the check valve on my JBJ bubble counters. Since ditching them and going with an inline model my bubble counts are rock solid. FWIW my working pressure it set at 20psi.
OK so I think it's the same thing you had then. It's likely my JBJ bc check valve.
 
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