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Hi folks I'm looking into getting a PH controller as I find myself constantly having to adjust CO2 valve, watching drop checkers etc... it's highly variable day to day, probably also because of the surface skimmer lily pipe which changes flow as the bottom gets slowly clogged over time.

I wonder what PH controller model is a common and reliable one? Would really appreciate some pointers. There are so many "PH controllers" on Amazon.
 

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Hi folks I'm looking into getting a PH controller as I find myself constantly having to adjust CO2 valve, watching drop checkers etc... it's highly variable day to day, probably also because of the surface skimmer lily pipe which changes flow as the bottom gets slowly clogged over time.

I wonder what PH controller model is a common and reliable one? Would really appreciate some pointers. There are so many "PH controllers" on Amazon.
Your pH is highly variable from day-to-day? Assuming the amount of CO2 you inject every day is consistent you should expect your pH drop to be consistent, too. If not, then perhaps the amount of CO2 you inject daily isn't consistent or, as you mention, the clogged lilly pipe interferes with nightly off-gassing. A surface skimmer or power head (pointed towards the surface) on a timer could assist with off-gassing

You might consider a pH pen such as this to help diagnose the issue...it's certainly cheaper

pH pen

If you do want a controller then Milwaukee and Pinpoint would be two brands to look into
 

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I just built my own. Atlas-Scientific Probe and i2c Circuit, Tentacle-T3 shield for isolation, RaspberryPi4B, NCD i2c 2ch RelayBoard w/ 6 pins of GPIO (though I went 8 channel relays) . NodeRED software. You can do hysterisis for control so you aren't wearing out relays constantly.... You can enable trending, etc... You can view it and control it with your PC, Tablet, Laptop or Phone in your home.

Font Screenshot Circle Technology Electronic device
 

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Hi folks I'm looking into getting a PH controller as I find myself constantly having to adjust CO2 valve, watching drop checkers etc... it's highly variable day to day, probably also because of the surface skimmer lily pipe which changes flow as the bottom gets slowly clogged over time.

I wonder what PH controller model is a common and reliable one? Would really appreciate some pointers. There are so many "PH controllers" on Amazon.
Probably the most used...
They can be err controversial..
See Tom Barrs comments in #9,12 and 15

Old survey.. I swear there i a brand missing but I do remember it was about 2X the cost of the Milwaukee.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks for the helpful replies everyone and thanks jeffkrol for the Tom Barr post links.

I was inching towards getting a Milwaukee 122 as referenced above, but after cleaning the skimmer and placing the diffuser in a better position in the tank I think I've improved the situation a lot. Definitely enough CO2 and seems stable now.

May still get the controller for fun, but the legendary Tom Barr posts have made me have second thought... I probably don't need this :).... but I may want it still :cool:
 

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Thanks for the helpful replies everyone and thanks jeffkrol for the Tom Barr post links.

I was inching towards getting a Milwaukee 122 as referenced above, but after cleaning the skimmer and placing the diffuser in a better position in the tank I think I've improved the situation a lot. Definitely enough CO2 and seems stable now.

May still get the controller for fun, but the legendary Tom Barr posts have made me have second thought... I probably don't need this :).... but I may want it still :cool:
Yea I've often thought about getting one but more as a "failsafe" like a heater controller.
We seem to get a lot of power failures here.
Then again I don't "bleeding edge" my CO2 so it could probably run 24/7 with no problems.
 

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Probably the most used...
They can be err controversial..
See Tom Barrs comments in #9,12 and 15
Tom's thoughts on pH controllers have changed considerably. I've had several discussions with him about this over the years.

He now uses them on his client tanks.

I use the American Pinpoint Marine unit. The other popular one is the Milwaukee.

The Pinpoint Marine measures to 0.01 pH, while the Milwaukee gos to 0.10. The lowest set point for the Pinpoint Marine is 4.0, while it's 5.50 or the Milwaukee. Only makes a difference if your dKH is very low like mine.

In general, it seems like the Pinpoint Marine probe is more stable and longer lasting. I say that only in relation to anecdotal evididence from many conversations I have had over the years. My last Pinpoint Marine probe lasted about 4 years, which is pretty darn good.

There are also cheapies out there but I have no idea on how they work or how long they last.

While there is still debate regarding pH controllers, if you ask people who own them, they will tell you they wouldn't be without it.

But there is one caveat. Your dKH/pH must be stable. If your dKH/pH changes frequently then you would be doing a lot of adjusting.
 

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Thanks for the update. Peoples opinions can change over time.
That said, putting them on clients tanks but personally not using them (you didn't say one way over another) would point to not an entire shift in attitude. :)
Either way, I certainly see a value in them.
As to needs/ wants guess that is always an opinion.
As was Toms first and new one.
Bottom technical line is you are not really measuring CO2. Any proxy system has error points.
The same one that plagues pH charts.

Just another tool to know.

O/T but an interesting corollary subject.
Any idea if this is still relevent?

Improved PH probe to be gas specific..
 

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O/T but an interesting corollary subject.
Any idea if this is still relevent?

Improved PH probe to be gas specific..
I just had a discussion not too long with Tom about this. He sent some additional instructions and pics to me and suggested I build one. While it sounded interesting, after I looked it all over I decided it wasn't worth the effort, ast least for me.

So absent that, we are left with the next best thing, which is monitoring/controlling pH drop. And you are correct, with that method we are not measuring CO2. You will never know the abosolute value of CO2 without having a CO2 meter. But we can still do a pretty good job by control/monitoring relative values.

As to the dKH/pH chart, it would indicate I have about 100 ppm CO2. Is that true? I highly doubt it. That chart is very flawed and is of little use.

Same for drop checkers. In my experience, green means not enough CO2. With fully optimized CO2 it's more like pure yellow. While it is a secondary visual indicator, for me it's not precise enough as a primary measure.

Another advantage of pH controllers that is under discussed is that they adapt to your situation. If plant mass gets thick, there is more uptake of CO2, and the controller supplies it. If there a large reduction in mass, there is less uptake of CO2, and the controller adjusts. Same for changes in surface agitation. A controller keeps things stable, which is a good thing.

A controller also allows for fine tuning of pH drop. I often change my setting by 0.05 increments. It's very hard to do that with a needle valve. They also act as a fail safe for fish, which gives me peace of mind as I have a tank full of expensive hard to replace Rainbowfish.

So if you get the impression I am pro controller, that is correct. I personally would not be without one.
 

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Well said .
For fun:
Exactly. Measuring CO2 comes at high price point.

Would it be intertesting? Absolutely. If I had one at my disposal, I would love it.

But weighing the cost/benefit I don't see one in my future.
 

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Thanks for the helpful replies everyone and thanks jeffkrol for the Tom Barr post links.

I was inching towards getting a Milwaukee 122 as referenced above, but after cleaning the skimmer and placing the diffuser in a better position in the tank I think I've improved the situation a lot. Definitely enough CO2 and seems stable now.

May still get the controller for fun, but the legendary Tom Barr posts have made me have second thought... I probably don't need this :).... but I may want it still :cool:
As mentioned the 122 is a good choice and easy to use. You should be able to dial in your C02 so that you don't have to rely on the controller to cut it off. For me it functions more like a safety valve. If something goes haywire and I'm not around I can depend on it to cut off the C02. Be sure to get a calibration kit and cleaning kit. I like it for water changes or when introducing new fish. It makes checking the pH from different sources fast and easy.
 

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I have the milwaukee but don't use it as a controller.

I now have a flow meter and high precision metering valve on each of my two larger tanks, so the controller really just got used while I was dialing everything in, and even then it was just used as a monitor. Being able to see on the flow meter that I'm infusing the same amount of co2 - and one that's been tested to yield the drop that I want - from day to day has been really nice. This approach does depend on being able to have consistent agitation / gas exchange.

Just my two cents, your mileage may vary etc etc.
 
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