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CO2 for Planted Tank
06-26-2016, 07:35 AM,
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GreenAmy Offline
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CO2 for Planted Tank
Hi all,
I decided to start a new thread as my issues have changed. I am new to fish keeping and since I like the look of live plants much more than fake, I decided to start my first aquarium with live plants.  I should have researched more so I would have realized that with my hard water (8 dkH) and my waters high pH of typically 8.4, I would need to injected CO2. Currently my pH in my aquarium is 8.2. I have a 46 gallon bow front tank with an aquaclear 70 filter and a quad T5 light that is on a timer. I am currently running the lights 10 hours per day. My plants are lighter in color than they should be and not really growing. I also have to fight algae. 
I have about 11 plants, 12 fish and a shrimp. I have lost several plants and replaced them with different ones before realizing that not having CO2 was my issue. I decided that since I have my lights coming on at 11am and running until 9pm I needed a system I could put on a timer. I found instructions on "How to Set Up a Semi-Automatic CO2 Injection System" on Doctors Fisher & Smith's website.  I have everything I need on order I just hope I can get it all in and set up before I loose my plants. I have also ordered a drop checker. Does anyone have any suggestions on how much CO2 I should start with? I have read that 2 bubbles per second should be adequate but is that for someone that already has their pH in the 7 range.  Are there any charts out there that correlate water parameters to the required bubbles per second?  Or do Injust start with 2 and adjust up until my drop checker indicates I am good?  Do I leave it at one setting for several hours then turn it up if needed or do I leave it at one setting for the entire 10 hours my light is on and then increase it the next day if the drop checker never changes?
Any suggestions are appreciated?
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06-26-2016, 04:27 PM,
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Ram Offline
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RE: CO2 for Planted Tank
Not all aquatic plants need CO2 system to thrive. Some hardy ones like java moss and java fern will do fine without it. The more important thing is the substrate. A lot of plants will die if you use regular gravel type of substrate. Pick a good substrate with lots of trace mineral is the first thing to get for a planted aquarium. Either that, or you must use some form of fertilizer to offset the lack of nutrients of your gravel.

As for CO2, I personally found it is quite troublesome to manage unless you go so called "high tech". In which case you get bottled CO2 canisters and set it on the same timer as your lights. Plants only need the CO2 when there is light. So it is pointless to use CO2 when the lights are off.

A few things you need to know. With CO2, plants will grow a lot quicker. You will need to trim them a lot more often. It depends on the actual plant species. Sometimes I just cut and replant the top. "Gardening" is no easy task in an aquarium if you want to keep everything look perfect.

By using CO2, your water PH will drop a little. There is nothing to worry about though.

Could you provide a link to the chart? Actually nothing is set to stone. A lot of so called rules are flexible in different situations.
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06-27-2016, 11:56 PM,
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GreenAmy Offline
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RE: CO2 for Planted Tank
Ram,
I was asking if there was a chart that could help guide me on the amount of CO2 I should inject. I have not found one.  I have only found the CO2 - Ph - KH Charts that indicate my CO2 levels in my tank are at 1.5ppm by the chart I found.  It is contributed to plantedtank.net. I am guessing if my CO2 is really that low then, lack of CO2 is my main issue with plants looking bad.  I started tank with a plant substrate, can't remember the name and placed gravel over that. Plants did really well for about 4 weeks then gradually started looking bad. The first plant I removed was, I believe, Rotala macrandra. Which requires high light. I figured my T-8 bulb was the reason it was doing so poorly. It became so fragile that the leaves would just fall off when brushed or  disintegrate when touched.  Then what I think is a type of Bacopa started looking brown I cut off the brown leaves but then they got so covered in algae that I ended up removing most of them because I was distorting them trying to clean the algae off. That's when I upgraded to a quad T5HO light. I have some Amozon sword left that looks yellow green with brown tips and some brown spots that do not rub off and what I think is Cryptocoryne albida that's leaves also seem very fragile. The light didn't seem to make much difference other than increase algae. So, I recently started using API CO2 booster and Aqueon liquid Plant Food and put some root tabs in. Not noticing mush difference yet. I have also recently added new plants; Java fern, Microsorum pteropus 'Windeløv', and Anubias barteri caladiifolia. My new plants are looking ok but it has only been a week since they have been in the tank.  I am hoping they help with algae control but I believe I am going to have to add CO2 to keep my plants healthy.
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06-28-2016, 12:33 AM,
#4
Thor Online
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RE: CO2 for Planted Tank
The best algae control is to limit light exposure and nitrate/phosphate in your aquarium. If 10 hours of light per day is still causing algae, you can try 8 hours or even less. Reduce feeding and increase partial water change will help reduce nitrate and phosphate.

Plants will only out-compete algae if they have CO2 and all the necessary nutrients.

I have not seen any chart for CO2 injection, and I do not think a chart is necessary. Any amount of CO2 injection will make plants do better than without CO2 injection, as long as the PH does not drop too low.

We will work on an article on CO2 injection soon to provide all the necessary details.
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02-04-2017, 10:50 AM,
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GreenAmy Offline
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RE: CO2 for Planted Tank
I still have not added CO2 to my planted tank. I really want a semiautomatic system so I haven't even attempted the DIY systems. I have actually purchased two different regulators one off eBay and one off Amozon and both ended up being made in Japan and did not fit a US tank.
I really want to add CO2 because I want to save some of my plants that require higher CO2 and I would like to add some that require higher levels. I am wondering if anyone can recommend a good regulator? I am wondering if the systems offered by Doctors Foster & Smith are good systems. Any help would be appreciated.
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02-05-2017, 04:18 PM,
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Fishbone Offline
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RE: CO2 for Planted Tank
I am in quite a similar situation. Save for the fact that I have a good amount of experience with aquariums overall, this is the first real plated tank I have attempted. The only advice I can offer with certainty is basically echoing Ram. Check all your minerals. Plants need these, and to a varying degree based on the species. Also Nitrogen, which equates to nitrates in a properly cycled aquarium, and phosphates. Being able to test all these these helps greatly. Gas exchange is also a key here. In a "normal" aquarium, people use an aerator to disrupt the surface tension. To release the dissolved Co2 in the water into the air. But what this is really doing is normalizing the gas in the water with what's in the air. If you come up with a way to get more Co2 in the water than is in the air, you will actually loose it with an aerator, as the basic concept of equilibrium will take over.

I'd like to hear of what you do, and I will do the same (as well as anyone else that si doing similar things). I need to figure this out too.

On that note, does anyone know of a reliable way to actually test for Co2 past the conversion charts?
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02-16-2017, 02:01 PM,
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GreenAmy Offline
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RE: CO2 for Planted Tank
Fishbone, and all,
I finally ordered a CO2 system. I just bit the bullet and orderd a complete system from CO2Art. It took a while to get the order placed even using PayPal because it triggered a potential fraud alert on my cards. Had both mine and my husbands cards not working before we realized what had happened. I guess because it is a U.K. company and was converting US funds.  Paid extra for expedited shipping only because the other shipping methods stated they did not have tracking. Got everything in today and it all looks good and well made.
I am beginning to wonder now after researching for the large tank (125gal) I am planning to set up whether or not I even want to use CO2.  I decided I probably used a cheap substrate so I was researching different ones and realized I probably didn't use enough in my current tank to start with, which may be one of its issues. I also read about one called ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia that sounds wonderful    for many reasons but what appealed to me was the claim that it lowered the hardness of the water, and with my very hard water that could be of great benefit.  But the price at needing 2lbs/gal would put it around $368 for for my 125gal tank. I had also read he cheapest route is actual soil, potting soil, garden soil, or soil from the back yard but that this method could be risky do to chemicals, pesticides, & metals and if one was going to try it they needed to be sure and read Ecology of the Planted Aquarium:  A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise by Diana Louise Walstad. I found the book and have just scratched the surface of it but my thoughts so far are that I am going to try a soil substrate using her method in my large tank when I set it up and only have plants with low CO2 demands in so that I do not need to inject CO2.  I believe this is the way I want to go not just because of the set-up price will be less but because it sounds like the cost to sustain the tank will be less, it will require less upkeep, and it will be a healthier tank for the fish.
I will probably temporarily move my community fish into my large tank once I have it set up and cycled so that I can re-do the substrate on my 47gal unless it makes a huge improvement with the injection of CO2 and I just can't stand to tare it down.
I really like the idea of aquascaping and ran across this article that has a sort of CO2 calculator that can be used to calculate recommended bubbles per second of CO2 into the aquarium and a ppm depending on planting level specified.
http://aquariuminfo.org/index.html
http://aquariuminfo.org/co2calculator.html
I have one of the glass CO2 Drop Checker Kits but without injecting CO2 it has never changed colors. I got new solution and will replace it when I start injecting CO2. I will let you know if it seems to work. I will take some before and after pictures and post if I can figure out how to on this site.
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06-19-2017, 06:06 AM,
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GreenAmy Offline
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RE: CO2 for Planted Tank
Fishbone,
Do you have any suggestions for me? I have been injecting CO2 @2-3pps on a timer with lights on a timer for a while now and my plants looked better at first. My Amozon sword is growing tall but not really as many new leaves as I would think they should and the existing leaves are starting to turn transparent. I only have the standard API freshwater master test kit. I think I read you tested phoshate and potassium levels. I'm having trouble finding those tests at my local pet stores and on line without buying a $100 kit in which I don't need the majority of. Any suggestions? By the way with my hard water the CO2 glass drop checker has never changed colors. I'm scared to increase the CO2 injection however because the fish started looking uncomfortable when I did.
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