CO2 ,O2 and PH balance in Tank

Discussion in 'Plant CO2' started by wildatheart, Jul 21, 2014.

  1. wildatheart

    wildatheartValued MemberMember

    Hey guys have a question about CO2 levels and PH in my planted tank.

    Here it is. How does oxygenating the tank with a bubbler aip pump affect plant growth/CO2/Algae???

    I dont mean to ask an open ended nebulous question but heres my quandry....

    I bubble the tank to keep O2 levels constant, and because I find it raises and fixes the PH in the tank.

    My problem is that I think aerating the tank leads to low CO2 somehow, because the plants are not quite as dark green
    as I think they should be, not really growing very fast, and I seem to be getting quite a bit of beard algae.

    I use iron and potassium supplements for the plants but they are all still very "middle" to light green with no dark green growth.

    Im gonna try a few days without the bubbler, monitoring PH.

    What do you think??
  2. smee82

    smee82Fishlore VIPMember

    If you want optimum plant growth you need to supplement CO2 as well if you only add iron and potassium supplements you are encouraging algae not plant growth.

    You need to find a balance between your lights, ferts and CO2. The different levels all depend on what plants you have.

    You need to fill out your profile info about your tank so we can help further.
  3. OP

    wildatheartValued MemberMember

    Hey sorry I seem to not be able to fill out my profile for whatever reason.

    I have a 30 gal tall tank

    Lit by 2 LED fixtures, one finnex and one aqueon

    Have a fluval 204 canister filter

    Tank is planted with Amazonia soil and a variety of plants. Big swords, some other stem plants.

    Have 6 neons, 7 cherries, and 5 rasboras, all under an inch. One chineese algae eater, and about 5 Amano shrimp

    Pretty heavy biomass but everyone seems happy, some fin nipping within the tetra and cherry schools but everyone's healthy and calm

    All levels are zero (I know there should be a little nitrate for the plants so I'm starting to supplement nitrogen)

    I've been getting beard algae so I'm switching things up like I originally posted

    I stopped using an air bubbler a few days ago that had been on since I introduced fish (bubbles seem to fix and hold the PH) and now I just have the nozzle on my filter angled up to produce some light (minimal) swirling at the surface for gas exchange

    I got a yeast reactor system yesterday that has a bubble ladder, basically the bubbles have to go through a maze to escape so lots of time in the water, and it's working great already (functioning well I mean, yet to see if the plants love it)

    No surface gasping since I took out the air bubbles, PH is slowly dropping and I might have to buffer it up a bit (there's a handful of crushed coral in the tank in one corner that provides some minerals) but for now it's 6.8 down from 7 and the fish seem oblivious to it

    I'm worried the co2 might eventually acidify the water too much, it comes out at like one bubble every 10-15 seconds but the ladder mechanism keeps them under for a long time so I'm not sure how much is diffusing in the water, or how constant it is.
    Also I'm worried about leaving the co2 on overnight?

    Can I have a slow CO2 injection during the night?

    Should I just unhook it before lights out?

    I wish someone made an automated CO2 system but at least this one I got is slow, and I do have surface swirls so I'm not terribly worried about gassing the fish.

    Ordered a drop checker should be here soon.

    I'm trying to set it all up so it's minimal daily maintenance
    I'm not always home to turn thins on and off.

    My current goal is to get my plants greener and bigger (a little on the light green/ yellow side) and eliminate beard algae.

    What do you guys think of this strategy?
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  4. AlyeskaGirl

    AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    You want to aim for 30 ppm of co2. A one full degree pH drop is roughly 30 ppm of co2. So, if your pH is say 7.0 you want to aim for 6.0-6.2 or you may not even need to go that low. But doing so slowly. pH drop dose not affect the fish as it is the KH/GH that do. As long as your KH/GH is 4+ degrees and consistent then you will be good. CO2 dose make the water acidic but doesn't change the Hardness. General Hardness is the measurement of Calcium and Magnesium and without these plants will develop deformities in the leaves and leaves can also become transparent. KH measures the carbonate hardness which is the pH buffer. If there is not enough co2 for plants then the plants will break it down for a use of carbon and the result is drop in KH.

    Nitrate should be 5-20 ppm.

    The more light you have the more demand for co2 and ferts. Plant biomass also plays a part in it.

    You need to also dose a Micro Mix such as Flourish Comprehensive with what you are dosing now. And you need to also dose some nitrates (N). Plants need balanced ferts to grow strong and healthy especially in well lit setups. And adding co2 will also increase the need for balanced ferts (NPK and Micro Mix).

    Healthy plants will produce O2 during lights on. Having minimal surface movement will help during the lights off period.

    CO2 needs to be off during lights off as plants do not use it. Its a waste.

    I use a timer plugged into my setup. co2 comes on about 1 1/2 hours before lights on for availability when lights come on and 1 hour off before lights.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014
  5. smee82

    smee82Fishlore VIPMember

    Sounds like your doing the same thing as i am in my 15g I also am using Amazonia the only other difference is i have a glass diffuser. One thing to be aware of is that Amazonia will also drop the ph in your tank too, mine went from about 7.6 to 6.4.

    My tank is heavily planted and i have no surface agitation at all, i rely on the plants to produce O2.
    I leave my CO2 running 24 hrs and have never had a problem but i dont have a drop checker so i have no idea what my CO2 levels are.

    I dose ferts pretty heavily similar to EI but i dont measure the individual amounts, I buy a premix fert that is all inclusive so i dont worry about it
  6. Phishphin

    PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    Personally, I only have the CO2 on when I have my lights on. But when the lights are on, the CO2 is cranking at 1 drop every 2-4 seconds.
  7. OP

    wildatheartValued MemberMember

    Thanks guys!
    This helps.

    I'm keeping the PH from dipping too low by adding a little buffer

    The bubble ladder thing I got is very slow but the bubbles stay underwater for quite some time.
    Been 2 days and the fish seem calm and they seem to like the setup without an aerator.

    I think lack of minerals was/is my issue. The plants seem weak, I added nitrogen supplement, the mineral buffer, and trimmed beard algae off.

    I'm holding off on the Ada brighty K potassium, and the Ada step 2 Iron supplement.... I was adding them daily...and
    I think those were just helping the algae and not doing much for the plants without CO2

    I think my saving grace is that even though the plants are not strong there's a lot of them so it's good enough ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1406185825.273242.jpgImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1406185860.788637.jpgImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1406185899.420776.jpgImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1406185915.863994.jpgImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1406185999.545829.jpg

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  8. OP

    wildatheartValued MemberMember

    I should add that I have used CO2 before. I have a small pressurized setup, but the constant adjustment is a hassle so this bubble ladder is an experiment in setting and forgetting.
    It's on constantly for two days now and the fish aren't behaving differently. Hope it helps the plants.
    It does not diffuse but the bubble is in the water for quite a while.

    Does it have to go through An atomizer to work??

    The puffers like to watch the bubbles go up

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  9. smee82

    smee82Fishlore VIPMember

    I dont believe it has to go through an Atomize ive never used one and I can see the difference in my plants with a cheap glass difuser.

    The whole reason i limit the surface agitation and leave the CO2 running 24/7 is the CO2 levels never seem to build up too high by just allowing the bubbles to dissolve in the water column.
  10. OP

    wildatheartValued MemberMember

    Yeah I'm not experiencing any strange fish behavior and it's been several weeks. Just got my drop checker in the mail so I'm gonna set it up tonight to measure CO2
    There's a slight film on the surface from plant oils and some of the bubbles even stick in it, but my nozzle from the filter is angled up so there's a area in one corner which is very slightly swirly on the surface for gas exchange.
    I could angle it down and see how things go with still surface?
    Worried about totally cutting of gas exchange if plant oils build up at the surface

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  11. AlyeskaGirl

    AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    Just want to let you know that Drop Checkers are inaccurate and should not be relied on but used as a guideline only. Its best to just watch plant response and of course fish behavior.
  12. OP

    wildatheartValued MemberMember

    Yeah the drop checker is somewhere between yellow and green which definitely indicates a higher CO2.
    The fish (cherries, neons, rasboras, pea puffers) all seem actually happier than before. I think the lack of an aerator makes the tank calmer and they like it. The plants are already blowing up!
    Here's my question though...
    I cut off almost all the leaves with beard algae (the blackish green fuzzy kind)

    Should I just trim off all the light green weak growth???
    All the thin leaves?
    Just let it grow back strong?

    I'm hesitant to lose leaf mass with all the CO2 in the water. Need that green to eat up the excess CO2.

    Also. All the fish seem happy but they are the type of Amazonian and tropical fish that like the acidic planted environment.

    I do have one chineese algae eater tho and he seems to be hanging out on higher leaves when idle, closer to surface, like maybe the O2 is a little low for him.

    Gonna keep an eye out and move him to my other aerated tank if he seems stressed. ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1406841706.241989.jpg

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  13. AlyeskaGirl

    AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    Yup, you either need to trim off the unhealthy growth as they will not repair themselves or top your stem plants, pull out the unhealthy stems and replant. All you need to do is lower the CO2 if need be. When you run CO2 its a daily check and upkeep. Believe me I know. lol
  14. Phishphin

    PhishphinWell Known MemberMember

    Yup, just trim back the dead and dying leaves.

    Also, let it be known, dying leaves do not mean a dying plant. It's more of a defense mechanism that a plant is employing when growth went further than natural resources could supply. The plant is telling itself to slow down. You will still get new growth, it just won't be explosive.
  15. OP

    wildatheartValued MemberMember

    Thanks guys!
    I love this Hagen Nutrafin CO2 reactor. Set it and forget it!!
    No fiddling with knobs and valves constantly.
    Plants are rocking!
    And my algae eater has adjusted and calmed down.

    What do you guys think of "baby tears" the little leaf plants that float?

    Got a few by accident and now they're everywhere.

    Worried they might block light?

    Anyway... The 30 gal is going great!
    Just ordered another CO2 reactor for my 24 gal.

    Do you guys ever get Cyanobacteria?
    The really weird dark green stuff?

    It comes and goes in my 24

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  16. AlyeskaGirl

    AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    Are you talking about Duckweed? Duckweed is a true weed and will cover the surface quickly if not kept in check.
  17. OP

    wildatheartValued MemberMember

    ImageUploadedByFish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum1406925299.702625.jpg

    It looks like this.
    This is not my tank but that's the stuff.
    Green dots that multiply!!!

    In my opinion more plants is always better but I'm worried it will choke out light

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  18. AlyeskaGirl

    AlyeskaGirlFishlore VIPMember

    Yup, that is the Duckweed. Grows like a weed!! Once it is in the tank, it can be difficult to get rid of.