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Old 10-21-2006, 08:37 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Can someone please explain (in steps for this short bus rider!) exactly /how this works / how to use it?
Does that green test solution ever migrate into the tank? If it ever did, what happens?
Thanks!
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Old 10-21-2006, 12:45 PM   #12 (permalink)
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This works because a sealed container of air in contact with water will reach an equillibrium amount of CO2 that is at least proportional to the ppm of CO2 in the water. So, two containers with their water in contact with the same sealed container of air will reach the same ppm of CO2. The "drop checker" has distilled or DI water in it, with a known KH obtained with bicarbonate only - no other source of alkalinity, and no source of acidity. That makes the equation that is behind the pH/KH/CO2 table work correctly (see Chuck Gadd's website). So, if we can measure the pH of that little bit of water in the "drop checker", and we can, by using a pH indicator solution, we can accurately calculate how much CO2 is in that container of water, which will be the same as is in the tank water, since they are connected with a sealed air column. At KH=4, and 30 ppm of CO2, the pH will be 6.6 which turns the bromothymol blue indicator, used in almost all pH kits, green. So, green means you have the right amount of CO2 in the water, and yellow green means you have too much, while blue green means you have too little.

There is no way for the indicator solution to migrate to the tank water, since there is an air gap separating it from the tank water. If it did get into the tank water, it would be about 4-8 drops of a 4% sodium hydroxide in water solution with a little bit of bromothymol blue dye in it. It wouldn't be desirable to have it mixed into the tank, but I doubt it harming anything if it were mixed in.

So, to use this:
First, get some distilled water from the grocery store.
Using clean glass container, pour about a cup of that water into the container.
Next, add a very small amount of bicarbonate of soda - baking soda - Arm and Hammer soda, etc. to the water and stir it up with a very clean stirrer.
Test the KH of that water with your test kit.
Most likely it will be a higher than 4 KH. So, add some more distilled water and repeat the test. (If the first KH comes out to 8 degrees KH, double the amount of water. If it is 6 degrees of KH, add 50% more water, etc.)
When you get close to 4 degrees KH, repeat the test using twice as big a water sample in the vial as the kit calls for, then count each drop of KH reagent as being half the degrees of KH that the kit normally says - for AP test kit, that makes each drop equal to .5 degrees KH. I found I can get very near "exactly" 4 degrees KH by doing this carefully.
Use a syringe to squirt some of this 4 degrees KH water into the bulb of the "drop checker". Fill the bulb about 2/3 full of the water.
Add a few drops of your pH test reagent - use enough to get a strong blue color, but not so much that the water becomes opaque with the blue dye.
Use the suction cup on the "drop checker" to suspend the device two or three inches below the tank water surface, with the "horn" of the "drop checker" pointing down so it traps air in the horn.

After a couple of hours or so the color of the "drop checker" fluid will be at about the equillibrium color, and that should be green if you have 30 ppm of CO2 in the water. If the color is yellow, you have at least 70 ppm of CO2 (and your fish are in serious trouble!). If it is blue, you have about 10 ppm of CO2, which is not nearly enough.
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Old 10-21-2006, 08:50 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Thanks for taking the time to get that out Hoppy, I appreciate it!
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Old 10-22-2006, 07:23 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Yeah Hoppy, thanks! That is what I was fishing for in my last post. Wantplants asked in a better way than I.

Thanks!!
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Old 10-22-2006, 07:27 AM   #15 (permalink)
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What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 on the knock off eBay drop checkers? It looks like the "bottom" bell is a different shape. Is it just an asthetic thing or is there a functional difference between the two? There is about $2 difference between them.

Also, I just noticed they have a different style yet. Look at this eBay: NEW!! Co2 Drop Checker-monitoring proper dosage of CO2 (item 250039658709 end time Oct-23-06 08:45:25 PDT)
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Old 10-22-2006, 08:48 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Functionally, they have to all be the same. But, esthetically there is a difference. I think, from looking at the photos, the "type 1" is a more direct copy of the ADA unit, while the "type 2" is produced by a different glass blower, and less effort was put into matching the appearance of the ADA unit. The teardrop shaped one is still another glass blower's interpretation of the idea. It looks very good, but I doubt it having as fast a response to changes in tank water CO2, since it seems to have a much smaller tank water interface (no "horn" to increase the surface area of the tank water being interfaced.) That last one would be much easier to load with water and indicator solution, and might satisfy some people much more for that reason. It is pretty hard to get the water and indicator into the "type 1" verson, and nearly impossible without a syringe with a bent "needle".

What is encouraging about this is that apparently this fellow in Hong Kong is selling these well enough to branch out into other versions. Maybe our discussions involving ppm of CO2 in the water will become more meaningful as more people use these.
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Old 10-24-2006, 01:25 PM   #17 (permalink)
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ok, that is officially the coolest invention ever. Definitely gonna order one! Thanks for the link!

- Joe
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Old 10-24-2006, 02:30 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I got mine installed and working. The hardest part was getting the RO/DI water to 4 dKH. I think I spent about 1 hour doing this (add baking soda, more baking soda, more water, etc...). It was a little difficult getting the water/indicator in until I realized that the old pipettes from Seachem Flourish bend right around that tight curve and squirt it right in the bulb.

It is a very cool device that gives you a good indication of the CO2 levels at a glance.

Thanks for being the guinea pig and trying this out for us .

Brian
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Old 10-24-2006, 03:52 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elaphe View Post
I got mine installed and working. The hardest part was getting the RO/DI water to 4 dKH. I think I spent about 1 hour doing this (add baking soda, more baking soda, more water, etc...). It was a little difficult getting the water/indicator in until I realized that the old pipettes from Seachem Flourish bend right around that tight curve and squirt it right in the bulb.

It is a very cool device that gives you a good indication of the CO2 levels at a glance.

Thanks for being the guinea pig and trying this out for us .

Brian
Thank you for biting the bullet and trying it too. I am now running mine with 5dKH water in it, so green means about 40 ppm of CO2. After a week or so it is still doing just fine. Apparently 40 ppm does not bother the fish. I hope a lot of us start using this little gadget, so we can find any problems there might be with it.
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Old 10-24-2006, 04:43 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I ordered some stuff from big al's the other day, and i went ahead and got one of the little red sea, chepo deals.... Not aspretty but appears to be the same thing Just to mess around with and see how it works out, this this one will work as well as the much better glass looking ones?
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