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El Natural Diana Walstad's low-maintenance, soil-based 'El Natural' method for keeping plants and fish.

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Old 09-16-2020, 06:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Low Co2

I have a 75 gallon planted aquarium. It's been running since March and I've used organic potting mix as the substrate. I've tried to keep it in the perimeters specified in Ms. Walstad's Book. A few months back I noticed that the new growth slowed and the plants are producing small leaves. I bought a drop checker from Amazon and discovered that I have low Co2 levels. I have incorporated a 3 hour siesta period mid day and added a few more fish for a total of 6 angelfish, 8 cardinal tetras, 6 Velvet Sowrdtails, 7 Corydoras, 2 panda gara, 1 betta, 10 ammano shrimp, and a handful of various snails. I still can't get my drop checker to change from blue to green so my levels remain chronically low. Should I add more fish or is there anything else I can do to raise my Co2? The only other thing I can think of is to buy a Co2 injection system but I was hoping to keep this tanks El Natural. I'm attaching some pictures for reference. It seems like the only plant really growing with vigor is the corkscrew val.
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Old 09-16-2020, 08:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Low Co2

Since you aren't adding CO2 to the water you won't have enough CO2 to make a standard drop checker show anything. But, you can use lower KH water in the drop checker and make it work for much lower levels of CO2. See the third post in https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...8-diy-co2.html
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Old 09-16-2020, 09:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Low Co2

Your plant growth looks pretty good. I have a 75g also. It could be that a 75 hold so much volume that the co2 generated in the dirt isn’t enough. Also, dirt will run out of carbon in 6 months or so. I now inject co2 in my dirted tank, around 10-16ppm.
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Old 09-17-2020, 05:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Low Co2

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Originally Posted by mistergreen View Post
Your plant growth looks pretty good. I have a 75g also. It could be that a 75 hold so much volume that the co2 generated in the dirt isnít enough. Also, dirt will run out of carbon in 6 months or so. I now inject co2 in my dirted tank, around 10-16ppm.
I was thinking the same thing regarding too much water volume and co2 because my son's 30 gallon is set up the same way but the plant growth is great. I'll post a picture of his. It looked like a jungle but he just did a big pruning. The middle looks barren now but it was covered with star grass but he took down to the gravel because it got unruly.
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Old 09-17-2020, 05:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Low Co2

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Originally Posted by hoppycalif View Post
Since you aren't adding CO2 to the water you won't have enough CO2 to make a standard drop checker show anything. But, you can use lower KH water in the drop checker and make it work for much lower levels of CO2. See the third post in https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/...8-diy-co2.html
Thank you Hoppy. I read the linked post and I think I'll lower my lighting by changing from my Finnex 24/7 back to my beam works FSLED. I would also like to try your method of DIY Co2. Do you have a step by step set up/how to link? I ready your recipe instructions but I still have some questions regarding the working parts.
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Old 09-17-2020, 06:10 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Low Co2

I searched for where I described my DIY CO2 set-up and couldn't find it. I think it may be in a different forum. I used 2 two liter carbonated Ginger Ale bottles, as I recall, with sugar/yeast mixes in them, check valves at the bottle so the I could refill a bottle without leaking out the CO2 in the system, a check valve at the connection to a tiny pump, like a Hagen Elite power filter, which had tiny holes drilled in the rotor flaps, so the CO2 bubbles would be chopped into mist. I used 2 cups of sugar and 1/2 tsp of yeast in each bottle, filled about 80% with water. I used a DIY bubble counter - a small soda bottle with the CO2 hose poked through the bottle cap to be below the water level and the outlet going to the CO2 hose to the aquarium. I used Ebay bottle caps like shown here: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...kw=diy+co2+kit
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Old 09-17-2020, 11:29 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Low Co2

I went pressurized CO2. Less hassle than replenishing yeast & sugar every week and more stable. I bought a reasonably priced duo stage regulator setup on Amazon, made by FZone.

I made a DIY PVC diffuser/reactor for my canister filter.
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Old 09-20-2020, 03:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Low Co2

If you want to try CO2 injection, I would also consider the citric acid/baking soda method. It works well. Here's one video that shows how to do it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy0A7mMXnnQ

An interesting comparison of the 75 gal with your son's 30 gal tank. Every ecosystem is different.

BTW, your fish look great.
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