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I dont know of any standard "bubbles per gallon" rule. I think what you will have to do is measure your KH and pH and use the co2 chart to find out how much co2 your are actually getting. I think a good range is 20-30 ppm. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. You can find the co2 chart here http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/CO2/kh-ph-co2-chart.html

On my diy co2, when fresh, i get a bubble every 2 or 3 seconds.
 

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Baking soda? Thats one I havent heard before. I have been using 2 cups of sugar and 1/2 tsp yeast in a 2 liter bottle. How much baking soda do you add?
 

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Yes you need a test kit to measure KH, or you can ask your LFS to test your water and tell you what it is. I'm not too sure I would follow their advice about it being too hard.
 

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There are two types of hardness, GH-general hardness, and KH-carbonate hardness. KH is what you want for determining how much CO2 you have. Get them to test your KH, they should be able to. Once you know your KH and pH you can use the chart to determine your CO2 content. I use Hagen test kits. They use color charts so you cant get it perfect, but I can get pretty close. They are pretty cheap too.
 
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