10 gallon – week 6

Yes. I know I skipped week 5. Unfortunately, there were more pressing matters and the ole aquarium had to tough it out for a week of neglect. The good news is all the fish seem fine. The bad news is the plants seemed to have suffered a bit. There was definitely some growth that needed to be trimmed and with a new equipment addition to the tank, I was excited for this weekend to come.

As you’ve read in my prior posts, I have been dosing liquid carbon in the form of Flourish Excel. For a small and fairly low maintenance aquarium like mine, this is usually sufficient. However, the plants in there are ones that thrive and do their best with pressurized CO2. With that in mind, I purchased a new CO2 diffuser on Amazon. I used to have a simple glass one that contained a typical, ceramic air stone disc. They were always a pain to clean and they broke often when trying to clean. This time, I purchased a stainless steel one.

new equipment, new beginnings?

I went with the Yagote CO2 Diffuser Stainless Steel Reactor. While they call it a reactor, there is no reacting going on. It’s simply a diffuser that allows small (although not super fine) bubbles to escape into and absorb into the water as they rise to the top. I really like the look of it and it feels really solid in the hand.

Pretty slick, right? I was definitely excited to see how a week’s worth of pressurized CO2 would change things in the tank. So, I went ahead with a water change and cleaning. Even cleaned my drop checker and replaced the 4DKH fluid with pH indicator to ensure I had a pure color to measure the amount of CO2 dissolved in the water. Before long, the tank went from a scruffy mess to a much cleaner and trimmed tank.

before
after

As you can see in the “after” picture above, the CO2 was already going and I was planning to check back after about an hour to adjust the rate. You definitely don’t want too much CO2 in the water as it would obviously kill all the fish. The goal is to have enough CO2 in the water to make the pH relatively neutral. The drop checker lets you easily see this based on the color of the fluid inside the bulb. Green is the color we want. Right now, it’s very dark blue, which indicates the pH is very alkaline and there is not much CO2 in the water. As CO2 is dissolved into the water, the chemical exchange between the water and the air inside the drop checker will change the color of the drop checker fluid.

Naturally, you do not want to run your CO2 all day and night. Plants utilize CO2 during the day to grow and thrive, but in the evenings, plants sleep and actually use oxygen and release CO2. The perfect cycle is to have a dark blue drop checker in the morning prior to the start of the lighting period, have it turn perfect green by the midpoint of the lighting period, and be very slightly yellowish green at the end of the lighting period.

tragedy strikes

After the water change, I took a look at my tank. Tiny CO2 bubbles flew about the tank with the water flow and I even noticed some plants beginning to pearl (due to plant respiration). A smile emerged on my face as anticipation started to build. How will my plants enjoy the CO2 and will they return to their former glory? That joy did not last. I started to hear a hissing sound from the CO2 regulator and quickly went over to examine it.

The weep hole was leaking air and making the hissing sound. The purpose of the weep hole is to indicate a failure inside the regulator, whether it’s with the diaphragm or some other seal. Basically, the regular was unable to withstand the pressure from the CO2 tank. I closed the valve on the CO2 tank and watched as the bubbles in my tank began to slow and gradually disappear. My regular had failed and there was nothing I could do about it.

I have a relatively cheap regular and parts to repair it just aren’t available. Aside from just going ahead and purchasing a new one, I will certainly try to take it apart and see if it’s something I can repair. What do I have to lose, right? If I’m unable to fix it, I may have to start planning a new project to DIY build my own regulator or try and see if I can find a reasonably priced, used one on ebay.

It saddens me that I will be unable to give the plants what they need. But, I should have expected this was going to happen. To be fair, the regulator lasted considerably longer than I ever thought it would or could. Perhaps, it was just its time. I’ll be sure to update on the progress of its repair or replacement. Until then, take care of yourself and enjoy a couple more pictures.

a few of the resident guppies
notice the air in trapped inside the drop checker. this allows for the gas exchange.

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