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Don't Forget about the O2!!!

Discussion in 'General Aquascaping and Planted Tank Discussions' started by ShadowMac, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    In learning about planted tanks and aquascaping I heard and read a lot about the importance of CO2 fertilization, how to get it right, not too little and not too much.

    In my recent experience I have discovered that the constant talk of CO2 lead me to leave out something very important for the health of any aquarium...OXYGEN!

    I had struggled keeping some fish (electric blue rams) and had chalked it up to my tap water being too hard (high Kh) and my CO2 too high. Other fish I found to be fairly inactive during the day, another behavior I attributed to CO2 intolerance.

    I wanted to keep my plants healthy and growing as well as stave off algae, so I kept the CO2 as high as possible without killing my fish, but algae was still a problem, growth still not optimal, and fish behavior in some species lethargic and inactive.

    In an effort to save my final blue ram who had begun breathing at the surface I placed an "emergency airstone" into the tank. Within ten minutes not only had the fish's behavior improved, but also that of other fish.

    I drew the conclusion that it was not CO2 intolerance, but rather a lack of oxygen.

    I have since began running an airstone 24/7. I have been able to turn my CO2 up, increase my lighting to what I had originally intended (I had reduced my lighting as low as possible to compensate for what i thought was CO2 trouble hoping that by slowing things down I could strike a balance) and everything has improved. Pearling is great, algae is nearly non existent, and my fish have never been better!

    OXYGEN, OXYGEN, OXYGEN!!!!! That was the true source of my troubles.

    I thought I would share this because I think many often get lost in the CO2 importance and fail to think of how O2 may play into someone's struggles with CO2.

    I plan on sharing much more about my experience with this high tech tank in a future issue of aquascaping world magazine. I just couldn't wait to share this because of the huge turn around I've seen, hope it is useful.

    .
     
  2. EFM

    EFM New Member

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    just Brilliant!!!! ^:)^ tell us more please

    since that are you exhausting your co2 cylinder faster?
     
  3. l p

    l p Aspiring Aquascaper

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    The same thing happened to me ShadowMac.

    I was constantly trying to achieve a decent level of CO2, and my fish have always been inactive because of it. Then one day, I tried spraybar along back side (with decent surface agitation) and everything has improved, just like in your case. Fish began to swim, all the algae disappeared, and pearling was much higher.
     
  4. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    CO2 is cheap replacing dead fish is not. Since my bubble rate has increased, then yes, I am using more. I've used a pH meter to gauge how much CO2 I put into the aquarium and have come to understand that generally I should see a 1 degree shift over the course of the day. A drop checker confirms that measurement as adequate CO2. I will probably go through my CO2 faster because more is gassing off, however the trade off is well worth it. In a high light tank using lots of CO2 is generally acceptable and necessary. I might not recommend the airstone method for someone who uses an in tank diffuser because essentially your aquarium is your reactor and it may degrade the tanks ability to dissolve CO2 and you could gas off considerably more. I have an inline reactor so it is not an issue for me.

    My tank is a tall tank, so I also think that my volume to surface area ratio was too high, not enough area for increased surface agitation to be effective, something to consider in tall tanks I think. My volume of my filter is also considerable compared to that of my tank. The filter is intended for aquariums 3 times the size of what I am running it on. Filter media and the bacteria without a doubt tax the O2 supply.

    Flow was never an issue as I have a sufficient filter as well as 2 koralias. Once I have my stems grown in well and full I am going to post a very nice pic. I may post one soon anyways, althought the right side of the tank needs work and the left should be trimmed. Main thing is growth has never been better. I can't wait to add more fish and shrimp, now that I know they will live long and healthy.
     
  5. Karlo

    Karlo New Member

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    Thanks for sharing, really interesting observations!
     
  6. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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    Hi,

    In my opinion, the aerobical condition is VERY IMPORTANT, and planted tanks are not exception, so, the surface movement (the most simply way to bring oxygen!) is fundamental.

    CO2 and O2, the idea is keep both level of gases high (is a myth co2 excludes o2)..and that is very easy, only good co2 inyection and good surface movement in the same time

    "Saludos" from Chile
     
  7. biobio

    biobio Aspiring Aquascaper

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    O2 is very important for fishes and plants too. Those gases (O2 and CO2) are not competing (regarding dissolution in a water). We can add O2 on a same way as we are adding CO2 (diffuser, air stone with small bubbles, inline reactor,..). It is important not to disturb water surface to much because it will help CO2 to skip out of water.

    It is important to have enough O2 during the night. (dark period of tank) In the light period plants are accumulating energy by transferring light and CO2 to glucose. Simplifying, this is chemically stored energy and organisms are releasing and using it in the process of cell breathing. For this they need O2.

    Plants are growing during the night, also (if the day was photosynthetically successful - even better) and for that growth plants must have nutrients and O2.

    Note: Amano is adding pressurized pure O2 in dark tank phase. Why??? :-?;)

    However adding O2 does not mean that we can rise CO2 level above some recommended maximum.
    CO2 and O2 compete regarding fishes breathing. CO2 inhibits O2 fixation in fishes blood, so extremely high level of CO2 will kill fishes despite of a high level of O2 in the water.
     
  8. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    that is why my fish struggled, as well as my plants, the respiratory competition between O2 and CO2. High levels of CO2 with low levels of O2 were especially hard on a couple species, german blue rams and furcata rainbows.

    I had thought for a long time it was CO2, but the real problem was O2. increasing the O2 made it possible to reach the optimum level of CO2 for plants without over stressing fish who were in an oxygen depleted environment before adding the airstone.

    The focus is so much on CO2 that I think people forget about other factors, like O2. Something to note, it seems CO2 issues, such as overdosing CO2, would cause all fish to breath at the surface. Whereas O2 issues seem to impact only a couple fish at a time, or certain species who prefer higher O2 levels, which can aid in identifying if one has a CO2 overdose or a lack of O2.
     
  9. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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    hi,
    A)in my opinion, there is not good reason for that (even if master Amano makes in that way, really not good reason)
    The surface movement is enought for garantizes optimal level of O2. And no matter if the light is on or off.

    B) Yes, but never is necessary keep so high level of CO2; is simply, easy and possible get both gasses ( co2 and o2) in optimal concentrations for flora, fauna and microfauna.
    Is a mistake to believe in the "needed" of handle the level of co2 or o2, because the problem is really more easy to managment: good disolution of a reasonable amount of co2 (excess is not neccesary! even for delicate or demanding species of plants), and keep ALWAYS a good surface movement and circulation of water, that´s all, no more difficult..

    sorry if i writhe with ortographycal mistakes ;)

    "Saludos" from Chile
     
  10. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    just an update: after switching to inline atomizer i've attained better CO2 levels and have only been running the airstone at night now.

    There is one koralia pump agitating the surface at all times as well.

    things look good, so look for another thread with an update and picture in about a week.
     
  11. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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    Hi,
    I insist, airstones in the night and things like that really are not neccesary. I don`t know why that practice is so extended between the hobbist. Really not good reason (chemical or physic) for that practice. The o2 level in the night is the same thing in comparison with the light period if the circulation /surface movement is correct.

    "Saludos" from Chile :proud:
     
  12. Dabrits

    Dabrits New Member

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    I think that I am going to start running an airstone during the night and CO2 during the day, just to keep things a bit more balanced.
     
  13. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    the issue I have with my tank MonoBarrientos is a low surface area to a volume ratio in a tall tank. The ripples have not been adequate, so an airstone has definately helped.

    Secondly, plants respirate O2 at night so there is an increase in O2 demand during the night.

    The last reason I use an airstone at night is to avoid a biofilm on the surface, the airstone does a great job with that. Ripples are not always efficient in avoiding that biofilm.
     
  14. Dabrits

    Dabrits New Member

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    This is the main reason why I want to use an airstone at night. For the most part, I have a decent current and decent surface agitation. But......my tank is similar to yours in that it is tall so the amount of top-surface area compared to overall tank volume isn't ideal. So after about two-three days, I have a nasty little biofilm that develops in one corner of the tank. So I plan on putting that airstone underneath that airstone and running it for about three hours a night. I've also read that increased amounts of O2 can help fight against algae. I forget what the connection was. Anyway, it does help overall tank health.
     
  15. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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    yes....but NO [-X only in the night; during day that happens too!
    This is one of the most massive biological-conceptual mistakes around this Hobby :spy: (believe plants only needs o2 during night; and co2 in the day, as alternated process :( that is not true)

    The celular respiration, happens ALL THE TIME :proud:, because if not, plants die. Not really significants differences between the o2 demanding in day in comparison with night. More of that: the "celular respiration" as a "plant factor", is NOT relevant for the O2 and CO2 levels in the tank, because is a minimal scale in comparison with really important physical factors. Even more: O2 as a subproduct release for plants, is good ;) all we apreciated that, but no enought for to obtain a optimal level of O2 in the tank (circulation and surface movement-physical factors- is more important) .And, for concept of "celular respiration", the release of co2 (as a subproduct), is really important?????

    Let me tell:
    Photosintesis and celular respiration NOT are "alternated" process (i don´t why this idea is so extended) ; plants consumes o2 and brings co2 ALWAYS for celular-respiration concept.

    In the Same Time, and, in another celular place, photosintesis process, happens. Some reactions are photo-depending; some reactions, not. For this concept, plants consumes co2 (calvin cicle) and brings o2 (as a subproduct of "Hill´s reaction of photolisis of water, a light-depending reaction...but, calvin cicle, only during light??) ...


    Is very important to understand this point, because masive practices are really bad foundamented...(is correct that word? if not, sorry for my english :) ). Physical-chemical factors commonly are sub-estimated for the hobbist, and in his place using with several mistakes the biological factors....
    Co2 and o2 equilibrium is REALLY MORE EASY to obtain than almost all believes...because is a very natural process. Co2 good diluted in the water, because the relation with water is more "chemical"; and good circulation /surface movement because the relation with O2 with water is more "physical" (his % of dilution is low in comparison with co2 ;) )

    --------------

    About the "biofilms", the correct surface movement is enought for eliminates them... if the circulation and movement of the surface is OK--> no biofims..... No need to use airstones for that

    "Saludos" from Chile
     
  16. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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    Maybe in very tall tanks (for example a hexagonal tank, tall and very poor wide or something like that) the circulation an physical factors about the o2 level can be bad (that is the case?)... but in my opinion, with carefully focus in this factor (filtration-circulation-surface move), the airstone might be discard

    "Saludos" from Chile ;)
     
  17. biobio

    biobio Aspiring Aquascaper

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    We all agree that O2 is a must for all organisms in aquarium and all the time (day and night). CO2 is a must for plants during light period if we want them to photosynthesise and to transfer light energy to the chemical energy. By-product of photosynthesis is O2 and it is clear that in good planted tank O2 level is OK in the light period. Plants are producing more O2 then they need for breathing.
    I agree that good circulation (water movement) is enough for aerating tank if geometry of tank is OK (volume/surface ratio). But too good surface movement helps CO2 to skip aquarium water.:-\
    On the other hand high circulation is not a must for good planted aquarium. (do not mix circulation with filtration flow). I saw beautiful healthy planted tanks with almost zero circulation, CO2 adding and sponge filtration. Naturally such aquariums were good aerated with airstone or filtration system.
    The goal is to have no anaerobic pockets in the tank and always to have some optimal O2/CO2 ratio. It can be achieved at many different ways: with good circulation, or with low circulation and aeration,...
    Some anaerobic processes in the tank can be cause of many problems. In the natural water habitats bad smelling ponds with conferva almost always have a problem with a low O2 level. In the nature we have O2/CO2 fluctuations (annual, diurnal,...) but natural water ponds have big capacity and volume to balance and keep O2/CO2 in the optimal range. Temperature rise or sudden invasive plant (or algae) bloom in combination with other physical-chemical parameters of the specific water habitat can cause disbalance of O2/CO2 ratio with fatal consequences. In ponds at bright summer sunny day O2 level can drop from surface to depth of 1m to zero. Our tanks are much smaller habitats and disbalance is easier to occur.
    Disbalance of O2/CO2 ratio to the other side (in favor of O2) is not good for the plants too. RUBISCO is doorway enzyme that binds CO2 and drags it in to photosynthetic process. Sometimes RUBISCO can “flip” (if O2/CO2 ratio is high) and starts to bind O2 instead of CO2. In this case in the plant we have energetically unfavorable process of photorespiration instead of good photosynthesis. Even more photorespiration is producing some bad chemicals for plants and tank such as ammonia.

    Etc, etc, etc,....

    Amano is adding O2 in his tanks during night to balance O2/CO2 ratio diurnal fluctuations and just on the way that MonoBarrientos suggested. Every night Amano is decreasing water level and pumps are more wrinkle water surface.

    Etc, etc, etc,.....;)
    :yo:
     
  18. ShadowMac

    ShadowMac Moderator Staff Member

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    very informative responses monobarrientos and bio bio. Thank you.

    I'm very familiar with cellular processes as they pertain to animals and disease processes, but plant physiology is an area I am learning more about as I continue with planted aquariums.
     
  19. MonoBarrientos

    MonoBarrientos New Member

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    Hi!,
    A) optimal surface movement IS DIFFERENT to high surface movement. EXCESS IS NOT NECCESARY. I never say "high circulation" (even can be bad for certain species of plant, as a "mechanical stress").
    Is true good planted tanks without surface movement and poor circulation exist....but in my opinion, the better and easy way for to obtain a healthy aquarium, is with adequate circulation and good surface movement. That garantizes good level of O2, good disipation of excess of still no-disolved part of co2 (THAT IS GOOD, NO BAD AS many hobbist believes, because prevends the acumulation and toxicity of co2....if not, planted tanks with co2 injection would be more difficult!!!! for lucky for us, the Nature and his rules, plays for the hobbist side.....no need to "handled" that) and better distributions of nutrients and dissolved gases.

    B)more unnecesary steps, with all my respects to the Master( :hail: i love their aquascaping work!)

    ----------------

    In my personal opinion, hobbist makes the planted tank´s techniques more difficult than really needs. Is so easy obtain the adequate equilibrium between both level of gases (o2 and co2) without unneccesary steps as a good movement (excess is bad, and unnecesary too) and good disolution of reasonable amount of co2 (excess is toxic....and unnecesary too! even for "high demanding" plants, excess of co2 never is neccesary for keep them happy). ALL bad results or unbalanced conditions are for the same reason: excess or exageration of any thing (example: excess of co2, excess of water movement...etc)

    About temperature as a factor: yes, with more temperature, down the disolution of gases (in general) in water; and less temperature, increases the potential of disolution....BUT, in tank conditions (no nature), this factor normally is a "constant" (a difference with the "natural" conditions, with temperature fluctuations), so, no relevant.

    "Saludos" from Chile ;)
     

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