Co2....Whats the worst that can happen?

Planted aquariums are, as my best buddy Brad (he started me in the hobby) "Stinkin Awesome" But to get the lush beauty you find in most PLANTED TANKS you will eventually have to use pressurized Co2, aka Co2 Injection. In this article, I want to address some pros and cons of Co2 and also address the ABSOLUTE worst thing that is likely to happen. 

First Co2 is not as difficult as the interwebs would have you believe, and despite what all the DIY drones will say Homemade Co2 is not as effective, nor is it cheaper in the long run, not to mention if a DIY setup blows up the stench and mess more than negates its intitial savings. Since I mentioned Cost I may as well address that elephant it can be expensive. I started with a paintball tank and mini regulator and a simple little diffuser. It looked like this.

Paintball tank: 25

Mini Regulator: 79

Co2 Line:8

Bubble Counter and diffuser: 20

Total: 132

Not to bad right, add 10 bucks for the actual Co2 and boom 150 bucks and you are set. That not a bad price to pay to have great plants less algae and no mess if you were considering DIY. Paintball tanks can be tedious to keep filling (about every 6 weeks) and if a seal blows out you could need one sooner. That is why I have switched over to a 5lb tank and a full-size regulator. The tank could be a little more expensive if you want a shiny aluminum one but me personally I bought an old co2 tank from a food supply liquidator (20 bucks) and traded it into a local Praxair 12 dollars later I have an albeit ugly tank of Co2 but its under my stand anyway so who cares how it looks. Did I mention less algae? I did when in proper and STEADY levels Co2 inhibits algae growth by helping plants with nutrient uptake essentially starving algae for their food.... WINNING!!!!!

 Now I did say that I would mention cons here you go. Cost that's it really just the cost if you don't care about that then stop waiting and get her done. Now I did also mention the ABSOLUTE worst thing that can happen and here it is... you kill all of your fish, yes that right ALL of your fish die a horrible death. Now, this is easy to have happened but can be avoided with 2 simple steps.

1) Pay attention! Don't just set up your tank and not watch it. You have got to watch the way your fish act, the way the diffused Co2 bubbles look everything a good drop checker is a good idea but my tank always registers low PH so I learned to watch the fish. When Co2 is getting high the fish will be at the top of the water and struggling to breathe. At this point, it's not too late to just dial back the Co2 a bit and adjust your filter return to allow a bit more oxygen exchange at the surface. 

2) Don't panic! I say this because it is almost inevitable that you will make a mistake and "GAS THE TANK" in this situation your fish will be floating on the top of the tank laying on the bottom of the tank, swimming upside down, caught in plants... it is horrible but if they are still trying to breathe chances are you are still able to save them. Here is what you do. Start a water change, leave your filter on letting the water splash it will boost oxygen exchange helping the Co2 to dissipate in the water. The longer you let this go on the better. After about an hour of the water splashing its safe to begin adding new water. Leave your fish alone make sure you have turned off all the Co2 and I would leave the light on overnight the plants will continue using the co2 from the water and adding oxygen to it.

Thats it!


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