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Thread: Almost gassed all my fish - DIY C02

  1. #1

    Almost gassed all my fish - DIY C02

    Hello fish friends,
    Thought I would share a story about a scare I had last night in case anyone is messing around with the DiY C02 setups.

    I used a kit I got on amazon:

    Went with citric acid and baking powder recipe to charge the system. So the way it works is you create a siphon by squeezing one bottle to force the liquids to mix while the needle valve is shut down. This builds pressure by creating the c02 and starts the siphon. As you open the needle valve it releases the gas which causes more liquid to be pulled in and mix thus creating more gas. So it was really nice because when you shut down the needle valve the reaction stops and you don't have to worry about the c02 reaction continuing while the lights are off like you do with the yeast setups.

    I had been running this for over a month with no issues. Plants growing well, fish and inverts all growing and healthy.

    So whats the problem?

    I got tired of having the reload the mixture every week as I have it on a 50 gallon long, so I tried to double the recipe. (dun dun dunnnnnnn)

    Everything seemed to be fine for the first couple days but last night I noticed the baking powder bottle was getting very full, meaning it pulled in a lot of the citric acid mixture. The bubble counter looked ok so I didn't mess with it. When I came back that evening to shut off the c02 before bed - the bubble counter was ROARING, the shrimp were freaking out and many of the fish were crowded in the corner gasping at the surface.

    Quickly set up an air stone to try and off-gas the c02, cranked up the pumps to get more surface agitation, and took the c02 generator apart (resulting in a nice shake the soda can and pop the top slapstick scene - queue yakety sax ).

    Happy to report - as of this morning - all the fish appear to have survived. I think I grew a new grey hair or two as a result - really shook me up. Not sure if I'm going to mess with the DIY generator again or not. I have read that the needle valve that comes with the kit is poor quality but I think the biggest risk with DIY is the pressure in the system can change depending on how the reaction is getting on so the bbm changes as a result of having no regulator.

    Well - thats my story, hope you get a laugh and learn from my mistakes if you are considering the DIY set up.


  2. #2
    check your pH. all that co2 can react and make carbonic acid and drive the pH down very quickly.

  3. #3
    Wow. Glad you caught it in time! Thanks for sharing the story.

  4. #4
    Glad everything is ok. I agree with Mountain Man on checking the pH. I also must admit, I chuckled a bit at the part about taking 5e reactor apart based on how you wrote it. Thanks for sharing.

  5. #5
    Thanks guys - did a large (50%+) water change and checked ph. Seems to be holding consistent with normal params. When cleaning the tank during the water change I noticed the back of the tank (divides the sump from the display area) is starting to separate from the chambers that contain the filtration media . Will make another post about that with pics - not sure if its getting worse or something that can be lived with. Stay tuned for another episode of... as the tank churns!

    Thanks again,


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