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So last night, I was a little over-reactive... (understandably so, having to
flush about $500 worth of fish). I also checked around/got feedback and yes,
400 lbs. was low (but I have run the tank empty before without having this
happen, now I know it CAN happen). More importantly, it was a fluke that I
checked the pressure yesterday morning. Because I did and was blowing my way
out of the house late for work, I had every intention of changing the tank
today (Could-a would-a should-a). If checking the tank pressure gauge has to
become a regular thing (every 2-3 days) for people with this type of CO2
system... what a pain!
MY POINT: I cannot stress enough that ANY system sold into this trade should
be safe. The one I bought from a common source was not. I also received a
few e-mails (off-line) from people who obtained the very same system who
have had very similar experiences (expensive fish kills).
I have been raising fish for 15 years, bred Discus and Angels for 5 of them,
and am now in my "plant-phase". In that 20 years time, I have had other
disasters (imagine loosing 12 tanks of breeding Discus because a centralized
system's bio crashed!) and I am sure that this experience wont be my last.
Stupidity is one thing (in the case of the central system failure, another
story for another time), unsafe products (to people OR fish) just plain
should not be allowed. I'd rather be upset with myself for doing something
stupid than to have the kind of thing that just happened happen. (By the
way, cheap heaters that stick also come to mind and yes, been-there, done
that one too...)
How many people buy heating cables, and then six months later they and/or
their fish get electrocuted? They don't (I should hope) because the system
itself has two backups: one because the transformer is low voltage/low
current and is internally fuse protected (C/UL approval ensures this); and
two, because we are all smart enough to know that a tank should ALWAYS be
powered through a GFI (right?).
When I bought the system, the seller NEVER said, "Hey bubba, listen REAL
REAL close. You need to monitor the gauge every other day. When the CO2 tank
starts to lose pressure, change it or the valve will 'explode' and all of
your fish will die." Had the seller said that, I would have looked for a
different system that was safer and more reliable. IN FACT, the seller even
went as far as telling (bragging was more like it) me how safe the system
was compared to other systems! The fact that I have received e-mails from
others experiencing the same problem with this same set-up indicates to me
that the seller never told these people this could happen either.
Since I am already out $500 in fish (and just bought additional PCs for
$100+ and more plants for another $100) and already have $100+ in the CO2
set-up, the question becomes: How can I make the system I am using right now
safe (without buying a whole new system)? Will a real-good needle valve
help? Or would I still get a dump and blow up the needle valve in the
process (as well as kill the fish)?
At this point, the tank is so far over its monthly budget that my wife is
beyond comprehending my need to spend even more money to "get it right".
Tom. You indicated a first option, but did not expand on it. Please do so.
Stepping down off of the soapbox now. Looking for nirvana, will settle for
safety and reliability.