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I have been raising fish for 35 years and aquatic plants seriously for about 5. Good results but very slow growth..
I tried DIY CO2 and didn't see any results, but hey - what do you expect with 6 liters of fermenting capacity and 135
gallons of tank.
About three months ago, I finally broke down and got a CO2 rig and started fogging the CO2 in (~7lbs per month into a 135
gallon). The Ph dropped from 7.6+ (off -scale) down to 6.9 to 7.0.
The result is a veritable jungle - everything grows profusely, especially the amazons and the java moss. Several plants
are actively photosynthesizing as guaged by the streams oxygen bubbles under artificial light (sunlight works better).
The fish ( 6 large geophagus, 20 congo tetras, 4 large plecostomus and assorted oddities) are doing well, even after one
near-gassing (valve misadjustment). Only the rift lake cichlids (about 15 brichardi) appear to be less than enthusiastic
( they are pH switch sensitive and should be in a high Ph tank), but I gave up on trying to get them out of the tank a
long time ago.
The results are definitely worth the ~$170 in tank, valve, regulator, etc.