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5 lbs CO2 gone in 2 months

Hi everyone,

Two months ago I set up a 5 lb CO2 cylinder, regulator, needle valve system
on my 55 gal. that is set to about three bubbles per second.  This keeps my
pH at 6.8-7.0.  Based on other's experience, I expected to go at least six
months to a year or more before needing a refill.  I didn't weigh the
cylinder prior to use so I'm not sure it was full, but heck, even if it was
only half full it should have gone more than two months.  So let's assume it
was full.  My three bubble rate is a bubble or two higher than other's I
have read about, but if I set it to one bubble per second my pH rises to the
mid to upper 7 range.  I'm currently using a small powerhead to inject the

Definitely not a 100 percent efficient reactor, but is it the sole reason
for early depletion?

I don't think so.  I suspect my filter contributes to CO2 loss also.  I have
pondered this since setting up this plant tank five months ago, but I would
appreciate the thoughts of the group too.  I run an Emporer 400 filter.  For
those not familiar, it's an over-the-back with two biowheels driven by spray
bars.  I have placed coarse foam at the outputs which greatly reduces
surface agitation.

How about those spray bars, big CO2 wasters?

Possible solutions:  (i) Make a better reactor.  (ii) Remove the impeller
that drives the spray bars.  The biowheels will still turn as water passes
below them.  (iii) Reduce the filter rate.  There is a knob I can adjust to
reduce flow rate, intended for use during feeding etc., which brings up
another question:

Is a water turn-over rate of about seven times per hour good, bad, or
indifferent in a heavily planted tank?  I have about 45 small community
fish.  Comments?

Mike in Minneapolis