CO2 Solenoid is Fixed and New Drainage Setup

I finally got around to fixing my solenoid so I could put my pH controller online and control the CO2 a bit. Not really required to maintain the tank but saves some money on CO2 in my opinion. AFter taking the solenoid apart a couple times because it was passing, I finally figured out the actual problem. The outlfow orifice that the plunger seals against was corroded and irregular. I think the rubber on the plunger was a bit hard as well. So, I figured the CO2 must be passing through a small crack between the plunger and the orifice. I figured I could fix it myself using some silicone. The concept was to build a gasket surface onto the outflow orifice using tiny beads of silicone applied with a toothpick. Then I would form it into a continuous bead using the end of another clean toothpick. Here’s the solenoid body after my DIY gasket:

DIY solenoid fix

Put my regulator and solenoid back together after the silicone cured and it worked like a charm.  My CO2 is back in action controlling from a pH  of 7.2 (measurement after two days of no CO2 injection) to 6.7.

I’ve also changed around the drainage setup to quiet things down and provide full return pump output.  Previously, I had only been draining without a siphon.  My intention was to startup without a siphon drain until I got comfortable a siphon setup.  Wanted to make sure 100% that during a power failure I wouldn’t dump the tank on the floor.  I also realized a setup without siphon was going to be far too loud and I couldn’t maximize the flow from the return pump.  The problem was that I needed to provide a setup to break the siphon in the event of a power failure.  After seeing the Beananimal (sp?) design I decided that capping my ABS drain setup at the high points ( and installing tubing into the tops of the cap I could setup a drain under siphon and the other drain as overflow with the capability to emergency siphon should the tank level get too high.  Here’s a couple shots of the new drainage, first the siphon drain:

Siphon Drain

and the overflow/emergency siphon:

Overflow/Emergency Siphon

The guards are DIY made out of plant pots I got when I bought some of the plants for the tank.  I tested what I figured were the full range of failure conditions and the tank/sump  never flooded.  I hoped I was in good shape and this is how the tank is setup today.

A couple notes on the plant care.  I’ve been dosing every other day 3/4 of EI amounts of Plantex CSM+B, K and P.  On the other days I’ve been changing 5% of the water, so roughly 15% per week.  Prior to starting dosing I took one of the lights of for 6hrs, significantly reducing the total light to the tank.  Now, about a week after dosing GSA growth is very low to none, diatom algae is very low and still receeding but hair algae has started in a couple spots.  So I figured I have a nutrient imbalance, and potentially a surplus from low lighting.  So, I turned the light on that I had turned off a week ago and will continue the EI dosing.  My current lighting setup is 0.7WPG for ~1.5hrs, 2WPG ~ 2hrs and  1.25WPG for  4.5hrs. Fairly low light, especially considering 3ft deep tank so I figured adding the light back in was the right thing to do.

Another note, since the dosing was started all plants have improved growth except the parva.  I think they have been limited by the lower lighting so adding the light should help with them the most.  I expect the rest of the plants will have a nice spurt as well.

Interestingly, after changing the drainage setup, I had a massive power failure at the host today.   Out for 10hrs followed by 1 hour on and then 2 hrs off again.  The setup held up perfectly.  The only deficiency is that after a power blip, the sump pump will pump out about 15G of water and the return chamber in the sump will go to low level.  The return pump will be pushing a bunch of air until you put more water back into the tank.  Considering that a power blip is likely to be followed by power failures, I’m OK with this being the worst thing that can happen.  I would much rather buy a new pump than a new hardwood floor.  During the downtime, the tank dropped about 6 degrees which is probably going to stress the fish a bit.

Since the last update I’ve added some new fish.  They aren’t visible in this shot but I’ve added 6 albino corys, 3 bristlenose pleco, 2 clown pleco and 30 cardinal tetras.  I’ve lost my albino bushynose pleco and an oto since the last time I updated this.  The cardinal tetras have gone in the have been hiding in the back in the plants.  They are eating but not much.  The seem to be getting a bit braver and venturing to the front for food today though.  Here’s the tank today:

Tank Update Jan 12


~ by canaquaticgardens on January 13, 2012.

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