Updated: Nov 14, 2021
One week prior to writing this, I wrote an article on how to set up a simple automated Co2 system. I used my own planted 38 gallon as the example and set up the system I described in the article. After a week of growth, I thought it was time for an update.
As you can see from the after (above) and before (below) photos above, plant growth is going well. In addition to CO2, I have added nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, iron, and trace elements every three days. I noticed I was getting some algae growth, so I cut my lights down from 12 to 11 to 10 hours a day. The algae growth has slowed considerably as the plants out-compete the simpler life forms.
As for the CO2 equipment itself, everything ran without a hitch. The needle valve on the CO2 regulator needed little to no adjusting. Thanks to the smart power strip I installed, it was easy to reliably change my lighting schedule and the light and CO2 come on and off exactly when I need them to.
The drop checker measures CO2 changes at about a two hour lag and reaches its ideal green color around 5 p.m. This means CO2 reaches optimal levels at around 3 pm, three hours after the CO2 comes on and 6.5 hours before the lights turn off, giving plenty of time for exposure to plants.
My future plans for this system include installing an inline CO2 diffuser for the reasons I mentioned in the previous article, and mounting the smart strip outlet up off the floor to prevent water from dripping on it. I also plan to reevaluate my choice of carpet plants. Monte Carlo seems to have some trouble rooting to larger gravel, (you'll notice it has reduced in the photos) and certain species of dwarf hairgrass have been known to accommodate larger gravel size.