MISTAKES HAVE BEEN MADE!
So I finally realized that my on/off valve is reversed from every other valve I'm familiar with. Screwed all the way down is all the way on, and screwed all the way up is off. Cause it is a needle valve.... idiot.
I gave it another go today, barely screwing the valve knob down to crack out just a bit of CO2 for the needle valve to regulate even further. This worked well. I got it calibrated down to a bubble every 2 or 3 seconds and there wasn't enough back pressure to blow the o-ring seal from the tank.
Fast forward a few hours after I got done with a job I got called out on and I returned to find a dead tank. Managed to kill off my entire colony of cherry shrimp and endlers. Now I've got a 10 gallon tank of seafood soup. Who's hungry? Since the CO2 was no longer running, I'm guessing that it released more then just a bubble a second and dumped in my tank and the bottom dropped out of the pH.
Thankfully it was only my 10 gallon and not a bigger tank full of german ram fry. The only thing worse could have been the valve blowing apart and shattering all 3 tanks sitting there. At least I have the plants!
I already said I'm not a quitter.... But I am smarter then I am stubborn. Also smart enough to realize that I won't be running pressurized CO2 without a regulator now.... Lesson learned (the hard way)