CO2 Getting it Started! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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CO2 Getting it Started!

Beginners guide to CO2 injection system

This is a very simple guide/ outline to help people just beginning to look into this setup. the items listed below are the most basic needed items to build your system.

The first question you need to determine is CO2 injection needed for you?

Does your tank have medium to high light?
How big is your tank? (you may be fine using yeast driven CO2)
Are you planning on dosing a regular fertilizer regime?

The lighting and fertilizing and CO2 are part of a 3 point setup for plant growth you have to be able to balance all of it for effective growth and to avoid other problems.


Example: high light with CO2 injection but no fertilizers will result in poor plant growth and potential algea issues.


Don't be afraid to spend the money up front and put together a good solid system, spend cheap spend twice and not to mention the headaches... This comes from expierence.

Just like keeping fish... Then plants its something you have to commit to.

If you have established that CO2 injection is for you lets list out some of the basic pieces that are a must have.

Regulator
Solenoid - not nessecary but very handy
Needle valve
Bubble counter - nice to have, can do without
Diffusor
Drop checker
Check valve


Regulator

This piece is what every other item will branch off. there are two basic types single stage vs dual stage.

SINGLE STAGE regulators perform the same function as the two stage regulator using a single step reduction of source to outlet pressure. For this reason, the outlet pressure cannot be as accurately controlled as the source pressure decays. We highly recommend single stage regulators only be used in circumstances where the operator can monitor and adjust the regulator as needed or where the regulator is supplied a nearly constant source pressure.

TWO STAGE regulators reduce the source pressure down to the desired delivery pressure in two steps. Each stage consists of a spring, diaphragm, and control valve. The first stage reduces the inlet pressure to about three times the maximum working pressure. The final pressure reduction occurs in the second stage. The advantage of a dual stage regulator is its ability to deliver a constant pressure, even with a decrease in inlet pressure. For example, as a cylinder of gas is depleted, the cylinder pressure drops. Under these conditions, single stage regulators exhibit a “decaying inlet characteristic”; where the delivery pressure increases as a result of the decrease in inlet pressure. In a two stage regulator, the second stage compensates for this increase, providing a constant delivery pressure regardless of inlet pressure conditions. The dual stage regulator is recommended for applications where a continuous supply of gas is required; such as the gas supplied to analytical instruments where constant delivery pressure is critical.




Solenoid

This item is very handy and almost a needed as it allows you to run your system on a timer. the other option is manually turning your system on and off... Gets old fast. there are several makes but they all do the same thing, its an electronically controlled valve with an open and closed position that either allows the CO2 to flow or not at all. on/ off thats it but makes life so much easier!


(in photo is a clippard mouse Solenoid)


Needle valve

This part is a must have as well, this valve allows you to make minute adjustments to your flow of CO2. so instead of 2 bubbles to 15 because you bumped your regulator, the needle valve allows you to go from 2 bubbles per second to 3. there are several levels of needle valve from $5 flea bay valves up $100 for some really nice ones. the difference in cost gets you quality, and gives you better fine tuning adjustments.
Easy example the steering in a pos car vs the tight precise steering of a sports car.



(different assorted needle valves)


Bubble counter

Not 100% nessecary , just allows users to visibly see their bubble count. does exactly what it sounds like... Counts bubbles.


(Generic glass style)

(JBJ Bubble counter)

Diffusor

So many different types but the purpose and what they do does not change. the whole purpose with a diffusor is to take the CO2 and get it into your water.

Bubbles that reach the surface of your water is wasted CO2, therefore the smaller the bubbles the better, also depending on the size of the tank may dictate what style will be best. there are two basic types. in tank and inline.

In tank
These style diffusers will be placed directly in the tank, sometimes feeding into power heads, sometimes here sometimes there, they are just in the tank!

Ceramic
Most common are glass style with ceramic diffusors. They range in style and size most suitable for tanks 55 gallons or less. they are cheap but not the most efficient at getting the CO2 into the water. but they can operate with very low working pressures.


(generic glass)

Atomic diffusers
Are fairly new and making a strong push into the market as they do an incredibly good at diffusing CO2 due their ability to create very tiny borderline micro bubbles. the one disadvantage is they require a higher working pressure usually 30 psi as a minimum.


(Atomic Series through GLA)


Power head+ sponge
This is a diy method using a power head to force water and CO2 through a sponge. this method is actually highly effective, not always aesthetically appealing but effective, there are a couple ways these are built. see some example photos below.


(DIY Sponge Diffusor)


In line
Exactly as it sounds, the most common place is for them to be placed in the line on the return side of your filter system. once again several styles. for the most part these tend to be more efficient allowing the CO2 to better diffuse into the water, also if you don't like seeing equipment in the tank.

Glass inline
Built the same as an in tank style except they are enclosed in glass in which the filter return line runs.


(CAL Aqua Inline)

Atomic inline
Made of the same material as regular atomic and capable of producing tiny bubbles that more effectively diffuse into the water, require higher psi.


(GLA Inline Atomic)


Reactor
There are several forms of reactors and basically cover everything other then ceramic or the atomic.

A reactor works by keeping the CO2 in constant contact with moving water to dissolve it into the water. this method generally is the most efficient but can be more expensive and elaborate, the main advantage is little to no CO2 is wasted. they do however require more space.


(random reactor)

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/diy/110100-cerges-reactor-diy-inline-co2-reactor.html - cerges


Drop Checker

This is a very important item, it is not tied directly into the pressurized CO2 system. however without it your shooting into the dark. the optimum saturation of CO2 is around 20-30ppm. the drop checker is a visual reference. blue not enough, green just right and yellow to high. the reference solution in the drop checker changes color as the PH shifts due to the CO2 saturation.

(GLA Drop Checker)

Check valves
Check valves are a simple enclosed one way valve to keep water from back flowing into your Solonoid and or regulator


Basic plastic check valve



I hope this helps anyone who is looking at starting their own CO2 and points you in the right direction and gets you started with what you need to get for your system. following soon will be links to more advanced items. such as building your own regulator, building your own reactor etc.

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-13-2012, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 12:58 AM
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Good stuff man! I hope this get's sticky. Nice to have all the pictures as well.

Drop checkers are also optional, and you don't have to need Co2 (via high light) to enjoy it. Meaning, low light tanks also get a huge boost of plant growth from additional Co2.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 02:30 AM
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Solenoid*

You've got solonoid a couple times in there, may be worth correcting, especially if you wan't this stickied!
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 02:32 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlorophile View Post
Solenoid*

You've got solonoid a couple times in there, may be worth correcting, especially if you wan't this stickied!
Corrected! lol


Yea I hope it does get stickied. Seen so many how to get started threads figured it was time to line out some basics!


Hopefully if it does get stickied I can recruit some more intelligent people then I to construct some threads we can link to for building the system, more detail into parts, where to get etc etc. Just make it a one stop shop for people!

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 02:40 AM
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I believe "dual stage" is the correct term for your "two stage" regulators. I see numerous spelling/grammatical errors but as long as the content is here they're not that important. Great guide so far!
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-14-2012, 03:10 AM
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this is extraordinarily helpful, thank you!
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-02-2012, 02:24 AM
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Nice write up bro, I'm planning a build and would like to know a few things.

Those JBJ bubble counter, can you set it up with a elbow 1/8 male to female? My needle valve is mounted sideway.

1/8 tubing
Bubble Counter
+
==== 1/8 female to male _|
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-02-2012, 02:34 AM
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+1, you've got my vote for a sticky. Great place to point new people. One suggestion: get a picture of a new solenoid, that sucker youve got on there has been through some hoops. Might be good to add some pictures of burkerts as well so newbies know there are different types and what to expect visually. Also might want to add some information about check valves (jbj type counters usually have a mediocre one built in), they are a pretty necessary part of any Co2 system to prevent water in the reg and electronics.

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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-02-2012, 03:38 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samamorgan View Post
+1, you've got my vote for a sticky. Great place to point new people. One suggestion: get a picture of a new solenoid, that sucker youve got on there has been through some hoops. Might be good to add some pictures of burkerts as well so newbies know there are different types and what to expect visually. Also might want to add some information about check valves (jbj type counters usually have a mediocre one built in), they are a pretty necessary part of any Co2 system to prevent water in the reg and electronics.
check valves how the heck did I miss that! will get that updated soon.

as for the jbj and the angled adapter I think it would work bettatail, would be a really good source to ask on that.

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-02-2012, 11:13 AM
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Tubing? Type and OD/ID.
If no JBJ-style bubble counter - ways to connect needle valve to diffusor
CO2 cylinders
Regulators - pre-set and max WP models
DC vs fish behavior
Teflon tape

GJ!
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-02-2012, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OVT View Post
Tubing? Type and OD/ID.
If no JBJ-style bubble counter - ways to connect needle valve to diffusor
CO2 cylinders
Regulators - pre-set and max WP models
DC vs fish behavior
Teflon tape

GJ!
like I said this is a very basic listing to help people get started, I will be adding links for more advanced discussions. This is more the parts involved not an assembly guide.

If someone would like to do a good write up on setting up a system with all the needed parts that would be super awesome

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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-02-2012, 04:06 PM
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Great thread, thanks

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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-02-2012, 04:27 PM
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This is a very great write-up, however it probably wont be a sticky because there is already one very similar to it in the FAQ section http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/pl...ml#post1056440

Also, Olpunk78 already wrote a VERY detailed guide on how to build regulators (first sticky in the equipment section)

Great write up though!

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