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GulfCoastAquarian 03-03-2003 04:54 PM

Ok, so it ended up a bit over $80, but the basic components are:

I got lucky on the CO2 cylinder, and it was even aluminum, but they shouldn't run more than $50 at just about any welding supply store.

I made the diffusion reactor with an old Tap Water Purifier I had lying around. I epoxied an inlet, tangential to the cylinder, near the top. The water swirls around downwards, and then travels back up through a UGF tube back up to an exit at the top.

My bubble counter is a glass oregano spice bottle. I drilled two holes in the top, epoxied some lines in place and filled it with water. Had to seal the lid on with silicone, and it doesn't leak.

So far the plants are responding with intense pearling by late evening. It's been running for just two days so we'll see how much growth we see versus the old yeast CO2 method I was using. Just being able to remove all the clutter from the tank (reactor, tubes, powerhead, etc) is a nice bonus by itself!

Pancake 03-03-2003 08:48 PM

I bought the exact same regulator last week.Looks real nice but I haven't connected mine up yet because I'm waiting on the exact same needle valve you just got lol.

$80 dollars is a bargain for a pressurized co2 system and if you follow the easy plans to OD lights that you have posted(I did :) )a person could have an awesome aquarium for minimal investment.Assuming they do all the other important things of course.Which I admit I'm still learning and have a looong ways to go still.


GulfCoastAquarian 03-04-2003 04:43 PM

The system is still running great but I do have a question for anyone who is reading. My tank pressure dropped from 950psi to 850psi in just two days. I've got to have a leak but I can't find it. When I turn off the valve on the outlet of the beverage factory regulator, the pressure stays the same so I know it's tight up to that point.

What are good ways to look for leaks?

anonapersona 03-04-2003 04:52 PM

I read that there is a leak detector that soda places sell, I think it was a liquid that changes color inthe presence of CO2. Try a soda distributer.

geekgirl 03-04-2003 05:32 PM

Use kids' bubbles. Brush them on and wait to see if they bubble up. Cleans up easy too.


GulfCoastAquarian 03-04-2003 06:02 PM

I might try some dishwashing liquid and water and try brushing it on each connection. This would really be a pain if I had to go refill the container just a few weeks after I got it, haha.

mitche8359 03-04-2003 06:20 PM

Yeah the dishwashing soap and water solution will work. That's what I use to check for natural gas leaks. Good luck finding the leak.

Did you happen to use silicon tape at the fittings?

anonapersona 03-04-2003 06:29 PM

Oh, wish I copied the original site of this post. It was so good I hardcopied it. It might have been from this forum, or another, I suspect here, though.

Anyhow, "Tim" found that he had a leak at the bubble counter, the needle valve, the check valve (replaced that with a metal CO3 check valve with barbs and a tightening hex nut), found he had to replace washers between the cylinder and regulator at each tank fill up, and then found that 30 % of his loss was the silicone tubing. Replaced that with CO2 proof tubing from He mentioned the test kit, from welding shop or beverage supply house, said that soap works for large leaks, but appa ently he needed this stuff for small leaks. He said that 80% of his CO2 was escaping unused. And weigh the bottle to see the usage.

Just a "head's up", trying to help pass on what seemed to be good info.

GulfCoastAquarian 03-04-2003 07:51 PM

All the fittings on the regulator came tightened with teflon tape. No wonder that part doesn't lose pressure. But the outlet of the regulator is just a barbed fitting. I used a short length of clear vinyl tubing over the barbed fitting and tightened the mess out of it with a steel clamp. What is definitely questionable is where I simply slid the vinyl tubing over a threaded fitting that came with the needle valve and tightened that with a hose clamp. I did apply some silicone to the threads but I need to re-evaluate that fitting.
The rest of the tubing is silicone tubing, which I thought wouldn't leak CO2?

SNPiccolo5 03-04-2003 08:54 PM

Silicon tubing will lose CO2, more than CO2-resistant anyway. But if your pressure is dropping quicky, then wouldn't the leak have to be before the regulator, since the cylinder wouldn't release more CO2 if there was a leak after what is stopping it, if that makes sense. However, a leak would effect the amount of CO2 that is going into your tank....

How is your regulator attached to your cylinder? I know that it has to be very tight to work, and I used teflon tape as well at that connection.


GulfCoastAquarian 03-04-2003 09:08 PM

Well I've been doing quite a bit of reading in the past hour and I've found that silicone will generally lose 5%-10% and regular airline tubing (usually vinyl) loses 30%. I'm definitely going to upgrade to the CO2 tubing the next time I place an order, but can't justify the cost just now.

The regulator is sealed with a soft plastic washer that came with it. I tightened it pretty well but didn't use any teflon tape. I figured if the washer didn't do its job, the tape wouldn't be much use at that pressure.

What you said did make sense, though. But I don't think I'm going to worry about it. This might just be normal settling and temperature fluctuation. It has been at 820psi for about 24 hours now and it should stay that way until the cylinder is just about empty. For some reason I was under the impression that the tank pressure reading would slowly drop as the tank emptied. But since CO2 resides in the tank in liquid form, it won't start dropping in pressure until the liquid has all turned to gas. (just talking out loud if you know this already, hehe)

Right now, I have no reason to believe there are any leaks, I guess.

ridns 03-04-2003 09:23 PM

I had to refill after a month ....., found I had a leak where the regulator is attached to the tank. Tighten as tight as you can , plus a half turn.
That sucker must be tight! Its amazing how much better it works without a leak! Good luck.

Rex Grigg 03-05-2003 02:12 AM

Tank pressure will vary with the temp.

corvus 03-05-2003 12:10 PM

I'm embarrased to say I went through 3 TANKS! before I found my leaks.

Mine leaked at the tank/regulator connection, and at the needle valve.

soapy water, didn't work,

leak detector fluid, didn't work,

Finally, I submerged the entire system under water to find the leaks (the old bicycle tube approach, for use old timers out there). Had to do it quickly, as to avoid ruining the regulator (regulator gauges fill right up with water when submerged, I think they can be ruined easily this way). Then I used a combination of teflon tape at the regulator/tank, and massive globbs of silicone at the needle valve connections. Let it all dry for 3 days before hooking back up. It worked for me, been going almost 3 months with current tank, no drop in pressure except temperature fluctuations, as someone mentioned above.

As an aside, my house plants all ate up the co2 in the house during the leaks, you should have seen the new growth!

Rex Grigg 03-05-2003 12:22 PM


You must have had a tank with bad threads or a bad regulator. You don't want to use teflon tape on the regulator threads. If a piece of that stuff gets into your regulator you are screwed, and so is the regulator. All that should be needed on the regulator threads is..... nothing. The washer should seal that connection. And did you know there is a permanent brass seal for that connection? It screws into the regulator and has a O ring on it. Works like a champ! All the other connections on my tank use pipe dope. I don't like the idea of the way the teflon tape shreds. It can clog needle valves real easy.

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