CO2 for dummies (at least this dummy)
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Old 03-24-2013, 12:16 AM   #1
d_sinsley
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CO2 for dummies (at least this dummy)


OK I am lost. I have been searching on here for the basics and it seems as iff everyone on here has a head start. I have a 90 gal that I want to light to medium plant. For sure amazons swords. Added to that vals, java fern, and milfoil. Not a forest but I hate fake plants. For lighting I have 1-2 bulb t5 NO (not HO) and will probably put on a second.

With that said. What do I need to do about a CO2 system? I am reading about bio systems and pressurized systems. Pressurized seems more convenient for this size tank. So what components do I (really) need for a basic system. How big of a tank... can I use a smaller paintball tank or am I talking about a beverage sized one? For this set up smaller will be better. I have very limited access under and behind the tank. (wasn't planning on this when I set it up). So the smaller the better.

So walk me through the steps. What parts do I need and what do they do?
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Old 03-24-2013, 12:20 AM   #2
Sajacobs
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I'm learning too. Try these threads

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...t=co2+diffuser

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=137245

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=148509

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=107312
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Old 03-24-2013, 12:43 AM   #3
cah925
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I would suggest a 5 lb CO2 tank. Paintball would work, but it would run out much, much faster and you would be wasting a lot of money refilling very frequently. You can go to a fire extinguisher refill shop and buy a used 5 lb tank for pretty cheap. Either way you do it, a regulator is necessary. A regulator helps keep the pressure steady coming out of the tank. It can be adjusted with a built in screw. You're looking for 25-30 psi. One gauge shows psi, the other shows how much gas is still in the tank.
Solenoid is 50/50 but most regulators that I've seen come with it already installed. This just electronically turns the gas on/off with an additional timer that you can buy at Lowes/Home Depot. Something like this works just fine or you can get a digital timer.
Bubble counters aren't necessary but highly recommended. You want to get about 3 bubbles per second (this is approximate and could change depending on your aquarium). It's easier to count 10 or 15 seconds and do the math. Check out Greenleaf Aquariums. They have complete systems ready to go.
Another item is a diffuser. This breaks up the gas into much smaller bubbles to help dissolve the gas in the water. There are many different styles to choose from.
Lastly, a drop checker that goes in the aquarium. The liquid inside changes color to let you know when you have the proper amount of gas. This isn't an absolute, but definitely helps if you're new to CO2. If you don't have a bubble counter then you should absolutely get a drop checker to avoid gassing your fish.
Also make sure your tubing is rated for CO2.
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Old 03-24-2013, 01:25 AM   #4
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Cheapo reg+solenoid+needle valve+bubble counter+tubing = $100-120
Good (atomic) diffuser = $30, OR DIY reactor (if you have a canister filter), same price
Used 5lb cylinder = $50-65

So figure around $200 all told if you go cheap, full-size rig. Paintball would be a bit cheaper, but with something that large, I agree it's not worth your time.

For another $50 (with step-by-step guidance from people who know what they're doing) you can build your own two-stage rig with much higher quality components.
OR
For another $100 you can have somebody here build the rig for you.

By the way, for about $90 shipped, you can get a used 20lb industrial cylinder:
http://www.bvrgelements.com/product/...k-recertified/. A bit bigger than a 5lb, but they last 4 times as long, and many refill or swap places have minimal or no increased charges for larger cylinders.
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Old 03-24-2013, 04:26 PM   #5
d_sinsley
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hey thanks guys I will check out all the links and absorb the info. I am a DIY guy besides the regulator how much of this can be built by a DIY guy.
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Old 03-24-2013, 04:54 PM   #6
cah925
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The reactors are pretty easy to build. You can search on here or Google for several different ways to build one. Here's some instructions by Rex Grigg that several people have used.
He has some other reading material on his site that you may find useful.
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Old 03-25-2013, 01:10 AM   #7
d_sinsley
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Default Great resources

Thanks this was hugely helpful. I know understand each piece and what I am actually trying to accomplish.
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:32 PM   #8
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Default Regulators

Lets talk just regulators. Single stage vs. Dual stage, I am thinking dual stage but is it truely neccesary. Is the "end of tank dump" something to worry about. It seems from my research dual seems to be the right choice. If so when looking on ebay I see a huge mind blowing selection of stuff. Are the beer ones (kegorator type) going to work well if I use a needle valve to really control flow? They seem inexpensive but that usually means cheap. Does it have to be a CO2 regulator or can say one that says Oxygen or someother gas be used. Pressures what should be the pressures, tank side and flow side?

I should mention I have decided on a 5# cylindar. I really like the idea of setting this up myself because things like my bubble counter and needle valve will be in line (remote) because of access reasons.
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:02 PM   #9
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Another inert gas type can be used, but you would have to change the fitting over to CGA320.

I'm not sure about end of tank dumps. I suspect that would depend on the quality of regulator and the type of reactor you have.
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:53 PM   #10
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I too am just getting into the pressurized CO2 realm and found this thread incredibly helpful in putting it all in perspective.

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...ressurized-CO2

I already have my co2 tank and regulator; I just need to get a solenoid, bubble counter and needle valve. As helpful as that thread is, it's a bit dated. I'm trying to sort through which components are still available today.

(If you're looking to get the regulator and whole shebang in one, http://www.greenleafaquariums.com looks to be a great place to check out).

So far, I think I've decided on Burkert 6011 solenoid - freshwatersystems.com has the best price I've found; $45.40 there gets you the valve and plug. Careful: lots of places like aquariumplants.com want to charge you another $10 for the plug.

One catch with the Burkert 6011; you have to DIY the power cable. Here's a good guide I found to step you through it.

Keep us posted on the components you find and go with! +1 on the "being a step behind everyone else here" !!
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WheeledGoat View Post
I too am just getting into the pressurized CO2 realm and found this thread incredibly helpful in putting it all in perspective.

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread...ressurized-CO2

I already have my co2 tank and regulator; I just need to get a solenoid, bubble counter and needle valve. As helpful as that thread is, it's a bit dated. I'm trying to sort through which components are still available today.
That is my thread It is also linked here on the TPT (see my signature below).

I try to update the parts from time to time - from what I know, the parts that I list in the article can still be used today.

Of course, between then and now, there have been many new additions that can be found, but I decided to only keep my article with the parts that can be found easily from retailers.

There are whole lists of what parts (i.e. needle valves) may work for our purposes, but again, either they are rare, or cost $200-300 (and I would assume most people do not want to spend that much).

Quote:
Originally Posted by d_sinsley View Post
Lets talk just regulators. Single stage vs. Dual stage, I am thinking dual stage but is it truely neccesary. Is the "end of tank dump" something to worry about. It seems from my research dual seems to be the right choice.
It all depends on your purpose.

EOTD is a phenomenon that can occur. However, if you take the precaution of always refilling your cylinder once the liquid CO2 has depleted (i.e. when the high pressure gauge begins to decrease), then you will have no problems with EOTD.

With a dual stage regulator, you can easily run the cylinder down to empty without any worries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by d_sinsley View Post
If so when looking on ebay I see a huge mind blowing selection of stuff. Are the beer ones (kegorator type) going to work well if I use a needle valve to really control flow? They seem inexpensive but that usually means cheap.
Those types of regulator will work fine, but they are single stage only.

They are less sturdy than the industrial regulators that people sometimes use (i.e. Victor, Concoa, etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by d_sinsley View Post
Does it have to be a CO2 regulator or can say one that says Oxygen or someother gas be used.
Inert gas regulators are better. Regulators used for oxygen previously could have a bit more excessive wear and tear on the diaphragm, leading to potential DOA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by d_sinsley View Post
Pressures what should be the pressures, tank side and flow side?
For cylinder pressure, the high pressure side has to be capable of handling at least 1500 PSI (to be on the safe side). This is usually fine.

For the low pressure (delivery pressure) side, it depends on your purpose. For smaller aquariums, you may want something that has a finer resolution in the lower PSI range. Vice versa for larger aquariums.

It also depends on the type of diffuser you plan to use; some atomic type CO2 diffusers require higher pressures to operate (around 40 PSI), so you will have to take this into consideration when purchasing a regulator.
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A Primer to Pressurized CO2 and A Primer to Planted Tanks
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:04 PM   #12
d_sinsley
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thanks that is useful. I quess one could use a single stage and if it just doesn't work out then opt for a dual stage.
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_sinsley View Post
thanks that is useful. I quess one could use a single stage and if it just doesn't work out then opt for a dual stage.
You know what no one ever mentions? The fact that you can find a 2-stage regulator for the same price a as single stage. They are getting more and more rare but they are still out there. That was probably the biggest factor for me when I first read about them. I mean, if you had your choice between a cheap Chinese made hobby grade regulator or one that was intended for precise delivery in an industrial or lab application, which would you rather have? The whole point that it eliminates and dreaded end of thank dump (which is kinda like the jack-o-lope of the hobby. Single stage regulators work too...) is just a bonus.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:04 PM   #14
d_sinsley
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Default Now on to tank size

I am thinking 5# cylindar. How long should I expect this to last on a 90gal. Should I increase it to 10#. I am looking at a 5# fire extinguisher right now and that would be a great size for the space I have (assuming a 5# chemicle is the same size as a 5# CO2). But I don't want to have to fill it weekly.

So suggestions on size and duration etc.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkblade48 View Post
That is my thread It is also linked here on the TPT (see my signature below).
sweet! u rock man! actually, the only noteworthy updates I noticed were regarding the solenoid products you reference. I can't find that fabco solenoid even on their own website, and there are several with an LED light now.

but I don't mean to nit-pick - that thread was a Godsend in helping me get up to speed with co2. much appreciated!!

BTW: would anyone happen to know if this Reef Fanatic solenoid is good? I suspect that it's made by another manufactuer, just re-branded... but I don't know this stuff well enough to recognize the stuff by sight (yet!)
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