DIY CO2 reactor questions
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Old 01-11-2014, 03:42 PM   #1
Dave Allen
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DIY CO2 reactor questions


Hi all,

I have been reading a ton of posts on this topic on multiple forums and am feeling a bit waterlogged with information. What's my solution? Start another post about it!

I want to switch from my glass CO2 diffuser to an inline PVC reactor, partly because I want to be more efficient in my CO2 use, but also I like a good project. Another benefit is that the design will help me fit my hydor inline heater under the tank without a lot of bent tubing.

The tank is an ADA 60-P (~17 gallons) and the filter is a Eheim 2217. I anticipate that I will have more flow that I actuall need for a tank this size. Hopefully this gives me some flexibility in adding flow-gobbling inline equipment. CO2 is paintball pressurized with an Aquatek regulator.

General reactor questions:

1. What is optimal length and diameter for my reactor? Ideally I'd like to keep it ~16 inches long to make it fit next to the filter. I have a piece if 1.5" PVC cut to this size, but I'm worried that it will be too narrow.

2. Should I use bioballs? Would my chosen tubing width inform this decision?

3. Elbows, tees, or 90 degree barbs? I'll need the tubing going to and from the reactor to come off at a right angle. I could use a 90 degree barb at the end cap or a straight barb from a pvc elbow or tee. I have read that right angles reduce flow, but am wondering if they also create turbulance to aid in dissolving the CO2.

Probably more questions to come, but that's it for the moment.

Thanks,

Dave
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:05 PM   #2
brohawk
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1. Not too narrow/short. That should work fine w/ the 2217.

2. No, not worth the bother, and opinions differ on whether it actually helps w/ dissolution.

3. Yes, the 90 deg barb up top will help w/ turbulence and you've got flow to spare. Depending on your cabinet height/ability to mount the reactor to a side wall, you could go straight barb out the bottom, or straight barb off a tee w/o reducing flow much.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:33 PM   #3
PlantedRich
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I use a Griggs style reactor and am very happy. But then I often see folks try to design "improvements" and are not happy. Adding bio-balls is one of those which I suspect are not real improvements. If added bio filtering is needed, I want it in the filter where I can clean it when needed not in the reactor where it only creates a flow restriction. For breaking down the bubbles, all I find needed is keeping them in the water long enough.

For sizing there seems to be several variables due to amount of CO2 needed as well as tank and filter size. I use a 2217 on a 75 with a reactor total height of 21. I also use a 2217 on a 125 gallon with a reactor 19" total tall. Both work very well for the CO2 I push into each. I would think 16" might be close to the minimum but then part depends on what end fittings you might add.
Keep in mind that you may need to tip the reactor to clear air when restarting the filter. With this in mind, I like to use a flat end plug so that it will sit straight on the floor and then I use barb adapters to go in the top straight and out the bottom at a 90. It takes less strapping to hold it upright when it sits flat down.
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Old 01-11-2014, 08:47 PM   #4
larams67
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I used PVC elbows with straight barbs. I think this is the best way to avoid flow reduction.
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:34 AM   #5
Dave Allen
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Thanks for the replies so far! It seems like the consensus is to avoid the bio-balls.

Also, I no longer have to worry about whether the 1.5" PVC is too narrow. I found a length of 2" clear PVC at work. I'll still have to source the fittings, but I'm leaning towards a tee at the bottom like Rich suggested and a flat cap at the top.

The next thing I'm wondering is how I want to attach the CO2 inlet. I know the keep it simple strategy would be to just drill a small hole and pull the tubing through with pliers. I just have the (probably unfounded) fear of the tube pulling loose. I know that airline barb bulkheads exist. I could attach the tubing with a small hose clamp. Or is that overkill?
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:47 AM   #6
creekbottom
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This is 2" and a hose barb for the CO2 line, I didn't use a hose clamp and haven't had a problem. This was also expensive because its all threaded. PVC would have been much cheaper.
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:29 PM   #7
pvallejo31
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On a diy co2 on a planted shrimp tank... have a 1\2 tsp of yeast w 2 cups of sugar. Started 2 hours ago ...how long to wait for it to start producing a good amount. Can it run all night with shrimp. Crs and oebt
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Old 01-12-2014, 09:59 PM   #8
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I would call it overkill if I had to apply a name.
When you look at a barb fitting what holds it from popping off? Just the pressure where the ridges are on the barb. It only has to move like 1/2 or 3/4 inch to come off but we don't worry about that in most cases. So when we just drill a hole and pull the tubing through, we have much the same. The pressure from the ridge is on the outside of the tubing rather than on the inside.
To make sure the pressure is enough to stop any ooze type leaks, it takes a bit of technique. To get the hole tight and still get the tube in, it needs to be done while you have access to the inside of the hole. Cut the tube end at a sharp angle so that you have a sharp point to stick in the hole. Reach inside and grab this point with a long nose pliers to pull it through. It should be somewhat hard to force it through so that the end winds up more or less in the center of the pipe. When the tubing has to be stretched to fit through the hole you have it right and it will not pull out or leak.
Still not sure? Try it on a scrap of pipe until you get the really tight fit.
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:38 PM   #9
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There are times when simple is better.
Fewer parts take less space, make less work and expense and are less likely to leak at joints.
My top is Made of:
11/2 " coupling, 11/2" to 3/4" threaded reducer, 3/4" to 1/2" reducer, and 1/2" inch barb fitting. Since I do tip this to get the air/water out after restarts, I added the metal seal for security.


At the bottom: 11/2 to 3/4 threaded tee, 90 degree 3/4 threaded to 1/2"barb fitting. A plug at the bottom as they are flat rather than the dome found on caps.


For peace of mind about leaks, I use the Watchdog water alarm next to all my filters, etc. $10 worth of insurance?
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:43 PM   #10
creekbottom
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How does this 'watchdog' work?
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creekbottom View Post
How does this 'watchdog' work?
It is designed for under water heaters which may leak but handy for us. They have small metal contacts on the bottom which set off an alarm just a little less than smoke alarms. They use a 9 volt battery but it lasts almost forever as long as the alarm is not sounding. I normally keep it setting down on the carpeting so that if anything gets even slightly wet, it yells! Very sensitive as you can test it just by touching your fingers on the contacts. Biggest problem for me is when I do spill some water and really get the contacts wet, it screams until the water dries! The contacts are on a removable lid so that you can hang the electronics up out of the water if you expect a flood like a sewer backup, etc.
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