DIY CO2 regulator - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-09-2018, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
The major difference in the Clippard DV and the solenoid that might be seen on the sales site as being yellow is the color, one silver and one that can be found in a number of colors like yellow, blue or green.
I've not looked into the model numbering on the DV but might run through some info on the "yellow hat" type?
They all start model numbers with E (electronic?) and the second letter tells the connection type. C for connector or plug, V for small wires brought out. Kind of thin/fragile wires for me. T is my fav as it provides terminals ot tabs brought out to solder to.
ET-2 will give and in and out port/opening while dash 3 gives in, out, and an exhaust which is not what we want as it lets gas escape. But to make it confusing, there are ETO-3 which is the exhaust (fully ported?) which is brought out as a stud on the top which we can stopper with a 10-32 size screw and they are good! So if looking at used that look like a salt shaker on top, no good but if they have a metal stud on top, maybe good so shop carefully? Last number tells what voltage with 6,12, 15, 18,24 being pretty common. The power supply voltage used has to match this voltage but since they use such a tiny amount of power, almost all supplies will be large enough and more (amps, milliamps, watts?) is not a problem.
If you want to use solid piping, models with an M will need the manifold to set on and provide the ports for 1/8 pipes. EV-2M-12, perhaps?
So that leaves a possibility that one can find the correct solenoid on some online site at a cheaper price and then source the small parts locally- -but that does take some small knowledge and time to pick and choose the right combo of parts.
Great information on solenoids. I am looking into the ET-2-12. It seems to be perfect for my application and it is reasonably priced.

How do you feel about Clippard needle valves? the GNV-3 series seems to have a very gradual roll on. This one https://www.clippard.com/part/GNV-3KI or this one https://www.clippard.com/part/GNV-3K depending on whether a straight or right angle will fit better. They also have stainless steel needles with Nitrile seal so (as they claim) it could be completely closed without damaging the needle. From what I understand, this can be a big problem with brass needles and mating surfaces. Not that I want to use it to close completely, but I don't want to have to be in fear of making contact with the seat. This is not a make or break feature. However, I like the idiot proof aspect. Part of the reason I am considering the Clippard needle valve is that the shipping cost would be the same if I get one or multiple items from them. I would rather source as many parts as I can from the same company to reduce overall shipping costs. If Clippard needle valves are inferior to Fabco, then I will probably go ahead and get the Post Body Kit #1 https://www.diyco2regulator.com/co2-...body-kit-1-12v from diyco2regulator at $89.99. The needle valve on that kit is the Fabco NV-55-18 and I believe the solenoid is the EC-2M-12 with manifold. They also have the power supply with the same connector for $4.99. The two parts that I do not want to buy used is the solenoid and needle valve.

I found and purchased a Harris Model 92-50 Two Stage Lab Regulator for $55 (seller claims it was only used in a lab and it looks like it is in beautiful condition). I also bought a Dwyer RMA-151 flow meter for 22.55 (including shipping). Less than $80 for both, so I am on track to getting a complete CO2 system with all the features, precision, and safety measures that I want for less than $200.

The remaining items on my list are: Clippard solenoid (with or without manifold depending on model), needle valve, CGA-320 fitting, tank, and miscellaneous fittings. The tank might push me over $200 but that cost is generally not included in any kind of complete regulator setup, so I am ok with that. I will probably buy the tank and CGA-320 fitting tonight since those are pre-body and will not affect my decision on getting the kit or not.

I will probably be buying the rest of the parts on my shopping list tomorrow so feedback on the clippard needle valves is important right now, as it will be the deciding factor on whether I source from Clippard directly or diyco2regulators.

Thank you all for past, present, and future advice. I feel like I have found a great group of people who can help me to learn and grow (pun intended).

Last edited by AguaScape; 11-09-2018 at 03:48 AM. Reason: Typo
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post #17 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-09-2018, 04:45 AM
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First thing:
I take it the Dwyer is minus a valve??

Second:
Compare the chart below to the Clippard you linked to..
Unfortunately due to th Clippard scale axis it is hard to tell exactly what it's like in the low end..
I'm guessing it is a lot like the SMC AS-1000 so it should be fine though I've personally found the AS to not be exactly as "gradual" as other more "precise" needle valves.
It is assumed to be a lot like the Fabco.
Certainly is a fairly cheap alternative.
A lot depends on the volume of CO2 you are intending to inject.
Unfortunately if one sticks w/ new the "next step up" would be the $88 Dakota..
https://www.dakotainstruments.com/ba...-straight-flow
Quote:
Maximum Flow Rate: Air - 200 mL/min, Water - 6 mL/min, 0.042 Orifice, 0.0008 Cv
Note max is 200 "milliliters" per minute... 0.2L/minute




going back to the link I posted earlier:
Quote:
The one you linked is still too much flow. The range of 1-10 SCFH is equivalent to 472-4720 CC/min. The amount of CO2 needed for our purposes is approximately 1/100 of that flow.
CC=ml BTW..
.4-4.7 ml/min is more of the ideal range.
That said, many commercial systems use the SMC metering valves and they do work so the Clippard should work....

NEXT subject.. downstream safety and how I differ from others BUT you did mention safety..
Most 2 stage regulators have no safety features built in for second stage failure..
One would need a relief valve for downstream parts.. in the range of say 100psi or so..
List of safety features usually included:
Burst disc on CO2 tank to relive tank pressure exceeding 2000psi or so
2 stage reg has a pressure relief valve that will open when 1 stage exceeds set pressure (fixed) this is usually around 300psi or so.. Each reg is different.
If 2nd stage fails and 1st stage is pumped unregulated into second stage downstream things can see that around 250psi 1 st stage pressure..
Every instruction I've ever seen regarding 2 stage regulators mention this as a warning..except for certain models that DO already incorporate it..
Not real common but they are out there..

This is not an issue w/ one stage regulators because most will have what is equiv. to the 1st stage relief valve above. Only difference is it will be much lower pressure to open.. like 100psi or less.

Nice adjustable one..Sadly most commonly found ones are 1/4npt though since it's the first part past the reg, and most are 1/4npt on the body, not much of an issue..
Does come in handy to bleed off the second stage pressure...
https://www.amazon.com/Control-Devic...AK6AQ2HASXYH6F

Would go between reg output and first part (usually solenoid) by using a tee.

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Last edited by jeffkrol; 11-09-2018 at 05:13 AM. Reason: edit
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post #18 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-09-2018, 02:28 PM
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As in many ot the things we do, the charts on how the needle vale will work, really are missing the mark for our small use. They charts show what happens at 75-100 PSI when we are more likely to deal with 10PSI! Not too much help?
So that leaves us to look for experience and I know of none who have used the Clippard, even though there are likely to be some users. Clippard is like a lot of folks who make good stuff but it may not be meant for us as we are such a small segment. Perhaps it works but then I also know there were a pretty large group who wanted another option and approached Fabco to remake the NV-55 using the 10-32 fitting, into one which could be used with 1/8 solid piping as the 10-32 is a tiny weak little thing to hang out in space. Fabco did the redesign and came out with the NV-55-18 for our use. What that tells me is that the group from 8-10 years back were not finding a needle valve that fit well enough and prompted them to go to the trouble of asking Fabco for better?
Any of you older users still looking in that could tell us the what and why?
I might be a little dubious of the Clippard but only on the thought that the group was looking for better at that time and it tends to require a longer valve to get the lon taper we like.
The safety factor is not a great big factor to me on needle valves as we are not prone to accidentally ruining the needle by one or two closing too tight. More a factor if we do it repeated times and hard enough to mash a dent into the metal. Something to be aware of and not mess up the anvil type thing?
Safety on the reg is not one I worry at all as I have never had one fail and let pressure blow through if the reg is not terribly abused. I feel a dual stage would be expected to last nearly forever and never blow out. Keep in mind they are not mistreated in hospital/lab situations and they are trusted to NOT blow gases like O2, etc. into a patient? Can't let Grandma get hit with 800 PSI, now can we? I have seen regs fail but they were also regs that had set underwater in floods or been thawed out with a torch after ice storms! I strapped them to poles where they got frozen and they never blew up the cables but did stop working when we nearly melted them down! We called it sissie work versus real work!!

Bump:
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post #19 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-09-2018, 06:08 PM
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10 or 35 or greater for atomizers...

not going to argue "probabilities" here but the main point of the down stream check valve was to avoid blowing out a line or atomizer..
to be 100% honest here I don't put them on in tank discs because IF it would get over pressured most likely that end will blow first...

An outside atomizer (which I've had one craze and punch a pin hole at "only" 55psi..) attached to a canister pump if it ruptures will just dump the tank contents on the floor..
in other words it's just to minimize that likelihood a bit..

One can determine themselves if it is or isn't worth it..

Of course one could always hire a nurse to watch the tubing..
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post #20 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-09-2018, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
First thing:
I take it the Dwyer is minus a valve??

Second:
Compare the chart below to the Clippard you linked to..
Unfortunately due to th Clippard scale axis it is hard to tell exactly what it's like in the low end..
I'm guessing it is a lot like the SMC AS-1000 so it should be fine though I've personally found the AS to not be exactly as "gradual" as other more "precise" needle valves.
It is assumed to be a lot like the Fabco.
Certainly is a fairly cheap alternative.
A lot depends on the volume of CO2 you are intending to inject.
Unfortunately if one sticks w/ new the "next step up" would be the $88 Dakota..
https://www.dakotainstruments.com/ba...-straight-flow

Note max is 200 "milliliters" per minute... 0.2L/minute




going back to the link I posted earlier:


CC=ml BTW..
.4-4.7 ml/min is more of the ideal range.
That said, many commercial systems use the SMC metering valves and they do work so the Clippard should work....

NEXT subject.. downstream safety and how I differ from others BUT you did mention safety..
Most 2 stage regulators have no safety features built in for second stage failure..
One would need a relief valve for downstream parts.. in the range of say 100psi or so..
List of safety features usually included:
Burst disc on CO2 tank to relive tank pressure exceeding 2000psi or so
2 stage reg has a pressure relief valve that will open when 1 stage exceeds set pressure (fixed) this is usually around 300psi or so.. Each reg is different.
If 2nd stage fails and 1st stage is pumped unregulated into second stage downstream things can see that around 250psi 1 st stage pressure..
Every instruction I've ever seen regarding 2 stage regulators mention this as a warning..except for certain models that DO already incorporate it..
Not real common but they are out there..

This is not an issue w/ one stage regulators because most will have what is equiv. to the 1st stage relief valve above. Only difference is it will be much lower pressure to open.. like 100psi or less.

Nice adjustable one..Sadly most commonly found ones are 1/4npt though since it's the first part past the reg, and most are 1/4npt on the body, not much of an issue..
Does come in handy to bleed off the second stage pressure...
https://www.amazon.com/Control-Devic...AK6AQ2HASXYH6F

Would go between reg output and first part (usually solenoid) by using a tee.

Thank You for the great info. I am soaking this up like a sponge.

Yes, the Dwyer is minus the valve. I was not sure how precise the valve is in the flow meter including the valve.

I got kind of entranced by (what appears to be) a nice gentle curve that the Clippard needle valve shows on its graph and did not do the math on the actual numbers represented. The valve I was looking at tops out at 11 SCFM at 100 psi. 1cf = 28,316.85cc. Even accounting for the reduced pressure and only using a fraction of the adjustment range, it is obvious that it would be a very poor choice.

I did look into the Dakota needle valves and they really would be a great choice, but then I am adding significant cost and I would be sourcing from yet another company adding another shipping cost.

I decided to go ahead and get the post body kit #1 and power supply from diyco2regulator.com. It is a proven product that I expect to work great. Shipping was very reasonable and I do not have to spend time picking out every single little piece of the puzzle. I do like that part of it, but I think I have done enough parts picking and I want to move on to assembly now.

Thank you for taking the time to link up and explain the benefits of the pressure relief valve. I purchased the one you linked up as well as a M/F/F 1/4" Tee. An extra safety measure at a relatively low cost is always welcome. Being able to bleed off pressure in a couple seconds in order to service anything seems beneficial as well.
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post #21 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-09-2018, 08:50 PM
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Rumor has it the Dwyer ones are built by Fabco..

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post #22 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-10-2018, 07:45 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
As in many ot the things we do, the charts on how the needle vale will work, really are missing the mark for our small use. They charts show what happens at 75-100 PSI when we are more likely to deal with 10PSI! Not too much help?
So that leaves us to look for experience and I know of none who have used the Clippard, even though there are likely to be some users. Clippard is like a lot of folks who make good stuff but it may not be meant for us as we are such a small segment. Perhaps it works but then I also know there were a pretty large group who wanted another option and approached Fabco to remake the NV-55 using the 10-32 fitting, into one which could be used with 1/8 solid piping as the 10-32 is a tiny weak little thing to hang out in space. Fabco did the redesign and came out with the NV-55-18 for our use. What that tells me is that the group from 8-10 years back were not finding a needle valve that fit well enough and prompted them to go to the trouble of asking Fabco for better?
Any of you older users still looking in that could tell us the what and why?
I might be a little dubious of the Clippard but only on the thought that the group was looking for better at that time and it tends to require a longer valve to get the lon taper we like.
The safety factor is not a great big factor to me on needle valves as we are not prone to accidentally ruining the needle by one or two closing too tight. More a factor if we do it repeated times and hard enough to mash a dent into the metal. Something to be aware of and not mess up the anvil type thing?
Bump:
I see your point on the clippard needle valve. I decided to go with the tried and true and not try to save a buck and end up with something that is not at all suitable for a planted tank.

I bought the post body kit #1 https://www.diyco2regulator.com/co2-...body-kit-1-12v along with the matching power supply from
diyco2regulator with the Fabco NV-55-18 Needle Valve and Clippard solenoid. I could have tried to find cheaper prices on each part (and I probably could). But, as you pointed out, it would probably not be worth the time and effort involved. My only regret is that I forgot to get the check valve since I was already paying the shipping...

I did get the adjustable pressure relief valve as suggested by @jeffkrol as I really do not know how hard a life the regulator had. It looks like it was very well taken care of and the seller claims it was lab used, but you never really know when you buy on auction sites. I also like the option of being able to bleed off pressure at the twist of a knob. I wonder if an adjustable relief valve (properly adjusted) would be a good failsafe for someone running a single stage regulator to release the excess pressure on an EOTD?

I thought I would post up some costs in case someone is interested in seeing how much a build like this costs.

All shipping either free or included in quoted price except on items purchased from diyco2regulator.com which is added into total.

Harris Two Stage Lab Regulator $55.00 Used (price may vary) [I feel very lucky to find it at this price]
CGA-320 Nut & Nipple w/ Washer 9.48 [Ebay Link Removed]
Dwyer Rate-master Flowmeter RMA-151 22.55 Used (price may vary)
CO2 Regulator Post Body Kit #1 89.99 Link
12 volt power supply with matching plug 4.99 Link
Shipping on items purchased at diyco2regulator.com 5.99
Check valve TBD To Be Determined (will edit with price and link when I source and purchase)

Total for Regulator Assembly: $188.00 (No idea how it came out to an exact dollar amount, but it did)

Necessary but never included in pre-built regulator assemblies:
5lb co2 Tank- Aluminum Cylinder with CGA320 Valve 64.55 [Ebay Link Removed]

Optional:
Brass Pressure Relief Valve, 0-100 psi Adjustable 10.44 Link
Barstock Street Tee 1/4 NPT male-female-female 6.24 [Ebay Link Removed]

Grand total Including Tank and optional items $269.33

For reference, the S.T. International Aquarium 2-Gauge Professional CO2 Regulator currently sells for 200.00 on Amazon Link. This is a highly rated regulator assembly (according to some of the reviews I have read). I personally think it is kinda meh. I believe it is inferior in every way to what I am putting together. [Single stage regulator (this is not make or break, but I really wanted to go two stage). Lower quality needle valve, and plastic bodied solenoid valve]. It does not include a measuring device of any kind, check valve, tank, or the adjustable pressure relief valve.

Hopefully people will not get scroll wrap on my the totals column. I have a very wide screen monitor so formatting when trying to create total columns may not translate well on narrower monitors.

I am not sure if the links will work properly as I am kind of new to forum posting. I will try and edit if it does not look right or link correctly.

Any advice on check valves will be appreciated since I forgot to add the check valve on my purchase from diyco2regulator.com. I have no trust whatsoever in plastic check valves since they cannot even be trusted (in my experience) for bubblers. I have literally seen water syphoning back through tubing that had a cheap plastic check valve on it. Also I have read here (and elsewhere) that plastic check valves are prone to blowing apart under CO2 pressure (I believe this since I have had one separate from bubbler pressure). I may pony up the shipping cost on the check valve from diyco2regulator.com but I would like to avoid the shipping charge if I can. Diy does not post the actual brand or model number. Probably to avoid outsourcing (a company has to try to make money). Anyone have an actual brand name or model number for a decent check valve so I can search for a free shipping option?

Thank you all for all the valuable information that I am receiving. It amazes me that people take time out of their lives to provide knowledge to people who are trying to learn about the world of planted aquariums.

Bump: It seems that ebay links will not work. Columns did not line up at all since multiple spaces are converted to single space, but the general idea is there.
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post #23 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-10-2018, 08:45 AM Thread Starter
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does anyone have any experience using Rhinox Brass Check Valve? Can it be trusted to prevent water from leaking into expensive parts?
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post #24 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-10-2018, 02:17 PM
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Even on something as simple as a check valve we can get varied results??? I think it is Seattle Aquarist that uses a good quality metal check valve and they last forever, while my experience with them is not so good. The difference seems to be the water. Since it is kind of a given given that water will reach the check valve as CO2 is absorbed, I find that my hard alkaline water leaves a mineral deposit in almost any type check valve I use. It gradually builds up and then it can't close as well and eventually the water begins to make it's way past that check valve. But I have the type water that requires wiping down the glass when some running down the tank side or it will leave a trace! So it leaves me to say that some have good experience with metal while I do not and I find buying a dozen cheap plastic (but not too cheap) is better for me as i change them often.
My first check valves were the type used for airline and they are not good at all as they are often two sections of plastic with a simple glue together from and that cracks open quite easy.
I buy plastic items quite often and go to either US Plastic or ArkPlas, both of which have lots of types of check valves which do work as well as any for me. Their techies advised me that it did not matter which I used as CO2 is so easy that seals and types of plastic or tubing just doesn't matter at the temperature and pressures we operate. They build and sell to industry where material, temperatures and pressures, as well as distance can all be a factor but not for us.
I would like to find a local dealer but it just doesn't work for me as they add a bit for their work and tax, which can make the deal less than worthwhile. I tried to talk one of the LFS shops into ordering a hundred but they were not willing to do it for such a small segment of business.
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post #25 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-10-2018, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Even on something as simple as a check valve we can get varied results??? I think it is Seattle Aquarist that uses a good quality metal check valve and they last forever, while my experience with them is not so good. The difference seems to be the water. Since it is kind of a given given that water will reach the check valve as CO2 is absorbed, I find that my hard alkaline water leaves a mineral deposit in almost any type check valve I use. It gradually builds up and then it can't close as well and eventually the water begins to make it's way past that check valve. But I have the type water that requires wiping down the glass when some running down the tank side or it will leave a trace! So it leaves me to say that some have good experience with metal while I do not and I find buying a dozen cheap plastic (but not too cheap) is better for me as i change them often.
My first check valves were the type used for airline and they are not good at all as they are often two sections of plastic with a simple glue together from and that cracks open quite easy.
I buy plastic items quite often and go to either US Plastic or ArkPlas, both of which have lots of types of check valves which do work as well as any for me. Their techies advised me that it did not matter which I used as CO2 is so easy that seals and types of plastic or tubing just doesn't matter at the temperature and pressures we operate. They build and sell to industry where material, temperatures and pressures, as well as distance can all be a factor but not for us.
I would like to find a local dealer but it just doesn't work for me as they add a bit for their work and tax, which can make the deal less than worthwhile. I tried to talk one of the LFS shops into ordering a hundred but they were not willing to do it for such a small segment of business.
I am in the same boat as far as water quality is concerned. The town I live in sources it's public water from wells. As a result, I am fighting a losing battle with hard water stains on my shower doors and fixtures. It also is very alkaline. My pH is around 7.6. I am looking forward to the pH reduction that CO2 injection will provide as it may help get it closer to neutral. I was considering RO for my water, but I don't want to remove essential minerals that may be needed for plants. Still have a lot to learn on that front.

So. I guess I will just end up getting a bunch of decent plastic check valves and change them out periodically. I assume you mean the disc type check valves like these https://www.usplastic.com/catalog/it...3369&catid=489

I might also add a water trap of some kind. I have some clear pvc pipe (left over from DIY sandfall and syphon overflow projects) and some nylon 1/8 npt to barb adapters. It should be pretty simple to make a trap that will provide a reservoir and drain so that I have some cushion in case I get a slow leak in a check valve. Do you (or anyone for that matter) know how CO2 affects pvc and nylon? I would think they both would hold up well as they are pretty non-reactive. and nylon is used for CO2 tank washers. On the other hand, it could be pretty bad if a barb becomes brittle or the pvc breaks down. It may seem silly to spend the time to DIY a water trap when it would be easy to just buy one, but I really enjoy making things myself.

My parts for my build should be arriving in the next couple of days. Looking forward to posting a few pictures.
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post #26 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-10-2018, 08:07 PM
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Two situations that need different items changed? For the house use, I was always a firm believer in the taste and feel of hard water. I felt "cleaner" after showers in hard water but that only lasted until I retired and got another job to keep active. In that job, I was maintaining water softeners and that let me see what happens with and without softened water. At the same time, I have always done lots of DIY plumbing like changing faucets and water heaters. We know that softeners remove the minerals which are mostly calcium and magnesium and that is why the taste and shower feel different as we are no longer rubbing bits of calcium over the skin. The skin feels slick! Kind of like rubbing a hand over the skin or a hand with sand on it?
But the big kicker for me was when I changed out a neighbors water heater and I could lift and load it all by myself! An old water heater is lots lighter if there is not a tub full of calcium burned and stuck to the bottom and that also goes into how much extra gas it takes to heat water through several inches of limestone versus a bare tank! I have no reason to sell softeners and have moved on from that period but it really does make sense to get one of the new softeners if you are dealing with stains and hard water as it does make life easier for the cleaning and cheaper for appliances.
But for the fish tanks, I go with using the water we have and have a faucet on the line before the softener so that I am using raw water for the minerals that I want in my water. I'm very slow to fight nature on that point as I can find plenty of plants and fish who live in the heard alkaline water locally. If one visits any spring that comes up out of limestone in places like Florida, Texas and lots of other places, we see lots of fish and lots of plants growing so it is not that plants don't like hard water but that the primary media spots are East and West costs where the norm is soft water. That leaves most of what we read coming from spots which have little experience with hard water and they will tell us it is not good! I find it much easier to adapt my methods to the water that to adapt my water to what other people finds works on either coast. It kind of gets back to why we don't see palm trees in Michigan? Just easier to grow something else! We can try to change what goes in our tanks but it is a whole bunch easier to NOT!
Yes, those are the type check valves I like. Again, just a choice as I like to get ten plastic for $15-20 and shipping while others like to get one really good metal one for $10-15 and shipping. No wrong answers, just different situations require different answers.
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post #27 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-11-2018, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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But for the fish tanks, I go with using the water we have and have a faucet on the line before the softener so that I am using raw water for the minerals that I want in my water. I'm very slow to fight nature on that point as I can find plenty of plants and fish who live in the heard alkaline water locally. If one visits any spring that comes up out of limestone in places like Florida, Texas and lots of other places, we see lots of fish and lots of plants growing so it is not that plants don't like hard water but that the primary media spots are East and West costs where the norm is soft water. That leaves most of what we read coming from spots which have little experience with hard water and they will tell us it is not good! I find it much easier to adapt my methods to the water that to adapt my water to what other people finds works on either coast. It kind of gets back to why we don't see palm trees in Michigan? Just easier to grow something else! We can try to change what goes in our tanks but it is a whole bunch easier to NOT!
Yes, those are the type check valves I like. Again, just a choice as I like to get ten plastic for $15-20 and shipping while others like to get one really good metal one for $10-15 and shipping. No wrong answers, just different situations require different answers.
Yes. I am planning on sticking with carbon filtered tap water. I use a continuous drip and syphon overflow to reduce the number of water changes (especially helpful on my 180g). A water softener/RO is not in the budget anyway as I seem to have picked up a new hobby that sucks up any available funds (I wonder what that could be?). I may supplement the filtered tap water with store bought RO if testing shows anything too high for the planted.

Back to subject. I was debating getting a Swagelok check valve and putting a water separator in front of it, but decided it will add more costs and delays to my project. I may still do that later. I ordered decent plastic check valves (x10), and am on schedule to start building my regulator assembly starting on Wed. In the meantime, I need to get power, drip water supply, drain, etc. to the tank location. I also am working on hardscape, stand/tank plumbing, cycling a filter, picking a substrate, etc, etc, etc.

I am going to hijack my own thread for a few questions.

1) I have the Aqueon® 54 Gallon gallon corner tank. This tank has tempered glass for the front and bottom panels. The back panels are float glass (I used the polarized glasses trick to confirm). The panels are pretty thin (1/4") for the height of the tank (21"). Does anyone foresee this being a problem for drilling bulkheads in the back panels? I want to make everything as clean as possible and do not want a bunch of plumbing visible.

2) Since the bottom of the tank is tempered, I spread a layer of silicone in all places where I plan to put rocks as I do not want to risk hard points against tempered glass. Does this seem like a good strategy? Or even necessary?

3) I was considering going dirted or WC substrate, but decided not to add another level of difficulty and I am going BDBS with some sort of commercial substrate underneath. Any suggestions on commercial products that will provide decent root nutrients and not look like crap if I do replanting and some breaks the surface of the BDBS cap?

4) Can anyone suggest an all in one fertilizer to use until I gain the confidence to create my own micro and macro blends? I was thinking of getting this. Does anyone have experience they want to share on this or similar products?

I guess that is it for now. Thank you all again for past, present, and future advice. It is truly appreciated.

Last edited by AguaScape; 11-11-2018 at 05:40 PM. Reason: Added question
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post #28 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-11-2018, 09:28 PM
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No experience with drilling os pass on that!
Number two/ Not something I worry as I have stacked tubs of rocks for African cichlid tank and have had them almost filled to the top without problems and I do set the rocks flat on the glass as cichlids can dig under and I do not want the rocks shifting. Never had trouble with the glass breaking but have had some ugly scratches as I tried to lift big ones and let them drag on the bottom, Good it was the bottom where it doesn't bother me as it covered.
For a darker sub to match up better with Black diamond, I might suggest Flourite black as one that would show less and I would expect most any to get stirred and mixed as we tend to do it when we plant or move plants.
My go-to for ferts:
Liquid Fertilizer | Aquarium Fertilizer
Thrive seems to be one which makes lots of people happy. But then, I also like to do dry ferts, with little recent experience with liquids.
Possible you are making it more difficult than needed? I go with the Estimative Index (EI?) dosing method and then modify/shift the items added when I see how a particular tank works. Different fish and plant numbers and types gets different amounts of ferts from food, etc. so I like to be able to only add the ferts that I need without throwing in the whole set. The charts, etc. make is sound somewhat difficult to get it precise but then I fall back on it only being ESTIMATE at best and I don't work too hard to make my estimate exact. Exact and estimate don't come in the same thought?
So I go here for the basic figures and then go to dry ferts to measure out with kitchen spoons. I don't fuss when it gets below 1/16 teaspoon but just use a pinch, like a cook might:
Rotala Butterfly | Planted Aquarium Nutrient Dosing Calculator
This gets me a kinda close estimate and then as I see how the nitrate works out, I may slow or stop adding it as it tends to get high anyway in my fish heavy tanks. Two big things I like about this are that it relieves me of most of the tedious measure part and I don't pay for the water it is mixed into but just dip a cup, mix in the ferts and pour it in. The calculator goes into parts per million, etc but I never even think that way. Just if I have enough and not way overboard and assume that it will be okay unless one plant or another begins to show up looking funny.
Then I look at some of these charts for deficiencies which are far more common than ever having too much:
https://www.google.com/search?q=aqua...n4aQwqnj0DI2M:
I find I have so much to do to keep the basic things like equipment and cleaning in line that I just look at ferts as okay to be in the ballpark as long as I am keeping the nitrate, etc. in line for the fish. Plants are pretty forgiving, compared to fish.
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post #29 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-12-2018, 01:34 AM Thread Starter
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Talking

Thank you.

I am not worried at all about the actual drilling. I have drilled holes in glass before. I am just worried about compromising the strength of the panel since it has pretty thin panels for the height of the tank. As long as I don't come in too close to the center of the panels I think it will be fine.

I used flourite black in my 180 low tech and it seems pretty good except for the cloudiness (did not rinse it, noobie mistake). It seems to work well. I searched black flourite and eco-complete black came up in the suggestions. I decided to get that since it is cheaper and many say it is as good and does not require rinsing. Not sure if it will look as nice if it gets mixed up and I read that I will probably get a spike in GH, but I should be able to WC that out.

I will probably get some Thrive to start out with, as I am still a bit overwhelmed by the calculator (Thank you for the link BTW). I am sure that once I have a better understanding of exactly what does what, I will switch to dry ferts. I expect that I will be dosing pretty small to start with and then I can learn about deficiencies and adjust accordingly. I know there is going to be a learning curve on all of this. I will be researching other threads here to learn more about dosing. A point in the right direction (particularly ones on dry ferts and using the calculator) will be appreciated.

I think I am going to buy a dry fert kit sold by @burr740. Seems like a good place to start. He also offers advice on dosing. I have seen his tank journals, so he certainly knows a few things about dosing. Perhaps I will just skip the Thrive completely and dive in with drys. I really just need a starting point (a teaspoon of this, a pinch of that, etc. every X number of days). As you pointed out, I probably don't have to worry about hitting an exact ppm, just has to be close. I still have a little time to decide since I have so much still to do before I actually start filling.

First part for my regulator build came in today . Everything else will be trickling in over the next few days.

Last edited by AguaScape; 11-12-2018 at 02:42 AM. Reason: Typo
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post #30 of 195 (permalink) Old 11-12-2018, 02:40 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRich View Post
Not something I worry as I have stacked tubs of rocks for African cichlid tank and have had them almost filled to the top without problems and I do set the rocks flat on the glass as cichlids can dig under and I do not want the rocks shifting. Never had trouble with the glass breaking but have had some ugly scratches as I tried to lift big ones and let them drag on the bottom, Good it was the bottom where it doesn't bother me as it covered.
I am doing a sandfall in this tank that will have some very hard and tall pieces of rock that may have a single sharp point of contact with the 1/4" tempered glass. I thought it might be a good idea to add a silicone cushion as I have seen what tempered glass does when a small point of contact stresses it too much. Might just be the OCD in me, but I figured it couldn't hurt. Also, those nasty scratches you mention may be fine on standard float glass, but tempered glass is a whole different thing. I just did not want to take any chances. I wish they built this tank with float glass on the bottom, but this tank fits my space perfectly and I just have to work with what I have. I'm sure that it probably would not be a problem at all, but the silicone is there now and I feel a bit better knowing I have that cushion.

Last edited by AguaScape; 11-12-2018 at 04:51 AM. Reason: edit
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