Thinking about using CO2... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thinking about using CO2...

OK, I have been thinkning about using CO2 in my 20 Gal. tank... I'm not happy with the look of my plants, & think that I May need CO2, I want to start with a DIY method. Seeing I don't have a whole lot of extra cash to be spending on a Cylinder, gauges, Regulator, & whatnot at the moment... I want to know what I will need to make a WHOLE system... Already have found out about making a soda bottle CO2, but, I need to know if I will just need that, & a DIY reactor that I can either put in my tank, or in the Canister line... What else would I NEED for this to work? Seeing it's not on a tank, I wouldn't need a Valve or any kind of gauges, right? I liked the Almost DIY reactor Lycosa posted in the DIY section also. I might be going with that method... (I like how it comes with the Pump already ;-) Also, will I need a Bubble counter? What type of airline do I need, I thought it was Silicone, but then I read that, that isn't the kind I need. I need to know, Am I supposed to "turn off" the CO2 at night? I know I'm clueless, I have read alot of the posts here & now my head hurts. Seems like some people here controdict others thoughts... I need straight answers... Please! LOL!

Yes, my head really does hurt from reading all the info & everything on this site! A LOT OF INFO!!!
Steve X.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 09:19 PM
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DIY CO2 should work well on a 20gal tank. To dissolve it, you could use a Hagen/Nutrafin "Ladder", or maybe a powerhead reactor. I would not use an external inline reactor on your canister filter, there is quite a bit of backpressure which becomes dangerous with DIY CO2.

Normal vinyl tubing should be better than silicone tubing, which is losing too much CO2.

You will need a bubble counter to see when CO2 production peters out. That is usually after 2 or 3 weeks.

You can't turn DIY CO2 off at night, but if you don't overdo it and keep a close eye on the pH in the beginning things should be alright. If fish look like they are running out of air in the mornings you could add some more water circulation at night. Or, if you running it off a powerhead, you can put it on a timer and run it only during the day, just make sure it doesn't airlock in the mornings.

Hoping your head is getting better...


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 09:25 PM
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The best reactor for DIY CO2 that I know of is the Tom Barr internal venturi type - Tom's internal venturi reactor - Barr Report
This has the advantage that you can sort of shut off the CO2 at night without any risk of bursting the DIY bottle. And, it costs almost nothing beyond the cost of a small powerhead.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-23-2006, 10:04 PM
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keep in mind that when you set it up, if all goes well, you'll have a generator that's producing alot of CO2 and that it will produce less and less over time until it finally stops. i can say from personal experience that the inconsistent CO2 supply provided by a single CO2 generator bottle will cause some algae problems. you might want to eventaully set up two bottles so that you can have one going at full force when the other is dying. for example, i've tweaked my mixture to last 3-4 weeks so every 2 weeks i refill one of the bottles. including Seachem Excel in your regular fertilisation schedule will give you a more consistant carbon supply for your plants as well. I'd recommend you take both of these measures to keep the CO2 levels in the tank as stable as possible which is your best weapon against algae IMO


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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2006, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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OK, so, what I'm gathering from this is... 1) I can use the same regular airline I already have that I used to use on my airpump. 2) it would be better to run 2 bottles in sequence. (ie. add one 2 weeks after the first one starts, let them both run, when the first one runs out. Re-do the mixture 7 set it right back up. Am I right so far?

BTW, All of this I want to transfer to a 45 Gal. in maybe 4 months time... Will I be able to do so? By then I may go with a Pressurized unit. (Although, I want to wait till I move to do any pressure system...) I found I can get a 5# bottle for $75.00 filled. Is that a good price?


Sammy,
How would I go about adding 2 CO2 bottles to one set-up? Would I just need a "T" & 2 check valves?

Hoppy,
What is the size of the Rigid tubing you are using in yours? I did see the thread about the one you made, But, I didn't know the size of the tubing, & the other one seemed pretty easy/cost efficient, seeing it comes with a powerhead, & has the suction cups. Also, would it help by adding an airstone to the end of the CO2 line going into the Reactor? Even if I did use the "Almost DIY reactor" I would still add the extra holes in the housing, oplus the Airline going back to the intake of the powerhead. I like that Idea!

Thanks for all the info already Guys! You are alot of help, Yes, my head is feeling a bit better... LOL!

Steve X.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2006, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
OK, so, what I'm gathering from this is... 1) I can use the same regular airline I already have that I used to use on my airpump. 2) it would be better to run 2 bottles in sequence. (ie. add one 2 weeks after the first one starts, let them both run, when the first one runs out. Re-do the mixture 7 set it right back up. Am I right so far?
Yes.

Quote:
Sammy,
How would I go about adding 2 CO2 bottles to one set-up? Would I just need a "T" & 2 check valves?
Yes. But you can put the check valve on the single line (after the Tee) that runs to the reactor--then You would only need 1 check valve.

Quote:
What is the size of the Rigid tubing you are using in yours? I did see the thread about the one you made, But, I didn't know the size of the tubing, & the other one seemed pretty easy/cost efficient, seeing it comes with a powerhead, & has the suction cups. Also, would it help by adding an airstone to the end of the CO2 line going into the Reactor? Even if I did use the "Almost DIY reactor" I would still add the extra holes in the housing, oplus the Airline going back to the intake of the powerhead. I like that Idea!
Not sure I ever understood the need for the rigid tubing. You should be able to drill the hole and insert the flexible tubing and skip the rigid all together, but maybe I'm missing something. An airstone will just clog. If Your reactor is setup correctly--an airstone is not needed.

Here are some pix of one that I built some time ago. If you have trouble finding the "Viewtainer"--these "Cracker Savers" work Great for $2 (at Walmart). I did a venturi return to the powerhead also, but mine is at the top--works Great. I have modified that design recently, but I used it for over 8 months and had no problems out of it.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...ternative.html

The new way I build them is with the same Cracker Saver, no sponge/foam and the pump (via aqua 480) is at the bottom plumbed into the side at the top. The C02 line still goes into the top and there is no venturi. I have added a "Bleed" line at the top to bleed the system after water changes. With the pump plumbed in to the top-side--it creates a venturi effect. With the pump plumbed from the Bottom up--I don't have to shut it down for a water change, and I don't have to Re-prime the pump after a WC. With the full length tube I haven't found the need for the foam--It just traps shrimp and fry that get sucked into the pump and go for the ride . And any Mirco-bubbles that escape are generally sucked back into the pump and recycled into the system. There is a school of thought that these escaping micro-bubbles are Good--I don't like the way they look floating around in the tank, so I avoid them. Its just my personal preference.

My guess would be that you could keep the foam and reduce the length of the Tube by 1/3-1/2. The tube is right at 10".



HTH


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2006, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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What's a good flow rate for a powerhead to work for one of the DIY reactors? Maybe I'll just buy the powerhead & make the rest...??? I don't know! Seems pretty easy to just get one of the Current Nano fission skimmers though... Need help deciding!

I know I will still need a bubble counter also, what do I need to use for this? Is it just what it says, a "Bubble counter". So, All I need to do is watch & see how many bubbles come out in a given amount of time?

This may be a VERY stupid question... But, can you use an old Propain cylinder for the CO2 cylinder? Probably NOT! But, It's worth asking! ;-)

Seems the best deal I can find so far is $75.00 for a new & filled 5# CO2 bottle... Then I'll Still need to buy a Regulator, & what else? I'm Deffinately going to need to find the cheapest, but, most reliable parts on the net... I don't know anyone around me that keeps planted tanks, or anything...

Steve X.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2006, 06:32 PM
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Okay... this is all so fancy compaired to mine, that I am reluctant to list my set up.

2 plain one-liter bottles for DIY. (I use an in-line conector for air lines jammed up from the inside of the cap to get a really good solid seal and don't have to risk loosing my CO2 with soft tubing when I bump it around or worry about gluing in riggid tubing.)

Start them 2 weeks apart.

Run their own individual air line to a check valve at the upper edge of my tank, then down into the tank to a plain old white diffusor (The kind that are used for under-grav and are supper cheap).

I possition the diffusors under the intake of my filter/powerhead, and move them further away if I start getting too much CO2 in the tank.

The whole thing cost me about $4, and less if you consider I drank the sodas. lol

Something so expensive and addictive HAS to be illegal. I'm just waiting for the police to break down my door and confinscate my fish food.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2006, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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OK, I'm not really interested in letting the CO2 bubbles go into my filters intake.. I don't want any problems with airlock.. I have a Canister filter... But, I'm thinking of going with a powered reactor in the back of the tank...

Steve X.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2006, 07:45 PM
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i use two seperate bottles and seperate diffusers for two reasons. one, i like the idea of having diffusers on either side of the tank for even distribution (not using power head yet, just a glass diffuser on one and limewood block on the other). two, if one bottle starts to run out, it's hard to tell when they are run in-line, let alone tell which one is actually going out, and if you uncap one bottle from an inline setup without clamping the hose to the other bottle, the other bottle loses pressure and will need to build back up again. having seperate bottles has made it alot easier for me to change them out on a staggered schedule.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2006, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Aha! That makes Total Sence! What if I were to use them both in the SAME powered reactor, But, put a valve on them both. This way When I change one out, it won't loss the CO2 & have to build pressure back up? Is Brass ok to use for this? I have a few small airline brass valves... Plus, I don't emember, Should I use some sort of dissuser in the powered reactor, or will it be just fine with the powerhead rushing water in by itself? Still don't know what the flowrate should be from a pwerhead for this Application... Anyone else know?

Thanks guys! You are a Great Help!

Steve X.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2006, 09:27 PM
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that's up to you how you build it. i haven't done one yet, but i like the Barr version that Hoppy built and posted in this forum. i think someone brought up putting a diffuser stone at the end of the rigid tube, but i'm not sure if it's been tested. anything you do with a power head is going to work better than not using power at all.

the brass valves should work fine, i actually had the same idea when i was building my own elaborate two bottle system which i ended up quitting on when i decided to use two diffusers.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-24-2006, 10:26 PM
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In a 20g tank (or a 45g) you won't need 2 power reactors. Putting a piece of masking tape on each bottle and marking the date that the "Bottle" was reloaded solves the "which bottle is running out" problem. Loss of pressure in bottle A as you uncap and reload bottle B is insignificant--bottle pressure rebuilds quickly after both bottles are hooked back up. If your power reactor is operating properly--a diffuser is not needed.

The pump I use is the :

Via Aqua 480=200gph

Here is a pic of one of the diffusers that I now use:



I don't have to turn anything off--and then on again, in order to do a WC. I just do the water change and move on. A venturi isn't needed because there is no build-up.

HTH


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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-25-2006, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I found a Redsea Reactor... It seems that it will work for either setup... I can get one for $20.00 shipped... Has anyone ever used one of these before? So, for $9.00 for a powerhead & cost of shipping... I could get a product that is made for the task I'm looking for... I think that woul dbe the way to go, as long as it's efficient.. & it won't run CO2 in the tank at night... <~~ Wasn't thinking about that part till just now...
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 10-26-2006, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SammyP View Post
keep in mind that when you set it up, if all goes well, you'll have a generator that's producing alot of CO2 and that it will produce less and less over time until it finally stops. i can say from personal experience that the inconsistent CO2 supply provided by a single CO2 generator bottle will cause some algae problems. you might want to eventaully set up two bottles so that you can have one going at full force when the other is dying. for example, i've tweaked my mixture to last 3-4 weeks so every 2 weeks i refill one of the bottles. including Seachem Excel in your regular fertilisation schedule will give you a more consistant carbon supply for your plants as well. I'd recommend you take both of these measures to keep the CO2 levels in the tank as stable as possible which is your best weapon against algae IMO
this sounds like a great setup and I think i'll be doing this soon, what do you use that lasts 3-4 weeks?


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