Asking for help/opinions on first time CO2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-07-2015, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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Asking for help/opinions on first time CO2

Hi guys! I am thinking of entering the world of CO2 and would like to hear opinions from experienced users on where to begin.

I was planning on starting with DIY jugs for CO2 because they are cheap. I can't justify spending $300 or more just to make the plants grow better, how do you guys do it? Anyways, I was wondering what to expect and if I am making the right decision to go DIY...

Also I am adding things to my Amazon cart that I will need to begin. So far I plan to purchase CO2 line, check valves, and a pack of cheap air stones simply for the line connectors. I wanted to get an atomizer to tie into my canister filter outflow but I am reading that you need higher pressure for those, is this true? If so, what alternatives do I have besides an in tank diffuser?

I have an AQUARIUM.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-07-2015, 11:11 PM
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Welcome to DIY CO2! What size tank and how much light?
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you sir. I am working with a 29 gallon tank and I have a Finnex Planted+ LED that I use.

I have read a few posts about constructing the jug setup so I think I know what to do after I gather my supplies. I plan to use three jugs with the activated yeast and run lines to a fourth jug to use as a "trap" for any overflow or whatever. I am unsure how to get the CO2 into the tank though. Has anyone successfully used an atomizer with DIY jugs? I don't want to add to the clutter inside the tank if I can avoid it.

Bump: I was thinking of buying this until I read that it requires 30 psi. Does anyone know what pressure is delivered from the DIY CO2 method?
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 01:55 AM
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You can buy a standard glass/ceramic diffuser, most of which will work with DIY CO2. Loads available on Evilbay, just look at the fine print for "not for use with DIY CO2" or somesuch. Buy 2 or 3 (you're still spending $10 or less), because quality is hit or miss, and they're fairly fragile.

The "Atomizer" or "Atomic" type requires somewhere around 30psi to function, which is far higher than you'll be able to create with DIY CO2. Or, more accurately, your hoses will blow off, or out of, something or other long before you get 30 psi.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah grabbing a bunch of those cheap glass bell diffusers would probably be easy but I hate things hanging off the tank walls. What about using a CO2 reactor? Has anyone used one of these or know about the psi requirements for these reactors? It looks like they would work inline with the canister filter which would keep the junk out of my tank at least.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 03:16 AM
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Yeah sure. I mean, most people don't bother with a reactor when they've got DIY CO2, but I don't see why not. You can hide the reactor under the tank next to the can. Alternatively, you can build your own DIY reactor for $20-40. The advantage to doing it yourself is it will be a lot sturdier than the Max Mix, which is functional but not terribly durable.

You can probably make just about any size tubing fit, even if it's not 1/2" or 3/4", given sufficient motivation.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-08-2015, 04:35 PM
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I use an a chopstick shoved into an airline and placed in the filter intake of my AquaClear and that gives me between 30 and 40 PPM of co2 in my 20 gallon tank. I use 2 1 gallon juice jugs filled 3/4 of the way full with 3 cups of sugar, 3/4 teaspoon of yeast and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. I change 1 jug each week for consistency. Each jug has it's own check valve so when I need to change jugs the pressure never drops. It still produces 1.5 bubbles per second at all times.

The key to getting DIY co2 to work is to have your bottles staggered so you always have a fresh bottle and to have plenty of flow in the tank so the co2 is distributed throughout the tank. I have a Fluval 206 canister filter and an AquaClear 50 on this tank and it is just the right amount of flow with a heavily planted tank. The AquaClear is especially well suited for this because the outflow is directed towards the bottom of the tank rather than just circling around the surface. It tends to keep the co2 deeper in the tank where it can be used.

There is a great thread here about how to set this up.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/20...e-reports.html
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-16-2015, 02:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input everyone! I now have a two bottle reactor setup running in my tank that I made using the designs that I found on this site. I ran the output line into my tank and used a T connector with a cut piece of bamboo shoved into each end for a diffuser. I figured I would keep it cheap and experiment with CO2 before considering any expensive pressurized tank system.

I do not currently have any way to know how much CO2 is entering my tank. I read about drop checkers that test PH levels and bubble counters to check CO2 production. Are these things important enough to have in these low output DIY setups or am I fine swapping out a jug every week? Obviously I am running this 24 hours a day, is it that crucial to have an air stone running at night with the CO2 production that these bottle provide?
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-18-2015, 01:34 PM
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I currently use DIY Co2 on my 20G long and am easily able to hit 20-30ppm consistently. The key is creating an efficient way to diffuse the gas. Here's what I do: I found an old Tetra internal aquarium filter and removed the actual pump from inside the filter (see in picture). The pump itself isn't big at all (size of a small child's fist). I then wrapped it tightly around the intake pipe of my HOB filter (above the area where water is pulled in) so that is was firmly attached, yet very easy to adjust the direction of outflow. I have the Co2 line running directly into the back of the pump so that 100% of the Co2 is being pulled through the filter and chopped up. The result is literally thousands and thousands of micro-bubbles that circulate around the tank at all times. I change out my 2L bottle each Sunday so that the Co2 pressure remains high at all times. In conjunction with daily Excel, this combination allows for no (and I mean zero) algae growing in my high-tech tank. See the picture below for reference:
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-18-2015, 02:45 PM
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@fishhes - You already have a bubble counter in the third bottle. That is it's main purpose other than keeping gunk out of the aquarium, which is a rare occurrence anyway.

Obviously you cannot adjust DIY, a bubble counter is still very important because it allows you to keep an eye on the rate of production.

Changing 1 bottle per week should be fine, but you should go by what the bubble count is telling you. The key for success is maintaining a steady rate of production over the long haul. Ideally you want to make a new bottle just before the old one slows down - at all. That is where a bubble counter comes in handy, it'll let you know what the system is doing at any given time.

I used a Sera 500 reactor with DIY for several months. DIY presents enough challenges maintaining consistency. There no reason to not make it as efficient as possible otherwise.

The chopstick works pretty well in my experience, best to place it under some current so the micro bubbles get blown around and stay in the water as long as possible. Any bubbles that pop at the surface is wasted CO2.


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