I think all this has done is made me more confused...
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
It doesn't have to be that confusing.
OK so I've been in the hobby around 10 years. If your going to worry about EOTD (End of Tank Dump) you might as well not put a heater on your tank or ever use co2, because fish are killed by heaters and improperly set co2 for more than the almost mythical EOTD.
Since you asked about affordable regulators. That is what the thread is about. I'll tell you what I have purchased and what I'm using.
Milwaukee regulator - $89 - 10 years old, working fine.
Azoo Regulator - $79 - 7 years old working fine.
Azoo Mini - $79 - 5 years old working fine.
The real problem with the cheaper regulators are the needle valves. Sometimes if your going for a very slow bubble count for a tiny nano like 1-3G it's hard to precisely slow down the co2 enough. Other than that if your using one of the more affordable regulators for a normal size or larger tank I've never had a problem.
I'm actually running my Azoo mini on my 3.5G tank and it's perfect.
I let my tanks go completely empty (no pressure at all) and then I refill. I have never experienced EOTD and/or gased any fish.
The whole Dual Stage thing is just overkill. You really don't need it for this application. The vast majority of people use single stage. If EOTD was something to really fear there would be multiple threads on the forum everyday about this. Many people also mistake EOTD for some other regulator issue.
All you need to get started in co2 is an Aquarium Regulator (around $60 - $100), Cylinder ($50-70), Diffuser ($5), Check valve ($2) and any airline tubing ($2). Some of them come with attached bubble counters some don't. A drop checker is also a good idea as it gives you an estimate whether the co2 in your tank is at safe levels. Most also come with a soleniod that turns off the co2 at night. I would definitely recommend that. You can also go with a paintball type system but you'll be refilling it more often. Look on amazon, bay for aquarium co2 requlators and you can always post here to see who is actually using them. There are some newer ones out besides the ones I mentioned that have gotten good reviews by members here.