Has anyone used DIY CO2 setups with good results? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Has anyone used DIY CO2 setups with good results?

Hello, so I have used the basic sugar+yeast method with nano tanks and have never had any problems whatsoever and have achieved good results always.

Now they are selling these new DIY kits that use citric acid and soda and even come with a solenoid valve>

https://www.amazon.com/ZRDR-Aquarium...0680620&sr=8-5

Has anyone used them? It seems like a functional solution to replace expensive co2 equipments. What do you think?

Also do you normally measure your co2 in the tank? What method do you use?


I'm planning to set up a 30 gal. Thanks
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 10:26 PM
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I've not used any of those kits, but it seems to me that they won't really save you that much (if any) money in the long run on a large tank. I don't know if anyone has done a cost analysis to see what the breakpoints are in that situation, ie. large vs small and/or short/long term usage.



I did do diy with the yeast/sugar setup and got very good and consistent results once I dialed in my system. It wasn't even that much work once I figured it out. I was using quite a bit of sugar, though I never added it all up to see how much money it was costing me to maintain.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-28-2020, 10:34 PM
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me too, I used sugar and yeast for about a month, have really good results on the plants, then I switched to pressurized co2


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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 05:32 PM
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I've used a similar kit, but it only lasts for 1-2 weeks and it's really difficult to regulate the amount of co2. It's a fun experiment but it's really not worth the trouble imo. Either go hightech with the right setup or stay low light lowtech, that's what i've learned anyway.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 10:20 PM
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As the typical bridge to pressurized CO2 injection, I tried DIY for a little over a year and did not get good results. The inconsistency is a killer with high light, let alone the inconvenience issues.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-29-2020, 11:22 PM
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It's more an experiment than a long term solution because you can't regulate how much, or how little CO2 is produced, it all depends on what strain of yeast, if it is fresh, or old, whether it likes the sugar, or not, whether it is warm, or cold, and most of all you can't turn it off at night as you can with pressurized CO2 either manually, or automatically with a solenoid and timer. Pressurized CO2 you can regulate very exactly, and you can ensure you add it when, and how much you want.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-30-2020, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiritus-Ichthus View Post
It's more an experiment than a long term solution because you can't regulate how much, or how little CO2 is produced, it all depends on what strain of yeast, if it is fresh, or old, whether it likes the sugar, or not, whether it is warm, or cold, and most of all you can't turn it off at night as you can with pressurized CO2 either manually, or automatically with a solenoid and timer. Pressurized CO2 you can regulate very exactly, and you can ensure you add it when, and how much you want.

The OP is asking about baking soda + citric acid kits.



I tried one of the ZRDR kits, the valve was a dud and it doesn't include a magnet. I've had good results with this kit. You can get the solenoid for ~$16. It costs a little more but you get Prime shipping rather than waiting for it to float over from China. It's very easy to use; just mix up the citric acid and baking soda bottles per the directions, screw them on, give the citric acid bottle a good squeeze to start the siphon, then open and close the valve a few times to siphon in more citric acid and build up the CO2 to working pressure. Then it's ready to be attached to your bubble counter/diffuser. I do 1-ish bubble per second in my 20g with that fluval bubble counter.



I've found that the output is usually consistent and I don't have to fiddle with the valve until it runs low. Sometimes it will siphon in too much citric acid and keep building up pressure, the kit I linked to includes a magnet you can use to raise the input hose and stop the siphon if that happens. If you can afford 1 cup baking soda + 1 cup citric acid every 2-3 weeks and don't mind spending a few minutes on maintenance it works much better than yeast setups.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-30-2020, 09:22 AM
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For last week i am experimenting with DIY CO2. I am currently using one 2 liter bottle setup with 2 cups of sugar, 1 tsp of baking soda and at about 1/4 tsp of yeast for my 10 gallon tank. It supposed to last for 2 weeks, but I will still see it. I have glass diffusor which makes all the difference I think. ANd my drop checker is green at the moment , darker green but I am ok with it. If you plan to go with it, use silicon kit fo seal tubing, make sure you have setup secondary exit valve in air for nightime as this don't stop. When I made good container (this is where you will have most problems) system starts bubling in couple of hours. For 30 gallon tank it might be too little co2 made this way and as I think it is more for smaller tanks where pressurizzed systed are too expensive.
But, since you have 30 gallon tank, I am thinking that with time cost of mats for this big tank might be too much. I would go with refillable pressurized co2 in your case. But it is investment that is for sure.

Bump: Ah yea, I also tried baking soda and citric acid, but that system is so inconsistient, that I droped it fast.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-30-2020, 09:39 AM
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Unfortunately I did not have good results. The problem for me was consistency. Sometimes less CO2 - sometimes more CO2 was a recipe for algae. Even using a compressed CO2 mini cartridge the amount would vary because I was using a single stage regulator and as pressure dropped in the cartridge the bps would decrease necessitating constant adjustments. Now for my low tech tank I use a bell style reactor in the tank which gets filled up once in the morning to diffuse into the tank and that’s it. My CO2 is waaay below 30 ppm, but I feel like I am better off with less CO2 than with unstable CO2!

Reliable way to measure CO2 is with a CO2 drop checker inside of the tank. It only shows you if you CO2 is above/below a target range, usually 30 ppm.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-30-2020, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arturosito View Post

Has anyone used them? It seems like a functional solution to replace expensive co2 equipments. What do you think?



Also do you normally measure your co2 in the tank? What method do you use?





I'm planning to set up a 30 gal. Thanks
Because you asked this very question, I'll say, no, it should not be considered a functional replacement for expensive (pressurized?) co2.

One reason is the addressing of your own question. Testing, whats that? Having pressurized is so rock solid that I no longer worry about it until the tank runs out. A bubble counter or perhaps the newfangled flow valves to verify its all flowing is all you need. But back in the day, when I did check, it was via the ph drop method and drop checker. And some loose interpretations of the co2/kh/ph chart. You see, because theres no reliable way to test co2 reliably anyway, you'll soon learn just to keep it steady and stop chasing tests. This url will tell you more than I ever care to type but which I still learn from every visit:
https://www.advancedplantedtank.com/...g-3-techniques


Additionally, based on the replies before me and my own experience fiddling with the yeast method (I know, not citric acid), the fundamental idea is still this: All this time you spend fiddling with your co2 is probably better spent fiddling with the plant/tank maintenance instead.

Unless you like fiddling with this sort of stuff, then carry on, science experiment!
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-30-2020, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Do you still use it? Do you still recommend it?
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathFromBelow View Post
The OP is asking about baking soda + citric acid kits.



I tried one of the ZRDR kits, the valve was a dud and it doesn't include a magnet. I've had good results with this kit. You can get the solenoid for ~$16. It costs a little more but you get Prime shipping rather than waiting for it to float over from China. It's very easy to use; just mix up the citric acid and baking soda bottles per the directions, screw them on, give the citric acid bottle a good squeeze to start the siphon, then open and close the valve a few times to siphon in more citric acid and build up the CO2 to working pressure. Then it's ready to be attached to your bubble counter/diffuser. I do 1-ish bubble per second in my 20g with that fluval bubble counter.



I've found that the output is usually consistent and I don't have to fiddle with the valve until it runs low. Sometimes it will siphon in too much citric acid and keep building up pressure, the kit I linked to includes a magnet you can use to raise the input hose and stop the siphon if that happens. If you can afford 1 cup baking soda + 1 cup citric acid every 2-3 weeks and don't mind spending a few minutes on maintenance it works much better than yeast setups.
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-02-2020, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arturosito View Post
Do you still use it? Do you still recommend it?

Yeah. I have two actually, one on a 20g and one on a 29g I just set up. Both tanks are looking a little shabby at the moment since I took a bunch of clippings from the 20g for the 29g, but everything is growing like weeds.

For consistent output I check the pressure each morning when I feed the fish and use the magnet to raise the siphon hose if the pressure is starting to climb out of the green zone on the gauge. Other than that the only maintenance is refilling the bottles every 2-3 weeks. I've been happy with it.

Feb 22, Initial Setup:


3-28, Good Growth:


6-2, This Morning:


I moved the hairgrass and S. Repens to the 29g. The forest of Scarlet Temples and Alternanthera Reineckii is still there but trimmed down very short. I need to trim my Wisteria before it takes over the tank. Finally got my light adjusted/anubias acclimated (the old leaves got attacked by GSA, new growth looks good) and you can see a red Cryptocoryne in the very middle below the Anubia that went from practically dead back when I set up the tank to looking healthy. I've had some bacterial bloom since I did the trimming and added some sand last week but I expect that will clear up before too long. Should look nice once the red plants recover from being hacked away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by P.Isley View Post
Now for my low tech tank I use a bell style reactor in the tank which gets filled up once in the morning to diffuse into the tank and that’s it.

I would think these kits would be good for filling bell diffusers in a bunch of tanks, too. Sure, CO2 refills are cheap if you have a local place that can do it, but so is baking soda/citric acid (plus they have other uses around the house) and the kit only costs ~$30.

Last edited by DeathFromBelow; 06-02-2020 at 03:41 PM. Reason: Images
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Can that citric acid+baking soda be enough pressure to work on a ceramic diffuser such as ista 3 in 1? I'm asking because I tried that with simple DIY yeast and sugar and can't build enough pressure to make it work

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathFromBelow View Post
Yeah. I have two actually, one on a 20g and one on a 29g I just set up. Both tanks are looking a little shabby at the moment since I took a bunch of clippings from the 20g for the 29g, but everything is growing like weeds.

For consistent output I check the pressure each morning when I feed the fish and use the magnet to raise the siphon hose if the pressure is starting to climb out of the green zone on the gauge. Other than that the only maintenance is refilling the bottles every 2-3 weeks. I've been happy with it.

Feb 22, Initial Setup:


3-28, Good Growth:


6-2, This Morning:


I moved the hairgrass and S. Repens to the 29g. The forest of Scarlet Temples and Alternanthera Reineckii is still there but trimmed down very short. I need to trim my Wisteria before it takes over the tank. Finally got my light adjusted/anubias acclimated (the old leaves got attacked by GSA, new growth looks good) and you can see a red Cryptocoryne in the very middle below the Anubia that went from practically dead back when I set up the tank to looking healthy. I've had some bacterial bloom since I did the trimming and added some sand last week but I expect that will clear up before too long. Should look nice once the red plants recover from being hacked away.




I would think these kits would be good for filling bell diffusers in a bunch of tanks, too. Sure, CO2 refills are cheap if you have a local place that can do it, but so is baking soda/citric acid (plus they have other uses around the house) and the kit only costs ~$30.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-07-2020, 09:13 PM
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I've been using one except instead of citric acid I'm using white vinegar because it is cheaper.

My main gripe with these DIYs is they advertise that you'll get 6 weeks on a single fill of soda/vinegar(or c. acid). Instead I've seen 1.5 weeks. Had I know that I would not have bothered. I don't mind putzing with refilling them once a month or so, but every week or two is a bit much.

However, I recently read that the key to making them last long is to keep the magnetic bulb in bottle A just below the liquid level. For the life of me I don't know why this would make a difference, but I'm going to give it a go before deciding to write these things off.

Another mystery to me is why there is a little Y-connector in the drop tube in bottle B. Actually I understand the Y-connector, what I don't understand is the reason for the drop tube to go all the way to the bottom of bottle B in the first place. Wouldn't it work just fine if the entire drop tube was stubbed off just a bit below the inside of the bottle's neck?
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-11-2020, 05:24 AM
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I had four of the commercial plastic units strung together with hose Ts. I found that using boiling hot distilled water with the sugar made it last longer — killing any bacteria. When it cooled, I added Champagne yeast from the brewery shop, which tolerates a really high alcohol content compared to other yeasts. I would alternate refilling them every two weeks to keep the flow study.

Here’s the forty gallon breeder on which I was running them.
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