DIY or pressurized? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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DIY or pressurized?

I've had my tank set up for four and a half months now and proved some things to myself. Namely that I do have a bit of a green thumb, maintaining a fertilizing schedule isn't hard, and that plants are every bit as much fun as fish. The first and the third are the biggest surprises to me.

I have medium light (2X24w T5HO on a 29 gallon) and the tank is densely planted with stems (Rotalas and Hygros mostly). Even without CO2 the growth has been very nice. Algae has not made an appearance in this time beside a miniscule amount of brown diatoms on the glass that are easy to wipe away. Plants being shaded is probably my only problem up until now.

I want to keep the tank algae free, so it was recommended I start CO2. Didn't want to at first, but the plants they just suck you in. So now the question is DIY or pressurized. DIY is obviously cheaper and would require less trimming (I have no problem trimming, I just don't want it to the point where it has to be done so often that it feels like a chore). Pressurized might allow me additional light for better color, although I'd be worried about an algae farm. The trimming might feel like a chore though, hard to say since I have no experience in how rapidly it will grow.

Without factoring in cost (since I'd most likely get a relatively cheap, entry level system) which path would you take if you were me?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 09:49 PM
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DIY really only works on a very small scale, unless you want a ton of fermenting vessels, and even then everyone says it's a lot of work compared to the other option. I say pressurized 100%!
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 09:54 PM
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If you can afford a pressurized system, go for it. DIY co2 will be more of chore than anything else on a tank that size. I am actually surprised that you do not have an algae farm on your hands already. What fixture are you using and is it suspended above the tank?
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 09:54 PM
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DIY to start. Pressurized after you see if you like CO2 or not.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-21-2012, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the opinions so far everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OG_Plantmore View Post
If you can afford a pressurized system, go for it. DIY co2 will be more of chore than anything else on a tank that size. I am actually surprised that you do not have an algae farm on your hands already. What fixture are you using and is it suspended above the tank?
I've kind f heard that before. It's a Fishneedit light (so low end reflector) and directly on the tank. I must be doing something right, even though I couldn't tell you what. Very small biolaod, floaters in the front, small number of pond snails (that aren't breeding like crazy), 8 hours of light a day, LOTS of fasting growing stems, EI dosing. It's going well and I want to keep it like that.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 01:33 AM
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Pressurized co2 is the way to go!


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 02:01 AM Thread Starter
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So most people are saying pressurized, how often do you have to trim fast growers? How easy is it to screw up? Like gassing fish or algae farming?
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 03:06 AM
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If you start with DIY CO2, do use the aseptic technique and also use an equal part yeast to baking soda in the mix. I have found the baking soda is critical to maintaining an even output throughout the batch life. If you're a tinkerer and enjoy science experiments, adjusting the yeast, food for the yeast, etc.. can be very relaxing. Each method have their pros and cons, DIY having less likelihood of gassing your tank, but could become messy. A well made paintball system would likely be your best bet, but if you have the funds a nice timed setup with the bells and whistles will give you the best and most consistent delivery of CO2. There are great threads for all methods, it really falls to what fits your budget and time as DIY does take some time - I have a Fluval 20g and DIY CO2, and prefer the DIY for the constant output over turning a system on and off daily. Also, with the DIY I set it and forget it. I basically check it daily when watching my fish to ensure the output is normal. As for refreshing the batch I now try to mix a new batch of CO2 a day prior to my 50% water change to compensate for the initial burst of CO2 and allow the batch to mature. I use 2 12oz generator bottles and a gas separator. If you do not have a check valve for each bottle, at least have one on the line to the tank. Also, something I really didn't read about for people using more than one bottle without a check valve on each to depressurize the system unscrew the cap on the gas separator bottle first, otherwise you'll have a mess.

There are many techniques for diffusing DIY CO2 also, I have found the Fluval 88 ceramic diffuser works perfect for this system and is only about $6 on Amazon. Any "nano" sized diffuser should work, so long as the seller does not advise pressurized system only.

Good luck with which ever option you choose, just wanted to share my experience so far with the DIY. I really do not understand what is such a chore about the DIY CO2, it only takes me about 30 minutes weekly to heat my spare 20oz of filtered water from my fridge to 105*F, measure yeast, sugar, and baking soda. I use a small harbor freight funnel, pour the ingredients into the bottle, cap, shake, wait about 1hr cracking the cap to release pressure every 15-20 minutes. Then I depressurize my system, disconnect the bottles, rinse, and pour in the new mix - reconnect... and done. So far I have spent about $20 for the silicone tubing, fittings, check valve, and diffuser. I bought some 12oz coke zero bottles since I thought they looked cool, which was like $3 for a 6 pack so I have back-up bottles/ caps. Just use an 11/64" bit, drill from the inside of the cap to the outside then cut your tubing at an angle and use needle nose pliers to pull the tubing through the cap and it will create an airtight seal. Cut off the end of the hose once through the cap to clean up the edge as it will damage it a bit pulling through the cap. Either system will require the diffuser, check valve, and tubing - so DIY is the most economical system. I bought the baking yeast jar for $5, should last me at least half a year.

Great site for DIY CO2 and the science behind it:
http://www.qsl.net/w2wdx/aquaria/diyco2.html
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OG_Plantmore View Post
If you can afford a pressurized system, go for it. DIY co2 will be more of chore than anything else on a tank that size. I am actually surprised that you do not have an algae farm on your hands already. What fixture are you using and is it suspended above the tank?
You can say that again. It's definitely a chore. The larger the tank and heavier its planted the more of a chore it becomes. A lot of the times, you may not have time right then and there to make a new batch. You have to pre-make the setup. At this point, you might as well go pressurized. I can change my pressurized tank in 1-2 minutes after I have gotten a refill. It takes way more time to make DIY CO2. I'd drive 10-20 miles away just for a 5lb refill if I had to. Otherwise get a larger tank to last you longer. Only time I would do DIY is on a low-low/med tech tank with low bio load. But that's just me.

Also DIY is not a set it and forget it. The production goes down a lot faster than pressurized. Of course this depends on the recipe. Pressurized is controllable. DIY, good luck. You get what you get from it. If your in a big city or near a place to refill, pressurized gets my vote. Once I went this route, I didn't look back. However I would recommend a electronic solenoid though. My tank did dump once with a Milwaukee needle valve and it killed half my stock. Lesson learned, you have to keep and eye on the tank but not nearly as much as a DIY system. Once you set your pressurized tank where you want it, it will stay that way. Its consistent. Its either off or on. With DIY there is full, almost full, half way, almost gone, empty. With a pressurized electronic solenoid its full or empty. No chance of dumping. I love it. Expensive but worth every penny. I will be getting another electronic solenoid for a bigger tank eventually once I start the project.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 06:01 PM
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I recently purchased a 5lbs pressurized tank of Co2. Best thing i have done to my tank almost positive. I have the same size of tank as you and i have about 2-3 Bubbles per second. Hardly have used any Co2 it will last forever with no matinence unlike DIY.

I have some sunset hygro that i have to trim about once a week. The rest of my plants are not as fast growing as the sunset is but more than likely you will be trimming once a week for fast growing stems and hygro.

Go pressure you wont regret it. worth every penny.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedRookie View Post
So most people are saying pressurized, how often do you have to trim fast growers? How easy is it to screw up? Like gassing fish or algae farming?
Get a drop checker and keep a good eye on it. Its going to take a few days to balance out the co2 in the tank.

- Oz


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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the DIY link. I definitely learned some things and have it bookmarked. I think I'm going to put that to good use when I convert my unplanted tank into a lowlight planted. For the planted tank I think I'm sold on pressurized. There is a place to get refills just three blocks from my house. I actually have some plants that grow even faster than my sunset hygro, so already have to trim a bit on a weekly basis.

Right now I'm thinking doubling the light (to 4X24w T5HO) and pressurized CO2. Jumping head first from low tech to high. I get good growth, but not always the best color even dosing EI. Any recomendations for a good solenoid? I had been looking at the Milwaukee Insturments regulator w/ solenoid. Need to check if there are any reviews for that on here.

Appreciate everyone's input.
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