In-line or in tank diffuser? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-15-2016, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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In-line or in tank diffuser?

Setting up a 29 gallon planted tank with CO2 (GLA reg and 5 lb bottle) and now deciding on a diffuser. I'm thinking an in-line diffuser would be more efficient in getting the dissolved CO2 into the water and spread around the tank quickly...but have no experience to support that assumption.

What's the wisdom here, go in-line or in tank diffuser? What are the best (within $$$ reason) of each?
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-15-2016, 05:11 AM
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From the little I know each way has its merits and cons, I guess. Getting something in line keeps clutter out of the tank and, I believe, allows CO2 to dissolve (absorb?) into the water better than say a diffuser in the tank. Also sounds a little more complicated to set up, but that's likely not a big barrier.

But I think some also require a certain amount of pressure in order to function so you have to make sure you can meet that.

Different options for different uses, I suppose. Choose whichever you like best as all will get the job done.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-15-2016, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torched61 View Post
Setting up a 29 gallon planted tank with CO2 (GLA reg and 5 lb bottle) and now deciding on a diffuser. I'm thinking an in-line diffuser would be more efficient in getting the dissolved CO2 into the water and spread around the tank quickly...but have no experience to support that assumption.

What's the wisdom here, go in-line or in tank diffuser? What are the best (within $$$ reason) of each?
Hi Torched61,

I have added CO2 to my tanks using various methods: feeding it into the intake of an Aquaclear HOB filter; using a small Elite mini-filter and feeding it into the venturi input so it gets sprayed about the tank; standard glass diffuser with the ceramic disk; and two in-line diffusers the Boyu (hard to find these days) and the Up-Aqua Atomizer (about $30 online). By far and away the easiest to use, keep clean, and efficient way to get CO2 in a tank is an in-line diffuser if it is a 'straight-through' design that does not restrict the water flow from the canister filter. The in tank, glass and ceramic disk diffusers become covered in algae and or diatoms and need cleaning about once a month. I clean my in-line diffusers with a 4 foot long brush that I use to clean my canister tubing and the diffuser at the same time.

Two things to consider when buying an in-line diffuser, get one that fits for your 1/2" tubing or your 5/8" tubing....they are not interchangeable. Purchase a good, high quality check valve and install it close to where the CO2 goes into the diffuser. In the event of a power or equipment failure you don't want the water from your tank to come back through your expensive regulator and all over your floor or carpet. I recommend Clippard check valves. You will need an MCV-1BB valve body and 2 each #10-32 male to 1/8" barbed hose fittings. I use single barb fittings for CO2 tubing and multi-barb fittings for airline tubing.

Boyu inline diffuser with Clippard brass check valve


4' tubing brush for cleaning canister tubes and in-line diffusers
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-15-2016, 12:24 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Seattle...thanks for your detailed and helpful comments. Clearly, I was leaning to an in-line, the science just makes sense. But your added comments about the in tank models getting dirty pretty quickly added an element I had not considered. I will be going in-line and appreciate your helpful comments.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-15-2016, 03:16 PM
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I have also used various types and finally settled on the Grigg's style inline reactor. But I would caution you to not get into "improving" the design. It operates on the KISS idea and just works while some of the improved models add complexity that sometimes leads to problems.
It does make sense to adapt the size to the amount of CO2 and the water flow from the filter but that doesn't make the design any more complicated. CO2 just naturally disperses into the water without bells and whistles.
This is my latest issue. It is going on the ten gallon behind it and is built from 1/2 " pipe about 6-8 inches long as it will have tiny CO2 and very small water flow as the filter is the Zoomed 501. No need to go big when you are working small all the way. And going small also makes it cost around $4-5 total?
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-15-2016, 03:46 PM
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I started with in tank, then I now have inline on one of my setups, and I am replacing the in tank on my other setup with a griggs style reactor I built. The in tank is fine, but inline requires less frequent cleaning of the diffuser to keep the bubbles tiny. In tank diffusers are suggested to be cleaned every 3-4 weeks, inline diffusers are every 6-8 months.

I have grown tired of the sprite affect and micro bubbles covering everything in the tank. There are potentially benefits to those bubbles being in contact with the plants, but with the griggs reactor dissolving close to 100% of the co2 into the water, I am not concerned about not having bubble contact.

Of the options you have put forth I would definitely go with inline. Most people don't go inline simply because they do not have a canister filter to attach it to the lines, or they "want to see it working". I can assure you, you can still see bubbles blowing out of your outflow to verify the inline diffuser is working....
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-15-2016, 04:04 PM
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I have GLA inline on an eheim 2211 on one tank and a super diffuser with a crappy azoo HOB on the other.

The inline seems to be 1000000% more efficient. The water out the spray bar almost looks cloudy.

The super diffuser sends a great majority of CO2 directly to the surface. I even have it placed under the HOB for better dispersal.

Last edited by Blackbetty; 06-15-2016 at 04:18 PM. Reason: i dropped the spaghetti
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-15-2016, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi Torched61,

I have added CO2 to my tanks using various methods: feeding it into the intake of an Aquaclear HOB filter; using a small Elite mini-filter and feeding it into the venturi input so it gets sprayed about the tank; standard glass diffuser with the ceramic disk; and two in-line diffusers the Boyu (hard to find these days) and the Up-Aqua Atomizer (about $30 online). By far and away the easiest to use, keep clean, and efficient way to get CO2 in a tank is an in-line diffuser if it is a 'straight-through' design that does not restrict the water flow from the canister filter. The in tank, glass and ceramic disk diffusers become covered in algae and or diatoms and need cleaning about once a month. I clean my in-line diffusers with a 4 foot long brush that I use to clean my canister tubing and the diffuser at the same time.

Two things to consider when buying an in-line diffuser, get one that fits for your 1/2" tubing or your 5/8" tubing....they are not interchangeable. Purchase a good, high quality check valve and install it close to where the CO2 goes into the diffuser. In the event of a power or equipment failure you don't want the water from your tank to come back through your expensive regulator and all over your floor or carpet. I recommend Clippard check valves. You will need an MCV-1BB valve body and 2 each #10-32 male to 1/8" barbed hose fittings. I use single barb fittings for CO2 tubing and multi-barb fittings for airline tubing.

Boyu inline diffuser with Clippard brass check valve


4' tubing brush for cleaning canister tubes and in-line diffusers
A bit of a tangent, but I bought one of those a few years ago and sold it on the forum before ever trying it. I'm using an inline atomizer currently and have been for a couple of years, but every now and then I get the urge to put my Pollen Beetle back into the tank. There's just something about that shiny piece of glass and those little bubbles coming out of it. Anyway, I have the atomizer on the intake side of a canister to keep from misting up the tank.
As mentioned above, there are pros and cons to each and some good advice from Roy.

Roy, do you have yours on the input or output?
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-16-2016, 12:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff5614 View Post
A bit of a tangent, but I bought one of those a few years ago and sold it on the forum before ever trying it. I'm using an inline atomizer currently and have been for a couple of years, but every now and then I get the urge to put my Pollen Beetle back into the tank. There's just something about that shiny piece of glass and those little bubbles coming out of it. Anyway, I have the atomizer on the intake side of a canister to keep from misting up the tank.
As mentioned above, there are pros and cons to each and some good advice from Roy.

Roy, do you have yours on the input or output?
Hi @Jeff5614.

I like to run on the output side of the canister so the 'clean' water is running through it.

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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2016, 09:27 AM
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Where did you get that long rod from??? I want to get one for mine..clean all the tubing and inline diffuser?? That's amazing



Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi Torched61,

I have added CO2 to my tanks using various methods: feeding it into the intake of an Aquaclear HOB filter; using a small Elite mini-filter and feeding it into the venturi input so it gets sprayed about the tank; standard glass diffuser with the ceramic disk; and two in-line diffusers the Boyu (hard to find these days) and the Up-Aqua Atomizer (about $30 online). By far and away the easiest to use, keep clean, and efficient way to get CO2 in a tank is an in-line diffuser if it is a 'straight-through' design that does not restrict the water flow from the canister filter. The in tank, glass and ceramic disk diffusers become covered in algae and or diatoms and need cleaning about once a month. I clean my in-line diffusers with a 4 foot long brush that I use to clean my canister tubing and the diffuser at the same time.

Two things to consider when buying an in-line diffuser, get one that fits for your 1/2" tubing or your 5/8" tubing....they are not interchangeable. Purchase a good, high quality check valve and install it close to where the CO2 goes into the diffuser. In the event of a power or equipment failure you don't want the water from your tank to come back through your expensive regulator and all over your floor or carpet. I recommend Clippard check valves. You will need an MCV-1BB valve body and 2 each #10-32 male to 1/8" barbed hose fittings. I use single barb fittings for CO2 tubing and multi-barb fittings for airline tubing.

Boyu inline diffuser with Clippard brass check valve


4' tubing brush for cleaning canister tubes and in-line diffusers
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2016, 03:08 PM
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Either method has been proven to work very well so it's really a personal choice whether you like to see something in the tank releasing little bubbles. I personally like the bubbles. It's another visual check on what's going into the water column. Efficiency wise it's not really worth considering since co2 is very cheap and it last's a long time. As Seattle menioned they do get dirty of time depending on your tank. Best method is to have two of them while you clean the other. It only takes few minutes to clean in 50/50 bleach/water. I usually do that during a water change.
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 06-17-2016, 04:51 PM
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Where did you get that long rod from??? I want to get one for mine..clean all the tubing and inline diffuser?? That's amazing
Hi @patfat,

I got that four foot (4') long cleaning brush from a beer / wine making supplies shop here in the area. I guess if you brew beer and have beer lines (tubing) you need to clean the gunk out every so often. It wasn't expensive either, less than $10.


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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 11-28-2019, 04:00 AM
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Want to bump up this old thread.

I'm about to pull the pin on a co2 art system and am agonizing over whether to get their inline ceramic diffuser or their in tank bazooka diffuser.

My research tells me the inline is the most efficient. I also like the idea of not having more 'gear' in the tank. The stumbling block I'm having is the plumbing it into my fluval 206 ribbed pipes and then the consequent cleaning or swapping out of the ceramic. How exactly is the ceramic diffuser accessed for cleaning? I don't really want to get into swapping out my piping, adding more ball valves, check valves etc etc. But I don't want to have to remove my piping to the sink to clean the diffuser. Or am I overthinking this and it's so infrequent that I'd be removing and cleaning the piping at the same time anyways?

The bazooka in tank seems a much simpler installation and servicing. But I'm guessing less efficient and unsightly(to me). I'm sure it'd be fun to watch it work for a day or two but then I'd be wishing it wasn't in the tank.

Maybe I've answered my own question, lol. But I guess I'm just hesitant to cut/plumb my filter lines. Seems like greater risk of leaking and I'm really curious how the ceramic membrane is accessed/cleaned.

Any thoughts, tips, advice, or general ridicule is appreciated.
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 06:42 AM
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I had a GLA one, specifically the "atomic" one. They say they have their own special diffuser material but I don't believe it, you can buy them on eBay for much cheaper (or used to). The upside, it's hidden.

I found a few downsides. First, it needs 30+ pounds of working pressure. This alone is not a big deal, if your regulator has adjustable working pressure. If it doesn't, it's not worth proceeding. My regulator is adjustable so next few. I built my regulator and though it was fine at 15 PSI, I got leaks at higher pressure. I found I needed about 45 PSI for it to work quickly. As I would fix one leak, I would find another. This shouldn't be a problem if you bought your regulator or know better than I, but it was the most frustrating part for me, especially with having to buy more CO2 in less than a week more than once. I also had cheaper tubing pop off, again, wrong tubing but it wasn't clear to me I couldn't just use what I had. Because of all this tweaking, I broke the plastic nut on mine. Fortunately, I found a compression fitting that both sealed, and also retapped the plastic threads. Again, kind of my bad, but it was really cheap in quality. The big one though is cleaning. I feel you should have two if you plan to actually take it off to clean. That is also a total pain compared to intank, depending on your plumbing.

Some not necessarily downsides but downsides to me. My bubble counter is on my regulator. I can't see the bubble counter without my stand open. If you were to add one inline, you could make it visible, but you subtract one thing to add another. I didn't like this. Also, though my regulator and bubble count was stable, it was harder to dial in at higher working pressure. Having no previous experience, and having livestock, it took me quite awhile to just get in the ball park. I gassed my fish once before this so I wanted to be extra careful. An in tank just was easier to deal with.

That said, there was nothing wrong with the thing, I just got obsessed with inline stuff. I realized more than anything that I like the look of one in the tank, but I also liked the visual check. Secondly, it is easy to clean my intank ones without bleach, I just use an oral syringe and some tubing and push some hydrogen peroxide or Excel through and let it sit. It actually works better than bleach for me. I couldn't get it to push through on my atomic diffuser.

I know that this is lengthy but in general, I found I was replacing something that was never bothersome to myself, and had some perks so I don't have interest in doing it again. I know there are other designs which may minimize certain problems and acknowledge more than a few problems we my fault, though I know other people had the same things going on as I did. Not trying to discourage, it just wasn't for me.
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 12-05-2019, 02:27 PM
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I do appreciate the response and experiences relayed. Due to co2 arts 30% off Black Friday sale and lack of responses previously I already have their pro se regulator with their inline diffuser(and a spare diffuser) sitting in the closet as my families Christmas gift to me. Pretty excited to get my hands on it and if I run into similar limitations as you described I guess I could always end up going in tank. It is going in a 46g bow and I really wanted to keep as much out of the rank as possible. I do have a co2 drop checker indicator with it too.

It will be plumbed into the tubing of a fluval 206 so not the worst to pull off for cleaning I figure. I have only easy keeper plants so far so plan to ease into co2 slowly as I have livestock too. Hopefully it won't be to hard to dial in. The research I've done it seems like lots of people have had success with this as a decent entry levelish co2 setup.

Thanks again for piping in. May have swayed my decision if I'd read before I'd ordered but I'll live and learn the ins and outs myself now I suppose.
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