CO2 regulator advice-- dump at end of canister almost killed my tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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CO2 regulator advice-- dump at end of canister almost killed my tank

After months of CO2 injection with very few issues I noticed my drop checker yellow and my fan shrimp with palpitations last night. I promptly changed 70%+ of the water and he resuscitated with that plus an air stone. But, now my water parameters are all messed up for the Crypto Flamingo, HC Cuba and other sensitive plants I have in there. I think the CO2 dump happened because the cylinder was getting near the end (I read just yesterday in an Amazon review for a dual stage regulator that that can happen, thinking that it must be a minor dump when it happens...) I have this setup (a single stage regulator): https://www.amazon.com/ZRDR-Generato...upplies&sr=1-3 with the included simple diffusor on a 7 gallon and the same with an inline Sera Flore Active CO2 Reactor on my 29g tank.

On the big tank this CO2 used to last me a month after filling it with the baking soda / citric acid proportions recommended, but lately it has only been lasting a few days at a time. So, with that and the recent dump scare, I am looking to upgrade.

Does anyone have a regulator setup that they really like and has proven to be trustworthy, not leak, not dump, etc.?

Last edited by tanktech; 10-12-2020 at 09:09 PM. Reason: clarify detail
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 07:14 PM
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I used to use Milwaukee regulators but solenoids kept failing and the needle valve wasn't as sensitive to my liking.

I have now used GLA regulators for a few years and have nothing bad to say about them. Consistent flow with no end-of-tank dumps. Also their modular system is great if you end up needing co2 for more than one tank. They are a bit pricey but in my experience, worth it.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by tanktech View Post
After months of CO2 injection with very few issues I noticed my drop checker yellow and my fan shrimp with palpitations last night. I promptly changed 70%+ of the water and he resuscitated with that plus an air stone. But, now my water parameters are all messed up for the Crypto Flamingo, HC Cuba and other sensitive plants I have in there. I think the CO2 dump happened because the cylinder was getting near the end (I read just yesterday in an Amazon review for a dual stage regulator that that can happen, thinking that it must be a minor dump when it happens...) I have this setup: https://www.amazon.com/ZRDR-Generato...upplies&sr=1-3 with the included simple diffusor on a 7 gallon and the same with an inline Sera Flore Active CO2 Reactor on my 29g tank.

On the big tank this CO2 used to last me a month after filling it with the baking soda / citric acid proportions recommended, but lately it has only been lasting a few days at a time. So, with that and the recent dump scare, I am looking to upgrade.

Does anyone have a regulator setup that they really like and has proven to be trustworthy, not leak, not dump, etc.?

The regulator on the link is single stage. Go DIY. Build yourself a TRUE dual stage system. We had a lot experts here can point you to the right direction to get all the right parts.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 07:50 PM
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The regulator on the link is single stage. Go DIY. Build yourself a TRUE dual stage system. We had a lot experts here can point you to the right direction to get all the right parts.
Or just buy one from flowerfishs
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-12-2020, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Hmmm, I was thinking it was going to be something like $500+ to get something that won't take me a ton of hours or be a rabbit chase type slow drain money hole. I am starting to wonder if the general unexpected money hole type nature of having planted tanks ever gets better... I started with a budget tank full of java ferns and algae. I said "I'll just buy a few things and fix it so it looks worthy of the rest of the house." Then, 2 years and $1500+ later, I have cool pink plants and lots of other expensive stuff that dies without lots of other expensive stuff. Feels like deciding when to stop matching the bet in poker.

I am guessing from everything said here that the Co2 setup I have currently is really subpar for a lot of reasons and that it is no surprise that it lasts only a few days and has a very inconsistent flow. The internal pressure of these tanks is always under 20, because I can't seem to get it higher than that. It is a setup with a SS tank but using baking soda and citric acid to generate Co2. Perfecting planted tank Co2 is an interesting topic with lots to know for sure!

If I get a nice regulator, I will need one for my other tank too, which is about 70 feet away in my office. Or, I guess I could run Co2 lines in the walls like electrical cable. Do people do that? Also, is there an easy solution for filling tanks? I guess driving somewhere is unavoidable? I actually picked the baking soda setup just to avoid the driving.

I would be interested in buying from someone on here. Especially if it is modular and I can repair it if need be. I'd like to keep it under $500. Anyone have a proposal for me?
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 04:39 PM
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The fault is with the needle valve, not the single stage regulator. What needle valve do you use (Or are you using a flow control valve) I have been using single stage regulators for the past 14 years. Have no problem with Co2 getting dumped at the end. I am able to get proper use of the CO2 until pressure falls to 300 PSI in the Co2 tank, then I get a refill. End of tank dump is real but should not happen with the setup we usually use for planted tanks.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Preeths View Post
The fault is with the needle valve, not the single stage regulator.

You're guessing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Preeths View Post
What needle valve do you use (Or are you using a flow control valve) I have been using single stage regulators for the past 14 years. Have no problem with Co2 getting dumped at the end. I am able to get proper use of the CO2 until pressure falls to 300 PSI in the Co2 tank, then I get a refill.

Why not just run it empty? Oh right gas flow increases..
That btw is pretty much undeniable physics except w/ some better designed 1 stages..

Quote:
The single-stage regulator shows little droop with varying flow rates, but a relatively large supply pressure effect. Conversely, the two-stage regulator shows a considerable droop, but only small supply pressure effects. Generally, a single-stage regulator is recommended where inlet pressure does not vary greatly or where periodic readjustment of delivery pressure does not present a problem. A two-stage regulator, however, provides constant delivery pressure with no need for periodic readjustment.
Quote:
What is Supply Pressure Effect (SPE)?

Supply pressure effect, also referred to as inlet dependency, is defined as the change in outlet pressure due to a change in inlet, or supply, pressure. Under this phenomenon, inlet and outlet pressure changes are inversely proportional to each other. If the inlet pressure decreases, there will be a corresponding outlet pressure increase. Conversely, if the inlet pressure increases, the outlet pressure decreases.

A regulator’s supply pressure effect is typically provided by the manufacturer. SPE is usually depicted as a ratio or percentage describing the change in outlet pressure per change in inlet pressure. For example, if a regulator is described as having a 1:100 or 1% SPE, for every 100 psi drop in inlet pressure, the outlet pressure will increase by 1 psi. The degree of outlet pressure variation for a regulator can be estimated with the following formula:

∆P (outlet) = ∆P (inlet) x SPE
What it implies is determined by how close to death you are running your CO2..
https://www.swagelok.com/en/blog/man...t-in-regulator

Don't rule out that the changing pressure may effect your metering valve.
In that case it would be "chicken or egg"..

Quote:
FINAL THOUGHTS
With a regulator controlling outlet pressure from a gas cylinder, SPE is a phenomenon that's always at play. Whenever inlet pressure changes, outlet pressure also will change. It's only noticeable — or only becomes an issue — in certain situations, for example, when regulation of the outlet pressure must be very precise or when inlet pressure has changed significantly, such as when a gas cylinder is emptying. You can minimize the effects of SPE for many applications by using a single regulator with a balanced poppet design or a two-stage regulator.
https://www.chemicalprocessing.com/a...ulator-riddle/
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Last edited by jeffkrol; 10-13-2020 at 07:33 PM. Reason: edit
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-13-2020, 07:52 PM
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-14-2020, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post
You're guessing.
No guessing, just my experience.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkrol View Post

Why not just run it empty? Oh right gas flow increases..
That btw is pretty much undeniable physics except w/ some better designed 1 stages..
Cylinder gets empty in a couple of hours after it reaches 300 PSI, I swap the cylinder. There is no end of tank dump.

The last line of control for CO2 entering the tank is the needle valve. These can easily withstand pressures of a couple of thousand PSI. These are normally fixed after the Solenoid rated for a max pressure of 150 -200 PSI. The Solenoid should fail... spectacularly...during an end of tank dump. Never seen this happen.

Have you seen PU and or silicone tubes that carry the co2 to the diffuser fail, get disconnected etc when this "dump" happens? not likely. The volume of gas going to the aquarium invariably increases. Usually the fault of the Needle valve as this is meant to control the volume.

With an increase in pressure there might be a slight increase in Co2 that passes through the needle valve but not much. So I still believe the needle valve is at fault.

Feel free to correct me. cos i'm still learning.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-14-2020, 08:15 PM
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@Preeths, there are many threads in this forum talked about this topic, do a little bit research you will see the relationship between Output Pressure Rise on a single stage regulator, a high precision metering valve and actual pressure setting, and how to avoid a EOTD even if for a single stage regulator, you will probably see my old posts explained the matter, too.


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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-14-2020, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Preeths View Post
No guessing, just my experience.
mathematical certainty...according to engineers.
∆P (outlet) = ∆P (inlet) x SPE

Gas delivery volume increases with pressure changes.Also a fact.

Why would a needle valve just happen and suddenly change at the end of a tank?



I've asked many times for real pressure change data from real 1 stage regulators.
ODDLY, never got any..

FUNNY the standard answer to a non-existent problem is swap the tank before it's empty.
Why bother?




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Last edited by jeffkrol; 10-14-2020 at 11:20 PM. Reason: edit
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-15-2020, 12:29 AM
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Wow. those Swagelok videos are great!

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-16-2020, 09:34 AM
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Its difficult to identify when a tank will get empty.

All the information talks about an increase in pressure on outlet side. Not about the volume of gas that is controlled by the needle valve. What I need is some information talking about the relationship between the pressure and volume of gas allowed by the needle valve at any given setting.

Worst case scenario, we can see a 30 psi increase if the CO2 cylinder goes from full pressure to empty. I am going to increase the pressure to 60 psi (from 30 I have it set to use) and see what happens.

1. the bubble count increases
2. the silicone tube connecting to the diffuser fails
3. the tube gets disconnected from the stem of the diffuser.

Hope i don't break anything

-Preeths
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-25-2020, 08:46 PM
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I've always used the Harris 2-stage regulators on my fw and sw tanks. Search for "Harris dual stage co2 incubator regulator" and you'll find some for around $300. Add whatever valve on to it that you think works best for your use.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-26-2020, 01:09 AM
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What reg is best is not the same for all of us as we each operate in slightly different ways, so there is really no "new news" to add but I can make one point which seems to fit most cases of EOT dump. It happens much more often to the new user!
I feel there are several reasons why this might be true. When first using Co2 for tanks, we all tend to go with the cheaper, single stage making the new person , who is much more prone to errors like leaving leaks also being the person most likely to use equipment that turns those small mistakes into big ones!
A single stage reg works for me and they are all I've ever used at home, but I had lots of experience with compressed gas from work and do work in a way that avoids many of the problems new users are likely to have.
Single stage regs are okay if the tank never goes near empty but that is going to happen if we are not well trained on how to avoid leaving leaks or if we are far too concerned about getting the maximum amount of gas out of a cylinder. I would never let a tank go down to 300PSI as it is running too close to danger for me. That last bit of gas is such a small amount that I do not worry the issue of changing it out as it is one way to avoid a far more expensive loss of all the fish.
I might guess that leaks are one of the bigger causes of EOTD and those leaks are a direct factor of lack of experience and training on how to check and prevent leaks!
My advice to new users is to spend more time and effort on avoiding blowing half a tank of gas out into the air through leaks and far less time on getting the last dregs used out of each tank. The economics work out better and you also have more fun!
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