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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, so I want to set up a pressurized co2 system for my 125 gal tank, and i have a couple questions about gear. I already searched a bunch of articles and also threads on this forum so that i don't as a question that has been answered a bunch of times. Im sure my questions have already been answered somewhere, but i can't find them. Id really appreciate the help.



So, question/issue #1. Diffuser.

I'm running into a couple of problems while looking for one. I'm trying to find a good ceramic/intank, yet they're all either rated for small tanks or are quite vague on their rating. I don't want to buy one and then not be able to use it. Ive looked at inline diffusers, but I don't want my tank to look like 7-up (if anyone has experience with this, can y'all share a picture? I want to see how much it looks like 7-up, or if the situation isn't as bad as i think it is.). I've noticed the words "atomizer" and "reactor" but i can't seem to find info on what they are. I have a sump filtration system and I really don't want to redo the plumping in order to stick a diffuser in there. So, if any of y'all can help explain this stuff and what I should look for, and possibly even just suggest what exact product, that would be really helpful.

I am willing to modify the plumbing on one of my returns. The plumbing is a 3/4" pvc pipe with a 90º elbow that's threaded on the inside. A lock line pipe connection directs the water in the desired direction.



Question/Issue #2: Regulator.

I know, I know, there are TONS of regulator question threads, but please bare with me. I'm looking at 2 specific products on Amazon: the Zone 1011 and the FZone 0104. I read a couple articles (Aquanswers and ModestFish) that said that the 1011 is a triple stage, but Amazon says it's a dual stage. Also, the 0104 is a single stage system with a dual gauge setup. I understand that Dual Gauge and Dual Stage are different, but i haven't found any useful info about the difference.

So my questions here are
  • How do dual STAGE and dual GUAGE differ?
  • To those with experience with these products, how was it? Would you buy it again? Why or why not?

Thank you all for taking the time to read this. I would really appreciate your help.
 

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Dual gauge single stage just has tank pressure and outlet pressure gauges and only reduces the pressure once.
Two stags as it sounds reduces pressure twice. This 2x step creates a more steady output pressure regardless of tank pressure.
The inter-stage pressure has no gauge but goes something like this:
900psi....200psi.....X psi (30 plus for atomizers, a few psi for reactors)

single stage (unless err "design modified") the outlet pressure increases as tank pressure decreases regardless of setting on the outlet side.
For CO2 this only impacts the end of the tank as tank pressure remains stable till all liquid CO2 is used up. Then tank pressure rapidly (for systems w/ higher output settings) drops.

Some think this could lead to an "end of tank dump" of CO2.
Personally I believe it can but isn't very common. Need to be running CO2 high enough to be border lethal and have a high flow rate so pressure increases a lot in a short period of time.
CO2 levels can then become lethal to non-plants.

Regardless, standard practice for single stage is change out the tank when pressure starts to drop since there is little CO2 left anyways.

Some think it's due to bad needle valves though.

2 single stages in series accomplishes the same thing as a 2 stage.

No opinion on your 2 choices though since many (inc. me) DIY 2 stage setups but costs can (and usually) do go over $100 ($200 is fairly easy) and of course used parts or new old stock and sweat equity involved.
Using commercial brand new parts one can come close to under $300 w/ some sweat equity (need to be a small plumber).
Obviously one needs to consider ones time as zero cost.

Atomizers are like high pressure air stones w/ tiny bubbles.
In-line or in tank.
Reactors just dribble CO2 into a mixing chamber to completely dissolve it so no bubbles.

There are other delivery systems but those 2 (3) are probably the most common.
Reactor is the best but involves more plumbing and parts usually. Those to are done DIY.

some sump/CO2 chatter.
https://barrreport.com/threads/best-place-to-inject-co2-in-a-sump.16407/
Just found this..I know simplistic but it does explain it easily enough.. ;)
 

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For a 125G, I would suggest you use a reactor instead of a diffuser, especially if you're using a sump. It is going to be very difficult, if not impossible to inject enough CO2 through a diffuser to get to 30ppm CO2. My suggestion would be to look up either Cerges or Rex Griggs designs. Either can be constructed yourself with a trip to Home Depot and $30.

As far as regulators, you're really looking between single stage and dual stage. A single stage regulator reduces the CO2 tank pressure from 500psi to 5-30+psi, depending on where you set it. A dual stage regulator will reduce the tank pressure from 500psi to something like 200psi, and then the second stage is the one you set to 5-30psi. The pros and cons of a dual stage, are that it eliminates the risk of an "end of tank dump", but it's more expensive.

I've personally gassed an entire tank of fish with a single stage regulator, and will never use one again.
 

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As a new hobbyist, I struggled a bit with the same questions. I opted for a Co2Arts dual stage regulator, plus their inline diffuser which I placed inline on my canister output, leading to an (underwater) spraybar. I did not want the noise of a reactor or extra equipment inside the tank.
I was expecting an annoyance of bubbles, however, they are a very, very fine mist and to my mind, unobtrusive. I do not notice them until I peer closely at the tank. I feel it is an advantage to tell at a glance that a) my filter is running and b) I can see how the mist is dissipating around the tank.
I am quite happy with my decision at this point.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
hm, ok. that all makes sense and is really quite helpful. thank you all. I read the thread that @jeffkrol attached, and one guy said that you can get away with using a regular diffuser in a larger tank as long as you position it correctly in the flow. But i think I'm gonna opt for either one of those ceramic tube-like atomizers or a Cerges Reactor if i can't a good enough atomizer.
 

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This is a link to some basic drawings and better info on the difference than I can give:
https://industry.airliquide.com.au/single-stage-vs-two-stage-regulators

Look at the locations of the two gauges to see they are on the input (high pressure ) and one on the output ( low pressure) side of the gas flow. That lets you see the tank pressure which will stay the same until all the liquid portion in the tank has gassed off and been used and then the tank pressure will begin to go down. This alerts you that it is time to refill pretty soon---very important to know so you can plan the trip!
Both single stage and dual stage should have two gauges as you certainly want to be able to set the output pressure and for that you need something to tell you what you have changed.
Some regs like paintball, only have a single gauge and you get no idea of what each point is doing, so little warning!
Looking at the drawing and comparing single stage to dual stage, dual passes the gas through two sets of springs and opening where single only does it once!
A reg is a pretty simple minded thing that uses the gas on one side of a diaphragm balanced against a spring to set the output pressure. Doing it in two stages makes it possible to regulate the output pressure far better as the tank begins to run dry.
Funny thing on the single stage is that it lets output pressure go high as the tank pressure goes LOW, just the opposite of what we might expect! And that can be dangerous for our fish as it can make more and more CO2 go into the tank as the CO2 supply runs out. That can kill the fish!
So I always have to have two gauges to know what is happening and then single stage may do but with some hazard while dual stage is better but more expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ok, I have decided that I want to build a DIY Cerges Reactor. I have two options for installation:

Option 1: I install it into the return plumbing, after the T section.
Pros:
  • because it comes after the T section, the CO2 will only come out of 1 return pipe (instead of both), so that will leave the other return pipe free to point more up to create surface disturbance
  • Protects the return pump impeller from additional wear and tear
Cons:
  • Possible uneven CO2 distribution
  • Not reaching the better potential of diffusion levels / wasting more co2
  • Have to do more work because I have to cut into the piping and also glue pvc
Option 2: I install it so that it feeds into the impeller area of my return pump (Jebao DCP-6500).
Pros:
  • Better distribution of CO2
  • Easier installation
  • Better diffusion
Cons:
  • Probably more wear and tear of the impeller in the return pump
  • Surface Disturbance vs CO2 Diffusion Compromise: If I keep the return outlets pointed slightly upward to have surface disturbance, I assume I'll waste more CO2. And if I point the outlets more downward to save CO2, I'll lose water disturbance (therfore oxygenation).
  • It might require more cleaning, but I dont think so because the reactor's intake tube will be in the portion of the sump where the water has already passed through both mechanical and biological filtration.

Although the list seems to be lengthy, the only real concern I have is the probable extra wear and tear on the impeller. I added everything because I like to thorough and it could come in handy depending on how this discussion develops.

Now, onto the main concern.
I've come across information (from an Aquarium Co-op video and TPT threads) that putting CO2 directly into the impeller portion should only be a temporary solution because CO2 can make plastic brittle. I not running the pump at max level, however I don't think that matters in this situation. The only way I can reasonably justify attaching the reactor to the impeller is that since the CO2 bubbles will already be diffused and/or broken apart by the reactor before heading to the impeller, the wear and tear will be diminished. Will it make enough of a difference? Is my reasoning correct or is it flawed?

What do you guys think?
Any personal experience and lessons learned?
What kind of media should I put in the reactor?
I'm thinking roughly 1/3 sponge and 2/3 small lava rock​
Will the reactor slow down the flow or put additional strain on the return pump (especially if the reactor feeds into the intake/impeller)?
Is this a big enough housing unit for a reactor on a 125 gl?
 

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If rhe reactor is doing its job you shouldn't have any or hardly any free CO2 to get trapped in the canister.
Also since it is mostly dissolved no need to have it pre canister so best to take the shortest path to the tank.

Afaict the only reason to do pre canister is to do what the reactor is supposed to do. 🙂

Many seem to have problems w/ atomizers and pre canister placement
 

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Ok, I have decided that I want to build a DIY Cerges Reactor. I have two options for installation:



Option 1: I install it into the return plumbing, after the T section.

Pros:

  • because it comes after the T section, the CO2 will only come out of 1 return pipe (instead of both), so that will leave the other return pipe free to point more up to create surface disturbance
  • Protects the return pump impeller from additional wear and tear

Cons:

  • Possible uneven CO2 distribution
  • Not reaching the better potential of diffusion levels / wasting more co2
  • Have to do more work because I have to cut into the piping and also glue pvc

Option 2: I install it so that it feeds into the impeller area of my return pump (Jebao DCP-6500).

Pros:

  • Better distribution of CO2
  • Easier installation
  • Better diffusion

Cons:

  • Probably more wear and tear of the impeller in the return pump
  • Surface Disturbance vs CO2 Diffusion Compromise: If I keep the return outlets pointed slightly upward to have surface disturbance, I assume I'll waste more CO2. And if I point the outlets more downward to save CO2, I'll lose water disturbance (therfore oxygenation).
  • It might require more cleaning, but I dont think so because the reactor's intake tube will be in the portion of the sump where the water has already passed through both mechanical and biological filtration.



Although the list seems to be lengthy, the only real concern I have is the probable extra wear and tear on the impeller. I added everything because I like to thorough and it could come in handy depending on how this discussion develops.



Now, onto the main concern.

I've come across information (from an Aquarium Co-op video and TPT threads) that putting CO2 directly into the impeller portion should only be a temporary solution because CO2 can make plastic brittle. I not running the pump at max level, however I don't think that matters in this situation. The only way I can reasonably justify attaching the reactor to the impeller is that since the CO2 bubbles will already be diffused and/or broken apart by the reactor before heading to the impeller, the wear and tear will be diminished. Will it make enough of a difference? Is my reasoning correct or is it flawed?



What do you guys think?

Any personal experience and lessons learned?

What kind of media should I put in the reactor?

I'm thinking roughly 1/3 sponge and 2/3 small lava rock​

Will the reactor slow down the flow or put additional strain on the return pump (especially if the reactor feeds into the intake/impeller)?

Is this a big enough housing unit for a reactor on a 125 gl?

Why not place the Cerges reactor inline before the "T" giving you more even dispersion in your tank?

As for the housing; the 10" you linked is ok. If you want a better result, giving you more contact time, I recommend going with the one in the link below. It is the one I use and I am very happy with the results. The housing is not clear but I couldn't justify nearly twice the cost for a clear housing. Also, when I bought mine only 1.5 months ago, both the 10" and 20" x 4.5" were $10 less expensive. Not sure why the reasons dramatic increase and maybe contacting the seller might be helpful.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086XFC665/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fabc_kWg9FbFED5Y1M


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Discussion Starter #12
Why not place the Cerges reactor inline before the "T" giving you more even dispersion in your tank?

As for the housing; the 10" you linked is ok. If you want a better result, giving you more contact time, I recommend going with the one in the link below. It is the one I use and I am very happy with the results. The housing is not clear but I couldn't justify nearly twice the cost for a clear housing. Also, when I bought mine only 1.5 months ago, both the 10" and 20" x 4.5" were $10 less expensive. Not sure why the reasons dramatic increase and maybe contacting the seller might be helpful.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086XFC665/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_fabc_kWg9FbFED5Y1M


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I would love to put it right before the T section, but i just dont enough space there.
And thanks for taking a look at the hosuing I linked. I'm trying to save as much money as i can (this hobby is not cheap), so the current price of $50 or $45 is just too much



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It's nice to have a clear housing so you can shine a flashlight in there and see what your flow and bubble churn is like. I have gotten two of these from this seller, and they are great.

https://ifilters.com/products/filte...34inch-ports-wpr?_pos=21&_sid=e43fba595&_ss=r
Avoid the 2.5" diameter filter housing.

Best if it is 20"x 4.5", and a 10" x 4.5" filter housing works better than a 20"x 2.5" filter housing.
the core theory of reactor is to increase the co2 and water contact time, so the flowrate of water inside the reactor needs to be significantly reduced, do some math you will see water flow rate is about 4 times slower in the 10"x4.5 than the 20x2.5", and the co2 water contact time is at least double in the 10"x4.5" because slower flowing water not only increase the contact time but also has less power pulling down the co2 bubbles and carry them away.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Avoid the 2.5" diameter filter housing.



Best if it is 20"x 4.5", and a 10" x 4.5" filter housing works better than a 20"x 2.5" filter housing.

the core theory of reactor is to increase the co2 and water contact time, so the flowrate of water inside the reactor needs to be significantly reduced, do some math you will see water flow rate is about 4 times slower in the 10"x4.5 than the 20x2.5", and the co2 water contact time is double in the 10"x4.5".
Hm. That makes sense. Thank you

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Avoid the 2.5" diameter filter housing.

Best if it is 20"x 4.5", and a 10" x 4.5" filter housing works better than a 20"x 2.5" filter housing.
the core theory of reactor is to increase the co2 and water contact time, so the flowrate of water inside the reactor needs to be significantly reduced, do some math you will see water flow rate is about 4 times slower in the 10"x4.5 than the 20x2.5", and the co2 water contact time is double in the 10"x4.5".



just to be clear, the housing is 5" in diameter at the top. it takes 2.5" cartridges if using it as an actual RO housing. you can get housings that take 4.5" cartridges, like this one:



https://ifilters.com/products/water...inch-34inch-ports?_pos=6&_sid=3bb3abed7&_ss=r


i don't have any issues with the linked housing, but i have plumbed a bypass to reduce reactor flow, and my largest tank is 80 system gallons. i can definitely see how a larger one could be useful for a much larger tank than my own.
 

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I would love to put it right before the T section, but i just dont enough space there.
And thanks for taking a look at the hosuing I linked. I'm trying to save as much money as i can (this hobby is not cheap), so the current price of $50 or $45 is just too much



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Sorry to hear you cannot afford the 20" x 4.5" housing. I think you may run into problems with keeping your CO2 levels up using a sump and only running a 10" x 2.5" housing. I hope I am wrong but I've seen others not be able to do it.

Oh, if you think planted tanks are expensive, you definitely do not want to know the costs involved in reef keeping! :)
 

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Sorry to hear you cannot afford the 20" x 4.5" housing. I think you may run into problems with keeping your CO2 levels up using a sump and only running a 10" x 2.5" housing. I hope I am wrong but I've seen others not be able to do it.

Oh, if you think planted tanks are expensive, you definitely do not want to know the costs involved in reef keeping! :)
Agree with above.

You definitely want a 20" filter housing for a tank that size. You'll never get the results you want with the smaller housing.

It that's a deal breaker, you might not be prepared for the costs involved a planted tank. Not saying that to be rude, just being truthful.

It may not be reef expensive, but believe me it adds up. And if there is one thing I have learned, do it right the first time. Cheap usually = replacing it down the road and even more cost.

If I were you, I wouldn't give much credence to Youtubers. Get to know some successful folks with similar sized tanks to yours, and pick their brains. They will guide you with practical experience.

Good luck and look forward to seeing what you come up with.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Ok, I was worried about that. I dont really plan on putting in an additional filter because the purpose is for CO2. The 2.5vs4.5 is only the filter ring size, not the actual width of the housing itself (as previously mentioned by another user. Thank you). So im thinking just getting a 20"x2.5".

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Jeffkrol - thank you so much - I've
had a hard time getting good info on Co2 with sums and straight answers.
 

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Jellopuddingpop - question for you as you've clearly got a lot of practical experience on this...How do you plumb a reactor in the sump? Detail - .I have a 180gallon waterbox with a 40gallin sump - have done an initial heavy planting - looking at dual stage regulator from CO2AIR - their recommendation on a diffuser vs a reactor has been vague despite 2 emails with specific questions. Sounds like you'd recommend a reactor - can you explain how id plumb a reactor in a sump, or share a link? Many thanks! Appreciate your help, newbie here to “real” planted tanks.
 
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