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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. Im so new to CO2 and the intricate aspects of aquatic plants that its not even funny. Is there a glossary somewhere or something where I can learn the terminology before jumping in here? Like, what does surface ripple have to do with it, different diffusing methods, mist vs dissolved, etc.

Thanks.

Ive got a 55 gallon, not much stock in it yet, but thats going to change soon. Ill be upgrading my lights to T5HO soon also, so Im likely going to need a crash course in CO2. I plan to go DIY with 2-liters of sugar water and yeast, and a 20-oz bottle for a separator. I understand the mechanics of how these will work, but not how to diffuse it properly or how many bottles I need for any given application.
 

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Regulator - Takes 900 psi C02 tank pressure to a "usable" lower pressure.
Solonid/Control Valve - Turns the lower pressure C02 On/Off. The solonid can be controlled by a timer or other device.
Needle Valve - Allows "fine tuning" and precise control of the low pressure C02.
Bubble Counter - Device that allows you to "see" the flow of low pressure C02
Reactor/Diffuser - Dissolves the C02 into the water. Reactors are normally outside the tank, diffusers are inside.
Drop Checker - Device inside the tank that contains a liquid which changes color based on C02 concentration.

Surface agitation - Causes an exchange of C02 and O2 to occur. Good for a stocked tank, not so good for a planted one (except when lights are off).

KH - Carbonate Hardness - a measure of the "alkalinity" of water.
PH - Measure of the acidity or alkalinity of water. 7 is "neutral". Below 7 is acidic, above 7 is alkaline.

There is a direct correlation of C02 concentration and KH-PH. (This is what the drop checker measures.)

I hope I got this right. If not, we'll correct it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, Steve. Ill definitely be going low tech. No pressurized tanks or solenoids for me. But the info about the KH/PH relations etc was very useful. I appreciate the help.

Is a diffuser essentially the same thing as the air diffuser for the air pump lines? What is a reactor? Will DIY CO2 be enough pressure to diffuse properly? Can I use DIY effectively on a 55 gallon tank with pretty high light levels?

As you can see, Im chock full o' questions.
 

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I have to ask why smp writes carbon dioxide with zeroes.

Is a diffuser essentially the same thing as the air diffuser for the air pump lines?
Sort of. The idea is the same but most air stones produce larger bubbles than what we would like for CO2. Finer bubbles rise slower and will diffuse into the water better.

What is a reactor?
The reactor is really the chamber in which the CO2 is mixed with the water. It can be inside or outside the tank. But some people use the same term to describe the bottle in which the yeast lives.

Will DIY CO2 be enough pressure to diffuse properly?
Not sure what you mean here. If you mean does it produce enough pressure to work with glass/ceramic disk diffusers, you will find mixed results.


Heres a pressurized glossary with pics:
http://www.njagc.net/articles/co2.htm

The article lacks some of the newer trends like using a Hagen Mini Elite (HME) and needle wheels for diffusion but it covers a lot. You can find threads that cover the aforementioned methods in more detail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nice, thanks, Nymsley. I guess the pressure question was about whether the slowly forming gas made by yeast (as opposed to a pressurized canister) would be sufficient to push through the check valve and the diffuser stone. But of course it would. Either that or the bottle explodes after a couple of days. So, yeah, never mind. lol.
 

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A diffuser is "similar" but a little different. It has a ceramic disk the allows the CO2 to dissolve in the water, not really bubble though it. Here's one: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produ...ubref=AA&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=0014036000000

A reactor is a device outside the tank that is normally plumbed into the output of a canister filter. CO2 bubbles enter the bottom, the water flows from top to button trying to push the bubbles down. As a result they dissolve in the flow. Here's one: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=9918

Even though the CO2 fitting is on the top, there's an internal tube that runs to the bottom inside the reactor. This is reactor I have. (I'm running a pair of Eheim 2215 canister filters.)

You can also search the DIY here for diffusers and reactors people have made.

I personally don't think you will be able to properly regulate DIY CO2 in a 55 with high light. It would be "iffy" at best. Pressurized CO2 is not that "scary" or difficult. It's a small investment at first, but one that will last a long time. If you truly add up the costs of DIY (sugar/yeast/time), it doesn't take too terribly long to pay for a CO2 system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
And do I need to point the diffuser at a powerhead or something, or does the normal tank circulation take care of spreading the gas around?

What kind of initial investment are we talking about for pressurized CO2? I think I have a source for a tank for free. Of course, I dont know what kind of tank I need for teh CO2...
 

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And do I need to point the diffuser at a powerhead or something, or does the normal tank circulation take care of spreading the gas around?
Normal tank circulation will do it

What kind of initial investment are we talking about for pressurized CO2? I think I have a source for a tank for free. Of course, I dont know what kind of tank I need for teh CO2...

~$120+ if you have a tank. $120 will get you this (you have to add a diffuser)

$200 will get you this. (with bubble counter, no diffuser). (Or you can get the parts and DIY a setup).

You can go even higher.

For a tank, you MUST have one designed for CO2. Liquid CO2 is around 900 psi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wow. Thats more than I was expecting. Well... Id like to do it, of course. I might just have to wait a little while to do it. Maybe the tank has some of this hardware already? If its already got a regulator, can I get just the other parts?
 

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We need to know what type of tank and regulator you have. Yes, parts can be purchased, and if you are patient, you can find good deals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ok. Good to know. It cant hurt to try the free option first though. :) Ill get the tank, and Ill try to find out whats what. But it probably wont be till Monday.

Thats Alfalfa Sprout. Ill go give him a pat on the head for you. But then Doughnut (GSD) will have to have one too.
 
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