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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm very new to pressurized CO2 and about to set up my first system. I just have some questions:

#1. I bought the Pro-SE Series Complete Aquarium CO2 System with New Inline CO2 Diffuser--is there anything else CO2-related I need to buy other than the CO2 cylinder?

#2. I'm using a canister filter; I read that some people hook up the CO2 regulator to the inflow tube instead of the outflow, to break up bubbles better. Is this recommended?

#3. Are there different types/sizes of CO2 cylinders? What is recommended for a 20 gallon?

#4. CO2 cylinders come empty and then you go somewhere to have them refilled, right?

#5. How do you know when your CO2 cylinder is running out?

Setup:
Tank: 20 gallon long
Type: Freshwater
Light: Finnex Fugeray
Substrate: ADA Aquasoil
Aquascape: Heavily planted
Heater: In-line Hydor
Filter: Eheim 2213
CO2 system: Pro-SE Series (not yet hooked up)

If any more information is needed, please let me know!
 

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It looks like that kit comes with tubing and a drop checker, so you should be good to go.

There are some folks that say hooking up the co2 before the canister filter will shorten the canister filters life. Others say that's nonsense. I have no opinion on the subject but certainly adding gas to a canister filter will make it noisier then it would be without the gas.

Assuming you don't use a paintball cylinder, then in the states CO2 is typically sold as either a 5lb, 10lb, or 20lb cylinder. I own a 10lb which is around 20 inches tall and 7 inches in diameter. If you can fit a 10lb cylinder wherever you are keeping your stuff then definitely go that way. This way if you upgrade your tank down the line you can use the same cylinder or even run multiple tanks off the same cylinder.

Definitely figure out where you are going to fill your cylinder before you buy one. Some places only do tank swaps. Thus if you show up at your designated refill location with a shiny new tank, they will just take it and give you full but all banged up replacement. Also most locations will sell you a tank as well so you might want to take advantage of that process so no shipping charges.

You will know when the cylinder is running out when the tank pressure begins to drop. Usually I figure it out after its already run out completely and no new bubbles are umm bubbling, but I also keep mine in the stand and don't see it very often.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
@minorhero You are amazing, thank you! Just to be safe, I'll hook up the CO2 to the filter's outflow tube. A 10lb cylinder is apparently taller than can fit on my bottom shelf, but 10 lb sounds better than going with a 5 lb, so I could just put it in front of the shelf. Thank you again, your responses have been very enlightening!
 

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@minorhero You are amazing, thank you! Just to be safe, I'll hook up the CO2 to the filter's outflow tube. A 10lb cylinder is apparently taller than can fit on my bottom shelf, but 10 lb sounds better than going with a 5 lb, so I could just put it in front of the shelf. Thank you again, your responses have been very enlightening!
Glad to help!
 

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I got lucky and one local CO2 provider only fills, no exchanges so I still have my "pretty" tank. A couple of places locally said they only fill 5lb and 10lb cylinders and only do exchanges, not sure why not 4lb or 7lb which are fairly common, but whatever. I went with a 5lb for my 29 gallon tank. I have no idea and mileage will vary but I think it will last about 4 months between fills. I went with 5lb only because I found one pretty cheap on Ebay.
 

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Good luck with the tank. FWIW I’m new to pressurize CO2 also and use inline heating and diffusing. I contacted CO2 art when I set up and they recommended having the diffuser after the inline heater. I know you didn’t ask in the original post, but it was a question I had and thought it may be helpful to share. Enjoy!
 

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@minorhero You are amazing, thank you! Just to be safe, I'll hook up the CO2 to the filter's outflow tube. A 10lb cylinder is apparently taller than can fit on my bottom shelf, but 10 lb sounds better than going with a 5 lb, so I could just put it in front of the shelf. Thank you again, your responses have been very enlightening!
I had a defuser that i set up thinking if I let it go through my canister filter it would help. Like mentioned above, it just made more noise and would blast some co2 pockets every now and again. so that moved just because it seemed to be added undue stress by adding those gases.

I would just say find that level of bubbles that lets good amounts of co2 in but does not cloud up the tank after, well any amount of time. Mine I took my time and only adjust a couple times a week for that month. it's nice and dial in so bubbles go up, hit the current and are force into the water column longer which now leaves with with virtually zero extra co2 bubbles floating on the surface.

GL HF, I know you will now that you have co2
 

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Just to add that wasn't already addressed, is that the reason you add the Co2 diffuser to the output of the tube is because you don't want it to be gunked up with whatever is being pulled from your tank prior to filtration or how some people like to say polishing of the water. It means less hassle over the long-run from maintenance. Whether you choose a 5lb or 10lb Co2 tank is user preference on how often you want to drive down to the refill station to get it filled up. For a 20 gallon tank that could mean the difference hypothetically 6 months or a year depending on bubbles per seconds (I think the duration could even be longer). Of course that timeframe shrinks or expands depending on the use of a solenoid (which the package includes), type of plants, and effectiveness of your diffuser to maximize the saturation Co2 in the water.

I can't see why adding Co2 to the intake of the canister would shorten the motors life. Effectively what we trying to do is maximize the contact time (like a Co2 reactor) by having it go through the media. It would work but the negatives (like I mentioned above) is more maintenance of the diffuser and as Aaronious mentioned the occasional blurp of Co2 as the canister expels any pockets of Co2. Back in the day we use to deliberately run Co2 into a powerhead so it would continuously (a reactor set up) chop up the bubbles... noisy but never heard of a powerhead failing.

I don't think it makes a difference having inline heating before or the diffuser other than to have a cleaner set up or user preference. One has elements that heat the water, the other blows Co2 into it... I don't see any correlation how they would impact each other. Hope that helps.
 

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I don't think it makes a difference having inline heating before or the diffuser other than to have a cleaner set up or user preference. One has elements that heat the water, the other blows Co2 into it... I don't see any correlation how they would impact each other. Hope that helps.
They recommended the diffuser after the inline heater, is because you don't want an undissolved gas pocket to form inside the heater and burn up a coil.
 

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When I first posted, I thought about that. Is there a possibility of a pocket of air or Co2 that could be trapped and crack the internal glass or heating element but after thinking about it, I would say it is improbable. Looking at the design of the most common inline heating elements it consists of a straight tube. Ever see a pocket of air get trapped in a straight tube of the same diameter? If that were the case you should see pockets of air in your aquarium tube. From a design perspective, would I design a heater where a pocket air (it doesn't have to be Co2) could get trapped which could cause a weaknesses in the element? The answer would be no, however to err on the side of caution I would mount it vertical.

1026303
1026304
 

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To add, you have a higher chance of an inline heater electronic malfunctioning vs the integrity of the internal tube cracking. As a fail safe you can pick up rather cheap monitors that the heater plugs into. Set the inline heater to whatever temperature you want which is connected to the monitor at a slightly higher level... and should the inline fail, the second one in theory should cut the power. More info that was requested. lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you everyone for the help! Once I get everything set up, I know I'll be back here asking about bubbles per second for a 20 gallon.
 

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I'm already going to help you with that. Don't ever think about it in terms of bubbles per second. Instead, you want to think about it in terms of ph. You need to know the resting ph of your tank with no CO2, and then check your ph as you add CO2. CO2 will lower your ph by a predictable amount, and a drop of 1 full point equals 30ppm of CO2. Your goal is to get this 1 point drop by the time the lights come on, without going lower for the rest of the day.

Read this article for some dense (but very informative) stuff on managing your gaseous exchange and CO2 levels.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I'm already going to help you with that. Don't ever think about it in terms of bubbles per second. Instead, you want to think about it in terms of ph. You need to know the resting ph of your tank with no CO2, and then check your ph as you add CO2. CO2 will lower your ph by a predictable amount, and a drop of 1 full point equals 30ppm of CO2. Your goal is to get this 1 point drop by the time the lights come on, without going lower for the rest of the day.

Read this article for some dense (but very informative) stuff on managing your gaseous exchange and CO2 levels.

So for the three tools listed that help create a flow pattern evenly to cycle the top of the water in a tank with deeper areas, it says are lily pipes, surface skimmers, and an overflow or sump.

I have my inflow and outflow lily pipes on one side, with the outflow in the front since it's less likely to hit plants up front. On the opposite side of that, a little more than halfway down the tank, I put the drop checker, just like the picture indicated. Tool 1, check!

Tool #2 Issue: It mentions the second tool is a surface skimmer. I originally had a lily inflow pipe with a skimmer but it was way too high overall to work properly in my 20 gallon long. Do I need a surface skimmer?

Tool #3 Issue: It mentions needing an overflow or a sump. I'm using a canister filter Eheim 2213, no sump. How do I avoid an overflow with this?

CO2 Kit Question #1: I bought this CO2 system, and I'm watching tutorials on how to set it up, but a check valve has been mentioned and this kit doesn't seem to come with one? I need to buy a check valve then, right? I do have two of these still in the package, something I accidentally bought last year when I was setting up an air pump.

CO2 Kit Question #2: Which way do I turn the dial on the regulator so that it is not letting any CO2 through? I just want to make sure to start low before I work my way up, but I find the picture a bit confusing. I turn it all the way to the right until I can't anymore, right?



CO2 Kit Question #3: I can account for everything in the CO2 system kit except for these two plastic washers that came out of a little baggy. Am I used to use these somewhere?
 

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So for the three tools listed that help create a flow pattern evenly to cycle the top of the water in a tank with deeper areas, it says are lily pipes, surface skimmers, and an overflow or sump.

I have my inflow and outflow lily pipes on one side, with the outflow in the front since it's less likely to hit plants up front. On the opposite side of that, a little more than halfway down the tank, I put the drop checker, just like the picture indicated. Tool 1, check!

Tool #2 Issue: It mentions the second tool is a surface skimmer. I originally had a lily inflow pipe with a skimmer but it was way too high overall to work properly in my 20 gallon long. Do I need a surface skimmer?

Tool #3 Issue: It mentions needing an overflow or a sump. I'm using a canister filter Eheim 2213, no sump. How do I avoid an overflow with this?

CO2 Kit Question #1: I bought this CO2 system, and I'm watching tutorials on how to set it up, but a check valve has been mentioned and this kit doesn't seem to come with one? I need to buy a check valve then, right? I do have two of these still in the package, something I accidentally bought last year when I was setting up an air pump.

CO2 Kit Question #2: Which way do I turn the dial on the regulator so that it is not letting any CO2 through? I just want to make sure to start low before I work my way up, but I find the picture a bit confusing. I turn it all the way to the right until I can't anymore, right?



CO2 Kit Question #3: I can account for everything in the CO2 system kit except for these two plastic washers that came out of a little baggy. Am I used to use these somewhere?
A skimmer is very helpful, but not 100% necessary unless you get a surface film build up. If you can see any glossy film on the surface of the tank, then you're going to want a surface skimmer. That film is a bacteria / protein mixture that prevents gaseous exchange. Check Amazon for "surface skimmer", and look for one that's self contained. Personally, I'm using the Aquatop SSK-65, but the Eheim Skim 350 is popular as well.

As far as an overflow, that's not needed. It's mentioned as a way to skim the surface if you were running a sump for filtration.

Kit question #1, yes, that is your check valve. Install one before and one after your bubble counter, with the arrows facing away from your needle valve.

Question #2 Yes, turn it as if you were tightening a cap or something to close it. When you open it, you're only going to open it to the pressure you need. I couldn't open the kit you bought, but diffusers are usually 30-40 lbs, and reactors can be as low as 20.

Question #3 Those are seals to go between the regulator and your CO2 tank. You only need 1, but it looks like they gave you a spare.

I hope I was able to help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I do currently have biofilm, but my filter is not running so the surface isn't agitated. I'm still waiting for the smaller lily inflow pipe to come in. The skimmer seemed nice on the original inflow pipe but most lily pipes are just too long to contend with such a short height of a tank with substrate.

#1. I'm not sure how to install a check valve before the bubble counter, it's connected to the solenoid, and the solenoid to the regulator. Am I okay to just put one check valve between the bubble checker and the diffuser?

#2. Should the washer be as loose as it is?


#3. On the outflow tube of the canister filter, I put the inline heater first, then the CO2 diffuser, correct? Like filter > heater > CO2 diffuser > lily pipe outflow. Can these be at any height or is higher/lower toward the canister filter preferred?

Next step is to buy a CO2 tank and a timer for it. I was thinking of setting it to one hour before the lights turn on, and an hour after the lights turn off. The photo period is currently set to 6 hours, from noon to 6 pm.
 

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Ok, so in that case, just put one it the tube somewhere above that.

That's fine with the washer. It's a compression seal between the regulator and the tank.

You're correct in your order, filter > heater > diffuser. The heights doesn't make a big difference at all.

For your timer, there's zero need for CO2 after the lights go off.

I would set it to turn on two hours before lights on, and turn off an hour before lights off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thank you, that reminds me that I need to buy a timer ASAP. It's too bad it's not beneficial to do CO2 at the exact same time as the lights or they could share one big timer, but I'll make do with two separate small timers.

Due to limited space I decided I'll get a 5 lb CO2 tank, I'm picking it up tomorrow at a place that does exchanges locally.

Don't ever think about it in terms of bubbles per second. Instead, you want to think about it in terms of ph. You need to know the resting ph of your tank with no CO2, and then check your ph as you add CO2. CO2 will lower your ph by a predictable amount, and a drop of 1 full point equals 30ppm of CO2. Your goal is to get this 1 point drop by the time the lights come on, without going lower for the rest of the day.
This sounds so intimidating to get right. How fast can the PH drop? Like how soon could I check up on it once CO2 is added? How will I know how much or little to turn the dial on the regulator?
 

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Your pH can drop as quickly as you want, and the faster, the better. The tricky part is ensuring it doesn't drop too far. This is where your surface agitation comes into play. The amount of surface agitation you have will set an upper limit on the CO2 ppm you will get. Here are the two extremes...

Tank #1 is a very tall, small footprint tank. It has no surface movement at all, and only a tiny powerhead to move the water around a bit. You could inject a very small amount of CO2, and only have 10ppm at the time your lights come on. However, because it never has a chance to offgas into the atmosphere, your CO2 continues to rise throughout the day. By the end of the photo period, the fish are gasping because your CO2 is at like 60ppm. Your assumption is that your CO2 is too high, because you're stressing the fish. In reality, your tank spent the majority of the photoperiod with not enough CO2. The problem was not enough surface agitation.

Tank #2 is a tank with a wet/dry trickle sump. The water flows fast and splashes down the overflow. You have 3 air bubblers turning the water over, and a powerhead pointed up towards the surface. Because of the tremendous amount of agitation, the water will reach equilibrium before it ever reaches 30ppm of CO2, no matter how much you add.

Your goal is to be somewhere in the middle.

Check you this video from Dennis Wong for a really great explanation.


As far as a starting point, you're going to want to open your CO2 tank all the way, turn your regulator to 30lbs (or more, some diffusers need 40 lbs to work properly), and then use the needle valve to slow the flow down to a couple of bubbles per second (to start). From there, you'll observe. Depending on your ph readings, and observing your livestock, you'll have a balancing act between the rate of CO2 injection and the amount of surface agitation you have. The video I linked will go over this in fine detail.

Lastly, just to get terminology right, your regulator and needle valve are always "on", or open. The only think that shuts off is your solenoid, which shuts off the flow of CO2.

Though it seems intimidating, you really only need to go through this once. Once you have it dialed in, you're only going to have very minor adjustments based on your plant mass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I'm using the CO2Art regulator. I hooked it up to the CO2 tank, and the dials sprang upward (50 psi on the left dial, about 650 psi on the right dial that has the red range marked out (needle is above the red range). I didn't realize I needed to until I started watching videos but I also filled up the bubble counter before hooking everything up. I made sure the dial isn't set to empty. The bubbles weren't coming out of the bubble counter until I realized to flip the small back dial to On. I have it at 2 bubbles per second, and I'm going to test the pH. I also plugged in the solenoid but not to the timer yet, since this is outside of photo period hours, but once I have everything going, CO2 will come on 2 hours before the lights do (lights are set to a 6 hour timer), and an hour before lights are off.

Currently I have the first needle on 40 psi, with the bubbles about 2 a second for the time being, I need to measure pH soon. I was wondering what you meant by turning the regulator to 30 lbs or more? Do you mean the first reader/needle?

I'm tempted to just turn the CO2 and lights off for tonight, set the CO2 to its respective timer, and then just test the pH tomorrow, since it hasn't had a full proper startup and there's no livestock in the tank yet.

Also I have what I think is good surface agitation but I have to turn the flow down or, when I put my nano fish in, they'll get thrown all about. I have one of these on my outflow hose from the filter. If I want to turn down the flow, do I turn down the dial closest to the filter, or turn both of them? Both are in an upright position for maximum default flow.

 
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