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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I have never used CO2 before and have recently set up my first planted 54 litre tank which will be for a betta boy. (I have had aquariums before - UK). Initially I bought a fluval CO2 system with small canister, it leaked, I was terrified so I bought a CO2 generator kit for use with citric acid and sodium bicarbonate. It claimed to come with bubble check counter and solenoid valve but it didn't. I've bought an in line bubble check but I really can't afford a solenoid at the moment (just had to pay over 拢200 for a vet bill). My question is do I really need a solenoid? Also what is the difference between a needle valve and a solenoid, could I use that instead. I'm reading so much conflicting information it's frying my brain. Please no tech talk just basic language 馃檹馃徑馃ズ Pic of tank and generator included (tank looks cloudy on pic because of wallpaper behind it but water is crystal clear). I don't have a fish at the moment. I've been cycling since May and have nitrates between 80 - 160 and pH 7.5+, nitrites and ammonia at 0 Thank you in advance
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I can't really help from the perspective of the method of CO2 you're using (DIY), but can answer what the use of a solenoid is: its main purpose is to completely shut off CO2 injection into the aquarium. Most of us running pressurized CO2 have the solenoid set up with a timer, controller, or both to either shut CO2 off once we've hit our target PH, and to shut it off at night since CO2 isn't needed.

I don't know how that would work with DIY CO2 since the pressure needs to go somewhere and if the container holding the gas isn't pressure rated, something would eventually need to give.

I've never used this method for CO2 so I can't really comment any further aside from the above.

The small CO2 cartridges you'd use for a pellet gun are notorious for either leaking and if you're lucky and they don't leak, the expense of constant replacements.

If you want to cut off CO2 using a needle valve, unless it's a precise micrometer adjusting needle valve, every time you turn it on you'll likely be playing the constant adjustment game. The value of the solenoid is being able to adjust the needle valve once, and then let the solenoid kick it on/off. If I need to touch my needle valve, even with a decent one it'll take days before I have it tuned to exactly the right amount being injected into the aquarium.

I know there are folks out there who have had success using the yeast method of CO2 production, but it seems like there's a whole lot more work involved where the cost of pressurized CO2 makes more sense depending on how much you value your time. I looked into this initially and once I saw what was involved I decided to go with the pressurized system to save a lot of time.

The last thing I wanted to mention was your nitrates seem excessively high for not having fish. I'd highly recommend some water changes. I know that your question was specifically about CO2, but you mentioned having no fish. How did you cycle the tank? Nitrifying bacteria need an ammonia source to survive. You mentioned that your stocking plans are to have just one male betta. I don't think you'll have many issues with a mini cycle, but I would recommend getting your nitrates down a bit lower. You're inviting an algae infestation with anywhere between 80-160ppm. Most of us shoot for a minimum 50% weekly water change. While nitrates tend to be harmless to fish, that changes when they get astronomically high.

I'm sure some others will be along with direct experience with this type of CO2 generation.
Thank you for the useful information. In all honesty I'm too scared to use canisters now since the leak so I want to give the DIY a go first. As for the nitrates I have started doing 50% water changes but my siphon is useless and has stopped working so I'm having to use my mouth now 馃あ I remember once upon a time when fishkeeping was enjoyable 馃
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@ddiomede pretty much covered the major differences between the NV and the solenoid and the benefits of pressurized.
As far as leaks. There is nothing to worry about especially from a small fluval cylinder leaking. There won't be enough co2 to you to even notice, even if it leaked out all at once. I've had 5 lb cylinders leak out in short order and no affect to the air around me.

Very few people use DIY long-term. you need to be too proactive to keep ti going consistently and eventually you will stop doing it. That's why you want pressurized with a solenoid.

On that size tank it takes literally 10 minutes to remove half the water with a simple hose/bucket. I do it on my 17 Gallon (77 Liters) every week.
Hi. When I say leaked I mean it didn't stop, it was hissing out and I was running around with it in my hand like a crazy person. The smell was horrendous my hand was freezing and I ended up putting it in a plant pot outside and locking the door 馃槀
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I can't really help from the perspective of the method of CO2 you're using (DIY), but can answer what the use of a solenoid is: its main purpose is to completely shut off CO2 injection into the aquarium. Most of us running pressurized CO2 have the solenoid set up with a timer, controller, or both to either shut CO2 off once we've hit our target PH, and to shut it off at night since CO2 isn't needed.

I don't know how that would work with DIY CO2 since the pressure needs to go somewhere and if the container holding the gas isn't pressure rated, something would eventually need to give.

I've never used this method for CO2 so I can't really comment any further aside from the above.

The small CO2 cartridges you'd use for a pellet gun are notorious for either leaking and if you're lucky and they don't leak, the expense of constant replacements.

If you want to cut off CO2 using a needle valve, unless it's a precise micrometer adjusting needle valve, every time you turn it on you'll likely be playing the constant adjustment game. The value of the solenoid is being able to adjust the needle valve once, and then let the solenoid kick it on/off. If I need to touch my needle valve, even with a decent one it'll take days before I have it tuned to exactly the right amount being injected into the aquarium.

I know there are folks out there who have had success using the yeast method of CO2 production, but it seems like there's a whole lot more work involved where the cost of pressurized CO2 makes more sense depending on how much you value your time. I looked into this initially and once I saw what was involved I decided to go with the pressurized system to save a lot of time.

The last thing I wanted to mention was your nitrates seem excessively high for not having fish. I'd highly recommend some water changes. I know that your question was specifically about CO2, but you mentioned having no fish. How did you cycle the tank? Nitrifying bacteria need an ammonia source to survive. You mentioned that your stocking plans are to have just one male betta. I don't think you'll have many issues with a mini cycle, but I would recommend getting your nitrates down a bit lower. You're inviting an algae infestation with anywhere between 80-160ppm. Most of us shoot for a minimum 50% weekly water change. While nitrates tend to be harmless to fish, that changes when they get astronomically high.

I'm sure some others will be along with direct experience with this type of CO2 generation.
I can't really help from the perspective of the method of CO2 you're using (DIY), but can answer what the use of a solenoid is: its main purpose is to completely shut off CO2 injection into the aquarium. Most of us running pressurized CO2 have the solenoid set up with a timer, controller, or both to either shut CO2 off once we've hit our target PH, and to shut it off at night since CO2 isn't needed.

I don't know how that would work with DIY CO2 since the pressure needs to go somewhere and if the container holding the gas isn't pressure rated, something would eventually need to give.

I've never used this method for CO2 so I can't really comment any further aside from the above.

The small CO2 cartridges you'd use for a pellet gun are notorious for either leaking and if you're lucky and they don't leak, the expense of constant replacements.

If you want to cut off CO2 using a needle valve, unless it's a precise micrometer adjusting needle valve, every time you turn it on you'll likely be playing the constant adjustment game. The value of the solenoid is being able to adjust the needle valve once, and then let the solenoid kick it on/off. If I need to touch my needle valve, even with a decent one it'll take days before I have it tuned to exactly the right amount being injected into the aquarium.

I know there are folks out there who have had success using the yeast method of CO2 production, but it seems like there's a whole lot more work involved where the cost of pressurized CO2 makes more sense depending on how much you value your time. I looked into this initially and once I saw what was involved I decided to go with the pressurized system to save a lot of time.

The last thing I wanted to mention was your nitrates seem excessively high for not having fish. I'd highly recommend some water changes. I know that your question was specifically about CO2, but you mentioned having no fish. How did you cycle the tank? Nitrifying bacteria need an ammonia source to survive. You mentioned that your stocking plans are to have just one male betta. I don't think you'll have many issues with a mini cycle, but I would recommend getting your nitrates down a bit lower. You're inviting an algae infestation with anywhere between 80-160ppm. Most of us shoot for a minimum 50% weekly water change. While nitrates tend to be harmless to fish, that changes when they get astronomically high.

I'm sure some others will be along with direct experience with this type of CO2 generation.
I forgot to mention that I'd been using fish food originally to cycle and then because I didn't think I'd had any ammonia, until someone pointed out it had probably been converted to plant food, I started adding filter start as well 馃檮 I'm doing my best to reduce nitrates until I can get a new siphon and sadly I am noticing brown specs on some plant leaves 馃ズ but they do come off when I brush with my finger. Trust the dog to get an abscess on a Sunday and need emergency treatment! 馃う馃徑鈥嶁檧锔

Honestly the worst case scenario and you somehow dump the entire contents of a CO2 tank into the room, just open a window.

Many of the concerns around this can be alleviated with buying a quality CO2 regulator and seals if they are required.

My last planted tank, the regulator came with a seal that didn't need replacement after each fill up. My new regulator requires a rubber seal to be placed between the regulator and tank and it needs to be replaced each time you swap tanks out or go get a refill. I bought a dozen extras so that I didn't need to worry about reusing a seal in the event I didn't have one on hand. I basically take the regulator, insert the seal, thread the regulator onto the tank, and then crank it down pretty well. I think the only way you'll vent all your CO2 is in some really unlikely scenario where you didn't tighten the regulator onto the tank, or maybe were modding the regulator itself or something.

Recently on my nano tank I'm using a paintball canister for my CO2 tank. I didn't tighten the regulator enough and instead of 4 months, I got two months out of my tank. I didn't notice any strange smells or other adverse effects. CO2 is a fairly harmless gas so even if I somehow managed to dump an entire 10lbs tank I'd probably just crack a window or something lol.
Thanks. I think I just bought a rubbish little system to be honest. I read reviews after the fact and quite a few people had the same problem. I just panicked because of the dogs and cat, I thought I was going to kill them. I'm really starting to wish I hadn't bothered but I will persevere because I want the most natural possible environment for when I get my boy. Many years ago I had a betta with silk plants, I kind of wish I'd gone down that route again but I'll get to grips with it all eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
鉂 Yep too much internet and social media advice has had me spending so much money and stressing so much. Fish life was much easier years ago before I started Googling! Thanks for your advice. No doubt I'll be back again soon with something else I'm moaning and stressing about 馃槚馃槀

It happens. We all kind of go through the same things.

After a few decades in the hobby, fish in general, not so much plants, what I've learned is that nothing that happens fast turns out well. Take your time and enjoy the process. Don't rush anything for the sake of rushing or because someone tells you that you can't live without it.

You don't "need" CO2, it just helps is all. There are many people with low tech tanks that are amazing to see.

If you want to go down the CO2 rabbit hole, put a list together with prices, and squirrel away cash here and there. Before too long you'll have what you need to get a CO2 setup, if you're even interested in going in that direction at that point in time.

What I would do is get the water changes done, test your nitrates to make sure they're coming down in the 10-50ppm range, add a betta and enjoy the tank. Aquariums should be a source of enjoyment rather than stress. Enjoy watching your plants grow and your fish swim around. The only thing you'll need to do is change about 30-50% of the water weekly and add some ferts.

I think one of the biggest mistakes we all make is chasing equipment and methods. One of the main reasons I went with CO2 is because I wanted a high tech tank with the ability to have the high tech results. I planned my build with the end goal in mind and budgeted my purchases. In the social media planted tank groups there are a lot of people who will leave comments like "you NEED CO2". It's not true.

One of my friends saw my tank and about a week later was telling me what he was going to buy. He included CO2 and I asked him why he wanted CO2 and he said "you have it so I assume you need it". Some of us on here are CO2 fanboys so we'll gladly spend your money for you :LOL: but we'd rather you enjoy the hobby and when CO2 would help you achieve a goal, we'll be more than happy to help you at that point.
Last question, I promise! I've just watched some videos by MJ aquascaping. He reckons that on a small tank with diy Co2 system increased surface agitation at night will be enough to provide adequate oxygen throughout the night when not using a solenoid valve. I want to go ahead and try this. What are peoples thoughts on this. Also once my nitrates are down I'm going to get a couple of cherry shrimp before the betta (and yep past experience has taught me shrimp magically disappear with a betta if they aren't fed adequately so I won't make the same mistake). My reasoning is they can start to be a little clean up crew before putting a fish in and risking him getting poorly or worse so thoughts on that too please 馃檹馃徑 Thank you
 
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