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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I am very new to planted aquariums and I have several questions I am having a hard time clearing up. I have a 50 gallon tank 36 x 18 with flourite substrate with gravel on top, and a 96 watt compact flourescent light and a standard 30 watt flourescent light. I am looking to get a co2 system but I am not sure which one to get, can anyone recomend some systems to me because I am afraid to try the whole diy because I am afraid I will waste my money because I am not too tech savy. I have seen some systems that connect to paintball co2 canisters which I have, how long would the co2 last and is a paintball co2 canister the same thing as any other co2 canister? I also need to know if my lighting is adequate. I am planning to grow low to moderate high begginer plants. Last but not least I currently have a aquaclear 300 power filter, do I need filter that will not disturb the surface of the water and what kind of filter would this be? thanks.
 

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Welcome...good to see a lot of new members here asking questions and poking around (I've been on a hiatus since I started a new job--I digress).

Right now you're at a low-mid light level with your current setup. You'll be surprised at what type of plants you can grow, but the key is co2, which you have already identified. I'm also glad you're willing to do enough research before making a common mistake of "trial and error" purchases like so many of us have (I admit this).

First things first...think about what you want out of your tank. Are you willing to put the time, effort, frustration, and unfortunately, a little bit of $ into it?

Second, do you want to keep your current filter setup? An AC is a good filter, and it sounds like you have the basic knowledge of minimal surface disturbance, etc. Most of us use canister filters since they're a bit easier to maintain in the long run and for their power.

I take you're looking into a pressurized system? Take some time and look at this forum (equipment). Do a search of the following: Milwaukee, JBJ, Azoo, Rex, Red Sea, etc and find out about the different types of regulators out there. Many to choose from and many opinions are out there on quality based on personal experiences. IMHO, the Milwaukee is a POS. The JBJ is ok, and I am currently running an "old school" Azoo. Azoo has recently changed their regulator setup a bit so you may have to do a bit more research regarding that brand. Rex Grigg (our resident curmudgeon) has a great reputation of putting together some quality regulators as well as using very quality parts. Shoot him a PM to find out more and definitely pay a visit to his website.

There are a lot of folks who have already contributed to this type of question so please feel free to read up and ask more questions. Good luck!
 

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I use the Azoo regulator myself with some ADA parts and i also agree on the Milwaukee is junk part lol.

I use a 20lbs CO2 tank instead of paintballsetup and luckly my local Gas shop gives free bottle rentals as a member (free membership ^^) price on refills are normal too ($15) and you just swap to another bottle no need for waiting. A 20lb bottle should last you a full year.

So i suggest call your local co2 refill station if they offer free bottles then save some money and just buy a regualtor.
 

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There are additional things to consider:

1. Do you intend to use a controller? If so, regulator quality may not be as critical since the solenoid will stop any unwanted delivery of C02 to the tank.

2. Do you intend to shut the CO2 off at night? If so a solenoid is a must, I'd recommend it based on everything I've read. At worst it saves you CO2 fills that in the long run will pay for the solenoid. At best it reduces stress on fish and gives the plants a break during lights out.

3. Investigate end of tank dumps. It's a process that occurs when the tank is nearly empty and can't provide enough pressure for the regulator to function properly, I'm not an expert, but for some reason some regulators are susceptible to it and others aren't. The bottom line is that you can push C02 levels to an unreasonably high level thereby suffocating your livestock.

I have a Milwaukee unit, it's tough to keep tuned to a set delivery rate. My hope is that once my controller is in charge of CO2 delivery this won't matter so much. It's worth restating that a controller can save you from needing the best regulator (Rex may have an opinion on this).

Also, while my Milwaukee solenoid has failed, they've offered to send me a replacement with no charge. So while you wouldn't be getting Rex's attention, they are interested in customer service (which is rare in my experience).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thanks for all of the advice, I have a few more questions though, what exactly does the solenoid do? do I need a needle valve? and will a glass difuser effeciantly disperse co2 throughout my tank? also I do intend to shut off co2 at night to prevent ph changes and harm to fish.
 

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The solenoid controls whether the CO2 is flowing or not. Just on and off. You can set it on a timer to turn off the CO2 at night to save on the CO2 and so you won't have to run an airstone to outgas CO2.

Yes, the needle valve controls how much CO2 is flowing. Clippard has good needle valves, and if you want to go one step higher, go for Swagelok needle valves.

I like the esthetics of a glass diffuser myself...a reactor will get you closer to 100% dissolution of CO2 though. Barr makes an argument that gaseous CO2 bubbles can lead to even better growth of plants.

The solenoid on a timer is what will shut off your CO2 at night for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thanks, thats a really helpful article, I have one more question, sorry i ask a lot of questions :biggrin: , how likely am I to experience a dangerous ph shift if I shut the co2 at night and have a heavily planted tank, because I will have fish in this tank such as angel fish. thanks.
 

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thanks, thats a really helpful article, I have one more question, sorry i ask a lot of questions :biggrin: , how likely am I to experience a dangerous ph shift if I shut the co2 at night and have a heavily planted tank, because I will have fish in this tank such as angel fish. thanks.
How about setting up your tank, complete with plants, (don't put any fish in yet) let it run fully, and measure your CO2 levels at appropriate time intervals? like when you shut the CO2 and lights off, and then again in the morning?
 
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