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Hi everyone,

I am new to the site and hope I am posting in the correct place. My question is about Co2 systems. I am going to be setting up a fresh 55g tank and was looking for suggestions for a complete unit. I did see this mentioned on a different site. Freshwater Planted Aquarium Plant Care: Drs. Foster & Smith Semi-Automatic CO2 System. Would this be a decent setup? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Eddie
 

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We all have our personal likes/ dislikes so take it all with a bit of salt?

This appears to be a pretty complete set but with some small questions or things to be aware of when shopping. some reviews mention the check valve. Maybe one I can't see, somewhere? But I use lots of plastic check valves as I find my hard water dries in them and the minerals make them fail. Not a big added expense if there is not one or not a good one.
The reg, itself is a single stage, some prefer dual stage for more money or more shopping trauma. I use single stage with no problems.

The black solenoid is the "switch" to turn things on/off by the timer. This would likely be okay to start but there are some complaints over the long term value. I see no specs right away that tell how much power the solenoid uses. The power can be 4Watts and okay or it can be 7 watts which may get too hot, too soon. the power is a question to check because of the way we use solenoids. We turn them on and leave them for hours and during this time the power can build up heat in the solenoid movement. This can dry out any lube and tend to make the metal swell and stick the little moving parts. Not a killer but then something to consider. Less heat is often better for the long life.

The needle valve is the silver item with the knob. This is where you do the fine tuning to get exactly the right amount of CO2 flowing. You often need to turn this up and down while playing with the reg pressure. Higher pressure through a small opening may get the same result as lower pressure through a larger opening? I don't know if the pressure reg is adjustable or not. Point to check. But for the needle valve, consider what it takes to make a really good valve for our use. The needle is really pretty much just that, a needle attached to threads to move the needle in or out of the hole. A sharp taper on the needle makes a 1/4 turn of the adjustment open/close the hole less than a more blunt needle. When the threads the needle are on are course threads, something like the 1/4 turn moves the needle farther. this needle valve may have a somewhat blunt taper as well as somewhat course threads. This combo is common on the cheaper needle valves and can lead to some problems for some folks. We may need just a tiny change in flow but even the smallest turn moves the needle too far. What can happen is we never can get it set to just what we need. Just another problem to be aware of when shopping.

We all need to be aware of value and price before we can make the decisions. What I've said is not to say the set is not workable as many have used it. But be aware that there are better but often more expensive so it depends on your personal budget and how you feel about things. If you have a few hundred dollars in the budget, there are better set. If you only have the hundred or so, this may work fine.

Hope to help and not confuse too much?
 
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