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Complete CO2 setup for 125

5874 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  appleton71
I’m in the process of gathering components for a new 125 gallon planted tank. Originally, I was going to hold off on a CO2 system, but I’ve accumulated more funds from the sale of my saltwater equipment than I had anticipated. It will be installed on a 125 gallon drilled tank with corner overflows with a 30 gallon sump. I’d like everything to be hidden in the sump and I want a fully automatic system, no DIY. I’m not afraid to spend a few bucks. At this point I don’t know what I’m going to have for plants but I’m planning for the future so I don’t have to mess with it later.

Can anyone recommend a good system? I’ve looked at Foster and Smith as well as the setup on The problem is that they give you options for different components and it’s enough to make a novice’s head spin.

Thanks for any input!
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I use a diy griggs on my 180g that is fed in a sump chamber, i use a jebao 4 channel doser for ferts and a apex for ph controller ( along with a ton of other things.

My co2 system consists of a "diy" y12-215d regulator with a fabco nv55 needle valve and clippard solenoid. Get the largest co2 tank you can. I just bought a 35lb tank to feed it.

Look at my build log to get some ideas.

Diy doesnt mean bad. With regulators it tends to mean much nicer for less. But if i were to buy one one of gla's regs would be my choice.
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I have absolutely nothing against DIY. I built my sump myself...although that was pretty easy and straightforward. It's when I get into a project like a CO2 setup, which I know very little about, that I run into problems. I'll buy everything that I think I need...then order the stuff that I found I forgot...then order stuff to replace the stuff that I ordered incorrectly...then find a component that's better than what I had ordered, so order that. It just seems easier with a ready made kit.

If I could find a complete list of every (quality) component needed, I'd probably tackle it. It would give me something to do for the remaining weeks of winter.
Start here:
Smith Series 30 Two Stage Nitrogen/Helium/Inert Regulator - 35-50-580
CO2 Regulator Parts | CO2 For Planted Tanks And Home Brewing. CO2 Regulator Post Body Kit #1
$350-ish............ and nothing cheap..
Almost done.. ;)
Just add tubing, 24V DC (1A approx. guess) power supply, check valve, bubble counter, and delivery system.....CO2 indicator optional..
That's the biggest problem... there is no complete list.

At first that makes it hard. It feels like you don't know where to turn in an endless sea of parts. Once you gain some understanding, you become grateful that there is no "all inclusive list" and you're free to take your build in whatever direction you want. You can focus on a quality/lowest cost build, a fancy looking all Stainless Steel build, an all new parts/money is no option build... It's fun if you really like to get involved in the little things.

It seems like a daunting task at first, I totally agree. The easiest way is to break it down into 3 basic components. Regulator/selonoid/needle valve. If it's something you're not in a rush to do, it becomes that much easier (you can wait for deals and research the parts you really want). Being open/willing to use sites like eBay helps to keep the cost low.

The best part is... this forum. There are honestly endless hours of reading you can do on past build logs and previous questions asked/answered. On top of that, many people will gladly offer guidance on a post like "please help me decide on a regulator". I'm rarely a big poster on forums because so many people argue and bicker, endlessly trying to force what they think is good on you. That doesn't seem to be the case here and it's really nice to see.

Anyways, sorry to ramble... If you have time/interest then DIY can be a great and rewarding thing. If you don't really have the time or interest then I'd say look towards GLA for a decent 2 stage setup if you want to be worry free. Just my thoughts I guess. I'm new to this site but always seem to have a few builds in progress and am always willing to help with questions.
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If you don't have a good understand of what the basic components do, what's needed and how they work together take a look here.
I don’t know what your budget looks like, but this is what I’ve purchased for my 125G that I’m setting up in the spring. As everyone has said, you’re going to get a ton of different answers, but this is what I’ve chosen to go with for your reference. It will also give you a starting point to see all the pieces for a basic setup. You can add lots of things to this like PH controllers, etc…

CO2 Tank- 5lb ~$25 (buy local, Airgas for example. These tanks expire, so I wouldn’t buy online)
Regulator- Dual Stage, $99 (
Solenoid- Milwaukee Instruments, $39.95 (Amazon)
Needle Valve- Dakota Instruments 6AMV1101, $88 (
Check Valve- Rhinox Brass, $8.95 (amazon)
Bubble Counter- Rhinox Beetle Counter, $13.99 (amazon)
Reactor- DIY Rex Griggs (You can buy one pre-made @ for $75, or make it yourself for $35)
Drop checker- Your choice, they’re everywhere for about $10

Total for everything, soup to nuts, for about $320-$360.
CO2 Tank- 5lb ~$25 (buy local, Airgas for example. These tanks expire, so I wouldn’t buy online)
Last 5# tank I bought "locally" was a re-purposed fire extinguisher for $60..
guess it depends on your market.......

Hydro test performed within 180 days of shipment
Same here... last one I bought locally was an aluminum 20lb for $10. I never noticed the "COKE" stamp partially covered by a sticker. Now nobody wants to touch it. Lesson learned.
Totally a ymmv, as I've seen a couple good deals on tanks within date.

Beverage Elements has been great for me. I was weary when I didn't see the DOT stamp on my last tank (my local Praxair can be fussy). They were fine with the older ICC stamp (tanks entering service prior to 1970) it had and commented how nicely the referb/recert was.
They were fine with the older ICC stamp (tanks entering service prior to 1970)
My second supplier couldn't find the date stamp (soo many other stamps) for awhile..Was annoying.

As to age, was told even some WWII vintage tanks are still around... :)
As to age, was told even some WWII vintage tanks are still around... :)
Haha, yeah... I think the oldest stamp he found was 1956 on mine! At first glance I swore it looked newer than some exchanges I've received that were only 10yrs old. They do a nice job on their's with new valves and such.

On the topic of Beverage Elements, I contacted them when I didn't notice the DOT stamp. They immediately wanted to contact my gas supplier and talk to them if they had any issues. They have great customer service!
Thanks for all of the input and reading material! I'm not in a hurry to do anything so I have plenty of time for research. My budget is also pretty wide open.
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