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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi and I hope you all are all having a good week.

The question:

If you use a pH controller to regulate your CO2 flow, will having a controller lesson the need for having a super accurate (more expensive) needle valve?

My initial thought would be yes, that you would not gain much more than saving a small amount of CO2 each month with a better valve. But I wanted to ask the question before I drop some bucks on equipment.

Thanks for your help!

~Shrimp
 

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pH probe only turns the co2 flow on or off. It does not have the ability to increase or to decrease the flow's rate - that's the function of the needle valve, coupled with the pressure regulator.

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My 2 cents .. a good needle valve can eliminate the need for a controller.. ;)

and yes a controller can bypass the need for a needle valve.. Only problem..
you "possibly" create a large pH shift...
At any rate you are just doing a CO2 dump...
I don't consider any abrupt changes to be healthy..
Possibly it doesn't matter.. why risk it..
 

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I feel the two are separate items. The controller will regulate to some extent how the CO2 goes in but that does not mean it can change a needle valve that drifts each time the gas pressure hits. So if you start out with a cheap needle valve like we see so often and get it all set to the bubble count you want, after a few cycles, (weeks, month?) and the needle valve has changed, you may not like the result. The point of the needle valve is to keep a slow steady rate of CO2 all during the day. With leaving the controller to do this when you have a funky needle valve, you may get a too large burst of CO2, followed by a decline and then another burst.
I cut corners on the reg itself and go cheaper as it is a very simple item. But I go for quality on the solenoid and needle valve as that is where the real control comes in. I use the controller more as a monitor to watch over all the other parts.
 

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I have never used a controller so I don't know how quickly the PH actually changes. I have read a few people who turn their CO2 way up so that the CO2 gets the the chosen PPM/PH more quickly then the controller shuts it off. To me, that doesn't seem like a great idea as the PH controller could fail, and it seems they need to be calibrated quite often.

However, I have used less than stellar needle valves (on was really a flow valve) with luck so if your PH controller is setup correctly, I imagine that it will work fine. I would personally try to get it consistent without the controller, likely using it set a bit low as a back up, then once I was confident my valve was consistent enough, fine tune the PH controller.

I wouldn't want to use either as a back up for lack of precision. It may work short term, it may work long term but IMO, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
First off I would like to thank you all for your work on responding to my post. I appreciate all of your comments.

A little more background:

I am planning on buying the ULTIMATE CO2 SYSTEM from GLA. That bundle comes with a pH controller and the following needle valve:

Fabco NV-55 needle valve
12 turns from shut off to full open
40 threads per inch

The (alternative) more granular valve they offer is the following:

Ideal Needle Valve
Brass, forged body construction
Precision Metering Valve with unmatched precision
20+ turns from shut off to full open
56 threads per inch for precision metering

I have read a lot of pros and cons about adding a pH controller, and have made the decision to go with a pH controller. Perhaps in time I will feel comfortable enough to remove the controller. As a beginner to planted, a controller seems a safer way to go for me, and less time spent hovering over the tank trying to get it dialed in, while taking into consideration the natural fluctuations of CO2 and trying to deal with that as well.

I am also going to use a drop checker in the aquarium to get a visual on it.

That said, I wanted to ask the above question about the needle valve, as I lack any practical experience with using a pH controller, where perhaps a needle valve with the capability to fine tune the CO2 flow a bit more would be of some benefit?

~ Shrimp
 

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With either the Fabco or ideal needle valve you will not have any problems with a funky one that moves. I think of both of those as first class that will not change from where you set it. With a controller and either needle valve, you have a very nice way to control things by adding any solenoid.
Reg to set the pressure lower, solenoid to turn it on/off as the controller decides and the needle valve to fine tune it all. With something to mix it in the water, all you need is to connect it all together. Looks like a plan and far better than many start with!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hello Bettatail and PlantedRich,
I suppose it's a philosophical thing for me. I have always attempted to buy the best of the bunch, rather than the economy version. That philosophy has served me very well over the years, although albeit it's sometimes painful. For me that can and does mean wait time and sacrificing. What I am able to purchase lasts a long time and doesn't give me problems in the interim. BT, I realize that you are putting your $ where it counts most, and you undoubtedly know more about the subject than I, but I am stuck being me, as painful as that is. I do have a feeling that you do some pretty great things in the planted tank world.

PlantedRich, on my list is the following:
Aqua Medic External CO2 Reactor 1000 for Aquariums.

That is what I came up with, but I spent a lot less time searching for a reactor then I did for a reg. I do know that I prefer a reactor over a diffuser, as from what I read a diffuser can milky up the water. I know that I don't want cloudy water. That's for sure. I am open for suggestions on a reactor if you guys happen to have any.

Thanks mucho,
~Shrimp
 

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I try to follow the same philosophy, even though I do relapse, tempted to 'save' a buck here and there. Bettatail is steering you right, the same way he helped me out several years ago. The point he is subtly making is that you will be better off in the end by getting your own parts and putting them together yourself.

A bit of elbow grease, some sweat, a bit of time, and some hunting around. In return you will save some $200+ over GLA and end up with a much superior system that will hold it's resale value. Maybe even learn something new in the process.

If the process looks daunting, it is really not that hard. If I could do it, you can too. There are a lot of experienced people here on TPT who will pitch in with advise and walk you through the process - just look at recent posts for examples of the community helping each other. There are also a ton of threads and how-to here to help along the way if you just look around.

If that helps any, feel free to ask me personally questions, either in a public forum or via PM.

Edit: as far as reactors go, search for Rex or Serges DIY reactor - many guides and step by step instructions. Hunting parts is the hardest part first time around. After that, about 30 mins of work and a grand total cost of ~$30. And, if you want, you can even paint it any color you like, including pink :).

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first, thanks, OVT.

I prefer these parts because the key element in this setup is the PH controller.
because you have a PH controller, the Out Put pressure Rise of the regulator is not a concern, so a cheap and reliable single stage CO2 regulator such as taprite or Cornelius are best choice, that is what you can get from GLA anyway.
The needle valve, the precision is not critical because you use a PH controller. The made in Japan SMC AS1200 needle valve, is best choice, IMO. If you compare a SMC AS1200 to a FABCO NV55, the FABCO NV55 is better precision, but if you compare the SMC AS1200 to ADA needle valve or the FABCO FN-18 needle valve on the GLA systems, the SMC AS1200 is definitely better.

The solenoid, prefer the clippard mouse, so small, only 0.67 watts, and officially 1 billion on/off cycle life, well suit for PH controller which require frequently on/off operation.
it is so good and economy, the best choice solenoid on any co2 system, imo.

last, all these parts fits budget for $60, plus a PH controller.
If these is no PH controller, better get a double stage regulator and higher precision needle/metering valve.
 

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IF one encounters an "end of tank dump" I'd wonder if a pH controller could respond quick enough..
When one wants full automation, worrying about "the end" is counter productive.. Is this a "real" concern?? Don't know..

Controller or not , I'd still recommend a 2 stage regulator.. esp. when one wants "good parts" .. There is no such thing as a cheap 2 stage..(new at least)

gla 2 stage system:
http://greenleafaquariums.com/products/ultimate-co2-system-two-stage.html

Only comment on pricing is us "pickers" can do better.. ;)

actually maybe I will:
The heart of the system (need to change inlet):
http://store.cyberweld.com/smoxre2st30s.html
$188.50+ $10
Mil controller :
$125
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produ...=pla&catargetid=530005150000091140&cadevice=c

tank $100 (high est.)
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/tanks/co2/C5.shtml?bstr=1

Rest is less important and collectively could be had for around $100 (fabco./ bubble counter ect)tops:
you could save at least $150...

in fairness to GLA. .they did put together a "fair" package... ;)
 

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IF one encounters an "end of tank dump" I'd wonder if a pH controller could respond quick enough..
When one wants full automation, worrying about "the end" is counter productive.. Is this a "real" concern?? Don't know..

Controller or not , I'd still recommend a 2 stage regulator.. esp. when one wants "good parts" .. There is no such thing as a cheap 2 stage..(new at least)

gla 2 stage system:
http://greenleafaquariums.com/products/ultimate-co2-system-two-stage.html

Only comment on pricing is us "pickers" can do better.. ;)
From personal experience - yes.
 

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IF one encounters an "end of tank dump" I'd wonder if a pH controller could respond quick enough…
I agree as well. I did the controller thing too because of personal experience, and it has worked well for me with a single stage reg.
 
So the response is fast enough?? Thanks for the info..
side question: reactor or atomizer???
 
Most reactors will continue to diffuse co2 well after the solenoid shuts off, depending on the amount of co2 trapped. The atomizer shuts off the co2 supply immediately IME.
 

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So the response is fast enough?? Thanks for the info..
side question: reactor or atomizer???
For me at the time I did one tank was injecting via dual system via a Rex Grigg style reactor & a UP atomizer, that is one that dumped with cornelious reg & no issues.
I no longer use the controller option since I switched to a single Rex Grigg type reactor & it`s on & off at set times.
My other tank also is back to a pre set time on & off, injected via a needle wheel into a Rex Grigg type reactor .
 

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I guess we can assume 1)pH controllers can stop a CO2 dump from killing fish in the event of a tank dump.. and 2)single stage regulators seem to dump often.. ;)
thanks..
 

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Since EOTD is such a frequent flyer, I ran my tank fully empty yesterday while watching. With the elcheapo beer reg, my pressure went from my normal 10PSI to a4PSI before the tank was to low to meter any longer. I use a 20 pound CO2 tank on a 125 and had been watching the pressure move down for about a week. I can't say exactly how long it too for the tank to drain as we had a cold snap and that made me ignore the first drop in the high pressure gauge. The result was that I never saw any increase in the PH that my controller was called to stop. Maybe there was an increase in bubbles per second but mine are fast enough that I can't count anyway. Perhaps EOTD is more trouble with small tanks? In 75's where I have let it run totally out, there was more of a single burst lasting about 15 seconds rather than what I got this time.

This is the reg I use now:
http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/regulator/double/tf_t742_Dual_Gauge_Primary_Regulator.shtml
I like the cool grey plastic knob!
 
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