The Planted Tank Forum banner

Paintball CO2 question

792 7
I am considering setting up pressurized CO2 for my 10gallon and I want to do so with a 24oz paintball co2 tank. This question is about wether paintball CO2 is harmful in any way? I was looking to find a source near me (Maryland) that would refill my tank and the only place I found that will fill a 24OZ paintball tank are paintball stores. I called in and the guy mentioned that the CO2 they have is not food grade hence he cannot be sure if that CO2 will harm other animals like fish in an aquarium. Any insight on this? Also how long do you think a 24oz can will last me at 1bps. Some people say close to year some say a month. Likewise for a 5lbs co2 tank, how long would it last at 1bps? I hear years to 3 months.

I could do a 5lbs tank too as there are many places that will do exchange or refill but I just don't have the space for the CO2 tank's size. It will have to be out in the open instead of being hidden in my cabinet which won't look good.
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,868 Posts
Bubbles per second isn't really a unit of measurement for myriad reasons. 1 bubble in my system could be a ton of CO2 but next to nothing in yours. It's really about measuring CO2 saturation within your tank. So it's really difficult to say how long a paintball cylinder will last. There are a ton of factors to consider.

Have you done much reading about CO2 here on the forum? If not, highly encourage you to do so. Spend a few days reading. Scroll through some tank journals. Check out the various setups others are using. You'll get a sense for how things work, how measurement works, how long various fills and components last.

Many people have their cylinders filled at machine shops or operations like Airgas, so the CO2 they're using isn't food grade. Not sure where you read you need food grade gas but you don't.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
224 Posts
Co2 is co2. I get mine filled at paintball shops or in sporting stores at the firearm counter. I use 20oz paintball tanks on my 5 gal and 12 gal. In my 5 gal I run super rich co2, so like 2-3bps approximately. That lasts me about 6 weeks or so. In my 12 gal I run approximately 1 bps which lasts about 3 months. A 5lb tank at 1bps will probably last 6 months or better part of a year.

The other member was correct that bps is not a good way to measure co2 saturation in the water. However assuming that my system and your system have zero leaks then yes, bps is an accurate way to figure out how much co2 is exiting the co2 tank at one time for comparison. The only variable is the fact that once you get past 1bps, your eyes obviously don't register fast enough to know truly how many bps you are seeing so anything above 1 or 2 bps is purely a guesstimate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
206 Posts
I think the concern of the OP would be whether or not there are any solvents or lubricants in the gas. It's a fair question. Some compressed gases do use such things, with respect to their application.

With regards to CO2 - there are only a few types, and it has more to do with regulatory compliance and purity, and less to do with safeness for consumption. There is a lab grade (purity wise), and a beverage grade. Beverage grade would be "food grade", for lack of better term. I'm not a CO2 expert, but I don't know of any other grades, aside from these two. The same CO2 that you put into a keg of beer, is the one that I'd use to weld with.

Paintball CO2 is beverage grade.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,868 Posts
assuming that my system and your system have zero leaks then yes, bps is an accurate way to figure out how much co2 is exiting the co2 tank at one time for comparison. The only variable is the fact that once you get past 1bps, your eyes obviously don't register fast enough to know truly how many bps you are seeing so anything above 1 or 2 bps is purely a guesstimate.
It's really not, unfortunately. It's good for a planted tanker once they know what a bubble per second in their system accomplishes. But it doesn't mean much from tank-to-tank. Everything from the pressure of the cylinder, the regulator, altitude, temperature, diffuser, any in-line filters, the specific fluid one uses in their bubble counter, the type of bubble counter, et al. Many factors come into play. That's why longtime planted tankers don't use bubbles per second as a reliable unit of measurement. It's only a good tool for eyeballing in one's own system once they know how it works.

It's always better to use a CO2 drop checker at the very least until one has the hang of things. More advanced aquarists frequently lean toward permanent pH meters to monitor CO2 saturation and even control solenoids.

OP/ @maritzsa - a good way to learn about paintball setups is to see how people actually put them into use. So do some reading, as I mentioned in my earlier post. But what I think will be most helpful is to scroll through some tank journals (Tank Journal section) where people document their use of paintball setups with photos and details about how it works for them. Actually seeing how they work - documented in a journal that spans several years - will basically eliminate most of your concerns. Maybe even more than us telling you how they work.

I think the concern of the OP would be whether or not there are any solvents or lubricants in the gas.
Yep. It's a concern across all grades, really. Along with debris. Which came as a surprise to me when I first started home brewing many, many moons ago. But the use of filters between any fittings and the regulator eliminates most any major area of concern on that front. I've always used them with paintball systems as well - but I prefer to use full-size dual stage regulators with CGA320 to paintball adapters. Makes buying parts like filters easier/cheaper. Beyond the inlet filter, the use of what we call a bubble counter in the hobby helps trap errant fluids. Should something escape that, it's most likely going to be stopped by whatever diffuser setup one is using. I haven't had an issue in ~24 years and after more than 20 years on the forum can only recall one problem with another member. If I remember correctly, they overdid it with WD40 (a brand of spray lubricant in the US, if anyone outside the country is confused) and it made it into their tank. Others have had tiny metal bits damage their regulator innards, though - have seen enough of those incidents through the years to always use an inlet filter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
206 Posts
WD40 (a brand of spray lubricant
No, no. Water displacement agent. Contains lubricant. Not a lubricant.

Sorry for that slightly obtuse tangent. :):censored:

On another note... What do you use for your inlet filter? Do you make your own "bubble counter" with a 1 liter bottle, like we used to do back in the day, when we were so poor that we had to brew CO2 with yeast and sugar? Or do you recommend a purchased option?

I used to make them with Gatorade bottles. The incoming tube all the way to the bottom of the bottle, the outgoing tube was clipped off just below the cap. about 2 inches of air gap between fluid level and cap. No fittings, just tubing pulled into slightly undersize holes.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,868 Posts
No, no. Water displacement agent. Contains lubricant. Not a lubricant.

Sorry for that slightly obtuse tangent. :):censored:
Ha, not really a tangent at all. It's a good clarification. I think some of the newer cans even have a myths & legends section explaining that. (If it's my former partner we're talking about, it's referred to as the squirty stuff that makes the door stop squeaking.)

But it's no good when it hits your sensitive shrimp tank or clogs up your overpriced in-line diffuser.

Edit to reply:

I just use a standard sintered metal (maybe stainless? Don't recall specifically at the moment) inlet filters most of the time. At least for the regulator.

I've had some glass bubble counters for 14 or 15 years that are still in use on the tanks that use CO2. Just regular cheap ones from fleabay. Filled with mineral oil. One or two of my regulators have built-in counters with check valves but I've never purchased something like that outright. The in-line glass ones have always been cheaper and easier for my purposes when they're necessary.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top