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Pressurized CO2...Just thought I'd share.

333218 Views 413 Replies 138 Participants Last post by  rajdude
So, there have been a lot of threads (it seems) lately regarding pressurized CO2. Hopefully, this primer will help alleviate any fears that people have when starting to delve into CO2 as it can be quite intimidating at first. In addition, hopefully this primer will answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding pressurized CO2.

As this thread will be discussing how to set up a pressurized CO2 system, advantages/disadvantages of using a pressurized setup versus a DIY (yeast) CO2 system will not be discussed in this primer. For more information, please take a look here:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9-general-planted-tank-discussion/107303-newbie-setup.html#5

On to pressurized CO2!

First, when people refer to pressurized CO2, we often read that we will need a "regulator" or a "regulator build." What does this mean exactly? This term is thrown around quite loosely in the aquarium hobby, but a pressurized CO2 system consists of more than just a regulator.

Here are the essential components you will need:

1) A CO2 cylinder
CO2 cylinders come in various sizes. They are often used in paintball guns (usually sold as 20 oz cans). They also come in 2.5, 5, 10 and 20 lb sizes (larger sizes such as 50 lb tanks do exist, but they are quite large and bulky, and are not commonly sold outside of specialty applications).

CO2 tanks come with a fitting known as a CGA320 fitting, which is standard in North America. Europe and Asia use different industrial standards. Paintball tanks, however, do not come with this fitting, and come with a pin depression type valve. More on this will follow below.

Many people believe that getting a small, paintball CO2 tank is "cheaper", however, this is not usually the case. Regulators (see below) often come with CGA320 fittings (or can be adapted to such). However, as paintball tanks do not contain this CGA320 fitting, normal regulators cannot be used, and you must purchase either a special regulator with the required fitting, or look around for a paintball tank to CGA320 adapter (often, quite difficult to find). In addition, refill costs for CO2 tanks are generally not much different. The refill cost for (say) a 5 lb tank and 10 lb tank may only be a few dollars different. For example, I can get my 10 lb tank refilled for $17.50, while a 20 oz paintball tank may cost $5 to refill. This means that the cost per pound of gas is more for a smaller tank. In addition, the larger the CO2 tank, the longer you can go without refilling the tank, etc. It can be quite a hassle to drive out and refill the tank, depending on where you live. The general piece of advice is to get the largest tank that you can afford and/or is feasible for the space that you have.
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Nice write up!

Two comments:
#1 I think you meant that all 'normal' sized co2 tanks (i.e. 5# or more) are about equal per # to refill, but it reads like 20oz tanks are included, which is clearly false as they are very cost ineffective.

#2 You mention a diffuser as being recommended (i.e. not necessary) but then go on to describe a diffusion method as essential. This is a bit confusing. You might want to discuss different diffusion strategies/devices any one of which is necessary - just sticking a co2 line in the water won't cut it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
#1 I think you meant that all 'normal' sized co2 tanks (i.e. 5# or more) are about equal per # to refill, but it reads like 20oz tanks are included, which is clearly false as they are very cost ineffective.
This has been fixed. I added in a line saying that smaller tanks are essentially cost ineffective due to the cost/pound of gas.

#2 You mention a diffuser as being recommended (i.e. not necessary) but then go on to describe a diffusion method as essential. This is a bit confusing. You might want to discuss different diffusion strategies/devices any one of which is necessary - just sticking a co2 line in the water won't cut it.
I'd like to think of them as two separate ideas. A diffuser is recommended (but not necessary), while diffusion of the CO2 tank (regardless of how you want to diffuse it) is essential.

Some people opt to use an inline reactor, or even sticking the CO2 line near their filter intake, both of which are diffusion methods, but not a diffuser, per se.
 

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They are two separate ideas - that was my point. "A" diffusion method is not optional, a diffuser is (as is any other particular diffusion device). This could be much clearer, if this intended as a noob walkthrough.
 

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They are two separate ideas - that was my point. "A" diffusion method is not optional, a diffuser is (as is any other particular diffusion device). This could be much clearer, if this intended as a noob walkthrough.
As being a co2 newb, I'd get a diffuser... I think its pretty much mandatory... imo, but you guys know your stuff so I'm just sayin... :)
 

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Nice detailed write-up, but I think part of the issue here and speaking to what macclellan was referring to is you have a heading titled:

Here are the essential pieces of equipment you will need

I think this should be

Here are the essential COMPONENTS you will need

and you need to add dissolution method to it, since you MUST have a method to dissolve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Nice detailed write-up, but I think part of the issue here and speaking to what macclellan was referring to is you have a heading titled:

Here are the essential pieces of equipment you will need

I think this should be

Here are the essential COMPONENTS you will need

and you need to add dissolution method to it, since you MUST have a method to dissolve.
Yes, that's right on. Put the focus on function, many ways to dissolve, etc.
Fixed, and fixed. I hope ;)
 

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VERY nicely done man. I just posted an article on our blog about how to use paintball canisters to have a cheap CO2 setup. Despite the price per volume, the nice thing about the paintball setups is that they can fit under your tank more easily than a full sized canister. Having said that, they are definitely a bit pricier. This article is just fantastic, and I think I will definitely link to it in the next few days :)

Thanks for sharing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Excellent write up! I am going to put a link on my personal website to this posting for help with Co2, if you do not mind.
Not at all; as long as you link directly here and do not copy and paste it onto your website, I am OK with that.

Your very first post your list essential components:

1) A CO2 cylinder
2) Regulator
3) Needle valve/metering

but you need a fourth in order for it to flow logically

4) Dissolution method (i.e. diffuser, reactor,etc.)
Is there any way that I can insert a post in between posts? :confused:

This article is just fantastic, and I think I will definitely link to it in the next few days :)
Again, as long as you link to this thread and do not copy and paste, then I am fine with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Hey, thanks for posting this. I just had one question. I cant find one "ideal" needle valve on ebay but I can find a bunch of swageloks. Can you give me some swagelok model numbers that work for your average 1/8" NPT connection and a good price to look for? Thanks.
The "Ideal" needle valve is actually the company name (not the adjective ;))

For Swagelok, many of the low flow and some of the medium flow metering valves (check out their website for a list of part numbers) will work for our purposes.
 
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