The Planted Tank Forum banner
1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A fairly new newbie's attempt at explaining something that i REALLY WISH there was a thread on when i started out a few months back. If the thread sinks to the bottom thats fine but if there are people like me who really would have liked to see a summary like this then hopefully it will be discussed for a while....

Any of the more expericed people FEEL MORE THAN FREE to let me know where i am mistaken and i will edit the post accordingly. Like i said i am new too !

That said, here we go....


There are many different setups you can use for pressurized CO2. A large one is listed below and then i explain later which pieces can be left out if you like...


CO2 Tank -> regulator -> solenoid valve -> LPR (low pressure regulator) -> needle valve -> check valve -> bubble counter -> diffuser/reactor.


CO2 Tank - obviously that is the tank that your CO2 is stored in. You can get a tank from a welding shop or a fire extinguisher shop. The fire extingusher shop is generally cheaper to buy the bottle as well as for refills. Just make sure the tank has a CGA 320 valve on it and you are golden. CGA 320 is the standard spec for CO2 equipment.

You NEED a CO2 tank.


Regulator - the CO2 in your tank is at over 1000 psi pressure. If you released the CO2 into your aquarium at that pressure you would probably have some water on the floor issues not the mention the fact that the CO2 tank might tend to fly all over the place (think of letting go of an inflated balloon). The regulator throttles the CO2 pressure down to about 30 psi or what ever you set it to.

You NEED a regulator.


Solenoid Valve - this is basically an open or closed valve. If you want to be able to turn your CO2 off at night without having to do it manually this is the valve for you. It plugs into any outlet. When its plugged in, the valve is open (CO2 flows), when its unplugged, the valve is closed. I personally will have it plugged into the same timer ($10 at home depot) that turns my lights on and off automatically.

You can also have a pH controller opening and closing your solenoid based on the pH you set the controller at, but i have no experience in that area so i will leave it alone.

That being said you dont NEED a solenoid. If you want your CO2 running all the time or dont mind manually turning your CO2 on and off then you can do without.


Low Pressure Regulator (LPR)- basically this is a second regulator to the one mentioned above. If a person is having trouble keeping a steady amount of CO2 going into the aquarium (bubble count) then this is a good option to fix that. It will help prevent fluctuations in the bubble count. What it does is further throttles the pressure down to around 5 or 10 psi give or take, making is easier on your needle valve (see below) to keep a constant rate of CO2 going into the aquarium.

This is another piece you dont NEED but it can make life easier if you are having trouble getting a constant bubble count.


Needle Valve - this valve is crucial. Basically it fine tunes the amount of CO2 going into your aquarium. It is the last, fine tuning element in your system to get that perfect amount of CO2 flow so you can get you aquarium to the perfect CO2 concentration. If you have a good quality needle valve you can usually get away without an LPR (see above).

You NEED a needle valve.


Check Valve - basically this prevents anything from backing up into your CO2 tank and all the regulating equipment. Also called a one way valve.

You NEED a check valve. Cheap and can save ALOT of headaches. Your system will work without them but its just not worth the risk.


Bubble Counter - this unit basically allows you to judge how much CO2 is going into your aquarium. Usually disscussed as BPM (bubbles per minute) this unit physically allows you to see the number of CO2 bubbles going into the aquarium and you adjust your needle valve (see above) until you have the bubble count you desire. It is a good idea to put another check valve after your bubble counter for a total of 2 in your setup.

You dont NEED a bubble counter but it is really hard to fine tune your CO2 injection rate without one.


Diffuser / Reactor - This is where my knowledge gets a little fuzzy so hopefuly some more experienced people can help me to add more to this section. These units are different but perform the same function. They both provide means for the CO2 to be dissolved into the water.

You NEED one of these.


All of the parts i have mentioned above run one after the other in your pressurized CO2 setup. There are other small parts you might need to get proper connections between the above mentioned parts but i feel like i covered all the main issues.

If this helps ONE person understand better it was all worth it because i taught myself alot just by writing it !

I want to say again tho, ANYONE with alot of experience in this area PLEASE feel free to respond with any adivce you might have and i will edit the post accordingly. I want this to be as accurate as possible.

For everyone else let me know if this helped.

Thanks in advance.

James

PS I also wanted to mention that rex sells most of these parts (excluding the CO2 tank) on his site. He also has a great DIY section on his webpage if you want to tackle a DIY reactor or something else.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,417 Posts
1) Add into the LPR section that it can also help to vent the extra pressure released during end of tank dumps.

2) Diffuser / Reactor - These units are different but perform the same function. They both provide means for the CO2 to be dissolved into the water. A diffuser will have a ceramic plate that breaks up the CO2 into tiny bubbles, thereby increasing the surface area to increase the rate of dissolution of the CO2 into the water. A reactor is a different unit which is powered by a high flow of water (either from a canister filter or a separate pump) to break CO2 bubbles apart and force them to be dissolved. There are many reactor designs. Most common ones are a long tube with CO2 being injected near the top.

You NEED one of these.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
558 Posts
You could add Manifold. The manifold allows you to run multiple tanks or multiple diffusors/reactors on one tank off the same regulator. The manifold has several needle valves or barbs on it to branch out your system. Oh, and buy a "quality check valve" such as Rex Griggs sells, the plastic air pump kind are not good enough to protect your valuable regulator setup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok thanks everyone. I will edit as soon as i get a minute.

As far as the BPM that is what i meant to put (bubbles per minute). It would be pretty hard to count the number of bubbles per second without going into fractions of a bubble !

James
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
558 Posts
Ok thanks everyone. I will edit as soon as i get a minute.

As far as the BPM that is what i meant to put (bubbles per minute). It would be pretty hard to count the number of bubbles per second without going into fractions of a bubble !

James
I must inject way more CO2 than you do. Because the bubbles in the counter are so fast that there is 3-4 BPS, 200 + bubbles per min.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,199 Posts
You might want to add the term "all in one". Such as a regulator/solenoid/needlevalve and check valve all built into one unit. - A few examples are sold by Milwaukee, JBJ. or Aquariumplants.com's "best" unit. If asked for a preference, I could only recommend the Aquariumplants.com unit, or Rex's, however. :proud:

And since no one has piped in on what a reactor does, here goes...

Essentially, the do it yourself units (DIY) are made of PVC pipe. Some common sizes use 2.5 to 3 inch diameter schedule 40 PVC pipe. Some reactors are about 18 inches in length with a hose barb (nipple) on each end. At its top, the reactor receives the hose output from a canister filter. Almost everyone uses the output of the filter as the water has already been filtered and has less debris to clog a reactor, not to mention the other concern about back pressure to the filter's impeller.

At the bottom of the reactor a hose takes the water back to the tank's outflow. And very near the top of the reactor, there is a third input allowing for an airline to enter the chamber. This airline has the CO2 gas in it. After/as the gas enters the chamber, it is absorbed by the turbulence of the waterflow. Thus, it "reacts" - becoming "dissolved" into the water column and flows to the aquatic flora in our tanks. Most recommend using a CO2 proof airline such as the black stuff sold by Clippard.

I'll let someone else help tackle the diffusers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
First off, Thanks for a great thread! :thumbsup:

Second, if a really really really newbie follows the equipment you listed, (like myself, LOL :) ) he would have forgotten the CO2 tubing...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,895 Posts
Thank ya, I read this thread actually, just working out which brand to buy (looking like Rex's)
 
1 - 20 of 20 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