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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited by Moderator)
I am still working on my 10 gallon tank and trying to dial in what will help my plants grow well. What I have is all pretty "easy," since I'm a beginner, but I'm starting to think about CO2 and was wondering what people think of the Aquario DIY kits like this

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I was originally thinking I'd keep this tank all low tech, but maybe this could be an easier high-tech option? I'm eager to get my plants growing but feel pretty intimidated by the complex CO2 setups, don't have a ton of space, and am unsure of how the strength of my light will play into this.

Right now here's what I have:

-1 betta, 1 nerite, hoping to add some nano fish in the near future if betta will allow
  • Substrate: Seachem Fluorite
  • Plants: java fern, pearl weed, cryptocoryne Wendtii Green, microsword, valisneria, Scarlet temple, several anubias, bacopa caroliniana, pogostemon, and water sprite (I know, a lot going on - was trying to plant heavily to cycle and will probably take out some when/if I get some growth)
  • Ferts: weekly dose of Flourish according to bottle instructions, monthly root tabs on crypt and micro swords
  • Light: Finnex stingray 2 (just one, but I'm not super happy with how the aquarium lid seam casts a shadow to front of tank) - I think this would be considered medium light?

Thanks! (And no laughing at my aquascaping attempt - not going for any masterpieces like I've seen on this forum ;)

Plant Plant community Vertebrate Botany Lighting
 

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I don't know that I've ever heard of anyone sticking with DIY CO2 long term, but it's certainly fun to try for a bit. I definitely would go completely DIY and not spend anything on a kit, though. Try DIY for the experience, and if you decide to go full CO2, you can make that leap whenever you'd like. Until then, however, I recommend that you make sure you're not providing anything more than the high end of low light (look into your specific lighting here on this forum and figure out how high it'd have to be for any particular level). Provide more light than available CO2 can match, and you get green. Watch the plants you have, decide which ones you like, and maybe make a note of which of them you'd like to take with you down the road. Enjoy!
 

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I have tried DIY, pressurized, and the mixed versions for CO2. Although I have not tried the Aquario NEO CO2 DIY kit, I would not even consider it after trying the other 2 versions.

To be more accurate, I would not recommend any CO2 injection method that is uncontrollable, which applies to pretty much all "DIY" CO2 methods currently on the market. I can see the allure of them though: inexpensive upfront costs and simple. However, these DIY methods are always "on" 24/7 and the injection rate is at a fixed rate (except until the reaction has begun to reach its end). Always being on and having a fixed injection rate means your aquarium may have to find means for your parameters to become stable and hospitable for its inhabitants such as increased gaseous exchange for extra O2 when the lights are off.

For pressurized CO2 methods, they are effective and efficient but there are 2 major flaws (IMO) for them: upfront costs and inconvenience. The parts (regulator, canister, solenoid, valves, bubble counter, extra fittings and gauges) cost far more than DIY solutions, especially if you choose to go for higher quality parts. A complete setup can cost anywhere from ~$100 to several hundred dollars. The conveniency of pressurized CO2 is very subjective since it depends heavily on your source for CO2 refills. The canister is heavy, you have to find a convenient day to go to the refill location, and depending on the location, you can only do swaps or will have to wait several minutes to a day to refill your canister.

The last method is what I currently recommend to hobbysts with small to medium size aquariums or even larger aquariums with low-medium lighting. It is DIY in a canister with regulator+solenoid using citric acid, baking soda and water. You can search it on major shopping sites using the keywords "CO2 Generator Aquarium". From my knowledge, there are currently only 2 manufacturers for them with companies placing their own brands on them. One of them definitely feels built using higher quality materials but the largest model they make is 2L Double(thicken) while the other manufacturer makes up to 4L Double(thicken). They are usually sold in a complete kit and costs from less than $100 to ~$180 depending on the size. They have the pros of the previous 2 CO2 methods but without the cons of them. Even the largest model is very light, and the materials required for refills (citric acid and baking soda) are cheap and convenient to obtain.

The Aquario Neo costs ~$12 per refill which lasts 50-60 days. Assuming each refill lasts you 2 months, each year would cost ~$72. You can get 10+ lbs of citric acid and baking soda for less than that but would last you for much longer. Citric acid used to be very cheap but costs $40+ for 10 lbs now. However, it would still be more cost efficient than DIY and in some cases, rivals pressurized CO2 methods as well.

Don't get me wrong though, I like Aquario Neo's products. I think they currently make the best in-tank CO2 diffusers, good aqua soil, and their outflow skimmer looks enticing. I feel their DIY CO2 kit cater entry hobbyists trying to get an inkling of what pressurized CO2 can do for their plants but lack cost-efficiency and control for the long-term. I don't see it being a bad buy for beginners at $22. Their CO2 diffuser and tubing are probably worth half the price already.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't know that I've ever heard of anyone sticking with DIY CO2 long term, but it's certainly fun to try for a bit. I definitely would go completely DIY and not spend anything on a kit, though. Try DIY for the experience, and if you decide to go full CO2, you can make that leap whenever you'd like. Until then, however, I recommend that you make sure you're not providing anything more than the high end of low light (look into your specific lighting here on this forum and figure out how high it'd have to be for any particular level). Provide more light than available CO2 can match, and you get green. Watch the plants you have, decide which ones you like, and maybe make a note of which of them you'd like to take with you down the road. Enjoy!
I have tried DIY, pressurized, and the mixed versions for CO2. Although I have not tried the Aquario NEO CO2 DIY kit, I would not even consider it after trying the other 2 versions.

To be more accurate, I would not recommend any CO2 injection method that is uncontrollable, which applies to pretty much all "DIY" CO2 methods currently on the market. I can see the allure of them though: inexpensive upfront costs and simple. However, these DIY methods are always "on" 24/7 and the injection rate is at a fixed rate (except until the reaction has begun to reach its end). Always being on and having a fixed injection rate means your aquarium may have to find means for your parameters to become stable and hospitable for its inhabitants such as increased gaseous exchange for extra O2 when the lights are off.

For pressurized CO2 methods, they are effective and efficient but there are 2 major flaws (IMO) for them: upfront costs and inconvenience. The parts (regulator, canister, solenoid, valves, bubble counter, extra fittings and gauges) cost far more than DIY solutions, especially if you choose to go for higher quality parts. A complete setup can cost anywhere from ~$100 to several hundred dollars. The conveniency of pressurized CO2 is very subjective since it depends heavily on your source for CO2 refills. The canister is heavy, you have to find a convenient day to go to the refill location, and depending on the location, you can only do swaps or will have to wait several minutes to a day to refill your canister.

The last method is what I currently recommend to hobbysts with small to medium size aquariums or even larger aquariums with low-medium lighting. It is DIY in a canister with regulator+solenoid using citric acid, baking soda and water. You can search it on major shopping sites using the keywords "CO2 Generator Aquarium". From my knowledge, there are currently only 2 manufacturers for them with companies placing their own brands on them. One of them definitely feels built using higher quality materials but the largest model they make is 2L Double(thicken) while the other manufacturer makes up to 4L Double(thicken). They are usually sold in a complete kit and costs from less than $100 to ~$180 depending on the size. They have the pros of the previous 2 CO2 methods but without the cons of them. Even the largest model is very light, and the materials required for refills (citric acid and baking soda) are cheap and convenient to obtain.

The Aquario Neo costs ~$12 per refill which lasts 50-60 days. Assuming each refill lasts you 2 months, each year would cost ~$72. You can get 10+ lbs of citric acid and baking soda for less than that but would last you for much longer. Citric acid used to be very cheap but costs $40+ for 10 lbs now. However, it would still be more cost efficient than DIY and in some cases, rivals pressurized CO2 methods as well.

Don't get me wrong though, I like Aquario Neo's products. I think they currently make the best in-tank CO2 diffusers, good aqua soil, and their outflow skimmer looks enticing. I feel their DIY CO2 kit cater entry hobbyists trying to get an inkling of what pressurized CO2 can do for their plants but lack cost-efficiency and control for the long-term. I don't see it being a bad buy for beginners at $22. Their CO2 diffuser and tubing are probably worth half the price already.
thank you so much for this. I’m pretty lost in this new world of CO2, and it sounds like the kits you suggest would be ideal for me. I will look into them. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!
 

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If you can spend the money, grab a #10 CO2 tank and regulator. GLA makes some great ones. This will last a decade and be usable in all future tanks including larger ones overtime. The money spent on a proper regulator from a trusted company is worthwhile for safety along with the resale value.

If you want to have fun for less, I recommend going with 2L DIY CO2.

There's no real reason to do anything in between.

Or be dumb and get an ADA co2 system... I did that once!

-Andrew
 

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I use the make-your-own pressurized co2 method using this

FZONE 2.5L Aquarium CO2 Generator System Carbon Dioxide Reactor Kit

Its real easy, add the appropriate amount of citric acid, baking soda, and water together, close it up, wait 24 hours.

Here are the pros
I can do it at home instead of find somewhere to fill it up
cheaper
last 1 month long

here are the cons
I can't pay someone to do it for me
 

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If your spending that kind of money no reason to go DIY. DIY is still more work, more frequent refilling and won't be nearly as consistent from start to finish as pressurized. With a 10 gallon tank, It will be more than a year before you need refills (5lb cylinder) and it cost me $15 to refill a 5lb tank so the cost is nothing. Those DIY kits you'll be refilling, etc probably every 3 weeks to keep the co2 fairly consistent. It gets old fast and won't be fun after a while.
 

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I would say you dont need co2. your tank looks nice, your plants look healthy. If you add co2 it can add some extra stress to fishkeeping as there is a risk of overdosing and harming fish. You could try liquid carbon instead:cool:. just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I would say you dont need co2. your tank looks nice, your plants look healthy. If you add co2 it can add some extra stress to fishkeeping as there is a risk of overdosing and harming fish. You could try liquid carbon instead:cool:. just my opinion.
Actually, after a lot of reading on this forum I’ve decided I agree with you and am going to leave out the CO2 on this tank. I might try some liquid co2 if needed.

But now I’m thinking about starting a 20 gallon long tank so I can really try my hand at some interesting flora and fauna. Currently debating whether to invest in a good CO2 system or go with one of the cheaper CO2 generator type setups. Since I’m really new to all of this I will probably try the cheaper option. So much to think about!
 

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The others already pretty much answered your questions however I wanted to comment because I have used the aquario DIY co2 kit. The kit itself is a great value because you get one of their co2 diffusers with it which are actually really nice. The kit itself is also really easy to use which I think is its main attraction to those new to co2, even your at home DIY co2 can get to be tricky since there's a lot of variables and you need to make your own mixture based off of the tank size.

An important thing to know about this kit and any DIY co2 really, the warmer the room the better co2 will be produced. I had to keep my bottle in a glass vase with water and tank heater to keep the co2 bottle warm enough to produce an adequate amount. It also speeds up the reaction time so the co2 will flow faster when adding a packet refill (this can take up to an hour or two to start producing co2 without heat to speed up the process)

They over estimate how long each refill lasts. My packets lasted 1-2 weeks tops before I needed to add a new packet. The gel in the bottle probably lasted a little over a month.

I found it to be nice just to test drive co2, but in the end it was too expensive, time consuming, and inconsistent. Not soon after i removed it from the tank and got into pressurized systems.

The other issue with DIY co2 is even with a check valve for some reason white cloudy slime always accumulates on the diffuser which can be a cause for concern because you do not want yeast back siphoning into your tank. I had it happen with this kit so you need to provide your own check valve to ensure this doesn't happen. The kit should include one tbh. Even after adding the check valve this cloudy fungus like mass kept popping back up and it was annoying to have to remove and clean the diffuser all the time. Hope this helps you decide what you want to do!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The others already pretty much answered your questions however I wanted to comment because I have used the aquario DIY co2 kit. The kit itself is a great value because you get one of their co2 diffusers with it which are actually really nice. The kit itself is also really easy to use which I think is its main attraction to those new to co2, even your at home DIY co2 can get to be tricky since there's a lot of variables and you need to make your own mixture based off of the tank size.

An important thing to know about this kit and any DIY co2 really, the warmer the room the better co2 will be produced. I had to keep my bottle in a glass vase with water and tank heater to keep the co2 bottle warm enough to produce an adequate amount. It also speeds up the reaction time so the co2 will flow faster when adding a packet refill (this can take up to an hour or two to start producing co2 without heat to speed up the process)

They over estimate how long each refill lasts. My packets lasted 1-2 weeks tops before I needed to add a new packet. The gel in the bottle probably lasted a little over a month.

I found it to be nice just to test drive co2, but in the end it was too expensive, time consuming, and inconsistent. Not soon after i removed it from the tank and got into pressurized systems.

The other issue with DIY co2 is even with a check valve for some reason white cloudy slime always accumulates on the diffuser which can be a cause for concern because you do not want yeast back siphoning into your tank. I had it happen with this kit so you need to provide your own check valve to ensure this doesn't happen. The kit should include one tbh. Even after adding the check valve this cloudy fungus like mass kept popping back up and it was annoying to have to remove and clean the diffuser all the time. Hope this helps you decide what you want to do!
Thanks for your perspective. My biggest concern with the pressurized systems is just the cost for a hobby I’m just starting. I’m leaning toward the FZONE CO2 generator, although maybe that will be a waste because I could end up wanting the real deal down the road…
 

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Light: Finnex stingray 2 (just one, but I'm not super happy with how the aquarium lid seam casts a shadow to front of tank) - I think this would be considered medium light?
I had this issue also, (same light and aquarium size) I decided to take the hinge off and just push the 2 glass panes together to prevent evaporation until I pick up a whole piece of glass to cover the aquarium tomorrow. I suspect this is be medium light as well (Wish I had a par meter to check this). I have what was sold to me as Hygrophila Lancea 'Araguaia' and the new growth looks like it will be red.

Thanks for your perspective. My biggest concern with the pressurized systems is just the cost for a hobby I’m just starting. I’m leaning toward the FZONE CO2 generator, although maybe that will be a waste because I could end up wanting the real deal down the road…
I would just be patient with the plants they take time to adjust and grow.

How long has the aquarium been setup with plants in it?
 

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I think your tank is nice....Hell....if mine looked like that, I'm pretty sure I'd be happy. I am new to the whole planted tank thing (8 weeks in on my first tank) but I've been using something similar to what RufiOh mentioned...just a larger tank with a neo diffuser. CO2 is no longer my concern....for today anyway.

I use the make-your-own pressurized co2 method using this

FZONE 2.5L Aquarium CO2 Generator System Carbon Dioxide Reactor Kit

Its real easy, add the appropriate amount of citric acid, baking soda, and water together, close it up, wait 24 hours.

Here are the pros
I can do it at home instead of find somewhere to fill it up
cheaper
last 1 month long

here are the cons
I can't pay someone to do it for me
 
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