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To co2 or not to co2........

760 Views 11 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  BiscuitSlayer
My tank is about ready(couple more weeks and it's done). The only thing i'm stuck on is if I should get co2. It's a 32 gallon tank and I have a 70W MH light that gives me about 2.2 WPG. Should I invest in a co2? This is my fist planted aquarium(salt water guy here) I will most likly be keeping low light plants(java fern,moss, some grasses, etc)

Also how many fish can I keep? I was thinking 24 micro fish? tetra's and such nothing fancy?
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I think MH equates into more light than the wattage indicates, but much depends on how high the light is suspended. I'd venture you'd be served by going with CO2.

I went from MH to overdriven fluorescents (on a 75g) when I went to planted from reefs (I couldn't get reliable sitters with the reef). I still have pearling on the low light plants.
You're the only person who can answer this question. But I'll offer a couple of thoughts on my experiences.

I have DIY CO2 on my 30g, and pressurized on my 55. Both tanks look pretty good, but they definitely grow faster in the 55. Of course, that tank has higher light...

I would suggest you consider starting off with DIY yeast and sugar. 2 bottles, swapping one out every other week would be pretty effective. The main benefit is the low initial cost. Basically some airline, a check valve, some kind of diffusor, 2 juice bottles, a sack of sugar, and some years. Probably less than $30 all told (including the juice and sugar).

If you notice an improvement in response to the DIY, you can consider if you want to go pressurized. Pressurized has a couple of downsides IMO. First, it is significantly more expensive - you'll spend at least $150 getting the initial set-up. Which you will have to unload if you decide it isn't for you.

Plus, there is a bit of a learning curve if - like me - you are not mechanically minded. It isn't rocket science, but it is a bit more complicated than deciding which flavor juice you want to buy for your DIY! But if you are already doing SW, I assume you are at least somewhat adept at fiddling with widgets.

Then there is some minimal effort involved in finding a place to fill your tank, which you should need only a couple of times a year. Each refill will be around $20, but of course with DIY you are buying sugar and yeast.

As I am pretty mechanically retarded, I've figured a couple of ways to mess things up with my pressurized system, most recently with a CO2 dump that killed several fish, and a leaky check valve. My pressurized set-up and other equipment allows me to run a lot of stuff in-line, under the stand. However, the plumbing is a little more complicated that way, and I think I'm a little nervous about the possibility of leaks somewhere in my cobbled together set-up.

I assume you have a canister filter to reduce surface agitation and CO2 outgassing? And I assume you are adding ferts regularly? If so, I think you should at least give DIY a shot, because the lack of CO2 will limit your plants' ability to take up nutrients. Then, if you like the results, keep your eye out for deals on pressurized components.
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Price is not really an issue, I'm just new to planted tanks. I didn't even think to try diy co2 and see if that works. Yeah i'm very adapt at building things and making stuff. In school this is how my major roller costar went-electronics engineering-marine biology-then settled on multimedia. :icon_roll I'v built my stand, diy MH lights, and built the tanks(still in the works). I like having things high tech and carefree(which would why i'd get a semi automatic co2 system). I'v also been into Bonsai for about 5-6 years so i'm sure that knowledge should come in handy(ferts and trimming). Anywho the tank is 25"x21"x14" and the light will sit about 11" off the water.I have a cannister filter also

what do you mean by co2 outgassing?
I have a feeling that once you get into this hobby more, you will want to try out more plants and maybe even develop collectoritis as most people do. So I suggest investing into a co2 system now as it seems money is a small issue with you. You can get a tank + reg with solenoid for under $150 if you look around.
Yeah I already found a semi-automatic system for 100$ - 5 lb tank, still what does outgassing mean?
Yeah I already found a semi-automatic system for 100$ - 5 lb tank, still what does outgassing mean?
Probably an incorrect term on my part. If you have too much surface agitation, such as from a HOB (hang on back) filter, you'll lose a lot of CO2. One reason why most planted folk use canister filters. (Another reason is the ability to set things up such as heaters, UV, CO2 reactors, etc. in-line.)

Man, if you've got the $ and like to tinker, by all means, go pressurized. While you are at it, check what other folk have to say and buy the components to build your own system. You'll end up with something far nicer than most of what you'll find put together.

I assume you are fertilizing, right?

Lots of folk have set up various kinds of auto systems. Search the old threads, and then let us see what you try!
Also, if you can fit it under your stand, consider going with a 10g tank. Not that much pricier, and twice as long between refills.
I recommend you buy the regulator from someone who has built it. You can, and most likely will, put together the entire system yourself. The regulator involves several parts that most of us wouldn't know where to buy (home depot just doesn't quite cut it). I believe that most people on this forum trust Rex Grigg's regulators. There have been some issues with Milwaukee regulators, but also a lot of good reviews. Other people have purchased one from, JBJ, and Azoo. Personally, I bought a Rex Grigg regulator with a solenoid (basically, so you can use it with a timer). I think that his setups don't cost that much more (maybe like 130-150 compared to 90-120).
Yeah, Rex's products and prices are aces. I just thought that a tinkerer might enjoy researching the various components and customizing his personal rig.

Would "degassing" be a better term?
Wow, iPod Touch made me look like I have no typing skills. It's editting time!

I decided to go non-CO2 in my tank due to the amount of maintenance. I currently dose twice a week. Just a light doses at that. No water changes. Don't have to trim plants that often. I'm having twins, so low maintenance was a priority for me. If I had the time I would go pressurized like a pimp.
Would "degassing" be a better term?
Thats the term that I use :)

It is easier to dissolve 02 into water than it is CO2. HOB filters are very good at oxygenating the water. Because of this it is more difficult to get CO2 levels within an optimal range for plants.

I have been down this path and I can tell you that absolutely DOES make a difference. A canister filter is the way to go.
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