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It was fun while it lasted, and it made me feel like a mad scientist, but it's time to move on... I could never get the system to last longer than a week, and even if I could, I realize I'm better off going pressurized.

I've done a lot of research so I have a general idea of what I want. I don't need all the bells and whistles, my only preference is to have a dual stage regulator and a solenoid to turn off the system at night. I just want something that will last me quite some time, so I'm looking at a 5# or 10# tank. The big thing for me is COST. Can anyone point me in right direction for complete systems I can purchase, or individual parts that would be cheapest? Thanks!
 

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I see you are in CA. It should be easy to find a set up on CL. Thanks to legal weed there is a brisk trade in CO2 tanks and regulators. Same thing here in CO. At a minimum you should be able to get a great deal on a CO2 tank. Buying one online and shipping is not going to be worth it.

Solenoid+regulator+needle valve+bubblecounter setups are probably the best value on EB.

Finally you need a CO2 delivery device ( ceramic disc or pingwheel pump). These are fine but for over 50 gal tanks I suggest an external reactor (costs about $50-$150 in parts)

It was fun while it lasted, and it made me feel like a mad scientist, but it's time to move on... I could never get the system to last longer than a week, and even if I could, I realize I'm better off going pressurized.

I've done a lot of research so I have a general idea of what I want. I don't need all the bells and whistles, my only preference is to have a dual stage regulator and a solenoid to turn off the system at night. I just want something that will last me quite some time, so I'm looking at a 5# or 10# tank. The big thing for me is COST. Can anyone point me in right direction for complete systems I can purchase, or individual parts that would be cheapest? Thanks!
Just checked online - Aquatek and other brands range 50-70 on EB for dual stage regulator+solenoid.
 

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thanks for the help! during my searches i found that a lot of people were saying to stay away from aquatek, that "you get what you pay for". What are they referring to?
With cheaper regulators (that are mass produced), you tend to run into some common faults/common failure points.

While they work for the purpose they are intended for (namely, injecting CO2 into your aquarium), you may find that fine tuning flow rate is not possible, or perhaps the flow rate varies from day to day, etc. Such problems can be avoided by spending a little more for more precise equipment. That way, you don't need to buy a regulator setup, then spend more at a later date when you realize that you are not satisfied with the current setup.
 

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A lot of people have used Aquatek w/o any issues. I have a no-brand model similar to Aquatek (single stage regulator) and I am very happy with it.

Complaints I have read are related to needle valve not being very reliable (tends to drift) but I do not have that problem. The way I look at it I can buy 4-6 Aquateks for the price of a mid-end stainless regulator assembly.
 

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Try to find Victor, Concoa or some other nice DUAL STAGE regulator. There are tons avaliable on [Ebay Link Removed] Ive use HPT500 regulators from Victor with great success. They can be had for relatively cheap on ebay, usually between 70-140 depending on if they are stainless internals or chrome plated. Then your looking at 30-70 for a solenoid, I've always used Burkert 6011 solenoids. Finally you'll ned a needle valve. For a cheaper valve I always recommend Fabco NV-55-18, they cost about 40$ with shipping off the Fabco website. If you are looking for more precise needle valves check out Swagelok valves and Ideal Needle valves. The Ideal is made in America in a smallish company and are really the best I know of. They run about 95$ shipped. While it might add up to a decent amount a regulator like that will give you peace of mind, no end of tank dumps and incredible control-ability. They will also last pretty much forever if you take good care of it. Also the custom setups seem to hold value fairly well. One thing to note, Dual gauge is not DUAL STAGE. The aquatek is a single stage regulator with a very cheap needle valve. I used a regulator similar to it, Matheson MA957 and gassed quite a few fish before dropping the coin on the good stuff. I will never look back to the cheap co2 equipment.
 
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