02-27-2010, 05:39 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
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| | DIY regulated CO2 for the nano & pico aquarium
I have big planted tanks. And each one of those tanks has a nice 5lb co2 canister tucked under the stand or around the corner. Out of sight and out of mind I always say. Regulated co2 is sweet.
But in putting together a 5gal nano to take to my office I needed something a bit smaller. Doing it on the cheap I didn't want to shell out the cash for one of those super nice ADA mini canister systems. Plus, I would be locked into their cartridges. Sugar and yeast in a soda bottle under my desk was an HR violation waiting to happen (throw in a ketchup packet or two and you are technically making prison wine!). There had to be something else. Then I remembered those little co2 cartridges I used my bb gun as a kid, a plan was hatched.
Trying to create a piercing device at home wasn't going so hot and I stumbled upon a backup device for the paintballers that uses those cheap little co2 cartridges. Ebay 'emergency co2' and you'll see quite a few. At $20, it was worth a shot.
With my cartridge piercer in hand, a quick trip to LowDepot (either will work) turned up absolutely everything I needed to make a mini regulator for the co2 cartridges. All paintball guns have a 1/2" thread, which is exactly what the unit has. And did you know that in the plumbing section, where all the brass fitting are, they actually have needle valves?
And so it went: CO2 device -> 1/2" female to 1/4" male -> 1/4" female to 1/8" female -> 1/8" needle valve. I was out of the store for under $15, and had everything I needed. Don't forget to pick up a roll of teflon tape, you'll want those connections nice and tight. I picked pink, because nothing says breast cancer awareness like DIY CO2!
Take a look at the photo's to see it all put together. With the relatively low pressures in those cartridges, you can get away with it without any worries. The needle valve looks clunky, and it will take you a little while to get used to adjusting it as it isn't as fine as the ones you might be accustomed to, but it works just fine. Tighten up everything together real nice, and test it out in a bucket of water. The bottom of the emergency co2 device unscrews from the top, you slide the cartridge in and screw it back. The action of tightening pierces the device, and the co2 starts flowing. That $5 needle valve works just fine in holding it back.
At 1 bubble per second, I can get about a solid month out of the 12 gram co2 cartridge (which runs about 40 cents if you buy a box with a few dozen in them - less if you order online). It goes longer if you turn it off manually at night. Sure, when the cartridge is on its last legs, you'll have to adjust the needle valve. But it is way more consistent than making your own CO2 in a jug, and my desk doesn't smell like a bakery!