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My question is $ is a concern but i want a good quality not something ill have troubles with being new to all of this. Any suggestions?
I have 3 systems running 3 tanks. Two of them are 'diy type' in that I bought the regulator, needle valve and bubble counter separately and put it all together to keep it relatively inexpensive. The third is an 'all-in-one' type with solenoid, etc. They all work fine (knock on wood), so I don't really have a preference. It really depends on you, imo. If you go the diy type route, just be sure to get a two stage regulator . You can usually find some decent prices on line if you look. And our sponsors also have some good units on the market.

Secondly after setting up the hardware part what should be my safest steps in starting it up?
Start slowly to build up to the level you want. A drop checker is suggested for determing how much you have in the tank. I would say start between 1-2 bubbles per second and monitor the drop checker and/or pH. Increase slowly to achieve the desired CO2 levels.
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