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Discussion Starter #1
I know that I want to add co2 to my tank. I'd like to do it asap, but I'm very unsure where to start.

I know about and have read many diy methods but I'm wondering how it compares to a purchased system. When I look at sites that sell co2 products, I have no idea what I would need to buy or what's best, what's too much, etc.

So if I were to purchase a co2 system for a 29 gallon tank, what exactly do I need to buy? Is there a guide somewhere that I can read about nondoityourself co2 systems and how to set them up?

Another quick question. I have a 3 year old (almost 4), who is always into everything. The co2 will go in the cabinet under the tank obviously but is there anything dangerous about the co2 that could hurt him or that I should know about before I get started with it?

Thanks in advance!!
 

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In reverse order, I have two aquariums with CO2 and a 2-year old in the house. The biggest danger is actually to the fish. If the kiddo monkeys with the valves and opens the CO2 valve too far the fish won't last very long. I installed some kid-proof latches onto the tank cabinets. People will tell you all sorts of stories about the dangers of CO2, but don't listen to any of it. The danger from a 5-lb cylinder in a typical house is so low it doesn't even merit mentioning.

Here's what you'll need for a pressurized system:

A 5-lb CO2 tank (6-12 month supply for a 29g tank).
tubing (CO2 specific tubing is best).
A gas regulator - available from several sources.
A solenoid if you want to put in on a timer or controller.
A needle valve for fine control.
A bubble counter so you can see how fast it's running.
A method of dissolving CO2. I prefer in-line reactors. You can make one yourself for around $10. You can also use a diffusor, run it into a powerhead or canister filter, or a device like a CO2 ladder.

You can buy combination regulator/solenoid/needle valve/bubble counter setups. Milwaukee makes one that is fine. Reg Grigg custom builds very nice systems, but they're more expensive. A few of the on-line plant stores sell their own verions. Dr Foster-Smith sells one. I don't have experience with anything but Milwaukee and Rex's stuff.

Do a search here. If you don't find what you need, let me know. This question is worthy of a Library article which I'd be happy to put together. If you have the question, lots of other people do too.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for that list!! It is very helpful and informative. It is very confusing when it's all things that must be bought separately from various different sources and assembled without instructions!

Once I have everything (I'm going to work on ordering it all today), how will I know how to assemble everything?

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok please look at and critique these choices.

Thank you!

I will get a 5# tank from a welding supply place in the area. I haven't priced them yet.

tubing

Does this cover the regulator, solenoid, needle valve, and bubble counter all in one?

http://www.aquariumplants.com/product_p/pr333.htm

How about this for the co2 diffuser...is this what is used for dissolving the co2?

http://www.aquariumplants.com/Aqua_Medic_CO2_Reactor_100_p/am73015.htm

Is this all that I need? Do I need any special test kits? I have the api all in one test kit that does 2 different ph, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, etc.

Thank you!
 

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I'm not sure what type of tubing they're offering, but if it's the blue silicone, you're better off with regular airline tubing. Post up in the Sale or Trade forum or talk to Rex Grigg, Sumo regulators, or greenleaf and try to get some polyurethane tubing, or Epicfish has Tygon tubing I think.

Does this cover the regulator, solenoid, needle valve, and bubble counter all in one?
Yes

How about this for the co2 diffuser...is this what is used for dissolving the co2?
That'll work, you could also use an inline reactor or internal reactor, or save your money on the expensive glass and use a limewood diffuser (unless you're looking for aesthetic beauty). Nine times out of ten the Coralife limewood diffusers throw off a more dense mist than glass diffusers, IME, but they need to be replaced every few months or so. You can get a huge bag of them for around $15.

Do I need any special test kits?
Not unless you feel the need to test phosphates, Iron or potassium. Depends on your dosing plan, if you're doing the Estimative Index, you don't need to test, maybe a few times to adjust dosage but not required.

KH and GH will be handy, API sells them separately in a combo pack.

A drop checker with 4dKH standard is an accurate way of measuring CO2 dissolved in the tank. CO2 drop checkers are cheap on ebay now, and the 4dKH lab certified standard can be purchased from liquidarthome.net.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you!

Greenleaf has the tubing too but I figured I might save on shipping if I order all from one place. I did see someone say to get it at the fish shop for much cheaper so maybe I'll do that instead and save a few bucks there.

Is this what you mean for an inline? It goes inside the filter canister?

http://www.aquabotanicstore.com/Max_Mix_jr_p/mmcrjr.htm

Is the benefit of this over the reactor that I posted above the fact that it's one less thing hanging around inside the tank?

I also found this for a little bit cheaper.

http://www.aquacave.com/dual-gauge-co2-regulator-br-wsolenoid-by-jbj-2080.html
 

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yep, that's an inline reactor. They go on one of your filter lines, ideally the outflow back to the tank. You can build a better one out of pvc, see http://www.rexgrigg.com/diy-reactor.htm. Costs around $20-30 to build, or you can get one prebuilt from Rex for around the same. The benefit of inline (besides aesthetic) is efficient, superior diffusion. The bubbles enter the chamber and try to rise, the down-flow creates force against them and smashes them down to nothing. With microbubble diffusers (glass, limewood etc) it's more of a challenge to get bubbles dispersed throughout the tank, with inline there is already more CO2 infused within the water before it even gets in the tank.

I think those Regulators are rated about the same, so I would get either. If you're going to spend the cash on a quality regulator, get one from Rex, Sumo, or greenleaf, all use superior hardware. The only cheap one I can recommend from personal experience is the Aquatek Of California sold on ebay. But the needle valve (the same one you get with almost every commercial AIO) really should be replaced with something better in the long run, Fabco, Ideal etc. Most commercial joints are still a little behind the forum members as far as quality control specs go.
 

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I agree with everything jaidexl has said. I use a black CO2 tubing. Regular or blue silicone tubing will leak CO2, effectively wasting it. A 5lb CO2 tank will probably run between $60 and $80. Refils where I live are about $15, but many areas are cheaper.

I strongly prefer an in-line DIY CO2 reactor because they're theoretically 100% efficient. Some people were making noise earlier that CO2 "mist" such as you'd get from a diffusor might have some benefits, but it's largely unproven.

I have two Milwaukee combination regulator/solenoid/needle valve/bubble counters and I've had one solenoid fail and stick open, killing several fish. I was using a CO2 controller and had the bubble rate set very high. Since that happened I purchased a higher-quality solenoid and needle valve to "upgrade" the parts that came with the Milwaukee stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you both!

I'm getting closer to hitting the buy button!

What is the difference between this:

regulator kit

and this?

regulator with free bubble counter

Also where does the bubble counter go on this one? I won't be able to see it if it's behind my tank like shown in the diagram.

Do they both come with a bubble counter but one comes with tubing and what is that other little plastic thing on top of the tubing?

I contacted Rex for a reactor but have not heard back from him.

All of the links that I look at for the diy seem very incomplete with photos and instructions missing from posts or one minute you add part C & D and the next photo shows like 4 other items added with no instructions of what was done.

I need specific step by step if I'm going to attempt a diy. I'm really not very handy and my husband will do it if I can show him step by step exactly what to do.
 

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Rex is having some health issues so his response time is alittle slow, so you'll have to be patient with him and he'll get back to you eventually.

There's no difference between the two packages aside form the extras in the first one. The bubble counter is the grey plastic thing with two barbs off the top, it goes in-line, the CO2 in-line from the regulator goes on the barb that reaches far into the bubble counter (filled with water) and the out-line to the diffuser goes on the other barb. The extra plastic thingy is a check valve to stop water from moving backwards into the regulator. Those plastic ones will degrade overtime from CO2 gas, Rex sells brass check valves that will withstand that. I prefer to have one between the reg and bubble counter, and another one between the bubble counter and diffuser.

With that bubble counter, you'll want to rub dish soap and water over it's connections and top, while CO2 is running, to make sure it doesn't leak. here's a decent looking DIY bubble counter that I threw together, no leaking issues yet.

I've had that same regulator on one of my tanks, with a Fabco NV55 in place of the stock needle valve, and it seems solid to me, haven't had a chance to run a whole tank out on it yet to see how it acts towards the end. Overall, I'm extremely happy with it so far considering the price.

I'll try to write up a step by step for the reactor if I get time.
 

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See Rex's picture for part letters

1. Measure the intended storage space to ensure there is 22" vertical clearance (approx height of completed reactor). If there's not enough room, cut the required number of inches from the 15" pipe so that it'll fit. Total finished length will be pipe length + 7"

2. Wash any pvc dust from the inside of the 15" pipe.

3. Coat one side of part A with pvc primer, then pvc glue, then attach to one end of pipe.

4. coat part D with primer/glue, insert into part A on end of pipe.

5. Coat part B with primer/glue and attach to opposite end of tube.

6. Coat part C with primer/glue and insert into part B on end of pipe.

7. Stand the pipe vertically so that part C is on top. Measure 2" down from the bottom edge of part B and drill a hole there in the pipe. Start with a 11/64 drill bit, graduate up in size with the bit if the tubing won't go in. Make sure to try very hard before giving into a larger drill bit, this should be an extremely tight fit. You can use water conditioner to safely lube it up. Ultimately, I had to use a 13/64 bit to get Rex's poly tubing in, which is holding tight with no leaks. If you accidentally drill too big of a hole, you'll have to start all over (so it might even be wise to measure and drill before piecing everything together, to be safe. You would have to measure down from the top of the pipe, half the length of part B + 2" and drill there)

8. Insert CO2 tubing into drilled hole so it ends dead center inside the pipe.

9. Wrap Teflon tape around the threads of both hose barbs (at least 15-20 wraps) and screw them tightly into part A and C.

10. Attach canister filter return line (that goes back to tank) to the top hose barb on part C.

11. Run filter hose from bottom hose barb to your spray bar or other outlet into tank. [see picture in my next post]

12. Secure both hose barbs with 1" or 1.5" metal hose clamps.

Note: Hose barbs must have 3/4"MPT (male pipe thread) threads on one end and the barb must match the inner diameter of your filter hose. If you can't find them locally, you can get them here. See, "Poly Insert * MPT 90", the last three mpt90s listed are 3/4" MPT, just be sure that the second measurement you choose matches your filter hose's inside diameter (part# 0710105 for Rena Filstar tubing).
 

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Discussion Starter #14
ooooh!!! thank you!!

My husband can and will definitely make it with these instructions. I'll attach photos once it is completed.

That video might be the edge to push me over to spend a little more with greenleaf. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
What is a drop checker? I keep reading about people using it to measure their co2 levels. Is this something that I need?

Also what about a ph controller? I'm guessing that is optional?

Thank you again!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I did it! I broke down and got a good one. I read on multiple threads people were replacing parts here and there on the regulators that they purchased and I don't want to deal with that. Hopefully these are higher quality pieces and I like the 2 year warranty, the instructional video and their lightening fast customer service response. :)

http://www.greenleafaquariums.com/co2-regulators/choice-co2-regulator.html
 

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Ph controllers are unnecessary for a successful planted tank. A drop checker is a small piece of glass hardware that goes in the tank, it's filled with 4dKH water and pH reagent, it turns from blue to green to yellow as CO2 is introduced. Green indicates 30ppm CO2, yellow indicates a potential overdose. You can get them at any other supplier of CO2 equipment. If you get one from Orlando (greenleaf) I believe he has lab certified 4dKH standard, which makes all the difference in the DC's accuracy.

Here's that pic..

 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for the diagram. I really feel like I can do this now!

Btw, here's a photo of my tank. I know people like to see progression so it's good to see how sorry it is now.

It's been set up since August 29th. We did a fishless cycle which took about two weeks to complete. The night before I was going to get fish, I decided that my substrate wasn't thick enough and I did not like the look of the eco complete so I put aquasoil over the top to thicken it up and to make it look nicer. I did not know that it was going to throw out megaton of ammonia. This is when the bloom came and we are in another mini cycle or waiting for the aquasoil ammonia to go away. Yesterday and today, it was reading at .25 so we're almost there. Also, the bloom is mostly in the top of the tank now. The bottom of the tank is very clear, but the top is still milky.

The plants...well, I bought them from the lfs and had no clue what I was doing or what I was buying. Now I know there are some that I want to go and there are a LOT of new plants that will be coming to cover the rocks and to fill the tank in general. I had a big huge fat piece of driftwood but took it out because it was just too big for the tank and I'm still looking for just the right pieces to add.

So basically everything is randomly placed at the moment.

29 gallons, running rena xp1, 65 watt lights

 
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