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guaging interest... Paintball CO2 systems

22756 Views 99 Replies 35 Participants Last post by  turbomkt
Hey folks,

After some discussion in chat about it, and meeting up with a paintball wizard... I can say for sure - using paintball CO2 bottles for planted aquaria is definitely on the horizon.

I say this because I found a source, and some rough pricing on some custom work...

Problem as with all manufacturers - is to make it worth their time and effort - they want a substantial minimum order (this case - 150).

How many of you out there would be interested? For rough estimate of 40us$ you'd get a fixed regulator, very fine adjustment needle valve (According to the manufacturer, they will do as low as 1bpm), and a tank side pressure guage. Just the basics - I'm sure one can add solenoids etc later if they wished.

Advantages: Basically initial price. Pressurized system for 70$us (20/24 oz paintball tanks/bottles are under 30$) Refills might be a little easier to find for those in areas away from industrial sources. Size could make them an attractive option for those with nano tanks at the office... And there is the bling factor - after all, no exchanges - so blow all the $ you want on a fancy bottle :)

Disadvantages: Long term cost - refills for the little bottles run 5-10$, and they wont last near as long as the 5lb you could get refilled for about the same price... Otherwise, it's basically the same system.

So, what sayeth APC?

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Wow this is all great. Feel like a kid in a candy store. It just so happens that I have been looking for a compact solution for my 10 gallon tank. Getting a 5lbs C02 tank is out of the question for me. Compact is key and this is the ticket. I also have a lot of the disposable Co2 bottles around from when I did a lot of cycling (used to use them to fill the tires) and what's great is that you can get replacement cartridges anywhere- talk about convenient. I think anything under $150 is reasonable considering that the alternative (ADA) will be at least $100 more- unless you want "spring shower" scented C02 LOL :rolleyes:

Overall I think it's worth the cost and a convenient alternative to using SC excel daily or having this big tank next to your little desktop nano tank at work. I can't imagine walking into work with a 5lbs. Co2 tank. Security would probably think I'm blowing up the place or something!

So has anyone set one up yet?
Well I guess I'm the first then to set one up. Thanks to this thread I was able to order from Austin Homebrew supply the Leland regulator for $100. I also ordered two 75G disposable C02 cartridges from them bringing the total to $118- not bad. The regulator is top notch. Very well made. Oddly they had some kind of adapter screwed into the side and then a barb screwed into that. Don't really see why the adapter was needed as the barb screwed right into the regulator without the adapter.

I was going to install it with a solenoid valve, but it turns out that the one I had was leaking so I decided not to run one for now although it's a possibility in the future. So what I did for now is replace the barb on the regulator with a needle valve ($10-15 clippard valve) I used a brass bushing adapter (had it sitting around the garage) to adapt the needle valve to the regulator. From the needle valve it goes to a DIY bubble counter I made and then to the glass diffuser in the tank. My recommendation though for anyone setting this up would be to buy a diffuser WITH a bubble counter built in to reduce clutter- especially important on smaller tanks. My tank is a 10 gallon so It's not too bad.

Another cool thing I found out was that I was able to use the packaging material (a piece of plastic that protects the knob of the regulator in shipping) as a base for the whole unit. The Co2 can fits snugly and it holds the whole thing upright.

So here are some pics of it.

Fits in the palm of my hand..

Close-up of the regulator and needle valve hooked up to it.

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fishfry said:
that's awesome magicmagni, let us know how long the 75g bottle lasts
Well so far it lasted 24 hours and fizzed out. Whoops! I found a pretty bad leak at the bushing that adapts the needle valve to the regulator. This time I put some teflon tape it and got it nice and tight. Normally wouldn't use the stuff on a compression fitting, but checked again for leaks and non found this time so it worked. So far on the new 75G cartridge 12 hours. I'm currently running it into a Tom Bar Venturi reactor at about 10 bubbles a minute give or take so we'll see.

If I can get two months out of one cartridge that would be sweet, but if not I think I'll be getting one of those adapters so that I can run it to a paintball refillable C02 bottles (which seems to be about the size of a 2 liter pop bottle)

I am also going to run a solenoid. I found one for only $30 at Aquabuys so I think I'm gonna get it since the one I currently have is a POS and also leaks like crazy. BTW does anyone know if it would be a problem to run the solenoid valve after the needle valve? I normally run them before, but doing it after is going to be easier I think.
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That's the one I got. Yeah so that teflon tape is holding out fine. No leaks. Running it now at a steady bubble per second.
Ok here's an update. It's been about 18 days on this 75g cartridge with a bubble rate of 1 bub/second. I noticed the pressure increase last night (most likely the end of tank dump) and by this morning it was still bubbling into the reactor, but there was almost no pressure. Fortunately the pressure increase was only a few PSI and the bubble rate only slightly increased at end of tank dump. Like maybe a bubble every 3/4 of a second instead of every second.
Note that I still do not have the solenoid, which if I did the time could have been doubled. So potentially the 75G cartridge can last just over a month at 1 bubble a minute, which is reasonable.

As far as practically and running costs of the whole thing I think that my rate of C02 delivery is pretty much at the maximum end of the spectrum that you would want to use with this size cartridge and a solenoid. Although I'd like to see a bit longer between servicing, it only takes 30 seconds to replace and set again. That said though I think that this size cartridge would be perfect though for the nanos or any application where you'd want to run under 1 bubble a second, then the service life I'd imagine would be even better. Perhaps up to several months on one $8 cartridge. Not bad for such a small device.

I think though that for 1 bubble/second and up that one of these with an adapter would be ideal. $20 for a 9oz tank. About the size of a 2 liter pop bottle. This is probably what I will end up using in the long run when I get the adapter for it. Nice thing is that it is refillable at the local paintball place. I suspect that with this I could get a least 6 months and it's still small enough to fit behind the tank on the shelf. This size should be good for up to a 40g fishtank I would think.

Next up now is an 88g cartridge that I got from the local Sportsmart. Got 2 for $15. I should be able to pass the 20 day mark (running 24/7) with this one, but once these are gone I'm probably going to get one of these refillable ones.
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Anyone know a place that sells an adapter for that leland regulator so that I could use one of those paintball tanks? I can find adapter that adapt a disposable cartridge to a gun that takes those tanks, but not the other way around. I know the one from the engraving place linked to in there, but the price is a little steep for what it is.
That's a great find lamthuyduong! And with the 9oz (255g) paintball tank one could get several months of C02. That's not bad $130 for all of that. It's pretty comparable to what I paid setting up mine with the Leland regulator and 88g disposable cartridge although this has more capacity which would be better on larger tanks or someone who doesn't want to change out a cartridge as frequently
That would be a nice setup. Austin Homebrew had a good price on that regulator- I guess they figured it was too good! Anyways I wish there was a less expensive adapter for that regulator. The one on that engraving site is overpriced. O' well. I've been mostly satisfied with the large disposable cartridges on my 10 gallon. I found some 98g disposables at the local sporting goods store for only $5 each so I stocked up on a few of them. I'm also currently working on integrading a miniature solenoid vavle so I'm not wasting Co2 at night. I'm trying to get the service time on one of these cartridges from about 4 weeks up to around 8 weeks. $5 for 8 weeks of Co2 won't be as bad. That's less than fishfood.
Watch out it says the electrical stuff is 100V. That is not standard Voltage here.
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