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...and I want a CO2 system that is cheap and reliable...
When it comes to CO2 regulators, you tend to get what you pay for. Reliable regulators that won't dump a bunch of extra CO2 into the tank (potentially killing your fish) when the level gets too low to sustain any liquid CO2 tend to be the two stage type (ideally) and they are not cheap.

Needle valves that can maintain a pretty steady flow despite changes in head pressure are also not cheap. If you regard your fish as more than "disposable decor" for your planted tank, spend the money on quality CO2 stuff, add a nice drop checker and sleep better at night knowing you'll rarely, if ever, have to worry about it if you follow the basic rules (1 - change your CO2 tank when the pressure changes as you've run out of liquid CO2 and 2 - don't slam your regulator and needle valve by quickly opening the main valve on a new tank - it's actually better to close the regulator's valve, then attach it and open the bottle, then re-open the regulator valve).
 
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