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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have just read the thread by stuckintexas. But I don't want to be rude to tag my uncertainties on, so here it is, yet another thread about C02. ;)

Right now I am doing all the research I can, on setting up my first planted tank later this fall or early winter. I am very comfortable with the minimalist approach to fish keeping, and extremely comfortable in working with habitats and mini ecosystems out in nature.

Since this is my first planted tank attempt, I am a little unsure about CO2 setup - not exactly comprehending what parts I need and what’s reasonable.

The tank I am contemplating is going to be between 15 and 30 gallons. I am going to focus on plants in the beginning. Down the road I might put in some small shrimps and schooling fish to complete the look and habitat.

What are my options in terms of CO2? At the moment I am unnerved by the idea of a big set up with regulator and reactor, etc. What are the realistic considerations I should expect? DIY involving yeast and sugar sounds easy enough. But I am also looking at some interesting systems such as Hydor. Any thoughts?

For a small tank, do I need all the gadgets, gauges, valves...?

I expect that I will manually turn off the CO2 supply at night, but is hooking up to a timer a possibility?

Does the reactor have to be submerged?

Thanks!
 

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I am also new to co2 but I'll share with you what I what I found after several days of asking questions and reading stuff online. The DIY method should be sufficient for a smaller tank around 20gal. I used the diy method at first, but later found out I would need 3-5 2 liters going at a time for a 75gal, which would be very messy at best. In a smaller setup where you only need one bottle going at a time that seems like the way to go. A full semi-automatic co2 system ran me around $150-$170, but I already had a co2 tank. The other issue with the diy is there is no shut-off (short of pulling the airline) but since you have a smaller setup I don't think it matters. You may want to get a co2 indicator and see if the diy co2 is working well and save yourself loot. I just went to pressurized because of tank size.
Hope this helps:partyman:
 

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I have used co2 for many years. A 5lb bottle served my 29 gallon for 2 years, a 5lb tank will due a 10- 150gallon tanks maybe even larger. If you want the minimal is approach the elnatural is it, but most of the tanks you see photos of are high tech. El natural is great but limiting as far a plant selection. 200$ is a fair price for a full co2 setup with bottle, if you hunt you may find it cheaper. The setup is simple and one does not need to know a whole lot about gasses to set it up. As far a diy aka yeast it is messy and more expensive in the long run- but due able for smaller tanks if you are on a budget. My opinion, if you can afford it do it in the long run it is cheaper and easier to control. All you need is a bottle, regulator with solenoid, bubble counter, hose and diffuser. Have the solenoid on a timer with the light and start with 1 bubble per second. If you want to get optimal reading get a co2 drop checker and put 4dkh water in it, green leaf aquarium has a good on with the 4dkh water 25$. A local shop who refills fire extinguishers can sell you a reconditioned bottle for around 65$ and if you google "jbj regulator" you can find one with solenoid and bubble counter for around 100$. Ebay diffuser and you can get a glass one for around 10$. Over all around 200$ for the whole setup less hose, go to you local hard where store and buy 1/8 clear tubing around 19 cents a foot. I hope this is enought to get started, if you have more question just ask.:smile:
 

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With the size tank you're considering, if you keep to a low-mod lighting, Excel is also an option. You just need to be sure to dose it daily.

Pressurized always seems very daunting to folks who have never used it before, but once you do it, you realize how easy and long term it is. If you know anyone in your area with a pressurized set up, I recommend going to look at it to get a real good idea of what all's involved. Might want to contact someone from GWAPA, or better yet, join the club.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey thanks guys! Appreciate all the responses. I am clumsy with DYI projects, so I think I will stay away from that. If I can't bake a cake...best not to mess with yeast? ;-)

I am going to continue reading up on the simpler CO2 set up.

Assuming I am completely ignorant...I am understanding the following, in terms of very simple pressurized system:

Pressurized canister attached to a regulator, connected via pressure tubing to a one-way valve, then to a bubble counter (if used), and then to a submerged diffuser, correct?

What's a reactor? Is that a different name for a diffuser?

I don't need to have water pumped from the tank to go into a canister, only to have the CO2 made available in that canister, which then is pumped back into the tank, do I?
 

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Good choice on the co2. A bubble counter can be attached on to the regulator or inline, depending on what you buy. And yes a reactor is a diffuser, normally reactor is a little bit fancier than a diffuser. The diffuser can be mounted in the tank or in line with a canister filter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great! So if I have the CO2 plugged inline to the filter, that means I can dispensing the CO2 via the filter, and not having to deal with another tube in the tank, yes?

Just out of curiosity: I have noticed some small planted tanks, like a 1-gal. tank say for the office cubicles and what not. How do we get CO2 into those small tanks? Or is that not necessary because of such a small volume?
 

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A reactor is normally plumbed on line to the outflow from the filter cannister to the tank. Here's a link to a diy reactor. You do not have to use clear pvc, it only looks good. :)

Pressurized canister attached to a regulator, connected via pressure tubing to a one-way valve, then to a bubble counter (if used), and then to a submerged diffuser, correct?
The regulator needs a needle valve in order to finely tune your gas flow properly. Many regulators come 'all-in-one' with bubble counter, needle valve and solenoid. Or you can go the piecemeal fashion, which will be cheaper, and purchase the parts individually and install them. It really is not hard. The bubble counter is a luxury, but, imo, not a necessity.

How do we get CO2 into those small tanks?
These nanos probably are using Excel as their carbon source and not CO2.
 

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The tank I am contemplating is going to be between 15 and 30 gallons. I am going to focus on plants in the beginning. Down the road I might put in some small shrimps and schooling fish to complete the look and habitat.

What are my options in terms of CO2?
OK, two things that nobody else has addressed:

1. Your other option regarding CO2 is "No Added CO2". Although I have pressurized CO2 in my display tank, I add no CO2 to my 20g grow out tank. Anubias, java fern, mosses and occasional swords have been happily growing in there for years. Other low-light, no CO2 required plants include most Crypts. Bottom line: In a low-light tank, CO2 is optional, but it accelerates plant growth. In a high-light tank, CO2 is mandatory.

2. You mention adding fish or shrimp later. To be clear, without animals, your plants will not have a source of nitrogen, and you will have to add it. You will find it much simpler to start with some fish. It would be tough to add enough Amano shrimp to do the job, although 2 or more per gallon would do the job.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Dave. You brought up very good points. I am considering the easy plants as well that do not necessary require CO2 in a low-light tank. But thanks for the reminder. Good advice re: livestock. I am trying not to get overly excited and buy a whole bunch of fishes! :)
 
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