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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, All.

(Sorry if this belongs in the "Equipment" forum.)

I've had it :x !!! My 10-gallon tank has looked like junk since I set it up a year ago. Everything points to the fact that I'm not getting the CO2 level high enough for good growth. I've been using DIY, which seems to work fine for much smaller tanks, but it just doesn't cut it in my 10. So now I'm taking a big leap, here, just thinking about going pressurized. It'll be a few months, at least, but I'm convinced that if I don't do it, I'll just have to convert the 10 into a non-planted tank or a low-light set-up, which I don't want to do.

So I went to theKrib to check out their article on CO2, but it seems a little bit outdated. I need to find a good, fairly-recent article that's easy to read and will discuss all of the components - the basic ones as well as some extraneous pieces that will make my life easier. Can somebody suggest a really good one? I did a Google search, but I'd rather go straight to one that somebody can confidently give their two-thumbs-up.

Also, when I do get around to it, would I have to change to a canister filter? I'm using an AC mini right now and would prefer to continue using it.

Thanks in advance for any links and tips. :)

-Naomi
 

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I spent $160 on two items:

A JBJ regulator for $100 and a 5 lb CO2 cylinder that I bought from a local welding supply shop for $60.

That's really all you need for pressurized injection. Some people use pH monitors (a device that shuts off the CO2 at a certain pH) and whatnot, but to me that's only useful in the very beginning. If your water parameters never change there's no point in using one onc you've determined a good bubble rate.

You also need a way to get the CO2 into the tank from the regulator. I use one of those bubble ramps that is sold with the boxed yeast method sets in many stores. It works for me. Other people like to use diffusers (makes the bubbles smaller), or, if you have a canister, a reactor works too. There are also in-tank reactors that consist of a powerhead and a vertical tube. The powerhead pushes the bubbles downward, and they float back up and get pushed down again until they are entirely diffused.

I'd go on but I'm late for work :)
 

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There is some great info and excellent links for co2 related articles posted in this forum. Try doing a search.

What method are you using for DIY co2 in your ten gallon? How much sugar? how much yeast? what size bottle? What are you using to diffuse the co2? How much surface agitation does your AC filter create? What are your water parameters? All these things have an effect on how much co2 you are actually getting into the water. In my opinion, a 2 liter bottle with a good diffuser/reactor should work great in a ten gallon tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Wow - thanks for the quick replies!

One of the biggest problems with the CO2 set-up I have now is that I have nothing except a bell-type diffuser. I have the exit end of the tube through an overturned cap (~2" in diameter) and that's it. I tried directing the bubbles into the filter intake, but the problem is that instead of getting pulled all the way into the impeller, most of the bubble just accumulates at the apex of the intake tube. If I put the flow at max, everything gets blown around in the tank and the water's surface would get agitated too much, which would defeat the purpose of CO2 injection... I do have a small water pump (MiniJet 404) but the last thing I need now is another piece of equipment (with cords and everything) in such a small tank.

I've been using the Nyberg recipe, which is da bomb - but it runs out after about three weeks (at least for the small 600-mL coke bottle I've been using). I don't mind refreshing the generator if I know that it's working. In my 2.5 and 4-gallon tanks, I have the same sort of CO2 set-up (using smaller "bells") and I see the plants pearling every day. I really don't care about the exact concentration of CO2 I'm getting in these tanks. I figure if my plants are growing well, that's good enough for me. This isn't the case in the 10, and after a year of struggling, I'm ready to make the investment in something I know *will* work.

I'm thinking I'd like to go with a glass diffuser, but again, this is why I need some reading material... I want to optimize the set-up, but not overkill. Okay. I'll do some searching and post specific questions when I come up with them. $160 for tank and regulator doesn't sound bad (but yet another reason I need to find up-to-date info). I was told $200 is pretty standard for a "full" set-up (with 5# tank), but I have to find out exactly what this includes.

Thanks again! :)

-Naomi
 

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Naomi,
From what you're saying your main problem is the lack of a good reactor. Have you considered just buying/building a powered reactor ( if you don't mind the additional hardware in the tank)? Or maybe even getting a small cannister (Fluval 104, Rena XP1) and using it as the reactor. Either of these options is cheaper than buying a full pressurized setup. Unless, of course, you have the gadget bug biting you and just want to buy new toys. :)

I picked up a 10# CO2 tank (filled) from a fire extinguisher place in San Leandro for $75. You can get a JBJ regulator from AquaBotanic for $90 (+ shipping), or a Milwaukee from Glass-Gardens for $76 (shipped). I have both and each does what it's supposed to. You'll still need to address your reactor problem, though.

See you at the meet tomorrow.
 

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Get one of the Hagen ladders. I use one in my 10 gallon with DIY CO2 and it works great. I also use one in my 20 gallon with pressurized and it works great there. They are only around $10-$12 so it's a cheap fix.

Pressurized can be done pretty cheap. A good beer regulator is around $50, a needle valve is $18 with adapter, cylinder is around $50 filled, and a Hagen ladder and you are set. Call it about $130 for the whole setup. And the best part is you can run multiple tanks from this setup for the cost of a manifold which is around $5 and some plugs $3 for 10, and additional needle valves.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, thanks, and thanks!

Bill, thanks so much for bringing your ladder! I *just* installed it. But before I did, tested the pH at 8.0 (the next color on the color chart was 8.5, so it could be anything between these two), and the KH was 9 degrees. The light timer is set to turn off at 10, so if the ladder appears to be working by then, I'll test the pH again. Whoa - I rhymed three times :shock: :p !

You know you got problems if you can't grow Ludwigia repens :lol: :oops: .

Good luck with them zebra oto$$$! And the pitbull plecs, too :).

-Naomi
 

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Naomi,
Always glad to help. Hope it does the trick for you...need you to start farming all those nifty plants you pick up from Albany :D.

The otos and plecos seem to be doing fine...my big problem was trying to fit all of the C. spiralis I got from Jeff into my tank. :lol: That and separating and planting the Marselia (I'm glad I don't have a 30" tall tank! :D).

See you at next month's meet.
 

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Pressurized can be done pretty cheap. A good beer regulator is around $50, a needle valve is $18 with adapter, cylinder is around $50 filled, and a Hagen ladder and you are set. Call it about $130 for the whole setup. And the best part is you can run multiple tanks from this setup for the cost of a manifold which is around $5 and some plugs $3 for 10, and additional needle valves.
True, but it is very hard to beat the Milwaukee regulator,solenoid,needle valve, bubble counter for $69 (plus minimal mailing) from glass-gardens. This instrument is very good quality. I also set up a Taprite beer regulator and CO2 needle valve but it did not work out cheaper than the Milwaukee item and the Milwaukee item was convenient.

Andrew Cribb
 

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That's why I bought the Taprite regulator - it was cheaper. But then running around after a needle valve and making sure the fitting was right etc was not entirely convenient. The Taprite was $38.00 + mailing (total about 46.00), needle valve was $19.00 plus mailing (total about $23.00), and the tubing a couple of dollars. I also bought plexiglas tube for a bubble counter etc. This home-made regulator (with no solenoid) came up to $69+. The Milwaukee set up (with Solenoid and bubble counter) was $69.00 plus $6.99 shipping. The Milwaukee quality is excellent. I had also ordered an Azoo system from Aquatic Ecosystems, but I am going to cancel that order and get another Milwaukee instead. The solenoid is a useful option - you can put it on a timer or not, as you choose.

Congratulations, Rex, on winning those plants! Your lucky day.

Andrew Cribb
 

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pineapple said:
Pressurized can be done pretty cheap. A good beer regulator is around $50, a needle valve is $18 with adapter, cylinder is around $50 filled, and a Hagen ladder and you are set. Call it about $130 for the whole setup. And the best part is you can run multiple tanks from this setup for the cost of a manifold which is around $5 and some plugs $3 for 10, and additional needle valves.
True, but it is very hard to beat the Milwaukee regulator,solenoid,needle valve, bubble counter for $69 (plus minimal mailing) from glass-gardens. This instrument is very good quality. I also set up a Taprite beer regulator and CO2 needle valve but it did not work out cheaper than the Milwaukee item and the Milwaukee item was convenient.

Andrew Cribb
Personally, I think it's worth the extra $30 for a regulator that maintains automatic pressure (JBJ).
 

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The JBJ also has a built in check valve too. But overall, considering the price and quality of the Milwaukee item, I think JBJ is overpriced. Perhaps that is because JBJ is imported? and has fewer distributors in the USA?
 

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If you can afford it, I think the biggest reason to go with a pressurized system is the convenience of not having to mess with the system like you do with DIY Co2. I've always liked the look of the glass diffusers for a small tank,
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, I tested the pH a couple of times, today. It seems to have gone down closer to 7.5, but since they don't have any "in-between colors" (bet. 7.5 and 8.0) the actual pH is anybody's guess... Last night the bubbles kept getting lodged on the lower "rungs" and it wasn't until this morning that things looked to be going smoothly.

For now, I'll just keep using the ladder to see if there's any improvement in the health of the plants. Maybe I need to do a big water change to get the KH down. Hey - at least it's sort of cool to watch those CO2 bubbles rolling upwards and getting smaller. Reminds me of one of those oil/liquid motion/timer things :D . Rather than seeing the algae covering everything, I'm now distracted by the cool bubbles going up the ladder :lol: .

-Naomi
 

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Tip: when your Hagen ladder starts growing spot algae, use a bamboo / wooden chop stick to give it a brisk rub down. The wood does not scratch the plastic and you can usually clean the tiny corners of the rungs effectively with it.

Andrew Cribb
 

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The JBJ also has a built in check valve too. But overall, considering the price and quality of the Milwaukee item, I think JBJ is overpriced. Perhaps that is because JBJ is imported? and has fewer distributors in the USA?
Over priced? It may only seem that way since one guy came along online and has been selling the Milwaukee for $10 over cost. Before that pretty much everyone was selling Milwaukee for about the same price as JBJ. If you find a LFS selling Milwaukee, I guarantee you it will not be under $100. JBJ has much tighter control over how much its dealers sell it for to prevent the the market price to be driven down.

But if you look at the other aquarium regulators, Aqua Medic, Ultralife, Eheim, Dupla, the JBJ cost much less with greater value.

Naomi,

Maybe this will help... I tried to keep this impartial

The major componants are the regulator, which is the gauges that go on your C02 tank, a needle valve on the regulator which is what you use to ajust how much gas is going into your aquarium, (most regulators made for aquariums come with a built in needle valve, but if you buy a cheap regulator like what is used for a beer tap, you would need to add a needlevalve), a bubble counter which is filled with water and is either attached directly to the regulator or attached to the tubing running from the regulator to the aquarium, and finaly a device to either mix the gas with water, (a reactor) or a device that bubbles the gas into the water, (a diffusor).

Reactors are more efficient because the gas is totally absorbed into the water and the enriched water is pumped into your aquarium. Diffusors are less efficient because no matter how fine the bubbles are, many simply rise to the water surface and disapate. With diffusors it is sometimes difficult to reach the higher levels of C02 in your water.

There are both internal and external reactors. An internal reactor sits inside your aquarium and is usually attached to a small pump. External reactors can either sit under your tank or hang on the back of the tank and can be connected to a cannister filter or pump.

There are two other componants that are more optional. First is a Solenoid valve or sometimes called a magnetic valve. This attaches to a regulator and is an electronic shutoff valve. It plugs into an electrical outlet. When it is plugged in, the C02 flows, when it is unplugged or the power is shut off, it closes the C02 shutting it off. A solenoid is used in one of two ways: plugged into a timer with your lights so that the C02 is shut off at night, or plugged into a pH controller.

A pH controller gives you the ultimate automation. A probe inside the aquarium reads the pH. When enough C02 is added to your aquarium to bring the pH down to what you have it set for, the controller signals the solenoid valve to shut off. As the plants use the C02 and the pH begins to rise, it signals the solenoid to turn on keeping the C02 at a more constant level with much less pH swing.

There are currently two brands of regulators that include a needle valve, bubblecounter and solenoid valve. JBJ and Milwaukee. JBJ also has a check valve which Milwaukee does not. A check valve will prevent back pressure that could draw water from your aquarium into your regulator, which sometimes happens if you shut off the pump on the reactor. The other difference between these to regulators is that the JBJ has a fixed working pressure, which means when you open up the C02 valve on your C02 tank, the regulator automaticaly ajusts to the right working pressure. With the Milwaukee you have to manually ajust to the desired PSI pressure.

There are other aquarium C02 regulators that do not include the solenoid or the bubblecounter such as Aqua Medic and Ultralife. When using these you would have to buy a separate solenoid if you want to use one. They either connect inline via the tubing, or fitted onto the regulator. Some people simply leave their C02 running 24/7 without a solenoid or pH controller and live with the pH swing at night.

Some online dealers or petstores will try and sell you a C02 tank, or include it in the "system". Buying a C02 tank with your system is a waste of money in my opinion. You have to bring the tank somewhere to be filled. 90% of these places will not actually fill your tank, but instead swap it for one of theirs that is already filled. Many of these places will not even accept a tank for swap that is not one of their own. Instead you can buy a filled tank from them for 70 to $80 and refill swaps for around 10 to $15. Look for welding gas suppliers in your phone book. Every major city or area usually has several to choose from. Some people report that fire extinguisher suppliers will refill tanks.

You may also hear some talk on the internet about different grades of C02 gas. It is all hogwash. Any C02 gas that you can purchase is basicaly the same and suitable for aquarium use.
 
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