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Buying first co2 system

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  • Buying first co2 system

    I know this is a dumb question for the experts but...

    is this an ok regulator?

    AQUATEK CO2 Regulator Solenoid Emitter System - eBay (item 230340482855 end time May-10-09 20:16:13 PDT)

    What else do I need to buy? test kits,ph controller (don't even know what that is! lol) lets make a list in this thread..might be a good sticky for other dumb newbies like myself!

    add to the list...include links and recommendations please!

    build tom's reactor or buy something?

  • #2

    I explained a bit about a controller and some of your other questions in your original thread.........

    I guess it got lost in the detail.......

    Here is your thread.


    'When something's not right, it's wrong'. Bob Dylan

    Current 220 scape


    • #3
      yea, I read that...just posted this in the Co2 section as it's more related to this forum. and thought a thread with a list of what is needed (everything to get started) would be a good thread for other newbs like myself. thanks for the help in that other thread!


      • #4
        Hi Newtothis,

        I'm a newb also. I have an Aquatek regulator that I bought off ebay. I am happy with it but as a newb I'm probably not smart enough to know the differences between various regulators.

        I have one suggestion on the regulator you are looking at. Verify that it has a pressure relief valve. Mine came with it, but that pic is a little different than what I remember. When I get home tonight, I'll post a pic of mine with the pressure relief valve. IMO, you're nuts if you don't have a pressure relief valve. Properly filled the tank will start at 800 lbs of pressure. If it overheats (don't panic, it takes a lot to overheat a tank) it will explode without a pressure relief valve. With a pressure relief valve, it just gases off.

        My regulator also came with a bubble counter.

        To digress on tank safety, the test I saw was on the tv show, Mythbusters. They put a filled CO2 tank with a pressure relief valve in a fire. After about 5 minutes, the valve opened and the gas bled out. The tank didn't move. (Some say the become a projectile. That is wrong with what I saw.) They then tested a CO2 tank without a pressure relief valve. After 10 or so minutes in the fire, it exploded, not ruptured, exploded. So don't be frightened of the tank but treat it carefully.

        Back on topic, I bought a new tank off ebay from mirageimage. One listing is here NEW 5 lb CO2 Aluminum Cylinder W/Valve co 2 tank 5lb - eBay (item 140317364793 end time May-03-09 05:19:05 PDT). Cost was about $60 with shipping included. I got it filled for $10 at a local fire extinguisher shop. Some use welding shops but they aren't always setup to refill tanks.

        I considered a PH controller but decided it was unnecessary, expecially since the regulator came with a solenoid. I've got mine plugged into a timer that turns it on and off with the light.

        You will need a diffuser or a reactor. I went with a home built reactor on the outflow of my canister filter. Tom has instructions for making one in a thread but I don't have time to look for it right now. If you with a reactor, note that it is advisable to have the water come into the top and out through the bottom. I've tried it both ways and feel that the CO2 absorption is better with water in through the top. The bubbles coming into the tank are much smaller and disburse much further and lower into the aquarium. Not a scientific measurement, just my experience.

        A dropchecker is usually recommended to verify CO2 levels in the water. I have one but I'm not using it because I bungled the 4dkh reference solution for it. Without a working drop checker, I started off at a low bubble rate of 1 per second, then slowly increased it over several days watching the fish and plants closely. When the fish started to hover at the surface gasping for breath , I backed it down slowly until the fish began swimming normally again. I wound up at about 2 bubbles per second. My plants are doing well and are pearling before the lights go off at night.

        You will definitely need to dose macro and micro nutrients with the CO2 so read up on that. In my experience, the recommendations are guidelines, not hard rules. In my case, I dose half the recommended nitrogen in my CO2 tank and am still getting nitrate readings of 20. I think I need to up either my P or K as I am getting just a little GSA but I haven't figured that out yet.

        I didn't notice your lighting or tank size as those are part of the equation.

        I gotta get back to work now.

        HTH. Good luck.



        • #5
          good call on the pressure relief valve! I forgot about that. I sent the seller an email but I don't think it has one.


          • #6
            My bad on the pressure relief valve being part of the regulator. (Told you I was a newb.) Checked mine and found the pressure relief valve is part of the main valve on the tank. Here is a pic of mine,

            The pressure relief is on the right side of the main valve, opposite the regulator.

            It came with the tank, not the regulator.




            • #7
              well you're not completely wrong though... I've seen PRV on the regulators and you can also buy them seperate and put between reg and tank... the way yours is I guess you don't trade your tank for a full one? cause you might get a tank in trade with no valve on it. Unless that have changed standards recently. Back in my welding days tanks had no PRV on em.


              • #8
                No I don't trade my tank in, just have it refilled. I don't know authoritatively what the standards are but have the impression that tanks need to be pressured tested once every five years. That is why I went with a new aluminum tank. The fire extinguisher shop checked for testing (stamped on the tank) before they would fill it.

                Once you get CO2 in the water, you will need good distribution in the tank. I started with a filter rated at 220 gallons per hour on a 22 gal tank. It worked well when the plants were small but was insufficient as they grew. Repositioning the output helped but not enough. I still had some dead spots where algae was gaining a foothold I just added a Koralia 1 powerhead. It's a bit of overkill now but will probably be fine as the plants continue to grow.