Pressurized Co2, Equipment, Flow And Fertilization

SLIM

Fish Herder
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
1,474
Reaction score
1
Location
GB
Pressurized CO2, Equipment, Flow and Fertilization
 
 
 
First of all before I begin I would just like to say I am writing this article to help beginners understand fertilizers, CO2 and how to set up a pressurized system for planted aquariums. This is mainly so I have something to refer back to as I find I get asked a lot about setting up a pressurized system.​
 ​
Now there are many ways of going about injecting CO2, but in this article I will refer to the method that I find most cost effective and efficient.​
This will be a home made Fire Extinguisher Kit along with home made Macro and Micro Fertilizers which will save you £$£$£$£ and will last for months if not a year!!!!.​
I will also cover Equipment that will be needed and I will also cover flow and how to calculate how much flow you need for a CO2 fertilized tank!​
 ​
If any links in this article become outdated or don’t work then please PM me and let me know and I will emend a.s.a.p.​
(Apologies to anybody in the US as all links are UK based.)​
 ​
Now a Fire Extinguisher is perfectly safe to use and no more dangerous than using a pressurized CO2 canister from an actual kit​
the only difference is the cost!​
However having said that due to the rules on this forum and to cover my own back I have to put the following…..​
 
 
WARNING!
This can be dangerous as pressurized gas is involved.
Myself and Tropical Fish Forum accept NO responsibilities for any injuries caused whilst following this article and instructions.
Do this at your OWN risk.
 
 
 
 
Equipment
 
 
Ok, first things first and that’s the Equipment needed. Yes the first initial cost can slightly exceed £100 but once you have the equipment it’s very cheap to run and maintain, especially compared to dosing liquid carbons in the long run. Below I have put together a shopping list along with prices and links to help you find the equipment that you need. Now these items are what I believe to be the best value for money, however the internet is a big place so with a little more time and research you may find some of the items a little cheaper.​
 
 
  1. 2KG CO2 Fire Extinguisher £28.00
http://www.ebay.co.u...=item3f15dc11b9
 
     2. CO2 Regulator with Solenoid and Needle Valve £54.00
http://www.ebay.co.u...984.m1423.l2649
(If these are sold out or not available, message the seller he is very helpful,  he sells a lot of these and will get them back in stock shortly)
 
 
    3. Bubble counter £5.20
http://www.ebay.co.u...=item2ebf6c294b
(Please bare in mind there are many different types of bubble counters, this is one of many. Might be worth researching which one will suit you. However this one is perfectly fine and will work on any set up)​
 
    4. Drop checker with Reagent/ Bromothymol Blue  £10.00
http://www.ebay.co.u...=item3cae6e2a18
 
    5. Non Return Valves £3.00
http://www.ebay.co.u...984.m1423.l2649
 
    6. CO2 Tubing £6.00
http://www.aquariump...-tubing-3m.html
(airline tubing MUST NOT be used as an alternative)
 
    7. 4DKH Solution £4.00
http://www.aquariump...4dkh-water.html
 
    8. Mains timer £6.00
http://www.amazon.co...=I21KNY7ZTJJ6G5
 
    9. Diffuser
And finally you will need a diffuser of some kind, there many to choose from.​
Inlines, Ceramics, Atomizers and Reactors to name a few​
Now if you have an external filter I highly recommend an inline atomizer diffuser as these almost achieve 100% diffusion.​
See Links below. Please note the different sizes for different filter hose size.​
Make sure you get the correct one that will fit your filter hose!!
 ​
 ​
 
16mm – 22mm Inline Atomizer £15.00
http://www.ebay.co.u...984.m1423.l2649
 
12mm – 16mm Inline Atomizer £15.00
http://www.ebay.co.u...=item1e750c137e
 
8mm – 12mm Inline Atomizer £15.00
http://www.ebay.co.u...=item1e78617a03
 
 
Their are also CO2 Reactors. Very popular in the States and very good at diffusion. Usually used for larger tanks. These also work with an external filter and usually require 1000LPH minimum in order to work. They can also take up a lot of cupboard space.
 
CO2 Reactor £64.95
http://www.ebay.co.u...=item5d37cba0f4
 
 
If you don’t have a external filter you will need a diffuser which will be place inside your aquarium. If this is the case I highly recommend an Atomizer.
Again these are fantastic for diffusion and are far more superior to glass ceramic diffusers.
 
Atomizer £10.50
http://www.ebay.co.u...=item415d7454b1
 
Which form of Diffuser to have is really upto you and your set up
 ​
 
Shopping list grand total of £131.50 approx depending on which diffuser you get.
Not bad considering what you’re getting.
 
That’s everything you need accept your fertilizers which I will cover now.
 
 
 
 
 
Fertilizers
 
 
Ok like I said before, I’m going to talk you through on how to make your own Micro and Macro fertilizers as this is thee most cost effective way to dose your ferts.
Now you could go and purchase TPN+ or Neutro+ which are excellent products
but why pay 10X more just to have someone mix up your ferts for you.
My method will cost under £20 and will last months if not over a year on a tank as large as 200 Liters!!!
Below I will show you what you need to buy and talk you through on how to make a similar formula as these big named brands
OR how to dose EI which is my preferred method.
 
 
What are Micro and Macros?
 
Micro and Macros are two different kind of fertilizers plants need to survive.
 
Micros (Also referred to as Trace) consist of Iron Copper Manganese Zinc Molybdenum and Boron
In my opinion, all tanks Low Tech and High should be dosed daily with a Micro fertilizer.
 
Macros (Also referred to as KPN) consist of Nitrates Phosphates Potassium and Magnesium.
Normally in a Low Tech tank, fish waste will provide enough of these Macro elements that we don’t have to add them.
However in a High Tech tanks, whether your injecting CO2 or using liquid carbon, Macro ferts are a MUST as your plants will be absorbing these elements at an accelerated rate. If any of these nutrients become exhausted your plants will suffer and will get deficiencies. If this happens you will be opening a door for algae to creep in which is what we don’t want.
If macro and micros are dosed daily though and CO2 is kept stable, this should not happen.
 
Ok, so where do you get these ingredients to make your own fertilizers?
 
Aquariumplantfood.co.uk
 
Get the EI Starter kit and it will provide everything you need for £19.99
I promise you this stuff will last months upon months on end and its excellent quality!!!
 
http://www.aquariump...tarter-kit.html
 
This kit will provide..
 
2 Dosing bottles which will help you mix and measure out dosing amounts.
1 Bag of Cheleted Trace Elements (Micros)
1 bag of Magnesium Sulphate (Macro)
1 bag of Potassium Nitrate (Macro) and
1 bag of Potassium Phosphate (Macro)
 
When you run out or run low simply just buy what you need rather than buying the starter kit all over again.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mixing & Dosing My Macros & Micros
 
 
Ok, first of all I’m going to start with EI dosing.
EI dosing in laymen terms basically means overdosing with fertilizers through out the week to make sure you never run out of any key nutrients at any given time.
Don’t worry this is perfectly safe and has been practiced for a years by the very best and experience aquascapist in the world!
At the end of the week you do a big water change (50%) to reset everything, and then you basically start again.
EI also normally means (Not always) you dose Micros and Macros separately on alternate days.
 
 
Here is how to mix and dose.
 
Mixing Your Macro Solution
4tsp Potassium Nitrate
1tsp Potassium Phosphate
6tsp Magnesium Sulphate
500ml of boiled and cooled Water
Leave to dissolve overnight
 
Mixing Your Micro Solution
2tsp Chelated Trace Elements
500ml of boiled and cooled water
Leave to dissolve overnight
 
Here is a video demonstrating how to mix
 
http://youtu.be/5GgS4jAF9Lk
 
 
Dosing schedule For EI
 
Monday – Dose Micros (10ml per 50ltr of Aquarium water)
Tuesday – Dose Macros (10ml per 50ltr of Aquarium water)
Wednesday – Dose Micros (10ml per 50ltr of Aquarium water)
Thursday – Dose Macro (10ml per 50ltr of Aquarium water)
Friday – Dose Micros (10ml per 50ltr of Aquarium water)
Saturday – Day Off
Sunday – 50% Water Change & Dose Macros (10ml per 50ltr of Aquarium water)
 
 
 
 
If you would like to mix an all in one solution like Neutro+ or TPN+ rather than dose EI then simply Mix as follows..
 

48g Potassium Nitrate
2.2g Potassium Phosphate
17g Magnesium Sulphate
0.5g Ascorbic Acid
0.2g Potassium Sorbate
5g Chelated Trace Elements
500ml of boiled and cooled water
 
Dose 5ml per 50L daily. This may need to be tweaked to suit your tanks needs.
 
Link to support formula
http://theplantedtan...uk/allinone.htm
 
Also Obviously with this formula you will also need additional Ascorbic acid and Potassium Sorbate
http://www.aquariump...d-e300-50g.html
 
http://www.aquariump...e-e202-50g.html
 
Note: I have not tried this method myself as I prefer EI
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Setting Up Your Equipment
 
 
Ok so you have your equipment and fertilizers and your ready to go!
 
First thing first, we need to remove the Horn on your Fire Extinguisher.
Don’t worry this is perfectly safe as long as you leave the safety pin in.
You will see that’s its held on by a big nut, use a spanner to loosen and
remove it.
 

 
Now with the Horn safely removed, its now time to bolt on your Regulator to the fire extinguisher. Remember leave the safety pin in whilst you do this.
You want to do it up nice and tight but NOT TOO TIGHT or you will damage your regulator.
When your done you should have something that looks like this.
 
 
 
 

 
 ​
 ​
Now its time to pull that safety pin out!​
Pull the handles together as if you where going to fire the extinguisher and use cable ties and duck tape to hold them together permanently.​
(Some Fire Extinguishers will simply allow you to put the pin back in with the handles in the closed position removing the need for cable ties and tape)​
 ​
 ​
 

 
You will notice that the dials on the reg have now moved displaying your FE pressure.​
Now is the time to check for leaks. To do this simply add water and washing up liquid to a bottle and shake vigorously until you get a froff. Add some of this froff to the thread where the Regulator has been bolted onto the FE and onto the dial stems.​
If you have a leak this should be plainly visible as you will see bubbles bubbling up.​
 ​
 If you do have a leak and need to remove the regulator then cut the tape and cable ties holding the handles together. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE REGULATOR WITH THE HANDLES IN THE CLOSED POSITION!
 ​
 
Here is a useful video demonstrating fitting a Regulator
 
http://youtu.be/W2KchsR8Bd8
 
 
 
 
 
Ok regulators on and we have no leaks, happy days​
Now get your bubble counter and fill it 2 thirds of the way up with water and decide where you want it.​
Ideally you want it near your FE or in plain sight when you are by your FE.​
 ​
Measure out and cut a length of CO2 tubing that will reach from your regulator and bubble counter comfortably. Then fit the tubing to your needle valve and bubble counter. This is very easy to do, both the Reg and bubble counter on the shopping list have tightening nuts which will secure the hose tightly in place.​
Now cut that hose in the middle and add a non return valve to stop fluid running into the regulator. You don’t want to damage it now!​
 ​
Note:
Make sure you fit the non return valve facing the right way.​
Also CO2 tubing can be very hard to push valves onto. To get around this simply soften the ends of the tubing by placing them in boiling hot water.​
This will make the tubing pliable and easier to work with​
 ​
You should have something like this.​
 

 
With that complete its now time to repeat that process but between the bubble counter and diffuser. Make sure you measure out enough length of CO2 tubing to reach from the bubble counter to the diffuser. This piece will also need a non return valve half way along to stop fluid traveling up from your diffuser into your bubble counter.​
Now you should have something like this…​
 

 
If you’re going for an inline Diffuser or a Reactor, connect this to your filters output hose now.​
If you have opted for an atomizer or ceramic diffuser, now is the time to place it in your aquarium.​
 ​
All that’s left to do now is set up your Drop Checker and the Electric Timer for your Regulators Solenoid (in shopping list)​
 
 
 
 
 
 
Timer
 
 
You want the timer to switch your regulator on 2 Hours before your lights come on so the CO2 Levels get to 30ppm before lights on.​
And you want the timer to switch off 1- 2 hours before lights off as there should be enough dissolved gas in the water column to see the last couple of hours out.​
DON’T RUN YOUR CO2 THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT.
 ​
Plants reverse at night absorbing O2 and give off CO2, so if you pump in more CO2 at night, chances are you will suffocate your fish. A simple electronic timer will prevent this and keep your CO2 levels under control.​
 
 
 
 
 
 
Drop Checker
 
 
Now there is already an article here that goes into a lot more depth than I plan too so it might be worth a read.​
 ​
Hold your Drop Checker upside-down and add a little 4DKH solution along with 3 drops of Bromothymol blue.​
Once you have done this slowly turn it around until you have it up the right way​
Being careful not to drop any liquid!​
 

 
The Drop Checker must be emptied and filled with fresh 4DKH and Bromothymol blue weekly for accurate readings.​
 ​
With that done, now place in your aquarium. I like to place it at least 4 inches from the top of the water, opposite end to you diffuser (or filter output if using an inline)​
This fantastic bit of kit will tell you just how much CO2 is in your water column.​
 ​
 ​
 
BLUE = NOT ENOUGH CO2
 
LIME GREEN = 30ppm CO2, PERFECT!
 
YELLOW = TOO MUCH CO2
 
 
 
 
Please note, the drop checker will take 2 hours to react and change colour to your waters CO2 levels​
 
 
 
 
 
 ​
 ​
Achieving That Perfect 30ppm CO2
 
 
Everything’s set up, regulator is switch on, drop checker is in and you’re ready to go.​
 ​
Very slightly turn up your needle valve and watch your bubble counter.​
Depending on the size of your tank, to start with I would say aim for one bubble per 3- 4 seconds (If you have a large tank 200ltr+ I would say up this a bit)​
 ​
Wait 2 hours then check your drop checker.​
Still Blue?​
 ​
Turn the needle valve up a little more to one bubble per 2- 3 seconds then wait another 2 hours.​
 ​
Remember drop checkers take 2 hours to respond and change colour.​
 ​
Carry on repeating this until your drop checker is a nice lime green (30ppm)​
Be patient, this can often take a couple of days to find the sweet spot.​
 

 
Once you achieve this 30ppm, leave the Regulators timer and needle valve alone.​
Avoid turning the CO2 up down up down up down. This is what’s known as the yoyo effect and it will give you algae outbreaks without a doubt.​
Get the levels right with the right amount of ferts and you should never get algae.​
With the above said, in the future as your plant mass becomes more you may need to up your CO2 slightly. Also remember the more water surface agitation you have​
the more CO2 you will use, so air stones are not really a good idea with CO2.​
You want a little surface agitation, but not too much!​
 
 
 
 
 
Flow
 
 
When it comes to High Tech tanks whether you use liquid carbon or inject pressurized gas, a good amount of flow is always a good thing.​
 ​
Good flow ensures even distribution of ferts, CO2 and eliminates “dead spots”​
It also makes life a lot harder for algae!​
 ​
A good rule of thumb is 10X turn over of the total volume of water in litres.​
 ​
 ​
 
Example:
 
Let’s say for argument sake that we have 260 liter tank.
 
260 Liters will need a turn over of 2600 Liters per hour (LPH)
 
We must minus your filters output..
So lets say this 260L tank is filtered by an external putting out 1000LPH, we are 1600lph short of our targeted 2600LPH
 
To get around this we simply add a 1600PLH powerhead or a Hydor Koralia
 
A 1600lph Koralia + 1000lph filter output = a total of 2600lph for a 260L tank.
 
Get this right and your plants should gently sway in the current.
Remember, an extra powerhead should always compliment the filters flow, not work against it. This can take some playing with to get right.
 
 
 
End Credits
 
 
Well I think that’s it.​
If iv missed anything or if you have any questions or if you don’t agree with something iv put then please leave a comment and let me know.​
 ​
I hope this has helped you or given you a greater understanding on CO2 Injection Ferts and Flow…..​
Otherwise this has been a complete waste of time lol​
 
OP
SLIM

SLIM

Fish Herder
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
1,474
Reaction score
1
Location
GB
Can a mod please grant me permission to edit this thread.
My shopping list seems to have numbered every item 1. lol
 

Shelster

Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2012
Messages
1,876
Reaction score
3
Location
GB
Nice one SLIM, very informative for myself who is hoping to get my head around a co2 setup next year.
:D
 
OP
SLIM

SLIM

Fish Herder
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
1,474
Reaction score
1
Location
GB
No problem:)
 
OP
SLIM

SLIM

Fish Herder
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
1,474
Reaction score
1
Location
GB
This Old Spouse said:
Thank you, thank you, thank you! 
No problem I hope it shed some light for you.
 

This Old Spouse

TOTM Winner May 2013
Joined
Dec 12, 2010
Messages
6,093
Reaction score
1
Location
US
Well, let's put it this way. I'll be using this as my go-to guide when I finally get a system started! 
 
OP
SLIM

SLIM

Fish Herder
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
1,474
Reaction score
1
Location
GB
Glad I could be some help:)
 

Zikofski

Chatroom Moderator
Chatroom Moderator
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
2,069
Reaction score
6
Location
GB
this is very good :) if not already need to be pinned :) one thing i will note tho the FE shouldn't need to be taped the pin when closed put the pin back in and it will keep keep it closed, this will then allow you to open it if need be save you trying to cut off and struggle to remove the tape :D i can get pictures of a video of what i mean if you would like
 
OP
SLIM

SLIM

Fish Herder
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
1,474
Reaction score
1
Location
GB
Zikofski said:
this is very good :) if not already need to be pinned :) one thing i will note tho the FE shouldn't need to be taped the pin when closed put the pin back in and it will keep keep it closed, this will then allow you to open it if need be save you trying to cut off and struggle to remove the tape :D i can get pictures of a video of what i mean if you would like
Thats a fantastic idea. Cant believe I never thought of this myself. I shall add this when the mods give me the right to edit.
Thanx for the kind comments by the way, much appreciated:)
 
OP
SLIM

SLIM

Fish Herder
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
1,474
Reaction score
1
Location
GB
Shelster said:
If Carlsberg did DIY Co2 systems this would be it :D
Ahahahahaha! Indeedy XD
 

This Old Spouse

TOTM Winner May 2013
Joined
Dec 12, 2010
Messages
6,093
Reaction score
1
Location
US
Why can't you edit this? Don't you have the Edit button to the right below your post?
 
And it occurred to me to put the pin back in as well, because I was going to ask you what happens when it runs out and you need to refill it?
 
OP
SLIM

SLIM

Fish Herder
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
1,474
Reaction score
1
Location
GB
This Old Spouse said:
Why can't you edit this? Don't you have the Edit button to the right below your post?
 
And it occurred to me to put the pin back in as well, because I was going to ask you what happens when it runs out and you need to refill it?
The Edit button disappears after awhile for some strange reason. Dunno why.
Iv always taped the FE and everyone iv known to use this method has taped it too. Never thought use the pin lol
Anyway if you do tape it, you just simply cut it off reattach the horn then take it to be refilled:)
 

Lunar Jetman

Chatroom Moderator
Chatroom Moderator
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
1,540
Reaction score
24
Location
Outer Space
SLIM said:
Why can't you edit this? Don't you have the Edit button to the right below your post?
 
And it occurred to me to put the pin back in as well, because I was going to ask you what happens when it runs out and you need to refill it?
The Edit button disappears after awhile for some strange reason. Dunno why.
Iv always taped the FE and everyone iv known to use this method has taped it too. Never thought use the pin lol
Anyway if you do tape it, you just simply cut it off reattach the horn then take it to be refilled:)
I think the edit button disappears after someone replies to your post.
 

trending

Most reactions - Past 7 days

Top