Many beginners look odd when I say about the fact that they need a co2 system for aquarium and CO2 it is essential for good plant health.
Co2 it is needed by plants to do photosynthesize, limiting CO2 you will limit also the growth of plants, from CO2 plants extract the needed energy to grow.
On the market you find several types of CO2 systems, starting with tablets that release CO2 and ending pressurized CO2 cylinders.
All systems inject CO2 gas into the aquarium water and plants will absorb the dissolved Co2.
A professional CO2 system for aquarium contains the following components:
• CO2 tank
• CO2 pressure reducer
• Check valve
• Bubble counter
• CO2 diffuser
• CO2 Solenoid Valve
• PH Controller
• PH Electrode
• CO2 tank: For larger aquariums a CO2 is a must because it provides for a long time CO2. On the market you find many types of CO2 bottle as Dennerle disposable CO2 bottle (500g) and reusable CO2 cylinder (2 kg, 6 kg or 10 kg). I recommend using a bottle of at least 2 kg of Co2 because a CO2 cylinder of at least 2 kg it is reusable and to refill a cylinder with CO2 it is very cheap. With smaller bottles you will have some problems finding a company to refill the CO2 cylinder.
• CO2 pressure reducer: As the name says, this is a pressure reducer which is mounted on the CO2 cylinder and regulates the gas pressure from 60-80 bar to 1,5 bar. A CO2 pressure reducer has two gauges, one is showing the working pressure (1,5 bar) and the other one is showing the bottle pressure 60-80 bar.
• Check valve: At first glance may seem an unimportant component but is the component that provides protection for the PH Controllers with integrated solenoid valve. Check valve avoids the backflow of aquarium water into the PH Controller or CO2 tank.
• Bubble Counter: A bubble counter it is an accessory with low price but with a big role because it tells us how many bubbles/second we are injecting into the aquarium water.
• CO2 diffuser (reactor): Is a very important accessory that dissolves CO2 gas into water. On the market you find 2 types of reactors internal and external.
1. Internal reactors (diffusers) are suitable for small tanks, in most cases co2 bubble enters through the bottom of the reactor and rise along the channel. All manufacturers tell us that their product has high efficiency but till now I have not seen an internal reactor that is suitable for a very well planted aquarium. Here are some known internal reactors: Aqua Medic reactor 500, Dennerle CO2 Cyclo Turbo, Dennerle Profi-Line CO2 Topper, JBL ProFlora Taifun, Dennerle CO2 Flipper.
If you want an internal reactor my advice is the Ceramic CO2 Reactor because it dissolves better the CO2 gas and creates a mist of very small CO2 bubbles for some people can be disturbing but the plants like the most of CO2 bubbles.
2. External reactor: For large aquariums an external reactor it is the best solution to dissolve CO2 gas and the efficiency of an external reactor it is very high. An external reactor it is filled with balls that will help the CO2 dissolving.
A very well known product for external reactor it is Aqua Medic reactor 1000.
• CO2 Solenoid Valve: Is basically a valve that is connected to the exit of CO2 pressure reducer. A CO2 Solenoid Valve can be connected to a PH Controller or to a socket with timer and in this way it is controlled the amount of CO2 that is inserted into water.
• PH Controller: In most cases a ph controller it is the most expensive piece but is an essential component for a planted aquarium. Using a PH electrode the PH Controller is measuring the PH of the water and according to the PH Value it is closing or opening the CO2 Solenoid Valve.
On the market you find many PH Controllers, here is a short list with PH Controllers: American Marine PINPOINT PH Controller, Aqua Medic PH Controller, JBL Proflora pH Control, Dennerle Evolution DeLuxe
• PH Electrode: It is a special probe designed for aquariums that reads the PH value of the water and sends it to the PH Controller. I recommend using ph electrodes from trusted brands, I bought once a “chinese” electrode and I had only problems with it.
A good electrode is expensive but worth buying one because you will avoid many problems.
On the market you find Complete CO2 system for aquariums, here are some examples: JBL ProFlora m1003, Dennerle Space Complete Set, Aqua Medic CO2 complete set professional.