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Question of the Day CO2 regulators - let's see them!

Art

Owner/Administrator
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Supporting
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PAFF
  • Oct 29, 2022
    2,161
    2,411
    Miami, FL
    This is the exact model regulator I've used for years from Green Leaf Aquariums. It's a single-stage with fine needle valve.
    6488__66411.jpg

    Show me what you've got and why did you choose it?

    In all honesty, I chose this one because it was relatively cheap and had good reviews. I think the regulator is one of those parts that you DON"T want to skimp on because it's so crucial. However, I also didn't have the budget for more. Seemed like a good compromise and it's been working as intended just fine.

    Unlike many, the bubble counter is useless to me as I use it in conjunction with a pH controller. I know it's old school but it worked for me to monitor my daily pH drop and how quickly I was getting to it.

    So let's compare equipment.

    As it's the holidays, BONUS POINTS if you tell us how you would love to upgrade it if someone was going to give you a gift!
     
    Victor HPT 160 D_a.jpg
    Rare Victor HPT160 nickel plated dual stage regulator
    Dual Burkert 200a solenoids
    Dual Swagelock 21 series metering valves - these have since been moved to the output side of the Porter Flow Meters
    Dual Parker 2F-H3L-V-SS-1C metering valves - these are now at the regulator.

    User FlowerFish from TPT assembled the regulator back in 2016. As a regulator, it has been rock stead since it was installed. Never a worry if I run low on CO2. KASA smart plugs and a Milwaukee pH meter control the solenoids. CO@ is then fed thru a Porter flow meter at each tank before heading to the DIY Cerges reactor.
    IMG_1327.JPG
    IMG_1328.JPG

    Bonus Points... not exactly sure what I would change with regards to the CO2 delivery.
     
    I'm currently running a GLA Pro DS-1 on my larger tank and my nano has GLA's paintball regulator.

    I too don't rely on the bubble counter and just control my CO2 with a controller.

    The CO2 is going into a reactor, a 24" NilocG Griggs which is being driven by a 15L GLA canister filter.

    I actually don't have very many complaints with my current setup except I hate tubing with a passion lol. I was spoiled by neat, clean, and organized PVC plumbed setups and trying to incorporate PVC into my current setup would just be incorporating PVC just to do it rather than it providing value. It may just be that I haven't thought of the optimal way to plumb it yet, but the more time I think about it the more it seems like a waste of time.

    On my nano that is getting close to a tear down and rescape, I've been running the GLA paintball regulator, which looking at their website it just seems like their "Gro" regulator but without the adaptor for a CO2 tank. When I went in this direction, I did so because I had a local place that could refill both my 10lbs tanks and the paintball tanks. They went out of business so I'd need to go to two different places just to refill CO2. Rather than doing that I may buy the adaptor and a 5lbs tank to make things easier.

    One of the other changes I might make given the amount of evaporation I'm seeing now that we're in winter is taking an old Apex controller I have laying around, buying a temp and PH probe, and removing the Milwaukee controller and ink bird and repurposing them for the nano tank. That would allow me to use the Avast Marine auto top off unit I have that only works with the Apex and my nano would have a better level of control.
     
    I'm currently running a GLA Pro DS-1 on my larger tank and my nano has GLA's paintball regulator.

    I too don't rely on the bubble counter and just control my CO2 with a controller.

    The CO2 is going into a reactor, a 24" NilocG Griggs which is being driven by a 15L GLA canister filter.

    I actually don't have very many complaints with my current setup except I hate tubing with a passion lol. I was spoiled by neat, clean, and organized PVC plumbed setups and trying to incorporate PVC into my current setup would just be incorporating PVC just to do it rather than it providing value. It may just be that I haven't thought of the optimal way to plumb it yet, but the more time I think about it the more it seems like a waste of time.

    On my nano that is getting close to a tear down and rescape, I've been running the GLA paintball regulator, which looking at their website it just seems like their "Gro" regulator but without the adaptor for a CO2 tank. When I went in this direction, I did so because I had a local place that could refill both my 10lbs tanks and the paintball tanks. They went out of business so I'd need to go to two different places just to refill CO2. Rather than doing that I may buy the adaptor and a 5lbs tank to make things easier.

    One of the other changes I might make given the amount of evaporation I'm seeing now that we're in winter is taking an old Apex controller I have laying around, buying a temp and PH probe, and removing the Milwaukee controller and ink bird and repurposing them for the nano tank. That would allow me to use the Avast Marine auto top off unit I have that only works with the Apex and my nano would have a better level of control.
    I spent way too much time trying to make my tubing behave like PVC including even trying to color it. Never worked well.

    My first CO2 tank was a very early iteration of ADA's CO2 tiny canisters. It wasn't refillable but had a wonderful forest smell that you could actually smell when you put your nose about two inches from the surface. Convenient because I could just hide it behind the aquarium. Only lasted about a month and a half though before you needed to replace it. It got expensive fast!

    Lastly, I'm always in awe of those of you without an auto-top off. Especially those of you with big boy huge tanks. I realize it's not all that important in freshwater, but the manual top off would drive me nuts. Hats off to your dedication.
     
    Beautiful regulator, @Monk! Those Nupro needle valves are sweet!

    I really thought that CO2 regulators were going to become the thing to pimp out when they started to be built by people. I was thinking that someone can create a business just modding these things to make them so cool you'd want to show them off as much as your tank. Hasn't really happened. Shame because there's so much potential there.

    I think our hobby really needs a product that people are willing to spend the money on to get. With all due respect to the DIY aspects of the hobby that are also very cool. CO2 regulators and reactors are what I thought would be lucrative builds for someone.
     
    What do you all think about the whole single-stage or two-stage regulator thing? There was a time that the dread end-of-tank dump was a real issue for people.
    From what I have read, there are some with single stage regulators that have not experienced "end of tank dump".
    Prior to buying my current 2-stage regulator I did a fair amount of research and in the end, I felt the 2 stage was a safer option. By design, it cannot pass more pressure than what the regulator is set at. Quality needle valves will only flow a certain amount of gas. Between the 2 - I feel safer with regards to the livestock in the tanks.

    Now, with that said, last nite I was doing some minor maintenance on one of the tanks and noticed the pH meter was reading 7.1 which would indicate something went wrong with the co2 system. Checked power - not it. worked my way back to the CO2 tank and guess what - tank was at 0psi.
    Guess I really need to pay more attention to things, LOL

    "A pressure reduction regulator is the safest means to reduce cylinder pressure to a workable level for operating equipment and instruments. Single-stage gas pressure regulators reduce cylinder pressure to delivery or outlet pressure in one step. Two-stage gas pressure regulators reduce cylinder pressure in two steps.

    Since mechanical characteristics influence the performance of each regulator, the choice depends on requirements. The two most important variables are droop and supply pressure effect. Droop is the difference in delivery pressure between zero flow conditions and the regulator’s maximum flow capacity. Supply pressure effect is the variation in delivery pressure. Supply pressure decreases while the cylinder empties.

    Single-stage and two-stage regulators have different droop characteristics and respond differently to changing supply pressure. The single-stage regulator shows little droop with varying flow rates, but a relatively large supply pressure effect. Conversely, the two-stage regulator shows a considerable droop, but only small supply pressure effects. A single-stage regulator is recommended where inlet pressure does not vary greatly or where periodic readjustment of delivery pressure does not present a problem. A two-stage regulator, however, provides constant delivery pressure with no need for periodic readjustment."
    Single-Stage versus Two-Stage Regulators | Air Liquide South Africa.
     
    Last edited:
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    What do you all think about the whole single-stage or two-stage regulator thing? There was a time that the dread end-of-tank dump was a real issue for people.
    A few years ago this was a huge thing. It was a clear line. If you had a single stage you would get end of tank dump period. Looking forwards to today and technology has advanced quite a bit. Better internal parts and especially cheaper but good needle valves have narrowed that margin 20 fold.
    I see it all the time, people now days do not want to spend the money $250 and up on a good regulator for CO2.
     
    A few years ago this was a huge thing. It was a clear line. If you had a single stage you would get end of tank dump period. Looking forwards to today and technology has advanced quite a bit. Better internal parts and especially cheaper but good needle valves have narrowed that margin 20 fold.
    I see it all the time, people now days do not want to spend the money $250 and up on a good regulator for CO2.
    This is something I struggle with. Not just with regulators, although some would argue this is probably the most important equipment in your set up if you take into account the fact that it's controlling a pressurized CO2 projectile.

    I get that the hobby should be accessible to everyone at a reasonable cost. For sure. You should be able to set up CO2 without breaking the bank. However, there does need to be an upgrade path for those that want it. This path should be based on increased understanding and optional, but clear, improvements.

    Applying this to regulators, there should be an entry, mid-tier, and top tier. I think GLA has this methodology.
     
    I use a CO2 art dual stage on my 75 gallon. It flows to an in-line diffuser. I'm very happy with it so far. They have a massive warranty and the regulator feels like it was well built.
    On my smaller tank I use an FZone paintball regulator. I've been running it for about 6 months with no issues. The needle valve on it is just as easy to finely adjust as the one on my CO2 art regulator.
    Both tanks have pH indicators in the tank. Both solenoids run off of kasa wireless plugs.
    Almost forgot I have a manual system for passive diffusion that I use on a ten gallon Betta tank. Even though it doesn't add a massive amount of CO2, I did notice a marked difference in plant growth when I added it to the tank. Honestly, I am considering adding some sort of passive system to my endler breeding tanks because even though I said they would just be breeding tanks, I can't help myself and I scaped and planted the hell out of them.
    It's cool to see some of these more industrial looking regulators.
    If I could change anything about my setup, I would have gotten a regulator that I could add expansion blocks to.
    PXL_20221031_155729439.jpg PXL_20221219_015931051.jpg
     
    Hey @Trey - I love your signature. My wife is begrudgingly supportive as well. LOL

    You should make an intro thread. I think we'd all love to see your aquariums as most of us only dream of having more than one!

    How long is your paintball setup lasting? Can you explain the passive setup also?
     
    I know @Alanle is on the forum. I'd love everyone's thoughts on how upgradeable are CO2 regulators? Do you just sell the one you have and buy an upgrade or are the pieces upgradable?
    For the most part, all the "pieces" are upgradable. In my case, I changed out the gauges for slightly larger gauges with a more readable (usable) scale (still within applicable ranges). I actually have a local Swagelok store so changing / upgrading fittings is pretty easy - i.e. changed out some of the brass pieces for stainless (no, does not help plants grow). Also changed the solenoids and metering valves from what was originally sent.
    Basically some of the changes were to increase the precision of the CO2 delivery system (lot of technical input/discussions).
    The pic below gives a better idea of the cramped install, lol.
    IMG_1546.JPG
     
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