Will CO2 Injection work for me?

azponderDecember 19, 2007

My plants look fine, but not like the drool over aquariums I see at my favorite pet store or online. To get the lush greens and abundant plants I'm told I need to use C02 Injection. I believe that I have all the rest of the conditions for good plant growth and that CO2 is my weak link in the chain. However, I think the filter system I have would make CO2 injection a waste of time.

Everything I have read about CO2 injection says to minimize surface agitation which will get rid of the CO2 you are putting in to the water. The problem is that I have a Marineland 30 gallon Eclipse tank (see link below). The filter is built in to the hood. The water is sucked up out of the water then sprayed across a filter pad which fills a resevoir which then spills on to a biowheel resevoir which fills and then spills out again on to two ramps which toss the water out. I get fine bubbles all over the top of the aquarium and a nice current throughout. Soooo....even if I put in CO2 I am thinking that my filter would defeat my endeavors.

What do you think? Below is a link to my aquarium as well as details about the amount of light, planting medium and fish.


Powerhead to mechanical and biological filter.

Water Quality:

We have haaard water in Arizona. But my PH is steady around 7.5


For light, they get 2 18w "Natural Daylight" Flourescent bulbs on them for 15hours a day on a timer and just a little through a window.


They are planted in Flourite substrate with small rock on top. I use under gravel fertilizer tabs monthly and a iron/potassium solution in the twice a month (it says to do it weekly but I got too much algae when I did).


I have aproximately 15 platys and 15 small neon tetras. Some ghost shrimp. 2 mystery snails and a Siamese Agae Fish.

Here is a link that might be useful: Click for link to my aquarium

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You're stripping all the CO2 out, with all of the surface agitation!
You might(?) be able to offset some of that with the addition of an injector, but you'd be better off to not strip it in the first place.
It'd be like cranking up the heat because the windows are open!
I think that many of these plug and play type tanks, are geared toward the 'traditional' hobiest of the last few generations.
Just turn the key and go!
At least for a short time!
You are after something better!

If you've went through the trouble of using flourite and are serious about a planted tank, it's a shame that you aren't able to with you're current setup.
I don't currently, but I have lived with very hard and, actually, brackish water.
So...I feel your pain!
I was down by Palm Springs and the water sucked!!

I use my naturally occuring local clay with a high laterite content as a base, with a deep layer of river sand as a top coat.
Minimal surface agitation.
I do have two semi-waterfalls, but they do more of a flow into, rather than actual falls.
That was intentional.
My other intention was to go as low-tech as I could and still be beautiful with built-in stability.
After flawlessly performing for many years, I'd say that it was successful!

Personally, I admire your understanding and desire, but with your current filtration...
Well, you'll need to change something.
You won't need such an intensive bio-filter once you have a well established plant filter.
If you have marginals, they'll pull a lot of their CO2 directly from the air.
So you might get some benefit from that, as well.
Sooo much of what you're told that you absolutely must have is intended to support the mega-billion dollar pet industry.
My fish don't ever get sick, I catch my own live food and I haven't bought new plants in many years.
If you do a good setup from the start, it takes care of it's self with little help or tinkering.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 2:28AM
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I agree with Scott. You can spend a fortune on fancy filters for a FW tank, but in truth, with the right substrate, very little filtration, good light and WATER CHANGES, you can establish a balanced aquarium that will support plants and fish in perfect harmony.

The term "balanced aquarium" comes from the old days, before power filters or even electricity to run air pumps. All aquarists had was substrate, plants, fish and water changes, kept in balance. But as long as they could keep their tanks in warm rooms with good natural light, they successfully kept and even bred tropical fish in them. The English Victorians, especially those with money, were famous for it.

We can still do it and with climate controlled homes and artificial lights, it's a heck of a lot easier for us than it was for them, even with full time gardeners to tend the woodburning stoves in their greenhouses.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 6:31PM
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I think you could still inject, but you will go through the CO2. Of course once you have the setup and tank, the CO2 is cheap! I spend about fifteen dollars every three to four months, with your setup it might be twice as much. Also, once you add CO2 your light will be the limiting factor. If you really want a high tech tank, might be best to start over.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 9:41PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Always find it interesting how complex setups become when we start "thinking" about it lol The proof of this is obvious when you get into keeping ponds via aquariums. Keeping plants in a pond is like 100 times easier .Same plants that gave you fits in a tank now become weeds lol
After all a tank of water in the house is exacly like a tank in the yard so why the big difference??
No pond keeper would ever dream of CO2 injections heating cables and on and on lol Of course ponders get into biofilters waterfalls ,substrates and on and on.
Have been in the wet hobbies for many years and the only things I've found essential is something to hold the water and light. Everything else is a luxury lol
i think that it's great that it's not particularly necessary to follow any particuklar method.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 5:00AM
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jkunkel(zone 7)

Sounds to me like you want to go high tech if you are are talking about CO2 injection, and really once you get beyond the initial cost of everything you need, it is not that expensive to keep up with.
With the lighting you have now (about one watt per gallon) there is a limit of the amount of plants you can grow. Mabey some swords, java ferns and moss. But if you are looking for stem plants and groundcovers like the fancy tanks you are talking about then you may need about 3 watts or more per gallon of water. So for a thirty gallon tank you probably need at least 90 watts of good plant lights. I have a 96 watt Coralife (GOOD Brand!!) strip light on mine, and I think I paid $115 for it. Now keep in mind that the quality of these lights reduces over time, and after about 6 months you will probably need to replace the bulbs. The bulbs are not as expensive as the cost of the "whole" light. Good light is way more important than CO2, but when you get into the bright light, your plants will be trying to grow, and won't be able to with out decent amount of Co2, and fertilizers.
As far as your filter, you will probably need a different one, and no airstones or bubble curtains either! They defeat the purpose of CO2 injection. Canister filters are the best, or internal ones. As far as the hood, if you can take the one off that is on there, you could get one of the flat glass ones, and they are not very expensive. I think I paid $20 for one for my 40 gallon. Then set you light on top of it! EASY! Other than that It sounds like you have the other stuff you need. Like I said the initial cost of getting what you need (especially the lights!) is high but keeping up with it isn't that expensive. In the end better quality equipment tends to be more efficient, and lasts longer.
For the Co2 you will need a regulator, probably a 5 lb cylinder bottle, carbon dioxide resistant tubing, check valve, bubble counter diffuser. I get my cylinder filled at the local oxygen supply place for about $15 and it lasts about 5 months. If you look on ebay sometimes they have good deals on all this stuff you need. I don't think you need a new setup, just some modifications, thats all. If you decide to go through with it im sure you will be happy with the results. Sometimes your plants grow so fast, that you can divide them and take your extras to the Local fish store and trade them for fish food, or a store credit. Plus you'll have happy plants and fish! Good luck! -Jessica

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 9:37AM
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Would it be worth the time to try a DIY CO2 injector? One that runs on fermentation? I am thinking that if it works a little even with my current filter then it would be worth a few bucks for the cost of the reactor and the tubing. I figure given my filter, it would be really hard to add too much CO2...though some recent water quality readings have me worried about my water quality.

Here are my readings using a "Jungle Quick Dip Pond Test".

Nitrates 50 (in the safe area but worrisome because I rarely get any reading)

Nitrites 0-.5

Total Hardness 300 Very Hard (not off the chart but still as high)

Total Alkalinity 20-40 Low

pH 6.5 Low

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 12:54AM
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DIY CO2 sounds like a pain in the butt. I have never tried it, and have heard some good results. I have had luck with a low watt tank adding Flourish which is an organic carbon. It has been my experince that if you start messing to much with an establihed tank, you will regreat it:-) I have a 125 gallon high teck tank that I was cutting a kitchen trash bag worth of growth on a weekly basis. This went on for more then a year till I got tired of all the work. So i cut down the light and CO2 to slow it down. I then cought a bad case of hair and mat algae! It took me three months to get it back the way it was. A planted tank is a little like an engine. Runs best at a certain load and RPM. You must find this balance for you tank. CO2 is a waste with one watt per gallon.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 10:18AM
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The home made injectors are ok. They would be great if you get a regulator for it. My problem was the first week after putting sugar in, you get tons of CO2, then it slows down to a nice level.
I used this method for about 3 months. Then quit for a while and started it back up. I think it shocked the system (decreased the pH) and killed back some of my plants.
Anyway. If you go the DIY route, goto a welding store and get a pressure gague and a regulator.
My regular computer is down, but there is a site out there that takes you step by step on installing a regulator into a DIY system. The guy claims it will run you about $50 for the DIY.
I cant find the article. In short, buy a cheap bottle, cheap two sided regulator and a fine tuning valve. Then when you run the CO2 into the tank, send it in the intake to your hang-on filter, the turbine with disolve the bubbles.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 6:06PM
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Just to add another item to this that is important and that is PH! I agree with the post about using the right substrate and regular water changes but keep in mind muni water is usualy better for drinking and cooking than it is for aquariums planted or otherwise. The PH will most likely elevate in my case (8.3) unless you control it with CO2 infusion. As for the comments about agitation, I can see that effect in my setup (need to try to cut back and see what happens) but I can keep the PH at 7.2 with the CO2 which makes both the fish and the plants happy! :-)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 11:40AM
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