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DIY Aquarium CO2 systems and why to add CO2 to aquariums

by Mick

CO2 systems are added to the aquariums to enhance lush plant growth where the plants use light energy to utilise the CO2 to promote their growth.

Several aquarists have success with their planted aquariums with installing these systems but for typical “Dutch Aquariums” these certainly play a major part in their success. How many times have we looked in magazines & wondered how on earth do they get them to look like that well hopefully this article will help to explain how they work & the choices available.

Basics of CO2 in the aquarium:

Plants need carbon for growth as well as adequate lighting but a balance has to be reached as lighting alone will not provide ideal conditions for the plants, hence the need to bubble in CO2 as this will provide the carbon required.

Too much CO2 also can cause problems as this will affect the pH of the water & this will then lead to a pH crash, also bear in mind excessive CO2 will produce carbonic acid (H2CO3) which is toxic, definitely not good so most systems have some form of regulator with them so you are always in control.

There are several systems on the market & if you are a bit of a DIY addict then one can be assembled with a few basic skills

Systems available:

Most CO2 systems will incorporate a pressurized CO2 bottle with a regulator valve which is normally set by a bubble count per minute & some of the top systems will also have a CO2/pH controller. This is an example of the kit you require with the pressurised bottle system.

Another option is the yeast method where yeast is mixed with sugar & through the fermentation process CO2 is produced & a bubble trap is added to the silicon piping to control the amount of bubbles released into the water. This version is produced by Nutrafin & I have personally used it myself in smaller tanks with great success.

DIY System;

I have made a system quite easily by using a 2ltr pop bottle using the yeast method, adding the yeast, sugar solution & attaching silicon airline attaching a cheap flow valve to control the amount being released into the system purely by counting the amount of bubbles per minute & adjusting accordingly (note; silicon tubing is used as the CO2 can erode standard airline)

So how does the yeast method work – simple?

The yeast feeds on the sugar & the by-product is CO2.

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