The Best CO2 System for Planted Aquariums – Top 5 Compared

Aquarium plants are important in a tank set-up not only for aesthetic purposes, but also for the respiration of your fish species, regulating pH level, and acting as a biological filter. Since plants need carbon dioxide to photosynthesize, it is important to regulate their carbon dioxide intake – enough to make them thrive, but not too much to kill the fish and promote the growth of algae.

Getting a CO2 regulator would help much in providing enough levels of carbon dioxides in your aquarium. But not every CO2 regulator has the same features as others, so you need to choose which unit would work best for you. This article features all the essential things you need to know about CO2 regulators, the reasons why you need to buy one, and several choices of regulators you can choose from.

Reasons for Buying a CO2 Regulator

As its name suggests, this device helps keep aquarium plants healthy by regulating the Carbon Dioxide it takes in and in aiding the ways through which it photosynthesis. It has to be understood that while plants naturally get CO2 from external substrates like soil and air, these substrates are not present, or very minimal, inside of the aquarium.

Fish inside the aquarium also exhale CO2 for plants, but these are not enough to make the plants thrive, so a best CO2 system for planted aquariums would be necessary as well. We know the mutual relationship and interaction between plants and fish, making CO2 regulator even necessary for their survival.

To appreciate the essence of a CO2 regulator, it is then important to examine what would happen when the carbon dioxide level is not regulated properly. Here are some of the effects when the carbon dioxide level drops:

  • Plants’ growth may be stunted, and stems and leaves would turn pale.
  • Lime deposits would be evident on plants’ leaves.
  • Dissolving of carbon dioxide would make it turn into carbonic acid in the water. But not having enough CO2 would mean having increased pH level. When this happens, both fish and plant would become more vulnerable to diseases.
  • A decrease of CO2 level would encourage the growth of algae that would probably lead to issues like ammonia poisoning.

Things to Consider in Buying a CO2 regulator

Choosing a CO2 regulator would mean knowing your aquarium set-up since your regulator would depend largely on several factors involving your tank. These are the following factors:

  • Tank volume
  • Amount and types of plants available in the aquarium
  • Amount of light your plants are exposed to
  • The number of fish inside the tank
  • The amount of movement of the water

Determining the CO2 level is also important to make sure that it is regulated. To do this, you would need a drop checker. The reaction of the solution contained in your drop checker would change depending on the amount of CO2 that leaks to eat. When it turns blue, it indicates that there is not enough amount of CO2. Green indicates enough level of CO2. Yellow tells you there is too much CO2 being dispensed.

Here are other factors that are important to consider when you’re purchasing your CO2 regulator:

Complete CO2 Kit.

You could either make this manually by creating a yeast-based system or purchase a complete CO2 system. For the first option, which is cheaper, you would need water, yeast, and sugar for your do-it-yourself version. Putting this in a sealed container would combine the ingredients that would bubble in the tank. While this may be an efficient and cheaper way of improvising a CO2 system, it would take a lot of effort in your part.

You might also want to purchase a complete CO2 system. This usually comes as a CO2 cylinder which usually stores liquified CO2 in high pressure. You could choose different sizes of these cylinders: from half a liter to 10 liters. Make sure that the system you purchase matches with your aquarium tank. You don’t want it to be too small, as it would make you get more CO2 frequently. Purchasing a very large one would also affect the aesthetic of your aquarium.

Your CO2 regulator is part of the whole CO2 system. The regulator allows you to identify the pressure of the CO2 output that you desire using a gauge pressure indicator. Adjusting the pressure, then, is one of the important factors you need to think about. The right pressure should be adjusted easily and you should not have to adjust it all the time.

Durability

It is important to examine the durability of your unit. You need to know how long-lasting it is and if it does not easily break or malfunction. The best way to check is to read several reviews regarding the product. Consider reviews as well about the customer service and if the unit comes with any warranty.

Complementary Parts

You also need to identify if the regulator unit comes with any other parts that may be important in the effectivity of its performance. It should come with a needle valve. This is what allows you to regulate CO2 flow.

Bubble counters also usually come along with the regulator. What this does is to count the CO2 bubbles that go into your aquarium. Aside from this, regulators may also come with diffusers. Diffusers break larger bubbles to make them smaller. This way, they are more efficiently spread throughout the tank water. Some diffusers break bubbles to make them completely dissolve in water.

One important part is the solenoid valve. Solenoid valves could either allow or stop gas flow. Other units feature timers, which could be beneficial so that it would automatically shut down carbon dioxide supply at night. These are some of the parts that you need to check and if your unit has all these parts, they could be very effective in keeping your plants alive and healthy.

Five Best CO2 Regulators for You

Since you already know the benefits of having a CO2 regulator and the factors to consider in buying one, here are several choices of CO2 regulators that you can choose from:

MOD Complete CO2 Regulator

This CO2 regulator is made out of high-quality stainless steel that could assure its durability. This is designed to give precise measures of CO2 that could weigh from 150-2000 PSI. To make sure that your plants are healthy and thriving, you would need to inject the appropriate amount of CO2 during an appropriate time. Because of the inbuilt precision that this unit has, you can be assured of its ability to fine-tune CO2 measures, making vital adjustments to make sure that CO2 is properly regulated.

This CO2 regulator is made out of high-quality stainless steel that could assure its durability. This is designed to give precise measures of CO2 that could weigh from 150-2000 PSI. To make sure that your plants are healthy and thriving, you would need to inject the appropriate amount of CO2 during an appropriate time. Because of the inbuilt precision that this unit has, you can be assured of its ability to fine-tune CO2 measures, making vital adjustments to make sure that CO2 is properly regulated.

What makes the product interesting is the dual gauge display that would allow you to read it more easily. This is important as reading the settings is essential to making sure that they are always in the right place.

This system is compatible with different high-density brands of tubing that would allow you to easily and quickly inject your fish tank. Its versatility is also exhibited by its compatibility with different diffuser and atomizer brands.

A regulator is made out of high-quality stainless steel that could assure its durability. This is designed to give precise measures of CO2 that could weigh from 150-2000 PSI. To make sure that your plants are healthy and thriving, you would need to inject the appropriate amount of CO2 during an appropriate time. Because of the inbuilt precision that this unit has, you can be assured of its ability to fine-tune CO2 measures, making vital adjustments to make sure that CO2 is properly regulated.

What makes the product interesting is the dual gauge display that would allow you to read it more easily. This is important as reading the settings is essential to making sure that they are always in the right place.

This system is compatible with different high-density brands of tubing that would allow you to easily and quickly inject your fish tank. Its versatility is also exhibited by its compatibility with different diffuser and atomizer brands.

  • Durable and versatile
  • Simple setup guide
  • Dual gauge display
  • Solenoid works very well
  • Still needs small packs of washers
  • Nylon discs leak sometimes

VIVOSUN Hydroponics CO2 Regulator

The brass construction of this regulator makes it durable and reliable in making sure that CO2 levels are carefully measured. Its high-pressure gauge is from 0 to 4000 PSI, with a flowmeter of 0 to 15 scfh.

This unit comes with flow gauge, precision regulator, and solenoid valve. Aside from this, VIVOSUN Hydroponics CO2 Regulator also features a five-meter plastic dispensing tube and a plug that is 3-prong.

To make this function more effectively, it needs a timer that could be a digital wall, repeat cycle, or you could also buy a CO2 monitor unit if you desire to activate the regulator at particular time intervals.

  • Comes with different essential parts
  • Durable because of its brass construction
  • Carefully measures CO2 level
  • Would require Teflon tapes to prevent leaking
  • There are issues about its adjustment knobs.

DoubleSun Hydroponics Aquarium CO2 Regulator

This easy-to-adjust CO2 regulator has a decompress pressure gate and produces CO2 output that is accurate and stable. Designed to be durable and long-lasting, it is made up of high-quality brass materials. It could deliver CO2 in pressures from 150 PSI to 2,000 PSI, depending on what is best suited for your tank.

You don’t need to worry about its compatibility with different tubing since this regulator is flexible and compatible with most tubing brands. This regulator could also work really well with most brands and types of atomizers and diffusers.

Inlet pressure and output pressure will be shown using the dual gauge display. This can show you the working pressure as well as the tank pressure very accurately. Also, to have the best thriving conditions for your plants, this regulator allows to quickly increase plant metabolic rate.

This product comes with a helpful user manual, a tightening tool or a wrench, and o-rings to help you install it more easily.

  • Comes with useful complementary parts and tools
  • Easy to install
  • Works with most tubing, diffuser, and atomizer brands
  • Solenoid switch screwed loosely in some products
  • Gauges are small and sometimes difficult to read

S.T. International Aquarium 2-Gauge Professional CO2 Regulator

The features of this regulator are designed for easy use, installation, and reading. Its decomposition pressure gauge is easy to adjust and could provide accurate and stable carbon dioxide output. This regulator is compatible with disposable cartridges in case the connector is removed. Along with its solenoid magnetic valve, the regulator is effective and is very energy-efficient. It has a quiet operation and does not produce too much heat.

It can be used universally since it has the most utilized voltage of 110v and 220v. It has also been noted by some customers that adjusting the emission of bubbles is relatively easier. Also, this comes with a two-year warranty.

  • No leaking
  • Durable
  • Easy to adjust
  • Two-year warranty
  • Reading of pressure may be difficult because of the gauge color
  • No solenoid indicator light

AQUATEK CO2 Regulator Mini

This unit may be connected to a paintball CO2 tank, requiring no adapter or assembly. Its solenoid design allows for effective CO2 regulation. For the fine release of CO2, the unit features a precision needle valve. This product comes with a bubble counter that has an integrated check valve. Its flexibility is made evident by its compatibility with most brands of diffusers and atomizers.

This regulator may be used with CO2 gas lines of sizes ¼ inches or 3/16 inches. It has a pressure gauge of 1,500 PSI as maximum, and reduced pressure gauge of 200 PSI. Because this requires 110 or 220 volts, it can be used universally by most.

Because of its compact and relatively smaller design, this regulator is made for smaller aquarium set-ups. It has two gauge displays – with the right one measuring the output working pressure and the left one measuring tank capacity. However, paintball CO2 tank does not come along with the regulator, so it must be purchased separately.

  • Very affordable price
  • Solenoid Valve
  • Small and could fit the average size tank
  • Convenient bubble counter
  • Needle valve difficult to adjust
  • Could not cater to all sizes of paintball

Conclusion

There are several factors that you need to consider in deciding what CO2 regulator to buy. Of course, you would want to go for that which is affordable but at the same time could work effectively and could last longer. The five of the best regulators that are featured here come with different components and varying performances. The next step now is to identify the type of aquarium that you have and to decide which among the given options would work best for you.

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