Do I need to use CO2 in my aquarium setup?
The answer is maybe and the answer could be the CarbonDoser® v2.0 CO2 Regulator. It all depends on what you’re trying to grow and whether you have a freshwater or saltwater aquarium. In saltwater aquariums, direct injection of CO2 into the tank can cause the pH to plummet resulting in a less than ideal environment for your tanks inhabitants, however, when used with a Calcium Reactor, you can reap the benefits of rock solid alkalinity and calcium levels while also adding trace elements to the habitat. Carbon Dioxide can substantially lower the pH of the water causing it to become more acidic. This in turn can melt reactor media and force it to add alkalinity and calcium at a steady, predictable level.
In freshwater planted aquariums, carbon dioxide is used to feed the plants. Like terrestrial plants, aquatic plants feed on fertilizers and CO2. With the proper amount of CO2 dissolved into the water, freshwater plants will rapidly convert it into oxygen and thrive. You’ll need a proper setup. We recommend our EXT5000 CO2 reactor for all external applications.
What is the CarbonDoser® v2.0 CO2 Regulator?
The CarbonDoser® is the most precise CO2 regulator in the market. By pairing a high quality CO2 regulator with an adjustable electronic solenoid, the amount of CO2 you inject into your reactor can be finely tuned for optimal performance. Since its creation, there have been several variations and options on how to set it up, but with the Version 2.0, it can now be used with any CO2 regulator on the market.
How does it work?
The CarbonDoser® is a remarkably simple, yet precise piece of equipment. We use high quality John Guest push-to-connect fittings on the input and output side of the doser. The input side is ⅛” CO2 resistant tubing that feeds into the electronic solenoid. The output side is ¼” CO2 resistant tubing. The solenoid is controlled by a 12v, region specific power supply that you choose. It can also be directly controlled by your aquarium controller’s 12v ports.
Once you’ve completed the setup of your CarbonDoser® Regulator, it’s very easy to dial in and adjust. If you seperate the CO2 injection process into two parts, tuning becomes a bit easier. The output pressure on your regulator determines HOW MUCH CO2 is injected each time the solenoid opens. You can also think about this as the SIZE of the bubble that will be put into your reactor. The second part of the adjustment is HOW OFTEN the solenoid will open and allow CO2 to be injected into the aquarium. The knob located on the front of the unit takes care of this. At a lower setting, the time between bubbles is reduced. The CarbonDoser® can inject up to 10 bubbles per second or be slowed down to only allow 1 bubble every 10 seconds. This gives the aquarist an unprecedented level of control for CO2 injection.
What benefits does it have over a traditional regulator and bubble counter?
Traditional CO2 regulators with bubble counters and needle valves can lose precision over time. Whether it be through wear and tear or substandard quality, eventually, the hobbyist must readjust either the output pressure of the regulator or the needle valve that is feeding the bubble counter. Hobbyists can come close to a consistent 1 bubble per second, but you’re relying on using a stop watch and your eyes to give an accurate reading. With the CarbonDoser® v2.0 CO2 Regulator, the electronics control the time between bubbles so the bubble count remains consistent as the CO2 is depleted in your tank.
Will the Carbon Doser work with my pH controller?
Absolutely! The CarbonDoser®’s power supply can be plugged into your pH controller’s control port. Once you determine the proper pH level for your aquarium or Calcium Reactor, the pH controller can turn off the CarbonDoser®’s remote box and stop all CO2 from being injected into the system. Once the pH level changes, the controller can energize the port and CO2 will again be allowed to be added to the system.
Will the CarbonDoser work with my Aquarium Controller?
Absolutely! This is our preferred method for using our CarbonDoser®. With a full aquarium controller such as the Neptune Apex of CoralVue HYDROS, you can fine tune your CO2 injection. In addition to functioning like a stand alone pH controller, a full aquarium controller can also add redundant shutoff solenoids and parameter logging to keep track of when CO2 was being added and when the pH of the aquarium or calcium reactor may have gone too low. In addition, most controllers can be setup with multiple pH probes, so you can monitor both the pH inside or immediately exiting the reactor as well as the pH of the display.
I have multiple tanks that require CO2. Can I use multiple CarbonDoser®s with one CO2 regulator?
It will require some sort of splitter block or manifold to send CO2 to each aquarium, but yes, you can absolutely have multiple CarbonDosers® being fed from a single CO2 regulator. Each CarbonDoser® can be controlled by a stand alone pH controller or full aquarium controller. It will take some adjustment to get the bubble size correct since you’re feeding multiple regulators, but you can overcome small bubble size by allowing the Carbon Doser to inject CO2 at a faster rate.
Do I have to use the CarbonDoser® regulator with the CarbonDoser® v2.0?
As we mentioned, the CarbonDoser® has seen a couple different iterations. The first version required using our CarbonDoser® regulator as it was sold as one unit. We realized that by offering a stand alone black box, aquarists that already had a bubble counter setup could also benefit from our CarbonDoser® technology. This prompted us to change how the CarbonDoser® was set up and led to Version 2.0. This has the same electronics as our version 1 doser, but in a sleeker, mountable case that looks great when mounted next to an aquarium controller.
Is there anything else that I’ll need to use my CarbonDoser® v2.0 CO2 Regulator?
You can certainly shoot from the hip and pray for good results by making small adjustments until the desired results are achieved, but we definitely recommend a few accessories.
Our precision check valve, which is included with each CarbonDoser® v2.0 CO2 Regulator must be used between the CarbonDoser® box and the reactor. This prevents any water from back siphoning into the precision electronics housed in the box.
A Calcium Reactor for saltwater aquariums is a must have once your stocking levels get higher and the demand for Calcium and Alkalinity become too great for regular water changes to keep up with. We recommend a setting of around 6-7psi to start with and adjusting the bubble count to achieve the correct pH level inside the reactor. Don’t ever add CO2 directly into a saltwater aquarium. This can cause the pH to drop to low for marine animals.
We recommend a CO2 reactor such as our EXT5000 for freshwater planted aquariums. CO2 diffusers can be used with some success, but you’ll end up wasting a lot of CO2 in the process. A true reactor will assure that all carbon dioxide is completely dissolved in the water and is readily available to the plants.
Finally, we feel that the best way to run our CarbonDoser® is with an aquarium controller. It will allow much more granular control over the injection process and can be configured to send notifications or alarms if something begins to malfunction or drift too far out of it’s set parameters.