Bubble counters play an important role when you’re running a CO2 infused planted aquarium and for good reason too. It’s a great way of knowing how much CO2 you are pumping into your aquarium.Of course we still suggested drop checkers with bromo blue are the ultimate solution for understanding CO2 levels, but bubble counters still play an important role.
But like so many things these days you have lots of choice so which is the best?
The answer really depends on what you are running – are you pressurised or are you using yeast to produce your CO2? If you’re using the latter then you can probably stick with the bubble counter that came with your CO2 set but if you’re running pressurised then consider the Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve. Pressurised systems which operate with 2 bar pressure place a lot of strain on equipment which is manufactured to lower quality levels. Non return valves for example will easily pop off their CO2 tubing or just not functions as they should and can leak (normally when you’re not at home…). At the opposite end of the spectrum with quality equipment you know it will do the job which it should. The Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve falls into the category of quality. It allows CO2 tubing to be attached securely to the bubble counter and the screw ends make sure that there is no way that the tubing will pop off. So it offers piece of mind more than anything else. In addition, because the non return valve is immediately below the bubble counter there is less water lost over time. It’s common for water to migrate south with bubble counters but this isn’t possible with the Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve.
How to fill it up?
Filling this unit is simple and we recommend using normal tap water. All you need to do is undo the top piece and hold it under your tap until the clear section fills up (fill it all the way up). Once you’re done, keep it upright then attach your CO2 tubing onto the unit, then onto your CO2 diffuser.
The final benefit of the Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve is that you can attach CO2 tubing onto it without the risk of damage. Glass units can break easily especially under pressure but you won’t have this concern here. For the above reasons we have great confidence in recommending the Easy Aqua Bubble Counter & Check Valve and it can be used in any pressurised CO2 system without any problems.
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Knowing whether or not to use CO2 in a tank is a choice that many hobbyists go through. And the short answer to this is simple, it really depends how much time you want to spend on maintaining your tank. There is no doubt that in order to grow some plants successfully, you will need CO2. At the same time, there are many plants that do very well with limited or no CO2 input.
There are three types of CO2 available on the market – Pressurised, Fermented & Liquid.
Pressurised is the most stable type available to hobbyists, where gas is stored in a pressurised bottle. This is attached to a regulator which in turn has a bubble counter and diffuser attached to CO2 tubing. By using a pressurised system you are giving yourself ‘gas on tap’ so this means you have total control over CO2 input. This is very important because CO2 (when used properly) creates stability in a tank. Systems such as the D-D Complete CO2 set costs £127.99. You may also wish to consider a disposable bottle system (where the bottles are literally disposed of when they are empty) or a refillable bottle system (only suitable when you can actually get bottles refilled easily). Either way don’t be frightened of CO2 – it’s very easy and safe to use contrary to scare stories.
Fermented systems are a great introduction for hobbyists who are looking to try out CO2 for the very first time and costs from £25 and up. They provide a cheap set up specifically geared towards hobbyists looking for a cost effective solution for their planted aquarium.
The set up for all fermented systems (or DIY as it is sometimes known) is almost the same. Each brand of system uses a combination of yeast and sugar provided in sachets they are mixed together and then placed within a container which allows fermentation to occur and CO2 to be produced (see image above). CO2 tubing is attached to the container which has a diffuser attached to the end. This sits in the aquarium and the gas is forced out of the fermenting chamber and is diffused into the tank. We recommend this type of set up, but it does require cleaning (due to the fermentation process) and CO2 levels can drop off, and are changeable according to the room temperature (this effects the fermentation rate).
The last option which is the most simple is a liquid form of carbon. Available by manufacturers such as Seachem, Easy Life and the AE Design label, it offers a product that provides a liquid carbon source (roughly 25% strength of pressurised CO2). The liquid carbon is packaged in a bottle and dosage is very simple but must be done daily. Another major advantage is that it works as an algaecide – it is well known for ridding many types of algae in the aquarium such as hair algae.
It is quite common for liquid carbon to be used in conjunction with DIY CO2 or pressurised CO2 systems, almost like a complimentary product. Either way when you are growing plants, it is important to have at least one source of carbon in your aquarium so at a bare minimum use a liquid carbon.
Diffusers are always changing in shape or form and up until recently there were only one or two options for moving gas from bottle to tank. Well now there’s a 3rd and it comes in the form of an UP Inline CO2 Diffuser.
Designed to work with external filters only, you attach them inline so that they sit on the outflow pipe. This is a very simple and easy way to attach a diffuser – yes you have to turn your filter off and maybe drain some liquid etc etc but once it’s up and running it means that it’s another item which can be kept out of the tank. The Co2 tube coming from your regulator also attaches to the diffuser on the top left hand side (see image).
The more equipment that stays out of the tank, the more you can concentrate on what your aquascape actally looks like.
Have you ever wanted better CO2 diffusion into your planted aquarium but never really got the results from glass diffusers?
Well now is the time to change to our new Easy Aqua Super Mist Diffuser. They are quite incredible and we have never seen so many small CO2 bubbles from such a small area. It’s done by creating a surface that is so compact that pressurised CO2 literally has to be forced out through the tiny pores on it. This makes your gas a lot more economical when using a Super Mist Diffuser compared to a glass diffuser. You see the smaller the bubble, the larger the surface area (relatively). Therefore if you are creating thousands of tiny bubbles compared to hundreds of larger one’s, the smaller type win hands down.
This diffuser is only suitable for use with pressurised CO2 and you also need to have about 2 bar pressure. Anything less than that and it won’t cut the mustard.