Aquarium CO2 Systems The Easy Way
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How to Get Better Plant Growth in Your Aquarium
If you constantly need to re-stock your aquarium plants because they either die, become overgrown with algae or generally have poor health then you're not alone. It's a problem that *every* person owning an aquarium has faced at one time or another. But how is it that people are able to create scenes like this...
...and yet your plants seem to die a few weeks after you planted them? They must be doing something different, right? Correct! Let's look at exactly what they're doing and how you can achieve plant growth you never thought possible.
Your Aquarium is a Closed Ecosystem
The most important aspect you need to consider is that you are creating an artificial world for your plants and fish, encased within glass or plastic. What that means is the nutrients and elements that your plants need don't occur as they do in the wild, and just as you feed your fish to satisfy their needs, your plants also need to have their needs satisfied too.
No CO2 = No Photosynthesis = Dead Plants
'Photosynthesis' - we all learnt about it in school didn't we? No doubt you know this already, but just to refresh, here's a definition of Photosynthesis:
"Photosynthesis is a chemical process through which plants produce glucose and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water, using only light as a source of energy."
Essentially, what this means is without a source of Carbon Dioxide, your aquarium plants can't properly Photosynthesise to produce the sugars they need to survive. Or to put it another way: No CO2 = A Dead Plant.
But how do you give your aquarium plants CO2? Thankfully, it's not as difficult as you might think; just as you use an air pump to pump Oxygen into your aquarium, you can buy kits to pump Carbon Dioxide into your aquarium. We'll look into that more further on.
Nutrients & Elements
Any plant, whether aquatic or terrestrial, needs a variety of nutrients to grow and maintain a good state of health. In the wild these nutrients are provided by natural means but because an aquarium is a closed ecosystem those nutrients must be supplemented to maintain strong growth and good health. If those nutrients aren't supplemented the plant will eventually die, or certainly have a lacklustre appearance.
Plants require nutrients at different rates and volume, some are required at higher volumes, such as Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P), and Nitrogen (N) - these are known as 'Macronutrients'. Other nutrients are also required, but at lower amounts or concentrations. These are know as 'Micronutrients' and include elements such as Boron (B), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo) and Zinc (Zn).
But how do you go about sourcing those nutrients and elements? They sound more like things you'd find in a Science laboratory rather than a pet store. Well, just as with the CO2 aspect, we can help with this too.
How CO2 Supermarket Can Help You
Since 2010 we have been supplying the world's aquascapers with everything they need to create their own beautiful planted aquarium. For your convenience, we supply pre-bundled kits for diffusing CO2 in your aquarium water, and also complete aquarium fertiliser mixes that contain all of the required nutrients and elements to sustain vigorous plant growth in your aquarium.
Our Kits Comprise Of
- Easy CO2 Adapter (optional)
- Gas Regulator
- Bubble Counter
- CO2 Diffuser
- CO2 Drop Checker
- High-grade CO2-resistant tubing
Easy CO2 Adapter
One problem you may encounter while operating your CO2 system is actually sourcing the CO2 cylinders needed for your system. Our 'Kits with Adapters' range come with an adapter that enable you to use a range of easily accessible CO2 cylinders as your CO2 source. These include: SodaStream cylinders, Disposable Welding CO2 cylinders, or Paintball CO2 cylinders - simply select which type you'd like.
By using one of these adapters, you are ensuring that a supply of CO2 is always conveniently available from a high street shop. Our kits are customisable to enable you to select which adapter you would like to use.
If you know you can source a supply of CO2 cylinders and an adapter won't be needed, then you can choose from our 'Kits without Adapters' range.
A gas regulator is needed to 'regulate' the high pressure from the CO2 cylinder to a lower, usable pressure for use in the aquarium. Our range of regulators are purpose-built for aquarium use and very safe, easy to install, and use.
The regulators included in our kits come with an integrated solenoid magnetic valve, which enable use of a timer plug to turn the CO2 off when the lights in your aquarium are switched off and the plants are not Photosynthesising.
A bubble counter is a simple but effective piece of equipment that enables you to monitor the dosing of CO2 into your aquarium. By counting the number of bubbles flowing through the unit, you can adjust the flow controller on the regulator to achieve the 'bubble count' you require.
For example, for a 150L aquarium a bubble rate of 60 bubbles / minute is a good starting point.
The bubble counters that we sell also include a 'check valve' (aka 'one-way valve') that will prevent water from siphoning down the tubing from the aquarium and into your regulator, possibly causing damage.
Going back to our school days again, in Science lessons we learnt that the rate of a reaction can be increased by increasing the surface area of the reactant, e.g. turning a solid block into a powder. The same principle applies to diffusing the CO2 in your aquarium water; the more surface area the CO2 has in contact with the water, the better the level of diffusion you will achieve. The way to do that is produce very small bubbles of CO2, rather than one large bubble.
The part responsible for this is the 'CO2 Diffuser'. The diffuser emits very small bubbles of CO2. The smaller the bubble, the more surface area, and the better the level of diffusion achieved.
We stock a wide range of diffusers, but the type included in our kits are known as 'atomizer' diffusers. Atomizer diffusers, as the name suggests, produce incredibly small bubbles of CO2, and therefore achieve very high levels of diffusion.
CO2 Drop Checker
A drop checker is deployed within the aquarium and changes colour to reflect the level of CO2 in the aquarium water; yellow indicates too much CO2, blue indicates low CO2 levels, green indicates correct CO2 levels. This eliminates any guesswork as it enables the correct level of CO2 dosing for a specific aquarium. Adjustments can be made using the flow controller on the regulator, and using the bubble counter to monitor the dosing level.
The solution for the drop checker comes pre-mixed, so set-up and installation is done in just a couple of minutes.
To connect your pieces of equipment together you will need to use tubing. It is not recommended to use the same PVC or Silicon tubing used for an air pump because it will react with the CO2 and will eventually crack or become porous, resulting in a leak. Instead we supply high-grade CO2-resistant Polyurethane tubing, which will not react with CO2.
Our Commitment to Customer Service
We realise that installing a CO2 system might seem a bit daunting, but over the years we have helped thousands of people successfully install and operate their CO2 system without problem. All of our kits and equipment come with in-depth installation instructions, and we're always on-hand to provide assistance if needed.