Setting up a pressurized CO2 system


My plants have been looking pretty tattered lately. I've played around with various liquid supplement regimens using SeaChem's Flourish line but I've come to the conclusion that Flourish Excel just isn't providing enough carbon to allow the plants to keep up with the lighting I've provided.

So I bought myself a present!

The box was big enough that the lady at the post office had to get help to lift it up onto the counter for me to take:

Inside was a 10lb CO₂ canister:

And a regulator with built-in bubble counter:

And a very nice drop-checker with built-in reference:

And a diffuser:

And a Milwaukee pH controller:

Not pictured is 17 feet of CO₂-resistant tubing and fertilizers: two pounds of potassium nitrate (KNO₃), a half pound of monopotassium phosphate (KH₂PO₄), one pound of potassium sulfate (K₂SO₄), and a half pound of Plantex CSM+B.

All of this was purchased from, and I can't say enough about Orlando's customer service so far. If you ever need anything GLA sells, I couldn't recommend them more highly.

Anyway, this thread will serve as a work-in-progress documentation of my setup.
  • Thread Starter


Step 1: The Drop Checker

The first part of setting up my new CO₂ system was to put the drop checker in place.

I set it in place last night, and as expected, the indicator solution (the top reservoir) was blue this morning... indicating there is a less-than-optimal amount of CO₂ present.
  • Thread Starter


Unfortunately, I've been quite busy between work and school, and didn't get a chance to set all the equipment up as soon as I'd planned.

Step 2: pH Controller

I forgot to take pictures of configuring this, but the process was as follows:

- plug controller into outlet
- attach probe
- place probe in pH 7.0 calibration solution
- turn unit on
- wait for pH display to stabilize
- turn calibration dial until display reads 7.0
- power unit off
- rinse probe
- place probe into aquarium
- turn unit on
- plug regulator solenoid into switched outlet from pH controller

The purpose is to only dispense CO₂ when the pH is above a certain threshold.

Step 3: Check Valve

Keeps water from siphoning out of the tank through the CO₂ tubing.

Step 4: Attach Regulator

Bubble counter was filled 3/4ths with bubble counter solution, to give a visual indication of how fast the CO₂ is being provided. Note that the main pressure guage isn't functioning I'll contact GLA on Monday and see what Orlando says.

Step 5: Bubbles!

A shot of the CO₂ bubbles, and of my green spot algae collection
  • Thread Starter


A better explanation of what all these parts are for and how they work can be found at

There is also a nice video of a setup for those who like to see it in action, found at
  • Thread Starter


mathas said:
Note that the main pressure guage isn't functioning I'll contact GLA on Monday and see what Orlando says.
Well, that was a great experience!

I contacted GLA on Sunday evening... Orlando was very apologetic and issued me a return number immediately. I packaged it up, took it to the post office on Monday, and waited.

On Wednesday, Orlando emailed me to say he received it, but it was damaged during shipping. I was really quite upset with myself about that, because I had realized on my way home from the post office that the clerk didn't ask about insurance, and I forgot to bring it up.

Anyway, being the nice guy that he is, Orlando fixed the shipping damage and sent the regulator back to me on Thursday. It arrived today, and now the high pressure guage is working!

One interesting thing I learned was that my tap water would be perfect for African cichlids, if I ever had enough money for more tanks! While the regulator was in transit, I left my pH controller hooked up... my pH was reading around 7.9, and spiked up to 8.3(!!!) after I did a water change on Wednesday. That'll start dropping now that the CO₂ is back in place.

Anyway, long story short, GLA is a great company to do business with.

Most photos, videos and links are disabled if you are not logged in.

Log in or register to view

Top Bottom