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Re:CO2 Controllers

William Beckerman
I added the controllers for several reasons. I am a gadget freak. I 
personally don't like the idea of a continuous amount of CO2 going into the 
tank, although this is not necessarily bad. I am lazy in that I like the 
controller turning the flow on/off for me within the range I set on the 
controller and at the rate I set the regulator needle valve to. I prefer 
being able to open the cabinet door and get a digital pH reading, although 
you could do this with a monitor or test kit. The drawbacks to controllers, I 
suppose, are cost and the need to calibrate the probe and replace it 
periodically. The probes I use are $45-50 retail and usually last 12-24 
months. Calibration fluids are cheap. One of my controllers is the American 
Marine brand. This is very popular with reef keepers, and has operated 
flawlessley for me for about 2 years. My other is a Milwaukee Instruments pH 
controller, which works well, but I have only had it for 8 months. The 
American Marine unit has two receptacles on the back, and will turn a 
mechanism on above or below a set point. The Milwaukee Instruments unit is a 
single stage and turns on only above a set point. The American Marine 
controller sells for $180-$200 MO, and the Milwaukee Instruments sells for 
$130-140 MO, I believe. I would go with the American Marine unit if you want 
my personal preference. I like the way the unit is built over the Milwaukee 
brand, although this one works also. These units are the only ones I am 
familiar with. There are several others probably just as good or better.

You will probably get responses from members that have not/would not ever use 
a controller and think it is a waste of money. I think it is a matter of 
personal preference and budget. A fellow plant keeper turns his CO2 on and 
off with his lights and has excellent plant growth with this method.  Other 
posts to this list have stated the person keeps the CO2 on continuously sand 
has great results this way. How many ways have you seen described on this 
forum to inject CO2 in the tank? Reactors, sintered glass diffusers, 
Carbo-Plus, into the filter intake, into the filter outlet, thru the 
powerhead, etc.  I learned from my years keeping reef tanks that there are 
many different ways to achieve the same result. I think the same applies to 
how you get the CO2 to your plants.

Email me off list if I can be of any other help.