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Re: Jeff

> How can I make the system I am using right now
> safe (without buying a whole new system)? Will a real-good needle valve
> help? Or would I still get a dump and blow up the needle valve in the
> process (as well as kill the fish)?

I have never heard of a needle valve blowing up or dumping ever. You can buy
a real good one if you wish MMM has several to pick and choose from. I'm
fine with the 19$ model and have used over 20 of them in different tanks.
Not 2 but 20.
Add two in a row if you feel better. They make $$ ones as well.
I sold one to friend (a real friend too) and he loves the thing. So have
other folks and stores.
The valve will leak rather than dump off the excess gas if it would break so
none would go into your tank.
My design on one of my CO2 reactors does this as well. It vents excesses
off. I don't think any other reactors do this. I saw a German company that
made the closest thing but it was more complex and had more junk inside, was
bigger, didn't vent/burp etc. Dennerale I think made it. Big green cannon:)
I also use the Dupla style S reactors but use different feeds and mine are a
little bigger and are about 120$ cheaper. They are more for the sump but you
can see if your CO2 is in a good range and they will dump and shut off in
large flow cases as well due to the feed set up. I made a hang on type as
well. I tell everyone to get a needle valve though:) /These can drop your pH
down to very low levels as well but not like the dumps with HP's. You can
regulate without knowing your pH to see if you have enough CO2 in there as
well(see below). 
> At this point, the tank is so far over its monthly budget that my wife is
> beyond comprehending my need to spend even more money to "get it right".

19$ if you want to have some peace. You may need an adapter that you can get
at Home Depot.

> Tom. You indicated a first option, but did not expand on it. Please do so.

Option one? Vents off excess CO2 if you have too much to the surface rather
than adding it to solution. It is 100% efficient to a point, similar to a
bell design (but is far move active so you can use it on much larger tanks
with less space) and a powerhead design combined with a burp valve to
prevent the gas from clogging the powerhead when the unit is "off" Gas can
still vent when "off" or "on". This allows you to use yeast as well since
you cannot turn "off" the yeast culture:) If the powerhead is not running
the gas will not be dissolved. If it goes to excess a venturi action will
grind up some of the excess and some will be dumped if more is added to the
system. I have used them for years and so have a few others. Powerheads are
simple and reliable. If your CO2 doesn't go ON that's better than going ON
too much don't you think?
It's nice since you don't need to measure your CO2 usage as you just look at
the thing and tell if it starts to dump the last hour or so of the lighting
period, you have about the right rate of CO2 being added at KH 4-6. This way
you get 100% dissolving power till the end when you reach a saturation point
and get gas build up & need to dump excess (about 11 of the 12 photoperoid
hours). You can add a solinoid to shut the gas flow off at night if you use
canned CO2 to save on gas if you want to as well. You can also use a
solinoid in reverse fashion to vent off the pressure of a yeast system as
well to stop and start the flow of CO2 into your tank also(this is not
needed with my reactors). Check out your reactors when you get near the end
of your light cycle. They tend to fill up with more gas right? In the start
of the light cycle they are mainly water and only a small bubble. I run mine
on my light timer. If it fills up too fast the level will drop down to the
burp hole and dump and it will also dump with the venturi out the bottom
till the resivior bubble gets small again. You can add too much if you
really try but it is hard to do to the point of fish kills.
They retail for about 19-20$ for the small ones. I am designing some that
are smaller even and hopefully perform the same with less.
It is really helpful if you use yeast. All the tanks on SFBAAPS gallery of
mine are yeast driven and have such reactors being used. I finally made the
jump to canned after 10 plus years of being a yeastie boy (at home, I have
used canned elsewhere for longer). All work with controllers if you have
them. Tons less work and easy to adjust and I don't worry for months about
changing or enough getting in there. They work equally as well on canned
Everything has a limit.
Getting a good reliable CO2 system is the key for most folks I think. Low
tech approaches are popular since CO2 is not added in the manner most folks
on the APD tend to use if at all. I love these set ups as well. Lighting is
not too bad really(A&H or T-8's) nor is a substrate(flourite or sand and
laterite). After that it's all about the nutrients...........

> Stepping down off of the soapbox now. Looking for nirvana, will settle for
> safety and reliability.

With that naked comment & this, it sounds like a bid for internet dating:)
You must be looking for a long term relationship:)
See what you have gotten yourself into:) the fish death was not enough:)
Tom Barr