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> 1) Do I need a needle valve? Or should I use one, whether specifically
> needed or not?
Yes you should and on any system. It is worth every penny for a number of
safety and sanity reasons.
> 2) Is the Eheim diffuser a good one? It seems so inexpensive compared to
> others. I'm not against saving a bit of money, but I just want to make sure
> I get the right stuff for the money.
Most of the problems with gas tank system can be traced to this device. Your
willing to spend on one part(the reg and tank) but want to go cheap on the
method of diffusion? I'll let you answer the rest of that.
> 3) What about CO2 resistant tubing? It's rather expensive, but is it worth
> it? Or would silicone tubing be good enough?
I use silicone. What's another 2-3 $ of your only using for one little tank
a few feet at most?
> 4) A bubble counter? Yes or no? Easier or not necessary?
Easier? Well it can be but so can holding the CO2 line under water to count
the bubbles. I measure pH/KH for CO2, not bubbles. They are good for rough
estimates. You can make one if you want pretty easy.
> 5) What about fittings? Though I suppose the guys at the place where we get
> the tank and regulator ought to be able to help with that, right?
For? The needle valve can easily be found by good reputable vendors(Ed at
Monolith Marine, Dave Gomberg, Robert at Aqua Botanica etc). The adapter for
direct reg screw in cost about a 1$ at the Local Hardware store. Look for
small brass fittings. Not too hard to find.
If you plan on adding more than one tank with CO2 consider adding multi
valve manifolds. Then cost of the CO2 per tank gets mighty cheap and needle
valves are the only simple solution. I think Robert carries them?