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CO2 Regulator/Valve control

Hi All!

We recently took the plunge into a pressurized CO2 setup for our 30
gal.  Following a friend's lead, we purchased our supplies from a local
welding shop.  We got a 5# cylinder and, based on the owner's
suggestion, a Victor flow meter/regulator which has a built in needle
valve.  By mail order we got the AB bubble counter and reactor.  Setup
was easy, however adjustment of the needle valve was very finicky.  Once
we got it to 1 bubble per 5 seconds a mere gaze was all it took to
change it.  We didn't think this was enough control.  We talked to
theowner of the welding shop and he was nice enough to exchange the
flowmeter for a standard Victor Regulator.  We then purchased the
Nupro-S metering valve which promised much finer control.

Setup was a little more difficult this time.  Based on what we read, we
started by setting the regulator to 30#.  We then tried to use the Nupro
valve to adjust the bubble count.  Perhaps it was our expectations, but
we were not  able to get the "precise" control we thought we should
have.  At 30# we got a barrage of bubbles even with the Nupro valve
closed all the way (we know it is not designed to close completely).  We
tried opening the Nupro valve and decreasing the regulator pressure (to
7-8#) until we had our original 1 bubble per 5 seconds, however it
didn't stay that way.  After an hour, the bubble count had decreased to
one bubble per 20+ seconds; if that.  The regulator seemed too
unstable.  To stabilize the regulator, we set the output pressure at
10#, but found we had to close the Nupro valve all the way in order to
get roughly 1 bubble per 2 seconds.  Problem is, these settings don't
allow us any adjustment with the Nupro valve other than to increase the
bubble count.  If we needed to lower the bubble count we would have to
lower the pressure on the regulator.  Catch 22 or what?

Does it sound as if we have everything set up correctly?  With a KH of
5, 1 bubble per 2 seconds seems to give us a daytime PH of about
6.8-7.0.  We have 2 Triton bulbs and a 10,000K for lighting and at night
we have been using an airstone to minimize PH swing.

We would like to have more control...   How much should we expect?    Is
more control even necessary?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.
As newbies to CO2 we would feel better if we knew we were on the right

Thanks in advance,

Carl and Lisa            8 )