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A Simple CO2 Solution for the Planted Aquarium

Brandon here. If you’re like me and want to get the best growth and color out of your planted aquarium, you’ll probably want to add CO2 to your tank at some point.  The addition of CO2, in conjunction with adequate lighting, will greatly increase the rate of growth of your aquatic plants and is almost a necessity for certain hard to keep species.  Here at That Fish Place we carry a number of supplies for dosing your aquarium with CO2.

Turbo CO2 Bio System from Red SeaThe first CO2 additive that I used on my planted 20 gallon was the Turbo CO2 Bio System by Red Sea.  This system is relatively inexpensive and fairly simple to use.  It works by attaching the reaction chamber to airline tubing which runs into a small powerhead.  A mixture of yeast and sugar inside the reaction chamber produces CO2 and usually lasts four or five weeks.  The downfall to this system is that the CO2 generated cannot be regulated and the duration of the mixture is usually inconsistant.

Once I upgraded to my 55 gallon aquarium, I decided I should upgrade my CO2 system as well.  To save money, I bought a 20 oz paintball tank instead of a larger tank similar to the ones we use in the fishroom.  To diffuse the CO2, I purchased a Maxi-Jet 400, attaching the airline to the venturi.  This actually diffuses the CO2 very well.  To regulate the CO2 coming out of the tank, I bought the CO2 regulator by TAAM.  The regulator comes with a needle valve for adjusting the amount of CO2 released into the tank and a solenoid so I can control when the unit operates by attaching it to the same timer as my lighting system.

Dual CO2 Regulator for Paintball Tanks from TAAM My plants have never been healthier since I began CO2 additions.  I have several different species that have grown almost too large and need constant pruning, such as my watersprite, bacopa, and bronze wendtii.  If you decide to run CO2 on your aquarium, be aware of several complications you may run into:

CO2 will displace oxygen in the water.  If you add too much, your fish may suffer.

A high degree of surface agitation will drive the CO2 out of the water and make the addition of CO2 worthless.

CO2 will also lower the pH of the water.  Be sure your carbonate hardness is within the proper range (3-8 dkH).

CO2 will increase the rate of growth of your plants when used with adequate aquarium lighting.  Fast growing plants will deplete trace minerals in the water (iron, potassium, calcium, manganese). Plants that are deficient in these minerals tend to have health issues and even die.  Be sure to test your water and dose with trace minerals accordingly for the best growth.

Hope this helps,

Until next time,



Until next time,



  1. avatar

    Great post! I have been growing aquatic plants for the last 10 years and tried all I could find for Co2.
    Pressurized Co2 is my favourite for sure but cost lot.

    If I may, I would like share a little trick. You talk about using power head to diffuse Co2. This work well but I found a better way. Simply hook your Co2 tube to the intake of a canister filter. It work much better than a power head and cost nothing! 😉

    Best regards,

  2. avatar

    Patrice mentioned running the Co2 through the Canister Filter. I have tried doing so, with seemingly adequate results, although wondered if the Co2 might be damaging the ongoing development of Nitrifying Bacteria within the Filter, which I believe are Aerobic. I have added a Venturi Pump for My Co2 input.

  3. avatar

    You can use a canister filter for a CO2 diffuser, as Patrice has pointed out, but it will not be very efficient. The CO2 is not going to mix well inside the canister, it will only get mixed well at the very end as the canister filters impeller forces water back up to the aquarium. I don’t think that you will see a vast improvement over using a simple CO2 diffuser, or the venturi method you are currently using.

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