Introduction: Plants need Carbon Dioxide to thrive. Without it, colours are dull, structure is lost and achieving your desired result becomes nearly impossible. Think back to grade school science where you may have encountered the scientific equation for photosynthesis:
6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6 + 6O2
We need carbon dioxide for this process to occur. In nature, plants get their Co2 in large quantities from the mud they grow in and the surrounding decaying matter. We also must consider that plant density in the wild is much lower than what we want to achieve in our aquariums. Therefore, additional Co2 injection is required to meet the additional demand for Co2. In saying this, there are many aquarists who may argue that they have kept healthy planted tanks before without Co2 injection.
Limited without Co2: While some aquarium plants can be kept without Co2 injection, options and availability becomes very limited. For example, ‘low-tech’ aquariums without Co2 injection are typically limited to green and brown plants like Anubias, Crypts, Java Fern and Vallisneria. But the addition of Co2 creates endless possibilities. Vibrant red Rotalas, compact carpeting growth, pinks, purples, blues and more.
How is it Done: Many aquarists shy away from Co2 injection on the belief that it is too complicated. The equipment required may look a little intimidating, but we assure you its not. After all, all of our regulators come with quick video guides on how to setup your Co2 system. Here is what you’ll need:
- Co2 Cylinder: In Australia, we recommend purchasing either a SodaStream cylinder or a larger cylinder from a brew shop. The SodaStream cylinder is perfect for beginners and smaller aquariums. They are usually around $30 and can be purchased from many places. See the SodaStream website. If you’re more committed to the idea of Co2 Injection, we would recommend purchasing a large bottle from a local brew shop. These are more cost effective in the long run.
- Co2 Regulator: A good quality regulator is essential for appropriately regulating and controlling how much Co2 is being injected into your aquarium. Cheaper regulators or regulators with poor quality needle valves will often result in unstable Co2 levels. This can risk the lives of your fish and cause algae. A Co2 regulator is certainly not a piece of equipment you want to cheap out on.
- Bubble Counter: All of our regulators come fitted with bubble counters to measure how much Co2 you are injecting into your aquarium. Some other brands may require a bubble counter to be purchased separately.
- Co2 Resistant Tubing: Co2 specific tubing should be used when connecting your regulator to your diffuser. Standard airline tubing can leak and waste Co2.
- Diffuser: The diffuser is what makes the Co2 useable by your aquarium plants. Without a diffuser, Co2 bubbles would rise straight to the top of your aquarium and be wasted. A good diffuser produces very fine Co2 bubbles so that they can be moved around the tank and used by the plants.
Conclusion: If you want to take your planted aquarium to the next level, Co2 injection is the way to go. Not only will be able to manipulate your aquarium plants into desired shapes and structures, you will also broaden the variety of plants you can grow. Take a look at one of our favourite tanks ever from @cookie.dou_scapes on Instagram.