Getting serious with planted aquarium

With me switching my interest to cats, maybe there are some who is wondering what’s with my aquarium hobby? Well. It’s still my hobby. I’m not switching my hobby to cats, but instead I add my cats hobby alongside to my aquarium hobby.

In the past, I’ve been experimenting with injecting CO2 into planted aquarium, using a cheap method of fermentation (or is it?). It will be cheap is the yeast mixture is DIY (buying own sugar, yeast and soda bicarbonate). But if I’d like to use the off the counter refill, it easily costs RM13 per refill. And the CO2 supply is good for 3 weeks, but the bubble rate is really slow towards the end.

My bigger scale of planted aquarium project is still not yet started. I did blog about the equipment gathering before. Even the empty aquarium is there already, which Oyen use as his nap spot.

Well. It’s time to get started with this, but I rather start after I have gathered all the necessary items. So, my next thing that I gather is pressurize CO2 system. And as usual, the photo of my shopping list.

The first thing is this CO2 cylinder – 1 litre capacity. Well, can’t afford to get bigger cylinder, also if I get bigger, harder later to hide away the cylinder. The bad thing of not getting is, not matter what’s the size of your CO2 cylinder, refilling it will cost the same. It means, refilling 1L cylinder, will cost the same refilling 2L cylinder.

I did talk to the shopper how long the CO2 in the cylinder will last? Well, if I use 1 bubble per second, and only switch on during day time, it will last for 3 months. And refilling the cylinder will be RM20. So, compare that with RM13 per refill every 3 weeks previously (using fermentation).

Since the content of the cylinder is CO2 at a high pressure, there has to be a way that we can regulate the flow of CO2 gas. So, that’s when this CO2 pressure regulator comes in place. Just fit this to the CO2 cylinder, then you can control the flow of the outcoming CO2 gas.

But how to channel the CO2 gas from the cylinder into the aquarium? Well, the obvious answer is to use air hose, like this.

Since CO2 gas is colourless and odourless, how can I know how much the gas is coming out from the regulator that I fit earlier? We somehow has to make that visible. For that we need to use bubble counter.

How this works is, we will the container of bubble counter with water. So the CO2 will go into the bubble counter from one part, and out from the other part. From the flow, we can make the gas making bubble in the water. By looking at the rate of the bubble, there is a visual already on the rate of CO2 flow, and we can easily adjust the rate using the regulator. Neat huh!

Since this system works under a high pressure, when we shut the regultor valve, the pressure tend to be lower after that, and the water from aquarium will start to flow into the air host, and eventually reach the regulator. This will damage the regulator. So how to stop the water from flowing into regulator? Well, we use check valve for that.

Check valve only allow gas or liquid to travel in one direction only. The direction is embossed on the valve itself. So by fitting this valve before, the water cannot flow back into the air hose after the CO2 supply is shut off.

After all of the above process, finally, the CO2 gas will flow into aquarium. If you notice about air bubble in the water, eventually, it will travel to the water surface, and then escape from water. If the bubble is so big, the faster it travels to the surface.

And talking about CO2, the faster it travels to the survey, the lesser it dissolved in the water (which plant only use CO2 that is dissolved in the water for photosynthesis). And when the bubble of CO2 escape the water to the air, that is just a waste.

The idea is to make the CO2 bubble really tiny, so that it has more surface area and dissolve more in the water – avoid wastage. For this reason, CO2 diffuser needs to be used. The one that I’m using here is ceramic type. I will create a very fine CO2 bubble whent he gas escape into the water via the ceramic hole.

More photos and blog entry of this in action will come really soon. There are actually 2 more things in my wish list that I would like to have for my planted aquarium project. But these 2 things are really expensive, but for the sake of blogging, here are the 2 ultimate things that I wish to have (can do without it too, but if have, better)

Water Chiller
Plants don’t do well in a very low temperature, or very high temperature. If I were to setup the planted aquarium, and place it in my living room, the water temperature at my house will be around 29 to 31 degrees celcius. That’s too hot for the plant. The chiller will basically continously cool down the water to the temperature that we set. From my observation at aquarium shop that I visited, the water temperature is usually set at 25 degrees celcius.

Metal Halide lamp
The normal lamp used to light bulding, even though it looks so bright, it usually doesn’t emitting light with the spectrum that is good for plant. A good light aquarium should generate color temperature that is closely mimics natural midday sunlight. They do get much hotter to the touch than fluorescent tubes, they are putting out a lot more light at the same time. But this type of light can be expensive to purchase initially.


Technical Manager at one of the market researcher company in KL who does blogging on his free time. Love cats very much. Always fascinated with new technology (as well as spending money on it)

3 Responses

  1. Tremologuy says:

    Hallo bro.. I am very interested in starting a planted aquarium and stumbled on ur blog. Are you Malaysian? If you are would you mind exchanging a few emails with me so that I could get some guidance from you? I got a Takashi Amano book from Kino and I am hooked ever since! đŸ˜€

    you can contact me at:

    thanks again!

  2. razorzx66 says:

    do you had done you own diy termal cooler using processor cooler…it cheap anyway rm50.00 but i still don't know the efficiency….i'm using diy co2 for my plant for 1 week old, just trying the cheap way…anyway still havin problem to choose the diffuser…try to find ceramic airstone but people said it require high pressure where my co2 reactor don't have..

    • Imran says:

      nope. haven't tried that. just bought the fan for the aquarium, which is quite expensive. LOL. I heard that too, the ceramic one with the DIY co2 using yeast, the pressure is not high enought for the co2 to be difussed by the ceramic's small hole

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