How did I get from my low-tech 20 gallons aquarium…
to high-tech? You can say, by adding pressurized CO2 to it…so not only CO2 is making your tank high tech, but also a few more factors. In the end of this post I think you should have a bigger picture of what the beginner high-tech planted is. After 2 1/2 months from setting it my low-tech planted tank looked like this:
I added one plant Limnophilia Aromatica but it wasn’t designed for this aquarium. At this time I started reading really serious stuff and being interested in The International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC). I was thinking in this way: ‘If it’s true what they say that the plants growth may be even x10 times faster with co2, then having it I’m saving x10 times more time in getting experience of keeping aquatic plants.
Step with adding CO2 was for me too complicated and expensive at this time, so I decided to look around on Craigslist and gather some additional information about it. I wanted to buy a cheap co2 bottle and cheap regulator, and the rest made DIY. Every video ‘how to make…’ this and that you can easily find on youtube. I dismissed idea of making DIY co2 system from plastic bottles and piece of airline tubing, even when I knew that I can get decent results having this and it’s a low price thing, but I studied strategic management and in long term I know that it wouldn’t be enough for me.
Also DIY co2 isn’t that clean, and stability isn’t that good because pressure is changing and it doesn’t last that long, so you have to put additional time into it, and believe me or not after few months you will think – what can I do to spend on it as less time as I need – kinda way.
The right choice
I decided to buy a new co2 tank from the local company. I found out that those tanks are legalized only for few years, and also for a safety reason I chose a new one 5# bottle filled with co2 for $79 from a local store in Chicago. Now the most important and expensive thing, good regulator. This thing is freaking expensive! Spending over $100 for something which works good and it’s more professional is mandatory (if you know how to do similar quality co2 set-up for cheaper in long time usage please send me an e-mail or comment).
This bottle had to be enough for my 20 gallons for a 6 months without refill. I chose Milwaukee regulator even after reading those all bad comments and reviews about it, just because a trusted person in my local fish store told me that they use it and they recommend it because it works good. They even told me a simple way how to split the same system for 2 and even if you want 3 tanks spending only $6 on it.
Milwaukee regulator $130 + 5# (pounds) bottle with co2 $89 + $7 + tubing around $250 with tax
Fertilizers for planted aquarium
I was still using fundamental pack level 1 from seachem plus seachem potassium every other day at this moment. Finnex planted + was set on 24/7 program and it worked good for me. Every week around 50% water change cleaning the glass and every 2 weeks, while water change, I was vacuuming the top layer of the substrate.
Co2 was set to 1 and later on 1.5 bubbles per second. It worked well for me. With my canister filter 220gph my 20 gallon aquarium with too many fish inside was perfectly clean. I didn’t experience any problems with it later. Except off the mistake with over fertilizing and not enough water changes on the beginning ->Algae bloom. I had too start trimming plants much more often.
This was the final look little before I decided to transition this tank to low tech in order to be able to do water changes every 2 weeks: