DIY CO2 High Pressure Canister Tank

[Update May 2018]

After converting from diffusers to a CO2 reactor, I managed to get 22 days of CO2 running at 2 big bubbles per second running for 14 hours a day for my 20 gallon, and 23 days for my 11 gallon running at 1.5 big bubbles for 14 hours a day!

Check out my commercial CO2 reactor review here. When using a diffuser or atomizer, towards the end of the tank the pressure will drop below operating pressure for ceramic diffuser or atomizer. However, if you use a reactor, the minimum working pressure is low and you can actually get another 4 more days or more!
[Update March 2018]

I have since upgraded all my soda bottles DIY CO2 to the high pressure canister tanks!

High Tech Planted Tank Becomes Affordable

When I first saw this thing on Taobao, it just blew my mind away.

As a DIY CO2 planted tank owner, you will know the bane of low or inconsistent pressure produced by existing kits in the market. And most DIY CO2 setup will hardly last a week. Furthermore, DIY CO2 lacks the pressure to deploy atomizer diffuser which can produce really nice micro bubbles.

Well, this thing is a dream comes true (hopefully). Behold! The High Pressure DIY CO2 Canister Tank!

Basically, this canister tank is a high-pressure stainless steel tank capable of withstanding high pressure. But the recommended safety level is 25kg/cm2.

 

My Dwarf Hairgrass in a 60cm low profile tank.

 

The tank came with the below items:

  • a set of 6 sets of baking soda (200g) and citric acid powders (200g).
  • a bubble counter with built-in check valve.
  • airline tube with suction cup.
  • a base stand.
  • a small 300ml plastic measuring cup
  • a small funnel.

There are options for a electric solenoid, ceramic diffuser, co2 checker, etc. They will usually label them as “set meal A, set meal B, etc.”

Two of my Taobao shipping agents refused to purchase this item on my behalf. Only one shipping agent agreed to ship for me after a lengthy description of what the item was and what it does. And I had to discard the baking soda and citric acid powder because it will highly impede port clearance speed. (As of May 2017 all agents prohibit shipping of powder substance of any type.) Any powder that accompany with other items WILL be detained for inspection. So if I want, I had to ship the powder separately and had them declared separately.

Air freight is not possible due to international shipping regulation.

It took about 2 weeks by sea freight to reach me. And that must be the longest wait in my life. But when I got it, the feeling was tremendous.

Growing HC with DIY CO2 in high pressure canister.
After 2 months

To get things going, the setup is very fast and easy. Much faster than the Bottle A + Bottle B citric acid baking soda setup.

Step 1: Unscrew the regulator from the tank.

Step 2: Pour in 200g of baking soda.

Step 3: Pour in 200g of citric acid powder.

Step 4: Pour 300ml of water at a 45 degree angle.

Step 5: Screw back the regulator.

Immediately you could feel the tank turning cold! Cold enough to have condensation around the tank. The pressure gauge shot to 10kg/cm2 instantly. After a few hours I managed to get 20kg/cm2 of CO2 in the tank! Holly cow!

The screwing back of the regulator can sometimes be challenging especially when you can feel the pressure gushing out. One trick is to use ice instead of water. Measure 300 ml of water and pour them into small tray that makes small cubes. So the reaction will only start when the ice melts. This way you can take your own sweet time to screw the regulator back in place.

However, do note that if you use ice instead of water the pressure build up will take about 1 hour to reach 10kg/cm2, and no less than 4 hours to reach 20kg/cm2. This is because of the low temperature. When the canister return to normal room temperature is when the pressure will reach 20kg/cm2.

Immediately, I went out to purchase an atomizer and plug it it. IT WORKS! Micro fine bubbles oh yes! The regulating valve knob is also very smooth and precise. I can fine tune it to achieve 1 bubble per 4 seconds! And it held the rate true throughout the day.

Today is the 12th day of setting up the tank and it has about 7kg/cm2 of pressure left running about 1 bubble per second for 12 hours every day! I hope it can last another 12 days. That will be sweet!

When I changed from using an atomizer to a reactor to inject CO2, I managed to get 22 days of CO2 running at 2 big bubbles per second for 14 hours per day! This is because when using an atomizer, towards the end of the tank the pressure will drop below the minimum working pressure to power an atomizer. However, the pressure within the tank is still sufficient to power a reactor for another 4 days at least!

The damage? US$30 for the tank. Shipping was another US$20.

NOTE: There are at least 3 different types of tanks on TaoBao. D601 seems to be of a higher grade, and it has a normal or a strengthened version. Also, I came across one other brands that has a 4L version! If you have no access to TaoBao, there is a company selling on Aliexpress for US$105 with free shipping.

Good luck!

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Chi Siang Written by:

Hi! I am a Singaporean who used to work and live in Saigon for 6 years. I am married to my Vietnamese wife and we travel back to Saigon regularly. My years living amongst the Vietnamese and not amongst the expats community, gave me an unique insight into Vietnamese people, their culture, and their way of life.

21 Comments

  1. Francis Cheng
    September 22, 2017
    Reply

    Hmm wanted to get one of this tank. But can’t find any D601 that cost 30USD. Are you able to share the URL?

  2. Marc
    March 19, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Chi Siang,
    I am trying to buy this similar diy co2 tank from taobao. The problem is also the A & B powder are forbidden to be shipped. Can share with me how you finally get to ship over? And did you try using baking soda+vinegar on this new diy tank? Wonder if it is as effective.

    • March 19, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Marc

      Yeah, unfortunately Taobao as of last week or so stopped shipping the A+B ingredients to Singapore.

      I also tried using EzBuy, and even Peeka which helped me shipped on a few occasions.

      Right now you need to buy bulk citric acid from Poon Huat. They sell in 500g. I called them last week and they daid if you need more than 2 kg can let them know in advance so they can prepare.

      As for price wise, because it is food grade citric acid it will be slightly more expensive. If I recall correctly, they quoted me S$7 for 500g.

      As for baking soda you can get from any supermarket. About $2+ for 400g.

  3. Marc
    March 20, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks for your response. Was hesitating if i should still proceed to buy the diy tank from Taobao when Ezbuy mentioned they cannot ship any white powdery stuff, till i see your blog. 👍 I will try to get the ingredients locally. Btw just to understand further, the ingredients you purchased locally are as equally effective? I mean in term of what the pressure gauge indicates and how long the mix last. Cheers.

    • March 20, 2018
      Reply

      You’re welcome Marc. When I started out it seems like I am the only one doing this and not much people talks about it. It was a frustrating learning journey for me so I decided to write my experience about it and share it.

      The ingredients purchased locally actually are higher grades than those offered in Taobao. They are food grade citric acid powder and baking powder. They are more refined and more pure. I found those A+B ingredients offered in Taobao of inferior grade. The only draw were their prices. Much cheaper (if you order big bulk).

      As for the pressure, yes, I get 20kg/cm2 of pressure for a new tank. And it will slowly drop bit by bit over the course of 10~14 days depending on your rate. There is no end of tank dump. The only issue is when it hits around 5kg/cm2 near the end of the CO2 supply, the pressure will become inconsistent. You need release the CO2 and reduce the pressure first before unscrewing the top for a refill or otherwise the thing will give you a scary pop sound like opening a bottle of champagne!

      It last me 12 day easily running 1 BIG bubble (or about 2~3 smaller bubbles) per second 12 hr per day. I reckon the ingredient cost about SGD$4.50 per ingredient refill. So $0.38 per day. SGD$22.80 for 2 months of CO2 supply. The cost is quite close to Pressurised tank refill, but you save on traveling time to LFS for refill, and you also save on the hefty initial cost of buying the CO2 tank and regulator. With bulk purchase I reckon we can bring the cost down further. If we can bring the cost down to SGD$3 per ingredient refill, the running cost for 60 days should be around SGD$15.

  4. Marc
    March 20, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks Bro for your advices. Very clear and detail. Appreciate very much. 👍

  5. March 26, 2018
    Reply

    I just came back from Phoon Huat @ Toa Payoh.

    Bought citric acid powder and baking soda. It’s SGD$5.10 for 500g of citric acid powder and SGD$1.80 for 600g of baking soda.

    Total cost per refill SGD$2.64 for 10 days (or more). 60 days will be SGD$15.84!!!

  6. Vincent lau
    April 28, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Chi Siang, may i know whether the D701 is able to import to singapore.? I have try to perchase from ezbuy but they have reject to ship it.
    Even though i discard the citric & baking soda)
    Have i left out out any other infomation?
    Thanks for reading & replying, Vincent

    • April 28, 2018
      Reply

      Have you tried to buy it under sensitive shipment?

      You need to inform them that it is a empty canister for aquarium hobby.

      If not you can try to get it from Peeka!

      I recently heard of a lone ranger shipping ng agent who will ship anything. Let me see if I can find out his contact.

  7. Vincent lau
    April 28, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks for the reply.
    No, i have not buy it under sensitive shipment & i do not know how to do it.
    Do I need to inform the seller to declare the good is an empty canister for aquarium hobby?
    Thanks for reading.

    • May 1, 2018
      Reply

      I’m gonna send you an email on the contact who can help you bring it in.

  8. Han
    May 10, 2018
    Reply

    Hi, able to mail me the contact too. Seems to be hard to mail this huge tank over

    • May 11, 2018
      Reply

      Hey Han

      Just use Peeka. I am shipping an unit over right now. Shipping rate is only $12 by sea.

      You need to inform them that it is an empty tank and there’s no pressure in it. Tell them to discard the free baking soda and citric acid powder.

  9. SBM
    July 13, 2018
    Reply

    Hello , thanks ,
    Please tell me how long it will run with a glass-ceramic deffuser at 1-2bps.And another thing is if the released valve or solenoid clsosed every night , will the pressure rises or it stays fixed , or going down bit by bit?

    • July 13, 2018
      Reply

      Hi SBM

      I have not tried with a ceramic diffuser yet but I will assume it will be similar to a atomizer diffuser. I can get about 20 days with 1-2 big bubbles per second before it runs out.

      The pressure stays fixed when the solenoid closes. Pressure will drop as you use up the CO2 throughout the course so I recommend making small minute adjustment every now and then.

  10. SBM
    July 19, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks for reply
    Could you please provide Aliexpress link for D601?

  11. SBM
    August 12, 2018
    Reply

    Hi ,
    Have received today from Alliexpress , 2L size.
    Canister is bit damage , near the neck.
    Its working though , overnight 200g acid + 200g soda and 300ml water creates a 24kg/cm2 of pressure. Very high I think.
    Using ISTA UFO ceramic diffuser with it , working very well , fine micro bubble. @1bps
    Be informed that this is not the D601s or D701 model you have mentioned . I think these model are much better quality. I got a model named WYIN , kind of cheap build quality.
    Do not know why D601s and D701 are not available on Alliexpres
    Thanks , will update on run time later
    Best
    SBM

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