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Howdy all!

I plan on setting up my 58 as a planted SA community in the future and am looking for some advice.

I have my Aquactinics TX5 38w T5 x5 light and some left over Eco Complete substrate. I'll throw sand on top of the EC along with some latertie.

I know I will need CO2 on it with the light I have but am unsure the best way to do this is.

My goal is to have some plants, nothing like those ADA ones, just a nice little setup.

Will DIY CO2 accomplish the goal or will I need a good setup?

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I think for a tank that size you will need CO2 from a bottle and diffused into the water column. I don't think that DIY CO2 wil get you the levels of co2 needed.

You can diffuse co2 into the water column by a few different ways, but I think the most efficient way is to use a co2 reactor. You should be able to search and pull up results on how to build one.

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I'm a big fan of automated or at least semi-automated CO2, instead of DIY. The reason is mainly consistency and stability as well as not messing with a nasty yeast sugar mixture. With the DIY CO2, it's difficult to properly regulate the amount of CO2 going into the tank. Each time you recharge a yeast or other non-pressurized system you typically get a spike in CO2 production. Output also varies a lot based in temperature and other non-controllable factors. Gets cold, you have no production, gets hot and your fish are gasping for air at the surface. With timed or PH controlled CO2, you never run into this problem unless you have a broken ph probe or too much CO2 being injected into the tank on a timer.

The good thing about Austin water is that it's pretty hard so it has really good CO2 buffering capacity. You can add a lot of CO2 accidentally without worrying about a ph crash. You can still asphyxiate your fish, but this is generally obvious as they'll all be at the surface. A ph crash will kill everything in a hurry.

As far as your setup, you're probably going to need both CO2 and a well controlled photo period. I would imagine that that intensity light for more than 6 - 8 hours a day will create a lot of algae regardless of how clean the tank is and how much CO2 is going in.

You can definitely give DIY CO2 a shot if you don't mind the maintenance. Take it slow as with any new experiment. I imagine you'll want to switch to an automated system fairly quick. I would also be conservative on the photo period. Probably start with 4 hours a day and work up from there. You'll most likely get some nasty algae as every new tank I've every started has its run of nasty algae. Also, keep a close eye on the ph in the morning or before the light is on. Plants will completely stop using CO2 at night and start consuming oxygen, so you can get some nasty ph swings and stressed fish.

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there are some co2 regulators that work on paintball cylinders, (i used one when i had my 16 gal planted tank). you can also use a glass diffuser (more esthetically pleasing)

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