Just like terrestrial plants, aquatic plants need CO2, or carbon dioxide, for growth and function. Low level plants, like mosses, Java ferns, and even algae all need very little CO2. Usually, low CO2 utilizers are able to access the CO2 that fish and invertebrates release with respiration. In fact, many aquatic plants will survive without added CO2, but they won’t thrive.
CO2 injection in aquariums often brings out the best colors and fastest growth, especially when combined with appropriate light. Choosing a CO2 system can be confusing and complicated, and there are multiple parts that go into a CO2 injection system. One of the key pieces is a CO2 regulator, which allows you to control how much CO2 enters your aquarium and how quickly.
These reviews of the 7 best aquarium CO2 regulators are intended to help you navigate through these products without leaving you feeling overwhelmed. These products come in a range from basic to bells and whistles, so there’s something here for everyone’s comfort and skill level.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||FZONE Aquarium CO2 Regulator DC Solenoid||
|Best Value||VIVOSUN CO2 Regulator Emitter System||
|Premium Choice||FZONE Pro Series Aquarium Dual Stage CO2 Regulator||
|KIPA CO2 Regulator with Solenoid Valve||
|YaeTek CO2 Regulator Aquarium Mini||
The 7 Best Aquarium CO2 Regulators – Reviews 2021
1. FZONE Aquarium Co2 Regulator DC Solenoid– Best Overall
The FZONE Aquarium CO2 Regulator DC Solenoid is the best overall pick for aquarium CO2 regulators. It has an updated split-type DC solenoid, making it safer and more stable. It’s made of sturdy aluminum alloy.
This product has dual gauges that measure 1.6 inches in diameter, making them easy to read and use. It features high precision fine-tuning that allows for easy CO2 regulation for your aquarium. It includes a bubble counter and check valve, outlet pressure gauge, cylinder inner pressure gauge, and a precision fine-tuning valve that allows for a rate as slow as 1 bubble per 5 seconds. It also includes the tools you need for installation. It has a no-noise guarantee, so it shouldn’t produce distracting noise, and has a cool operating temperature.
The solenoid valve on this product does tend to continue to release CO2 for 1 hour or more after being shut off. This regulator does not include very clear instructions, so you may have to reach out to the manufacturer for clear setup instructions.
2. VIVOSUN CO2 Regulator Emitter System – Best Value
The best aquarium CO2 regulator for the money is the VIVOSUN CO2 Regulator Emitter System. It includes an industrial solenoid valve and is made with sturdy brass components.
This product has a single pressure gauge that is just over 1.5 inches in diameter and is built into the body of the regulator. It also has a flow meter that is adjusted by the simple turn of a knob. It includes a 3-prong plug, just over 16 feet of black plastic dispensing tubing, and two plastic washers. The solenoid is compatible with timers, allowing you to have a hands-off approach once set.
You may need to apply Teflon tape to the threads of the tubing before use to ensure there is a tight connection and CO2 does not leak. The CO2 bubble rate of this regulator is not super precise, so close monitoring is necessary.
3. FZONE Pro Series Aquarium Dual Stage CO2 Regulator– Premium Choice
The premium choice for aquarium CO2 regulators is the FZONE Pro Series Aquarium Dual Stage CO2 Regulator. This product uses a 12V DC solenoid, so it is stable and uses less energy than the old school AV solenoids. This product is made from sturdy aluminum.
This CO2 regulator features two manifold blocks that both come with high-precision needle valves that can be operated independently of each other. This allows you to use this regulator for one or two separate aquariums. It has an adjustable output pressure from 0-65 PSI, preventing CO2 dumps and other unexpected complications. This product has a built-in safety valve that will automatically open once PSI exceeds 100 and the CO2 output can be set as low as a bubble every 3 seconds. It includes high- and low-pressure gauges, a sealing ring, bubble counter, and easy-to-use needle valves and pressure adjusting knob.
CO2 may continue being released for upwards of an hour after regulator shut off and may only stop if the canister is shut off.
4. KIPA CO2 Regulator with Solenoid Valve
The KIPA CO2 Regulator with Solenoid Valve is a cost-effective product that can be purchased as the regulator with solenoid and hose, regulator, regulator and hose, or just the hose. This product is made from strong copper.
This product features a simple flow meter, easy to use pressure gauge, and AC solenoid. The most cost-effective way to purchase this product includes the regulator, solenoid, hose, and 3-prong plug. The flow meter can be set from 0-25 liters per minute. This product is easy to set up and does not require special tools for installation.
To ensure this regulator does not allow CO2 leaks, it should be installed with Teflon tape on the threads to ensure there is a secure connection. This product may continue releasing CO2 after being unplugged for some time.
5. YaeTek CO2 Regulator Aquarium Mini
The YaeTek CO2 Regulator Aquarium Mini is compatible with most brands of high-density CO2 injection tubing. It uses a 110V AC solenoid and is cost-effective.
This product is compatible with most CO2 atomizer and diffuser brands. YaeTek’s goal with this product was to create a CO2 regulator that conveniently works with the setup or products you already have. This CO2 regulator includes a bubble counter with a high-quality high pressure check valve, large dual pressure gauge, and installation tools. This diffuses fine CO2 bubbles, allowing for more diffuse distribution of CO2 into the water.
This product is cost-effective but is not built to last and will likely require a replacement within a year or so. This product will continue to release CO2 for some time after being unplugged.
6. AQUATEK CO2 Regulator
The AQUATEK CO2 Regulator has an industrial solenoid that stays cool to the touch. This product is made from durable brass and is made to last a long time.
This CO2 regulator is compatible with most brands of CO2 atomizers, diffusers, and high-density tubing. It includes a bubble counter, dual gauges, integrated check valve, and precision needle valve. The precision valve allows for fine-tuning the release of CO2 into your tank. One of the dual gauges shows the CO2 tank capacity while the other shows the output pressure.
This product will continue to release CO2 after shut off while CO2 bleeds from the tubing. The solenoid may become clogged with dirt particles from the CO2 tank, so it may need to be disassembled and cleaned with canned air from time to time. This regulator may need Teflon tape on the connection threads to prevent leaks. The needle valve is sensitive and may take practice and adjustments to set correctly.
7. CO2 Art Pro-Elite Series Dual Stage CO2 Regulator
The CO2 Art Pro-Elite Series Dual Stage CO2 Regulator has a 12V DC solenoid and can be used for tanks as small as 2 gallons and as large as 1000 gallons. It is made from stainless steel.
This CO2 regulator is made for safety and high-precision in mind. The dual stage construction ensures CO2 dumping at the end of a tank does not occur. It features high-precision needle valve, bubble counter, dual gauges, and extendable manifold block that allows you to add or remove blocks to suit your needs. One of the dual gauges shows tank volume and flow pressure while the other shows working pressure.
This product is the most premium-priced product of the reviewed items. The fine-tuning needle valve may take time to get set correctly and since it is high-precision, may be sensitive. This regulator may continue to release CO2 as it bleeds from the tubing after being turned off.
Did these reviews help you pick a product to get your CO2 injection system up and running? The best overall product is the FZONE Aquarium CO2 Regulator DC Solenoid for its user-friendly design and functionality. If you’re looking for a good deal, then the VIVOSUN CO2 Regulator Emitter System is the best value CO2 regulator. For a premium product, then the best pick is the FZONE Pro Series Aquarium Dual Stage CO2 Regulator, which carries efficient functionality and design at a premium price.
Use these reviews to help you pick a product that will work best for you and your aquatic plants. Regardless of what product you choose, make sure to read up on setting up, operating, and maintaining a CO2 injection system. This will keep you and your aquatic life safe and give you a more beautiful, planted tank than you may have thought possible.
Featured image credit: Solarisys, Shutterstock