Last Updated on February 20, 2020 by Anne Thynne
Best CO2 diffusers will deliver the right level of carbon dioxide (CO2) and promote vibrant and healthy aquatic plants underwater.
While all CO2 diffusers accomplish the same thing, there are subtleties involved. All of a sudden, this simple tool will prove to be a matter of concern.
And, aquarists could find it very confusing to install and use.
To that end, I’ve written this article – to simplify, guide, and help to choose the right tool.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Our Top 3 Picks | Side by Side Comparison
- What’s a CO2 diffuser and why would you need it?
- How to Choose the Best CO2 Diffuser for Your Aquarium?
- Top 6 Best Aquarium CO2 Diffusers Reviewed
- Final Words & Recommendation
Our Top 3 Picks | Side by Side Comparison
What’s a CO2 diffuser and why would you need it?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential to plants just as Oxygen (O2) is to us. Regardless of where you live, without Carbon dioxide, the growth of plants is impossible.
This is self-evident in aquariums and fish tanks having live aquatic plants. Yes, to promote healthy and vibrant habitat in your aquarium, adequate supply of CO2 is compulsory.
It’s common knowledge that plants need Carbon dioxide (CO2). The atmosphere and the health of living in aquariums and fish tanks crucially depend on plant life.
Aquatic plants take in Carbon dissolved in water. The depletion of carbon supply will affect plant life in your aquarium. Consequently, plant leaves may turn yellow. Eventually, plants will shed leaves away.
Furthermore, the growth of plants in fish tanks is inversely related to the growth of algae. You need a thriving habitat for plants, so that they could deprive algae of nutrients.
But, if Carbon dioxide is lacking in this environment, then plant life will diminish. This, in turn, will lead to algae taking over the aquarium.
This is dangerous!
You may argue that there’s already Carbon dioxide available in freshwater aquariums. Yes, there are, but plants need this gas in an amount greater than what is available in the tank.
What’s available is very little compared to tropical streams and lakes. To that end, it’s important that you supply Carbon dioxide for your plants – in this case through a diffuser.
A CO2 diffuser can make ecosystem in the aquarium vibrant and livable. Diffusers supply CO2 gas in aquariums through a porous surface.
This piece of equipment manages and delivers the right amount of carbon dioxide. Inevitably, with the right levels of Carbon dioxide delivered, plants life will thrive and help maintain an environment beneficial to fish.
How to Choose the Best CO2 Diffuser for Your Aquarium?
In addition to delivering the right level of Carbon dioxide, the right CO2 diffuser should handle the size of your tank. So, purchasing a CO2 diffuser can get complicated and confusing at times. In such situations, this section could be immensely helpful. Here, I will discuss the factors you need to consider before purchasing the right CO2 diffuser.
The type of CO2 system used for the diffuser plays a significant role in CO2 delivery. Basically, CO2 system varies are distinguishable between compressed gas and bio CO2.
The latter is not effective in terms of delivering a high pressure. Besides, the relatively low pressures they create fluctuate greatly. For a CO2 diffuser to work optimally, the pressure needs to be steady and higher. For this reason, bio CO2 may not be an excellent choice in most cases.
How much water your aquarium can hold certainly determine what CO2 components you will choose. When you’re going through the recommendations discussed below, you need to take the gross volume of your tank into consideration.
A rule of thumb is that the larger your aquarium is, the larger should the diffuser and its components be. You may have to install more than one diffuser, considering the gross volume of your aquarium.
In such cases, one diffuser could be installed on the left and the other on the right. With both the diffusers delivering Carbon dioxide, constant and stable distribution of CO2 can be achieved in larger volume tanks.
Glass, Steel, or Acrylics
While most of the CO2 diffusers are available in stainless steel or glass variant, you can also find acrylic glass or plastic diffusers. Whatever option you eventually go for should be in line with filter inlets or outlets.
Filter inlets could be made of glass or stainless steel in your tank. Therefore, it makes sense using CO2 tech made from the same material. However, glass and stainless steel variants usually come with exceptionally fine-pored membranes.
Acrylic glass and plastic ones too come with such membranes. But, the membranes are not as fine as those of glass and stainless steel variants. Acrylic glass models are becoming popular due to highly appealing design, whereas plastic ones may irk some.
Top 6 Best Aquarium CO2 Diffusers Reviewed
While the benefits of a CO2 diffuser are many, the challenge is to pick the right piece diffuser for your aquarium. CO2 diffusers are as abundant as they come. While they are plenty to choose from, finding the best one is quite rare. To put your quest for a CO2 diffuser to a stop, I’ve compiled some of the best CO2 diffusers available.
Here they are!
1. Intense Atomic Inline CO2 Atomizer
- PLEASE READ: If you do not know what size you need, please contact me prior to purchasing. May take up to 24 hours before fine mist is released.
- Fits 1/2" inside diameter tubing - If you have questions regarding fitment please contact me prior to purchasing
- Inline design for use with canister filters, Super fine and high rate of CO2 diffusion | Total 100% dissolution in water
- This diffuser requires 35-40psi to work correctly and should be used with co2 tubing only
- Simple install, mounted below or directly to aquarium, this easy to use, discreet CO2 diffuser provides professional quality and value. It mounts inline with canister filters with an inner diameter of 12mm (1/2”) and outer diameter of 16mm (5/8”). It produces an ultra fine mist with an average bubble size of less than 0.1mm in diameter.
Starts our round up of the best aquarium CO2 diffusers is the Intense Atomic CO2 atomizer. This diffuser is designed to deliver CO2 to your aquarium effortlessly and effectively. Highly recommended for those looking for something that makes micro-fine bubbles, the atomizer ultimately promotes vibrant habitat in your aquarium.
- Inline Atomizer: The simple yet effective design of the Intense Atomizer allows you to place it inside a larger tube. Unless probed, this unit will remain inconspicuous to you. The inline of this atomizer is connected to the air flow pipes in a way that dissolves Carbon dioxide 100% in your tank.
- Micro-Bubbles: Microbubbles facilitate quick dissolution of CO2. As a result, plants and underwater habitat remain in a vibrant ecosystem. The Intense CO2 diffuser really is an efficient piece of device that perfectly covers all the areas in your aquascape – no big bubbles while doing so, may I remind you.
- Installation: It’s fairly easy to set up this device. Worth mentioning is that you can set up install this device in positions convenient to you. For aquarists new to this type of device, the Intense CO2 diffuser comes with complete instructions, ancillaries required for a full set-up.
- No-leak design
- Most efficient among all types of diffusers
- Diffuses CO2 in all areas
- Easy to install and set up
- Canister filter is required to setup this diffuser
- Plastic made
2. Atomic+ Precision CO2 Atomizer
The high-performance Atomic+ Atomizer ensures an extremely fine atomization of the CO2. For 100% dissolution of CO2 in the water, you need an efficient diffuser system. The Atomic+ Atomizer, in particular, offers higher dissolution rates for optimum plant absorption and less waste.
- Fantastic Dissolution: Widely recognized as the finest CO2 atomizer diffuser, the Atomic+ Precision does exactly what it’s built to do. One of the most highly rated diffusers on the market, this model aims to provide novice and expert aquascapers with the best experience. For pressurized CO2 injection, this model definitely deserves your consideration.
- Diffusion: The porous diffuser successfully ticks all the boxes when it comes to high performance. It may have designed like a regular glass CO2 diffuser, but its higher CO2 dissolution rates make it suitable for advanced planted tanks.
- Ease of Use: Simply use the CO2 tubing to connect CO2 bottle regulator with the atomizer and squeeze the safety nut for this unit to work its magic. Safety nuts are located on all the connections, so that hoses don’t slip accidentally.
- Suitable for all tank sizes
- Reliable and compact design
- Guarantees ultra-fine bubbles
- Optimal and equal distribution of CO2
- Noise-free: no twittering, splashing, or humming
- Sometimes gets clogged with algae
3. Pollen Glass CO2 Diffuser
- Efficient CO2 atomisation through ceramic membrane.
- Improve the growth and health of your plants with sufficient CO2 supply.
- 1.5 inch diameter, designed for tanks between 30 to 50 us gallons.
- U-shape connecting tube can avoid blockage of CO2 flow.
- Package includes: 1x pollen CO2 diffuser, 1x glass u-shape tube, 2x suction cup.
Coming in a traditional design, the Pollen Glass CO2 Diffuser has a ceramic diffuser with a larger surface area. It creates a spectacular view of small bubbles as plants absorb what they need to grow. Gets the job done perfectly while looking impressive – what else could you expect from a CO2 diffuser?
- U-Shape Connection: I honestly couldn’t think of any other ingenious way to mount a diffuser to a tank. But, with a U-Shape connecting tube, anyone who never installed a diffuser will also find installation of this unit extremely easy! Place the unit wherever you want to install it. You don’t need to stick or transfer it to the sides – one place will rule the tank.
- Extensively Versatile: The Pollen Glass CO2 diffuser comes in 2 sizes. Available in up to 2 inches, this unit effectively covers aquariums between 30-75 gallons. So, it should be an ideal choice for the average fish tank out there.
- Build Quality: Totally unobtrusive, the bowl-shaped Pollen diffuser has a glass body, so seamless view of underwater beauty is assured. You have super ceramic membrane, which offers efficient CO2 atomization.
- Ease to set up
- Large surface to volume ratio
- Efficient CO2 atomization
- No CO2 flow control valve
4. JARDLI Pollen Glass CO2 Diffuser
- Built in bubble counter
- Visually very appealing
- Efficient CO2 atomisation through ceramic membrane
- Improve the growth and health of your plants with sufficient CO2 supply
- 0.8 inch / 2cm diameter, designed for tanks below 20 US gallons
We’ve picked JARDI Pollen Diffuser as one of the best in our list for a number of reasons. To sum things up, it gets the job done and blends into your tank unobtrusively. Not only does this unit look good on your aquarium, it also delivers CO2 evenly around the tank.
- Tiny Bubbles: There’s no chance of generating big bubbles or covering small areas with this highly efficient CO2 diffuser. It keeps things discreet and generates very tiny bubbles that are highly undetectable as well! The porous ceramic membrane of the JARDLI formulates tiny micro-bubbles from gas. The number of bubbles is relatively higher due to the large surface area.
- Build Quality: The ceramic membrane of JARDLI is of high-quality and very effective. What will surprise you is the unobtrusive glass, which is as crystal clear as you can imagine. It’s a small diffuser, so it won’t be compatible with large tanks. To make things work, you’re going to need 4/6 mm tubing for CO2. These components reflect quality build all across the board.
- Generates an abundance of micro-bubbles
- One of the most affordable options
- High-quality ceramic membrane
- Effective CO2 injection
- Ease of use
- Not suitable for tanks above 20 gallons capacity
5. Yagote CO2 Glass Aquarium Supply Accessories
- FUNCTION: This CO2 diffuser can create rich CO2 to provide aquarium plants with the carbon dioxide they need and ensure the nutrition and health of hydrophytes. The CO2 diffuser will supply aquarium plants a friendly living environment.
- HIGH QUALITY & HIGH PERFORMANCE: The ceramic diffuser disc of this co2 diffuser has atomic pores on its surface, which can produce fine bubbles that rise slowly and ensure efficient diffusion of carbon dioxide in the aquarium. And the co2 diffuser is made of high quality glass materials, so it can not be easily broken or damaged.
- PRACTICAL AND CONVENIENT. With the suction cup(included), it is easy to install and operate the co2 diffuser and can fix on the aquarium firmly. You can also adjust the position easily. The glass reactor is compatible with pressurized tanks that between 15 - 50 gal (60L - 200L)。
- DELICATE DESIGN: This co2 diffuser has high transparency. The fine, see-through glass is blended in the environment of aquarium, which can create a sense of harmony and unity. What’s more, the cylindrical shape and smooth lines contribute to slowing down water speed to help dissolve CO2 effectively.
- PACKAGE AND SERVICE: 1 x Glass 3 Spiro Co2 Diffuser, 1 x Suction Cup. NOTE: The product belongs to fragile product. We try our best to avoid the breakage. Yagote package used EPE material to prevent the product from breaking. If there is breakage when you receive it, please be careful to avoid being scratched. Please feel free to contact us at any time if you received defective product, we can send you a new co2 diffuser or refund your money immediately.
Making the best use of atomic pores, the Yagote CO2 Glass Diffuser generates tiny bubbles, which then nicely dissolve into the tank. Stepping dissolution of CO2 up a notch is the cylindrical shape and smooth. Solid build, ceramic diffuser, quick absorption – the Yagote CO2 has got you covered all around.
- Thorough Dissolution: For atomization, this unit supplies pressurized CO2 through a finely pored ceramic membrane. The end result is fine bubbles that rise slowly and get dissolved into the water quickly. Combination of smooth lines and cylindrical shape diffuses CO2 throughout the water.
- Build Quality: This model is made of high-quality glass that smoothly blends with your tank and its décor. Fantastic glass materials reinforce the brand’s reputation. Durability of this unit makes it very reliable.
- Heavy-duty glass construction
- Thorough dissolution
- Leak-free operation
- Quiet operation
- Easy set-up
- Only suitable for small tanks
6. Fibst CO2 Diffuser for Aquarium
- This CO2 diffuser can generate all-round bubbles, superior to similar products on the market that can only produce partial bubbles.
- Made of 304 stainless steel,this is not only a CO2 diffuser but also a work of art,simple and elegant.
- Special note: This product needs 7.5PSI/0.5MPa air pressure to generate bubbles.Turn the cup counterclockwise and you can remove the ceramic sheet for cleaning.
- With stainless steel tube of 5mm diameter, the kit is easy to install and not as fragile as glass.
- What You Get: 1 x stainless steel CO2 diffuser, 1 x stainless steel fixture, 6-month warranty for ceramic sheet, 24-month warranty for other parts and friendly customer service.
Fibst CO2 Diffuser is a little different than the others we reviewed here because it comes with solid stainless steel build. This not only reinforces durability, but also boasts a mirror-like finish. Also, the U-shaped hanger makes it really effortless to install.
- Durable: Stainless steel doesn’t corrode or rust. The Fibst CO2 has a stainless steel build that will stand the test of time in your aquarium. Most diffusers are made of glass. But, this exceptional diffuser takes durability to the next level.
- Aesthetics: In addition to being durable, the Fibst adds a unique aesthetic feature to your aquarium. Other diffusers usually produce partial bubbles. But, this one produces fine, round bubbles that are also amazing to look at.
- Usability: Cleaning this diffuser is a breeze. Simply twist the stainless steel cup to uncover the ceramic sheet, then clean up. Installation is fairly easy as well. Furthermore, CO2 diffuser comes with 6 months warranty for the ceramic sheet and 24 months for other accessories.
- Solid build
- Dazzling finish
- Comes in two sizes
- U-shaped connection
- Ceramic disc for micro-bubbles
- Should have a flow control valve
Final Words & Recommendation
The best aquarium CO2 diffusers can supply the right amount of CO2 to aquarium and promotes growth of plants and healthy ecosystem thereby. The recommendations in this article are up to the task.
As for my top pick, though I recommend all the units reviewed here, I will single out one CO2 diffuser, which is Intense Atomic Inline CO2 Atomizer. Inline atomizers are the most efficient CO2 diffuser out there in the market. So it will reduce your CO2 consumption rate, help to grow lush colors and save cost at the same time.