ISTA Max Mix CO2 Reactor Review


I’ve recently been getting a lot more into my aquarium hobby and as a part of that journey I have been experimenting with CO2 injection. The general consensus on aquarium CO2 is that CO2 reactors are probably the best way to get CO2 into the aquarium and frankly that makes sense.

One of the other very popular methods is by using a ceramic diffuser in the aquarium that basically just produces bubbles like an air stone, but really really tiny bubbles. These work great, but you can be pretty sure that some of those bubbles (most in my experience) will make it to the surface of the water and escape into the atmosphere where they are essentially wasted.

Reactors on the other hand are plumbed into your filtration system and are designed to create a container from which no CO2 bubbles can escape, thus forcing them to stick around until they are fully dissolved. This means no wasted CO2 – Great right?

The question is, how do you implement one on the cheap? I was looking into building my own DIY one and stumbled across the ISTA Max Mix CO2 reactor on Amazon. It cost 20 quid so I decided to give it a go.

The Review


I see a lot of reviews of the ISTA Max Mix CO2 reactor that totally dismiss it as crap and frankly I can imagine how that happens – anything that leaks and dumps water all over your floor is going to quickly draw your ire. However I think that most of these reviewers don’t take this thing for what it is – a cheap mass produced product – and as such don’t give it the initial preparation and care that it needs so badly.

So in summary, yes this thing is worth 20 quid, but only if you are prepared to invest a little time and effort into taking the steps I outlined in my review video.

2 Comments on “ISTA Max Mix CO2 Reactor Review”

  1. I like your approach, and share your hobby.
    I went the slightly more expensive route, using soda machine tubes, adapters, a solenoid and some cheap regulator from china. It works great as it is and i can set up a nice planted tank with it, but still, i worry because the build quality is not really that great, not solid metal, and so I worry that if it falls over or gets banged by something, it might just let all the gas out all at once and send off some lethal projectiles while at it.

    Seeing your efforts, i am thinking that maybe i should set that one up in the basement and do something like this in the living room instead.

    Thanks for some great posts!

    (came here via hackaday and the solenoid post.)

    • Thanks 🙂
      The solenoid was for use in this system.

      I understand your trepidation around pressurised canisters… I wouldn’t want one flying around my living room either!


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