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If you already have a full set of scuba gear aside from a tank, you’ll know the hassle of calling a dive shop for reservation, picking them up and returning them back after the dive.
In this guide, we’ll reveal the best scuba tanks on the market and cover some things to think about before you buy a scuba tank.
Having your own scuba tank gives you the liberty to focus and fully enjoy your diving adventures without worrying or spending time coordinating, picking up, and sending back scuba tanks. With your own scuba tank, all you need to do is just have it air filled.
Considered as a mainstay in the compressed gas industry, Catalina is one of the bestselling brands in the scuba tank category. This scuba tank is made from aluminum and is commonly used as a primary tank.
Catalina aluminum tanks use a K Pro Valve which is one of the highest flow cylinder valves available in the market. The valve is convertible from yoke to DIN courtesy from its easy to remove 200 bar DIN insert which now allows you to use regulators with DIN 1st stage.
Catalina Aluminum tanks that are used as primary tanks come in two sizes: the 100ft3 (12.9L) or the 80ft3 (10.2L). While the 100ft3 (12.9L) is heavier than the 80ft3 (10.2L), both sizes are positively buoyant when empty.
The XS Scuba Faber HP steel tank is a highly versatile tank with many features that could help your diving adventures easy and comfortable. It has a pro valve that can easily be converted on the type of 1st stage regulator you are using. It has an easy grip knob with a soft rubber that makes every turn smooth even if you are wearing gloves. The knob also has a set of colored rings that indicates whether the tank is turned on or off. When you see the red ring, it means that the tank is off while green means it is turned on.
Being a steel tank, it will stay negatively buoyant during the entire dive. When full, it has a negative buoyant weight from -3.65 to to -4.11 kilograms (-8.05 to -9.08 pounds) and -0.79 to +0.66 kg (-1.74 to +1.45 pounds) when empty. This scuba tank comes with a cylinder boot that protects the tank bottom and assists you during BCD mounting.
The XS Faber High Pressure Steel Tank is available in different volume capacities from 80ft3 (10.2L), 100ft3 (12.9L), 117ft3 (15L), 120ft3 (15.3L) and 133ft3 (17L).
Since 1998, Luxfer has been producing high quality cylinders that has become one of the big names in the scuba tank category. One of their bestselling cylinders is the Luxfer 80 cubic feet aluminum tank where you can see this in almost every dive shop. It is made from 6061-T6 which is a proprietary formula of corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy.
Same with other luxfer scuba diving tanks, its 80 cubic feet version uses a pro valve that is pre-designed for use with yoke type regulators, but can be converted to be used with DIN type 1st stages.
With a working pressure of 3,000 psi (207 bar), the Luxfer 80 cubic feet aluminum tank weighs 14.3 kilograms (31.5 pounds). While this tank is negatively buoyant when full, it becomes positively buoyant when empty. This means that this tank will float when all the internal gas is consumed. This tank is also nitrox ready up to 23.5% oxygen mix.
If you are looking for a scuba tank designed for pool or training use, then you may look at the Catalina 63 cubic feet aluminum tank. Same with other Catalina cylinders, this tank uses a K Pro Valve which is one of the valves that has the highest flow rate.
The Catalina 63 cubic feet aluminum tank has a working pressure of 3,000 psi (207 bar) and only weighs 12.2 kilograms (26.9 pounds). If you think this is still heavy for you, then you may look at its 53 cubic feet version where it only weighs 11.4 kilograms (25.1 pounds). While this tank is negatively buoyant when full, it starts to become positively buoyant when its gas content reaches 500 psi (50 bar).
Designed as a back-up cylinder, Catalina pony bottles are small and compact. In cases of an out of air or low on air situation, this tank contains enough air allowing you for a safe ascent towards the surface.
Designed to be attached at the side of the main tank or any configuration that suits your training or certification, the Catalina pony bottle is a stand alone tank that needs its own 1st stage reg, 2nd stage reg and an SPG. Compared to your main tank, this pony bottle does not contain much air and is only used in cases of a low on air or an out of air situation.
The Catalina pony bottles come in different sizes where you can choose from 40ft3 (5.1L), 30ft3 (3.8L), 19ft3 (2.4L), 13ft3 (1.6L) and 6ft3 (0.8L).
Things to Consider when Choosing the Best Scuba Tank
At a glance, scuba tanks may look the same and you may think your choices are few. When you look further into tank selection, they can vary depending on your needs.
Here are some factors to consider in selecting the right scuba tank for you.
Valve: DIN or Yoke
All scuba tanks are sealed with a tank valve. There are two types of valves: Yoke valve and DIN valve.
Before, yoke valves were mainly used in the United States while DIN valves were the mainstay of its European counterparts. But now because of the availability of either a valve adapter or a 1st stage regulator adapter, you can find both types all around the world. Both valve types use an o-ring to provide a tight seal from the tank valve to the first stage regulator.
Material: Steel or Aluminum
If you started diving in the 70’s or 80s, then you have probably dived with a steel tank attached to your BCD. But as material innovation in diving equipment evolved, aluminum tanks now dominate the scuba tank market. But this doesn’t mean that steel tanks are obsolete.
Steel tanks still exist, especially for those who want the tank to act as a complement to lead weights–steel tanks are negatively buoyant during the entire dive. Meanwhile aluminum tanks slowly become positively buoyant as the air inside is consumed.
Scuba tanks come in different sizes and they are not differentiated according to small, medium, or large. Scuba tank sizes are expressed in volume or their capacity to hold compressed gas like air. The unit used is either in cubic feet (imperial) or in liters (metric).
Generally, the higher the volume, the greater the amount of compressed gas it contains. The standard scuba tank you see in dive shops are the 80ft3 or 10.2L. But having your own scuba tank allows you to choose higher volume capacity like 120ft3 or 15.3L. You can also equip yourself with back-up scuba tanks with a lower volume capacity, like pony bottles.
How to Care for a Scuba Tank
It’s important to follow safety practices when handling high pressure cylinders (scuba tanks).
First, do not leave any scuba tank standing. Always place the scuba tank down to the ground when not in use.
Second, do not attempt to change and fit unrecommended valves or use the non-prescribed valve to 1st stage regulator adapters.
And lastly, do not forget that all scuba tanks are subjected to a visual inspection once a year and a hydrotest every five years by a certified technician in an authorized service facility.