The Prime Scuba


Scuba Tanks
Buying a Scuba Tank

Breathing under water is an experience unlike any other, but it can't be done without the right equipment. If you're near the surface, a snorkel will do just fine. But if you plan to spend some time exploring the underwater world, a tank is one of the most important pieces of equipment you'll need.

But is it something you need to buy? Or should you just rent? If you rent, it's the shop's responsibility to ensure that the tank is maintained and in good shape, but what happens if they're all rented out when you're planning to dive? If you dive only a few times a year, this may be a risk you're willing to take, but serious divers will usually own at least one tank.

How to Buy the Right Scuba Tank

You have a few decisions to make before you can go home with the tank that is right for your needs.

Steel or Aluminum: 

Every diver seems to have a preference here. Some prefer aluminum tanks because they are much lighter and less expensive than steel. Other divers prefer steel because it is much more durable and tends to last longer. Although they do last longer, steel tanks are prone to rust, so it is important to properly maintain them.

If you're used to renting, you're probably used to diving with an aluminum tank. When you go from aluminum to steel, you must factor the weight change when considering buoyancy.

When submerged, an empty steel tank weighs about three negative pounds while an empty aluminum tank is about two to four pounds positively buoyant. So, you'll need to wear more weight when diving with an aluminum tank.

And of course, regardless of the metal you choose, you'll need to consider that a full tank is heavier than an empty tank. Always bring weight to compensate for the buoyancy you'll gain as you breathe the air in your tank.

High Pressure or Low: This decision only applies to steel tanks, so if you've decided on aluminum, you can proceed to DIN or Yoke.

High-pressure tanks contain more air than low-pressure tanks, and they are smaller. But before you
rush out and buy a high-pressure tanks, there are a few things you should know. High pressure tanks require more frequent servicing and part replacement because the parts are constantly under great pressure. The valves and O-rings are the parts that will need replacing most often.

Also, high-pressure thanks require regulator setup for DIN. If your regulator has a Yoke setup, you'll need an adapter.

DIN or Yoke: The DIN and Yoke are types of fittings that attach the regulator's 1st stage to the tank.
Yokes are more popular and they are almost always used for aluminum 80 tanks. However, DIN fittings are considered to be the safer option. They are also the preferred option for high-pressure tanks. The DIN screws into the tank valve and traps the high-pressure o-ring, so it doesn't protrude.

Ideally, you will want to purchase the correct fitting for your type of tank, but if that's not possible or probable, you can purchase an adapter to fill the tank. Adapters are also available for the regulator. If you opt for an adapter, have it installed by a professional. 

What size tank will you need?:

Scuba tank capacity is measured in pressurized cubic feet. Tanks in the 80 to 100 cubic foot rage are most popular among recreational divers; rental tanks are almost always 80 cubic foot aluminum tanks.

But because air supply under water is so crucial, it's always a good idea to carry a spare tank or a pony bottle. Pony bottles are about half the size (or less) of your main tank, and they are used as backup in the event that there's a problem with your main tank. If you opt for a pony bottle, you'll need a separate regulator.