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Calcium reactors? Who’s got one...

Discussion in 'Lighting and Equipment' started by Dr.DiSilicate, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. Dr.DiSilicate

    Dr.DiSilicate Kraken Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    Just curious who’s running a reactor, what kind...? Also, how are you operating it... feed pump, parastaltic pump, manifold? Do you use a controller... anyone have a Dastaco or pacific sun reactor?

    Also, what other methods have you used to keep alk and calcium in check?

    I know it’s a lot but thought it could be informative.... for me and others looking to increase color, growth and consistency.

    Would love to see a pic of your tank with the post if you have one handy. Thanks!
    Cherub likes this.
  2. zombie

    zombie Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    I dont have room for a calcium reactor on my current build otherwise I would be using one. On my previous 125 gallon, I used

    - Vertex RX4
    - Aquarium Plants CO2 Doser
    - MJ 1200 feed pump with needle wheel for tuning flow
    - Apex for control

    This provides incredibly stable parameters and any adjustments could be made remotely by fine tuning the pH level in the reactor.

    The Apex made things incredibly friendly because I set up alarms for when the CO2 tank was running low, if the feed pump got clogged or needed adjustment, and would automatically shut off for failsafes like tank pH too low. Once dialed in the first time, all that was required was a monthly pH calibration and parameter checks and to refill the tank or clean the feed pump when I got an alarm. In between my monthly checks, it was completely hands off.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using MASC mobile app
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
  3. MuralReef

    MuralReef Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. MASC Vice-President

    I am running an older model on the 450 at school.
    -Aqua Medic KR 5000 with Ocean Runner recirculating pump
    -Carbon Doser from Aquarium Plants
    -Mag 3? For supply with a pinch valve to control drip rate

    I do monitor pH in the reactor and tank with my Apex but I don’t control any of it maybe I should? As a science teacher maybe I should be more scientific.

    Sent from my iPhone using MASC mobile app
    Cake_Boss likes this.
  4. zombie

    zombie Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    I would. Lots of good science experiments can be had in the process such as: doing regression analysis to determine the effect of reactor pH on effluent dKH, determining the effect of flow variation on tank dKH and internal reactor pH, determining the effect of cylinder pressure on regulator output, determining the relationship between effluent flow, bubble count, and reactor pH, using unit cancellation to calculate reactor pH, flow, and/or bubble count to exactly meet dKH consumption changes, etc. Very good prep for the middle school age kids that want to be in STEM fields later in life.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using MASC mobile app
  5. MuralReef

    MuralReef Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. MASC Vice-President

    Problem is none of it fits with what I have to teach! I would love to get into that and have a deep understanding of those concepts myself but there just isn’t time with all the content I must get through.

    Sent from my iPhone using MASC mobile app
  6. zombie

    zombie Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    Hard to work in for a typical classroom lecture for sure, but would make for good topics for science fair projects or in collaboration with any STEM based after-school clubs/programs. I'm sure you could probably work in some of the more basic aspects into the simple chemistry part of the curriculum (I assume they still do this in 8th grade. My school did) by explaining the basic process of the calcium reactor itself of CO2 reacting with water to form carbonic acid and then the free hydrogen ions reacting with calcium carbonate to form calcium ions and hydrogen carbonate then tie it back into the building of the coral skeleton by the reaction of hydroxide with the two ions to form water and a calcium carbonate skeleton. Might blow their minds when that ask "what does that weird thing with the tank and tubes do".

    Sent from my SM-G965U using MASC mobile app
  7. SynDen

    SynDen Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. M.A.S.C President M.A.S.C Webmaster

    I have one that isnt setup currently, not sure on the brand, but eventually it will be on the big tank once corals and stuff start needing it. Call me old school, but for me I will likely never control it with an Apex or a ph probe. Just cant bring myself to put faith in a controller/probe that randomly loses calibration, and can cause a bunch of havoc when it does. I will have a ph probe in the reactor but I wont be controlling anything with it. Likely I will just start with a peristaltic pump, and then switch to a continuous drip once the consumption reaches that point.
  8. zombie

    zombie Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    It's all about how you go about it. If you go about it with the mindset of "how will this react when X fails and what can I do to prevent that from hurting my tank", you don't add sources of potential havoc with a controller, you remove them.

    My reactor for example was tuned manually to provide 15% more dKH than my tank actually needed (so the pH would cycle properly), then controlled for a slightly higher pH that met my tank demand. Failsafes were built in for very low or very high pH readings that were obviously wrong. Even in the worst case of the regulator being stuck permanently on because of bad probe readings (which I would be notified about and programming measures were taken to correct), all that could happen to the tank was get a little extra ALK that would take almost month to reach unsafe levels. Low tank pH events that could have resulted from a failed needle wheel, were automatically protected by shutting the reactor down completely.

    You just need to be aware of the controllers possible shortcomings and use it to more to add layers of safety than to save initial set up time. Obviously failing to tune a calcium reactor and just setting a wild guess bubble count and have the apex control based on reactor pH on it's own is a terrible idea.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using MASC mobile app
  9. neil82

    neil82 Sardine M.A.S.C Club Member

    Good topic. I'm curious about how people run their reactors. I've not ventured into calcium reactor territory, but my current and largest tank is 90 gallons.
    Cherub likes this.
  10. Balz3352

    Balz3352 Marlin M.A.S.C Club Member

    Had one before it sprung a leak and I didnt notice = tank crash.

    That being said I will do it again when demand is back. New geo reactor, masterflex carbon doser. Only way to go.
    SynDen likes this.
  11. Haddonisreef

    Haddonisreef Kraken M.A.S.C Club Member

    Had a ca on the 180 reef octopus don’t remeber the model was a single chamber w carbon doser regulator (thanks @zombie) those things are a must for ca reactor. I ran it w a reef keeper and was super easy. I have sence went to useing aqua medic reef doser it’s cool has up to 8 ports to dose all kinds of food elements etc.
  12. zombie

    zombie Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    That's right on the line where reactors can begin to make financial sense assuming it's well stocked with coral. The initial investment is hard to swallow (high end reactor, tank, regulator, pH probe, and feed pump can easily hit $1000, vs $450 for top of the line 2 part dosing), but the recurring costs of running one are incredibly cheap. I was spending like $30 a month on BRS 2 part vs like $5 a month to run the calcium reactor on my 125.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using MASC mobile app
  13. aquarius

    aquarius Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Vertex Rx6 with a dual stage Victor regulator, clippard mouse Solenoid and needle valve, a Kamoer FX-STP peristaltic feed pump. Apex monitors but isn’t reliable enough to control. GHL KH Director monitors alk but again doesn’t control. Very stable alk between 8.9 and 9.2 through the day. Most reliable and stable performance I’ve ever got out of any calcium reactor.
  14. Balz3352

    Balz3352 Marlin M.A.S.C Club Member

    Slightly off topic.... How do you like the kh director?
    Cherub likes this.
  15. aquarius

    aquarius Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    It’s a solid unit, does what it’s supposed to do. It’s much more accurate and reliable than any of the other Alkalinity testers/controllers out there and I’ve used the kh guardians which are complete Chinese junk imo, feel sorry for anyone who wasted there money on one. The alkatronic is a nice unit and it can tie into apex for the apex fans out there. It also comes with a controllable Bluetooth socket that I wish the standalone kh Director came with. Not sure I would ever let any of these units run my calcium reactor but if I was ghl would be the way to go. It has several different modes, testing only, add on only, adaptive and calcium reactor mode. The GHL ui isn’t as polished as Neptune’s but it’s rock solid reliable and of all the alk units out there it has the best build quality hands down. It can send an alarm if there’s a testing issue and you can choose to take away control if it’s controlling your alkalinity during an alarm. Since mine is the standalone unit I can’t control a Calcium reactor as it has no way to turn a socket on or off, when paired with the profilux you gain calcium reactor mode, again for me this is a non issue as I tune my reactor so that my flow never changes and my co2 is always on so that if anything ever fries because something will eventually, my system will be just fine. The director lets me know when I need to bump up either my co2 or my effluent. I would give the kh Director a 9/10, the alkatronic a 7/10 and the guardian a 0/10. Honestly with the clippard needle valve and the kamoer pump I can do the smallest adjustments possible and believe these are the two most critical pieces that keep my alk so steady. Calcium reactor itself may play a small role as I like it much better than my mrc2, korallin and reef octos ive used in the past.
  16. quackenbush

    quackenbush Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Geo Reactor purchased from Halmus.
    RODI cartridge converted into secondary scrubber canister.
    Fed by a tee off return pump. I forget the recirc pump make and model - standard pinwheel setup.
    pH probe tied into Apex with CO2 shutoff at a lower ph threshold - currently 7.19, back on at 7.29.
    I run a higher flow, higher ph setup. Meaning that I'm not running a drip but a strong trickle. Ph currently around 7.20. When alk starts to drop I just open the regulator up a smidge.

    I don't control the CO2 with the apex, I just set a lower threshold. So if I'm shooting for a ph of 7.20, then I set the Apex to shut CO2 off at 7.19 and back on at 7.29. I work with the regulator to dial it in so the Apex doesn't do any work unless something's off. I just dropped the pH to meet the increased demand and I'm using the Apex to keep things from getting out of hand.

    I did kalk/vinegar in the ATO prior and it was a huge pain as the evaporation rate changes with the seasons, so I was constantly adjusting the amount of kalk - not ideal at all. Plus the corals seemed immediately happier after the switch, so I'm guessing the ph spikes from the kalk dosing were hard on the corals. Just a guess.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2018
  17. jda123

    jda123 Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    I have two Korallin Reactors 4000 and 10000. I have an aquatek CO2 regulator on one (stock) and a victor with a aquarium plants box on another. I use ARM or Reborn depending on what I can find in 55g bags - natural media only... hated the man-made stuff. 20lb CO2 tanks - I like a longer time in between refills. I use a Tee off of the return line, or sometimes a MaxiJet (or equivalent) - I have used Kangaroo Dosing pumps before a long time ago before (this is the masterflex before masterflex was masterflex). No CO2 controller, I tune them by hand using output alk as a guide, but I can pretty much look at bubbles and effluent now and get close. I do not trust PH monitors or pens in this range, but the ph in the chamber is about 6.6ish. I do not use a second chamber.

    I have not had a clog in the effluent metering valve since Carib Sea started making larger sized media - the small stuff would get pretty small when it melted.

    I got nearly everything used and probably have $250 into the one with the cheaper regulator and $350-400 into the one with the Victor and AqPlants regulator. Good, quality CaRx do not need maintenance nor do they often break, so buying used can be really good.
    SynDen likes this.

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