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View Full Version : So it's 2010 now. Who still uses a calcium reactor and who's all on 2-part dosing?


Delphinus
07-16-2010, 11:58 PM
Just curious what the spectrum looks like. Early 2000's it was calcium reactors were the real "it" way of maintaining levels, late 2000's/early 2010's it seemed to shift.

I myself switched to automated 2-part dosing some time ago.

But to be honest I find myself missing the calcium reactor and not having to fuss with it for 6 to 12 months at a time. With the 2 part dosing I am constantly mixing the stuff and I just hate the job for all the mess it seems to make while I'm at it.. and only seems to last 2-3 weeks at best. I thought about getting larger reservoirs but that is only going to be messier I think.

So .. feel free to talk me out of going back to a CO2 based calcium reactor if you like, haha! :lol: I'll listen to both sides of the argument if any are presented, but I'm also curious who's all out there and using what these days and what the breakdown is like. Answer what you're using, not what's your favourite. Ie., if you use both just answer with both. But feel free to post your thoughts on what's your favourite dosing mechanism.

lastlight
07-17-2010, 12:12 AM
Get a smaller tank Tony. And ONE lol.

My jugs look like they'll last me half a year!

Zoaelite
07-17-2010, 12:13 AM
I'm very happy with my 3 part doser as have never had such amazing growth, mind you I have never used a Calcium reactor so I'm slightly bias. My draw rates aren't that large only 20ml per day of CA/ALK and 4ml of Mg which I will be doubling to compensate for all my livestock.

My fear with a Calcium reactor is a pressurized cylinder around corrosive salt water, panes of glass and $1000's of dollars with of livestock (My doser is much less explosion prone... at least I hope).
Levi

Aquattro
07-17-2010, 12:14 AM
Still using my reactor, I figure I have it, I worked hard making it, and I'll use it till it breaks :) I refill the tank twice a year, top up media 3 times a year, and it appears that it gives me all I need for dosing.

StirCrazy
07-17-2010, 01:16 AM
I worked hard making it,

:eek:

Doug
07-17-2010, 01:30 AM
I'm very happy with my 3 part doser as have never had such amazing growth, mind you I have never used a Calcium reactor so I'm slightly bias. My draw rates aren't that large only 20ml per day of CA/ALK and 4ml of Mg which I will be doubling to compensate for all my livestock.

Thats not much for your system Levi. With my 70g cube back in the mid '90,s I used to dose 30ml/day of 2 part. Unless it was more diluted or something.

My fear with a Calcium reactor is a pressurized cylinder around corrosive salt water, panes of glass and $1000's of dollars with of livestock (My doser is much less explosion prone... at least I hope).
Levi

I dont recall ever hearing of that, but I suppose any pressurized cylinder is a concern.

Anywho, my answer to Tony,s question is, a 2-part also and kalk. Thats all I have used since shutting down my large tanks, which did run co2 reactors. I still use Seachem 2-parts and most of Bens, 3-part additives.

Lance
07-17-2010, 01:34 AM
2-part for me via auto doser

lastlight
07-17-2010, 01:46 AM
I've got a low-tech doser. My phone has 4 alarms set and I dose alk and calcium an hour apart in the morning and same thing in the evening. Currently using 6mL of each. Only use Mg right now to bring my new water up to 1400.

marie
07-17-2010, 01:46 AM
I use both....a calcium reactor on my large tank and 2 part on my smaller tanks.
I doubt I could ever be talked into using 2 part on my large tank, I hate the mess involved, mind you I'm dosing manually.
The reactor is soooo much easier it literally is set and forget especially now that I have a bigger reactor that holds more media and I only have to fill it every 4 or 5 months

Zoaelite
07-17-2010, 01:57 AM
Thats not much for your system Levi. With my 70g cube back in the mid '90,s I used to dose 30ml/day of 2 part. Unless it was more diluted or something.

Still kind of finding the sweet spot with the doser, I think I will be uping it to 40 40 and 8 right away here and then if I see a drop I will increase it to compensate.

I dont recall ever hearing of that, but I suppose any pressurized cylinder is a concern.

To maintain calcium and alkalinity levels I formerly used a calcium reactor. One night I woke up due to some deafening noise. It was like the sound of glass being smashed into tiny pieces. The aquarium crashed it was my first thought. With a heart beating fast, I jumped to my feet to see what had really happened. It turned out that the valve on the CO2 cylinder had failed. Fortunately, it was only the door of the cabinet where the CO2 cylinder was stored that was damaged it was torn from its hinges. I felt both relief and anger; I made an irrevocable decision at that moment no calcium reactor ever again.- Krzysztof Tryc Reef keeping mag Volume 8, Issue 14 :eek:

MitchM
07-17-2010, 03:00 AM
I have parked my 2 calcium reactors in the barn. I got really tired of the salt water getting past the "one way valves" and ruining the solenoid, C02 leaks, clogged intake hoses, sticking regulator gauges.
It started to feel like a Rube Goldberg way to dose calcium.

I'm now dosing calcium and magnesium from ChemMaster with a Profilux doser set up.

Mitch

Doug
07-17-2010, 03:17 AM
- Krzysztof Tryc Reef keeping mag Volume 8, Issue 14 :eek:

:boom:

Guess always a first. One wonders how many more incidents we never hear about.

Delphinus
07-17-2010, 04:56 AM
It's not the dosing part that has me nostalgic. I use some peri pumps and it works well enough. It's not like it's not keeping up the levels or anything like that ... I just hate mixing the stuff up. Hate it. Did I mention that it's messy, and I hate it? Because I hate it. I'd probably do it more often if I didn't hate it but .. I hate it. I'm not sure if I can make myself clear here: I hate mixing that stuff up!!!!!!!

Whereas a reactor ... bubbles counting? Check. (There's the daily investment of time). About every 6 months or so .. top up some gravel. About every year or so .. refill the CO2 cylinder.

How is that worse?? It's not. Guess the only thing is the CO2 part of the equation...

kien
07-17-2010, 05:16 AM
it sounds like there may be a market for pre-mixed two-part ? :lol:

by the way tony, I wasn't quite clear on the message you were trying to convey. So when you say you "hate it", is that like in a love-hate kind of way, or a full-on-hate kind of hate? :lol:

Myka
07-17-2010, 06:00 AM
I haven't owned a calcium reactor since the late 90s. I despise them. I have been 2-part dosing ever since I discovered it pretty much.

Currently I have a dual doser for calcium and alkalinity. I use Fauna Marin balling salts. I have Rubbermaid food storage containers that holds about 3.5L. I mix 270g Sodium bicarbonate into 3L of RO/DI water, mix that for 3 hours with a powerhead so it actually dissolves, and pour it into one of the containers. I mix 300g Calcium carbonate into 3L of RO/DI and put that into the other container. These containers last about 4 weeks. The concentration is as suggested on the back of the Fauna Marin packages. I'm not sure if I could mix them more concentrated or not. I'm going to email them and ask. However, I find I am constantly turning up the timers to dose more and more every week or which is annoying because the numbers are always falling, and I'm not around often enough to monitor well enough. So...they aren't set and forget.

EDIT: I have been thinking about buying a third doser to dose kalk at night which would make the jugs of Ca and Alk last longer. Also I don't have to dose magnesium - I use H2Ocean salt, and doing a 10 gallon water change once a week keeps magnesium around 1400 ppm as per Salifert kit. I also dose Potassium into the fresh saltwater mix to raise K to 380-400 ppm since it is very low in H2Ocean salt (~250 ppm).

Milad
07-17-2010, 06:57 AM
so it sounds like dosing is a pain in the butt unless you mix up 50gals of each....
maybe ill stick to my calcium reactor

Myka
07-17-2010, 07:16 AM
50 gallons would be like a year's dosing. I only mix up batches once a month. It really isn't a big deal to mix them up. It's the actual dosing that is a pain in the butt - dosers need adjusting, but so does manual dosing. Really, you can't get away from weekly or biweekly testing of parameters. Calcium reactors are the same way, they always need to be fiddled with too. It's not the way we dose that causes this, it is the reef itself that causes the changes in demand for elements. As the corals grow the corals obviously get bigger, the bigger they get the quicker they grow (more growth tips), the quicker they grow the more the demand for elements. Unless your tank is well established, and you are removing as much coral as is growing (say frags), you will always be increasing dosage whether it be calcium reactor or 2-part dosing.

Tracey2
07-17-2010, 12:25 PM
Can I ask Marie and Mitch what is the difference in your setups, Marie says her calcium reactor is set it and forget it and Mitch says its a constant headache. I have recently set up a large tank and am trying to decide if I need a calcium reactor or not.

mark
07-17-2010, 12:36 PM
Reactor here but do want to get a dosing pump system more for the new toy thing than anything else. Haven't yet as still can't justify to the wife spending $300-400 replacing something that does what it's supposed to do and really overall is trouble free.

kien
07-17-2010, 02:39 PM
so it sounds like dosing is a pain in the butt unless you mix up 50gals of each....
maybe ill stick to my calcium reactor

The beauty is that there are options! You're not stuck with one method. Pick which in works for you an run with it.

Keeping a salt water tank in general is a pain in the butt yet we all do it anyhow :)

StirCrazy
07-17-2010, 03:17 PM
Calcium reactors are the same way, they always need to be fiddled with too.

I don't know about that.. I would fiddle with mine a few times a day when I first started it after refilling ect. after two days I wouldn't touch it untill it was time to refill again. a Ca reactor is truly a set and forget. but there were a few types people seamed to have nothing but trouble with, I don't know about the store bought reactors as I built both of mine.

as for tow part, I am tempted to try now that you can buy reasonable priced dosers, as manual dosing is a total pain in the you know what. but I still have reservations of two part as it is just that two parts, what about the other 1000 parts? so now your into 3 or 4 part including trace elements, mixing 4 different things every month. but yet it does have its apeal to me. although a Ca reactor is a multi part doser (includes everything even Mg in ballanced form) they are a fair size and take up a lot of prime relistate under the stand as there is the reactor, the co2 canister and reg, piping , pumps ect.. the apealing part of a doser pump is you can use smaller jugs and hide everything. So due to a smaller tank with a smaller "understand" area the dosing set up might be the choice for you.

Steve

MitchM
07-17-2010, 04:54 PM
Can I ask Marie and Mitch what is the difference in your setups, Marie says her calcium reactor is set it and forget it and Mitch says its a constant headache. I have recently set up a large tank and am trying to decide if I need a calcium reactor or not.

Hi Tracey,

The two reactors that I used were Aquamedic and Schuran. Both had PH probes in the reactor chamber that would turn on or off the supply of C02 depending on the chamber PH value.
I found that the pressure in the reactor would eventually creep salt water back up the C02 feed line and destroy the solenoid that turned on or off the C02 supply. The C02 would eventually stop being supplied to the reactor.

I also had problems feeding the C02 reactor with tank water. I tried both a separate pump and teeing off of the sump return line. Those would constantly clog up with either algae or detritus and it wasn't always obvious.
I also had algae sometimes growing in the reactor chamber which would have to be cleaned out.

I had sealing issues with both reactors, finding salt water creep, having to deal with screw tightness, design shortfalls in both.

...(I'm getting frustrated again just typing this out.....!:lol:)

I also found that the reactor capacity frequently fell short, even running full throttle. I would have liked to run my Ca and Mg values higher than I did.
My system volumes have always been 300g or over.

Electrical plug-ins were at a premium and I needed 3 for a calcium reactor. 1 each for recirc pump in the reactor, supply pump for the reactor and 1 for the solenoid. With a dosing setup I only need one plug-in for 4 dosing pumps.

I really wanted the calcium reactors to be set it and forget it, but for me it wasn't.

The dosing method seems simpler to me plus the dosing supply chemicals are clean. They don't require water from the aquarium itself.

HTH,
Mitch

Delphinus
07-17-2010, 05:40 PM
Electrical plug-ins were at a premium and I needed 3 for a calcium reactor. 1 each for recirc pump in the reactor, supply pump for the reactor and 1 for the solenoid. With a dosing setup I only need one plug-in for 4 dosing pumps.


That's a good point. I had forgotten how much of an irritant the mess of electrical wires was no matter how "tidy" I tried to make it.

Don't get me wrong: I dose. I sold my reactors and my spare cylinders and regs, just kept one of each and threw them on my FW planted tank. For two years or so I never looked back. I can't bring myself to pony up the $300 or $400 for a multihead unit, but I'm using the smaller single head units and other than the increased time to figure out an ideal timing cycle it's been fine enough.

But as I stare at my empty dosing reservoirs and think "Man, I need to refill those" I am fighting an overwhelming sense of "UGH." 1) Didn't I just do that 2 or 3 weeks ago??? 2) Geeeeze it's a messy job. If I don't have any prebaked baking soda, I go get a couple boxes, spread them into a cookie sheet and bake it for the required hour. Then I go get a gallon or so of RO/DI and put it into a kettle. Because the baked baking soda is roughly as soluble in water as silica sand, and mixing it in hot water helps a tiny little bit. So then I take my prescribed amount of baked baking soda, 2 and a bit cups, and then I have to add it to the water about a teaspoon at a time, mixing for at least 10 seconds in between. 2 and a bit of cups divided by teaspoons equals approximately a billion. If I add it any faster or in any larger amount at a time, it does one of either two things: 1) Clumps together rock hard and becomes completely insoluble, or 2) the entire mixture congeals into a gel like substance and the only way to reliquidify is to add more water to the mix (other than it's a complete PITA because I'm trying to mix my alk additive, it's actually quite a bizarrely interesting phenomenon). Anything that spills make a huge mess because wet baking soda is just messy like that. So my alk mixing is at the very least about a hour commitment, more if I have to prebake any amount.

Calcium is nowhere near as bad but it makes a brown gross slimey liquid so the reservoir at the very least needs cleaning in between fills and I wonder if I should be purging my 1/4" lines periodically as well because it stands to reason they'll be covered with that residue as well over time.

I mean, seriously, this is the "better way to dose" ?? I don't think so. Before I started using the peri pumps I just took my powdered additives and mixed up enough each day to dose that day's amount. THAT was really the "best way" for me as it was nearly effortless but the problem is it's really difficult to automate the process.

I'm using Chemmaster for the Calcium and Magnesium and just baking soda from Costco for the Alk. Maybe it's time for me to step it up and start buying from BRS or other places because if this process isn't normal for everyone else then there's something wrong with what *I'm* doing and I can't really see what I'm doing wrong procedurally so that really leaves, by process of elimination, the ingredients themselves that must be the difference.

I'm all for hearing suggestions on how to make this mixing process suck a little less..

Aquattro
07-17-2010, 06:02 PM
My reactor gets fiddled with twice a year. It's large, so no problems keeping up, and I don't use a solenoid, so no issues there. Dosing may be a suitable alternative, but it's money I don't need to spend already owning a reactor.

MitchM
07-17-2010, 07:03 PM
Tony,
I use extra 2 litre plastic bottles that I bought from Industrial Paint and Plastics for my reservoirs. I just pre-fill them and swap them out when it comes time to refill. I haven't experienced the brown goo..?
I use either a Kalkwasser stirrer for my top up depending on PH levels, or straight R/O water.
That mixing procedure does sound like a PITR.

Mitch

andestang
07-17-2010, 07:18 PM
I spent some dough on a good reactor years back. Had some issues for first little while such as water supply to reactor, clogged lines and such but after addressing everything its been relatively hassle free. I like the appeal of the new dosers as I have a good controller to run one and they look neat but can't see spending money in this area of the tank right now when I have something that works OK. As for the saved real-estate I can't see it being much better for a doser as you still need to have you containers for dosing and all the containers for mixing and such laying around. But maybe one day in the future.

Dez
07-17-2010, 08:18 PM
Never had dosers, I've always been happy with a calcium reactor. I used to hate manually adjusting the bubble count/effluent rate, but now that I have a controller, the ph in my calcium reactor is always between 6.6 - 6.7 with the controller controlling the amount of C02 going in. The best thing that I have done is "T" off of my return line to feed the reactor. I used to gravity siphon feed but it wasn't as consistent. Now it is truly a set and forget item. I couldn't imagine the regular labour of 2 part dosing. I am so lazy that I cringe at changing my carbon once a month even though it only takes 10 minutes. I cringe at changing my zeo rocks once every 2 months....

So I guess my vote is Calcium reactor all the way!

kien
07-17-2010, 08:52 PM
This has been an interesting thread. For being such a labour intensive/cringe inducing/pain in the arse method, most people seem to prefer it. :lol:

I can't say that I prefer it over Calcium Reactors since I have never used a calcium reactor so have nothing to compare it to. I am lazy and even I don't really mind the chore though. There is nothing that I have to do on a daily basis. The frequency for me with dosing seems to be weekly top ups which I can live with.

Again, different strokes for different folks right? Lots of people are fine with shaking zeo rocks and dropping additives every day (or so), while others may think that is way too much work. I find it fascinating where people draw the line in the sand bed when determining what commitment they are welling to invest.

fkshiu
07-17-2010, 11:06 PM
I've used both methods. Currently I've got a GEO reactor and it has been set and forget. Change the media and add CO2 every 7 or 8 months. The only issue has been a faulty needle valve which was replaced.

I got tired of manually dosing 3-part. I could've gone with a auto-doser but a reactor seemed more mad scientist-like. I remember reading a RHF article comparing various methods and their cost. I think that somewhere around the 125 gallon mark a calcium reactor becomes more economical in the long run than dosing.

Like was said: two ways to the same result - there's more than one way to skin a cat.

Tracey2
07-17-2010, 11:53 PM
Mitch, thank you for taking the time to explain. I still have many questions but will try to do a little more research first.

Ok, maybe 1 question, I have a co2 tank on my planted tank and have a hard time keeping the co2 consistant, I have a bubble counter and I have to play with it every few days. Is there a regulator that works better or do you use a regulator at all?

MitchM
07-18-2010, 01:48 AM
You're welcome:smile:

I have a freshwater setup as well, and I use a Red Sea (I think) regulator on that, but I find the bubble control pretty consistant with it.

Mitch

Aqua-Digital
07-19-2010, 06:09 PM
FM balling with trace elements with GHL doser, install and forget :)

PoonTang
07-19-2010, 07:24 PM
So then I guess I am really old school. Kalkwasser in the ATO bucket with a little bit of 2 part dosed manually every week if need be to keep everything within my targets.

lastlight
07-19-2010, 07:48 PM
I remember reading a RHF article comparing various methods and their cost. I think that somewhere around the 125 gallon mark a calcium reactor becomes more economical in the long run than dosing.

I think this is what you were thinking of. Great read.

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15173211&postcount=27

Although if I ever have a large tank again I will still dose.

gobytron
07-19-2010, 10:27 PM
good poll.

The thing that really gets me about this hobby is how people just jump on new technology because its new...lol

Solaris anyone?

lol


I think that it's all about personal preference and how much time and effort you have to put into whichever given task the equipment in question is supposed to make possible or easier for you.


I like having a ca reactor cuz they look bad ass.

non aquarists are always blown away by it when they see it and that makes me feel good...lol

Delphinus
07-19-2010, 11:22 PM
Since starting the poll I still haven't found the time or the energy or the enthusiasm to refill my empty dosing jugs. It's not that I don't have better things to do (truly, it is one of the more important things I should be doing), it's just that I'd rather do so many other things, and that includes scraping fossilized cat poo off the floor where the one cat in particular who has irritable bowel syndrome missed her cat box. Yes, I would rather scrape poo than mix up the additives. (And for the record, I hate poo too.) Did I mention I hate mixing up the additives? Because I hate mixing up the additives and particularly I hate making and mixing the soda ash one. Water changes, changing carbon, fiddle faddling with pellets, maybe some more water changes, what the heck, I'm doing (and have done) all those but those dosing jugs sit empty, taunting me with their foul crusty residues. "Refill us! Hahaha! Your parameters are going down like poo in the toilet! So what are YOU gonna do tonight chump? Look at all those boxes of baking soda that need baking. Teehee!"

Did I mention I hate mixing up additives?

Calcium reactors did definitely have their place. Well, unless you had problems with them I guess, nothing like a finicky reactor to tank high in the suckage category but when they were working right I really miss the set-and-forget (and I do mean forget for like 6 months, other than the ongoing testing of params) aspect of them. AND, it was nice to only test for Alk, because the Ca and Alk were always in proportion to one another..

Zoaelite
07-19-2010, 11:37 PM
:drinking:

My additive containers talk to me all the time too tony :lol:.

marie
07-20-2010, 12:03 AM
......

Calcium reactors did definitely have their place. Well, unless you had problems with them I guess, nothing like a finicky reactor to tank high in the suckage category but when they were working right I really miss the set-and-forget (and I do mean forget for like 6 months, other than the ongoing testing of params) aspect of them. AND, it was nice to only test for Alk, because the Ca and Alk were always in proportion to one another..


I haven't bothered testing my calcium in over 2 years :mrgreen:

lastlight
07-20-2010, 01:41 AM
fiddle faddling with pellets

LMAO. Tony I think the kids need to be moved out and you need to be 20+ years older before you qualify to 'fiddle faddle' with anything haha. You can tinker for now!

Dosing certainly isn't a new fad or trend though. It's been done pretty much everywhere else besides North America for a lot longer based on what I've read.

And Tony I don't think you'd hate mixing the BRS stuff. It's so clean and no baking either. There's no way the fossilized feline sharts should be more fun than prepping chemicals! I've done that many a time myself.

Lance
07-20-2010, 01:57 AM
And Tony I don't think you'd hate mixing the BRS stuff. It's so clean and no baking either. There's no way the fossilized feline sharts should be more fun than prepping chemicals! I've done that many a time myself.


Yup, what Brett says.
BRS stuff is very easy to mix. I bought three one-gallon water containers with spigots from Safeway. Mark each with a magic marker; fill with RO water; pour in the stuff; shake it; do a little jig and presto it's done!

lastlight
07-20-2010, 02:39 AM
Good thinking Lance. My wife damn near made me eat the BRS jugs when she found out I had paid that much for them and shipped them to boot.

Myka
07-20-2010, 02:46 AM
I don't know about that.. I would fiddle with mine a few times a day when I first started it after refilling ect. after two days I wouldn't touch it untill it was time to refill again. a Ca reactor is truly a set and forget.

Steve

I have to disagree with you. Ime, I have always had to turn up the reactor, turn up the reactor, turn up the reactor as the demand for calcium and alkalinty rose in a growing tank. Many people do "set and forget", but they often don't realize their numbers are falling. I suppose using a controller with multiple probes would probably help to eliminate these issues, but there goes more money. Likewise, dosing pumps would be much more "set and forget" on a controller too.

The thing that really gets me about this hobby is how people just jump on new technology because its new...lol

Solaris anyone?

lol

I hear you on that! I am not one to jump on the newest products on the market to be the guinea pig. No thanks, someone else can risk their money and their reef! :p I still won't touch an LED system; I haven't seen enough proof yet - actually I have seen zero firsthand proof so far. :eek: Zeovit was prominent for 3-4 years before I tried it. Fauna Marin balling salts have been out for quite some time now too, and I just started using them about 8 months ago. I are cautious!

However, dosing pumps have been widely used for at least 15-20 years, and who knows when the first idea came upon the hobby...? Back then we jimmy rigged pricey hospital style dosing pumps that ate up huge real estate. Dosing pumps are far from new technology, and are hardly technology at all which is one of the things I like about them. Calcium reactors are much more "technical".

Delphinus
07-20-2010, 02:51 AM
Oh I don't know, I guess there was one benefit to the jugs being empty, I did finish painting my tank room this weekend. (And for the record I don't really like painting either!) Paint the tank room, fill the jugs. Tonight's dilemma will be fill the jugs or get the tile up.

Doug
07-20-2010, 03:06 AM
So then I guess I am really old school. Kalkwasser in the ATO bucket with a little bit of 2 part dosed manually every week if need be to keep everything within my targets.

:amen: Simplicity at its best. Thats all I do also and same for Mike on his 150g. I just drip it with my kalk jug but Mike uses a kalk reactor.

Delphinus
07-20-2010, 03:59 AM
I am using a kalk reactor on one tank with a metering pump to drive a nice slow driprate.

To be honest I'm not that super hot on the reactor either. :lol: (When did I become so high maintenance? WTH??) Three reasons: 1) Back in 2003, give or take, a bunch of us Canreefers bought a ridiculous amount of Mrs Wages pickling lime. I've been using the stuff like crazy trying to use it up but I swear it reproduces when I'm not looking because I have yet to finish the stuff!!!!! Anyhow, it's nice and good for 2 weeks or so then, 2) it turns brown and coats the inside of the reactor with its browny grossness. Vinegar cleans it up nice but .. well, it's just another chore to ignore.

And 3) the thing eats Maxijet impellers like crazy. Must be a design flaw, I'm not sure, all I know is I use a MJ600 or MJ900 on it and have to replace the impellers on them every few months.

I'm hoping I can finish those pickling lime jars soon and switch to a nicer kalk mix at some point. Sort of like how I'm waiting to use up my 5g bucket of CaCl from Chemmaster before I do a BRS order of soda ash (figure might as well buy both at the same time). I'm good and logical that way. :neutral:

OceanicCorals-Ian-
07-20-2010, 05:00 AM
I am using a kalk reactor on one tank with a metering pump to drive a nice slow driprate.

To be honest I'm not that super hot on the reactor either. :lol: (When did I become so high maintenance? WTH??) Three reasons: 1) Back in 2003, give or take, a bunch of us Canreefers bought a ridiculous amount of Mrs Wages pickling lime. I've been using the stuff like crazy trying to use it up but I swear it reproduces when I'm not looking because I have yet to finish the stuff!!!!! Anyhow, it's nice and good for 2 weeks or so then, 2) it turns brown and coats the inside of the reactor with its browny grossness. Vinegar cleans it up nice but .. well, it's just another chore to ignore.

And 3) the thing eats Maxijet impellers like crazy. Must be a design flaw, I'm not sure, all I know is I use a MJ600 or MJ900 on it and have to replace the impellers on them every few months.

I'm hoping I can finish those pickling lime jars soon and switch to a nicer kalk mix at some point. Sort of like how I'm waiting to use up my 5g bucket of CaCl from Chemmaster before I do a BRS order of soda ash (figure might as well buy both at the same time). I'm good and logical that way. :neutral:

Judging by the popularity of our dosing packages I would say this is becoming the "in" way of maintaining the levels in the tank. I will never go back to a reactor again.....

Ps, We just received a nice tasty order of Soda Ash.....

StirCrazy
07-20-2010, 06:03 AM
I have to disagree with you.

hmm... I don't know how you can disagree with what I had to do because I designed and built my reactor to be stable, but Ok :mrgreen:

for the record, I never used a solinoid, probes or any of that new fangles stuff. just did my weekly water tests. you know once and a while I may have to add a bubble per min or take one away, but it was maybe every couple months I have to tweek it so 5 min for two months ..

Ca reactors like anything else flooded the market as the newest and greatest thing, so there were many people making a simple compact design to get it to the marktet and hence we had copys of unstable setups for sale everywhere. Titus had a nice design, but didn't carry one with it, not sure what happened there, but it looked like it would b very stable. I made my own adding a few tweaks of my own and created the monster. I put it at 20 bubbles per min (about 1 min of fiddling) and 5 months later it would still be at 20 bubbles per min. well unless my tank ran out but using a 20lb tank gave me over a years worth of use. since I used to be obsessed with my water tests the longest anything would go with out being checked was 3 days and once a week I recorded my tests in my tank journal to track trends and enable me to know what worked and what didn't when playing with my tank.

Steve

Myka
07-20-2010, 12:54 PM
hmm... I don't know how you can disagree with what I had to do because I designed and built my reactor to be stable, but Ok :mrgreen:

Steve

I was disagreeing with:

a Ca reactor is truly set and forget.

Kind of self explanitory, no? I think telling everyone that a calcium reactor is set and forget is misleading as most are not set and forget, although lots of people treat them that way, and don't check their parameters until a crash is visually imminent. Is it ok to disagree with you? ;)

In your case, why didn't you have to throttle it up every couple weeks? Why would your demand stay the same?

gobytron
07-20-2010, 03:03 PM
assuming you have a controller, a ca reactor SHOULD be set and forget aside from the odd testing.

I can see how without a controller, it might get tedious to keep things in line but I would take a controller before just about any other piece of equipment I have so to me having one is a no brainer.

I wasn't implying anything about dosing pumps other than the only reason they are so widely in use RIGHT now is that they are currently in vogue and not neccesarily a better system than a ca reactor...just different and considered progressive at this point in time.

StirCrazy
07-20-2010, 03:22 PM
Is it ok to disagree with you? ;)

I'll think about it and let you know :wink:

In your case, why didn't you have to throttle it up every couple weeks? Why would your demand stay the same?

well I account the consistancy of the bubbles to a few things, the first being a large CO2 tank. smaller ones run out faster and you pressure starts to drop a while befor you run out so you end up getting more variation. a larger tank that stays at pretty much its full volume and will give you 1.5 to 2 years worth will be a lot more constant.

the second thing which may have more of an impact than the bottle is the regulator you are using. most of the ones being used in this hobby are true garbage. the cheepest offshore thing they could find as a good regulator would cost more than the reactor. for example a new version of my regulator would be about 350 to 450.00 retail.

as for keeping up with demand in the tank, pure size matters, most places were touting reactors that held 1 jug of media for tanks up to 200 or even 300 gal tanks, with a add on stage up to 4 or 500 gal. they had small pumps, most had no recirc for trapped gas, ect.. the one I designed was big, 4 jugs of media when full, 500 gph recirc with in the unit, gas bubble evacuation, plus a built in water reserve. I used a combanation of high flow and acidic water to desolve minerals. it was big, had a 12 X 20 foot print for the box with two 6" wide towers on the top that were about 12" tall so overall high was about 18".

Steve

lastlight
07-20-2010, 03:35 PM
The regulator reliability was the big reason I've never liked reactors. Which do you use? I know the aquariumplants.com is supposed to be one of the better hobby ones but I'm guessing yours is not hobby marketed.

marie
07-20-2010, 04:00 PM
I was disagreeing with:



Kind of self explanitory, no? I think telling everyone that a calcium reactor is set and forget is misleading as most are not set and forget, although lots of people treat them that way, and don't check their parameters until a crash is visually imminent. Is it ok to disagree with you? ;)

In your case, why didn't you have to throttle it up every couple weeks? Why would your demand stay the same?

Unless you are using some 2 part I know nothing about then I assume you have the same fiddling.
For me I check my alk every couple of months and if necessary will tweak the calcium reactor
....but then I've been using the reactor for 4 yrs and have it pretty much figured out, if the alk is low, a little turn to increase bubble count and a little turn to increase the effluent and it that's all the tweaking I need to do

PFoster
07-20-2010, 05:55 PM
I run both (BTW there is no option in the poll for both) but each is on its own seperate system.
My sps system has the Balling method running on it and the LPS system has a dual chamber calcium reactor running on it.

The down side to the balling method is it does need to be refilled and it did take quite a while a testing and adjusting to get my levels stable. I refill the alk every 10 days and CA and MG about every 2.5 weeks. For alk though I have it measured out in .5 kg containers so refilling the alk takes about 10 seconds. But now that my levels are stable its absolutely bang on at all times!

CARX is easy, but not as accurate and not as easy for maintaining the exact params i would like. Plus my 6 month old precision marine reg has dumped twice since i set it up.

Aquattro
07-20-2010, 06:14 PM
For me I check my alk every couple of months and if necessary will tweak the calcium reactor
....but then I've been using the reactor for 4 yrs and have it pretty much figured out, if the alk is low, a little turn to increase bubble count and a little turn to increase the effluent and it that's all the tweaking I need to do

Same with mine. I've used it for about 8 years now, and I tweak it when I add media, maybe every 4 months? Levels are always consistent, even with heavy growth. To me, this is set and forget...

Delphinus
07-20-2010, 06:45 PM
Theoretically the fiddling with rates due to increasing demand as corals grow is equivalent between parts dosing and reactors. You still have to test regularly and adjust effluent or dose rates as needed. The nice thing about a reactor was that Ca is always in balance with Alk, so if you were inclined to be lazy, you could theoretically get by with testing just Alk instead of testing both Ca and Alk (still a good idea to keep an eye on both, however). This is, however, with one large caveat: your levels needed to be in good proportions to begin with, if they are not, there is no perfect effluent rate to correct that. So where dosing trumps a reactor is the ability to zero in on one parameter and adjust it independent of any other. But once the levels are "in balance" then theoretically there will be no need to zero in on just one parameter.

So at least from the perspective of increasing consumption rates, it sort of balances out, I think.

What's weird (and adds a little to my "reactor nostalgia") is that I didn't get my perfect target numbers running a reactor, but despite that I did get better growth (when things were at their peak) than I ever did with "perfect" numbers using dosing. So there was some intangible benefit to the reactor that I couldn't quite quantify.

Having said that, it wasn't all roses with me and reactors. The biggest complaint I did have was the constant compaction causing cavitation (wow, can I add any more c words to that sentence??) There was a reason I got out of using reactors, nostalgia always lets you look back with rose coloured glasses and I just need to remember that I switched to dosing, not only because I wanted to embrace the idea of dosing but also because I was giving up on reactors (for reasons other than "I don't have to refill it as often"). Another factor that weighed in was I wanted to reduce my reliance on CO2 because I had a feeling David Suzuki would not have approved of my CO2 usage (I doubt he still approves of my hobby mind you. Darn it all. Oh well. Baby steps.)

Anyhow given the #'s I find it interesting that there are still lots of people who use reactors. This has been a fantastic discussion so far and very enlightening (and thought provoking) so if you've participated, I thank you. :) Please keep it going. :)

@PFoster - actually there should have been an option for both. Sorry if this wasn't clear in my original post but you can actually select both options as this was meant as a multiple choice poll.

cheers :)

Delphinus
07-20-2010, 06:48 PM
On a totally unrelated note, I got my tile up last night. Alas, the dosing vessels are still taunting me with their emptiness.

lastlight
07-20-2010, 07:30 PM
And still no pics. I couldn't get a clear view of the progress from your basement window last night. Quit leaving me hangin!

MitchM
07-20-2010, 08:35 PM
gobytron mentioned that dosing setups are in vogue at this point.

I actually think that controllers and dosing pumps have improved a lot in recent years, and that is the reason for their increasing popularity.

How have calcium reactors improved?

Mitch

gobytron
07-20-2010, 08:46 PM
:lol:How can you improve on something that already works perfectly...

and not to say that being in vogue makes it an inferior technology, just that from my point of view this is why the lopsided usage between the two systems.

The other thing I like about my CA reactor that I forgot about until now is the fact that you can add a little extra media like zeo mag or carbon and reduce your maintenance even more...

lastlight
07-20-2010, 08:48 PM
My doser is nearly maintenance free and deadly accurate. I trim the fingernails and wash it in the shower.

StirCrazy
07-20-2010, 08:51 PM
The regulator reliability was the big reason I've never liked reactors. Which do you use? I know the aquariumplants.com is supposed to be one of the better hobby ones but I'm guessing yours is not hobby marketed.

mine is a full sized one from a welding setup for shielding gas. it is rated in CuFt/min so it is an actualy flow meter not a pressure regulator.

sounds like a small differance but depending on your set up a pressure regulator (which is what is used on most CO2 reactors) will let in more or less CO2 as long as the pressure is the same, causing your bubble count to change. all it take to change this is a little change in the internal pressure of the reactor or even water evaporating out of the bubbler.

with mine it couldn't care what the pressure is as it will always let the same volume/time into the reactor so I get no changes. you can get a cheep flow meter for about 100 bucks but the deicent ones start at 200 and up.

I also made both chambers in my reactor upflow which got rid of the problems Tony was mentioning.

Steve

PFoster
07-20-2010, 08:54 PM
Delphinus, yeah i did actually choose both when i voted on the poll but it doesnt show it in the results thats all.

Also have you tried adding the different trace elements?
I have seen a difference in both growth rates and color from my tank to a friends tank that uses everything the same, save the trace elements. Yeah, yeah I know its a different system so that on its own will cause growth and color differences but still.

MitchM
07-20-2010, 09:03 PM
:lol:How can you improve on something that already works perfectly...

Denial is a nice place to visit.

I go there frequently too....:lol:

Mitch

lastlight
07-20-2010, 09:20 PM
Oooohhh...we're gonna have some A.R.M.-wrestlin' going on here soon.

Saweeet.

gobytron
07-20-2010, 09:29 PM
Denial is a nice place to visit.

I go there frequently too....:lol:

Mitch

Obviously.:wink:

Delphinus
07-20-2010, 11:05 PM
I also made both chambers in my reactor upflow which got rid of the problems Tony was mentioning.


You know, I tried that too on a couple different units I had. I can't remember what the issue was but it wasn't a complete slam dunk either. Upflow does make more sense, for one you can do away with the CO2 recirc line. I wonder if it was I was losing too much CO2 into the tank and I was noticing a depressed pH. Might have been something else. I can't actually remember now. :neutral:

Lance
07-20-2010, 11:12 PM
Oooohhh...we're gonna have some A.R.M.-wrestlin' going on here soon.

Saweeet.



Good one! Very Witty!

Myka
07-21-2010, 01:08 AM
In the end I think it all comes down to money when the "set and forget" feature is added. :p

well I account the consistancy of the bubbles to a few things, the first being a large CO2 tank. smaller ones run out faster and you pressure starts to drop a while befor you run out so you end up getting more variation. a larger tank that stays at pretty much its full volume and will give you 1.5 to 2 years worth will be a lot more constant.

the second thing which may have more of an impact than the bottle is the regulator you are using. most of the ones being used in this hobby are true garbage. the cheepest offshore thing they could find as a good regulator would cost more than the reactor. for example a new version of my regulator would be about 350 to 450.00 retail.

as for keeping up with demand in the tank, pure size matters, most places were touting reactors that held 1 jug of media for tanks up to 200 or even 300 gal tanks, with a add on stage up to 4 or 500 gal. they had small pumps, most had no recirc for trapped gas, ect.. the one I designed was big, 4 jugs of media when full, 500 gph recirc with in the unit, gas bubble evacuation, plus a built in water reserve. I used a combanation of high flow and acidic water to desolve minerals. it was big, had a 12 X 20 foot print for the box with two 6" wide towers on the top that were about 12" tall so overall high was about 18".

Steve

Hmmm, very interesting. Thanks for elaborating. The cost of this thing would be rather substantial though I would be thinking (much more than a basic reactor or dosing system), and take up a lot of real estate. The "set and forget" feature is pretty sweet though. How often were you testing parameters? What variance did you find in that time?

Unless you are using some 2 part I know nothing about then I assume you have the same fiddling.

Oh you bet! I fiddle with my dosers at least as much as I fiddled with my reactors in the past. I think this dilemma in both methods would be significantly reduced provided a controller is used. I have never run a controller. I prefer fiddling with the dosers than the Ca reactor simply because each parameter can be fiddled with separately. I always found alkalinity to drop quicker than calcium when using a reactor - I was always dosing alkalinity separately.

Delphinus
07-21-2010, 01:36 AM
I remember why the upflow mods failed for me - it was too hard on the pumps as it must have been just a little too restrictive on the intake side. They would get super hot, one got so hot the casing of the pump melted (warped and started leaking water all over).

I guess definitely something you want the reactor to be designed for rather than arbitrarily switching the input/output lines on the pump.


You know, I tried that too on a couple different units I had. I can't remember what the issue was but it wasn't a complete slam dunk either. Upflow does make more sense, for one you can do away with the CO2 recirc line. I wonder if it was I was losing too much CO2 into the tank and I was noticing a depressed pH. Might have been something else. I can't actually remember now. :neutral:

StirCrazy
07-21-2010, 02:28 AM
I remember why the upflow mods failed for me - it was too hard on the pumps as it must have been just a little too restrictive on the intake side. They would get super hot, one got so hot the casing of the pump melted (warped and started leaking water all over).

I guess definitely something you want the reactor to be designed for rather than arbitrarily switching the input/output lines on the pump.

:eek:, um dude, you had something else going on there, what kind of pumps?

Steve

StirCrazy
07-21-2010, 02:34 AM
Hmmm, very interesting. Thanks for elaborating. The cost of this thing would be rather substantial though I would be thinking (much more than a basic reactor or dosing system), and take up a lot of real estate. The "set and forget" feature is pretty sweet though. How often were you testing parameters? What variance did you find in that time?



well cost wide, it cost me 100 bucks in pumps and plastic to build the reactor. I already had the regulator, paid 65 bucks for a used co2 extinguisher with a new valve and hydrostat, and say 50 bucks for misc and things I forgot about.. so way cheeper than buying a cheep reactor setup.

I did a full test once a week and never found much of a variance at all I had a tone of SPS which grew like stink, so I was pounding the co2 reactor already so that might be why there was no variation.

Steve

MitchM
07-21-2010, 02:38 AM
...

The other thing I like about my CA reactor that I forgot about until now is the fact that you can add a little extra media like zeo mag or carbon and reduce your maintenance even more...


How do you add carbon to a ca reactor?
Carbon should be changed out after 3 weeks or so. That just means more frequent maintenance to the reactor.

Mitch

christyf5
07-21-2010, 04:00 AM
I switched from a reactor a few years ago and have never looked back. My reactor had some issues and I was blowing through 10lbs of CO2 in 6 weeks and that was with a solenoid and new needle valve. I tried everything to fix it and finally just chucked the whole thing in favor of a dosing pump. 3 clean plastic 4L milk jugs and I just dump a couple cups (or whatever the dosage is) in the container, fill half with water, shake the living crap out of it to dissolve and fill it to the top with water and I'm done. I'm not quite sure what you're doing Tony that is so labour intensive/exhausing/less fun than chipping cat turds off the floor. I don't even bake the baking soda and it keeps my alk at the "good enough" level unless I feel like buggering around with it. I think the 4L containers last about 3 weeks or so and keep my parameters much more stable than the reactor ever did.

Um, silly question but wtf is soda ash?

Aquattro
07-21-2010, 04:03 AM
Um, silly question but wtf is soda ash?

Something you get from smoking soda?

Lance
07-21-2010, 04:04 AM
Um, silly question but wtf is soda ash?


It's from Bulk Reef Supply. Aklalinity supplement. Mixes very easily. Good stuff.

christyf5
07-21-2010, 04:06 AM
It's from Bulk Reef Supply. Aklalinity supplement. Mixes very easily. Good stuff.

Thanks Lance :biggrin:

Delphinus
07-21-2010, 05:11 AM
:eek:, um dude, you had something else going on there, what kind of pumps?

Steve

Mag drives .. went through 2 or 3 of them then switch the reactor back to downflow and stopped wrecking pumps. Yeah, weird, I know.

globaldesigns
07-21-2010, 05:17 AM
I personally do everything manually. I use to premix all my calcium, DKH, MG, Str and so forth, but stopped even doing that about 4 months or so ago.

Now I have a chamber in my sump, located near the starting phase of the sump. this chamber sits in the water about 3/4 in, and the bottom is slatted. In the bottom of this container, I put about 1/2 inch of course foam (like what is used in reactors) to cover the slats and provide a simple barrier.

On a daily basis, I measure out my recipe of dry goods (All now Seachem) and then dump the goods in the chamber. What happens is that the water flow around the chamber (especially underneath) draw out the dosing's, and as it leaches out, fresh water also goes in to replace the saturated water and the process keeps happening. Eventually the dry goods are gone.

What is nice about this, is that I don't have to fuss with premixing, and I find my parameters to be perfect with very minimal swings.

Just another way of doing things, I find this solution to work well for me.

Aquattro
07-21-2010, 05:22 AM
Mag drives .. went through 2 or 3 of them then switch the reactor back to downflow and stopped wrecking pumps. Yeah, weird, I know.

Weird. I've been running the same MAG 3 for 8 years on mine, still going strong.

StirCrazy
07-21-2010, 02:13 PM
Weird. I've been running the same MAG 3 for 8 years on mine, still going strong.

I am wondering if there is a check valve built into his system.

Steve

michika
07-21-2010, 02:44 PM
I still heart my awesome monster Ca reactor I got from Tony. I love the ease of use that comes with it. I don't have to monitor it excessively, I can give it a quick visual once over every morning, double check the parameters through my controller, and then sit back and enjoy my tank.

I plan to stick with reactors on my new tank, Tibet, the monster that lives in my basement.

fishytime
07-21-2010, 03:14 PM
Profilux doser here.....Ca and Alk.......mg is done manually......been thinking about adding two more pumps to the unit to dose the mg and phyto.....easy breezie to adjust.....not so easy to remember to fill the reservoirs:redface:

michika
07-21-2010, 03:49 PM
Yeah, my memory is over taxed enough as it is, I think I'd run the risk of continually forgetting to re-fill containters.

Delphinus
07-21-2010, 05:44 PM
Grouted the tile, siliconed the corner, and remounted my light rack tracks on the ceiling last night. Additive reservoirs remain empty. These empty jugs may in fact be the best thing that ever happened to my tank build.

Tonight I can reinstall my work sink, God how I've missed having a functional sink near the tanks.

StirCrazy
07-21-2010, 06:45 PM
How do you add carbon to a ca reactor?
Carbon should be changed out after 3 weeks or so. That just means more frequent maintenance to the reactor.

Mitch

I agree Carbon should never be put in the reactor as you would have to dump your reactor media to change the carbon which is a huge waist.

Steve

StirCrazy
07-21-2010, 06:46 PM
Grouted the tile, siliconed the corner, and remounted my light rack tracks on the ceiling last night. Additive reservoirs remain empty. These empty jugs may in fact be the best thing that ever happened to my tank build.

Tonight I can reinstall my work sink, God how I've missed having a functional sink near the tanks.

you know what they say, no pictures... it didn't happen. :mrgreen:


Steve

Parker
07-27-2010, 06:45 PM
In the end I went with a reactor instead of dosing for my tank.

1) I already had it.
2) In order to go the dosing route I would have had to sell the reactor to fund the dosers. I HATE selling things. Not because I'm a pack rat but for the most part I hate dealing with people.

List Price - $400.00
Buyer - will you take $75.00
Me - What?
Buyer - Ok, ok how about $85.00
Me - What?
Buyer - I don't have much money and my dog died, my wife left me and my kid is in jail and I really need to save some money for his bail but I really need a reactor for my tank - Help me out buddy.
Me - What?
Buyer - Ok I'll give you $375.00
Me - Deal
Buyer - I'll pick it up tomorrow
Me - Waits three days
Buyer - Sorry I didn't make it over, my wife came back to me, but then my car broke. I'll be over tonight to pick it up.

*A little Later*

Buyer - I'm here for the reactor.
Me - Here you go - I believe we agreed on $375.00
Buyer - Well I only brought $200.00 - Will you take that?
Me - What?
Buyer - How about I pay the rest next week
Me - What?
Buyer - How about a payment plan?
Me - $375.00 please
Buyer - Wait, I think I have more money in my other pocket. Oh look, I do have $375.00.

So I'm running my tank on a reactor!

gobytron
07-27-2010, 06:58 PM
...lol...
people definitely are the worst.

PFoster
07-27-2010, 08:15 PM
LOL, Parker!
This guy should win "LOW BALLER OF THE YEAR!!!"

mark
07-28-2010, 03:27 PM
Parker, been there, even the guy showing up short.

StirCrazy
07-29-2010, 01:00 AM
Parker, been there, even the guy showing up short.

I had one show up and try offer me hot computer parts instead of the money we agreed on :mrgreen:

Steve

amoreira
09-20-2010, 07:54 PM
I have a Calcium Reactor....

Keeps my Alk and Ca at pretty stable and good levels (Alk 11 dkH and Ca about 400 mg/L). Mg is around 1300 mg/L too last time I checked.

I run water through it using a peristaltic pump. Pretty steady flow that doesn't clog. I used other pumps like the aqualifter vac. pump and it clogged and a powerhead, that had problems keeping the low flow rates.

I don't use pH control on the discharge to control the injection of CO2. I just used a timer on my system that opens the solenoid for about 10 min every hour with a good robust flow of bubbles.

I don't have problem with saltwater getting into the solenoid valve and ruining it. It's a good elevation above the reactor. Some does backflow into the CO2 line, but never gets to the valve.

My reactor has the circ. pump glued to everything. So if it ever craps out, I have to either saw it off - basicly ruining the unit. I hate when they don't design things for maintenance/replacement.

I refill the unit every 2-3 months with 5 lbs or so of aragonite coarse media. I refill the 20 lb CO2 cylinder (a rental) every 6 months. Corrosion of the cylinder is not a worry and if it fails I can sue the supplier LOL. I'm not worried about pressurized CO2 cylinder failure.