Calcium reactor advice.............

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Kmooresf, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Hi all,

    Now that the stand is here and LeeMar is actually working on the tank........ I am making my finalized equipment list.

    I am pretty comfortable with most of my equipment decisions (many of which have come from suggestions, or reading others tank builds....thank YOU). Here is a quick list of what I am pretty solid on........

    4 Tunze 6105 Stream pumps with 7095 controller / wavemaker
    Super Reef Octopus 6000 external skimmer with Waterblaster HY3000 feed pump
    2 x Reef Octopus Waterblaster Hy5000 return pumps
    Nextreef MR1 MONSTER GFO / Carbon reactor (already bought it and it's obscenely huge dual chamber.....I think overkill, but it's RAD)

    HOWEVER.........I have a couple questions about Calcium reactors. I have NEVER used one or set one up......I have seen one though. 8)

    Is a Calcium reactor like a skimmer in the sense that if I have a 400 gallon (ish) I get one rated for a 500 gallon system, or bigger?

    I was looking at a few first choice at the moment is the GEO 624. Rated for 200-400 gallons. Do I need to go to the 818? Doesn't seem there is one between these two. Should I, or do I need the dual chamber style as some suggest? I have read MULTIPLE very long articles about how they work which has been great. I truly had NO idea. They give some basic advice on buying them, however most of it seems to be realted to the regulator / selanoid and to be sure to get a quality effluent control valve.

    I will likely purchase a PH controller as well.

    I appreciate any well as recommendations for a particular reactor, regulator set up, your favorite media. Thanks!

    Here's to HOPING my tax return is as good as I think it will be! $)
  2. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    I really like the Geos, they are built like tanks and don't have problems with gas buildup, definitely worth the extra $$$.

    The major difference when dealing with a larger or smaller reactor is the frequency in changing out the media, unless the reactor is woefully undersized then you run the risk of turing your media into mush by running the reactor too hard.

    If you have a few extra bucks runing the reactor with no valve and a peristaltic pump is ideal (I don't run mine that way, just a simple pump and valve).
  3. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Thanks Tuberider!

    That makes sense actually. Too little media requires lower and lower PH and eventual meltdown of media to keep up. Any thoughts on the GEO 624? Chamber is 6" x 24" tall. Seems pretty substantial compared to many other reactors I have looked at. Holds 16lbs of media. My system should be right around 400 gallons. As I have never kept SPS, I am not sure of the load I will be putting on it, however knowing my personality (the crazy guy spending ALL his money on a 400 gallon system....LOL) I will likely pack this sucker! >)

    I will research peristaltic pumps......thanks very much for the tip.

    I have some time as I don't think I will need the reactor until I get the tank cycled and stable. Just been trying to wrap my head around them. Kind of daunting.
  4. gimmito

    gimmito Guest

    I bought a used Geo 818 for the main display based on reviews. Jeremy helped me set up a Geo 612 for the FT and it seems to be doing the job. Another option is a Aquarium Plants electronic regulator that is pretty much set and forget.
  5. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    If you're looking to pack a system, I'd consider running a Ca reactor in tandem with a kalk reactor. Not only do you get the benefits of both, the kalk reactor helps to maintain a stable high(er) pH.
  6. iani

    iani Guest

    Or he can get a full blown stainless dual stage regulator. haha
  7. gimmito

    gimmito Guest


    You haven't meet Ian yet...he likes to collect regulators. Not any regulators mind you...the fancy shmancy dual regulator ones with all the bells and whistles. That's what I'm putting on the Big Tank. :)
  8. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Wow Ian, those are pretty sweet! I had no idea a regulator could get so fancy (and expensive...WOW).

    A bit more than I can afford at the moment though. ;)

    I like the electronic controller a lot Jim. Doesn't seem that much more than a "decent" regulator set up. Thanks for the tips everyone.

    @tuberider.........that sounds interesting. I think I will start the tank, get it cycled......add a calcium reactor and get it tuned and see how it goes. Nice to know there is somewhere to go from there. I can't tell you guys how great it is to have such a wealth of information here. I feel like I have a good chance to bring this tank to it's full potential with all your help.

    Gonna be fun!
  9. iani

    iani Guest

    Kris, you can probably put together a nice brass dual stage regulator with a nice metering valve for less than the cost of the ap regulator. It will be more reliable and you will have better control over the bubble rate.
  10. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Hey Thanks Ian. Like I said, I know nothing about this stuff yet, so appreciate the help. I will start researching regulators. Do you have a brand that you like? or a specific model? Seems like there are a LOT of different places to buy them and the aquarium sites don't necesarily have the good ones. So it seems.
  11. iani

    iani Guest

    Searching ebay is the best place to find a dual stage regulator at an affordable price. There is a lot of info here about them.

    Typically the regulators most go for are victor, concoa, matheson. There are a lot of other brands though. Read up and let me know if you have any questions.
  12. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Great, Thanks Ian.
  13. aqua-nut

    aqua-nut Supporting Member

    I've never used a CR so take everything i write with a BIG grain of salt...

    How often does the media need to be added/replaced? I notice the Geo reactors have lots of thumb screws to deal with. Has anyone used something like the Reef Dynamics, , reactor? The top seems like it would be a breeze to remove.

    If you would like LOTS of info on regulators and solenoids , how to buy, build and configure, you might want to check out either or Another good source of info is the SFBAAPS site, I think you need to be a member to access the forum there. Forget about watching football, get yourself a tall beverage and sit down for LOTS of reading at these sites. Planted tank folks are really serious about CO2 injection! :)

    How about another approach? (first refer to the first line of this post ;) )
    How about A-B dosing instead of a calcium reactor? With a couple of relatively inexpensive dosing pumps ($80 each at and Kalk added to your TO water you would be good to go for a mixed reef system. I read somewhere A-B is a lot less tech than a calcium reactor and CR is a lot more sensitive to adjust. When I look at the cost and complexity of the reactor + regulator + solenoid + controller + CO2 tank vs. the two dosing pumps, I have a hard time justifying CR.

    Your thoughts?
  14. aqua-nut

    aqua-nut Supporting Member

    Is that your Stainless steel Matheson 3810 on the Barr Report site? That is so pretty it should not be hidden but displayed as a piece of industrial art!

    You deserve a :beer: for that one!
  15. gimmito

    gimmito Guest

    I notice we definitely are a 2 part dosing club. I just didn't want to deal with it me lazy.

    John, I forgot to show you the reactors and the fancy regulator Ian made for me.
  16. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    John, having gone both routes on a number of tanks I find two part to be less reliable and more of a headache than running a 2(3) part system. There are more ways for a 2(3) part system to fail, which IME happens and can kill your tank. I can see dosing two part, even manually, in lower demand tanks, but with higher demand stony coral tanks it becomes a little riskier.

    AFA types of reactors, the Ref Dynamics reactor is a modified skimmer, not a bad design at all, I just like having the security of a solid body/lid connection so theres less of a chance of leakage (on my personal tank I run a Korallin with an Aqua Medic regulator).
  17. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Hi John,

    I have not looked into the 2 part dosing before. One thing have been interested in with the reactor was it's ability to buffer and stabalize the PH in the tank along with the dosing effects. Does the 2 part help with any of that, or hinder? I will look up some stuff about it in the next few days. Thanks!

    I have actually read a LOT of stuff from the Barrot report (Ian gave me a bunch of links) as well as some from Planted tanks that I found in Google searches. Good stuff and VERY thorough!

    As for the reactor itself, I have simply been going by reviews. The GEO has a lot of good reviews out there including full articles. Most of the other brands are difficult to find information on. Seems they are all similar in some ways, but a LOT of different designs out there makes it hard to make a decision. I am open to ANY recommendations on other reactors. Some others I have considered are the Reef Octopus, Aqua C, Korallin, Nextreef, Vertex, Lifereef and of coarse GEO. I have a few months to make this decision, so I appreciate the info. Gives me a chance to read up on it.

    Nice meeting you John and Jim. Tuberider and Ian, I am sorry if I missed ya at the meeting. Next time. ;)
  18. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    pH is a value that is more controlled by the ambient CO2 levels, if your buffering capacity is at a reasonable level then pH shouldn't be a number to chase around.
  19. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I have been running a 2 part doser for my 240G for a year so so, and several years on older tanks.
    It works ok. But I cannot say it is "better" than a calcium reactor.
    Cost is fine. Setup was not hard.
    Funny though : I have two 8 gallon containers for Calc+Alk. Not small.

    For me, I am comfortable with micro-controllers, adding relays, and so on,
    so I feel better about that than bottles of CO2.
    If not for that, I probably would have gone with a calcium reactor.

    Regarding the Kalk in top-off water, I am personally against that, but other very good reefers would disagree.
    I feel that regulating a chemical additive based on simple water height adds a sizable risk.
    Partly mechanical risk, but also susceptible to simple user mistakes causing devastating effects.
    I am not against Kalk in a doser though.
  20. tuberider

    tuberider Guest

    I use kalk in my top off w/o any problems. Keep in mind though I have to use both due to demand, I can throw a ton of Ca/Alk at my tank and it just asks for more as it drops 2-3 dKH in a 24 hr period.

    The point is it your dosing regimen depends on what your outcome to be. If you want a simple mixed reef, you can dose manually. If you want a tank where giant sticks and plates are ramming into each other all over the place, you need to think a little more critically about the long run.

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