Reactors 101

   
Reactors
  
Calcium Reactors
  
One type of reactor that we have really come to love here is the Calcium Reactor. Many people may take a look at one of these and think 'I don't want to get that complicated' - truth is these are one of the easiest piece of equipment to both operate and maintain though.
In order to operate a Calcium Reactor you will need a CO2 cylinder, a solenoid, two water pumps (to feed the reactor from your sump and then return the water from the reactor to your sump), and all tubing. The way they work is the first water pump slowly siphons water from your sump and into the reactor chamber. In the reactor chamber will be a mixture of calcium media, also known as aragonite and magnesium media. The CO2 cylinder delivers compressed CO2 to the reactor body which lowers the pH inside the reactor body to just under a pH level of 6.5. Once this occurs the media inside the reactor begins to dissolve and it is then pumped from the reactor BACK to the sump where usually a slow drip is set up to maintain proper calcium, alkalinity and magnesium levels within your tank.
    
Another piece of equipment we recommend for safety reasons is a pH probe such as the Milwaukee MC122. You can hook your CO2 solenoid to this and it will safely turn your CO2 tank on and off to help ensure proper pH levels are maintained in your Calcium Reactor body. We know this sounds technical but it's really very simple
  
Another large benefit of Calcium Reactors is the argaonite media housed within the reactor. Aragonite media is simply old coral skeletons which are dried out. When this media is dissolved within the reactor chamber it also releases Trace Elements back into the tank which are consumed by natural growth of both corals invertebrates. If you are looking for the best coral growth and coloration due to consistent water chemistry, then a Calcium Reactor is right for you.
 
Should you have any further questions about Calcium Reactor or how they can benefit your tank please contact us.
  
Media - Biopellet, GFO and Carbon Reactors
       
Media Reactor house different types of media in order to "polish" or clear your aquarium water of impurities. They can help control issues such as Nitrate problems, Phosphate problems, stagnant yellowing water, and much more. One of our favorite new reactors is called the Nyos Torque. Make sure you purchase the right type of reactor based on what you plan to use it for. Don't attempt to gut corners or cost by purchasing one type of reactor to use a another type of media.
      
Biopellet Reactors have become almost a necessity such as skimmers or lights. Biopellet reactors work in a similar way that your sandbed or live rock works in your tank. Inside the reactor body Solid Carbon is slightly "churned" or pushed around where it begins to grow large amounts of beneficial bacteria. Even a small Solid Carbon Doser (biopellet reactor) can house a large amount of beneficial bacteria. This bacteria then breaks down Ammonia into Nitrite and then Nitrite into Nitrate which is then removed from the tank VIA water changes or natural filtration. We should note that Nitrate at the very end of the Nitrogen Cycle turns to harmless Nitrogen Gas which sometimes removes itself due to every day evaporation. But since usually nitrate and nitrogen gas are both present in most aquariums it's good to use several different methods to remove it from your tank. 
  
To help ensure that any effluent (waste) from the bacteria dying off in your Biopellet Reactor we recommend you run the outlet as close to your Protein Skimmer as possible. This will help remove the waste from your reactor at a more efficient rate and help keep your tank cleaner. 
                    
GFO Phosphate Media, Ferric Oxide, is the most common media known for getting harmful levels of phosphate under control. Phosphate comes from any dead or decaying organic matter, which is unavoidable in every tank. Decaying uneaten food, fish waste and even just the life-cycle of bacteria adds to phosphate levels in an aquarium. Protein Skimmers should be a necessity on 100% of all tanks no matter what. Skimmers remove these dissolved organic compounds with ease to help keep your tank healthy. But, in some tanks where the skimmer might not be getting the phosphate levels low enough, a Phosphate Reactor could be useful.
       
Activated Carbon has always been one of the best medias for basica polishing of tank water. It can absorb odors, discoloration and even some chemicals from tank water. It's also very helpful if you keep corals such as Zoanthids in your tank as it can help remove their toxins from the waters, Every carbon on the market releases phosphate into the water which can have some people pulling their hair out if they're trying to control algae and you don't want to use one type of media to control what another media is doing. We recommend that everyone keeps a small amount of carbon and a carbon reactor or filter around at all times just because they can be extremely helpful in "emergency situation". If for some odd reason a chemical is introduced into your tank that you need to remove fast, carbon is most of the time an excellent choice. 
    
Nitrate Reactors
  
Nitrate Reactors use Sulfur Media and Calcareous Media as a way of keeping your Nitrate levels under control if they are higher. These reactors work in very similar ways as Calcium Reactors. Water is fed from your tank or aquarium into the reactor body by means of a slower feed pump. Once the reactor media has done it's job and cleared the water of Nitrate, it is then pumped from the reactor body back into the tank. From what we have seen and heard from customers, Nitrate Reactors actually do a decent job at getting your Nitrate levels lower and in some cases almost undetectable in aquariums that might have a much higher bioload.
  
Zeovit Reactors
  
Zeovit Reactors are nearly identical to Biopellet Reactors, only more expensive to maintain and operate because they tend to keep the nitrate laden bacteria at a much higher population. Zeovit Reactors are designed to work with a certain media and certain chemicals which are added regularly to the reactor, both of which are supposed to ensure the highest population of beneficial bacteria can be achieved. These reactors are basically like a garden that is fed fertilizer and uses only the best surface area to help ensure the most amount of beneficial bacteria is grown. The thing about these reactors is they do work and are worth the additional investment in time and cost if you are willing to deal with the upkeep to help ensure the best possible water conditions in your aquarium.
       
If you have any further questions about which reactor might be right for your aquarium, or if you are dealing with any other water chemistry issues that were not discussed, please contact us at contact@aquariumsumps.com
  
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