Calcium reactors sound big and scary but they are actually a fairly simple device (once you understand them!) Essentially you inject co2 into a canister of tank water and crushed coral skeletons. The co2 lowers the PH of the water making it acidic which in turn slowly dissolves the coral skeleton within chamber. The dissolved coral enriches the reactor water (which is called the effluent) then is slowly dripped back into the tank. This balanced nutrient rich effluent doses calcium, alkalinity and trace elements back into your tank.
When you first setup a calcium reactor it does take some time and daily testings.. however once its set it requires very little maintenance and go for months before you have to tweak it again (unless you add or remove a lot of coral and your calcium and alkalinity demands change)
To tuning the reactor simple.. i would strongly recommend you use a PH probe to control the co2 solenoid.. this will act as a safety net of not running your PH to low and melting your media to fast and turning it to mush. Anything under 7PH is considered acidic and will slowly dissolve the media.. while most reactors shoot for around 6.5-6.7 but that depends on your reactor media.
In my reactor i run A.R.M media which has worked well so far.
Low PH? Now the one downside of a calcium reactor is your are dripping an extremely low PH solution into your tank… which you guessed it.. will lower your tanks PH.
In my setup i decided to combated this a by building a DIY second Calcium reactor chamber. The second chamber is full of tiny crushed coral skelleton which force the water to perkelated up though the media and obsorb more co2.. which further raises effluent PH. I then put the output into a drip cup which raised it about 0.25PH… then to up it a bit more i used a limewood (skimmer) air stone in the settling/drip cup. The oxygen injection helps force out the PH… With all these methods combined my effluent went from 6.2 to 7.2 Which helps prevent the tanks PH from doping too much
What all do you need for a calcium reactor? – Calcium Reactor
– Feed Pump
– CO2 tank/regulator
– CO2 Solenoid/PH controller(optional but recommended)
Check out the video below for a better explanation of how it all works
After letting the tank cycle for about 5-6 week’s it was time order my Jellyfish. I had they overnight…however there was of course an issue with the shipper and they poor guys ended up taking an extra night. I had been eagerly watching for the magic postal fairy for 2 days….. then finally it happened.. they arrived!
The poor guys must have been frozen.. the bag water was 3-4 degrees when i opened it… i knew a very slow acclimation was key to their success…. for the next 5-6 hours the jellys sat in their shipping bag on my desk to slowly bring them up to room temperature.. Once the water was about 15C i slowly started to mix tank water into the shipping bag.. I moved a ladle full every 20-30 minutes to allow the moon jelly fish time to adjust
2 hours later they were in the tank… at first there wasn’t much moment… over the next 24h they slowly started to move and pulse as they adjusted to their new home.
Its now the morning of day 3: 2 of the jellys are happily pulsing around. one of them had a tear in the bell which already looks to be healing up! (these guys are amazing at repairing them selves! ) 2/3 are good to go!
The last one is fully open and floating around.. i see a bit of movement in the oral arms.. but not pulsing as of yet.. hopefully soon.
Thats all for now.. check back soon for the next update.
I fill my 5g salt mixing bucket as well as my top-off container directly from my RODI unit… I added a 50′ hose to the output so i can just bring it directly to the tank rather than hauling buckets around the house…
Now if you are like me.. and get distracted easily you have have ‘forgotten’ about your water running and come back to a damp floor.. yes i admit it happened 4-5 times now over the past year or two… so i finally wised up and purchased some float valves.
I installed a valve on the top off bucket and will do another on my 5g mixing bucket… This way if i ever forget the water on … the valve will kill flow and prevent another wet floor.
About a month ago I gor a fancy schmancy Apex DOS stepper dosing pump.. I was previously using a Jabeo dosser however, unplugged it once i got the calcium reactor going. I decided to get back on weekly testing and stocked up on test kit refills..
For the first time since cycling my tank I decided to test nitrates and found it was much higher than i would have liked. I used a red sea test kit..and was way off the charts for the low range test.. I then repeated the test in the “high range” mode and it read some where beteween 16 and 32…. So i decided it was time to try Vodka Dosing!
Shortly after I dug out the fancy apex dos that was hiding in the closet waiting to be unwrapped. I chose the apex DOS as it deliver an extremely precise dose and was perfect for vodka dosing ( i actually got it for future automatic water changes but wont be implementing that until i move the tank closer to a water source.)
I figure my tank is around 120-130G with the sump.. subtracting sand and rock i settled on 100g to make calculations easy. I’m following the chart below as a general guide on slowly increasing my dosage
Ill update this post as i go to keep you guys updated on how it goes!
Week 1: Day 1: 29/11/2016 I started on 0.5ml/day
Week 1: Day 3: 02/12/2016 Upped my dose to 1ml/day.
After being tired of bare spots and sand dunes forming in my tank from the undertow of the mp40.. I finally decided to build a solution
I designed a plate that contours to the cage of the mp40 and snaps on. It’s made from ABS which is aquarium safe and secure should rid me of the dunes and bare spots!
I just picked up a Jacod CP-40 gyre but was disappointing to see that the jabeo > apex connector does not work with this unit.. In efforts to figure out a way to work the signal and make my own i decided to do a little reverse engendering and see how it worked.. No keep in mind i’m still learning to use my oscilloscope.. this may be a bit of a leap for me.. but hey its a good time to learn!
The connector wiring
Backside of controller
front side of controller
Yellow line is the yellow wire. Blue is brown wire.
Magnetic stirrers are one of the simplest ways to build a DIY Kalk stirrer. I used an old reactor with a missing lid for the tube. You could also just use PVC or an acrylic tube. For the used a hole saw and made a hole in the centre of a square of acrylic and bonded it to the tube. I sandwiches some rubber beteeeen a second price and drilled holes for nylon wing nuts The rubber in the middle seals the lid
The base is a square of acrylic to hold a 120mm PC fan. I did have to shave a few mm off the side of the fan to make it fit. I glued a rare earth magnet to the centr of the fan and aligned it a few mm below the top of the frame to ensure it can spin freely
Inside the reactor be sure to put a piece of glass on the bottom to prevent the internal stir bar from wearing through the acrylic over time
Having a steel stand makes it a little hard to add on.. Well that is if you don’t use magnets! I have been using strong magnets to mount all kinds of stuff inside my stand including my Jabeo doser
I vent a price of acrylic by claiming it beteeeen 2 prices of wood and going over the edge with a heat Gun. I then used drywall plugs into the space between magnets in a magnetic strip bar and used screws to attach the two together
The magnetic strip came from princess auto and was about $15. The acrylic I had laying around so all in all it was a pretty cheap project and looks great
Something magical happneed… I got a call saying my tank was done! After planning this upgrade for close to six months i was extatic to see my project coming to life.
A few buddies showed up to help with the move (thanks guys!). It showed in a big wodden crate with the stand bolted to the top.. The tank it self was sealted tight like a mummy in a vault.. There must have been 600 nails on that crate…. Opening it was another challenage. The first half to process involved hammers and pry bars trying to seperate the wood…. after slow progress i busted out the reciprocating saw and begun cutting the support posts… eventually we were in!
The tank was faily heavy but manageable. I pre cut carpet to put under the stand which made it moveable (prior to filling).. this was great as it allowed me to tweak its position, slide it out to put black vinyl on the back and make sure it was perfectly level
The tank it self is 3 sides starfire… it will eventually turn into a peninsula uptop the stairs but for the next year or two it will be down here against the wall.
With the tank in its temporary home I picked up some 3/4 plywood to build a sump stand and build my sump space.
Dry sand can be full of dust and cloud your tank for days. Used sand can be full of detritus and bad stuff that you probably don’t want to add into your tank. If you are using either of theses sands its best to give them a real good rinse prior to use. The easiest way is to pour your sand into a 5g bucket and push the garden hose all the way down to the bottom. Turn your hose on full and let the water work its way and and bring the little particles with it. You can swish it around and mix it up or just let it run. I any take a good 20 minutes with the water running so you mind as well do it in the middle of your lawn so it gets a good watering!
Once the water runs clear you will want to ensue the sand is fully dried prior to adding to your tank.
Spread your sand out on a tarp and let it bask in the sun until dry and your good to go.
A few updates photos of my planted innovative Marie fusion 16 crystal shrimp tank. The tank used is actually a marine tank. I used stainless mesh on the overflows to help keep the shrimp out. The beauty of a marine tank is you can hide your filers and heaters in the rear sump and keep the display clutter free
For a couple hours and $30 you can build your self a custom GFO, carbon, or bio pellet reactor! After searching for reactors and being shocked how they can cost upwaords of 150-200$ for a tube i decided to try and build my own.. while in the dollar store i noticed a $3 glass pasta jar that was the perfect size for a reactor. The hardest part was finding the little bulkhead style pipe.. I found these lovely little bits at home hardware. The circular mesh came from michales. The red pvc i already had laying around.
One word of warning. The lids tend to be a bit thinner so be careful not to force and fittings as it may crack the lid. I remedied this buy laying down a layer of epoxy (poly urathane) overtop of the lid to bond the cracsks and seal it all together.. If you drill it successffuly with out cracking it then i’m sure you can skip this step unless you want to strengthen the lid. Either way its fairly low pressure inside and should not be an issue.
If using this as a diy carbon reactor I would use the sponges above and below to hold the carbon tightly and prevent tumbling.
If doing a DIY GFO reactor leave space above the gfo and adjust your flow so that the top just simmers.. you want some movement in the gfo doesnt bond together.
for DIY Bio pellet reactors just use the mesh screen and have high flow so the bio pellets are continuously churning in the chamber.
1x Glass Pasta Jar with plastic lid ($3 at dollarrama)
2x 1/2″ Flexible Elbow Conduit ($4.99 Item #3622-681 at home hardware)
1x Water Filter Head Seal Gasket ($6.20 Item #3115-809 at home hardware) part may vary depending on jar
1x Schedule 40 1/2″ Slip PVC Cap (0.79 cents at home hardware Item #3262-631)
1x Schedule 40 1/2″ Slip x Female Imperial Pipe PVC Adapter ($0.99 at home hardware Item #3262-301)
1x pack of 4.5″ mesh circles ($2.99 at Michaels crafts)
1x length of PVC – size depends on your juar
1x can of krylon fusion in your color of choice to make it look pretty. ($6.99 at Canadian tire)
1x epoxy of choice… if you happen to crack the lid while drilling 😉 … Pro tip! make sure the hole is big enough (5/8″ i believe…) my step drill bit only wen to 1/2″ ish which was a tad small.. i tired to force screw it in which caused the thinner lid to crack.
After countless hours playing with rocks (Big kid lego?) I think i finally have a structure im happy with. This big structes will be on the 2/3 of the tank and i will be re-using the structures out of my IM Fusion 30 for the other half. To glue the rocks together I have been using a product called Fijicrete. I also made sure no attach no more than 2 rocks together so its still easy enough to take apart and move it around…. It would be extremely heave as one solid piece! Let me know if you have any feedback so far.
Coralline algae looked awesome on rocks but can become an issue when it covers your aquarium equipment.
With enough buildup Power heads can slow down or even stop… This could lead to disaster if they are unable to turn on after a power outage and should be cleaned every few months. Heaters and other equipment can also loose efficiently as they they get coated im coralline.
But don’t worry there is a very easy fix! The secret to dissolving it is a very common household acid.. Vinegar! Just soak your equipment in vinegar for a few hours and the coralline will dislike and turn to mush. A quick rinse/wipe and your equipment will look like new!
Before the soak
After a couple hours in a vinegar bath.. And it’s like new!
I’m far to overdue for an update! Its been about 5-6 months and the reef is flourishing. Far to good.. infact the tank is overrun with coral (mostly because i keep adding them). Next summer i’m planning on doing a 5.5-6′ shallow reef.. so i’m slowly stockpiling!
Here is a video update of the tank:
And for fun I also made a video at night with the Blue UV lights. the UV coral really pops.. kind of like a black light party!
I have been thinking of culturing my own phyto for a while now.. recently my local store stopped selling some fresh cultures so i decided to try out my own.
Ideally one would start with a specific strain however there was slim pickens where i live so i decided to go with the only live culture i could find. I found a nice big bottle of phytofeast to get started.
I mixed the salt water to around 1.019 – 1.020. For the fertalizer I decided to use miraclegrow for the first batch (and ordered some F2 for future cultures).
I mixed two different batches. The 2L bottle was my first attempt with 5ml of miracle grow. The second batch I added 1ml of miraclge grow to the 500ml bottle and thew the bottle into the microwave for 2 min to sterilize it.. once it cooled i added some live phyto (mixed much darker than the first one) and added it to the shelf
The light is currently on a timer for to run at 16 hours per day…