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Old 26-07-2005, 06:58 PM   #1
nim75sg
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Default Reef Maniacs Calcium Reactor

At last, I made my decision to purchase from the local DIYer instead of getting the Calcium Carbonate Reactor from either a H&S or Aqua Medic.

The most obvious choice is from Joe P - Reef Manics from the DIY market as I want a CR to address the three main areas:

1. Constant Drip Rate
Although the various designs of reactor may be better or worse for this, it is generally true that it very difficult to achieve a constant drip rate using a normal pump. Eventually they slow down and you end up constantly have to adjust them. There are three potential solutions.

The first one, which I have not used, is to take a line off the main return pump and control the flow using a micro gate valve. The high pressure produced by the main pump makes it less susceptible to changes and the gate valve allows precise control.

The second way, is via a dosing pump or rather a peristaltic pump like the Aqua Medic SP3000. Dosing pumps are nice because they are small, do not require any clever plumbing, produce a high pressure and do not need to be primed. All you have to do is have a strict regiment of cleaning that special tube regularly otherwise it will harden up and "crack".

The third one, which I am using is to taking a line off the Eheim Compact feed pump to the UV Sterilizer and control the flow using a micro gate valve. This is similar to the first solution but on a scale-down approach.

2. Constant Bubble Rate
The next problem I am worry of is getting a reliable bubble rate from a regulator. This is one area where I bought a two stage unit with a needle valve and never looked back at the other inexpensive ones which is fine for planted tank keeping. For your information, I bought a Bioplast unit.

3. Low pH
Because CO2 is used to lower the pH in order to dissolve the reactor media, the chances are excess CO2 comes out of the reactor. With sufficient water surface agitation and fresh air coming into the room, then you may be able to get away with it. However this proved impossible for me.

Therefore, what I have found works really well would be a CR who has the feature to solve the excess CO2 to re-circulates back to the main chamber.

CO2 Tank & Media
I am using CaribSea ARM which is even more soluble unlike the "proper" (more pure) media like Koralith but its price is so much more expensive that I have not bothered the cost of 3 big bottles of the CaribSea ARM as it also contains trace elements like Calcium, Magnesium, Carbonate, Strontium, Potassium.

Using a cylinder of 3.5L of CO2 to feed the Calcium Reactor via the BioPlast Regulator for fine adjustment which I hope can last at least 9 months.


Conclusions:
Finally, many reefers are aware that I don't believe in local DIYed product but it seems that I have no choice but to eat my own words now as this product is of good quality standard and must say that it is on par with those imported ones.

In short, it is indeed a good piece of equipment from Reef Maniacs worth investing.

In my opinion, it is on par with other similar imported products and in terms of service, I am very satisfied with the pre-sales service provided by Joe and are confident that he will render the same level of post-sale service as well.

I have found the reactor to work very well and the MaxiJet pump is quiet, but it has a minor problem. It is not easy to carry as the total weight is more than 10kg for a lightweight person like yours truly.

But, this only has to be done once when the media is depleted or when the time for replacement is due anywhere from 9 months down the road depending on the type of corals in the tank.

Overall, the use of a calcium reactor has moved me another step closer toward the ultimate goal of becoming the lazy aquarist who spends time enjoying the tank, rather than working on the maintenance chores.
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Old 26-07-2005, 07:14 PM   #2
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The unit is custom-made with 21" in height and footprint about 10"x10" which meets my requirement of placing all equipment out of sight in the cabinet other than the chiller.

This pic shows some of the micro gate valves in their respective functions eg quick release pressure, control the number of drips returning to the sump, etc.
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Old 26-07-2005, 07:17 PM   #3
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This is bubble counter which is "mobile" in the sense that the whole assembly is rotatable counterwise and anti-clockwise position.
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Old 26-07-2005, 07:27 PM   #4
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To monitor the pH level in the effluent, a PinPoint pH probe is inserted as shown in the right hand side of the pic to get real-time desired reading of between 6.6 to 6.8 pH
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Old 26-07-2005, 07:28 PM   #5
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Check Valves in place to prevent any back flow due to Murphy's Law ..
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Old 26-07-2005, 07:35 PM   #6
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Using the BioPlast Regulator which is attached to the CO2 bottle which consisting valves and gauges to control and monitoring the rate at which CO2 is released from the bottle. One of the gauges indicates the bottle pressure and the other, the operating pressure.

The needle valve, I think is the most critical part of the regulator, is used to make fine adjustments to the CO2 bubble rate and having a high quality inline needle valve will provides precise fine adjustment.
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Old 26-07-2005, 07:44 PM   #7
nim75sg
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Tuning the CR on a cautious approach as there is a tendancy of that after the intro of this unit, the tank pH is lower than its does previously.

Started with a fairly low CO2 bubble count and a low effluent flow rate which was about 30 drips per minute of effluent water and 10 bubbles per minute of CO2, the effluent pH level monitored after 12 hours was 7.16
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Old 26-07-2005, 07:55 PM   #8
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Most calcium reactors are not supplied with calcium carbonate media. Unfortunately, choosing good media is not easy as there is very little information published on the composition or impurities present in the internet.

After many hours of researching I learnt that a typical reef tank needs at least a pH of around 7.7 or less is needed inside the calcium reactor for aragonitic media to begin to dissolve and generally, most people get good results dissolving aragonitic media inside the reactor at pH 6.5 to 6.7.

Since my experience with CaribSea products is rewarding, I decided to use their ARM (Aragonite Reactor Media) as it not only contains Calcium & Carbonate but essential trace elements as well.
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Old 26-07-2005, 08:00 PM   #9
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After 2 days of installation and with no further adjustments, the efflluent pH level drops to the level of 6.94
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Old 27-07-2005, 12:53 AM   #10
loster
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ken, good detail and balance review. i agree with you. it is a great product. i have one set also
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