Calcium Reactors versus 2 part dosing

Discussion in 'Water Chemistry' started by NASAGeek, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. NASAGeek

    NASAGeek Torch Coral

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    Now, let's start by saying that I barely know enough to even ask this question so please bare with me.

    I am reading and reading and gradually getting there but I am not yet at a point that I can apply everything that I am learning. It is also difficult because I am trying to learn and understand all this before buying and setting it up. It is kind of like taking a chemistry class without taking a lab with it.

    SO... Corals and organisms in the tank consume various nutrients. The aquarists job is to provide those nutrients and keep the water in balance. I have read fundamentally of three methods: 1) Direct additives commercially produced. 2) Dosing and 3) Reactors.

    I understand GFO and GAC Reactors. They seem to basically be a form of chemical filtration to remove phosphours and other 'bad things'. I wish they weren't called reactors. Since Calcium Reactors and GFO/GAC Reactors don't seem to be the seem thing at all.

    Calcium Reactors have me confused. Seems like adding commercially produced additives would be cost effective for very small systems but probably quite expensive for moderate and large systems. It also seems that additives would "spike" various parameters rather than keeping them constant at the desired level. Dosing makes sense to me... adding buffer for Alk, calcium, Mg, in the proportions needed by your tank to keep them constant. Calcium Reactors don't make sense to me. If you are going to end up dosing for Alk, Mg, and others, why would you set up a separate mechanism for calcium??? What is the benefit and compared to dosing?

    Long post... sorry.... can someone help me continue my education???

    Merry Christmas Eve,
    Mark
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  3. jonjonwells

    jonjonwells Great Blue Whale

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    If you are running a heavy SPS tank or have clams, it can replenish CA/MG more consistently than dosing. It is a mostly set and forget system. For someone who travels, dosing is much harder. A calcium reactor once dialed in doesn't require the daily maintenance that dosing does.
  4. robwerden

    robwerden Feather Duster

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    Id buy one if they were less expensive. I so far have not been able to justify it. Also I sometimes have to back off on alk because the hardness gets to high, I also dose mag so I worry about salinity building up.
    Im going to stick to doses until I understand how to control all 3 aspects.
  5. Peredhil

    Peredhil Giant Squid

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    I don't know why people have this impression. If you setup auto dosing, it is very much set and forget. I haven't messed with my autodosing unit in months and my params are very stable.

    If you automate dosing it is no harder than a reactor. Dosing, once dialed in, does not need any daily maintenance whatsoever.
  6. Peredhil

    Peredhil Giant Squid

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  7. NASAGeek

    NASAGeek Torch Coral

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    Great thoughts.... I am leaning towards automated dosing... off to read the other thread.

    Thanks
    M
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  9. jonjonwells

    jonjonwells Great Blue Whale

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    The reason I stated that is the ability for the system to accommodate more usage with no manual adjustment. I do realize that an auto doser is a very effective way of doing it.
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  10. Peredhil

    Peredhil Giant Squid

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    the 'grow out' side of it... and the way a reactor auto adjusts... this is true, but I think it's an overrated argument.

    i haven't had to adjust my doser timers since I got it dialed in. This would be about August. Since then, I have had growth and the addition of one SPS frag, candy canes probably something else.

    By the time I will need to go and increase my timer by one second per day (an exceedingly easy task), I would have had to change media on a reactor (every 6 months right?) and probably a CO2 can. This task in a reactor setup is far more intensive (at least how I picture it, never have done it) than adding a second here or there to an autodoser timer.

    It's not like the Ca needs of our tanks is growing by ml's every day. The self adjustment aspect of a reactor... I just don't really see that as a big pro over autodosing.
  11. NASAGeek

    NASAGeek Torch Coral

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    SO that was an awesme thread.... I decided on automated two-part doing.

    Thanks
    Mark
  12. AZDesertRat

    AZDesertRat Giant Squid

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    After owning a calcium reactor I wouldn't go back to dosing for all the money in the world. No buying bulk chemicals, no mixing up batches of chemicals, no filling containers, almost zero maintenance etc with the reactor. Granted bulk chemicals are more available today and less expensive but its still more work than setting and forgetting the drip rate and buble count on a reactor and adding calcium media and filling a CO2 bottle every 9 to 12 months. The only thing I do is clean a small drip valve maybe once wvery 3 or 4 weeks and that takes about 30 seconds.
  13. tatted4ever

    tatted4ever Horrid Stonefish

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    Im switching my two part chemicals over from ESV to BRS. This was one of my concerns with cost associated with two part like I stated in the thread peredhil linked....http://www.3reef.com/forums/water-chemistry/2-part-dosing-vs-reactors-74496.html

    But after this thread I started I realized that Ca reactors arent necessary to keeping up with high demands. I now have my two part dialed in and prolly wont adjust it again for a few months to keep up with the growth.

    I see more potential problems with a Ca Rx.Not to mention the costly investment. Yea I like to drop $$$ on my tank... but if its unnecessary than no need. Id just be a fool.

    Jason Mckenzie here on 3reef uses 2 part on his 370 sps tank and has no plans on going back to a reactor. There are many others with large systems that use two part on their heavly dominated stony tanks. Food for thought.
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  15. H&K

    H&K Flamingo Tongue

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  16. NASAGeek

    NASAGeek Torch Coral

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    I was on the edge as I read all the posts. As a brand new beginner, I'll only be doing "simple corals". I am a ways from SPS. I decided to learn dosing first and get a good understand of chemistry and maintaining a tank and then when I upgrade to a larger tank, armed with a better understanding, I'll look into a reactor. Trying to go slow.

    Mark
  17. Powerman

    Powerman Giant Squid

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    Randy Holmes-Farley. Get to know him. Read all his article. He has a crap ton. Everything you will ever want to know about marine chemistry. Much more than you probably want to.

    Dosing is dosing. Get to know what your reef needs and how you can screw that up. Doing it store bought or bulk is only a matter of price. All those pretty packaged magic potions are all the same stuff. Make small changes and stay consistent. Understand what it takes to change your parameters.

    Automating dosing is the next step. Very simple to do. Self contained dosers like Predhill uses, or dosing pumps ran by controllers. Get a controller from day one, and put it to work. If you already have a controller, then all you need are 2 $80 pumps from BRS.

    I understand the benefits to reactors. To me though they just don't justify the price and added equipment. Just my opinion. They are not a bad deal. I'm not going to knock them, just don't see the need personally. My two part dosing is simple. A batch lasts me 3 months. Making a new batch in 15 minutes every 3 months is hardly what I call a PITA. BRS is cheap enough for me. Reactor media is cheaper, but it takes quite a while to make that money back with the higher capital investment.

    Bottom line though is don't chase test results. Test at the same time. Start with a dose based on actuall water volume and manufacturer recomendations. Dose consistently and let it settle for two weeks and see where it lands. Make small changes and let that stableize and see where that lands. Being a rookie I chased results for a good part of 4 months. All over the place. Calcified my pumps. BRS said don't dose for two weeks and start at the begining. Made small changes every two weeks and dialed it right in. My stuff has been rock solid for 2 months now even with a lot of new additions. Go slow.
  18. tatted4ever

    tatted4ever Horrid Stonefish

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    MM I havent ruled out a Ca reactor on my system in the future.... Myabe in a couple of years when my tank is jammed with SPS practically touching eachother and I have nothing else to play with.

    But two simply say a Ca reactor is far better than two part dosing is ignorant.

    They both have their advantages.... whether its ease, cost, maintenance, etc.

    But for my system two part is the way at the moment. Each system is unique and you need to make the decision on your tank. Maybe when you get a bigger system. But on your 55 is un necessary.
  19. Powerman

    Powerman Giant Squid

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  21. NASAGeek

    NASAGeek Torch Coral

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    All those articles will keep me busy for a while, but I will read many of them. Eventually I plan to upgrade to a 250-300 gal DT. After a bunch of learning and experience, I could see a Ca Reactor making sense. As with many things in this hobby there is more than one way to skin a cat or keep a reef. For me, for now, automated 2-part made sense. Small tank, no SPS, beginner level. I didn't feel I needed a reactor after all the reading. It may be years before I would need one. By then, something "cooler" may be available. Peredhil is going to coach me some on dosing since I lives on the North side of Houston near me. There is so much to learn... lots of fun. I am very patient in setting up the tank, but very impatient in learning... I want to KNOW... Great feedback... the other thread debating this was great as well to see both sides.

    Let me go read all the new articles. I sure more questions to come. The thing I am really struggling with is controllers. I think I need to run my tank for a while to understand better.

    Merry Christmas,
    Mark
  22. Powerman

    Powerman Giant Squid

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    My opinion Mark is that a controller is a must.... it just does not need to be right now. Play with your tank for a while.

    Here is the run down on controllers. All they do is run relays that turn on and off. So absolutely anything that can be turned on or off is controlled. Most all the controllers have the same features.... lite ones and more sophisiticated heavy duty ones. The higher up the scale, the more acess you get and the more programing, probes, and outlets you can run. I run my 90g just fine on a AC Jr. No web or email, can only run two probes, 12 outlets, and 48 lines of programing. Plenty for me. The New Apex are just about infinte in probes outlets and programing.

    So some of the tricks are elaborate lighting scemes, moon phases, wave making, reactor controls, PH controls and other probes ORP ect, ATOs and even running multiple tanks on the same controller. Here is the number one reason to own a controller of some sort. Temperature protection. All of them monitor temp. So I set my heaters up on full blast and turn the outlet on and off as needed. You program like "If temp < 78 then HTR ON". "If temp > 78.5 HTR OFF". But it does not end there... "If temp > 79 CHL ON". So heater off chiller on, yet if the temp rises much more, something is wrong. "IF temp > 80 MH OFF" So you can program in a ton of safety that says "if I ever get here, then do this", "if low water alarm is in, turn off return pump and ATO" and send me and alarm and an e-mail to alert me. Then you access you tank on line and look at whats going on and take care of it from work.;) The possibilities are as infinite as your imagination.
  23. BTowned

    BTowned Peppermint Shrimp

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    I am on the fence with dosing. Currently I have a Calcium Reactor, it does a great job. However, in the winter, I have a hard time keeping my ph stable and high. When the tank is evaporating 2 gallons a day, I can use my Kalk Reactor and keep my ph nice and high. The cooler months mean the doors and windows stay shut. It also means less evaporation. So I have been looking at the Profilux Standalone dosing unit. It's self contained, and can dose different solutions at different times, so you aren't dosing Ca or alk at the same time. The dosing is done very slowly, many times a day. This promotes stability, your levels don't spike or drop, it also keeps the ph at a great level, without having to rely on evaporation and kalk.

    A Calcium Reactor does have its big pluses, the main one I feel is the fact that actual coral skeleton is being dissolved and returned to the water, this effluent contains more than just Ca and alk, it contains trace elements that corals skeleton is built by. Now you can dose trace elements, (Balling Method) along with your Ca/Alk/Mag.
  24. pgreef

    pgreef Fire Goby

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