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Thread: Calcium Reactor Installation and Tuning

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    La Plata, Maryland
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    On the evening of the 25th day I checked the alkalinity of the tank and it was 8.4. The effluent PH was 19.0 and it was dripping at 10ml per minute. The PH in the calcium reactor was between 7.01 and 7.06. The solenoid is set to the maximum of 10 seconds per bubble with 6lbs pressure on regulator. Even at this level the Apex is still turning the CO2 on and off.

    The alkalinity in the tank was climbing slowly. It was 8.1 on day 21, after a water change. On day 22, it was 8.3. I decided to makes some minor changes when it had risen to 8.4 on day 23. The PH of the effluent was up from 17.8 to 19.0. I changed the PH by .05 in the reactor. It is now between 7.05 and 7.10. I will test again this weekend and see if levels have stabilized.

    Note: The electronic tester I use for alkalinity will not read high enough to test the dHK of the effluent from the calcium reactor. The tester only reads to 300ppm, roughly 16.7 dKH. The test requires 10ml of fluid. I put 5ml of RODI water and 5ml of effluent in to run the test. I then take the result times two to get the actual dKH of the sample. I don’t remember where I learned this, but it is helpful to be able to test the effluent.
    Jeff

  2. #12
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    Jun 2016
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    La Plata, Maryland
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    Does anyone use a needle valve for their calcium reactor? If so, what brand? Is it on the feed side or effluent side of the reactor?

    On the evening of day 26 I decided to check the effluent of the calcium reactor. I wanted to see if there had been any change in its alkalinity in the last 24 hours. The effluent had been 19.0 the day before when I made adjustments. The level tested at 19.4. This is not significantly different from the day before. There could be small errors due to the method I am using to test the effluent. Diluting the samples may cause more than the .3 dKH variance in the tester.

    However, I noticed that the effluent flow had slowed from its previous rate. The rate had been a constant 10ml per minute. It had now slowed to about 4.5ml per minute. I checked the alkalinity of the tank and found it had fallen from 8.4 the previous day to 8.3. This was not a surprise when the flow had been cut in half. I readjusted the flow to 10ml per minute and will recheck the flow rate, effluent dKH and tank dKH later.

    This brings up a new issue with the system. I believe that the effluent may be clogging the adjustable valve where the effluent drips back into the tank. It is also possible that the valve is not holding its adjustment. Either way, I think that I probably need to look into making a change.

    The valve I am using right now is nothing more than a valve that is meant for use with an air pump. I could try to use a different type of valve. I know that some people use needle valves to control the flow from their calcium reactor. I could place it on the side where the water feeds the reactor, or where the effluent exits. It would seem that it would make sense to place it on the feed side so the valve would not be exposed to the effluent, possibly clogging the valve. The biggest issue with this is the only needle valves I have seen for sale use ¼ OD tube, while my feed line is 3/8 OD. It can be changed, but would not be convenient. The effluent line is ¼ OD tubing, so the change would be easy. Suggestions from anyone with experience in this area would be valuable.
    Jeff

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    waldorf
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    Jeff, I turn my pressure up on the Co2 to 10lb and I keep the effluent on a faster drip to almost constant run. when the regulator turn on is when the calcium starts to melt thus mixing in with the water and into the tank. the water in calcium reactor is constantly cycling based on how you are feeding the reactor. I have mine fed from a manifold not a separate pump turning on and off. you may need a stronger pump or open the valve more as to not clog it.

  4. #14
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    Jun 2016
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    La Plata, Maryland
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    Thanks for the information. I think the faster flow is a good idea. Do you ever have trouble with your flow getting restricted? Is your valve on the feed or drip side of the reactor?

    I have been thinking about increasing the flow of the effluent to keep the line from clogging. However, I think I need to make an adjustment to the PH of the reactor to make this work. If I just increase the flow of the effluent I will throw my levels out of balance. The effluent coming out of the reactor is currently 15.2 dKH and flowing at 10ml per minute. I think this should be adding about .18 dKH, roughly the amount being consumed, to my tank each day. My reactor is fed off of my manifold, so I am thinking about changing the rate of flow to somewhere around 30ml to 40ml per minute. This would help to keep the line from clogging, but I need to confirm the correct effluent alkalinity to maintain my levels for calcium, alkalinity and magnesium.

    At 40ml per minute, I think the effluent would have to be about 10 dKH to add the .18 dKH each day. The effluent would have to be 10.5 dKH at 30ml per minute to add the same amount. I am not sure it is even possible for me to maintain these low levels from the reactor. I know that many people run at around 25 to 30 dKH. This makes me wonder why mine would be so low. I will probably try to do a little more research before I change anything to make sure I get it right.
    Jeff

  5. #15
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    Jun 2007
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    waldorf
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    valve is on the drip side. I also have the probe in the reactor not in the sump.so as the constant flow coming in and pump circulating the water in the reactor can be controlled inside the reactor not in the tank which will take a lot to adjust. so one small easily controllable area(reactor) and with flow going out into the tank eventually will be the same.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    La Plata, Maryland
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    I am now at day 36 and thought I would give an update of what is taking place at this point. In a previous post I was trying to find out why the PH and ORP in my tank had fallen suddenly. After looking at some notes, I determined there were probably multiple contributing factors. None of which seem to be linked to the calcium reactor.

    One factor was that I did a water change that lowered the ORP, which is a common effect. The amount that ORP will be impacted will vary according to the ingredients in each salt mix brand. However, a couple of days prior to the water change I took a two dot bristle nose tang out of quarantine and added it to the tank. Five days later I added a group of blue green chromis from the quarantine system to the tank. I think the addition of the fish is where the story really began, but there will be a plot twist later.

    Here are some quick notes about ORP. ORP is not something we can generally control, unless we add ozone to our aquariums. There is much debate about whether this is beneficial or necessary. ORP is a complex matter of oxidizers and reducers trying to gain or lose electrons. However, for our purposes, we can say that monitoring ORP is just another way to see potential issues by looking at a number. This number, according to most sources, should probably be between 200 and 400. Remember, most of us have never calibrated our ORP probes to know if the number we see is accurate. The exact number is not necessarily important, just the trends in the data. A drop in ORP may occur because of water changes, adding certain supplements, adding large amounts of food, high levels of waste or dead and decaying organisms. Next, I will explain which of these things I did in conjunction with each other to cause my issues.

    By adding the bristle nose tang to the tank, it impacted the ORP by adding a need for extra food and adding extra waste. This inhibited the ability of the ORP in the tank to recover. While the tank was still trying to reach a state of equilibrium, I added three blue green chromis. This added to the issues brought by adding the tang. Now it is time for the plot twist I promised.

    It seemed like the biopellets in my reactor were not tumbling at a rate that kept everything moving so I made a change. I increased the size of the line feeding the reactor from ½” inner diameter to 3/4” inner diameter. This allowed enough flow to really tumble the pellets. However, this was about the same time that I added the fish. Not only did the fish lower the ORP, but the excessive tumbling of the pellets did as well. The biopellets are inhabited by a bacteria that consumes nitrate, and some phosphate. Inside the reactor the ORP is lower than the tank. Under the slime on the pellets the ORP is even lower. Increased flow through this low ORP area also contributed to decreased ORP in the tank.

    I noticed that my filter sock was clogging with a strange looking slimy substance in less than a day. After several days I realized that the substance was coming from the biopellet reactor. I was tumbling the pellets fast enough to strip the slime from the pellets. The skimmer I have was not capable of handling the increase in slime and allowed it to exit into the water where it was clogging the filter sock. I decreased the flow through the pellets to just above what it was when the change was made and the problem with the filter sock stopped immediately.

    It has taken about 48 hours, but the ORP and PH have finally stabilized. Everything has now returned to normal levels. What I learned was changing water, adding some fish or increasing the flow to the biopellet reactor slightly have very little impact individually. However, when done together, they make ORP fall like a rock. My ORP when this started was about 330, it fell to a low of about 270 and has now returned to about 325.

    I did notice that the corals did not look as happy as usual during the time the ORP was decreased. This could have been due to the excess slime circulating and irritating them or because the ORP had fallen. However, everything seems to have returned to normal. In conclusion, doing all of these things at once falls into the category of things not to do again.
    Jeff

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    La Plata, Maryland
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    It is now day 39 and things appear to be going well. I made a slight adjustment to the PH in the reactor. I dropped the range within the reactor itself to between 7.05 and 7.10. This is down from between 7.10 and 7.15.
    alkalinity 2.8.18.jpg
    The alkalinity of the tank has been moving slowly downward over the last week from 8.2 to 7.8. The change has been gradual, .4 dHK over the course of a week, but is probably an indication that a minor adjustment is in order. Calcium is currently 430 and magnesium is 1440. The magnesium number is a little high. It had been holding steady around 1380 for the last month. I am going to check again because this could be a testing error on my part.
    PH ORP 2.8.18.jpg
    I had previously posted about my ORP and PH concerns. You can see that my PH and ORP have both returned to very acceptable levels, after reducing the flow in my biopellet reactor. The average ORP has been on the rise over the last week, averaging about 314. The PH is averaging almost 8.1, staying above 8 at all times. I am pleased with the overall PH value and total range, considering that I do not run a refugium on a reverse lighting cycle to minimize the swing. Nitrate continues to be about 5. My ultra-low range phosphorous tester reads 9ppb, which converts to about .0275 ppm of phosphate. I am running 400ml of biopellets, no GFO and 1 cup of carbon in a reactor. The 400ml of pellets is only about half of the recommended dose. I am considering adding another 200ml to get to 75% of the recommendation. This should help to lower the nitrate and phosphate readings. Does anyone with experience running a biopellet reactor have an opinion about what I should do?
    Jeff

  8. #18
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    Dec 2007
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    Maryland
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    Hi Jeff, Thanks for keeping us up to date on your project! Are those graphs from your Apex?

    I have a biopellet reactor but it keeps getting clogged and I have to clean it about every 2 weeks. It is so clogged now the media is barely moving. I guess I will go clean it! LOL
    Lynne

  9. #19
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    Jun 2016
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    La Plata, Maryland
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    Quote Originally Posted by LynneC View Post
    Hi Jeff, Thanks for keeping us up to date on your project! Are those graphs from your Apex?

    I have a biopellet reactor but it keeps getting clogged and I have to clean it about every 2 weeks. It is so clogged now the media is barely moving. I guess I will go clean it! LOL
    Hello Lynne,

    Yes, the graphs are from my Apex. They are great for seeing relationships, trends and the results of minor changes i make in the tank. I have never had my reactor clog, but I have had some pellets escape into the sump. Good luck with yours.
    Jeff

  10. #20
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    Dec 2007
    Location
    Maryland
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    Thanks. It gets clogged by chaeto from the sump. The refugium spills in to the pump well and there is a little filter inside the reactor that gets clogged. The filter is to keep debris from mixing with the biopellets.

    I have been having a problem with red slime algae. I was talking to someone recently and they said it was from too many biopellets. When I cleaned the reactor and I took a about 2 tsp of pellets out. I will do the same in a couple weeks when I have to clean it again. They said if you take too many out at one time it can cause other problems. The red slime is only in my refugium.
    Lynne

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