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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 58G tank and I run a CA reactor and a Kalk reactor for all topoff. I have a handful of SPS frags and minimal coraline. These reactors are not keeping the ALK/CA levels inline nad I dont have that much load.

The CA reactor drip rate right now is about 1 drip per second. I also have the co2 set at 1 bubble every 3 seconds or so.

Is this where I need it to be? Should I do anything different?

My levels had dropped to 7.6 DKH and 320 on the CA. I also run a Kalk reactor that does not do a good job in maintaining CA either. Ive been adding super buffer and Turbo CA to try and raise the levels back up.

Any ideas?
 

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as far as the calcium reactor not keeping up or raising levels , It is best as maintaining levels once your levels are correct. But as far as the drip rate and CO2 rate you need a controller to controll the ph drop in the chamber. or else it is hit and miss. Do You have a PH controller and or monitor.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have a PH monitor in the sump to measure the PH in the tank. I do not have a controller for the reactor.

I had the levels at Alk 12.4 DKH and CA 410 but they are not 7.6 Alk and 320 CA.
 

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What I like to do to tune my calcium reactor is measure the alkalinity, rather than the pH, of the water coming out of the reactor. I run about one bubble of CO2 per second, but the water flow out of the reactor is a continuous stream (the equivalent of many drops per second). Output water alkalinity runs about 12 dKH. I like to run my tank water at around 8-9 dKH.

What I would do, in your case, is increase the water flow out of the reactor to a nearly continuous stream and up the CO2 bubble rate to around 1 per second. Then measure the alk of the water coming out of the reactor. If you wish to maintain 12.4 dKH for your tank water, try to shoot for 16-20 dKH for the water coming out of the reactor. If that’s not enough to maintain levels, slowly increase the CO2 bubble rate to push the effluent water alk up to 20-24 dKH.

One more point… Both kalk and the calcium reactor will raise or maintain your alk, but you are going to have to dose calcium chloride if you want to boost your calcium. I’d get the calcium levels up to around 410 ppm first with CaCl and then work on boosting and then maintaining the alk with the reactor.
 

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Weatherman said:
What I like to do to tune my calcium reactor is measure the alkalinity, rather than the pH, of the water coming out of the reactor. I run about one bubble of CO2 per second, but the water flow out of the reactor is a continuous stream (the equivalent of many drops per second). Output water alkalinity runs about 12 dKH. I like to run my tank water at around 8-9 dKH.

What I would do, in your case, is increase the water flow out of the reactor to a nearly continuous stream and up the CO2 bubble rate to around 1 per second. Then measure the alk of the water coming out of the reactor. If you wish to maintain 12.4 dKH for your tank water, try to shoot for 16-20 dKH for the water coming out of the reactor. If that’s not enough to maintain levels, slowly increase the CO2 bubble rate to push the effluent water alk up to 20-24 dKH.
Ditto on this. It sounds wierd...but with the Ca reactor, adjust it worrying mainly about your Alk level. Once your Alk's in line, your Ca WILL get in line too!

I also agree with the rate...I'm about 5 bubbles every 6 seconds (slightly less than 1 bubble per second), and the flow coming out is like a fairly leaky faucet. It's just a smidge shy of a solid stream.
 

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I have a different set of experiences, but for now just tagging along...
 

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tdwyatt said:
I have a different set of experiences, but for now just tagging along...
hey...hey now. You just gonna sit there and watch? ;)

This is one of your area's of expertise. By all means, chime in! I know I'm interested in your thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
From what I am understanding is I need to get the PH low(6.5-6.7) enough in the reactor to breakdown the media. I am currently not running a PH probe in the reactor because I use it for the tank PH. I guess I should get another pH probe for the reactor.

Something must not be right since no media is spent after 5 months or operation. CO2 does tend to build up in the top of the reactor some times as well.
 

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I don't know about the reactor or drips. However I just went through a nightmare with turbo buffer trying to raise the DKH I got it to raise all the way up to over 15 then I had a Calcium crash down below 200 then I learned that the two are kind of like ying and yang so just becarful not trying to raise one too fast and not the other.

Also test magnisium levels they also play a roll in making stable ph, dkh, and cal levels

Fred
 

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Rob_Reef_Keeper said:
From what I am understanding is I need to get the PH low(6.5-6.7) enough in the reactor to breakdown the media.
Depends on the media. ARM (which is what I use) dissolves quite easily if the pH is anything less than about 7.5. It will, however, pretty much turn to mush if the pH drops into the mid 6s. That would be the only reason why I'd check pH... to make sure my reactor media doesn't turn to mush.
 

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ARM (which is what I use) dissolves quite easily if the pH is anything less than about 7.5. It will, however, pretty much turn to mush if the pH drops into the mid 6s.
I use ARM, and keep the Ph running between 6.4 and 6.6 and I have no mush. I've been running it for 6 months now. I haven't used even a half of a chamber's worth and it keeps my Calcium pretty stable at 460. I run my alk at 12-14 dkh.
 

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Butch is closer to the reality of the situation so far. Although sub 6.4 is a bit low, and may start dissolving the media a bit too quickly (leading to potential "snow" events in the tank if the recirculation rate is high and drip rate to the system is high; or an occasional "mush" event of the reactor media if the recirculation rate is medium to low and the drip rate to the tank is low). Much of what will happen under different circumstances will depend on how low the pH of the recirculating solvent (ASW plus CO2 in the reactor) is, how fast the recirculation solvent (ASW with CO2) is recirculating, and how long the media is exposed to the same recirculation media (e.g., the delivery rate to the tank, and how much CO2 is being dissolved in the recirculating solvent ASW, as well as how rapidly the CO2 is being bubbled in). To some extent, the finer the media, the more effect these conditions will have on the media itself, and to a small extent, how much, or how rapidly the solvent ASW will become saturated with calcium and converted bicarbonate. The use of a good in-line probe arrangement is about the only way to easily determine if your pH is appropriate. Over time through trial-and-error, I have found that maintaining the pH of the recirculating fluid between 6.65 and 6.75 has been the ideal range for ARM reactor media dissolution using the setups I have here (I have dialed in specific rates of delivery and recirculation speeds). Based on your bubble counts and the response of your system, I'd say your system so far at least needs to dial up the delivery rate of CO2. Remember, although it is very important to not oversaturate your recirculating solvent with CO2 so that the pH is too low, you do need to get it into the range of an acceptable delivery rate of calcium. This will mean that you need to find some means of measuring the pH of the solvent while it is in the reactor. One method would be to collect some of the effluent and test it with your pH probe, however, CO2 has a tendency to rapidly degas from solutions open to the atmosphere, so this may not be a true reflection of the pH when tenths of apH unit make a difference. I use the following easy-to-make device to measuer the solvent ASW while it is between the primary and secondary columns of media. You can do the same by running your solvent ASW effluent through the device while it is leaving your reactor for delivery to the tank. I use this port with a controller and solenoid, which keeps me from having to diddle too much with the actual delivery rate of CO2 while running the reactor:


The setup (ne of Andy's MRC CA6 reactors with some customization):



Without knowing what the recirculation rate inside the reactor, the delivery rate for the solvent to the tank, and the concentration of the Ca++ and bicarb in the solvent, modifying the bubble rate will be a long trial-and-error process to get your pH into an optimal range for dissolution of the reactor medium.

While on reactor media, something along the size of ARM is about the best, as the granule size will slowly become smaller over time as the granules dissolve, and the size of ARM is such that it is a good compromise between surface area of the medium and flowthrough characteristics for the solvent. Sand becomes packed and difficult to get solvent flow established, larger media has just too little surface area for good dissolution rates. Some of the newer reactor designs that utilize a manifold that extends into the medium will improve the ability of flowthrough with ARM/CC so that slower rates of recirculation will provide better dissolution rates resulting in higher rates of saturation (shorter recirc times) for the solvent. I do recommend ARM over crushed coral from old setups, mainly because old CC will be loaded with phosphates from the old system, and potentially silicates if there are mollusk shells in the medium as well.

Jut wanted to guide the discussion back to issues with the delivery rate, which I believe is the main issue here.


How do you think we could fix the calcium and bicarb delivery rates (what parameters will affect this)?

:idea:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I have a Geosreef CA Reactor and using GenX reactor media.

I guess I need to get another probe/controller to measure the pH in the reactor.

What I dont get is that if I increase the bubble rate it just builds up inside the reactor on top.
 

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Great post Tom! Very helpful.

One question, and I"m hoping to not hijack the thread...but (thanks to you), I have the SAME pH monitor adapter you post in your first pic. But my question is, do you have to constantly turn your effluent up? I set mine..and about 12-24 hours later, it's considerably slower. So I turn it back up again, and again...later on, it's slowed down.

ANy idea's on why this happens? I thought maybe I have an air leak or something...but there's NO salt creep anywhere but at the end of the effluent dripping tube (right where the effluent drips out)
 

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Rob_Reef_Keeper said:
I have a Geosreef CA Reactor and using GenX reactor media.

I guess I need to get another probe/controller to measure the pH in the reactor.

What I dont get is that if I increase the bubble rate it just builds up inside the reactor on top.
The use of a pH controller with an appproximation of the correct bubble rate and solenoid control for when the pH gets too low will not only maximize your CO2 delivery for effective dissolution of the medium, but also prevent chronicly low pH in your system due to excessive CO2 delivery.

If there is free gas (CO2 bubbles) in the top of the reaction chamber, then the CO2 gas is not being mixed very effectively with the solvent ASW in recirculation, or your delivery rate is so slow that the CO2 is degassing inside the reactor chamber. Both conditions will prevent good delivery of the gas for dissolution of the aragonite.

Questions we need to address:
  • How is the CO2 delivered to your recirculation loop?
  • What are you using for a recirculation pump?
  • Is the CO2 gas being delivered prior to the pump?
  • Which direction (top to bottom or bottom to top) is your recirculation ASW going through the reactor chamber?
  • What diameter and height is the reactor chamber (outside dimensions of the tube are fine)
  • How full of what type of aragonite medium are you using?
  • What are the guage readings on your CO2 tank?
  • What is your bubble rate at this time?
  • What is your effluent delivery rate to the system (use a measuring cup and see how long in seconds it takes for your effluent to deliver 2 cups/~450ml)?
  • What is the pH of your effluent (just stick the probe into the measuring cup and let it overflow for a while into your sump, read the pH after 10 minutes)
  • What is the reading of your probe when performing the Borax test?
  • What is the alkalinity and Ca++ levels of your effluent?
These pieces of info should make it easier to determine what is going on with the reactor. Sometimes small items will make a big difference in how the reactor will function.
 

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skeety said:
Great post Tom! Very helpful.

One question, and I"m hoping to not hijack the thread...but (thanks to you), I have the SAME pH monitor adapter you post in your first pic. But my question is, do you have to constantly turn your effluent up? I set mine..and about 12-24 hours later, it's considerably slower. So I turn it back up again, and again...later on, it's slowed down.

ANy idea's on why this happens? I thought maybe I have an air leak or something...but there's NO salt creep anywhere but at the end of the effluent dripping tube (right where the effluent drips out)
Mike: how are you controlling the effluent rate? The ball valves tend to clog rather quickly if the effluent is at saturation, but there are also issues with the valve seat types as well. There is a tendency for these valves to clog with Calcium Carbonate such that they may benefit from once every 1 or 2 months cleaning with white vinegar, however, if the effluent pH is at 6.6-6.7k, most of these deposits will be transient at best, or at least slow to form (if pH is rising a good bit, it may benefit to increase overall recirc rates inside the reactor, then to increase the effluent rate as well, adjusting over time to the systems response to Ca and alk). Check the impeller on your recirc pump every time you recharge the reactor medium, and look at the effluent delivery pump inside the sump for any obstruction to the intake, you'd be surprised how often this may become an issue.


...or you could just clean out the valve every few months... :D
 

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On the top of the Ca reactor chamber, there is a knob that has a JG hookup coming out of it at a 90° angle. Actually there is the knob you turn...then a wider, but thinner wheel right under it to lock it in place.

I turn the knob to where the drip is a little slower than I want it, then tighten the thin wheel under it. When I tighten it, the drip rate increases a little. But after half a day or so, the drip rate slows down to slower than before I tightened it.

(is this making ANY sense? hahah) Anyways...that's the only thing I tuch to adjust my effluent. There's no ball-valve

And as for deposits on the pump...maybe, but this has been happening from day one, so I'm doubting it's that. It's almost as if the knob/screw is slowly dialing itself back down after I lock it.
 

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skeety said:
On the top of the Ca reactor chamber, there is a knob that has a JG hookup coming out of it at a 90° angle. Actually there is the knob you turn...then a wider, but thinner wheel right under it to lock it in place... ...It's almost as if the knob/screw is slowly dialing itself back down after I lock it.
PIX???


This sounds to me like an issue with a gradual clogging of the line somewhere or the gradual failure of a pump. My first guess would the the intake of the pump powering the effluent, what are you using in the sump for your pickup for the calcium reactor solvent ASW? If it is a powerhead, have you tried cleaning or changing it?
 

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tdwyatt said:
yep! Give me a second.

also...really not saying your wrong, but don't think it's a pump/clogging problem. If it was, I'd think when I turn it back up, there'd be a surge THEN back to the original speed. But the change is gradual...as if I'm just turning it up.

Pics to follow.
 

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okay...first pic shows the whole set-up in my sump:





2nd pic is a close up of the adjustment knob. I unscrewed the locking ring so you could see it better. But normally, you adjust the big knob until your flow is right, then turn the locking ring until it can't go anymore. Once you've done this, the big knob, which controls the effluent rate, can't be turned down anymore. It can be turned up though. (like that makes any sense).



But anyways...tightening the locking ring acually increases the flow a bit, so I dial in the big knob a little slower than I want. Then when tightening the locking ring, it puts the rate right where I want it...for a few hours. Then over time, it becomes a really slow drip. I unlock the ring, and move the knob just a smidge, and it's back to where it was. I repeat this process every day.
 
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