Easy DIY Ca reactor (long)

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mogurnda

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Apr 29, 2003
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Some time last year, I was talking with another guy about building Ca reactors to supposedly simplify our lives. Well, we started to get people together, looked over DIY plans, and ultimately got hung up because most of the designs required fancy-pants table saws and routers and things that we didn't have.

Time passed, and I realized I had built a fluidized bed filter with nothing more than a hack saw, power drill and a few other simple tools. How much harder would a two-chamber reactor be? The answer is that it's not that tough.

Here's the basic idea. The left panel shows the thing in operation (ignore the right panel for the moment).



There are two chambers, with water flowing from bottom to top. Tank water (from a little dosing pump) and CO2 enter a venturi that goes into a mag3 pump, which pumps the now acidified SW directly into the first stage to dissolve the aragonite media.

The SW leaves the top of the first stage and goes to the bottom of the second stage, where it continues the process.

Effluent leaves the reactor from the top of the second stage, hopefully full of calcium and carbonate freshly dissolved from the media. In principle the perfect balance to provide Ca and alkalinity for the corals.

So how is it built?

Simple. Here are the pieces before assembly (and my dog's toes):


Just cut appropriate lengths of clear PVC (I had some 3" stuff lying around), use some 3" threaded adaptors and end caps for the tops, and 3" X 1 1/2" adaptors plus bushings for the bottoms. I can provide a full parts list if anyone's interested.

For the outputs at the top, I just drilled the caps and put in some 1/2" slipXFPT connectors:

For the effluent output of the second stage, I drilled and tapped for a 1/4" john guest fitting:


Then I glued it all together, connected it all up with hoses, and used 3" pipe clamps to hold it to the inside of the stand:


Here it is, in the stand, with CO2 tank and pH controller:


Here's a better view of the venturi, showing that I added JG fittings with valves so I can remove the CO2 and feed pump tubes without making a mess:


To prime it, I added a valve after the second stage (see cartoon above, right panel). In normal use, the input to the pump comes from the second stage. When priming, I connect a hose from the sump to the other input of the valve. The pump then pumps tank water into the unit, and air (then water) goes out the effluent port.

After a month, the Ca is steady at 400 ppm, and the alkalinity is at 4.1. I will try to push the Ca up a little more with more CO2, but it's pretty good, and I am seeing great coral growth.

Total cost (assuming you buy all the parts new) ~160.00 without CO2 setup, about 425.00 with everything. The learning process was priceless, though.

I have left out tons of stuff, but I guess I can leave that for questions and criticisms.
 
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wastememphis

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Sep 6, 2003
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Very nice, I wish I could afford a C02 system, and then I wish I was confident enough to run it. :thm:
 

mogurnda

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Apr 29, 2003
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wastememphis said:
Very nice, I wish I could afford a C02 system, and then I wish I was confident enough to run it. :thm:
Gotta get on that bicycle some time ;)

It was mostly a way to keep busy while my wife traveled.
 

i_limantara

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Feb 28, 2007
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it's a long time thread... but i think it's my problem.... i still thinking to build one of these reactor... and maybe 60-80 % understand and can build it..... the problem is the calcium media it's self... LFS here don't have any arogonite sand.. and even looking for sand bad sand also hard....

what if i use calcium carbonate?? is it ok?? i have kalkwasser.... and it will become calcium carbonate right?

how about the crushed dead coral like goniopora etc.... LFS here has many a dead goniopora here.... can i use them?
 
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