Aquarium Engineering-ACR Calcium Reactor

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Dennis Cartier

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Sounds familiar. I had the same exact issue and Bill kept saying it was my regulator. Then send me a bubble trap that did nothing. Removing the check valve leaves the system to dump HIGH KH and LOW LOW ph back into the sump. Design has flaws.

I do have a workaround that I think will work with the check valve in place. I have a Y on the effluent line coming from the reactor, before the controller, or in my case, my Masterflex. One leg of the Y has a valve on it, and using this valve, you can drain water (rapidly) from the ACR after a restart allowing the gas pocket to rapidly expand and reach the check valve, but already at a pressure lower than your regulator pressure. This should avoid the issue I described above.

I have not tested this method yet, but this should allow for safe reactor restarts with a check valve in place.

Dennis
 
BRS

Dennis Cartier

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Just an update on this. I have re-inserted a check valve into my CaRx plumbing. As I hoped, the ACR runs fine with it, once it's running. Meaning the check valve only poses a (possible) problem during startup after a flush.

Running through the issues, has given me the opportunity to get a good understanding of the way the ACR operates and I have an idea on a new control system that supports auto startup and auto flushing. I plan to test a version of this new control method.

Dennis
 

Dennis Cartier

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Ok, time for another post on my experiences with the ACR. My ACR has been running fine since my last post. I have not had to purge even one time. No gas build up, no decrease in effulent strength, just a model citizen of a calcium reactor.

Then 2 days ago I decided to test my theoretical venting procedure, even though the reactor did not need it, just to confirm the expected steps required, manually. I am not going to go through all the steps here, but the end result was that I vented all gas from the reactor until it was venting only effluent (to waste) and then recreated the CO2 bubble.

With in 24 hours, the CO2 bubble overshot the float switch and the circulation pump began sucking CO2. Essentially the same situation I originally mistook for air incursion. I vented the excess CO2 to put the water level back within the float switch range, and started to monitor the CO2 bubble level more actively. Then it occurred again, and again and again.

This really had me scratching my head. The reactor had been running perfectly for 3+ weeks straight, why could I not get it to stabilize? Then I remembered that I had inserted the newly constructed check valve into the feed line after I had restarted the reactor last time. Could it be that the presence of the check valve made it near impossible to get the gas bubble and water level stable in relation to the float switch?

Only one way to find out, I created a bypass around the check valve that I can toggle on and off. I restarted the reactor and manually adjusted the water level / CO2 bubble to be fairly close to where I though it should be and enabled the normal operation. The solenoid went through it's normal period of gradual declining on and off fast toggles and as of now is again completely stable. Meaning no more excess CO2 build up overshooting the float valve. I have the check valve bypass open currently, but I am pretty sure I could close it and things would remain stable.

What I concluded from this is that the ACR has a very narrow boundary where the pressure of the CO2 bubble is close to the head pressure of the feed pump. Upon startup, when the pressure of the CO2 bubble approaches the head pressure of the pump, it simply pushed the excess water from the ACR back into the feed line once it approached and started to exceed the head pressure of the feed pump. This is the critical condition that is required for the gas bubble to sync up to the float valve. Equalizing the gas bubble pressure to the head pressure. Having a check valve inline during this stage, prevents the syncing and stabilization. It should be noted, that when I was establishing the gas bubble, a fair bit of effluent can get pushed out, so I have a drain valve on the effluent line to prevent all of this from back feeding. For the final portion of the process I close that and allow the 'normal' back feeding to occur when it is close to the correct level for the float valve to disable the CO2.

Going forward, I could just turn on the bypass for the check valve, get the ACR running and then turn the bypass off to gain the protection the check valve affords. That approach leaves too much uncertainty for my comfort. I think I am going to look to change the flow through the ACR, moving my Masterflex to the feed line and positioning the effluent line high enough above the top of the ACR, so the effluent is pushed out of the reactor and will not flow out on its own. The rate will be controlled by the Masterflex, no needle valve need apply. This will remove the need for a check valve and the gas bubble will then be at atmospheric pressure. The DKH will probably decline, but my effluent is around 100 dkh, so a decline will be of no concern. I will update with feedback once I get around to making this change.

Dennis
 

TAHK

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I am a newbie to the reactor business. So, I was planning to buy the reactor from Bill because the man at my aquarium manufacturing site, who I respect a lot for his knowledge recommended that reactor. He told me that it is much easier to adjust/set up than the other ones. Judging from the posts on this board it doesn't seem to be the case. I could go with the quieter and more reliable reactors for less money with possibly better customer service. Is my assessment correct?
 
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Derrick Picker

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I am a newbie to the reactor business. So, I was planning to buy the reactor from Bill because the man at my aquarium manufacturing site, who I respect a lot for his knowledge recommended that reactor. He told me that it is much easier to adjust/set up than the other ones. Judging from the posts on this board it doesn't seem to be the case. I could go with the quieter and more reliable reactors for less money with possibly better customer service. Is my assessment correct?
Yes...Do not buy anything from him.
 

ScottB

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As long as I purge every 7-10 days it all runs fine. Because I have to replace media every two weeks anyway, that means I only purge 1-2 a month.

Question: How far down to you let the media get before refilling? I melt about 3 inches every 2 weeks.
 

Mark Gray

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I am a newbie to the reactor business. So, I was planning to buy the reactor from Bill because the man at my aquarium manufacturing site, who I respect a lot for his knowledge recommended that reactor. He told me that it is much easier to adjust/set up than the other ones. Judging from the posts on this board it doesn't seem to be the case. I could go with the quieter and more reliable reactors for less money with possibly better customer service. Is my assessment correct?
I like mine I have had very good luck with it and has been the easiest reactor to set up. some times Bill is hard to get a hold of, I know he needs help to handle all they inquirers. I have a backup plan for everything tank related, so I do not have a problem with time thing. Mine is built like a tank and I think it will out last me.
 

DangerDave

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Bill is a solid guy, and makes a great product. Probably needs to hire some folks to assist with orders and customer service that’s all.

As to needing to purge....Depending on how you set it up you may need to set up a purge system. I have the tank feed coming from a manifold that I’ve mounted vertically. The ACR feed is at the bottom. Since I moved from a dedicated pump for this, the purge issue went away. I was getting micro bubbles from my skimmers outflow into the reactor from the pump.

You can buy a purge set up from Bill. I made one out of a used aquarium buddy RO container for carbon. But like I said, once I moved feed to the manifold my problems went away and I took it out.

Best of luck with whatever you get!

Dave
 
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90's reefer

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What do you guys thin of the Deltec CRTT series calcium reactors? I am at the beginning stages but thinking ahead and doing some research. As usual, the Deltec ad keeps popping up whenever I log into R2R...lol.
Look at the Tunze. I run the 3171 on my 120. Been running for 1 year now.
No ph probe or controller.
Super simple to run. I have added media twice.
I run Tunze manmade media for alk and ca only.
It will work with coral bones too.
I just prefer manmade media as I dose trace that keeps mag and K where I want.
Its worth a look.
 

Kingston

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Look at the Tunze. I run the 3171 on my 120. Been running for 1 year now.
No ph probe or controller.
Super simple to run. I have added media twice.
I run Tunze manmade media for alk and ca only.
It will work with coral bones too.
I just prefer manmade media as I dose trace that keeps mag and K where I want.
Its worth a look.
Will take a look at it. Thanks
 

ca1ore

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Do deltec even make them anymore .... maybe they do. There are lots of choices these days and the CaRx is a pretty simple piece of kit. My personal favorite was the MTC ProCal, but that's only available used as the company has closed. Goe, ReefOctopus, LifeReef are among the better units.
 

gdemos

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Can someone help me out here? (See video)
If i feed again via manifold to increase water level, then go back to feed line in sump/ the ir gap occurs again rapidly.

Am I correct that a combo of manifold feed plus masterflex sucking from lid will create excessive pressure?

i had to trash the controller for ACR as others have experience

 
BRS

Dennis Cartier

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Can someone help me out here? (See video)
If i feed again via manifold to increase water level, then go back to feed line in sump/ the ir gap occurs again rapidly.

Am I correct that a combo of manifold feed plus masterflex sucking from lid will create excessive pressure?

i had to trash the controller for ACR as others have experience

I can't access the video. It says you are uploading it currently. I will be happy to help once I can get an idea of what you are dealing with.
 

Dennis Cartier

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Can someone help me out here? (See video)
If i feed again via manifold to increase water level, then go back to feed line in sump/ the ir gap occurs again rapidly.

Am I correct that a combo of manifold feed plus masterflex sucking from lid will create excessive pressure?

i had to trash the controller for ACR as others have experience

Ok, I have watched the video. You can't, or should not, do a passive feed from the sump. The reason you are seeing an air gap build when you switch from a manifold feed, with a Masterflex metering the flow out of the effluent line, is that the CO2 pocket will build up to the pressure that you are feeding from your regulator (hopefully 8 PSI), and once you remove the head pressure from your feed pump, the CO2 pocket will expand back to atmospheric, back feeding effluent into the sump.

I have some questions of my own. You appear to have a pH probe mounted in your ACR? You also don't have anything plugged into the float switch, so you are not running it in automatic mode? I know you said your controller died. How about we build a new one for you that will work better than the factory?

Have you seen the other ACR thread with my DIY replacement controller?


Even though the factory died, you can still use the ACR in automatic mode with a few parts. I would be happy to help you do that.
 

gdemos

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Right now I am attempting again to feed via manifold, with a very slight flow.
I have it at a drip rate likely higher than my masterflex controlled effluent rate (currently set at 30 ml/min) . If too low of a feed rate, then masterflex will suck harder than feed and create a depressured vaccuum. if Fed too fast then I'll build up excess pressure and excess water volume in the vessel. this nullifies the air gap at the lid quickly, yet eventually will lead to excess volume & pressure in the reactor.

I don't know why I have the air gap in the first place. theres no leaks in the system. if mflex is sucking at a steady rate like a straw from the lid through the reactor and out of the sump, then where's the air coming from? i suppose it could all be CO2, yet now that i'm controlling CO2 on/off via pH Probe and co2 tank solenoid, it wont be gassing forever.

will using masterflex to "Feed" or push to the reactor help or yield same result?
 
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