Ca Reactors: Flow and Peristaltic Pumps?

LadyTang2

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Hello all, I'm new to R2R!

I need help understanding how to supply Ca reactors with water and how pumps are used with Ca Reactors and if there are different ways to use them.

1. If I have this right, I see a diagram illustrating two ways to supply water to a Ca reactor, one is from a pump in the sump, the other is a return line coming directly from the display tank I guess using gravity to feed the reactor. Which is better, it seems a pump from the sump would be?

2. In the case of using a pump from the sump, is that the only pump needed and you can just control the rate with a drip valve? I ask because I also see people talking about peristaltic pumps to dose from ca reactor. So there are 2 pumps in this case? one feeding water from the pump and one dosing? Or does the peristaltic pump replace the pump in the sump, in other words...are there 2 pumps or only one in the case of using a peristaltic pump? Thank you all!
 
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William DeCoursey

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actually, this is the one I was thinking about
 
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foxt

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William posted a great link for you to visit. To answer your specific question, there are usually two pumps associated with Ca reactors. One pump recirculates water within the reactor, mixing the CO2 with water and circulating it throughout the media to melt it. The other pump sits in a circuit that goes from your tank to the reactor, helping to push or pull water from the reactor to the tank and then replace that water taken from the reactor with water from your tank. This second pump is usually referred to as the "effluent pump", because it is moving effluent from the reactor to the tank.

One of the tricks to tuning a CA reactor is matching the flow of effluent to the consumption of alk in your tank. There are three different effluent pump schemes, and the associated ways to tune them.
1. With a simple pump playing the role of the effluent pump, you need to use some kind of fine-tune valve to control the flow of the effluent as alk demand varies over time.

2. If you are able to place the CA reactor below the DT but above a sump where you would release the effluent, then you could also gravity feed the effluent - you'd need the same kind of tuning valve to control the flow. In this case, the only pump you would have running would be your recirculation pump.

3. With a peristaltic pump, or a dosing pump, the flow rate is usually fixed (although more expensive models allow you to vary the rate), and you control the effluent flow rate by regulating the run time of the pump itself (they are very precise in terms of flow rate).

Most setups use two pumps - one for recirculating within the reactor, and one for effluent.
 
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LadyTang2

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William posted a great link for you to visit. To answer your specific question, there are usually two pumps associated with Ca reactors. One pump recirculates water within the reactor, mixing the CO2 with water and circulating it throughout the media to melt it. The other pump sits in a circuit that goes from your tank to the reactor, helping to push or pull water from the reactor to the tank and then replace that water taken from the reactor with water from your tank. This second pump is usually referred to as the "effluent pump", because it is moving effluent from the reactor to the tank.

One of the tricks to tuning a CA reactor is matching the flow of effluent to the consumption of alk in your tank. There are three different effluent pump schemes, and the associated ways to tune them.
1. With a simple pump playing the role of the effluent pump, you need to use some kind of fine-tune valve to control the flow of the effluent as alk demand varies over time.

2. If you are able to place the CA reactor below the DT but above a sump where you would release the effluent, then you could also gravity feed the effluent - you'd need the same kind of tuning valve to control the flow. In this case, the only pump you would have running would be your recirculation pump.

3. With a peristaltic pump, or a dosing pump, the flow rate is usually fixed (although more expensive models allow you to vary the rate), and you control the effluent flow rate by regulating the run time of the pump itself (they are very precise in terms of flow rate).

Most setups use two pumps - one for recirculating within the reactor, and one for effluent.
Thanks for the detailed response foxt! After thinking this through, sounds like using a peristaltic pump on the effluent side to pull water through is a good idea. Just a few more questions ;-)

Would I gather water from tubing dangling in my sump and the rate would be controlled by the peristaltic pump all the way on the other effluent (aka output) side of the ca reactor correct which feeds back into sump? Is it ok to pull water from and feed back into sump? Do I pull from and feed back into different parts of sump?

Or should the reactor be fed by water directly leaving tank via a manifold, can I still use a peristaltic pump here? FYI I'm willing to do the work/spend to make the situation optimal if that helps for your answer. Whats the dream set up here, thanks alot!
 

ArcticAcropora

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Thanks for the detailed response foxt! After thinking this through, sounds like using a peristaltic pump on the effluent side to pull water through is a good idea. Just a few more questions ;-)

Would I gather water from tubing dangling in my sump and the rate would be controlled by the peristaltic pump all the way on the other effluent (aka output) side of the ca reactor correct which feeds back into sump? Is it ok to pull water from and feed back into sump? Do I pull from and feed back into different parts of sump?

Or should the reactor be fed by water directly leaving tank via a manifold, can I still use a peristaltic pump here? FYI I'm willing to do the work/spend to make the situation optimal if that helps for your answer. Whats the dream set up here, thanks alot!
Nice follow up question. Bump
 

foxt

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A couple of things ...

1. I forgot that there is a fourth way that people feed a Ca reactor and push effluent to their tanks. This may be what you were asking about in terms of "water leaving the tank via a manifold", and it is a workable approach. You can tee off of your return line or some other pressurized manifold you already have in place, and redirect some of that flow into the reactor, and then run a line back to the tank for the effluent. You would use a small diameter piping for all of this, and fine tune the flow rate with a gate valve. Similar to gravity feeding the reactor, you then only need one pump: the recirc pump.

2. I am not sure there is agreement on "dream setup" among our community. Lots of people make each of the various options work for them - it comes down to budget, new build vs retrofit, your tank configuration, what your alk demand is, etc. For me, the peristaltic pump is the dream setup - it is literally set it and forget it, and I didn't need to mess with my return like to add a tee, etc. There are lots of options for the type of pump you can get, all the way from a simple dosing pump to a fancy medical-grade version - those get pricey, but they are built like tanks.
Would I gather water from tubing dangling in my sump and the rate would be controlled by the peristaltic pump all the way on the other effluent (aka output) side of the ca reactor correct which feeds back into sump?
That's correct. You place the feed tube in the sump and run it to the reactor. Then you place the peristaltic pump between the reactor output and the sump, and have the pump pull water from the sump, through the reactor and then push it back to the sump. Some people think it better to push into the reactor instead of pull through it, but you run the risk of potentially pressurizing the reactor and developing a leak that way if for some reason the effluent output gets clogged - the peristaltic pump will just keep pushing water and something will have to give.
Is it ok to pull water from and feed back into sump? Do I pull from and feed back into different parts of sump?
I pull water through ROIDI tubing from a part of my sump ahead of the return, and return effluent to the return pump section back through more RODI tubing, the thought being that it will get mixed well in the most turbulent part of my sump. Others pull from ahead of the skimmer section, and return to the skimmer section so that it can mix well inside the skimmer. The thing to watch for is precipitation or deposits from the effluent - it can clog the small tip of the RODI return line, or make deposits where you don't want them

3. This is a good reference for use of a peristaltic pump: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/official-masterflex-calcium-reactor-setup-thread.243219/
It refers to a much longer and more informative thread over on that other reef forum. You can find it by googling for "official masterflex calcium reactor setup".
 
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LadyTang2

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I pull water through ROIDI tubing from a part of my sump ahead of the return, and return effluent to the return pump section back through more RODI tubing, the thought being that it will get mixed well in the most turbulent part of my sump. Others pull from ahead of the skimmer section, and return to the skimmer section so that it can mix well inside the skimmer. The thing to watch for is precipitation or deposits from the effluent - it can clog the small tip of the RODI return line, or make deposits where you don't want them
I didn't quite understand where you pull from and return water to with your Ca reactor. When you say pull from ahead of your return, you mean the last area that is literally sharing space with the return pump which sends water back to your DT right? Is that right next to where your effluent drains? Sorry I'm just having a hard time visualizing it ;-)

Also, do you personally ever add mag media in your Ca reactor?
 

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When you say pull from ahead of your return, you mean the last area that is literally sharing space with the return pump which sends water back to your DT right? Is that right next to where your effluent drains?
My sump has five sections:
1. the area where the drain from the tank enters
2. a fuge section with macro algae and rocks
3. a frag section where I condition /grow out frags for the DT
4. a skimmer section
5. the return section where a submersible pump returns water to the DT

I pull water to feed the Ca rx from #3, and send effluent to #5.
Also, do you personally ever add mag media in your Ca reactor?
Yes, I have a mix of about 10% remag, and 90% reborn. The demands of your system may be different, you are going to need to figure this out as you go unless you've got a good feel for it now.

There is a lot going on with a Ca reactor, and if you are going to be switching from dosing to a reactor, you need to be prepared to spend time dialing the reactor in. It came seem a little confusing at the start, because you need to figure out how to balance the bubble rate and the effluent flow rate to have the reactor deliver the right amount of alk at the right rate. What is the daily alk consumption for your tank?
 
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motortrendz

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My sump has five sections:
1. the area where the drain from the tank enters
2. a fuge section with macro algae and rocks
3. a frag section where I condition /grow out frags for the DT
4. a skimmer section
5. the return section where a submersible pump returns water to the DT

I pull water to feed the Ca rx from #3, and send effluent to #5.

Yes, I have a mix of about 10% remag, and 90% reborn. The demands of your system may be different, you are going to need to figure this out as you go unless you've got a good feel for it now.

There is a lot going on with a Ca reactor, and if you are going to be switching from dosing to a reactor, you need to be prepared to spend time dialing the reactor in. It came seem a little confusing at the start, because you need to figure out how to balance the bubble rate and the effluent flow rate to have the reactor deliver the right amount of alk at the right rate. What is the daily alk consumption for your tank?
It took me forever to dial it in properly. I actually had my ph in my reactor at 7 for a while to maintain my alk, as consumption went up over time I'm now at 6.6ph with a nice 1 drip per second drip rate.
Calcium reactors really should be called alkalinity reactors...
 
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LadyTang2

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What is the daily alk consumption for your tank?
First off, nice job explaining the layout of your sump/ca reactor tubing, the numbers helped!

As for the alk consumption of my tank, I have a small tank now and am only asking about ca reactors as I am planning a new build that will be way way bigger. Trying to get an idea of how to implement one and when to actually turn it on. I guess I just test my water and turn it on when my ca and alk start dropping due to increased coral mass. How long does that usually take if I am starting with smaller frags? Build would be 250gish mixed but slightly more sps.
 

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I waited till I had to dose large amounts of calcium and alk daily, to the point where I felt it was getting to be too much at 1 time. And I prefer not to use dosers. That's what made me go with a reactor
 

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Since you're in the learning/planning stages, I'd suggest not only reading through the links that others have supplied, but take a look at some of the threads on R2R about alk dosing vs. reactors. Generally speaking, the lower your alk demand, the less benefit you will see from a Ca reactor vs. manual dosing or dosing with a pump.

With dosing, you buy whatever you are going to put in the tank to raise alk, you measure how much you need to add every day, and you add it to the tank. When just starting out, you will be able to do this once a day, or even not that often, and you won't spend a lot on kalkwasser or 2 part or whatever you decide to dose. There are lots of simple options with dosing. As the alk demand rises, you need to dose more volume, more frequently, trying to keep it near constant. Along with the increased maintenance, depending on what you are dosing your costs can go up because you are dosing more.

The Ca reactor setup is initially more costly - the reactor, the CO2 tank, the regulator, some way to control the pH inside the reactor, it all adds up and is overly complicated when compared to simple manual dosing which you might be better off with for quite some time. The benefit of a reactor kicks in when your tank is consuming so much alk that the additives are getting costly, or it is a hassle keeping the reservoirs full, or you just can't keep up with demand.

I think it is more common for people start by dosing, and then someday switch to a Ca reactor when alk consumption warrants it. This isn't to discourage you from planning ahead for where you would put a reactor when/if the time comes.
 
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LadyTang2

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Took a quick look, here's just one example where people have chimed in on reactors vs. dosing
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/calcium-reactor-vs-dosing.317990/
Thanks, if one wanted to shut off the flow from the ca reactor remotely and had the apex/dos and could shut off the pump remotely, what does this mean for the CO2 flow from the carbon doser regulator? Would CO2 build up becoming problematic. Would you need to physically be there do adjust the co2 regulator as well or would it be ok for one just to shut down the peristaltic pump and leave the CO2 regulator nozzles unchanged?
 

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Thanks, if one wanted to shut off the flow from the ca reactor remotely and had the apex/dos and could shut off the pump remotely, what does this mean for the CO2 flow from the carbon doser regulator? Would CO2 build up becoming problematic. Would you need to physically be there do adjust the co2 regulator as well or would it be ok for one just to shut down the peristaltic pump and leave the CO2 regulator nozzles unchanged?
I have a pH probe in my CARX monitored by my Apex. Once my pH goes above the range I have it set at(6.8) it powers on the solenoid which turns on the CO2. When it goes below the set range(6.75) the solenoid turns off. The return line from the CARX runs non stop and never shuts off. Only the CO2 solenoid turns on and off to regulate the pH in the CARX.

Your CARX pump to recirculate and the return pump of effluent should never stop unless you program the recirculation pump to turn off if the main ph gets too low as a fail safe. Only thing that should cycle on and off is the CO2 solenoid.

Hope this helps.
 
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LadyTang2

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I have a pH probe in my CARX monitored by my Apex. Once my pH goes above the range I have it set at(6.8) it powers on the solenoid which turns on the CO2. When it goes below the set range(6.75) the solenoid turns off. The return line from the CARX runs non stop and never shuts off. Only the CO2 solenoid turns on and off to regulate the pH in the CARX.

Your CARX pump to recirculate and the return pump of effluent should never stop unless you program the recirculation pump to turn off if the main ph gets too low as a fail safe. Only thing that should cycle on and off is the CO2 solenoid.

Hope this helps.
i like the idea of this (important but coming later)... control CO2 rate with carbon doser, apex probe in carx/Apex solenoid SV1 so I have the ability to shut off CO2, peristaltic pump and recirculating pumps on at all times. If my apex sv1 is ahead of my carbon doser and I shut off the flow with sv1 then when i turn it on again all the CO2 caught in between the carbon doser and solenoid would flow into reactor, maybe if they were super close? Can you envision other issues with that? Sorry I am super noob! Thanks
 

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i like the idea of this (important but coming later)... control CO2 rate with carbon doser, apex probe in carx/Apex solenoid SV1 so I have the ability to shut off CO2, peristaltic pump and recirculating pumps on at all times. If my apex sv1 is ahead of my carbon doser and I shut off the flow with sv1 then when i turn it on again all the CO2 caught in between the carbon doser and solenoid would flow into reactor, maybe if they were super close? Can you envision other issues with that? Sorry I am super noob! Thanks
If you will be using a carbon doser, you control that directly with the apex and don’t need an additional solenoid to shut off the CO2.
 
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