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Old 10-03-2011, 10:03 AM   #1
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chemical media reactor

I'm thinking of building one. It would be dead simple, really. Just a clear pvc pipe to hold the media and for water to flow up through. Tee off my return pump line (with a ball valve for control) to push water through a tube through and end cap on the bottom. Then do the same at the top for return.

My question is, can I mix activated carbon and phosban together in the reactor or does there need to be a separate reactor for each. Also, what is a good nitrate removing media?

I read a lot but they all say they remove ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. Won't this starve my nitrogenous bacteria?

And, can I mix that with the carbon and phosban and just have an all in one reactor?
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Old 10-03-2011, 10:22 AM   #2
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Yes, you can mix them.

For the price of a Phosban reactor online it is worth it to just get one real media reactor.

Neither carbon nor GFO removes ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate.
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Fishguy2727 View Post
Yes, you can mix them.

For the price of a Phosban reactor online it is worth it to just get one real media reactor.

Neither carbon nor GFO removes ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate.
Thanks. Yeah, I'm aware. I was talking about the nitrate removers I looked at, such as De-Nitrate or Fluval Labs Series Nitrate Remover.
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:29 PM   #4
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Those require a very specific flow rate, fast enough to supply just enough oxygen to not become toxic (hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria develop) but slow enough to not have enough oxygen for nitrifying bacteria. They will not starve out nitrifying bacteria, but your live rock should provide adequate denitrification. I had no detectable nitrate in my system without any special techniques or equipment.
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:26 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Fishguy2727 View Post
Those require a very specific flow rate, fast enough to supply just enough oxygen to not become toxic (hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria develop) but slow enough to not have enough oxygen for nitrifying bacteria. They will not starve out nitrifying bacteria, but your live rock should provide adequate denitrification. I had no detectable nitrate in my system without any special techniques or equipment.
I never bought any live rock. Just base rock which was made "live" through my cycling process.

I didn't know live rock harbored anaerobic denitrifying bacteria.

I have had nitrate problems for a long time now. I can't understand where it's coming from, so that's why i'm breaking down and getting a reactor with hopefully some denitrifying media.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:53 AM   #6
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How many pounds of rock do you have?

Technically dry base rock will allow for nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria, but you will be missing all the good stuff that high quality live rock brings in. You can do up to about 80% base rock, but IMO you need at least 20% high quality live rock to introduce stuff that will spread to all the other rock.

What water are you using? Tap or RO/DI?
What are you feeding?
What is your water change schedule?

Excessive nitrate (and usually phosphate and algae as well) is basically caused by an imbalance of nutrients in and nutrients out. Nutrients go in with water and/or food. High quality foods and RO/DI water minimize this. Overfeeding, lower quality foods, and tap water increase input. Output is with water changes, a refugium, denitrification in the rock, etc. IME denitrators are only effective at a minimal level, for example to bring a nitrate of 5 down to 0 in a tank full of SPS.
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:11 PM   #7
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I've been through this a bunch of times with a lot of people and we can't seem to pinpoint the problem.

I use only RO/DI water (it is pure, it tests 0ppm tds).

I do a 25% PWC weekly with instant ocean reef crystals salt.

My sump consists of overflow box, filter sock, protein skimmer (hob reef octupus), then fuge with sand (not a deep sand bed), rock (again, base rock made live), chaetomorpha, then i have my return section with a bag of carbon in it.

no sponges anywhere except for a small filter floss that i keep in my sump in case i need an emergency qt/hospital tank

I have about 50lbs of rock (55g) and about 5 in the fuge. It's very high quality porous rock from reefcleaners

I have a large cleanup crew (and as far as i can tell they are not dead).

On a positive note the nitrates have dropped down to about 20ppm but they seem to stay there.

I need to try a very large water change or several smaller water changes and see if once I get rid of it it will stay at undetectable levels.

But, back on topic, is it a good idea to have a reactor anyways - even if not for nitrate removal?

How effective is a mesh bag full of carbon/gfo versus a reactor? (for the record, i don't need the carbon and I haven't ever tested for phosphates yet)
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Old 10-04-2011, 03:19 PM   #8
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A reactor is a much better way to use chemical media.

What test kit are you using?

You may be overfeeding.

I would have more rock in there. I would aim for 1.5 pounds per gallon bare minimum, ideally more like 2-3lb/gal.
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:02 PM   #9
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I may just do a reactor then. Perhaps I'll buy one because I'm a bit burnt out on the DIY :P

I am using API Master Test Kit. I use marine pellets and formula one. I feed once per day and the fishes always eat all of the food.

I used to feed twice per day, then switched to every other day, then settled on once per day.

Yes, I should get more rock. Think I should get some of the real live variety this time!
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