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View Full Version : Calcium reactor or two part dosing?


jayl65
05/08/2010, 10:08 PM
I currrently use seachem alk and calcium buffers. My tank always needs more alk than calcium. In fact I never really have to add calcium, but I add alk amost every day. I have found that dosing with baking soda keeps the tank more stable than using the seachem product. I can get a used Koralin calcium reactor with the co2 tank and regulator for $350. I have seen dosing pumps for less, but not sure which way to go. I know both systems work well for many reasons, but with my tank always needing alk, I wonder about using a calcium reactor. Please give me your suggestions.

nickandkara
05/09/2010, 02:04 AM
Really depends on your tank, what you are keeping, size, etc.. I originally just got my levels were I wanted them then started dosing kalk with my top off water (adjusting mix as needed). When the kalk couldn't keep up I went with kalk and a calcium reactor. I always wonder if I should have or will have to go with the two part dosing. Hope this helps.

Crowed
05/09/2010, 10:33 AM
Ca reactor is much more cheaper to run than two part, especialy with bigger tanks. Less chore too.. But if you whish to continue with dosing, you dnt need to buy Alk products, baking soda(sodium carbonate) is all you need.

jayl65
05/09/2010, 12:48 PM
Will the calcium reactor also take care of the alkalinity? Since my tank always need alk more than calcium.

James77
05/09/2010, 12:49 PM
Will the calcium reactor also take care of the alkalinity? Since my tank always need alk more than calcium.

Yes it will- a calcium reactor adds both alkalinity and calcium.

What size tank is this on? What coral do you keep now, or what do you anticipate keeping in the future?

James77
05/09/2010, 12:58 PM
Ca reactor is much more cheaper to run than two part, especialy with bigger tanks. Less chore too.. But if you whish to continue with dosing, you dnt need to buy Alk products, baking soda(sodium carbonate) is all you need.


I totally disagree with this statement. The ingredients for two part can be bought in bulk for very little, and dosings pumps/timers can be had for less than $200 that completely automate dosing. For the price of a very good calcium reactor setup, I can buy the pumps/timers required for 2-part, along with enough bulk mix that will last several years on my tank, even assuming it goes high demand.

As for the chore, I'd say calcium reactors are at least the same amount of work, if not alot more. Yes, you have to mix solutions with 2 part, I personally do 5 gallons at a time that last several months, and if my demand gets high enough, I will go to small 20 gallon Brutes that would last even longer. The whole process of mixing 5 gallons of each takes me literally maybe 10-15 minutes- thats it, no other real work except occasional monitoring. With a reactor, there is more equipment- probes, circulation pumps, feed pumps, etc- to maintain, nevermind the actual replacement of media and refilling CO2.

I'd also say the adjustment/tweaking of 2 part is easier and more precise. You can make adjustments down to ml of solution, and can do they independently of each other. A calcium reactor only adds alk and calcium, there is no control over how much of each.

But yes, on very large tanks, calcium reactors can be cheaper in the long run. I do like calcium reactors, but think 2 part is easier and less prone to problems. I do not worry about excess Co2, or my effluent line clogging which can drop the alkalintiy in the tank in no time.

jayl65
05/09/2010, 01:40 PM
I currently have a 70 gallon with a 20 gallon sump and refugium. I am looking to upgrade to a 180 or 200 gallon very soon. I currently keep softies, lps and sps but getting away form softies and looking at adding more sps. Right now on the 70 gallon I add alk every day. I have tried baking soda which seems more stable than using seachem. With the baking soda I can skiip one or two days. With the seachem I need to dose every day. Plus this means I have to test alk every day. I test ph,calcium once or twice a week.

jayl65
05/11/2010, 11:38 AM
I tested and had to add more alk again today. My calcium was fine again. What it eating up my alk?

James77
05/11/2010, 01:37 PM
There is more caclium than alkalinity is the water, so any changes will be noticed in the alkalinity first. Daily drops in alkalinity are normal and a result of keeping the SPS and to a lower degree the LPS coral, as well as coralline algae.

RokleM
05/12/2010, 07:11 AM
I totally disagree with this statement.

Many will argue to or for this point... In the end it boils down you your specific tank, space limitations, and time/cost. I saw an analysis of a typical SPS tank at one point for multiple years, and calcium reactor actually pretty quickly beats out the cost of other methods. Down side is, the up front cost for a calcium reactor is SLIGHTLY higher than two part (dependent on how fancy and automated you get, two/three part can actually be more expensive equipment wise). Most with a quality regulator and reactor will also say that it's much easier than two part with little to no work for extended periods. When my SPS tank was running very heavy (9dkh to 3dkh drop in less than 24 hours), I would check the calcium reactor maybe once a month (10-15 seconds) and refill every six (<15 minutes). That being said, I invested in a quality GEO instead of an inferior product that has to be fiddled with every single day.

Again, boils down to personal requirements and opinion. Having done two-part in the past and having run a calcium reactor for years... I will NEVER do two part again for my main supplementation unless it's the only possibility. Calcium reactors for the win in my book ;)

And as mentioned, if you are doing two part, you should NOT be doing alk only. Correct dosing of calc/alk is necessary to maintain proper levels. Randy has many good documents to read on the matter.
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-02/rhf/index.php

cutnup
05/12/2010, 09:27 AM
Where are your magnesium levels at?

jayl65
05/12/2010, 09:18 PM
Getting a mag test kit. I have not been testing for mag.

Paulairduck
05/12/2010, 10:59 PM
I switched to dosing for one factor. My PH stays stable with dosing. I have used both and they are both sometimes a pain the u know what!?!?!

I use 300 ml of both alk and calcium a day on my tank

jayl65
05/13/2010, 09:10 AM
I keep going back and forth on it. The part that confuses me is that my calcium is alway on target or high. My alk is always low. My ph stays fine. It's the low alk that confuses me. I understand that with dosing I can adjust the alk only if I want to. With a calcium reactor it seems to me that it would also make my calcium go up when I don't need calcium. I have researched my butt off on the subject but I am still confused about this one thing. What am I missing? Why don't I get it?

RokleM
05/13/2010, 10:39 AM
Randy in the chemistry forum has a number of good articles about the relationship between calc / alk / mag. In short, you will always see a rapid depletion in alk in aquariums, where calc "appears" to remain the same since it drops slower. Unless you're working to fix and/or adjust levels, typical ongoing supplementation should include the appropriate equal parts of calc / alk with the occasional mag thrown in.

SPS_77493
05/13/2010, 10:51 AM
I switched to dosing for one factor. My PH stays stable with dosing. I have used both and they are both sometimes a pain the u know what!?!?!

Yup. I switched from a dual chamber PM calcium reactor to BRS dosing pumps and couldn't be happier. The PH stays stable.