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Old 01/13/2014, 11:13 PM   #1
tkeracer619
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Post Official: Masterflex Calcium Reactor Setup Thread

There are many ways to run a saltwater reef tank. In regards to supplementing alkalinity and calcium most people choose one of four methods. Kalkwasser, Two Part, Water Changes, and Calcium Reactors. This is the official thread for Calcium Reactors fed with Cole-Parmer Masterflex continuous duty peristaltic pumps. Many of the things here will cross over to other peristaltic pumps and I welcome posts showing high quality alternatives. The critical criteria here is that the pump is continuous duty and adjustable. Plastic hobby pumps will not survive this application and should be avoided at all costs.

This focus of this thread is to discuss the system, its benefits, and to assist in hardware selection with each individuals specific setup in mind.

Calcium reactors are great when they work well but when they don't they can be a serious pain. Consistency is often praised more then the actual tested number itself so often reefers find themselves frustrated at their expensive calcium reactor. They cannot get it dialed in and when they do it only lasts a few days. There are several reasons for this. The primary is that you are trying to adjust a living stream of water with a needle valve. Saltwater environments are very hard to regulate with needle valves, they simply clog with organic matter. On top of that you will have at minimum a sponge or two that can clog and media that will dissolve. This causes fluctuations in head pressure that when combined with the needle valve can create some headaches. With this setup the effluent is pumped through the reactor at a metered rate and has enough pressure capability to overcome any inconsistencies.

As far as gas delivery is concerned I am a big fan of the Aquarium Plants Carbon Doser electronic regulator. The only thing I would recommend above the AP Carbon Doser is the Aquarium Plants Carbon Doser add-on box with a digital screen attached to a Harris 15psi two stage regulator. As far as I am concerned this is the ultimate hobby regulator setup. Beyond that there are digital metering systems for medical and lab work. Use what you have and when you have to buy again look at the carbon Doser.

In regards to calcium reactors I prefer traditional style reactors as opposed to reverse flow. Both will work fine but reverse flow reactors will need the effluent output line plugged (if it is on the plumbing) and the effluent taken from the lid of the reactor.

When you combine the peristaltic pump, the electronic regulator, and a high quality reactor what you will end up with is a very stable reactor that is predictable, easy to adjust, and reliable. It works and it works incredibly well as you will surely see from the following posts.

Like most things that are built to a higher standard there is a sticker shock with this setup. Expect to pay $250-$550 for a used pump. New you are looking $1,800-$2,400. The regulator is $270-$300. The reactor can be anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand depending on your needs. I expect a typical system following this setup will cost between $1000-$1600 depending on options.


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Old 01/13/2014, 11:32 PM   #2
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Drives and Pump heads.

The pumps I prefer are the Digital Brushless units. In the brushless line the most commonly available units are model numbers 7523-60, 7550-30, 77301-20, and 77301-30. The 77301-30 controller is in a waterproof case. The rest of them will need to be kept free of moisture and salt creep as they are either in a modular (motor and controller separate) or a console (motor and controller in the same case).

If it is a modular system you can easily tell if it is brushless or not. The black ports circled in red are for the brushes. Brushless units will not have this.


They have a couple other variations that change things such as cord length, operating voltage, color, and rpm range so don't let those model numbers necessarily be your only search terms. Often they are labeled as a Barnant if custom ordered. A simple phone call to Cole-Parmer can usually solve any questions you might have about an unknown pump.

Ideally for calcium reactors you are looking for the pump to be 6-600rpm. IME for most peoples applications we will be using LS17 tubing. It has a 1/4" ID and a 3/8"OD. Masterflex tubing comes in two types, precision and performance. Both will work as long as you have the proper head but we will focus on precision tubing since the tubing is more readily available. **You have to match the tubing to the head or the unit will malfunction.**

Pump heads vary. Standard load, easy load, quick load... ect ect. I prefer easy load heads but as long as you have the right size tubing any head is fine. They come in Cold Rolled Steel (CRS) and Stainless Steel (SS) variations. Both work but stainless are often in better shape. If you can get stainless go for it, if you can't don't let it keep you from getting a good drive.


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Old 01/13/2014, 11:37 PM   #3
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Tubing

Most of the reactors currently use is the 1/4" John Guest tubing. For longer runs or commercial units use 3/8 JG tubing. These are my suggestions for LS17 tubing. Each situation might require something different but for most of us this first group will be the one. The best tubing I am aware of right now is Pharmed Tygon supplied by US Plastics. It has a long life exposed to this environment. I change the tube once every quarter. It will last longer but... its cheep to be proactive. The qty suggested is good for about 2.5 years if kept away from radiation.

**** For 1/4" OD John Guest to LS/17 ****
(QTY3)http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=36204

(QTY3)http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=42009

(QTY4)http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=34082

(QTY10)http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=25534



**** For 3/8" OD John Guest to LS/17 ****
(QTY3)http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=34898

(QTY3)http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=42012

(QTY4)http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=34082

(QTY10)http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=25534


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Old 01/13/2014, 11:48 PM   #4
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What to Expect?

Stability.



The Ph reading is my reactor however I am not controlling it. That straight line is the reactor without any external forces keeping it at that ph. The only adjustments you will need to make to the system are when demand increases. You will not need to touch anything after you break down the reactor for cleaning even after refilling the media. You are running a metered amount of gas and effluent so without any sort of controller intervention as the media dissolves and there is less of it the reactor just dissolves more media resulting in a stable output over the entire media cycle without having to compensate or fiddle with any knobs. It just works.


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Old 01/14/2014, 12:12 AM   #5
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This is my current setup. Its a MRC CR2 Dual With a mag3, Masterflex 77301-20, and an original AP Electronic Regulator. I use ARM standard media and buy it in the 50lb bags. If you shop around you can find a great deal on it. I feel it works better in most reactors then the coarse stuff. I haven't re-installed this since the crash but its time is coming. It has to wait until a little scuba trip is over

Lets see some current setups and results! I know they are out there, now lets see them.

If you have questions this is the place to ask!




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Old 01/14/2014, 12:20 AM   #6
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just gonna keep this here thread in my subscribed folder for a biznit


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Old 01/14/2014, 12:50 AM   #7
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I have been waiting for this thread for a while, thanks for all the hard work and links. I will be needing to get the Aquarium Plant Carbon Doser and peri pump From MasterFlex. The peri pumps can be daunting so the links are very helpful.


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Old 01/14/2014, 01:08 AM   #8
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Tuning

The easiest way to integrate one of these pumps into your current setup is to measure your current target effluent rate, set the pump to that flow rate, and turn the pump on. Make sure you have the right tubing set in the control panel

Once the reactor is back up and running adjust the regulator such that it reaches your target ph value without use of the controller. If you are using a standard regulator adjust it so that the solenoid always remains open. If you are using an AP electronic regulator tune it so it holds the target ph without the controller cutting power to the regulator. You will then set your controller with a reasonable safety net just in case something goes wrong. If you are looking for a place to start, 6.5ph is a good target and shut off the gas at 6.3ph for ARM Standard.

Remember, you want the regulator always running. It might take a day or so for the regulator to heat up so make sure you check it in 24 hours and re adjust gauge psi if necessary. Without a two stage regulator the pressure will change as the bottle empties so you will have to check the regulator pressure occasionally and correct it. This is where the 15psi harris two stage regulator comes in.. It will hold the same psi through the entire bottle up until the last bit of gas comes out. With a 2 stage regulator body the AP Carbon Doser add-on with the counter is actually useful and will tell you within reason how long you have until the bottle is empty.

Once you have it set make sure to test often and tweak the settings to get the system stable. Use two part to adjust the levels where you want them. As the tank matures you will need to add more gas and effluent to compensate for demand increases but you won't be fiddling with any artificial fluctuations.

Make sure to set the "Auto Start" feature if you want it to restart after a power outage. I copied this from the Cole-Parmer manual.
Quote:
Automatic Start Enable/Disable (INTernal mode only)
Press and hold STOP/START on power-up. After five (5) seconds, display will change to all dashes. Then, while
holding STOP/START, press PRIME five (5) times. Display will flash "ON" or "OFF". Use UP/DOWN (▲, ▼) arrow
keys to set automatic start option. Press any other key to exit. When "ON" is selected, pump will start automatically
at power-up if it was "ON" when powered down.



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Old 01/14/2014, 01:15 AM   #9
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just gonna keep this here thread in my subscribed folder for a biznit
Welcome to the party

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Originally Posted by moondoggy4 View Post
I have been waiting for this thread for a while, thanks for all the hard work and links. I will be needing to get the Aquarium Plant Carbon Doser and peri pump From MasterFlex. The peri pumps can be daunting so the links are very helpful.
Thank you! I have been procrastinating for a while , sorry about that. I feel like enough people are using this setup now that we should put the info in one place.


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Old 01/14/2014, 01:30 AM   #10
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For those with Korallin reactors this is a diagram I drew up(most reverse flow reactors will be similar). If the reactor is not setup in this fashion you might run into problems. Standard flow reactors should be hooked up in a conventional manner.

I recommend using the peristaltic to pull through the reactor and not push as you might have seen me state in previous posts. These pumps can overwhelm the orings on most reactors if the output gets clogged. Pulling on the effluent is safer.





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Old 01/14/2014, 08:03 AM   #11
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Good write up. I also appreciate the guidance you have giving me before! I have my pump on its way and over the next few weeks will get my reactor project squared away... Just a few more parts and I'll post some pics of the completed set-up.... Subscribed

Ty


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Old 01/14/2014, 10:45 AM   #12
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Nice write up,I was waiting for this thread in a long time.I have followed everything based on your guidance and also running my korallin calcium reactor effluent from the lid.I was also running the pump on a tube size of LS 16 ISO 17 and the pump was making a heavy noise but after I realised the issue and changed it back to LS17 the pump has been running very quiet.One question is my ALK has been falling steady from 8 to 7 and can't keep up with it in spite running the pump at 35ml/min earlier and now at 40ml/min and 60BPM on a aquarium plant regulator.PH on the controller is 6.60-6.80.Anyway I can increase the ALK.If I am pulling the water from the reactor will I able to use the recirculating pump to feed the reactor.


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Old 01/14/2014, 12:33 PM   #13
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Tkereacer619 is the man to talk to. He sold me my first cole parmer pump, and I have since bought two more off ebay. I run my calcium reactor off the one from him, and I run my auto water changer off a dual head ebay unit, and my sulfur denitrator off another single head ebay unit.

When you buy one off ebay, you should have in mind what level of noise is acceptable to you. The digital drive type is more expensive, but whisper quiet. That is the type I got from tkeracer. The variable speed console drives are very accurate as well, but a bit noisier. All my equipment is in an unfinished area of my basement, so noise is not an issue for me. But if your equipment and the pump will be located in an area you need quiet, you may want to pony up for a digital drive type, which is more expensive. I got my two variable speed console drives for about $200-$220 each with an Easy Load head on it.

I have my CP pumps pushing water through my reactors, but may switch to them pulling from what tkeracer posted above about them overpowering o-rings on reactors. Should not be too big a job to do that.

Another thing I would look at regarding these pumps is your pump head choice. Easy Load heads, wether Easy Load I, II, or III, are the way to go for ease of use. And, I would also look for the Easy Load pump head models that accept the greatest variety of L/S tubing.

The wider the variety of L/S tubing the pump head installs, the more flexible the pump is in its uses, in case you ever repurpose it. A pump head that only accepts 3/8" ID tubing suitable to run an auto water changing system may not be very adjustable if you are only trying to dose 2 ml increments of amino acids should you use it for something else, whereas a pump head that accepts 1/16" ID to 3/8" tubing is.

If you buy a digital Console like the first picture I posted below, the tubing ID may not be as important, as you actually program the tubing you are using and the desired ml/minute rate, but I think the majority of users will buy the less expensive AC motor drives like I have pictures in my last two pictures.

Also, if at all possible, buy variable speed and reversible drive units like I have in the bottom two pictures below if you do not go with a digital drive. They make it a lot easier to adjust amount and flow rates.









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Old 01/15/2014, 02:04 AM   #14
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Quote:
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I recommend using the peristaltic to pull through the reactor and not push as you might have seen me state in previous posts. These pumps can overwhelm the orings on most reactors if the output gets clogged. Pulling on the effluent is safer.
I agree with this. I had my new Korallin C 1502 reactor fed by a Williamson continuous duty pump (finding used Masterflex pumps in Europe is quite difficult and you would have to leave in pawn your whole aquarium to buy a new one). It had been working nicely for a couple of weeks, but yesterday night I found that the effluent flow was slower than usual. Checked the reactor to find that it was leaking from several points in the lid. Fortunately it is in the sump and I had no flood in my living room.

Also, I had managed to get set the reactor up with most of the effluent flow through the regular valve and just 4-5 drops by minute from the lid valve. I'll change it to get all the flow from the lid valve as suggested by tkeracer619. I have observed that if you close completely this valve, no matter how you regulate the CO2 input gas accumulates inside the reactor until stoping it from working.

Once I have all the changes made I'll post some pictures of my set up.



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Old 01/15/2014, 09:42 AM   #15
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I am using variable pump 7523-40 and easy load head,set it at 50ml/min on L/S17 tubing.If I set it based on RPM will it make any difference to the flow.


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Old 01/15/2014, 10:56 AM   #16
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Nice pictures! Keep them coming! And thanks for the kind words

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Also, I had managed to get set the reactor up with most of the effluent flow through the regular valve and just 4-5 drops by minute from the lid valve. I'll change it to get all the flow from the lid valve as suggested by tkeracer619. I have observed that if you close completely this valve, no matter how you regulate the CO2 input gas accumulates inside the reactor until stoping it from working.
That will solve the problem and is the primary reason for pulling from the lid. Also, if your ehiem is making noise it will likely solve that too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haksar View Post
I am using variable pump 7523-40 and easy load head,set it at 50ml/min on L/S17 tubing.If I set it based on RPM will it make any difference to the flow.
Nope, running in RPM mode will just give you finer adjustments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haksar View Post
One question is my ALK has been falling steady from 8 to 7 and can't keep up with it in spite running the pump at 35ml/min earlier and now at 40ml/min and 60BPM on a aquarium plant regulator.PH on the controller is 6.60-6.80.Anyway I can increase the ALK.If I am pulling the water from the reactor will I able to use the recirculating pump to feed the reactor.
Increase your gas input until the alk in the tank becomes stable. The reactor is a sealed system, no feed pump will be necessary. Think of it like drinking from a straw. The water going in is the same going out. If you pull from one side of the reactor water is going to enter naturally.


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Old 01/15/2014, 12:08 PM   #17
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Nice pictures! Keep them coming! And thanks for the kind words



That will solve the problem and is the primary reason for pulling from the lid. Also, if your ehiem is making noise it will likely solve that too.



Nope, running in RPM mode will just give you finer adjustments.



Increase your gas input until the alk in the tank becomes stable. The reactor is a sealed system, no feed pump will be necessary. Think of it like drinking from a straw. The water going in is the same going out. If you pull from one side of the reactor water is going to enter naturally.
Thanks will switch ends and see and also increase the BPM. since it's at 1 bubble per second will increase a little higher but the bubble count in the reactor is not consistent based on the AP regulator light.Thanks for all your assistance.


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Old 01/15/2014, 12:17 PM   #18
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I also wanted to post that I use the aquariumplants.com Carbondoser regulator. It is the bomb. Bought based on Mark's (tkeracer) recommendation.

Neat thing about this regulator is you can vary the size of the CO2 bubbles in addition to the rate.


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Old 01/15/2014, 01:19 PM   #19
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Thanks will switch ends and see and also increase the BPM. since it's at 1 bubble per second will increase a little higher but the bubble count in the reactor is not consistent based on the AP regulator light.Thanks for all your assistance.
Hi Haksar: I think that if you have a pH controller you don't need to play around with the bubble count, just decrease the settings in the controller. For example, set it up at 6.5-6.7, instead of 6.6-6.8, and see what happens with the alkalinity in the tank. Mine is now set at 6.6-6.8, like yours, but I also have a kalkwasser reactor.

Good luck


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Old 01/15/2014, 01:23 PM   #20
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I also wanted to post that I use the aquariumplants.com Carbondoser regulator. It is the bomb. Bought based on Mark's (tkeracer) recommendation.

Neat thing about this regulator is you can vary the size of the CO2 bubbles in addition to the rate.
All of you say wonderful things about this regulator. Currently I have an Aquamedic solenoid valve (it worked fine when I had a discus planted aquarium and it has been working fine in the last years feeding CO2 to my reactors) but may be sometime in the future...


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Old 01/15/2014, 01:27 PM   #21
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That will solve the problem and is the primary reason for pulling from the lid. Also, if your ehiem is making noise it will likely solve that too.
Thanks a lot for your help Mark. Today I changed the set up of the reactor as you suggested and so far so good. Fortunately the eheim is dead silent, just the slight buzz when it smashes the CO2 bubbles.


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Old 01/15/2014, 01:40 PM   #22
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When using this setup with a peristaltic and the AP Electronic Regulator you do not want to use a controller to control the ph. Use the controller to monitor the ph levels and as a safety should the ph drop too far.

Tune the reactor so the regulator is ALWAYS running. Tune it so you have a 6.5ph without the regulator turning off or a controller keeping it there. This is a pretty big part of the setup and if you are using a controller you are making your reactor/tank less stable.

Again. Tune your reactors without the controller. Set the controller to turn off at 6.1 or 6.2 and tune the reactor to 6.5 with the regulator itself.


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Old 01/15/2014, 07:05 PM   #23
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To be clear if you are running a Koraillian reactor and pulling the water through you will not have to run the ehiem pump for recirculating.
I also have a Deltec reactor, and the aqua bee pumps are a PItA that was my nitrate reactor but finding pump for the slow flow was impossible.


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Old 01/16/2014, 05:26 AM   #24
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To be clear if you are running a Koraillian reactor and pulling the water through you will not have to run the ehiem pump for recirculating.
No. You run the eheim for recirculation and you pull water from the reactor using the peristaltic pump. At least, that's the way I do it


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Old 01/16/2014, 05:36 AM   #25
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When using this setup with a peristaltic and the AP Electronic Regulator you do not want to use a controller to control the ph. Use the controller to monitor the ph levels and as a safety should the ph drop too far.

Tune the reactor so the regulator is ALWAYS running. Tune it so you have a 6.5ph without the regulator turning off or a controller keeping it there. This is a pretty big part of the setup and if you are using a controller you are making your reactor/tank less stable.

Again. Tune your reactors without the controller. Set the controller to turn off at 6.1 or 6.2 and tune the reactor to 6.5 with the regulator itself.
I'll save for the AP electronic regulator as you strongly recommend using it instead of the controller. Also, I have to make sure they ship to Europe. Anyway, I donīt think you can use the controller to turn off at pH 6.1 as a safety measure. That would imply that the solenoid valve controlled by the controller is always on (except in the rare case that the pH goes down lower than pH 6.1). Regular solenoid valves heat up when turned on. If it is always on I think it may get damaged in a few days or weeks.

Some advise on this or am I wrong concerning the solenoid valve? May be the AP electronic regulator itself can be programmed, by means of the external controller, to shut off when the safety pH is reached?


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