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Old 02/18/2014, 07:03 PM   #1
Triggercdog
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Pros vs cons: Dosers vs. Calcium reactors

Hello all...I am at the point, with my full sps reef, that i need to make a decision on either dosing or a calcium reactor....I have a total system water volume of 160 gallons...as stated above...I have 95% sps and a few lps frags/colonies.....what are your favorite techniques, brands, supplements? Opinions good or bad....thx for any and all help with this....

Conan


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Old 02/18/2014, 07:27 PM   #2
rsaha
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Do a search in the SPS forum - there's tons on this subject...

Everyone seems to like Geo for Ca Rx, and general advise is to invest in your regulator (and in some cases a peristaltic pump). I run a GHL doser Ca/Alk/mag and I like it just fine.


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Old 02/18/2014, 07:53 PM   #3
jimmy n
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I also run a doser, but for tanks over 120 you're dosing demands will be pretty high. A broad generalization, but reactor for larger tanks makes more sense.


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Old 02/18/2014, 08:05 PM   #4
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I chose a calcium reactor because I like the long term nature of it. I know if I had to mix supplements every couple weeks I'd get lazy and put it off.


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Old 02/18/2014, 10:55 PM   #5
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Reactors have a very high up front cost but pay for themselves in 3-4 years depending on how much 2 part you end up needing. Some people dose 100mL a day and when you're doing that you should seriously consider a reactor.

If you watch this, Dave at VividAquariums explains why his store only uses Dosing Pumps now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9yFdBnY-xA

I personally dose for 3 reasons:

1. I can split dosing into as many or as little dosing sessions as I like via my apex controller.

2. I can easily increase or decrease dosing amounts by increasing or decreasing frequency or time I dose.

3. Calcium reactors can take a lot of "fiddling with." This was the big "NO" for me. I have never owned a calcium reactor but I have heard stories from local reefers about how much they have to play with their reactors. I believe in the acronym "KISS" (keep it simple stupid).

Watch the video, you'll see what I'm talking about.


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Old 02/18/2014, 11:17 PM   #6
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I have done both. 2 part is easier and makes more sense. Calcium reactors are more fun to play with and once dialed in are awesome!


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Old 02/19/2014, 07:00 AM   #7
Spar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpllongjk View Post
Reactors have a very high up front cost but pay for themselves in 3-4 years depending on how much 2 part you end up needing. Some people dose 100mL a day and when you're doing that you should seriously consider a reactor.

If you watch this, Dave at VividAquariums explains why his store only uses Dosing Pumps now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9yFdBnY-xA

I personally dose for 3 reasons:

1. I can split dosing into as many or as little dosing sessions as I like via my apex controller.

2. I can easily increase or decrease dosing amounts by increasing or decreasing frequency or time I dose.

3. Calcium reactors can take a lot of "fiddling with." This was the big "NO" for me. I have never owned a calcium reactor but I have heard stories from local reefers about how much they have to play with their reactors. I believe in the acronym "KISS" (keep it simple stupid).

Watch the video, you'll see what I'm talking about.
+1000

I ditched my Ca Rx on my 450g after feeling like I twiddle with settings way too often. Too many independent parts you have to rely on. I went on a 2 week vacation last year and as Murphy's Law would predict, my CO2 ran out on something like Day 2. My tank sitters wouldn't have noticed that. Came back to most of my coral near-dead from an Alk crash.

Dosing with a peristaltic pump for each of Ca and Alk is so much more simple ("KISS" as stated above").


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Old 02/19/2014, 09:32 AM   #8
snorvich
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpllongjk View Post
Reactors have a very high up front cost but pay for themselves in 3-4 years depending on how much 2 part you end up needing. Some people dose 100mL a day and when you're doing that you should seriously consider a reactor.

If you watch this, Dave at VividAquariums explains why his store only uses Dosing Pumps now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9yFdBnY-xA

I personally dose for 3 reasons:

1. I can split dosing into as many or as little dosing sessions as I like via my apex controller.

2. I can easily increase or decrease dosing amounts by increasing or decreasing frequency or time I dose.

3. Calcium reactors can take a lot of "fiddling with." This was the big "NO" for me. I have never owned a calcium reactor but I have heard stories from local reefers about how much they have to play with their reactors. I believe in the acronym "KISS" (keep it simple stupid).

Watch the video, you'll see what I'm talking about.
I have done it both ways but currently use a GHL 3 part doser for the reasons above.


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Old 02/19/2014, 09:34 AM   #9
ridetheducati
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spar View Post
+1000

I went on a 2 week vacation last year and as Murphy's Law would predict, my CO2 ran out on something like Day 2.
A little preventative maintenance could have prevented that incident. In a properly running setup, CO2 does not just run out without warning. The signs were there, you just missed it. That little gauge on the left tells you how much gas is in the tank. If it drops below 5, time to fill the tank.


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Old 02/19/2014, 09:42 AM   #10
d2mini
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spar View Post
+1000

I ditched my Ca Rx on my 450g after feeling like I twiddle with settings way too often. Too many independent parts you have to rely on. I went on a 2 week vacation last year and as Murphy's Law would predict, my CO2 ran out on something like Day 2. My tank sitters wouldn't have noticed that. Came back to most of my coral near-dead from an Alk crash.

Dosing with a peristaltic pump for each of Ca and Alk is so much more simple ("KISS" as stated above").
Man, something ALWAYS happens during vacation!!!

But in all fairness, really anything could go wrong.
Your doser pump could break down or something with the two-part.

I have used a dosing pump for years, on two different tanks, using the BRS two-part solutions. On my first tank i was always fiddling with it. I could never get the balance right. I my current tank, I learned a bit more and have gotten things pretty stable. But I just switched from two-part to a reactor because I was dumping 300ml of solution into my 200g tank every day. Every 12 days or so I had to mix up another gallon of both alk and calc. So there is the monetary aspect, and then i figured the bonus would be the extra trace elements that get added to the tank along with the alk and calc when using the reactor. It has taken a few days to break in and tune but it looks like my levels have stabilized and alk is even starting to rise a little. Even with two-part I had to adjust the dose now and then to adjust for more or less uptake. With either dosing or a reactor, you need to test at least weekly. Now instead of punching in a number on my computer, i will just need to make a bubble count adjustment. And it's taking care of both Alk and Calc at the same time.

So is there a way to tell how much CO2 is left in the tank or when it's starting to get low? I would think that after you've gone through 2-3 tanks you would have a general idea of how long it lasts but some kind of gauge or something would be nice.


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Old 02/19/2014, 10:27 AM   #11
Spar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ridetheducati View Post
A little preventative maintenance could have prevented that incident. In a properly running setup, CO2 does not just run out without warning. The signs were there, you just missed it. That little gauge on the left tells you how much gas is in the tank. If it drops below 5, time to fill the tank.
Agreed. I do take accountability where due! What actually went wrong with my issue was that I did replace the tank right before my trip, and it was functioning fine, but something was wrong with the seal and the co2 leaked out. I just didn't hear the leak (likely the only sign I would have noticed). Or could call this an extremely poor procedure plan, as I should not have waited until last day to change it out... instead doing well in advance to allow 'issues' to show their face.

Quote:
But in all fairness, really anything could go wrong.
Your doser pump could break down or something with the two-part.
Yes, but with a Ca Rx you are dealing with a plethora of independent parts that if independently go down, you are screwed. With a doser pump, at least you are just dealing with one part.

Nonetheless, I do see where arguments on both sides can be made.

Quote:
With either dosing or a reactor, you need to test at least weekly.
+1 - I am an excessive tester and usually test KH 2x/week, Ca 1x/week and Mg 1-2x/month. I've heard a lot of people with Ca Rx's say they never test once they get it setup and going... scary really.


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Old 02/19/2014, 06:12 PM   #12
salty joe
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By the time the pressure gauge om a CO2 tank drops, that's pretty much the end of the CO2. It's my understanding the only easy way to tell how much CO2 is left is to weigh the tank.


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Old 02/19/2014, 07:54 PM   #13
ridetheducati
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Quote:
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Agreed. I do take accountability where due! What actually went wrong with my issue was that I did replace the tank right before my trip, and it was functioning fine, but something was wrong with the seal and the co2 leaked out. I just didn't hear the leak (likely the only sign I would have noticed). Or could call this an extremely poor procedure plan, as I should not have waited until last day to change it out... instead doing well in advance to allow 'issues' to show their face.
Understood. I hate those darn washers. If the seal is not tight, you will lose all the gas in short order, ask me how I know. All the years I have been in the hobby, one thing I learned very quickly, never adjust equipment or add something new to the system before a business trip. Always test before putting it into the production environment.

Murphy is always looking to make an appearance.


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Current Tank Info: 300g DD, SPS dominated, Apex, Tunze 6125s, SRO 5000Ext, 400w MH, and Geo 618 Ca Reactor
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Old 02/19/2014, 07:58 PM   #14
ridetheducati
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Originally Posted by salty joe View Post
By the time the pressure gauge om a CO2 tank drops, that's pretty much the end of the CO2. It's my understanding the only easy way to tell how much CO2 is left is to weigh the tank.
Correct, the weight is one method, but the left gauge will tell you when its time to refill. In my case, when the needle hits 5, I have one week to fill the tank.


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Current Tank Info: 300g DD, SPS dominated, Apex, Tunze 6125s, SRO 5000Ext, 400w MH, and Geo 618 Ca Reactor
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Old 02/19/2014, 08:29 PM   #15
Triggercdog
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I am leaning towards the calc reactor because I am currently dosing 90 ml of alk and calc per day....I am looking for ease....as well as reliability....thx everyone for your comments...please keepnthem coming...I am definitely learning a lot from you guys....

Conan


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