I have been going nuts trying to adjust my bubble count with the Milwaukee MA 957 CO2 regulator. I set the needle valve for a nice even bubble flow, and then later, I have to open it up more for the same flow. This went on several weeks as I tried to adjust the effluent flow, the primary and secondary CO2 pressure gauges, and whatever else I could fiddle with, hoping to get a steady bubble flow. Finally I saw mention of a clogged needle valve and found this instruction:
MA957 Clogged Needle Valve Repair Procedure
Over time dirty CO2 gas flowing through the regulator will start to deposit dust and dirt in the small gas line located inside the needle valve. When these deposits become large enough the gas flow becomes restricted and eventually will stop. When you add more gas pressure, forcing the gas pass the inline restriction, the flow will start back but as the backpressure subsides the gas flow and bubble count will also diminish and will again eventually stop. This yo-yo effect causes the operator to apply even more pressure from the large black main regulator knob (Macro adjustment) until the backpressure is so high that the solenoid will not close, even when power to the solenoid is turned off. This high backpressure in the solenoid piston chamber will allow gas to continue to flow through the regulator dropping the pH to 5.5 causing a catastrophic effect on all biological life in a tank. Field repair procedure - Turn the tank off and take the regulator off the tank. Take the bubble counter off the regulator needle valve. Open the needle valve all the way open by turning the knob counter-clockwise until it stops. Use a 1/16” drill and go through the top hole of the needle valve and drill through the base of that hole until you feel the drill pass through into the main chamber. Drill time is only about 2 seconds at full drill speed. Turn the regulator over and tap the needle valve on a table to knock out the drill filings. Remount the regulator. Note: If 1/16” drill is not available then go to next size which is a 5/64” drill bit.
Eureka, I found the problem. So I drilled out the valve and reassembled. ......Started out fine, but after a short honeymoon, it again slowly shut off the flow of gas. So either I did the procedure wrong, or something else is wrong.
OK, next solution -- install the highly touted CarbonDoser. Should solve my problems, right? Not!!! The used unit I bought for $250 did not work. No gas flow. So I put it into a box and sent it into AquariumPlant.com for repair. Back to manual daily two part dosing. Crapola, solving our country's immigration challenge would be easier than this. FYI, I already know the answer to that problem.
I am starting to get curious about calcium reactors and how hard they are to get started using? I have never been able to get SPS growing well and am debating on getting a calcium reactor to help get my tank levels more stable to assist with that.
What is everyones preference? I have always used B-ionics 2 part but am seriously considering switching.
How much maintance does a calcium reactor cost?
what media do people run in it?
for minerals do you need to dose anything extra for trace elements?
How often do you need to refill/change the media?
how often do you test your parameters once its dialed in?
I have seen a few people selling some used ones which is also adding to the possibility to switch.
Why A Peristaltic Pump?
This is covered in great detail on the internet. In summary:
○ More reliable consistent flow
Read more about the official MasterFlex Calcium Reactor thread here. They are spendy, 200-400 dollars. And they are awesome.
(hint, if you can spare the reef $$, stop reading this and go get one!)
For me personally? I needed to babysit some SPS. I knew that my CR flow would dip and sometimes clog. Rather than risk someone else's coral I decided to step up the game a little.
Check out my flow before and after:
Why A DIY Peristaltic Pump?
The primary reason is simply to save money.
By saving money, you might be able to have a spare on hand.
For me, I try to have 2 of anything critical because reef stores are not open 24/7 and Amazon cannot ship fast enough to save your coral if things go wrong.
Building One - Parts
Pump and Motor - $30
The pump and motor itself. Search ebay for 'large peristaltic' and you will find this one:
Pumps come and go. It is nice to have one with:
§ At least two rollers (anti siphon)
§ Stainless steel bearings (not a plastic, noisy pump)
This setup requires a brushed DC 12v motor so that it can be PWM controlled. A better setup would be a stepper motor based motor and controller. Future?
Motor Speed Controller - $11
You want a PWM speed controller. This controls the speed so the flow can be dialed in.
Note: There are tons of cool options here. Web controlled, LED speed display etc. I did find though that certain PWMs cause the motor to overheat so you may need to experiment if deviating from this one.
Power Supply - $6.50
12volt 2 amp power supply with a wiring adapter.
Here is one on amazon:
It is better to find one that is UL Listed. Once you are past the power supply though, everything is low voltage.
The wiring adapter is key (the green thing in the pic). It makes taking power from the adapter simple, just turning a couple of screws.
Wire - Free to $16
If you have any kind of wire laying around that is 16 gauge or bigger, feel free to repurpose it.
Some wiring connectors such as 2 spade connectors can be soldered onto the back of the motor or possibly crimp
Building One - Assembly
The wiring is very basic and covered with the PWM controller documentation.
Basically the power goes from the power adapter, to the PWM controller, to the motor.
Everything is labelled, it is super easy.
The hardest part is attaching the wires to the motor. You can use a variety of methods, but a crimp on spade connector can work.
Be sure to use the right gauge wire. I used 16 gauge because I had some from other projects. It's nice to use 2 different colors, pick one such as red for positive, black for ground and be consistent.
There are allot of options. Mine is stuffed into a double gang electrical box ($2).
I just drilled some holes and routed wires.
Here is the inside
For more details etc check out this thread:
The results are detailed in another thread:
Tubing wears out and fails, you need to place the pump in a location such that if this happens, water will drain into the tank instead of onto the floor! Ideally monitor the flow with the APEX flow monitoring kit 1/4" adapter. That way when the tubing goes you can quickly replace it. Sound! This is a pretty quiet pump, but it is not as quiet as an MJ sitting underwater in the sump. So keep that in mind... Super Important: Don't turn down the pump so low that it does not run smoothly. That will overheat the motor as it is basically starting up from stopped several times per second. The pump should run smooth with no visible lurching...
Man, it would be nice.
Especially now that APEX showed me how wildly the flow varies off of my MJ1200 feed pump.
Flow is in liters per hour. That means I have been ranging from 56 mls/min to 98 mls / minute. I do have to think it would be much more consistent with the peristaltic...
Going to be looking for some cheap options as my reef budget will not allow for a good one at this point (400 dollars...)!
I have struggled adjusting my new calcium reactor for over a month. My biggest obstacle is fluctuating effluent flow.
The AquaMaxx C-Tech Nano comes with a pinch valve located after the the input pump (Tom's Aqualift) and water filter and before the reactor. The valve is so imprecise that the very slightest turn of the knob causes effluent flow to change a lot. My initial goal is two drops per second (6 ml per minute). I get the flow set and by the next morning, it has dropped by two thirds or more. Later that next day, it drops even more.
Next I bought a $25 needle valve from Marine Depot. Same problem. After I dial it in, it drops badly by the next day. Isn't a steady effluent flow essential to the operation of the reactor? Does every one have similar problems? I should not have to purchase a peristaltic pump.