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...
It is getting to the point that I need to restock my Ca reactor and thought it might be a good opportunity to see what folk here recommend/prefer for media. There seem to be a few more widely available options like ReBorn (Little Fishes), ARM (Caribsea) and Reef Reactor (Seachem) but probably more that I am missing. Like many things reef, I would expect people to have some opinions on their relative merit and, of course, would be interested to hear those along with positive/negative experiences if you are willing to share.
Thanks in advance!
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.
First off, I would like to start off by thanking PowderBlue, WingRider62 and Garrett from TPA. I wouldn't have been able to do this without you guys.
Today I finally finished setting up my 60 gallon lagoon and connecting it to my main display.
...but where did this all start? About a month ago, I came across WingRider62's 6 bulb T5 fixture on the forum and decided the deal was too sweet that I had to grab it. On the way north, I stopped by TPA and they had this tank sitting in the back of the store. I knew it would fit the light, so I grabbed it too.
I got back home and unloaded them, but they sat in my garage for a couple weeks because I didn't have a stand. I saw Powderblue selling his stand and sump, but couldn't pick it up during the week because of work and finals.
with the sump below the aquarium:
Right after my finals finished, I left the testing room and began drawing my plumbing plans....on the back of my final. I knew I couldn't get the old sump out from below the 75, so I decided to re-implement it as an auto top-off reservoir as shown below. I went and ordered all the pieces online and began to wait.
After failing and wasting too many materials in my life, I finally...FINALLY realized what separates the men from the boys and it's measuring. So, I went and re-drew everything to scale on multiple pieces of cardboard. This:
The refugium was going to be below the tank and I didn't want it to shine through at night, so when some PVC was drying, I added some aquarium backdrop to the bottom of the aquarium.
Outside of the aquarium is blue and inside is black.
I had to size everything up, so two nights ago, the living room looked like this (if you look closely there is actually a toothbrush on the ground).
I was sizing up a lot of the larger pieces before I glued them. I knew even with measuring, nothing was going to fit snugly. Zip ties were key.
Before I had everything on the lagoon completely glued, I went and painted some of the PVC black because I didn't want the white to distract.
Once all the plumbing was done for the lagoon, I had to begin plumbing the display. I screwed up when I originally designed the overflow and had to cut it to implement to new plumbing. Here is what it looked like:
Once I cut the display overflow, the clock was ticking. It no longer had a sump and a lot of the equipment had to be temporarily moved around. Eventually, I sized everything up, but the worse part was I realized I didn't have enough water to supply my new tank and sump, so there was a lot of waiting.
People! Make extra water! Anyhow...I had a lot of time to clean out my old sump while I waited.
Here is what it looks like now. It is going to be used as an auto top-off reservoir. I was also getting sick of remaking my two part calcium and alkalinity solutions every couple months, so I upgraded to 5 gallon containers.
Everything eventually came online. Being in a rental home, it would be the end of me if all the water spilled, but I fearfully went to bed. I had known that there is always minor leaks, so I threw some towels down around the tanks.
When I woke up this morning, I sprinted over to my aquarium to find everything ALIVE! A couple towels were wet, but nothing I couldn't clean up. Here is what it looked like after I transferred some of the coral.
Now for the part that was the most complicated. The main sump. P.S. Zip ties are still attached for safety reasons.
Let me dissect this monstrosity. On the left, we have the return pump, going to a a 1 inch true union check valve and then a four-way junction. On the four-way is a 1" return to the main display, 3/4" return to the frag tank (with gate valves) and currently a screw-on cap. Eventually, I plan to route this junction straight through the wall behind the tanks and into the garage. It would give me the opportunity to have water change reservoirs out of sight from the public and have easy access for disposal. It's not happening anytime soon, but I hope that in the future I will never have to lift another bucket.
On the right, is the drains (and emergency) from the tanks, skimmer, heaters and refugium. I was so pissed off that I glued that gate valve at an angle, but if that's the worse of my problems. Who cares. Although, that refugium light did fall into my tank early this morning and I immediately pulled on the cord to get it out. The light never went off, nor did the power bar or breaker, so I unplugged it and let it dry. Once dry, I plugged the bulb in, but couldn't remember if I left it on or off...it started making a slight buzzing noise, so I assumed it was on. I tried turning it "off" but that was really on and the thing exploded. No light bulb in sight, half the fixture was gone and this time the breaker blew. Luckily, I had an extra lying around.
People, before you build a tank, do these things:
1. Keep the power off, until everything is in place. I learned that the hard way.
2. Make enough water before you start. Count on leaks and count on overshooting your guesstimate. It never hurts to make extra.
3. I had to cut a couple bulk heads because they were either damaged, too small, or had silt in them. Be careful with them because you often don't have any to spare.
4. PVC is made to fit only a certain size. Build it at the store, bring it home with a couple pieces in excess. When it is 3 am and you need a 1" to 3/4" adapter because something is leaking...ya, just buy extras and return them as needed. Home depot is cool like that.
All in all, this is what the tanks looked like late tonight. They are operational, with a few minor things to come. You'll just have to wait and see.