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Optimusprime3605

Dosing: 2 Part or Calcium Reactor

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I've stayed away from sticks for years and now that I have several in my DT, I'd like to keep them alive and thriving. To my surprise, they are thriving and several have already encrusted the plug and also, have started to encrust the rock. As of yet, I have not tested anything other than salinity when I do water changes, which isn't very often nor scheduled. 

Now that I'm starting to get the SPS bug, which, to be honest, I thought I'd never get, I'd like to know what all the stickheads are doing for the BIG 3 (Ca, Alk, Mag). Whether it be water changes, which I find myself doing a lot as of late, due to all the sticks I've been aquiring lately or 2 part dosing or Ca reactor. I'd like to know 'why' you went this route, as well.

Any advice/info, whether be good or bad, I'd like to hear it! Ready GO!!!

TIA
Side note: I'm just about done with doing water changes, lol....now GO!!!

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Keeping ALK stable is key. There is so much Mg and Ca compared to ALK that Mg/Ca drops a little while ALK takes a big hit. Good thing is ALK tests are quick and easy, probably take just 1-2min. I would recommend testing for ALK every 2 days till you get an idea how fast ALK is used up. I use baking soda to maintain my ALK and CaCl and MgCl for both Ca and Mg. So it's kinda like those DIY 2 part online. I also use kalkwasser in my ATO.

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Soda ash for alkalinity and calcium carbonate for calcium.  Both of which I buy in bulk from BRS.  Magnesium I test for once a month and adjust manually if needed, which it almost never is.  I test for alkalinity 3-5 times a week when there has been any instability in my levels from whatever.  Once my system is dialed in I test it once a week at it's most relaxed.  No biggie, I love the red sea titration kits due to the speed and ease of use.  Stony corals are super fun in my opinion and worth the trouble.  As for why I use 2 part?  It's easy and I don't really find it to be expensive at all while ordering in bulk.  

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I use thrive products alk and cal, and aquavitro mag with great results. Manually dose a few ml's of each every morning and every night to help minimize alk swings in particular. I do water changes whenever I feel like doing one😂

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Keeping ALK stable is key. There is so much Mg and Ca compared to ALK that Mg/Ca drops a little while ALK takes a big hit. Good thing is ALK tests are quick and easy, probably take just 1-2min. I would recommend testing for ALK every 2 days till you get an idea how fast ALK is used up. I use baking soda to maintain my ALK and CaCl and MgCl for both Ca and Mg. So it's kinda like those DIY 2 part online. I also use kalkwasser in my ATO.

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Thanks Daniel for the response!
So, basically, you are doing 2 part DIY style, yeah? I've heard people using baking soda and such but never really paid any attention then. Now, that it's really important for me to keep up with the BIG 3, I need to be more attentive. Maybe you can share your process with the baking soda, 'cuz I've gots no idea, lol.

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Soda ash for alkalinity and calcium carbonate for calcium.  Both of which I buy in bulk from BRS.  Magnesium I test for once a month and adjust manually if needed, which it almost never is.  I test for alkalinity 3-5 times a week when there has been any instability in my levels from whatever.  Once my system is dialed in I test it once a week at it's most relaxed.  No biggie, I love the red sea titration kits due to the speed and ease of use.  Stony corals are super fun in my opinion and worth the trouble.  As for why I use 2 part?  It's easy and I don't really find it to be expensive at all while ordering in bulk.  
So, you buy yours already made from BRS, I see. Are there any differences in purchasing 'already made' as opposed to making your own?
I, now agree, that stony corals are becoming more fun, especially when they are flourishing.
Also, nice to hear that 2 part dosing is easy, as well.
Thanks

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I use thrive products alk and cal, and aquavitro mag with great results. Manually dose a few ml's of each every morning and every night to help minimize alk swings in particular. I do water changes whenever I feel like doing one
Hey Taylor
You too, are also dosing 2 part but with Thrive and Aquavitro products. Do you find it a bit more expensive as opposed to DIY supplements? Just curious, is all.
I hear ya on the water changes, lol.

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13 minutes ago, Optimusprime3605 said:

So, you buy yours already made from BRS, I see. Are there any differences in purchasing 'already made' as opposed to making your own?
I, now agree, that stony corals are becoming more fun, especially when they are flourishing.
Also, nice to hear that 2 part dosing is easy, as well.
Thanks

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It's probably pretty negligible.  I just have no interest in sourcing or making my own when they sell it for so cheap.  This hobby is huge on resource and time management, I try to be kind to myself when and where I can.  

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I still have a pretty young tank so I'm barely on my second bottles of each. They're about $20 each so it's definitely more expensive, but I feel it's consistent and easier to use so I prefer it. Thrive offers all 3 parts, but I was given the aquavitro bottles sealed and new so I figured I'd use em.

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I don't have a doser and I was thinking if I needed one, do I? Sounds like the input I've read so far, it's all been manual dosing by hand. Would this be cumbersome at some point? I guess it depends on the demand, more heavily stocked tank means more dosing.

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Lol no I do not do this manually... I use BRS peristaltic pumps on manual digital timers and deal with the schedules myself.  Doing this manually would be insane in the long run.  

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How 'bout dem 'reactor' conessuiers? Anyone wanna chime in? I have a ca reactor set up collecting dust atm in the garage but am skeptical on getting it dialed in, lol.

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Like others have said keeping alk steady is the key.  It can be a bit tougher with a reactor because you need to adjust the flow rate and bubble rate.  I have been testing daily to dial in my reactor once its dialed in, i get about a week of steady numbers then it will go up or down depending on coral consumption.  I do recommend calcium reactor for anyone with a tank over 180g that is SPS heavy.  Just the money alone that you will save in dosing is worth it.  IMO dosing is great for smaller tanks but not cost effective once you get into big tanks with heavy coral load.

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28 minutes ago, Optimusprime3605 said:

How 'bout dem 'reactor' conessuiers? Anyone wanna chime in? I have a ca reactor set up collecting dust atm in the garage but am skeptical on getting it dialed in, lol.

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Haha - as mentioned elsewhere, I am a fan of the reactor approach but do it a bit differently as I tend to run a steady flow and bubble rate and control directly off of pH.  I find it easier with a single variable that is more precisely controllable.  Mine tends to hold alk, ca, tank pH very steady once dialed in.  I monitor a couple times a week just to make sure and adjust pH in the reactor as coral growth/consumption demands.  As Roy notes, however, if you let the volume of your reactor medium change significantly, you will need to adjust for that.  I typically just make sure I keep that topped up whenever I notice the level dropping.  The only thing I dose is a mix of trace elements and aminos which is a small volume weekly by hand.

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Thanks Daniel for the response!
So, basically, you are doing 2 part DIY style, yeah? I've heard people using baking soda and such but never really paid any attention then. Now, that it's really important for me to keep up with the BIG 3, I need to be more attentive. Maybe you can share your process with the baking soda, 'cuz I've gots no idea, lol.

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I buy large baking soda from grocery store and calcium chloride online. I don't bake the baking soda cause I'm lazy... Just can't make as strong ALK solution without baking.

To make DIY 2 part, refer to this article:
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-02/rhf/index.php

To bring your tank ALK, Can, and Mg up, use online calculator:
http://reef.diesyst.com/flashcalc/flashcalc.html


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2 hours ago, Optimusprime3605 said:

How 'bout dem 'reactor' conessuiers? Anyone wanna chime in? I have a ca reactor set up collecting dust atm in the garage but am skeptical on getting it dialed in, lol.

Sent from my man cave while drinking Coors light! emoji481.png
 

Calcium reactor over dosing IMO/E but intial strat up can be costly versus dosing. Sounds like you may have all that’s needed, unsure as to all the exact components you have. I would splurge and get a dual stage regulator ( not a fan of the “carbon dosing regulator” used by many and one planted tanks- they are NOT consistent on bubble size or rate-IMEx3 units 

2 hours ago, stylaster said:

Like others have said keeping alk steady is the key.  It can be a bit tougher with a reactor because you need to adjust the flow rate and bubble rate.  I have been testing daily to dial in my reactor once its dialed in, i get about a week of steady numbers then it will go up or down depending on coral consumption.  I do recommend calcium reactor for anyone with a tank over 180g that is SPS heavy.  Just the money alone that you will save in dosing is worth it.  IMO dosing is great for smaller tanks but not cost effective once you get into big tanks with heavy coral load.

 

Ive had my reactor which doesn’t sport a bubble counter dialed in for the last oh, 7 years LOL so all I do is look at my apex and if the probes in the 6.66 range +/- .02 my Alk is 8.75. Granted I push all the water I can thru the reactor so drip rate isn’t a term I relate to anymore,, it’s how fast a stream do I have hahaha

 

I am a special case ( anyone who knows me :joking: ) in that I’ve close 650 gallons of  acropora and you are 100% correct on any large tank coral filled tank should use a reactor, even more so for SPS dominant, it’s a money saver for sure.

 

As usual Roy, you summarized it well- I only chimed in because of the connoissuer part ( now I need to thank BicycleBill which is next )

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I buy large baking soda from grocery store and calcium chloride online. I don't bake the baking soda cause I'm lazy... Just can't make as strong ALK solution without baking.

To make DIY 2 part, refer to this article:
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-02/rhf/index.php

To bring your tank ALK, Can, and Mg up, use online calculator:
http://reef.diesyst.com/flashcalc/flashcalc.html


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Thank you, Daniel for the links! I'll definitely check it out!

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2 hours ago, stylaster said:

Like others have said keeping alk steady is the key.  It can be a bit tougher with a reactor because you need to adjust the flow rate and bubble rate.  I have been testing daily to dial in my reactor once its dialed in, i get about a week of steady numbers then it will go up or down depending on coral consumption.  I do recommend calcium reactor for anyone with a tank over 180g that is SPS heavy.  Just the money alone that you will save in dosing is worth it.  IMO dosing is great for smaller tanks but not cost effective once you get into big tanks with heavy coral load.

I've always kind of guessed that the price of my dosing would be less efficient the bigger the tank.  That's the first time I've heard anyone really give an opinion on the size cutoff at 180g but it totally makes sense.  Thanks for your input.  I hope my dosing continues to be cheap in my bigger tank, time will tell. 

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Haha - as mentioned elsewhere, I am a fan of the reactor approach but do it a bit differently as I tend to run a steady flow and bubble rate and control directly off of pH.  I find it easier with a single variable that is more precisely controllable.  Mine tends to hold alk, ca, tank pH very steady once dialed in.  I monitor a couple times a week just to make sure and adjust pH in the reactor as coral growth/consumption demands.  As Roy notes, however, if you let the volume of your reactor medium change significantly, you will need to adjust for that.  I typically just make sure I keep that topped up whenever I notice the level dropping.  The only thing I dose is a mix of trace elements and aminos which is a small volume weekly by hand.
Thank you, Sean for the input!
Your way of running a reactor seems to be simple enough by having the effluent line wide open and monitoring via ph controller. I'm assuming, parameters are up to snuff when starting the reactor, yeah?

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Ive had my reactor which doesn’t sport a bubble counter dialed in for the last oh, 7 years LOL so all I do is look at my apex and if the probes in the 6.66 range +/- .02 my Alk is 8.75. Granted I push all the water I can thru the reactor so drip rate isn’t a term I relate to anymore,, it’s how fast a stream do I have hahaha
 
I am a special case ( anyone who knows me :joking: ) in that I’ve close 650 gallons of  acropora and you are 100% correct on any large tank coral filled tank should use a reactor, even more so for SPS dominant, it’s a money saver for sure.
 
As usual Roy, you summarized it well- I only chimed in because of the connoissuer part ( now I need to thank BicycleBill which is next )
Thanks reefnjunkie, for chiming in!
7 years dialed in, wow!
I really like the sound of having the effluent line wide open, kinda like what albertareef is doing but without the bubble counter and just relying on your controller readout for adjustments.
Hmmm...anyone selling a dual-stage regulator?

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5 minutes ago, Optimusprime3605 said:

Thank you, Sean for the input!
Your way of running a reactor seems to be simple enough by having the effluent line wide open and monitoring via ph controller. I'm assuming, parameters are up to snuff when starting the reactor, yeah?

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Hey Dodge - not quite sure what you are asking there re parameters.  When I first started to get it online the demand in my tank was fairly low so Alk/Ca/Mg could be maintained pretty easily with a bit of judicious dosing and I had them roughly where I wanted before starting up the reactor.  I have had to drop my reactor pH setpoint a couple of times as the load in the tank increased to compensate for the demand and now, if I do happen to take it offline for some reason (like not noticing the CO2 ran out) the Alk can drop pretty quickly.  If/when that happens, I just get the reactor back online ASAP and let it come back to equilibrium gradually - usually over the course of a couple of days.  So... yes, parameters were roughly where I wanted them before I started but the reactor can/will bring up Alk if/when you happen to have a drop in levels.  At least that is my experience.  I started out with a fairly neutral pH setpoint of 7.1 to avoid overshoot and am running at 6.9 now.  Tank is 125 and pretty full of fast growing SPS specimens.  Hope that helps.

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1 minute ago, Optimusprime3605 said:

Thanks reefnjunkie, for chiming in!
7 years dialed in, wow!
I really like the sound of having the effluent line wide open, kinda like what albertareef is doing but without the bubble counter and just relying on your controller readout for adjustments.
Hmmm...anyone selling a dual-stage regulator?

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Yeah - bubble counter for me is pretty superfluous... I have one but don't really use it as a control point at all - as long as there is sufficient flow to enable you to hit and maintain your pH setpoint then you are good.  When open, it runs at 1 - 2 per second.  Also, if not already clear, I am using a solenoid on the CO2 regulator to actually achieve the pH control.  pH raises above the setpoint - CO2 opens.  pH hits setpoint - CO2 shuts off.

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After several days of contemplating, I've decided to pull out the reactor and get it ready for operation. I need to pick up a few things prior to firing it up, though.

What kind of media should I use for Ca and Alk? Anyone have extra they'd like to sell?
My ph probe has been sitting for about a year, wet in a zip lock. Should I buy new? Anyone have an extra calibrated working ph probe they'd like to sell?

Other than that, I should be ready to give a shot...if it becomes problematic, I will give 2 part dosing a try.

Thank you, everyone, for all your input as they have all been very informative.

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