Wondering if you should run a CaRx!?!

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Vhuang168, Jun 14, 2016.

  1. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    Just Do It!

    I've been running my CaRx for a little over 2 months now and I'm loving the stability. I was a little worried about the complexity of setup and tuning but once I set it up and got it running it was pretty easy. Many think a CaRx is only for big tank (as I did) but after running it on my 40b, I find it works just as well on smaller tanks. Just need to turn down the effluent flow and/or keep the ph a little higher.

    I was dosing for the past year and this is sooooo much better!

    If you are on the fence about running a CaRx, I say go for it!
  2. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    Do you tie the control back to Apex? or use different PH controller?
    Vhuang168 likes this.
  3. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    It is tied to Apex but that is only as a fail safe. The Apex doesn't really control the Ph in the CaRx.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    In addition to the reactor what all did you have to buy? How much would you say you've spent to switch over from dosing 2 part?
    Vhuang168 likes this.
  5. neuro

    neuro Webmaster

    I've seen some serious disasters with everything needed to run a reactor.
    Coral reefer likes this.
  6. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    I have been running my reactor on my 65G for 5yrs. There are three key components to making a Ca reactor run with less hassle and maintenance.
    1) pH controller either a standalone or a aquarium controller like the Apex.
    2) Variable speed peristaltic feed pump to control the flow through the reactor and don't need a pinch valve to try to control the effluent.
    3) Electronic co2 regulator and solenoid http://www.aquariumplants.com/CarbonDoser-Electronic-Co2-Regulator-p/co2.htm

    I love my reactor and have alarms setup through my Apex to let me know when my CO gas is empty and if my flow is clogged for the peristaltic pump.
    neuro and Coral reefer like this.
  7. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Can you elaborate on why calcium reactors are better than dosing vincent?
  8. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    I feed it with a lab grade peristaltic pump (Cole Parmer Masterflex 7550-30). I use it rather than an aquarium dosing pump because it is rated to run consistently 24/7. Almost all (if not all) peristaltic pumps made for aquaria are not designed for that kind of continuous use.

    CO2 is regulated with an industrial grade stainless dual stage regulator fitted with a solenoid and a vernier metering valve rated for very small outputs. Solenoid is controlled by Apex.

    And of course the CO2 tank. I'm using a 20lb tank and should last me over a year of use.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  9. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    There are only 3 things you need.

    A way to feed the rx tank water.

    A rx itself

    A CO2 source.

    Just like everything, dosers n even manual dosing, things break, errors are made. Nothing is fool proof or idiot proof.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  10. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    And if you don't have quality feed pump and regulator it is the biggest hassle ever. Not cheap for a good quality setup, but is anything cheap in their hobby that's gonna work the way you want it to?
  11. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    It's the stability.

    The tank water is constantly supplied fresh Alk and Ca ions as well as other trace elements that are incorporated by the corals themselves into their skeletons. And with a little patience, that level can be adjusted fairly easily to match the uptake.

    I think a lot of the anxiety over running a CaRx is the lack of actual numbers to go by. There isn't a set of numbers that if you follow, you are guaranteed success. There are general guidelines but each tank is different and there are a myriad of ways to feed n control a CaRx as well as actual Rx designs that affect how effective the media is dissolved to have any real solid levels to follow.

    I've only setup the CaRx recently and my corals have responded like I have not seen in the past year where I've been dosing. Either by hand or by a doser. The doser I used could be setup to dose Alk every 10 mins and Ca every 30.

    The main key is to ramp up slowly and you must be willing to test, test, test and test some more until the tank is stable. Took me 3 weeks to get any semblance of stability.

    There are a few ways to setup a CaRx. 1 way (and I think it's the way most do it and is the way most recommend) is to set a specific ph and let your Ph controller (be it a standalone or Apex) shut off the CO2 flow when it hits that level.

    You then control the amount of effluent that drips into the tank. Most use a needle valve to control the flow and those are prone to clogging which results in fluctuating levels.

    And because the Ph level is usually recommended to be set pretty low, in the 6s I think, the effluent is very concentrated and because it is so concentrated you have to really slow down the flow and by closing down the needle valve, makes it even more prone to clogging.

    The way I run it is to not use a needle valve at all. I use the peristaltic pump to push tank water in at a fixed rate. Currently at about 27ml/min, iirc. It's the slowest my pump will go. I then set my Apex to turn off CO2 if it ever reaches 6.9. This is only a fail safe. My solenoid stays open practically the whole time. I use the CO2 reg and the very precise vernier metering valve to regulate the amount of CO2 entering the CaRx. I can easily dial it up or down thus controlling the concentration of effluent.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  12. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    On CO2 regulator, you get what you pay for. There are a lot of cheap regs out there. But unless you want to deal with leaks, working pressure fluctuation, get a decent one.
  13. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Or build your own. Built this one awhile back with help from Ian for a planted setup. Straight SS.



    neuro and Coral reefer like this.
  14. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Nice info!
    Interesting about using the low speed peristaltic pump non-stop, that makes a lot of sense.

    My concern with CaRx is how to adjust Alk / Ca separately if it is not balanced.
    And my system balance has varied hugely over the years.
    Right now, with my auto-water-exchange and using IO salt mix (high alk), I dose way more Ca than Alk.
    But before, when I had almost no hard corals, and few water exchanges, I was dosing way more Alk.
    I guess I could adjust the salt mix...

    But I have been looking to switch. In doing DIY Alk+Ca, I do not dose any other elements unless I do it by hand.
  15. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    You answered one of my questions but not how much it all cost.

    I'm still about 75% on the side of the CaRx and 25% two part. The only reason I'm even thinking of two part is how easy it is to setup and run and how much cheaper it is.
  16. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    Theoretically you should never have to adjust them separately. Your coral should be absorbing the elements at the same ratio that the CaRx is breaking them down from the dead corals.
  17. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    Cost really depends on what you decide to buy. Prices vary for CaRx, Reg and feed pump.

    On my setup,

    Vertex RX-C 6D Calcium Reactor - $450
    Masterflex 7550-30 peristaltic pump off Ebay -$500
    Custom stainless CO2 Reg - $400
    CO2 tank $50
    Two Little Fishies Reborn Media X2 -$100
    Zeomag Magnesium Media X2 - $58

    2 part is only cheaper during start up. Depending on how much you dose, it could really add up! My media should last me over a year if not more.
  18. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    To add to what @Vhuang168 said about a calcium reactor it also adds almost all the trace elements back into the tank except Iodine, unlike two part where you might need to dose magnesium, strontium etc.

    I bought an APT adjustable peristaltic pump for around $300.00, but the rest is in the same ballpark as Vincent setup. IMAG0025.jpg
  19. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    So that's $1558. Even if I got a DOS ($300), and the fancy Apex reservoirs ($200) it would be years of buying two part before it would even out.

    All the trace elements being added back in and the additional stability you talked about are the greatest benefits I can see. That and it's just plain cool.

    In the end I'm quite sure I'll go the CaRx route but I'm still weighing out all the options.
  20. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    I need to stop reading your post before my gear list get into 5 digits lol

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