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DIY Reactor

ojustaboo

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Joined
15 Mar 2011
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201
Hi all cant believe I've only just found this forum :)

I have a Juwel 190 lt corner tank and have struggled to keep my plants alive. I've since spent time learning about what I'm supposed to be doing, now have a decent substrate, the correct lighting (I hope) etc.

I was about to try a DIY CO2 system when my local FS had a marine D-D system reduced from £130 to £70. I checked the manufactures web site (well UK suppliers) and in their FAQ it said the only difference was the marine version also came with a high pressure gauge but didn't come with any sort of diffuser.

At that price, I jumped at it :)

So that left the diffuser. After a lot of investigation (mainly I'm embarrassed to say, on US sites, not sure why this site didn't come up in my google searches) it seemed an external reactor was the way to go.

I did look at the Aquagro power diffusers but read a few reviews and while people said they worked, there were some negative points such as smooth 12mm pipe connectors (no ridges to grab the pipe), they also appear from the pics to be made of that hard rigid plastic.

I them stumbled across the Rex DIY reactor that got good reviews on US sites and thought that looked an easy project :)

Wont link to it as it's another forum, but here's a pic of it

rexreactor.jpg

The parts are readily available in the US from their local superstores so what problems should I have in England.

Well loads and loads. I simply couldn't seem to find any one place that had all the bits I wanted and was about to give up before I stumbled on a couple of irrigation websites. One on particular was very helpful and had everything I needed. Won't publish the name in case it's against the rules, this is also my first post and it could be seen that I'm posting to advertise them which is not my intent.

I'm using a Eheim 2073 pro 3 filter.

Looking at the rex reactor and looking at was was available to order in the UK, I decided to go a slightly different route.

I decided to use 50mm pipe
I thought I'd use a 50 - 40mm reducing elbow at one end
into that a 40mm to 3/4" thread
into that a 16mm barb

At the other end I'm using a 50mm to 40 mm tee (50 top and bottom, 40 side)

and again using a 40mm to 3/4 thread and a 16mm barb into that.

Into the bottom of this tee I'm using an end cap fitting that has a screw in cap with rubber washer, to allow me access to clean the reactor when nessessary.

Hopefully I would have ended up with something along the lines of (not to scale)

reactor.jpg

I ordered the above parts which only cost £15.84 (£6 of that was delivery) which I didn't think was bad. I intended to go to a local plumbing shop and simply get the shortest bit of 50mm pipe they sell but that was a huge mistake. None of those shops sell 50mm pipe. They sell what they class as 50mm but it's an internal 50mm which has a 55mm external, the above fittings need a 50mm external.

At this point I was a little annoyed as the site O ordered the fittings from only has 5m lengths for sale at £15.08 a length. I phoned them up on the off chance they would have an odd bit lying around and they said they sell it by the meter anyway, just that the website only allows you to order 5 meter lengths, and you need to place order by phone if you want any other length. So I ordered 1 meter which should be here today, that would have pushed the original bill up by £3 had I known at the time, but obviously I now have to pay delivery again.

So to order the above at one time would be delivered for under £20 (note: my pipe is grey not clear)

I'm happy so far.

Now I finally come to my questions :)

Question 1:
I see another long thread about DIY reactors in this section (Ed Seeley), they have a similar design to mine, only they have the elbow at the bottom not the top and instead of using a tee, they feed directly into the top. They have also thought of something I've forgotten completely about, a bleed valve.

That's got me thinking. What if I use what I've come up with but use it the other way up with the input from the filter going into the tee and the output to the tank coming from the elbow. I could then use the end cap fitting as a bleed valve. The end cap fitting has a thick rubber washer in it so shouldn't need to be turned very tight to create a good seal, meaning it should be easy to crack open slightly to release and air/gas (I don't think I would end up in a situation like the trap on a sink where often it needs considerable force to remove).

So it would look like this.

reactor1q.jpg

Does that seem a better alternative please?



Question 2.
Where to put the CO2 in.

The Rex reactor (as you can see from my first picture) recommend the CO2 is input near the top of the reactor.

Ed Seeley is mixing the CO2 with the water before it enters the reactor if I understand that correctly, hence is also at the top.

Others however say the CO2 should go in the bottom so the bubbles rise against the flow of the water

Anyone got any updates on which method works best please?

From a non scientific not thought through point of view, it looks to me that by injecting the CO2 near the bottom, there's a chance if the flow is too great, it could get pushed straight through the output without the reactor being any benefit whatsoever (hope that makes sense)



Question 3
What's the best way to attach the CO2 to the reactor.

Ed appears to be using a tee piece before the reactor.

Rex appears to be advising to have the co2 pipe sticking through the main pipe, so that the CO2 is injected into the middle of the water flow, he also says there's no need for any sealant, drilling a smaller hole, hence the pipe self seals.

For normal air line tubing I have found that an 11/64th drill bit works fine. You want a drill bit that is about two bit sizes smaller than the OD of the tubing. Then you cut the tubing at an angle and pull it though with pliers. Start with a small hole and drill it out if you need to. You want the smallest possible size hole you can pull the tubing through.

I always pull enough tubing into the T to bring the tubing into the middle of the pipe.

There is no need for any sealant.

Still others recommend some sort of nipple fixed somehow onto the pipe.

What have people done and what has been your results please? Anyone tried more than one method?

Final Question 4
Positioning of the spray bar in my tank.

I was thinking of having the spray bar running vertically, near the bottom of my tank, so that the CO2 is hopefully pushed out across the bottom foot of my tank, directing it somewhere towards the middle. Does that seem sensible please?

Sorry for all the questions, and the length of my first post, just want to get this right and due to not having any clear pipe in my reactor, wont be able to see what's going on inside (might build another one in a few months once I get to understand it more, this time using clear tube as Ed suggests in his thread)

Many thanks

Joe
 

Coiln3107

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22 Dec 2008
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132
Location
Lanark Scotland
Hi Joe there is a lot to answer here but initially this is a link to the Aqua Medic 1000 reactor instruction manual http://www.aqua-medic.com/products/docs ... r_1000.pdf which I hope helps. If the link does not work just type in Aqua Medic.com. You certainly appear to be on the right path and as you suggest as Ed did the clear pipe certainlly allows a visual reference as to what is going on, it may be worth investing in the clear pipe at this stage just for the fun of seeing it working. :) I personally have a Aquamas 3000 reactor with the external bypass valve and it works really well its worth having a look at there site, just type Aquamas into Google and translate the page. It replaced an AM 1000 but there is not a lot of difference other than the bypass valve alows you increase and decrease the flow through the reactor so you can alter the mix. :? As far a the spray bar is concerned my undestanding is most people have it length ways along the back of the tank facing down and take the CO2 infused water down in to the tank possibly helped by powerheads or circulation pumps like Koralias or in my case Vortech pumps. There will be other people doing different things as I am sure you will read but placing the outflow from the reactor either through glassware or spraybars should achieve maximum distribution to the tank from minimum gas usage if that makes sense. There are a lot of good guys on here with a lot of ideas so you can make your own decisions as the answers come back, have fun kind regards Colin. :thumbup:
 

Bobtastic

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13 May 2009
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745
Location
Manchester, UK
Question 1: I think that would work but I guess its a bit of a "try it and see". I have a AM1000 and that has a threaded/tapped valve at the top to allow excess air to be bled off as required.

Question 2/3: With the AM reactor I have there is an Co2 inlet extension of approx 5cm so that the bubbles are caught mid flow and attempt to rise up against it.

Question 4: As already suggest you'll probably get best flow/max distribution with the spray bar fitted horizontally across the back of the tank, pointing almost straight at the front pane of glass. The flow should bounce off and flow down/round and toward the back of the tank. This is the position Clive will probably suggest once he finds this thread. :thumbup:

I would be very interested to see your results with this. I find the AM1000 a little wide and wonder if that is causing a reduction in flow.
 

ojustaboo

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15 Mar 2011
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201
Many thanks.

I think I would probably have gone for the AM1000 if I hadn't already spent £30 on the parts so far.

One thing with regards to my tank, it's a corner tank with a curved front. Below is a very rough not to scale drawing of what I'm trying to say, but it doesn't show the problem as much as it really is (note internal filter is not in the tank, but found that pic on the web)

There's no position I can put the spray bar where it equally hits the front of the tank.

If I bend a tape measure round the front of the tank, it's 43" wide.

In the blue position it's only hitting the front right hand 10 inches.
In the yellow position it's hitting the front left hand 33inches.
The green position (middle of the tank on the left side back wall) it's hitting from about 23 inches to 37 inches.

Very hard to explain what I mean, not sure of where best to place it to get the whole tank covered.

tank2w.jpg

thanks

Joe
 

Coiln3107

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22 Dec 2008
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132
Location
Lanark Scotland
Don't worry too much about equal coverage, if the reactor has done its job and the gas is saturated into the inflowing water then as long as you remember the 10x turnover rule it will be in there anyway. Even a fully stretched out spraybar along the back will not cover a heavily planted tank on its own without the help of a circ pump. There is always something in the road once it all starts to grow. I cannot see any of my spraybar because of the plants but as long as you have saturation of the CO2 in the reactor and circulation it will be great dont worry. Have fun Colin.
 

foxfish

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11 Oct 2009
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Location
Guernsey
Those reactors are very basic in design & although they do work quite efficiently I am not keen on the coloured PVC as you have no idea what is going on inside!
You can use Acrylic tube or clear PVC although you might have to be resourceful finding suitable lengths of the pipe to avoid having to buy long & expensive lengths.
PVC is a better option as it is easy to find suitable fittings that can be glued on using standard solvent weld glues.
Perhaps an even easier rout is to unitise a second hand reactor.
Here are two types of reactor that I built a few years back one is PVC the other Acrylic.
(Personally I much prefer in line atomisers - £15 new & more effective)
r2.jpg


r1.jpg
 

ojustaboo

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15 Mar 2011
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NoEntry said:
It's go to be asked.


Where did you source the plumbing bits ?

Mike

I was about to give up and buy a ceramic diffuser, I literally looked for hours trying to find somewhere, then purely by chance I stumbled across

http://www.irrigationonline.co.uk/categ ... -Fittings/

Many thanks for all your advice. Hindsight is a great thing :) Wish I found this site before starting my project, both the Am 1000 and the up atomiser look like they would have been a much better choice :)

Joe
 

Bobtastic

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13 May 2009
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Manchester, UK
It's all down to personal taste. Being able to see what's going on inside is helpful, but not essential. I wouldn't know where to start with anything like this so you're doing well! Think of the money you'll save (that you'll eventually spend on plants or wood or rocks :thumbup: )
 

ojustaboo

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Just finished building my reactor, seems to have all gone to plan, will know tomorrow when I test it full of water :D

Going back to the spray bar, been playing around with it and have observed the following.

If I put it just above the water and have it facing almost to the front, but slightly down (I realise I will have it under the water when I finally do it, just been experimenting)

I'm getting bubbles sort of going in a U shape coming up in the middle of the tank, I'll try and take a pic,

fishtank1m.jpg

It doesn't really show exactly what I'm trying to say. If it were a rectangle tank and you were looking at the side, it would look like the following, with the green line being the direction of the bubbles, hence they're leaving near the middle of the tank.

I would have thought the bubbles should have continued further towards the front of the tank along the purple line to give the circulation shown by the purple line. i realise they will start to rise, it's just that if I have the bar under the water pointing at the front, based on what I've seen, a lot of the water/gas is coming out of the water before it gets anywhere near the front to be circulated around? Hope that makes sense, sorry for the rubbish drawing.

fish2d.jpg

ps, ignore the state of the inside if my tank in that photo, I haven't put the plants in yet and things like the blue airline will not be visible etc when I do.

pps, Just realised my reactor is almost (apart from CO2 input) identical to one posted by Behold on 2008, great minds think alike :D

viewtopic.php?f=20&t=4045

Many thanks for all your help

Joe
 

Coiln3107

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Hi Joe 'you wish' :lol: that would be every aquascapers dream :thumbup: Yes for sure that is what we would all like to achieve but as you have found out the water and saturated gas almost instantly rise. That is why we nearly always direct the spray bar down the back of the tank as it takes the saturated water quickly into the deeper water often helped by using a circ pump to force it down with more power behind it and or Koralia type circ pumps. The more quickly we get the gassy water into the deep, and the longer we keep it there the better, but as you are finding out it naturally wants to rise, something we all fight because if it stayed where we wanted it Fe's would last a lot longer :clap:
The other thing that will compound your fight will be the plants, because as they grow and get more dense the ability to maintain that ideal looping flow gets gets more difficult but it all adds to the fun :thumbup: Its worth remembering that if you are buying circ pumps, dont get them too small as you may need a bit more circ as the plants mature and restrict the flow. Have fun kind regards Colin.
 

ojustaboo

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Thanks Colin

I misread your first post :)

Bob suggested pointing the spray bar at the front glass, you suggested pointing it straight down, for some odd reason, I read them both as pointing to the front :D

Looks like it's one of those things where different things work for different people.

Will have to experiment with both ways when I have the CO2 installed and move my drop checker to various points and see which gives me the best results.

It's got about 16" of water depth, I would still have thought having the spray bar say 8 inches under the water horizontal pointing down would be better than having it near the top? Giving it more force to circulate the water and less chance for the gas to start rising before it reached the bottom, or am I missing something obvious?

Many many thanks for all your help, much appreciated

Joe
 

Bobtastic

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Coiln3107 said:
That is why we nearly always direct the spray bar down the back of the tank

That is not the position that Clive suggests it the best to achieve a good circle of flow. As I said b4 he suggests that the flow from the spray bar points straight forward to create a circle off the front pain.

Have a read through this thread.
 

Coiln3107

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Hi Bob I could not agree more and I for one do not doubt Clives knowledge of this hobby. :thumbup: But, the reason I suggested in this particular case of the spray bar going across the back and down is this, its a bowfront tank, how do you mount a spraybar perfindicular to the front of a bow tank :? As you know there is normally more than one answer to the questions that this diverse hobby brings and as you say there is more than one opinion. I can only suggest putting the bar where you want Joe and try putting in some fish food to allow a visual check on where the flow takes it. This may help you to accertain the best position for your particular setup, you may even end up with two spraybars to give overall coverage, who knows :lol: Kind regards to you both Colin.
 

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