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  #1  
Old 01/11/2008, 05:59 PM
Sk8r Sk8r is offline
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how I made a 'kalk reactor' for 2.50 and some spare parts.

I wanted to be really sure on this one, before describing it to a forum full of new reefers, but it is working.

This is for tanks that need to supplement calcium and alkalinity buffer. Tanks with softies don't generally need it: tanks with clams and stony coral will likely reach a point when a kalk reactor or a calcium reactor becomes a real sanity saver.

My 'Frankenkalkreactor' is really not much new: many do it this way, so don't think I'm brilliant---I was really very slow to catch on, and spent a very regretted 440.00 on a reactor that doesn't work as well as the one I made. But I did make a kind of an improvement, via the permeable 'floor.' Others may have done this too. But I'm at least here to say it works.

The Frankenkalkreactor can be scaled anywhere between a 7 gallon old salt bucket and a 32 gallon Rubbermaid Brute Trashcan. You could probably do it, with some modification, in a Tupperware container.

What does it do?---it uses your ordinary ro/di topoff water to dissolve a set amount of lime powder, which goes into your tank just as regular ro/di topoff does...but it supplements alk and cal in the same dose, and does it automatically---and here is the only catch: it does not supplement magnesium, and it will NOT raise your alk and cal on its own. You have to 'set' your alk, cal, and mg by hand-dosing, then rely on your kalk drip to KEEP it where you set it. It will do this until the kalk runs out.

Caution: it also will not sustain alk and cal if your evaporation is not adequate to make the topoff run often enough. My 54 g evaporates a gallon or more a day, and it works perfectly, holding a cal of about 450 or a bit more, an alk of around 9.3, and a mg of about 1350, at a ph of 8.3. All of that [except the mg] is maintained by the reactor.

A kalkreactor also is enough for most tanks up to about 120 gallons, but over that, with a stony reef, ---or with a tank that has much less evaporation---you may want a calcium reactor [which can FORCE water to carry more calcium than is natural.]

The mechanics:
You cut a circle of eggcrate lighting grid to make a permeable floor halfway to the bottom of a bucket you can lid fairly tightly. [you may need to make a foamlined hole in the lid for the hose and power cord. You add as much kalk as you think will serve for a while. Then you fill the bucket with ro/di water. The fill stirs the kalk. That's all it takes. Approximately 2 teaspoons of kalk will dissolve in every gallon of ro/di water, and the remainder will sink into a white slurry at the bottom of the barrel, to be mixed in when more fresh water is added.

One other operation: I use a Maxijet1200 for my topoff pump: the half-inch hose is cut off inside the bucket, a locline connector inserted and hose-clamped inside, a 1/4 inch locline is inserted firmly, thus reducting the MJ1200's output to 1/4 inch [doesn't damage the pump]. The end of said hose goes into the sump, but does NOT enter the water. Let it drip from a clamped position on the edge of the sump. [hence, kalk drip] And clamp it firmly!!!! I am not sure what earthly power can get kalk powder out of carpet, and it is not a pretty sight if it sprays.

You set the topoff pump on the grid, to keep it out of the slurry, you get the power cord and hose out of the bucket and appropriately sited, you do your tests and 'set' your cal, alk, mg levels in your tank as aforementioned, and you are running.

I just dump a pound of Mrs. Wages' Pickling Lime into my 32g Brute trashcan [the Frankenkalkreactor]...and test once a week to be sure my mg level hasn't sunk. That pound will hold me most of a month. I do have to add more water once, because the midway position of the pump means I only get 15 g out before the water level sinks below the pump position.

But since I already had the topoff rig---I can say I made a kalk reactor for two dollars fifty and some spare parts.

WHen should you consider a kalk reactor? When you get thoroughly bored testing and adding calcium and buffer every day.

There's a take-off point for a reef when over night your corals go from the standard 1/2 tsp daily demand to wanting 2 teaspoons a day...

That's a good point at which to set up this rig---which has to be messed-with maybe once a month to take it to the showers and rinse it thoroughly; for the rest, you get to settle back and count one more tank chore as automated. It is fairly forgiving: I've shot pure slurry into my tank at least twice, very short-term, and taken a bath in it when I had a line come loose [thank goodness, in the basement]---and I have corals; but I never had any damage. Running a LOT into your tank would not be good, so don't even think of doing this until you have stopped making basic mistakes with your autotopoff unit [we all do it.]

Do be careful not to spill either the powder or the liquid.
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Sk8r

"Make haste slowly." ---Augustus.

"If anything CAN go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment."---St. Murphy.

Last edited by Sk8r; 01/11/2008 at 06:06 PM.
  #2  
Old 01/11/2008, 06:46 PM
NYIntensity NYIntensity is offline
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Sk8r,

Great writeup, genius design Could you post some pics? I'd like to replicate, and probably on the same scale as yours.
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  #3  
Old 01/11/2008, 07:04 PM
Sk8r Sk8r is offline
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Let me see if I can get this to be readable.

Ooops. Forgot the float switch. That's in the sump, and it IS the power connection for that MJ1200.

Here's the revised sketch WITH the float switch, courtesy of autotopoff.com.
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Sk8r

"Make haste slowly." ---Augustus.

"If anything CAN go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment."---St. Murphy.

Last edited by Sk8r; 01/11/2008 at 07:17 PM.
  #4  
Old 01/11/2008, 07:42 PM
Sk8r Sk8r is offline
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NOTE: let it settle before turning on your autotopoff. Only the merely filmy water should go into your tank.
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Sk8r

"Make haste slowly." ---Augustus.

"If anything CAN go wrong, it will, and at the worst possible moment."---St. Murphy.
 

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