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Old 01/11/2008, 03:59 PM   #1
Sk8r
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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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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge, chromis, royal gramma basslet, tailspot blenny, ocellaris clown, yellow watchman, chestnut turbo snails, bristleworms, couple of hermits.

Last edited by Sk8r; 01/11/2008 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 01/11/2008, 04:46 PM   #2
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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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Old 01/11/2008, 05:04 PM   #3
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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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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge, chromis, royal gramma basslet, tailspot blenny, ocellaris clown, yellow watchman, chestnut turbo snails, bristleworms, couple of hermits.

Last edited by Sk8r; 01/11/2008 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 01/11/2008, 05:42 PM   #4
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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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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge, chromis, royal gramma basslet, tailspot blenny, ocellaris clown, yellow watchman, chestnut turbo snails, bristleworms, couple of hermits.
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Old 01/12/2008, 05:12 PM   #5
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Note: if you overdose kalk, don't panic, but be sure if you are running kalk that you have an operational ph meter.
If you overdose, [like pour pure slurry into your tank] your ph will climb rapidly. This is a 'transient' event: it happens fast and it starts to go away fast. The 'cure' for it: ask in the Chemistry forum, but you can start adding common soda water [seltzer water]---dose it by very small doses, because remember the ph will start settling down fairly fast and it's easy to over-do it.

Corals and fish and inverts usually come through this event fine. Just test, have some soda water on hand [not, for goshsake, a soft drink---I mean soda that they sell in the bar supplies section of your grocery!] Common white vinegar can also adjust the ph, but does so much more violently and should be dosed with an eyedropper.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge, chromis, royal gramma basslet, tailspot blenny, ocellaris clown, yellow watchman, chestnut turbo snails, bristleworms, couple of hermits.
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Old 01/13/2008, 09:53 AM   #6
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Thanks Sk8r,any pics to show meaning pics of the kalkreactor you made.I am not a good reader request if you cud show me the pics.How did you make your auto top off is it DIY or you bough it.


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Old 01/13/2008, 10:39 AM   #7
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No pics yet: just the diagrams above.

It's really difficult to show the actual grid, because it's submerged in water. But the topoff rig was from autotopoff.com and cost about 75 dollars---snailproof, dual float switch. It has so many wires it looked complicated at first, but it's pretty obvious...the pump plugs into one wire, the other plug goes to the wall, and all the other wires are already connected where they need to go.

Just stick the float in the sump, adjust it up and down in holder, and that 'sets' the water level by where its internal works 'float'. If it stops floating, it turns on the pump, and that shoots water into your tank.

because my topoff pump is in a barrel full of kalk, that's what goes into the tank.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge, chromis, royal gramma basslet, tailspot blenny, ocellaris clown, yellow watchman, chestnut turbo snails, bristleworms, couple of hermits.
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Old 01/13/2008, 11:20 AM   #8
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Thanks,is your auto top off double switch controllers or single.I have never used this stuff,would you recommend buying it or DIY is the best mode.


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Old 01/13/2008, 11:38 AM   #9
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I bought the autotopoff.com double float switch topoff unit and have had it 2 years: very simple, very cheap, very good, not pretty, but tough.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge, chromis, royal gramma basslet, tailspot blenny, ocellaris clown, yellow watchman, chestnut turbo snails, bristleworms, couple of hermits.
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Old 01/14/2008, 09:49 AM   #10
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Thanks Sk8r.Have you bought auto timers also with this unit or not recommended.


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Old 01/14/2008, 09:59 AM   #11
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No, Haksar, the float switch alone controls this: if it needs water at any hour, the float switch turns on and delivers water and kalk to the tank.

Little kalk reactors often use a 'stirrer', a device on a timer to stir up the kalk at the bottom of the reactor.

This tub or bucket method does not need a stirrer...which is the piece of equipment that most often fails. WHen you pour fresh water in, ro/di water naturally dissolves the right amount of kalk and no more. Any kalk in excess just sinks to the bottom and stays there until the next addition of fresh water finally dissolves it.


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Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge, chromis, royal gramma basslet, tailspot blenny, ocellaris clown, yellow watchman, chestnut turbo snails, bristleworms, couple of hermits.
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Old 01/14/2008, 11:40 AM   #12
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Sk8r... First off let me say thanks...(I routinly reviewed your posts for my question during my tank startup)

I have a tank that is only two months old. I only have "starter" corals in the tank..Xenia and a Kenya Tree. I do have an as of yet unidentified purple / green with tiny white stars growing on one of my rocks...still very small. It was really small frags that were given to me and I was told they would grow in a blanket form...I want it to go up a stand pipe that is in the DT...(not hidden behind an overflow box)

Oh...and I have a Black Dominoe and Blue damsel in my tank...(I know the Domino is a bit of a bully at times)

System params have consistently been.

Temp - 79.2 End of DT lights OFF period - 80.9 End of DT lights ON period.
SG - 1.025
Amonia - 0
Nitrate - 5 - (working on that)
Nitrite - 0
Phosphate - 0
PH - 8.3
Alk - 7
Calcium - 320

My Alk is barely in the acceptable level an my calcium is down about 100 from what it needs to be....(They never seem to change)

Eventually, I will want to add more demanding corals...but I need to get my Alk / Calcium and Mag in the right range first....(Don't have the Mag test yet)

I am thinking of doing a variation (smaller scale) of your system but I wanted to see if this will work.

NOTE: I don't have an auto top off. I manually top off about 1 to 1.5 gallons every 2 or 3 days.

I am thinking of this.

I made a drip line from a length of air hose and and drip line adjustment nozzel that I use for acclimation. I can produce any thing from a drip to a steady stream with the adjustment valve.

I will Mix Mrs. Wages' Pickling Lime (not sure what amount) into a 2 gallon container. Mount the container above the sump...The drip line would only be fed 3/4 into the 2 gallon container....My thougt is that the drip would offset the evaporation.

Once the drip tank reaches the level below the drip line the drip would stop. Instead of topping off the sump, I would refill the container and re-start the drip....or if I waited a week, I would top off the sump & the container.

Even if the entire 2 gallons went into the sump and I got no evap, I still would not risk a sump overflow (or DT overflow if a clog occured)

Question is...would this work? and if yes...How much of the Mrs. Wages' Pickling Lime do I add to the 2 gallons?


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Old 01/14/2008, 03:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Haksar
Thanks Sk8r.Have you bought auto timers also with this unit or not recommended.
I run something similar.

Instead of a maxijet I use an Aqualifter and I use my aquacontroller to time the dosing. I tweak the dosing cycle to maintain the level, but I plan on adding an autotopoff.com switch as an upper limit switch.

Since the Aqualifter doses less at a time, I can dose more frequently throughout the day. Right now it runs 2 minutes on and 8 minutes off throughout the day.

I like the eggcrate bottom to separate the slurry. Great ideas Sk8r!


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Old 01/14/2008, 03:16 PM   #14
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Kgouso, When you do a gravity drip method, do the insertion of the drip hose half way up the container, not at the bottom: slurry will settle at the bottom, and you don't want that picked up by the outflow. Lid it tightly to prevent air creating a 'skin' any thicker than usual.

An autotopoff that is reliable can be had for about 75.00 from autotopoff.com. You have to buy a pump for it. But that has the float switch and controller.

The bad news is you will still need that pricey magnesium test---and some Tech M for dosing mag. The good news is it should last you two years. You have to manually set that magnesium level at 3x the calcium level you would like to have.
Dose until you get that.
Then dose alk [at the recommended rate] until you are comfortable with that level.
Then dose calcium until you reach the ideal level. [at recommended rate].
Then run your kalk supplement and the kalk will hold those levels until the magnesium runs low. THen it will start to fall again and you will have to hand dose again to get everything up where it belongs.
HTH.
Also, when you're starting, you are likely at some point to accidentally inject kalk slurry paste into your tank or water whiter than you like. Have a ph meter, and have a bottle of bar soda water in your cupboard. Don't let anybody drink it up. THis is to keep your ph from spiking too high if this happens to you. The good news is it's not likely to kill anything if you deal with it appropriately.

THE DOSE PER GALLON OF RO/DI is 2 teaspoons. This much will easily dissolve in ro/di and will not come out of solution. If you put in too much, it will sink to the bottom of the container as white slurry/sludge. It will also dissolve if more ro/di is added. It is self-balancing. BUT don't put a *whole* lot of extra in, because if it should dose itself all into your tank, before you learn your system well, you would have a bigger mess.

I cannot emphasize enough about preventing leaks or accidental sprays. Kalk in carpet is gross.


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Sk8r

Salinity 1.024-6; alkalinity 8.3-9.3 on KH scale; calcium 420; magnesium 1300, temp 78-80, nitrate .2. Ammonia 0. No filters: lps tank. Alk and cal won't rise if mg is low.

Current Tank Info: 105g AquaVim wedge, chromis, royal gramma basslet, tailspot blenny, ocellaris clown, yellow watchman, chestnut turbo snails, bristleworms, couple of hermits.

Last edited by Sk8r; 01/14/2008 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 01/14/2008, 04:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sk8r
Kgouso, When you do a gravity drip method, do the insertion of the drip hose half way up the container, not at the bottom: slurry will settle at the bottom, and you don't want that picked up by the outflow. Lid it tightly to prevent air creating a 'skin' any thicker than usual.

An autotopoff that is reliable can be had for about 75.00 from autotopoff.com. You have to buy a pump for it. But that has the float switch and controller.

The bad news is you will still need that pricey magnesium test---and some Tech M for dosing mag. The good news is it should last you two years. You have to manually set that magnesium level at 3x the calcium level you would like to have.
Dose until you get that.
Then dose alk [at the recommended rate] until you are comfortable with that level.
Then dose calcium until you reach the ideal level. [at recommended rate].
Then run your kalk supplement and the kalk will hold those levels until the magnesium runs low. THen it will start to fall again and you will have to hand dose again to get everything up where it belongs.
HTH.
Also, when you're starting, you are likely at some point to accidentally inject kalk slurry paste into your tank or water whiter than you like. Have a ph meter, and have a bottle of bar soda water in your cupboard. Don't let anybody drink it up. THis is to keep your ph from spiking too high if this happens to you. The good news is it's not likely to kill anything if you deal with it appropriately.

THE DOSE PER GALLON OF RO/DI is 2 teaspoons. This much will easily dissolve in ro/di and will not come out of solution. If you put in too much, it will sink to the bottom of the container as white slurry/sludge. It will also dissolve if more ro/di is added. It is self-balancing. BUT don't put a *whole* lot of extra in, because if it should dose itself all into your tank, before you learn your system well, you would have a bigger mess.

I cannot emphasize enough about preventing leaks or accidental sprays. Kalk in carpet is gross.
Thanks

Like always...great info..

My wife already thinks I am some kind of chemest when I pull out the tackle box with the Ammona / Nitrate / Nitrite / PH / Calcium / Alk / Copper / Phosphate / Refract tests....

I put off the Mag test due to not having any of the more demanding corals (Yet), but I will be ordering one before I start any dosing....To date I have done 0 dosing of any kind....I was hoping not to have to, but it looks as if I will need to dose for Mag and Alk / Calcium.

I will have to look into the Tech M...(not sure what that is...other than its for Mag)

I likely will get the auto top off (eventually), but I have to get a real sump/fuge first....(I am currently using a rubbermaid bucket with a plastic insert bucket for a fuge)

After I upgrade my sump / fuge, the auto top off will be in line.

The good news is I won't have to worry about the carpet......The tank is on a laminate wood floor....


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