Building a new reactor to handle my Fluval FX5 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-16-2011, 03:00 AM Thread Starter
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Building a new reactor to handle my Fluval FX5

Took the jist of the idea from Grigg's style reactor, but added a thread to attach the CO2 line as I saw from someone else's thread. I used 3 inch diameter piping. It cost 39 bucks altogether which I though was kind of expensive, but Home Depot did not have all the direct reductions so I had to use multiple pieces to get down to the desired size.

The Fluval FX5 uses 24mm tube which is just under an inch, but I stretched it over the one inch barb output and input. Hopefully without doing the plastic hose any damage.

Here is a couple pics of the parts as well as a shot of it pieced together but not taped and glued. More pics to come tonight as it goes together permanently.
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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-16-2011, 04:52 AM Thread Starter
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So I have it completely put together and ready to start up with the Beast FX5, but I cannot do it until I re-connect my previous canister filter hose that is connected to a much smaller reactor. I need to get a piece to thread the split in the hose together so that filter will just keep running the 300W Hydor and the Fluval will run the reactor. So tomorrow afternoon it will all be up and running.
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Last edited by Higher Thinking; 06-16-2011 at 07:53 AM.
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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-16-2011, 06:00 AM
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Looks good! If you wanted more flexibility with tubing for the FX5, get some 25/34mm Eheim tubing.
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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-16-2011, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Yea I am kind of worried about how I stretched that plastic ribbed tubing which is just under an inch over the 1" input and outputs. I clamped them down with the metal tightening clamps so I'm not too worried about them coming off, but rather making a tear in the tubing itself.
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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-16-2011, 09:51 PM
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Yea I am kind of worried about how I stretched that plastic ribbed tubing which is just under an inch over the 1" input and outputs. I clamped them down with the metal tightening clamps so I'm not too worried about them coming off, but rather making a tear in the tubing itself.
I am in the process of doing the exact same thing with my Fx5 about 10 miles from you. Anyways, just to make sure, you are using the correct glue to go from PVC to ABS right? The home depot by me didnt have the correct stuff.
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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
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Yea I used the ABS glue. The guy said it would work for both of them....hopefully. Anyway, it is installed and running. There was a slight leak at the part where the main tubing connects to the bottom piece. You can barely see the holes that proved to be a problem. So I was devastated at the knowledge that I was going to have to cut it off and buy all the pieces from there down. Anyway, took the risk of disassembling it, letting it dry, and then running multiple coats of cement over that connection. Now I know it isn't optimal, but I was willing to try. Anyway, it is hooked up and running great.

I have the tiniest leak where I threaded the CO2 tubing into the PVC pipe too because I cross threaded it during construction. That was certainly my mistake, but I used a wrench and tightened it on super tight and right now it has a drop like every hour. Not the best, but hey. I am just going to run some kind of sealant over it. Almost so minimal as to not even worry. It just drips down atop the reducer below it and basically evaporates before it ever accumulates. At least that has been how it has gone thus far.
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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 02:12 AM
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looks good, nice build
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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 04:24 AM Thread Starter
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I am in the process of doing the exact same thing with my Fx5 about 10 miles from you. Anyways, just to make sure, you are using the correct glue to go from PVC to ABS right? The home depot by me didnt have the correct stuff.
Let me know if there is anything I can do to help, it is all pretty simple and straightforward once the pieces are all bought. I have noticed though that even with the 3" diameter and overall length of about 20 inches, there is still a good deal of micro bubbles coming out. It is taking longer to reach my designed pH with this contraption than it did with my little Sera 500 reactor. Hmmm....


If anybody has any tips, critique, etc. please bring them up to me
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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 04:25 AM Thread Starter
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looks good, nice build
Hey thanks man, just trying to stay busy during the summer.
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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 04:30 AM
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If anybody has any tips, critique, etc. please bring them up to me
I'm gonna guess that, due to the size of the tank (I don't see a mention of gallon size, but I'm assuming that with an FX5 it's at least 75-90g), you're just trying to diffuse too much CO2, too fast. How about splitting the outflow and adding a second reactor, with a second NV and BC? It would make it easier to count bubbles, in any case. And it would allow you to place a second spraybar to more uniformly control water column flow.
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post #11 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 05:18 AM Thread Starter
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I'm gonna guess that, due to the size of the tank (I don't see a mention of gallon size, but I'm assuming that with an FX5 it's at least 75-90g), you're just trying to diffuse too much CO2, too fast. How about splitting the outflow and adding a second reactor, with a second NV and BC? It would make it easier to count bubbles, in any case. And it would allow you to place a second spraybar to more uniformly control water column flow.
So it's a 75 gallon tank and I already have a magnum 350 pro system hooked up to it. The bubble rate isn't any higher than it was when I was using the Sera 500. I use a controller so I'm just shooting for the same pH level that I had previously. I am hoping that it is just because through not using CO2 for a while during installation as well as adding about 5 gallons of tap the pH was raised and now that it is back down hopefully it will stay down longer without the solenoid switching on so often. Guess we will have to wait it out and see how it runs.

Oh yea, my bubble count is only like 2bps
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post #12 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 08:13 AM
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There are many variables that affect CO2 saturation. However (and there will undoubtedly be those who disagree with me) I'd bet my next paycheck that on a 75g tank, 2bps will be nowhere close to 30ppm CO2. If you use a drop checker, make sure to refill it with 4dKH and pH indicator solution and see how close to solid green it gets.

All I have to go by are a few tanks, the largest of which is a 30g with a Rex reactor, and, with 100% diffusion, about 3 bps (with a JBJ style counter) gives me a yellow-green drop checker color.

Looking back through the thread, I also notice that your CO2 intake is at the top of the reactor. That may be your problem. The Rex design has the CO2 intake set down a bit because it allow the gas bubbles to attempt to rise against the current, thereby being pummeled and diffused. My current reactor is about 18" high, has the CO2 intake about 1/3 of the way down from the top, is 2" in diameter, and completely diffuses CO2. I won't pretend to completely understand the physics and chemistry of it, but it clearly works.
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post #13 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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There are many variables that affect CO2 saturation. However (and there will undoubtedly be those who disagree with me) I'd bet my next paycheck that on a 75g tank, 2bps will be nowhere close to 30ppm CO2. If you use a drop checker, make sure to refill it with 4dKH and pH indicator solution and see how close to solid green it gets.

All I have to go by are a few tanks, the largest of which is a 30g with a Rex reactor, and, with 100% diffusion, about 3 bps (with a JBJ style counter) gives me a yellow-green drop checker color.

Looking back through the thread, I also notice that your CO2 intake is at the top of the reactor. That may be your problem. The Rex design has the CO2 intake set down a bit because it allow the gas bubbles to attempt to rise against the current, thereby being pummeled and diffused. My current reactor is about 18" high, has the CO2 intake about 1/3 of the way down from the top, is 2" in diameter, and completely diffuses CO2. I won't pretend to completely understand the physics and chemistry of it, but it clearly works.
The fact that the CO2 bubbles have to rise against the flow is what prompted me to put the CO2 intake on the top. That is where the water comes in and therefore it meets the CO2 even sooner and gives more time to saturate. Perhaps it needs to come together in the area that is wider? I really thought that the CO2 being further up could only help. Perhaps it does need to be injected directly into 3 inch diameter tubing. Wouldn't be hard to do since I would only have to plug that hole and drill another...

Does anybody know about the difference?
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post #14 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-17-2011, 11:26 PM
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It's possible I guess. The flow of the FX5 could be so outrageous that the bubbles are "pulverized" as they start to peak out of the brass adapter, and the small bubbles are carried through the tube into your tank.

In turn, if you inject them into the middle or upper third of the reactor itself, there could be less violent currents, they stay fairly intact and dissolve appropriately.

I built a reactor like that (the Wasser reactor lol) which was 2.5" diameter and driven by an XP3. No micro bubbles there. One thing you could try for giggles... turn CO2 off completely, and see if there are still micro bubbles. If so (unlikely), you've got a leak somewhere, and air is pulled into the system.

I'd say changing the location of the CO2 injection is worth a shot. If you still get the micro bubbles afterwards, I guess the flow is just too much and you either need to go to an even wider diameter, or do some sort of bypass with lower velocity.

I never understood how one could get different results when injecting CO2 at the same rate, and it gets dissolved completely. I always suspect that something else is going on... like better CO2 distribution to your bubble counter, etc.


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post #15 of 48 (permalink) Old 06-18-2011, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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It's possible I guess. The flow of the FX5 could be so outrageous that the bubbles are "pulverized" as they start to peak out of the brass adapter, and the small bubbles are carried through the tube into your tank.

In turn, if you inject them into the middle or upper third of the reactor itself, there could be less violent currents, they stay fairly intact and dissolve appropriately.

I built a reactor like that (the Wasser reactor lol) which was 2.5" diameter and driven by an XP3. No micro bubbles there. One thing you could try for giggles... turn CO2 off completely, and see if there are still micro bubbles. If so (unlikely), you've got a leak somewhere, and air is pulled into the system.

I'd say changing the location of the CO2 injection is worth a shot. If you still get the micro bubbles afterwards, I guess the flow is just too much and you either need to go to an even wider diameter, or do some sort of bypass with lower velocity.

I never understood how one could get different results when injecting CO2 at the same rate, and it gets dissolved completely. I always suspect that something else is going on... like better CO2 distribution to your bubble counter, etc.
So I am still having trouble getting my pH down to my desired level. I know that CO2 concentration isn't about a particular pH but I know that when I used a drop checker it became green at a particular point and so I am trying to stay there. I no longer have the drop checker so I might just invest in another to double check everything.

This new reactor is having to run nonstop 2bps at least and it won't get down. There is a great deal of micro bubbles coming out and I don't know what to do. Do you think it is possible to stuff some filter floss in the little knob where the CO2 input connects to the reactor to force the bubbles to break up immediately? Now that the reactor is sealed up I can't really put any media balls or anything into it except what can fit in the intake/output and CO2 knobs as they are they only parts that screw in rather than glued.

Ahh!!! Frustrated!
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