DIY Reactor/Diffuser - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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DIY Reactor/Diffuser

So I'm intending to start dosing CO2 into my tank via yeast DIY. I was just planning to plug it into a small diffuser at the bottom of the tank and just start there with something simple... but then I read this article on a DIY reactor and was thinking of going that route now.
(the reactor construction is at the bottom of the article)

Seems like this would be pretty bulky to have the entire system submerged in a 29gal... maybe this is more appropriate for a larger tank? I suppose I could hide it behind some driftwood/plants, and it would eliminate the need for my AquaClear 30.

What do you guys recommend? Does this seem like a pretty solid setup, or should I go with something simpler to get started? I'm not usually a DIY sort of guy, so getting all these little parts and what not is all new to me. I'm hoping I can just get them all at the LFS.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 04:12 PM
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Tom Barr designed another version of that reactor, which I used for awhile. It worked very well, but it also filled the tank with microscopic CO2 bubbles, which eventually irritated me. I quit using it for that reason. Another design is a very tiny in-tank filter, the Hagen Elite (I think that was it's name), which was used by having the powerhead portion suck the CO2 bubbles into its inlet, so the rotor chopped the bubbles up. That, too, worked very well for me, but also generated more microscopic CO2 bubbles in the water than I wanted. It's main advantage was its very small size. Still another design modifies the powerhead rotor by either shredding the paddles on it to make it a needle wheel or by melting lots of holes in the paddles to get a similar effect. All of these work by reducing the CO2 bubbles to extremely small ones, making them very efficient.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 04:52 PM
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This is 15 dollars shipped from amazon.

And the reaction chamber has dual set impellers which constantly mix co2.

You can see it here mixing:

I did the math in parts.
I did the research in what is a good reactor.

There is no way i can build a better reactor for cheaper then 15 dollars.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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waterplant max mix

Interesting. So bear with me here, I'm new to this and haven't used anything besides just an HOB filter before. I think I'm having trouble visualizing how this all works... can you describe the process starting with your powerhead/filtration? I understand the CO2 generation, just not the mixing and distribution back into the tank.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 06:14 PM
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I just stick with the Ocean Spray bottles and glass nano diffusers. Keeps me from having to add yet something else to the tank.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Yeeeah... maybe that's a good starting point for me. Some CO2 is better than no CO2... it's not like a diffuser is a huge investment if I decide to get a reactor later.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 07:59 PM
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Reactor... is like as it says.
Its a Chamber where all your mixing is done outside the tank or inside in a compartment.
Then the co2 saturated water is then introduced into your system.

A Diffuser uses a micron porous disk. This causes the bubbles to be finely chopped up so you have many of them. Sufrace area x the amount on a bubble = diffusion of CO2 into your system.

They are different.

A Reactor wont give u tiny bubbles all over your system until your plants start to majorly pearl... once pearling starts, its moot on the bubbles u get inside your tank.

A Reactor is said to be more efficient... it traps the CO2 inside a chamber mixes and hence u dont lose anything.... whatever u dont use stays in the chamber until its disolved.

A Diffuser you can lose, because those bubbles will not 100% diffuse... if u see bubbles in your system.. it means its CO2 which has yet to be diffused.

A reactor in a small tank is wasteful, its overkill, and well, if your into that kind of stuff, then yeah reactors are cool.

A diffuser will give u a faster response time with a drop checker... i dont know if its because the micro CO2 bubbles get inside the drop checker changing it so fast... or if its because of the mass of tiny bubbles u have diffusing in a small tank which does it.

In short, diffusers work better and faster in smaller tanks at a price of high small bubbles.
Large tanks... if u want to go the diffuser route.. you will need to spread them out in your tank... possibly one on each side... or plus the middle.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 08:32 PM Thread Starter
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Well I ordered a little diffuser off amazon because it was basically free (pushed me over the $25 free shipping limit for other things I was already buying). I'll construct my little generator, plug in the diffuser, and see what happens. I suspect you're right that with my tank size, I'll at least get some extra growth. If I ever deem it inadequate, then I'll try something more efficient.

One question though, what is a drop checker?

And also, I'm still confused as to the mechanical setup of a reactor situation. The powerhead drives water into the reactor where it meets the CO2... where does it go from there, out the bottom of the reactor? I guess I don't understand how that system increases diffusion of the CO2 if the gas is coming in from the top, and the water flowing out the bottom... is the pressure of the generator enough to keep the gas from just sitting at the top of the reactor? I think I'm missing the concept.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-06-2011, 09:24 PM
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Like this Naekuh?

I like this idea a lot...going to get one if this is what you are using. I split my line and added an inline heater to one side and a bypass on the other, this thing will plug directly into my bypass, awesome!
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