Reactor or Difusser - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
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Reactor or Difusser

Hello,

So I am trying to set up a CO2 system. I already got the cylinder and the regulator with a solenoid. So now, I am trying to figure out whether I should go with a in-tank difusser, or an external reactor. One of my priorities is to have the tank itself with the least amount of things as possible for aesthetic purposes, so I am considering to go for a reactor that would go hidden in the under-cabinet, but I am not sure about what are the pros and cons of each. What are your thoughts? Is one more efficient than the other in terms of the CO2 levels created in the tank? Does the reactor create a lot of noise? Which one requires more maintenance? etc. Hopefully you can help me make a desision.

Thanks in advance


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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 03:57 PM
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I'll lay out some of my personal experiences:

Diffuser requires more maintenance than reactor.
I could get more CO2 into the tank faster with a reactor than I could with a diffuser.
I like having less equipment in the tank (reactor instead of a diffuser).


Reactor can be noise depending on the type you buy / build, the trick is the right flow vs size vs back pressure to avoid a gas bubble forming in the reactor, that is where the noise comes from.

To avoid noise, you can install ball / gate valves to adjust flow and back pressure, you can install by-passes to adjust flow, you can build a variable velocity reactor to keep bubbles suspended in the flow instead of forming a gas bubble, you can build a cerges reactor (I haven't used one of these before)

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 04:27 PM
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You really can't go wrong whichever method you choose. Differences in efficiency count for little compared to what one prefers.

It's ironic that companies like ADA and Green Aqua or are all about aesthetics but typically use in-tank diffusers. Diffusers are pretty cheap so you can easily just swap one out for another one while the other ones soaks (50/50) water/bleach) The cleaner your tank is the more time between cleaning.

Some of the pros of in-tank diffusers to me are:

1. Immediate visual indicator of co2 working
2. Safe, no chance of in-line leak/disconnect (rare but any thing inline could be a weak link)
3. They usually mach lily pipes so it kinda all goes together if you have that look

There are also in-line diffusers. Many are diffuser/atomizers that can fill the tank with tiny bubbles like 7-up. So if you don't like that look don't go that way.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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It's ironic that companies like ADA and Green Aqua or are all about aesthetics but typically use in-tank diffusers. Diffusers are pretty cheap so you can easily just swap one out for another one while the other ones soaks (50/50) water/bleach) The cleaner your tank is the more time between cleaning.
I guess that for them (ADA), aesthetics is in the equipment itself too, not just the tank. Have you seen their clear tank cabinets so that you can see everything through it, like the filter, CO2 cylinder and all the hoses? It is definitely an interesting look to go for, but it's not my thing. I personally prefer all the equipment hidden away, only to have the attention on the scape and fish. Also, their diffusers are anything but cheap. I know there are many cheaper ones online, though. I wonder if the higher price for ADA ones is really justifiable.
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Last edited by Chizpa305; 04-16-2020 at 11:24 AM. Reason: mispelling
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 05:24 PM
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I was going to use my old reactor on my new setup but when I dug it out of the basement, the hose barbs are too big and there's no way I can fit it under my stand and route my hose due to the way my canister is designed. I will probably get some new parts and chop the reactor down some and get smaller barbs and see if I can figure it out. But I'll have to route the output hose wonky to get it to work. Same reason I can't install my inline heater right now either. Just not enough room and not enough hose to route things properly.

This also brings up a question, is there an ideal length for a reactor? And if you go shorter than that...I wonder if it would be more effective than a diffuser? Mine is 24" and if I could chop it to around 12" that would really help me be able to fit it inline a lot better.


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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chizpa305 View Post
I guess that for them (ADA), aesthetics is in the equipment itself too, not just the tank. Have you seen their clear tank cabinets so that you can see everything through it, like the filter, CO2 cylinder and all the hoses? It is definitely an interesting look to go for, but it's not my thing. I personally prefer all the equipment hidden away, only to have the attention on the scape and fish. Also, their diffusers are nothing but cheap. I know there are many cheaper ones online, though. I wonder if the higher price for ADA ones is really justifiable.
That's a fair point. Yes it's not only what's in the tank, but also outside. Yeah the ADA stuff is good quality, but I generally buy the cheap stuff in multiple quantities and have not had too many issues. Also if your sticking with glass I never go expensive, they will break over time. The glass stuff in the tank never bothered me since the lily pipes are going to be in there anyway. I have been using some stainless still ones, but I'm not as happy having those in the tank.


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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Diffuser requires more maintenance than reactor.
I could get more CO2 into the tank faster with a reactor than I could with a diffuser.
I like having less equipment in the tank (reactor instead of a diffuser).
These are all things that I like a lot.

Quote:
Reactor can be noise depending on the type you buy / build, the trick is the right flow vs size vs back pressure to avoid a gas bubble forming in the reactor, that is where the noise comes from.
Ok, this gets a bit complicated. Considering I have a ~50Gallon tank, using an Eheim 2217, could you recommend a good, reliable reactor for this setup?


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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 05:46 PM
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I really like the variable velocity reactor. This is the first place I have heard of it and found Ken's thread.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9...y-reactor.html

I don't run CO2 (yet?), but as a guy that has done a fair amount of process engineering, it is a great idea/design.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chizpa305 View Post
These are all things that I like a lot.



Ok, this gets a bit complicated. Considering I have a ~50Gallon tank, using an Eheim 2217, could you recommend a good, reliable reactor for this setup?
My 2217 was running a 2.5" x 20" Rex Griggs reactor, with no by-pass. I had a single Eheim quick connect that I used to throttle back the filter just enough to avoid a gas bubble forming (better diffusion). This was installed AFTER the reactor, slightly closed to increase pressure inside the reactor, forcing more CO2 to dissolve.

On that same tank, I ran an Eheim 2213 separately to help with any flow loss I was experiencing from a slightly throttled back 2217 plus a fairly large reactor.

Between that, and adjusting when the CO2 turned on, I could get it almost silent (very slight noise, easily silenced when I shut the stand doors). The only thing I could hear, where the CO2 bubbles pushing through the stainless steel check valve I had just before entering the reactor. There were no bubbles escaping the reactor, achieving a 1.2 drop in pH on a 25 gallon tank with ~5 bubbles per second. I could have pushed more into it without issue.


Here's mine, I know its ABS and it should be PVC, but in Canada our PVC selection is very limited / simply not used in most applications (furnace flue venting, hot tubs etc.) Standard fittings are few and far between. ABS is easy and cheap, just have to ensure it's glued very well to prevent leaks. There shouldn't be much pressure in the reactor anyway.

One thing I would change no matter what, would be a by-pass facing up at the very top of the reactor. This allows me to evacuate the trapped air after filter maintenance without having to turn the reactor upside down.





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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunsen Honeydew View Post
I really like the variable velocity reactor. This is the first place I have heard of it and found Ken's thread.

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9...y-reactor.html

I don't run CO2 (yet?), but as a guy that has done a fair amount of process engineering, it is a great idea/design.

Holy crap. That thing is ridiculous.

GLA makes one that looks really nice and would be a great space saver. No idea how well it works. Might be the option I'll have to go with either purchased or try to DIY one similar if I can't get mine to work properly.

https://greenleafaquariums.com/produ...r-12-16mm.html


Nilocg makes one that gets good reviews and would also be pretty easy to DIY if you are a DIY type person. Mine is similar to his but without the bypass.

https://www.nilocg.com/shop/na-advan...actor-chamber/

He also sells a cerges style reactor that is like the one from GLA.

https://www.nilocg.com/shop/na-carbo...or-10-housing/


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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-14-2020, 06:07 PM
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Holy crap. That thing is ridiculous.

GLA makes one that looks really nice and would be a great space saver. No idea how well it works. Might be the option I'll have to go with either purchased or try to DIY one similar if I can't get mine to work properly.

https://greenleafaquariums.com/produ...r-12-16mm.html


Nilocg makes one that gets good reviews and would also be pretty easy to DIY if you are a DIY type person. Mine is similar to his but without the bypass.

https://www.nilocg.com/shop/na-advan...actor-chamber/

He also sells a cerges style reactor that is like the one from GLA.

https://www.nilocg.com/shop/na-carbo...or-10-housing/
I think that the same thing could be achieved with a smaller reactor. I just love how it prevents large gas bubbles from accumulating with a progressively increasing diameter. Very clever, and there shouldn't be any need to have to do more than a fine tuning.

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-15-2020, 03:34 PM
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You can build a Cerge's Reactor for $20.55. The filter housing is $13 on Amazon and the other PVC parts can be found online as well. I was previously using an inline atomizer which worked fine, but my tank always looked cloudy from co2 bubbles. The reactor was 100% efficient and the water was clear. I always recommend a reactor.

Here is a pic of my old reactor.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-15-2020, 04:49 PM
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I personally use an inline diffuser from GLA and an inline heater, I love having everything under the cabinet

The diffuser is not a big pain to clean. just take it out and soak it in bleach, probably once every 8-10 months

I personally like seeing the little co2 bubbles in my tank as a sign that it turned on correctly.
I get very fine bubbles using this method vs doing an in tank ceramic diffuser that would get dirty more often.

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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-15-2020, 05:31 PM
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I personally like seeing the little co2 bubbles in my tank as a sign that it turned on correctly.
I get very fine bubbles using this method vs doing an in tank ceramic diffuser that would get dirty more often.
I lke that too, when you see the bubbles it's a good indicator that everything is working. The inline stuff is good too, my only gripe is many of the inline "atomizers" require more working pressure and I have sometimes found it not working at times, while the basic glass diffusers have always worked consistently for me, but that's my experience, which inline diffuser from GLA are u using?
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 04-15-2020, 05:59 PM
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I got my reactor chopped down to a reasonable 16" and mounted. Holy crap this thing is loud. I don't remember it being so loud before. It's loud enough it might have to go since this tank is like 3 feet away from where I am sitting. Not sure if it's because there's not enough flow which shouldn't be the problem considering the filter is 164gal/h. Not the strongest for sure, but should be enough. I wonder if it's because of air in the reactor? The way it's installed there's no way to flip it upside down to try to get any air trapped out. I may have to uninstall and chop the top off and reinstall a new end that has some type of bung that will allow me to purge it of air. Or uninstall and just get an inline diffuser.


***EDIT***

It was air and I lied...I was able to flip it up just enough to get the air out or enough if it anyways. I still think it would be wise to figure out an air purge that won't require me to do that every time.
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