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  1. #1
    CalmSeasQuest - Reefkeeper
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    Default The End of 2-Part

    Out with the old...
    2011 06 04110853 - The End of 2-Part

    And in with the new...
    2011 06 03220435 - The End of 2-Part

    I've always dosed 2-part or 3-part (+MAG) on all of my tanks (also called the "balling method") first using b-Ionic, then later BRS. It has worked well for me over many years. The reasons I'm now making the jump to a CA Rx (espcially on a smaller gallonage system) is,
    • Salinity creep due to large dosing amounts in a small water volume system
    • Anticipation of a larger build which makes operating a Ca Rx much more economical over time than a dosing regime.

    With a larger system, although more expensive initially, a CA Rx can operate at lower costs than most any other CA/ALK supplementation scheme. Back in 2003 Randy Holmes-Farly wrote a great article comparing the various CA/ALK supplementation methods and their associated costs. I'd strongly recommend reviewing prior to making the dosing vs. reactor decision.

    The equipment I chose was rather expensive, but I view it as a one-time investment - and as I travel a lot, I wanted the most reliable solution possible. I also went with a digital regulator as finite control is critical in such a small tank. There are many less expensive options, including a lot of used equipment. That said, based on my research and needs - here's what I purchased,

    GEO 612
    Electronic CO2 Regulator
    Tropic Eden Course Ca Rx Media
    APEX PM1 (To support the second pH probe needed to monitor effluent pH.)
    Lab Grade pH Probe
    AquaLifter

    I'll continue dosing Kalk in my ATO to help support pH and for the rumored additional benefit of precipitating out phosphates.

    Still waiting on the AquariumPlants CarbonDoser digital regulator and have to grab a 5# CO2 cylinder (which should fit nicely in the Frag tank cabinet beside the Geo.) As this is my first Ca Rx install and I'll be "learning as I go", I thought I'd share the journey
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    Last edited by CalmSeasQuest; 06-04-2011 at 10:43 AM.
    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw
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  2. #2
    jimsflies - Reefkeeper
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    Default

    Awesome...looking forward to seeing how you like it versus the old method.

  3. #3
    binford4000 - Reefkeeper
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    you'll like the 612,I use to run one.Money well spent tho I personally disagree about the expese of operation on a larger system vs 2 part.I will admit it is a much simplar way to maintain needed levels.You might want to get a bigger bottle 5# tanks are a pain and you'll find every time you change the small tank it will throw things for a loop as well as media level's,I have been leaning to going back to a reactor also just due to time that I have available to mess around with mixing and testing.It seems when I ran a reactor I had more time to enjoy then tinkering

    If you don't mind can you throw in the programing experience for the apex moduale.This is the main reason I haven't gone back to a reactor.Still scratching my head with that vdm LOL I'll be following this one

  4. #4

    Default

    I love my GEO 618. A much overlooked aspect of a Cal RX vs Two Part is that the Cal RX is dosing trace elements that corals took in to the skeletons while growing under natural conditions. Elements such as strontium are replenished in natural levels.

  5. #5
    CalmSeasQuest - Reefkeeper
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    Quote Originally Posted by binford4000 View Post
    you'll like the 612,I use to run one.Money well spent tho I personally disagree about the expese of operation on a larger system vs 2 part.I will admit it is a much simplar way to maintain needed levels.You might want to get a bigger bottle 5# tanks are a pain and you'll find every time you change the small tank it will throw things for a loop as well as media level's,I have been leaning to going back to a reactor also just due to time that I have available to mess around with mixing and testing.It seems when I ran a reactor I had more time to enjoy then tinkering

    If you don't mind can you throw in the programing experience for the apex moduale.This is the main reason I haven't gone back to a reactor.Still scratching my head with that vdm LOL I'll be following this one
    Thanks Chuck,

    I agree with the CO2 bottle recommendations, I'm considering the 5# bottle only because it will fit into existing cabinetry. All things considered, I'd prefer to go with a 10#. One mitigating factor is that with only ~50 gallons in this system, I anticipate very low CO2 utilization, so even with a 5# bottle, it should still last many months. I'm also hoping the digital regulator will reduce the "re-dial" in struggles with bottle changes. Another decision - buy and fill or swap. There's an AirGas store next to my office in Wixom that stocks both 5# and 10# bottles for swapping but require owned bottles to be left overnight. I'd prefer to own, but have to deal with the overnight fills and hydrostatic testing. More thinking required

    I'll include all the Apex coding and adjustments - Programming should be simple On/Off commands, all pH based. Control of the Geo will be the Apex controlling the CO2 gas solenoid via an effluent pH probe connected to a second PM1 module. Failsafe will be the primary pH probe sensing tank pH and turning off the CO2 if tank pH drops below accepted levels (effluent and tank pH limits yet to be determined.)

    Quote Originally Posted by schminksbro View Post
    I love my GEO 618. A much overlooked aspect of a Cal RX vs Two Part is that the Cal RX is dosing trace elements that corals took in to the skeletons while growing under natural conditions. Elements such as strontium are replenished in natural levels.
    Great point Andy! I've read it's difficult to maintain Mg using just a CaRx. I know many add Dolomite, but as I understand it, Dolomite requires a lower pH to dissolve. I'm curious to see how much Mg is contributed by the CaRx and how much Mg supplementation will be required. I'll probably use a left over BRS dosing pump to handle the Mg additions once defined.

    Another consideration - CA Media. I went with Tropic Eden Course based on recommendations from Jeremy at Premium Aquatics (supposed to be cleaner than ARM while also containing very low phosphates.)
    Last edited by CalmSeasQuest; 06-05-2011 at 11:02 AM.
    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw

  6. #6
    CalmSeasQuest - Reefkeeper
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    Default I have a feeling I'm really going to like this...

    I finally had some time to get the GEO612 installed and begin the tuning process. The 612 fits (albeit snugly) into the cabinet of my Frag tank. Once I remove the dosing pumps, the CO2 tank should also fit directly behind it. The 612 is fed by an Aqua Lifter pump (220ml/min) hidden from view by the LED controller on the top shelf. The filter is visible in the top-left of the photo. The 2-part will be weaned off and removed once the CaRx is dialed in.

    GEO612TempInstall - The End of 2-Part


    Here you can see the Tropic Marin Calcium media. It consists of course pieces of coral and shell. I was very impressed at how clean the media was. It required no rinsing and had just a faint smell of the ocean.

    TropicMarinMedia - The End of 2-Part


    Here's the 5lb CO2 canister fitted with the CarbonDoser electronic regulator. I ended up purchasing one from a local AirGas outlet (about $80 with $12 refills.) It's initially set for 3lbs and 8 bubbles per minute. This should provide an effluent pH of ~6.9 which I'll be using as a starting point.

    CarbonDoserReg - The End of 2-Part


    Pardon the messy sump - The intake for the 612 is the blue line visible in the far-right back section of the sump and draws from the GFO/GAC discharge area (pH seems lower in this areas for reasons I do not understand.)

    612Sump - The End of 2-Part


    The effluent discharge (left-front) is routed to the sump return area and is initially set for 40 drops/min. This provides a turbulent, well-aerated area that also feeds the skimmer to drive out any remaining CO2 and limit any pH drop.

    EffluentDischarge - The End of 2-Part


    Tuning a CaRx means lots of ALK testing. I'm using a Hanna755 which provides accurate results in about 60 seconds.

    HI755 - The End of 2-Part


    First impressions -

    • The GEO is a very well built device with quality fittings. Assembly was easy with no leaks.
    • The AquariumPlants electronic regulator is wonderful. You simply set the dial to the desired bubble count and forget it - it's steady as a rock.
    • I had to calibrate the pH probe using 7 and 10 pH calibration fluids. It's recommended that 4 and 10 be used. I've ordered the 4 calibration fluid and will recalibrate once received. Till then, I'll be conservative with the effluent settings.
    • So far, after 12 hours of running I've detected no pH drop in the tank
    • I'm initially targeting 10dKh and 440CA. It will take a bit to get settings finalized as I wean off 2-part dosing.

    For those interested here are the initial Apex settings....

    CO2CaRx
    Fallback OFF
    Set OFF
    If pHCaRx > 06.89 Then ON
    Defer 010:00 Then ON

    CaRxCirc
    Fallback ON
    Set ON

    CaRxFeed
    Fallback OFF
    Set ON
    If pH < 07.90 Then OFF
    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw

  7. #7
    CalmSeasQuest - Reefkeeper
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    Default Tuning in...

    Day 3 and the dialing on of the reactor is going well. As of this morning I've officially kicked the 2-part habit and shut down the dosing pumps although I'll probably restart one of them for Mg dosing.

    Thus far the low pH effluent hasn't impacted tank pH. I attribute this to the efficient use of CO2 by the GEO, and discharging the effluent into the return section of the sump just before the skimmer (I'm also running a CO2 scrubber that feeds the skimmer.) In theory, that should drive off any excess CO2. I do expect some lowering of pH due to ceasing the 2-part dosing (specifically the ALK component), but there's room for a slight decrease in pH.

    The Apex's ability to track CaRxpH in real time and the dial-it-and-forget-it Carbon doser regulator make the setup process relatively simple. Even the Alk testing is easy and takes only about 60 seconds with the Hanna 755. Here's a graph from the Apex showing the initial setup and trends...

    CaRx Tuning - The End of 2-Part

    At 10 BPM @ 2.5PSI and 20ml/min effluent the reactor maintains ~6.65 pH without the Apex having to cycle the CO2 solenoid. Here are the test values so far...

    CaRx Initial Tuning - The End of 2-Part


    It's obviously very early in the process and I'm sure there will be lots of "tweaking" ahead, but so far I'm very pleased with the GEO.
    Last edited by CalmSeasQuest; 06-16-2011 at 09:50 AM.
    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw

  8. #8
    CR Member
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    [i almost have the exact same set-up. i have found that the effluent controll valve would vary from time to time. i corrected this by using the same filter that you have on the aqua lifter. i installed it on the line directly prior to the valve. it has been rock solid since.
    [imglink]http://www.rowelab.com/AquaController/sig.php?n=flynnstone[/imglink]

  9. #9
    CalmSeasQuest - Reefkeeper
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    The last 6 months has been very educational. I've encountered some problems (hopefully soon resolved) and learned that running a CaRx on a small tank requires much more precision than on a typical larger build. Here's the rundown,

    My 612 suffers from a small air leak. It's drawing enough air that if I didn't bleed the reactor (slightly loosening the pH probe holder and allowing gas to exit) the circulation pump would fail after a few days. It's taken months to get it nailed down. Through the process of elimination, it appears to be somewhere in the manifold. George (GEO) has agreed to ship me a replacement manifold - I'll post the results once received and installed.

    While the Aqualifter worked well, I found that I was unable to get the precision needed- even using a high quality needle valve. I run the reactor at 6.45pH @ 25mL/Min (30 bubbles/min @ 2PSI.) This maintains a steady 10.7 ALK and 440 Ca (I've tested virtually every day at 7am using a Hannah 755 for the past 4 months.) While the Carbon Doser regulator allows for the precise bubble count / reactor pH - Because my water volume is so small, even tiny changes in flow left unchecked would result in large ALK swings. I simply wasn't able to maintain an exact-enough flow rate using a needle valve.

    My solution was the installation of a Cole Parmer 7553-80 Masterflex pump and variable controller fitted with a 77200-60 Easy Load II pump head. Using L/S 180 Norprene tubing, I'm able to dial in exactly 25mL / min output using about 1 RPM on the pump (dead silent.) This combination allows me to maintain the exact settings desired, with virtually no variation (+- .01 reactor pH and the ability to eliminate regulator solenoid cycling.) It also provides the flexibility to control output from 0.06 to 2300 mL/min by increasing pump RPM (turning a dial for 1 to 600 rpm) and using different diameter tubing.

    Constant use peristaltic pumps are not cheap (usually available for a fraction of their retail price on eBay), but in my opinion, are the single best option for feeding a CaRx - especially when utilized on smaller systems. I'll never use anything else.

    One other recommendation - For my heavily SPS stocked tank, maintaining pH with a CaRx is tough and requires the use of Kalk. I use a CO2 scrubber and Kalk saturated ATO, a reverse-lit sump/fuge and run the CaRx effluent into a turbulent area just upstream of the Skimmer to aid in degassing any remaining CO2. Even with these steps, my diurnal pH swings average 7.85~8.0 (tanks are in a living room averaging ~550ppm CO2.) While certainly not ideal, my tanks are doing very well at these lower pH levels. That said, I would not be able to maintain acceptable pH levels without the Kalk.
    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw

  10. #10

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    You should try to drip your effluent into a cup of aragonite and let it overflow into your sump. This will help to bleed off excess CO2 and raise your Ph.


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