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Question about flow through DIY external CO2 reactor

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by AquaticJim, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. AquaticJim

    AquaticJim Guru Class Expert

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    Hi All,

    I have made myself a DIY external CO2 reactor to replace an internal Dupla ladder type CO2 diffuser. I haven't used it as yet. Here is a photo of the reactor -


    [​IMG]


    My question is:

    I will be running this off an Eheim 2217 which has a rated flow of 1000lph.

    Will this flow be to much through the reactor? Do I need to run some type of bypass to limit the amount of water going through the external reactor? Will 1000lph be to much flow?

    This is my very first foray into an external reactor, let alone a DIY one.

    Thanks,

    Jim
     
  2. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller Lifetime Charter Member
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    My Eheim 2078 has a rated flow of around 1800lph until it has media in it. I did a bunch of flow measurements with a much less restricted reactor. Rather than rely on opinions get a stop watch your filter and a bucket. Make sure the elevations and bends match your installation. You can see my results on my blog.

    Good luck

    Jim
     
  3. Green Thumb Aquatics

    Green Thumb Aquatics Lifetime Charter Member
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    I run a different style reactor but I found I need a good amount of flow if I want to get a good amount of co2 into my water... I seriously doubt you will have flow issues as far as it being too high...
     
  4. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    Would you need to install at vent?

    Would you need to set up a vent to release any gas built up inside the reactor?

    I recently set up a 29g grow out tank with an Aqua-Medic AM1000 Reactor fed by an Eheim ECCO 2236 that has an output much less that your 2217 (185gph vs 264gph). I've noticed that the reactor just about fills up with a gas mixture (CO[SUB]2[/SUB], O[SUB]2[/SUB], etc) before the timer turns the CO[SUB]2[/SUB] regulator's solenoid off. During the night while the CO2 in turned off, this gas is dissolved and it is full of water before the CO2 turns back on again. I could increase the bubble rate and easily have the reactor full of this gas mixture. The AM1000 comes with a 'false gas release valve" to vent this gas if needed. You can see this shown on page 7 of 10 in the English version of the owners' manual. It is "4. Vent connection incl. stop cock." The direction say: "Ventilation: The air in the reactor can be removed by the valve (4) during starting. Also the false gas which can accumulate in the reactor during operation, can be absorbed by opening the tap for a short time."

    My 4dKH drop checker is a lemon-lime color before the CO2 is turned off. I have the needle valve tuned so that the reactor is almost completely full of gas when it is turned off. I am not having to use its "false gas release valve." I wonder if you would need to install a similar release valve in your reactor?? I remember reading several threads where people did install such a valve in their reactors. During start-up, the reactor can contain a lot of air. You can either turn the reactor upside down to release this air or use a vent somewhat like the AM1000 uses.

    You can see the "false gas release valve" on the top right of the AM1000 below.

    [​IMG]
     
    #4 Left C, Aug 6, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2011
  5. Green Thumb Aquatics

    Green Thumb Aquatics Lifetime Charter Member
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    when the reactor fills up with whatever gas is in there, it does not work as well, this is why Tom recomend adding a venturi, this will stop the gas from completely filling up your reactor, Left C, I would highly recomend using one of these..

    I use the aquariumplants.com ext 5000 reactor and was gettin gas buildup I have made alot of adjustments go get my flow high enough to get all co2 mixed in a not have gas buildup, my next step, even with this kind of reactor was to put a venturi in it.. I would run the venturi to a powerhead rather than the intake of you filter, but that is just my opinion

    I also added a wooden airstone into my reactor rather than having just the big bubbles in it from where the co2 used to go in,,, this does 2 things, the smaller the bubbles the larger the surface area of gas to water, therefor the more co2 is going to go into the water,,
    also this did something else, only the very smallest of the bubbles escapes and goes out through my output of the filter\reactor, as it is only the tiny bubbles most of them stay in the reator and it works as designed, these very small ones are barely noticeable as compared to having a difuser or ceramic disk in your tank and you dont get much of the soda can effect, this also allows a slight escape of gas as a venturi would... without adding a powerhead in the tank..

    I hope this helps
     
  6. AquaticJim

    AquaticJim Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks everyone for the replies.....very much appreciate them. Glad for the heads up about the bleed off valve. I drilled, tapped and installed one and it was necessary for bleeding of the air that got trapped.

    I finally got around to putting the reactor 'online' over the weekend and compared to the Dupla internal Reaktor 400 that I have used for 4 1/2 years it was incomparable, pearling happened hours earlier and plants that must have used to miss out on CO2 flow were pearling for the first time.

    An external reactor plumbed inline to a canister definately gets CO2 dispersion around the tank much better than an internal diffuser can manage. I'm very happy with the way it worked.

    Around two hours before lights out the top 1/3rd of the reactor was filled with Co2 so I will be able to turn the gas off earlier and let the residual gas that has accumulated mix for those last two hours of the photoperiod and dissipate out of the reactor.
     
  7. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    Thanks. I found the DIY thread. I am feeding my AM1000 with a canister filter and not a powerhead. I could easily rig up something though. I have some powerheads that I'm not using. Gerry mentions his mod using his AM1000 in that thread.
     
  8. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    Thanks. I found the DIY thread. I am feeding my AM1000 with a "weak" canister filter and not a powerhead. I could easily rig up something though. I have some powerheads that I'm not using. Gerry mentions his mod to his AM1000 in that thread.
     
  9. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    I've been using an AM1000 for a few years now. I've tried all sorts of things with it. It works pretty well, but there are some things to take into consideration:

    * supplying the water flow with a canister filter - remember that the flow through a canister filter will gradually slow down as it becomes clogged up, this will reduce flow, which in turn will reduce flow through the external reactor, which in turn will reduce the CO2 level...you get the idea. I suppose if you keep the canister filter clean it should be ok.

    * I don't think the flow from an Eheim 2217 is enough. A rated flow of 1000lph is without media and also 0 head. By the time you've got media + gunk + drop in flow due to head loss, you won't be pushing that much water through the reactor. I have a 2500lph Ocean Runner OR-2500 connected to my external reactor (so a dedicated pump). With head loss I'd say I'm lucky to be getting an actual rate of 1500lph through it and I still feel it could do with a bit more water through it.

    * Be very very careful with build up gas inside the reactor. If you have a power outage, this gas can quickly 'burp' it's way inside the impellor chamber of your pump/filter. When the power comes back on there is a risk that the pump may dry run. A dry run pump is not covered by warranty. I believe there are self priming pumps out there though. I am in the process of fitting a swing check (or maybe ball check) valve between my pump and external reactor so that CO2 gas cannot go backwards into my pump and potentially cause a dry run. I have dry run my pump because of this, but fortunately I was home at the time and was able to switch the pump off before it overheated any further. :D

    * I tried leaving the bleed valve of the AM1000 open and feeing it into either the pump intake (the dual venturi method) and also into a seperate powerhead with snipped needle wheel impellor. The problem I found with the dual venturi approach was that very late in the day lots of CO2 was going into the pump intake and can cause pump to dry run (speaking from experience again). Also, I found that by leaving the bleed valve open and feeding it to the serpeate powerhead the external reactor was 'underwhelmed'; if I disconnected the hose from the powerhead intake I could see that the rate of bubbles coming into the AM1000 (i.e. it's internal hose which was about the same diamater as the hose I was feeding to the powerhead) was about the same as the rate of bubbles coming out of the powerhead intake hose - hence the external reactor was essentially being bypassed, even very early on in the CO2 on period.

    Scott.
     
  10. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Good job of building the external reactor by the way, looks very professional. Nice work!
     
  11. dutchy

    dutchy Plant Guru Team
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    If the reactor fills up with gas the flow through the AM1000 is insufficient for the bubble rate that is used. Using the false gas valve is just a band aid. I modified the AM1000 to accept 3/4" hoses. I have two of them on my 180. Each AM1000 is inline with an Eheim 2078 @ 450 gph. Both reactors run at 5 bps with no buildup whatsoever.

    As Scottward already said there's a lot of loss in flow because of the extra restriction and longer lines. You might be lucky to end up with 50% of the actual pump capacity.
     
    #11 dutchy, Aug 8, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 8, 2011
  12. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    FWIW Eheim does a slightly better job in reporting their flow rates than most cannisters. Most when measured with media will only output 50% or so and then it goes downhill from there. Eheim's seem to hit 70% of their rated flow. Of course like the others, it's all downhill from there as things clog up.

    -
    S
     
  13. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    I left out something here that I wanted to mention. On initial start-up, the very first time that you use it, there is air trapped inside the reactor. This is where the false gas valve can come in handy. It will remove this trapped air. Another way to remove this trapped air is to turn the reactor upside down and burp the trapped air out through the output, spray bar, etc.

    I am now running the false gas from the AM1000 into the optional filter on the bottom of an AC201 powerhead (176gph). I didn't want to run it into the Eheim canister filter. It didn't take long for the gas to flow out of the AM1000 and get dispersed into a mist. Now water is flowing into the powerhead.
     
  14. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Left C, have you left the false gas valve permanently open so that there is a continous flow to your AC201 powerhead? If this is the case, are you sure that the AM1000 isn't being bypassed altogether? You could check this by pulling the hose out the filter on the bottom of the AC201 and directly observing the bubbles coming out of the hose. If the rate the bubbles are coming out of the hose matches up with the rate the bubbles are coming out of the AM1000's internal hose, then I think you'll find the AM1000 is essentially doing nothing.

    That's what I found anyway, would be interesting to see what you observe.
     
  15. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    I looked several times earlier and it was bubbling like normal. It is off for the evening right now. I'll watch it more tomorrow. Thanks for the advice, warning and how to check it.

    If it gives trouble mounted this way, I have an optional plan. The Eheim ECCO filter has an 185 gph rating. I have an 1/2" 190 gph MD-10K-NL102 Iwaki pump that I can plum inline after the ECCO. I have an Aqua Medic "T" for 12mm tubing and 5mm airline that I can plumb before the Iwaki pump for the false gas to get chopped up. Then this is fed up to the AM1000. Even if there is some bypass, the CO2 gets chopped up by the Iwaki pump and then flows on to the AM1000 anyway. I also have an 1/2" ball valve that I can use if I need to slow the flow for some reason.
     
  16. AquaticJim

    AquaticJim Guru Class Expert

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    I just cleaned out the 2217 that is running the reactor and for the first time in over 4 years actually dismantled all the tubing and taps etc and took them outside and cleaned them.

    A length of whipper snipper cord pushed through the tubing and attached to a bottle brush took a a heap of muck out. Theres definately a a lot more flow.
     
  17. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Yeah, check it out again tomorrow. Have a good look at the tube inside the AM1000 that is delivering the CO2. Note the bubble rate. Compare this to the rate of bubbles coming out of the tube that is going into the powerhead that you have set up (assuming this tube is the same size as the AM1000's internal tube, it should be). Report back. :)

    If you do decide to hook it up this way (this is the dual venturi method that Tom documented a while back), keep an eye on how much churning the Iwaki does, paying particular attention to the later part of the CO2 enrichment period. You might find that CO2 simply goes around and around through the bypass, potentially overwhelming your Iwaki and causing a dry run. It has happened to me. :)

    Might not cause you a problem though, but it can quickly creep up on you while tweaking and adjusting the CO2 rate up.
     
  18. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Whipper Snipper. :D You must be a fellow Aussie?

    Anyway, the plants will ultimately tell you if your setup is cutting the mustard. :)

    Scott.
     
  19. AquaticJim

    AquaticJim Guru Class Expert

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    Bingo Scott :)
     
  20. AquaticJim

    AquaticJim Guru Class Expert

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    Doesn't look so elegant in the photos I suppose -


    [​IMG]






    [​IMG]


    Luckily that side of the tank isn't really seen by anyone. I had to make some MKIII variations to the build and now it's working perfectly.

    I wish I'd done it years ago and not put up with the crappy internal Dupla reactor for so long! It chalk and cheese difference.
     
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