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Would like to discuss my co2 reactor?

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by Erk, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    I have an inline reactor....I made this using pvc, and have it inline with my rena xp3. Unfortunately due to space constraints in my cabinet under the tank, I had to hang the reactor from the underside of the cabinet in a horizontal position. The output of my cannister goes into the reactor through bio balls and then out to the spray bar. The co2 line comes into the reactor before my bio balls to help mix things up. Is this an ok way to do things? Ive been reading and reading on this site, and it seems like there is a lot of talk about co2 "mist"? I not only have space constraints, but expense constraints now.....will be a daddy in december of this year!:D

    I would like to hear some suggestions on how to improve my co2 injection, or some cheap ways to try this "mist" application? While keeping in mind the space issues. I like not having much in the way of equipment in my tank now, only the heater and filter intake and spray bar is in there right now, but I will be adding a powerhead today after I get home from work so I can raise my co2 BPS rate until the surface skimmer arrives.

    Thanks very much, as always!:)
    Eric
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    If you are already going to put a powerhead in the tank, you can drill a hole (carefully) in the side of the inlet to the powerhead and stick the CO2 tube there. That lets the powerhead rotor chop up the CO2 into mist and blow it around the tank. I did that for several months and it worked well.
     
  3. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks VaughnH, is this for DiY CO2 applications? I have my only co2 tube in the inline reactor? The powerhead is a small maxijet, and I think it has a spot to put an airline tube into it already? It is submersible too, so is the benefit of a mist application and doing it this way, the ability to place the powerhead down deeper in the tank? I really dont understand this at all. I dont see bubbles coming out of my spray bar, so I "assume" its being dissolved well, but with it being dispersed at the top of the tank out of the spray bar, I dont know how well it reaches the bottom of the tank?

    Thanks very much, and sorry for a bunch of questions that have prolly already been brought up, and trust me I prolly read it on here, but just dont understand it or its benefits:confused:

    If what I have is good, then I will just let it go....just curious if I could make any "tweaks"?

    Thanks again:)
     
  4. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    This is one of those cases where a picture of the configuration would be very useful. :confused: I believe the reactor should somehow be placed in a vertical position for best results. Otherwise you'll likely have a much greater volume of Co2 build up dead heading for the entire length of the cylinder, and may encounter belching at higher flow rates.

    The simplest way to achieve a controlled misting application with a canister filter arrangement would be to use a double T manifold for two needle valves and bubble counters eBay: 2 way Brass Co2 splitter, for solenoid gauge regulator (item 250018659638 end time Jul-10-07 18:02:50 PDT) and placing an inline mister such as the Cal-Aqua L abs inline unit. CAL AQUA LABS - CO2 Glassware This would allow you to independently adjust the rates for both dissolved Co2, and ambient mist.

    I don't believe there is any one perfect distribution for Co2 in a closed system. Whether it be Dissolved or Misted Co2 or a Venturi Reactor. For the most part Dissolved Co2 is the most economically efficient application for the hobbiest, but Plants definitely do enjoy some percentage of misting and make more efficient use of Ambient/Gaseous Co2. HTH Prof M
     
  5. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks Professor M, I dont know how to go about making it vertical

    It is a mess under the cabinet, and im not happy about it at all, but since you cant really see, I dont mind that much, but here are some crappy pics showing the configuration I have going now

    I looked at your link, and they look like a bubble counter, and I dont know if I know how to go about hooking this all up in the future. It took me a good bit of time just to get the inline pvc reactor under control, and I dont even know how under control it really is anymore:(

    Thanks again for your help

    Enjoy my crappy pics! haha

    bio_ball_n_airline_fitting.jpg

    messy1.jpg

    messy2.jpg

    messy3.jpg
     
  6. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    For some reason I didnt see there was a link there for the two bubble counters (splitter) the first time around....that makes it a bit clearer now! lol! I will have to do some thinking, but for $30! Thats not bad!!

    Thanks again
     
  7. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    I more than understand the economics, but I am one of those people who has acquired a black belt in making a Silk Purse from a Sow's Ear. In retrospect there were way...WAY Too Many Times I should have simply bit the bullet and purchased a Quality Component. I have gone to many extremes to cope with a situation instead of simply managing it from the Git Go ! ;) Fortunately lots of folks do the same thing daily...so I can keep my head down and hide in the back row. :eek:

    Generally when I'm adamant about certain advice it's only because I've thoroughly buggered it up sooooo many times I know "precisely" what NOT To Do !!! :rolleyes: For discretionary purposes we will call these EXPERIMENTS and hopefully the wife believes me... :cool:
     
  8. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks Professor M

    So does that mean you would make some changes if it was your setup? Since I cant make it vertical, would doing the mix of the mist, with the crappy setup I have now be a good idea?

    The tank is angled in a corner, so getting behind the tank, to mount the reactor on the back wall in a vertical position isnt gonna work:(

    Thanks again for your help....I dont really know where to go from here with this co2 injection
     
  9. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I used a Maxijet 600 when I ran it like I described. I wanted it to be a filter also, so I stuck the filter holder on the inlet, and shoved the CO2 tube thru a slot in that piece. Then I put a filter sponge over it to filter the incoming water. The objective is to have the CO2 go into the water ahead of the powerhead rotor, not after it. The air fitting that you found for the Maxijet is on the outlet of the unit, not the inlet, so it won't work well there, giving much too big bubbles of CO2.

    I can see from your photos that you could put the external reactor vertical, but with some effort. It will work a lot better if you do that. Otherwise, the Maxijet method will also work fine. The object of the mist method is to provide gaseous CO2 to the plants in additiion to what is dissolved in the water, because it is more easily absorbed by the plants in the gas form. This method "wastes" CO2, but CO2 is so cheap it doesn't really matter if we waste some of it. The results are spectacular when you use mist CO2 - the tank is just filled with microscopic bubbles of CO2 and the plants are all pearling all day long. This causes maximum plant growth rates which can be a nuisance if you don't want to do a lot of regular pruning. I stopped using that method largely because I'm too lazy to prune twice a week, but also because I had more difficulty keeping BBA under control than with regular CO2 dissolved in the water.
     
  10. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks VaughnH.....my plan this weekend is to figure out how to mount it vertical. I think it is gonna be tough, but I may be able to figure something out. The mist method sounds good, but I dont think Im going to tackle that adventure right now. I will work on getting this thing mounted vertical, and see how things go

    You said it looks like I can do this, but with some effort....what do you suggest? I also need to get straight barbs.....I know the 90* angles in the reactor arent the best either:(

    Thanks again
     
  11. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I use the same filter you use, and have an external reactor too. My reactor has 90 degree barbed fittings at both ends. It works well, with what appears to be full flow into the tank. So, I don't think you need to change the end fittings at all. They are the secret for fitting a vertical reactor into a tight space like you have. It also doesn't need to be above the filter, but can run from the bottom of the cabinet to the top, where ever it will fit in. Remember, the inlet is at the top, so lowering it in the cabinet makes that connection easier to make and shorter.

    Whatever you do, be sure to bleed out all gas from the top of your reactor before you try to prime the filter. If you don't, the XP3 just won't prime - the gas bubble becomes pressurized and stops the flow before the filter fills completely.

    I use velcro straps cut off a discarded back brace I had on hand, to hold the reactor in place. The hardest part of installing the reactor, for me, was mounting the straps inside the cabinet, but the velcro makes it much easier.
     
  12. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks VaughnH I wont change my barbs then:)

    "Remember, the inlet is at the top, so lowering it in the cabinet makes that connection easier to make and shorter."

    Can you explain this to me again? I think I need more hosing to make the connections from the filter to the reactor, to the spray bar:( I will get it in there vertically tho....one way or the other! lol

    I certainly have had issues with the filter not priming itself pretty much every since I hooked the reactor up....I now fill it with water when I clean it, and hook it up, and push the lever down to start the priming like the directions say, but it doesnt do anything, so I just plug the cord in the outlet and it works fine:confused: How do you "bleed" all the gas out of the reactor?

    I would love to see a pic of your setup if possible, whenever you have time to take one, and post it?

    Thanks again very much......I would love to make my co2 more efficient...I really dont think it is that effective right now....still waiting on Bill's 4dkh solution to arrive also
     
  13. Professor Myers

    Professor Myers Guru Class Expert

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    FYI Cal Aqua Labs has the type 1 diffusers back in stock, but you may have to contact them directly to arrange purchase. CAL AQUA LABS - CO2 Glassware HTH. Prof M
     
  14. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Here is my reactor: http://www.barrreport.com/articles/3113-external-co2-reactor-slightly-new-design.html
    Notice that I put a bleed valve at the top of it, just because I could.
    To prime a XP3, you leave the filter housing empty. Then, before you plug in the water hoses, you use a funnel to fill the inlet hose down to the filter. When you plug in the hoses, that water rushes down, drawing water up over the tank top and starting the syphon. The water keeps flowing until the filter housing is full and the return hose is nearly full of water all the way back to the tank. Now, when you plug in the power, the filter just starts running. But, if you leave a gas bubble in the reactor, that bubble prevents water and escaping air from flowing up the return hose. It compresses the CO2 bubble and stops the flow. The filter housing never completely fills up and it then won't start when you plug it in. I finally solved that problem by leaving the bleed valve on the reactor open until water filled up the filter housing and the reactor. I can't get a good photo of the installation since it is pretty well hidden behind the front side lip of the cabinet.
     
  15. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks Professor M, Im still not sure I understand how to go about using those diffusers, in addition to my reactor? Do I hook up another spray bar then in the tank? I will try to get in touch with you this weekend, if that is ok? I think I will try to work on getting my reactor mounted vertically this weekend, and see what that does.

    Does anyone know if I need special hosing for the connection from the filter to the reactor? The rena ones that came with the filter, seem nice and somewhat flexible, and they are "foggy" in color?

    I do think i will need more hosing and I would like to get it today, so I have it for tomorrows fun project. That Fish Place is very close to my place, so if they have something that would work, that would be great!

    VaughnH thanks for posting that link to your other thread about the reactors....Im really not familiar with how I would hook up a bleed valve...I was actually thinking about shortening my reactor in order to make it more manageable in the cabinet. I made it from a site I found while researching them, and just made it more or less to their specs, and it is about 10" long, and I think that is another part of my problem:(

    I turned the co2 up a lil bit last night again, cause ever since I put Bills kh standard in the red sea indicator, it looked like the 7.0 blue on the pH color chart.....so I raised the bubble count up a lil bit, and it started getting some greenish tint to it. I will back the bubble count down when I revise the location of the reactor this weekend, and start to raise it slowly again from there. I also turned the temp down a lil bit....think im at 84-85. Also the skimmer should be off backorder today!:D

    Thanks again everyone for your help! I really appreciate it....still have lots to do....the plants are not pearling, and they dont seem to be using the dry ferts very well either. I picked up two moss balls and some hornwort the other day
     
  16. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    So I made a new reactor today, and its smaller, and its mounted vertical....all in all it took forever, but it looks pretty good....my problem is, is now the filter seems to leak from somewhere....almost seems like its from where the cord comes out of the filter???

    I have towels laid down right now, but that thing was such a pain to get running, when I was ready to hook everything up. I had to put water down the intake using the funnel that came with the filter, like when it was new. Eventually it starting working, but now I have this leak

    Any suggestions, or do I need a new o-ring or something?

    Thanks very much!
     
  17. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    My XP3 also leaked from the filter housing when I was trying to start it with the outlet "plugged" by a CO2 bubble in the reactor. I think that puts too much back pressure on the filter and the O-ring seal around the top of the filter leaks when the top is forced slightly up by that pressure. But, I'm guessing on that. Once I got it started properly it didn't leak again. Those filters have an unusual water flow path thru them, not like the Fluval, for example. That allows you to easily prime them, but only if the top of the reactor is allowed to bleed out the gas as you prime it. Remember, the pressure involved in priming is only the water column from the tank down to the filter - not enough to overcome any restriction at all.
     
  18. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks for the quick reply over the weekend VaughnH, Sorry I didnt write back about anything since then. I had to play with this setup over and over again pretty much all weekend, and the "new" reactor still isnt 100% vertical:( and its not the prettiest thing, but its an improvement. It is a lil smaller now....only holds 3x1" (I think) bio balls, and the airline for the co2 comes in where the bio balls are now. I had leaks coming from the top of the filter, from the outlet "barb" on the quick disconnect, and from where the cord passes through the "motor housing". I cut some hosing off the output side AFTER the reactor, and that seemed to fix things. I noticed late last night, it seems like maybe the bottom of the cannister is leaking now? Im not sure, like I said it was late, and I just stuck a towel there, and today the towel was wet, but not soaked. I put a fresh towel down, and came to work....will check it when I get home. The filter seemed to prime itself and fill up on its own, like its supposed to, the last time everyting got hooked up, so that was nice

    I did have SOME pearling on the riccia, tiger lotus plants, and some streaming bubbles here and there...nothing major, but I wasnt done messing with the reactor and filter until about 5pm. Co2 off at 9. I redid my drop checker solution, and will check things out when I get home....should be an improvement tho.

    Would the Cal Aqua Labs type 1 diffuser take the place of my reactor if I went that way, so I dont have to deal with these leaks, and priming issues? Any other suggestions? I should have the surface skimmer this week sometime:)

    Thanks very much everyone for all your help
     
  19. Barney

    Barney Junior Poster

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    This is one of the reasons I didn't go for a DIY reactor (my DIY skills leave a lot to be desired, like actual skill for example :) ) and I was worried about it leaking in a cabinet full of electrical sockets.

    I came up with a simple solution which I posted here http://www.barrreport.com/articles/3252-line-co2-reactor-under-5-minutes-less-1-a.html

    I'm sure someone else must have done this before me (though I have never seen it elsewhere) and I can only say that it worked great for me (I have not tested on other tanks, with other filters, etc) but it might be worth giving it a go as you seem to be having a lot of issues getting your filter to work well with the reactor.

    Please post how you get on with the surface skimmer. I was thinking of getting one of these to get rid of the "oil" on the water surface. I didn't really want any more equipment in the tank though.
     
  20. Erk

    Erk Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks Barney! I was actually already on your thread this AM! haha! Looks interesting, and I very well could end up going that way soon enough. I was just curious to see what some of the members had to say about it.

    My reactor doesnt leak, but I think it must strain my filter somehow, somewhere along the lines

    I will certainly let you know how the skimmer goes, once I get it, and I very well could get it today, and you know I will be hooking it up the day I get it;) It didnt look like a big piece of equipment or anything, and I agree...its nice not having that much equipment in the tank....sounds like it works great for O2 exchange. Just looks kinda like a small hang on the back filter. There is a link to one that was suggested to me in this thread

    Thanks again! and good luck with your setup, and I will keep you posted on the skimmer
     
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