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Thread: Frederickson Coral Reactor- Increase Alk, calcium, pH, trace elements in top off h2o

  1. #1

    Frederickson Coral Reactor- Increase Alk, calcium, pH, trace elements in top off h2o

    Hey everybody. Came up with this idea and been using this design in one form or another for years. Anyone is welcome to use this design, I just ask that you continue to refer to it as "the Frederickson Coral Reactor".

    Calcium reactors operate on similar principles. The coral skeleton contains many trace elements and buffering minerals that are especially beneficial to shell/reef building animals in our tanks. The Frederickson Reactor works on the principle that a low pH water source (reverse osmosis, deionized water) will dissolve some of the bound elements in crushed coral into the solution, making them available to the animals when the water is added to the tank.

    It is really quite simple and requires minimal space and equipment. If anyone has the time and testing equipment, it would be interesting to get a full spread on the effect of this equipment.

    First, take a wide mouth plastic container and some tubing and cut a hole just big enough for the tubing. The tubing size depends on what size pump/powerhead you decide to use for circulation.


    Cut a large mesh plastic sponge to the size of the bottom of the container and place it above the tubing. This should help distribute the water flowing out and reduce channelization.


    After that is done, take crushed coral and place it in a reactor bag with a small enough mesh to keep the coral from blowing out. Rinse *lightly* to remove fine particulates before placing in the prepared container and attaching the pump.


    At this point, the whole assembly can be placed into your top off container. The addition of RO to the coral drives the reaction. Having higher initial values for your top off should reduce the need for 2 part/Kalk. The coral should be moved/adjusted every so often (based on usage) to reduce channelization. A drop of calcium or alkalinity to 1/3 of initial values is an indicator to determine when to change the coral.

    Below are the results of personal testing with this unit in a 10 gallon container. With my setup, the top off water is also used for a biweekly 10 gallon water change and the coral is barely changed throughout the year.

    Test, Before Value, After value (24 hours of reactor use), Test Kit
    pH, <6.0, 8.0, API
    Alkalinity, ~0 mill eq., ~2 mill eq., Red Sea
    Calcium, 0 mg/L, 100 mg/L, API
    Phosphate, 0 mg/L, 0 mg/L, API
    Salinity, 0 ppt, 6 ppt, Refractometer (Salinity in after may be residual from previous water change)

    Looking for feedback on everyone else's experience with this design. Feel free to send questions and they will be answered to the best of my ability.
    Last edited by assassin smoke; 01-30-2016 at 05:00 PM.

  2. #2
    Never though about it , but pure water has a pH of 6.14... So I theory it would disolve Coral.
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  3. #3
    I have mentioned this exact process to my wife a few months back. Mine involved a pump in a reactor body similar to a fluidized sand filter. I kept ciclids for decades, and the water would be buffered by dissolving the substrate and rocks IF the rocks are of the correct type. It is no secret that RO/DI water does this....However, I work in an industry that specializes in transfer of many fluids and solids via round conduits (metal and plastic pipe)....however I think a bit different than most to begin with. I doubt that it would be more efficient than a standard calcium reactor coupled with regular water changes however, and never built a prototype. It is a simple way to add some inert minerals back to the RO water. There is a total dissolved amount that will be reached, and nothing more would be dissolved. I have pondered researching adding of some sort of acidic process to increase the reaction, but again it is about efficiency, and too many steps would interfere with efficiency IMHO....Not to mention finding the proper acidic compound to stimulate dissolution of the solid compound (crushed coral etc).

    I never have not had a need to add more minerals than what a weekly/bi-weekly water change would do in my current build. I spent 10 years designing my current 40g breeder in my head, so this was just another project waiting for the right moment. @ Assassin Smoke: It is funny that you had a similar idea, and it is neat to see your implementation versus the one I had in my head the last few years. After getting sick of ciclids (that rolls off the tongue) I came back to reef keeping. If I ever make one, I doubt id call it anything other than a DIY calcium reactor, not that your naming is not catchy.
    Last edited by SquatchXXL; 01-31-2016 at 12:42 AM.

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