Wouldn’t it be nice if aquarium water doesn’t get dirty at all? Unfortunately, that’s not exactly the case. The water can become home to a great number of pollutants.
Uneaten food particles, fish waste, algae growth, and other microorganisms can contaminate the water, make your fish sick, and turn your aquarium into an ugly mess.
That’s why you need pumps and filters. But if your current filtration system is not up to the job, you may need to supplement it with a media reactor. A media reactor (also called a phosphate reactor) is an advanced type of chemical filtration method, which you can use for both freshwater and saltwater tanks. They generally have a cylindrical design, and you can put in the filter media you want before you submerge it in the water. Its pump then lets the tank water through the tube so water is appropriately filtered.
So how do you determine which media reactor is best for your purposes? Here are some things to look out for before you make your choice:
- What filter media do you want to use? This choice of filter media will hinge on what kind of problems you want to prevent or treat. Your choices include carbon (or GAC, for granular activated carbon), granular ferric oxide (GFO), bio-pellets, and synthetic resin. Media reactors can often accommodate just a few types of filter media.
- What’s included in the purchase? Usually, they don’t come with any media at all since you need to buy the type you need and the brand you prefer. But some models already include a pump while others don’t.
- How easy is it to use and install? If you make the wrong choice, you may get a media reactor that can’t be mounted or attached to your aquarium.
- What’s the flow rate and how do you control the flow rate? Some media like carbon works best with a moderate water flow, while GFO needs a very low flow rate.
- How big is it? Generally, you want to see the fish and the plants when you gaze into your tank. Media reactors are usually regarded as “non-decorative” items. So it’s better if it’s smaller and easier to hide.
- What are the maintenance requirements? It’s better if you can remove the filter and drain the water without the need for special tools.
- How long does it last? You want a unit that arrives at your doorstep without malfunctioning parts, and you want them to work for as long as possible.
- How much does it cost? Make sure that you factor in the cost of the pump if it’s not yet included.
Now that we have the crucial factors in mind, here are some media reactors we need to look at:
Innovative Marine MiniMax All-In-One Media Reactor
This model is designed for nano and mini tanks, as it offers a flow rate of just 52
It’s very small at 2.2" x 2.3" x 11.41", so you don’t get the clutter you usually associate with media canisters and reactors.
What sets this model apart is its all in one aspect. It can accommodate carbon, GFO, and bio pellets, and you have a dual chamber to use.
- You have lots of choices regarding the filter media, and you can use 2 at the same time.
- It’s easy to set up, as it works out of the box. It has a pump, and it also has a plug and
playsetup for your sump.
- It works very well. With 2 additional filters, your tank water should be clearer than ever.
- It’s so small you won’t have to work hard to keep it out of sight.
- Adjusting the flow rate only requires a turn of the knob.
- The internal chamber slides out and automatically drains water, without the need for tools to unfasten thumb screws.
- It doesn’t consume a lot of power at just 2.5 watts.
- The customer support is superb. Send Innovative Marine an email about a damaged part upon delivery, and you’ll get a phone call telling you that you’ll get a replacement.
- There are quite a few complaints about receiving damaged parts upon delivery.
- Adjusting the flow can be tricky. There’s no marking when you want to set it between full open and full close.
AquaFX Reactor Dual Chamber
With this, you have to get the pump separately. But you do get dual media capability, which should be apparent since you get two 10-inch chambers set side by side.
You also get a rust-free aluminum bracket, a 10-inch housing filter wrench for media changes, and various tubing pieces including a half-inch Union for pumps like the MJ1200.
You can also get carbon and GFO filter from AquaFX too.
- It’s nice that you have dual media capacity. When you get it working, it feels the difference very well.
- You need a pump, and the installation can be tricky.
- It's a bit bulky.
AquaMaxx BioMaxx BioPellet Reactor
If you intend to use bio pellets to get ahead of any potential algae issues, then this can be an option. You have to get a pump for this, however.
You can get bio pellets from AquaMaxx BioMaxx, and you may also get an optional hang-on adaptor sold separately.
- While models from a few years ago had some quality control issues, these days these things work efficiently with no leaks and fine flow control.
- It can work with 90-gallon tanks, as its flow rate can reach 600 gph.
- You need a pump, so installation can take a while.
- You may also need that hang-on adaptor so you can position this more effectively.
Reef Octopus Beginner Media Filter 4 Inch Chamber w/ Pump
This is another complete media reactor kit. It includes the feed pump, various hoses, and all the necessary fittings.
It can accommodate GFO and carbon media and it can be used externally or internally. This can be used for up to 180-gallon tanks.
- All you need is the filter media, and you’re ready to rock.
- It’s very well-made and can work effectively without any hang-ups.
- It’s easy to set up and use. You can hang this over even 1-inch rims.
- It can't really use Purigen effectively.
- It's gigantic, so using it in smaller tanks can affect the aesthetics.
The Reef Octopus is excellent for larger tanks, but the smaller tanks should stick with the Innovative Marine MiniMax. They both have all you need, both properly built and well reliable.
So what do you use, and how well is it working for you? If you have any comments or questions of your own, feel free to chime in.
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