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Media Reactors


Media Reactors are a tried and true add-on for reef aquariums. Media Reactors are usually added after the tank has gone through its cycle and has had time to mature. They typically will come in either single or dual chambers. A single reactor should be sufficient for up to 120 gallons. If you are thinking of using a single reactor media reactor, the most ideal mix of media would be a mix of 2/3 carbon and 1/3 GFO. GFO typically will last longer than carbon, which is why some reef aquarists will go with a dual reactor.

Media Reactors

Carbon and GFO (Granular Ferric Oxide) are the two most common media used in a media reactor. GFO's primary purpose is to remove Phosphates from the aquarium. Phosphates are important to remove in the aquarium as this will prevent excessive and nuisance algae growth. Carbon is a chemical filtration media that is used to remove dissolved organic compounds. It clears up water and removes foul odors in the aquarium. It is also useful to removing toxins released by corals that they use to wage chemical warfare against their neighboring corals.

You can mount media reactors inside a cabinet or on the wall. If you have space in your sump you can set the whole unit inside the sump. 

The most reliable pumps to use for a media reactor is a Cobalt aquatics MJ-1200. The SpectraPure media reactor unit we sell has a package that comes with the pump. The MJ-1200 is the original model made by Marineland Maxijet, but production of this unit switched to China and have not been the same since. The MJ-1200 is the original Italian made model and it is the pump we recommend as it is quiet and reliable. 

When using media reactors, the first thing you will want to do with the new media is rinse them out. When you first install the media, have the unit run with the return hose in a bucket. Run the pump, then have the unit flush out all the dusty. Have the unit run until the water is clear. If you want to play it safer than that, you can have the unit run a full gallon of water. That will ensure that the media is completely rinsed out.

Keeping debris out of media reactors will keep it from getting clogged. Using a pre-filter on your pump or filter socks in your sump will prevent clogging of the unit.

Carbon should be replaced every 2 weeks. GFO should be replaced when you see phosphate increasing or algae growth spikes - which is generally every 2-6 weeks. The frequency will depend on your bio-load.