Best Media Reactors of 2022
The term "Reactor" is sort of a broad term because there is a such wide variety of different reactor types and applications. From Calcium Reactors and Kalk Stirrers to Biopellets and Macroalgae Reactors, the selection of devices that qualify as a "reactor" is quite diverse.
For the sake of being precise, we narrowed down the selections by looking at only the GFO and Carbon Media Reactors to come up with our Best Media Reactors of 2022. GFO and Carbon Media Reactors are the most common types of reactors used in saltwater aquariums and make up more than 70% of the total reactor sales across the entire category.
How did we decide which media reactors made the list?
While all GFO & Carbon Media Reactors pretty much do the same exact thing, there are some important characteristics to consider. When comparing the various GFO & Carbon Media Reactors we took into account the ease of use, features, and quality of construction to identify the reactors that provide the best experience for tank owners. We then took into account the customer reviews, sales performance, and price to come up with three reactors that we are confident will serve their purpose exceptionally well, offer great value, and have some unique qualities that make them particularly useful.
BRS GFO & Carbon Media Reactor
Easiest To Use & Best Value
The BRS GFO and Carbon Media Reactors were one of the first original products from Bulk Reef Supply after our bulk 2-Part Solution that helped anchor our brand in the reef aquarium community. The reactor design is innovative because it uses a standard RO canister and refillable cartridge which makes both the installation and maintenance incredibly easy.
There are no frustrating thumb screws to mess with when it comes time to change the media. The bracket can remain mounted with the pump and tubing attached which makes swapping out the refillable cartridge a breeze, especially if you keep a spare cartridge on hand.
There are five different BRS Reactor Kits available, all of which offer extreme value without compromising performance or features.
The Single and Mini stand out as the best overall value. They are both priced very affordably and include everything you need for installation including a quiet and reliable Sicce brand pump, tubing, and ball-valve for flow adjustment.
The Deluxe model is unique with its one-piece black molded bracket that has integrated quick disconnect fittings which cuts down on the overall profile of the reactor. This makes it perfect for mounting in tight spaces underneath your aquarium. The transparent housing makes it easy to monitor the media and the pressure release valve allows you to quickly purge out trapped air.
Choose the reactor size based on the reactor's capacity and how much media you need to use at one time. Calculate how much Carbon or GFO you need using your tank's water volume, then choose the appropriately sized reactor that can hold all of the media. When the pump is off, the media should never fill more than 75% of the reactor's chamber.
Two Little Fishies PhosBan Reactor 150 & 550
Best Hang-On Style Reactor
The PhosBan Reactor 150 and 550 take on a classic upflow reactor design with a low-profile hang-on bracket making it easy to install on the side of your sump or directly onto your display. They also make great additions to All-In-One-style aquariums and will easily hang off the back wall.
The TLF Reactors are suitable for both external and internal installations and the Reactor Extension Kit includes flexible 90° elbows, rigid pipe, and insert fittings so you won't have to worry about kinking your flexible tubing or dealing with awkward arches of tubing running in and out of the aquarium.
The TLF Reactors are available in two different sizes which should be chosen based on how much media you need to use at one time. They both include a 1/2" ball valve for flow control but you will need to purchase a separate pump and some short runs of 1/2" flexible tubing to complete the installation.
AquaMaxx Fluidized GFO & Carbon Reactors
The AquaMaxx Fluidized Reactors are made from laser-cut, A-class polished acrylic that looks great and will hold up to heavy-duty use around your aquarium. While we can certainly appreciate this quality of construction, it's the versatility of these reactors that make them special.
Each reactor has two ports drilled into the lid which are intended for the included 1/2" or 3/4" barbed elbows and connection with flexible tubing. These ports can also accept an MPT x SLIP PVC fitting making it easy to connect PVC pipes.
This DIY installation looks sharp and works great for aquarium owners who prefer to use PVC and integrate the reactors into their hard plumbing with a manifold. The reactors can actually be suspended by the lid when mounted with hard PVC like this so long as the PVC is glued and the fittings are attached securely with the retaining nut and appropriately sized o-rings.
AquaMaxx also sells an optional hang-on bracket that fits the standard size reactor. Pump, tubing, and additional PVC fittings are sold separately.