As hobbyist we are always exploring new and better ways to export nutrients from our aquariums to give our fish and coral the cleanest water possible. Growing macro algae in a refugium is a tried and true method that many of us utilize. As the macro algae grows, it consumes nitrates and phosphates. Once you "harvest"v the algae, those organics are removed from your system.

One drawback is that setting up an in-sump or external refugium can sometimes be difficult with all the plumbing requirements, it can take up a lot of space and can be costly.

An online forum member gave us an awesome idea for a simple and affordable way to easily create an algae reactor. We have been testing it out for the past 4-5 months and it has proven to work great so without further ado, I present to you guys the Macroalgae Reactor.

We are not the first ones to think of this concept, but after seeing just how effective and easy it is to make one, we really wanted to offer an affordable way to get these reactors installed in reef tanks everywhere.


Take a media reactor and wrap an LED light strip around it. We took one of our best-selling AquaMaxx media reactors and mated it with an Accel Aquatics LED light strip. A couple of zip ties work well to hold the strip light in place.

The AquaMaxx Media Reactor features a large transparent 4” diameter body so there is plenty of space for the macro algae to grow. These reactors are also available in 4 different sizes so you can get one as big or as small as you like. The Accel Aquatics LED strip is a great match at it is a high-powered LED strip that provides 12 Watts of warm-white light to grow macro algae.


One big plus is that no sump/refugium is required. All you need is the reactor, the light, a couple of zip ties, tubing, a small pump and your choice of macro algae: such as chaetomorpha. This algae reactor can simply sit beneath your aquarium like a canister filter, or you can hang it on the side of your tank or sump.

With the high-output LED lights being as close to the macro algae as possible and illuminating the grow-out chamber 360 degrees, we have found the chaeto to grow impressively fast. We are having to harvest algae every two weeks: each time leaving about 1/4 of the algae behind to continue to grow..

Copepods, amphipods and other beneficial refugium critters also proliferate in this chamber and provide natural food for your aquarium inhabitants.

For hobbyists that have tangs, you can even use an algea reactor to grow algae to feed your fish. Macroalgaes such as caulerpa and gracilaria can grow quickly and would work well for this purpose.

For something so simple these algae reactors definitely exceeded our expectations. For those of you looking for an effective and inexpensive way to export nutrients and add natural fauna in to your aquarium an algae reactor is a great option.

-Take Care and Happy ReefKeeping!