Welcome to the 10th episode of our Drop Off tank build.  The tank is just about 6 months old now and has pretty much hit all of the milestones you can expect with a new reef tank.  The initial cycle went smoothly with the rise and fall of ammonia and nitrate, followed by a diatom bloom in the tank around the 8 week mark.

After adding our first fish and corals we began to see some cyanobacteria growth which has subsided and we are now getting some slight nuisance algae growth of various species.

The rock we used in the tank was clean and free of any algae or hitchikers which means these algae species most likely made their way into the tank via coral frags and colonies that we introduced.

While the algae problem is not out of control we do want to ensure we have a solid nutrient export method in place which is exactly what you voted for in our last episode.  We asked all of you what we should do with our Extra Large AquaMaxx Media Reactor and building a macro algae reactor won the popular vote.

I somewhat suspected the outcome of this poll because of the recent boom in popularity of growing macro algae inside of a reactor to help export dissolved waste.  This natural method of removing nitrates and phosphates from the aquarium water is effective, very affordable, and fairly easy to integrate into any existing reef tank which is likely the reasons this method has become so popular.

Algae Reactor

To get started, we found a nice location to set the reactor next to the sump.  Next, we utilized two of the Accel Aquatics Led strips and wrapped them tightly around the outside of our AquaMaxx media reactor and secured them in place with a couple of zip ties.

The Accel Aquatics LED Strip Lights do require that you glue the included plug onto the end of the strips before operation.  We used a bit of aquarium silicone to hold the plug-in place and let it dry completely for 24 hours before testing the power.

Algae Reactor

For connection to the tank, we installed a handy manifold which allows us to easily attach some ¾” vinyl tubing and feed the reactor with water using our return pump.  The water will flow through the reactor and then back into our sump via another short segment of vinyl tubing.  The inline ball valve will allow us to control the rate of flow through the reactor.

After testing out all the connections to ensure we are free of leaks, we finally stuffed our reactor with a baseball size ball of Chaetomorpha algae.  We hooked up the LED lights to a simple timer that will run for about 16 hours per day.  The Reactor lights will come on around 4pm, when our main lights start to ramp down.  It will then continue to operate until 8am the following morning.

The long photoperiod of 16 hours should help to rapidly grow the macroalgae inside the reactor.  The more growth we get, the more nutrients we will remove.

Algae Reactor

By running the reactor lights opposite of our main display tank we can help to reduce the pH swing that occurs during the evening hours.  This is because the growing macro algae will absorb the excess dissolved CO2 that increases at night time when the corals stop photosynthesizing.

Algae Reactor

While installing this reactor, some of you may have a noticed the Kamoer wiFi Dosing Pump installed on the tank.  With all of the growing corals we really needed to start supplementing the aquarium and this Kamoer Dosing Pump provided the perfect solution.  With four channels available for dosing and easy wiFi programming from your smartphone or tablet, the dosing pump was pretty simple to install.

We are going to start by choosing one of the many comprehensive solutions to cover the major elements our corals need to grow; calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium.

Algae Reactor

This brings us to our next poll which is choosing which additive system we should use on our tank?  ESV B-Ionic, Red Sea Reef Foundation, AquaMaxx Synergy Plus, Seachem Reef Fusion, or Brightwell Reef Code A and B?

Help us out and cast your vote by clicking on the poll card in the upper right corner of the video.  Then check back to see how the additive system of choice is applied to our tank and how it performs in terms of maintaining the crucial reef tank parameters of calcium, alkalinity and magnesium.