If your aquarium filter just can’t keep up with your tank, it’s likely you’ve tried a number of solutions.
But, believe it or not, rinsing or changing filtration media can hurt more than it can help. The disruption to the beneficial bacterial colonies can be hard to come back from.
One way to combat this is to use the best aquarium media reactor, a tube-like setup that uses upward flow for effective and efficient filtration. A media reactor might be just the boost your struggling aquarium needs to get back on track.
Table of Contents
- What is a Media Reactor?
- Are Media Reactors Necessary or Not?
- The 6 Best Media Reactors for Your Aquarium
- Aquarium Media Reactor Reviews
- 1. Two Little Fishies Phosban Filter Media Reactor
- 2. AquaTop Media Reactor w/Pump
- 3. AquaMaxx Fr-se GFO Carbon and Biopellet Hang-on Filter Media Reactor
- 4. Accel Aquatics Biopellet and Filter Media Reactor
- 5. Innovative Marine Minimax Pro Series Media Reactor
- 6. AquaMaxx Fluidized GFO and Carbon Filter Media Reactor
- How to Install Media Reactor?
What is a Media Reactor?
Everyone knows that filtration is one of the most important parts of maintaining an aquarium. Low water quality can have a profound effect on your fish and plants but maintenance can be tricky.
Filters should be rinsed every few weeks and the filter itself should be replaced every month. The problem with this is that it disrupts a significant part of the beneficial bacterial colonies that are needed to maintain the nitrogen cycle in the tank.
Most beneficial bacteria live in the substrate of your tank but the filter media is their next favorite place to grow. Rinsing and replacing it eliminates these colonies and it takes a while for them to reestablish.
An easy way to avoid this problem is to use a media reactor. A media reactor is an advanced filter with a tube-like design. Water moves through an inlet to the bottom of the reactor then up through the filtration media before being cycled back into the tank.
This upward filtration is much more effective than a typical filter primarily because there’s more surface area which means more contact between the water and the filter itself.
Are Media Reactors Necessary or Not?
If your regular filter seems to be doing the job, you may not need a media reactor. It all depends on the size of the tank and what’s inside of it.
Sometimes, it’s beneficial to start with a regular filter and add a media reactor if you discover that you need one. You can always start out with a standard filter, see how it does, and make the changes you need with a media reactor down the line.
That said, if you have a large reef tank, media reactors are often worth the investment. Any tank that has a lot of needs and a variety of plants, coral, and fish could benefit from the increased filtration that media reactors give.
The 6 Best Media Reactors for Your Aquarium
If you’ve decided that it’s time to add a media reactor to your aquarium, it can be difficult to find the right one. Here are some of the best options available.
|Pictures||Aquarium Media Reactor||For Aquariums|
|Two Little Fishies Phosban Filter Media Reactor||Up to 150 Gallons|
|AquaTop Media Reactor w/Pump||10-75 Gallons|
|AquaMaxx Fr-se GFO Carbon and Biopellet Hang-on Filter Media Reactor||Up to 150 Gallons|
|Accel Aquatics Biopellet and Filter Media Reactor||Up to 250 Gallons|
|Innovative Marine Minimax Pro Series Media Reactor||Up to 50 Gallons|
|AquaMaxx Fluidized GFO and Carbon Filter Media Reactor||Up to 150 Gallons|
Aquarium Media Reactor Reviews
1. Two Little Fishies Phosban Filter Media Reactor
This reactor from Two Little Fishies is an efficient way to use PhosBan or any other chemical filtration media.
Water gets pushed up from the bottom and through the dispersion plate and evenly forces the water through the filtration media for more effective treatment.
There are connections for ½-inch hoses and the inlet out outlet have flexible fittings that can rotate 90-degrees to fit any installation. The recommended flow rate is 20 to 30 GPH which is ideal for a tank up to 150 gallons.
The reactor itself is constructed entirely of plastic and acrylic materials and can be used in either freshwater or saltwater. It’s well made and a good bargain for the price.
- This product holds a maximum of 200 grams of PhosBan or 5 inches of media.
- One reactor treats up to 150 gallons and multiple reactors may be used together for larger aquariums.
- Because it’s made of plastic and acrylic, this reactor can be used in freshwater or saltwater.
- It’s well made and simple to use.
- The material tends to leak over time.
- There aren’t any hoses included.
2. AquaTop Media Reactor w/Pump
One of the best things about this product from AquaTop is it includes a pump, sediment discharge filter, and all of the necessary plumbing. It comes with everything you need to get started which saves you time and money.
This reactor can be placed in a sump or hung on the side of the tank and can be used with a variety of media including phosphate resins and sponges, activated carbon, or nitrate sponges. The lid is easy to remove for easy filling and maintenance.
The high-quality acrylic construction is suitable for fresh or saltwater and it has a filtration capacity of 10 to 75 gallons. Plus, setup is really easy and can be done in less than five minutes.
- An adjustable flow water pump, sediment discharge filter, and all the necessary tubing are also included.
- It’s compatible with a variety of filter media and can be placed in a sump or hung on the tank.
- The reactor itself is easy to set up and very effective for the price.
- It can be used with tanks from 10 to 75 gallons.
- The included pump is not strong enough for all applications.
- It doesn’t include enough tubing for most setups.
3. AquaMaxx Fr-se GFO Carbon and Biopellet Hang-on Filter Media Reactor
This AquaMaxx reactor is a great multi-purpose filter that’s made for smaller tanks. How much it filters depends on the media.
You can use it with 150 gallons when using GFO, 75 gallons using activated carbon, and up to 50 gallons with BioPellets. Just adjust the flow rate for your media of choice.
The up-flow design keeps the media suspended for maximum contact time and more effective filtration. It comes with a bracket that helps keep the inlet and outlet tubes securely in place for easy positioning and placement.
It’s made of high-quality acrylic that holds up well and can be used with either fresh or saltwater. Although it’s specifically designed to hang on the tank, you can easily install it inside as well.
- This reactor is specially designed for smaller marine and reef tanks.
- The versatile design can be used with your choice of filter media.
- An innovative bracket keeps the inlet and outlet tubes in place so it’s easy to position it in the right place.
- The water pump and tubing are sold separately.
- The instruction manual can be a little confusing.
4. Accel Aquatics Biopellet and Filter Media Reactor
If you’re looking for a reactor that’s designed specifically for bio pellets, take a look at this one from Accel Aquatics. It was made to fluidize bio pellet filter media without using a strong, high-flow water pump.
How does it work? There’s a special flow accelerator inside the reactor that increases turbulence and strong water movement to keep the bio pellets moving. An inverted cone bottom keeps the media from clumping together or settling to the bottom.
You can use this reactor with other filter media, too, including carbon or GFO, just use a water pump that can handle to flow requirements of the filter media you choose.
The inlet can be repositioned so it can be positioned properly in your tank and it includes a holder so you can hang it off your tank if you prefer.
- This reactor is specially designed for bio pellets but can be used with your choice of filter media.
- The special design increases movement and turbulence so you can use a lower power pump without sacrificing results.
- Inside, an inverted conical bottom prevents the media from settling or clumping together.
- The pump and tubing are not included.
5. Innovative Marine Minimax Pro Series Media Reactor
This reactor fits all Innovative Marine Fusion all-in-one aquariums. It has an all-in-one design, too. You can use it with bio pellets, GFO, and carbon filter media and the unique design is simple to use and easy to adjust.
An innovative two-chamber design gives you quick and responsive flow control at the turn of a knob without requiring any ball valves, inlet, or outlet pipes. An internal chamber acts as a removable cartridge that simply slides out and drains water quickly using no tools or screws.
While it’s designed for all-in-one aquariums, you can use it directly in sumps, too. It’s one of the smallest products out there but combines with responsive flow control, low power consumption, and easy maintenance; it’s kind of a big deal.
- The all-in-one design can be used with bio pellets, GFO, and carbon filter media.
- A two-chamber design allows for quiet and easy flow control without any ball-valves or inlet/outlet piping.
- It’s designed to be used in all-in-one aquariums but can also be placed in a sump.
- The flow rate can be difficult to get just right.
6. AquaMaxx Fluidized GFO and Carbon Filter Media Reactor
A reactor that’s designed specifically for use in marine and reef tanks is this one from AquaMaxx. It’s versatile enough to be used with whatever media you choose to clear your tank of pollutants, odors, and discoloration.
The up-flow design keeps the filter media suspended and evenly spread out to ensure long contact time for better results. That’s not all, this reactor can be placed directly in the tank or hung on the outside using a separate adapter so you have the setup that suits your tank best.
These reactors are rigorously tested in saltwater environments to check for quality and reliability. The polished A-class acrylic material is tough and durable and the computer designed, precision-cut construction was built to last.
- This reactor was designed especially for marine and reef tanks.
- It accommodates any filter media you choose.
- The company performs regular quality checks to check for quality, consistency, and reliability.
- The pump and tubing are sold separately.
- This design is a bit pricey.
How to Install Media Reactor?
Installation varies slightly from model to model but there are some basic things that they all have in common.
1. Find a suitable position for the reactor. Some of them can be placed inside and some hang on the back of the tank but you should place it so it’s in a place where you have easy access.
2. Make sure the tubing is attached properly and cable tied in place. Some of these reactors come with tubing, some don’t but it’s a good idea to have extra tubing on hand no matter what to allow for different installation scenarios.
3. Specifically, connect the intake tube to the pump and place the pump in the tank.
4. Then, attach the output tubing to the reactor. If you’re using a sediment filter, place it at the end of the output tubing.
5. Remove the lid and fill with your favorite filter media. It’s very important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for aquarium size, flow rates, and other precautions for each type of media.
6. Place sponges and strainers above and below other media.
7. Put the lid back in place then turn on the pump.
Once your reactor is up and running, performing regular maintenance is important to make sure it keeps running efficiently.
Some maintenance includes:
- Disconnect the power supply then remove the pump from the tank for cleaning.
- Rinse out the sponges and strainers.
- Clean the impeller using water only. Never use soap or detergent.
- Use a small brush to clean inside of the housing for the motor.
- Clean the pump, impeller, and intake once every three or four weeks.
Sometimes, a regular aquarium filter just isn’t enough to keep up with the requirements of your fish tank. If that’s the case, a media reactor is a quick and easy way to make sure the water is clean and balanced.
There are a lot of great options out there whether you’re looking for the best nano media reactor for a nano tank or something that suits your 150-gallon saltwater tank. We hope the information in this guide helps you choose the best one for you.