Mr. Saltwater Tank TV Friday AM Quick Tip #127: When Cleaning A Media Reactor, Clean This Part Too


I love media reactors on saltwater tanks. They can help lower phosphates which helps keep algae in check, and they can polish your tank’s water to really make it sparkle. Just like everything else on your saltwater tank, media reactors needing cleaning. Just don’t overlook the one part of the media reactor that can get really dirty.

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Comments for this article (25)

  • John says:

    Thank you for telling us. I was thinking it was only the filters in the media reactors holding the flow back. I have hose cleaner that hooked to fishing line I put that in the tubes to clean them out.

  • Jeff Hesketh says:

    Great tip Jesse. Mark… Late night buddy?

  • Dave says:

    The. Nice thing a out using the white tubing is you can put a light to it to see how much junk is in there. Vs colored tubing

  • David says:

    Hi mark, Why not just use CLEAR tube so you can SEE inside? Now that’s a tip. have a good weekend folks.

  • Steve says:

    Mark, you did look a bit tore up today! We’re you “vodka dosing” at the local tavern last night? Lmbo

  • Merne says:

    David: clear tubes let light through. Light + nutrients = algae!

  • JasPR says:

    Mark, you are one helpful dude! 🙂 I honestly think that of all the natural biological practices that occur in our closed systems, the management of organic build up is THE last unconquered frontier. As you know, nature abhors a vacuum and NO surface will remain clean ( let alone remotely ‘sterile’) for any period of time once it is introduced to water and oxygen. And biofilm itself puts offs bacterial rafts and detritus 24X7. So in the end EVERYTHING gets ‘dirty’ or at least hosts some form of film, life or detritus. The trick I think, viewing this from 10,000 feet, is to try and substitute good things where otherwise bad things would accumulate or grow. So aerobic over anaerobic species, hard algae over slime, string or species of red. And clean surfaces where we want no biological proliferation. Techniques to rinse, clean, disrupt or favor/discourage living forms is the name of the game. Kudos on providing us with yet another technique in the managing of eutrophication in our systems. JasPR

  • Matt says:

    Grubby pipe plus pressure washer or high pressure air (water gives a better clean but 10bar of air (filtered to remove oil!) gets the stubborn stuff out) and a slightly undersized ball bearing… works every time… 🙂

    A bit of clear pipe somewhere in the middle of the thicker opaque white/grey stuff covered so the light doesn’t penetrate makes a great viewing window on the condition of any pipe… easily replaceable at any time if you’re crafty about the fitting… 😉

  • David…as Merne said, clear tubing can grow algae inside of it if it gets any light – i.e. from a window or a fuge light. You could certainly just clean the clear tubing and I’ve found clear tubing with access to light will clog with algae about every month. That means cleaning it gets really old!

  • JasPR says:

    I used to think that detritus would be mechanically trapped from passing water and built in bottle necks within a system. Most of us see it that way– and have spend fortunes and lots of brain power trying to physically block and defeat the accumulation process. That image can certainly be true.
    Still, a certain percentage of accumulation can not be ‘blocked’ from entering as it is created from within! For those interested in this process of biofilm proliferation and mineralization/detritus attraction and eutrophication- try and find an old copy of Stephen Spotte’s book entitled Fish and Invertebrate culture: water management in Closed systems. It is an excellent primer on the true nature of marine systems and really holds up in the area of biology even though it was written in 1979 ( nature has not changed its biochemical processes in millennium and knows nothing of the internet!). Text books are still better than forum learning which is mostly hearsay or observations of beginners talking to other innocents about their personal experiences. For what its worth– JasPR

    * good marine aquarium management based on good judgement comes from experience, and that experience comes from making a lot of bad judgements – 🙂 Marine keeping is rewarding and frustrating!

  • JasPR says:

    Sorry if that last one was a bit ‘preachy’ just trying to stimulate conversation. JasPR

  • Tom Hanson says:

    Mark, that has to be the best quick tip to date. I have a BRS media reactor and the flow is horrible coming out. Never thought to do this, just thought my media was clogged. I can’t wait to clean it and see how much crap comes out!

  • Jeff Grimm says:

    A lot of times your media gets back siphoned into the down pipe of the media reactor so in addition to checking the lines also make sure the down pipe is clear of obstructions when cleaning or changing media.

  • Tom Hanson..thanks and I’m glad you like it!

  • Jeff Grimm…I’ve found the back siphoning to be an issue with reactors that don’t use a cartridge or have foam pads to stop the media from exiting the reactor.

  • Beetle Bailey says:

    Some thing so simple yet so easy to over look, 10 points to Jesse for this one !

  • Pam says:

    I read all your tips great job thank you! This is of topic but
    I really would like your advice. I am getting ready to set up
    A 240 gal tank 72L by 24W by 31D I would like to go with LEDs
    Or radions. But everyone tells me that they will not put out enough
    Light. What would you suggest and how many will I need ?
    Any help would be appreciated thank you

  • Pam…check your email.

  • Lam Ma says:

    Mark, on your stand. What is the thickness of the metal pipes that they use to make the stand. Thanks.

  • Josh says:

    Mark,
    I also have a BRS dual media reactor each time I change my media I can’t make a week with out loss of flow. I know my media can’t be flogged after a week. What do you suggest to help out with this?

  • P.Bouic says:

    If it will help anyone I have a large hang-on filter that I use for housing several types of water purifiers such as purigen & carbon etc, with a sponge on top so I don’t any sediments on the walls of the supply line on my media reactor I simply have run 2x 90 bends in the line that syphon from the top of the hang-on. The water then feeds the media reactor is cleaned before it reaches it and it eliminates the risk of back syphoning because the inlet is up higher than the top water level of the tank. The flow to my reactor has never slowed in the 4 months since I did this.

  • JasPR says:

    one trick I learned a long time ago for ‘protecting’ closed reactors, bio-chambers and closed canisters is to place them inline ( I have used return pumps with a tee, in the past) AFTER the UV and protein skimmer. Raw water fed to the reactor is just that– raw– filled with DOC and partially broken protein chains as well as carbohydrates and fatty acid chains. By using a unique circuit dedicated to organic free water you minimize the amount of accumulation potential.
    In most cases, the protein skimmer ( FF) will take out algae cells, free floating bacteria rafts, ‘wolf pack’ free swimming bacteria and DOCs and avoid trapping them in media such as carbon, resins etc. The UV kills those algae cells ( and little else by the way) and the protein skimmer them skims them out saying your system from a lot of decay.
    JasPR

  • Kyle says:

    I wanted to know how you seem to keep all of your fish getting along! I have had alot of the same fish that I currently see in your tank, and in my experience they have fought constantly. I have tried many different techniques in my 150 gallon before just removing the problem, and yet cannot seem to keep anymore than eight fish together happily. Any thoughts?

  • Lam Ma…I don’t know the gauge of the pipes.

  • skrosser says:

    I have a mixed reef some soft and sps coral. I have been running an Aquaripure biological filter for just under a year (8-22-12) . This is a anaerobic nitrate filter feed by vodka 1 time /day. It is a large canister so no vodka goes into the tank. It works well nitrates in the tank are near 0 . I have done only a few water changes and do I run a skimmer since I put the Aquaripure in the system. I was under the impression that I had a complete nitrogen cycle and no longer needed to worry about the H2O changes or skimming. However this week Cyano made an appearance along with some turf algae . Given the system I am running can you use Dr Tims products to clear the excess nutrients without effecting the nitrate filter ? Can you successfully use those products without a skimmer ? If so how much water change would you have to do to get the nutrient down and how many cycles of your treatment would be needed. I also run GFO phosphates are close to 0. All the SPS corrals are healthy and growing. Thanks for your time,

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