Four Best Phosphate Media Reactors for Reef Tanks

Media reactors provide advanced chemical filtration. They are of particular importance for reef tanks. These accessories help keep reef tank water quality stable. Below are four of the top reactors available today.

Two Little Fishies opened in 1991. The company designs reef tank accessories and guide books. They sell three different reactors to support aquariums of all sizes. 

Specifications

Two Little Fishies produce this acrylic reactor. Moderately priced, this product work for tanks up to 150gal. Users can add multiple units for larger tank sizes. This reactor measures 14” tall and 3.5” in diameter. Please note this unit does not come with a pump or hoses. Two Little Fishies recommend a flow rate of 20 to 30 gallons per hour (gph). Anything over this may grind your PhosBan. A pump that has a higher gph works as well. This unit has a knob for easy flow control. The intake and output hose connectors bend at a 90° angle. These pieces rotate as well. Thus, users can turn each connector for the best installation fit. The fittings work with ½” hoses.

Design

Two Little Fishies designed this reactor with up flow in mind. Up flow provides users with efficient filtration. This principle pushes water from the bottom up. This results in an even distribution of water through the media. Furthermore, it prevents water channeling. Users have complained about the screw top. Aside from the hose connectors, there is no easy way to grip the top. Grabbing these pieces can result in breaking the hose connectors. Users have had issues with the O-ring as well. It does not line up inside the tube well. Tightening without this piece can cause cracks in the acrylic reactor tube. Ill-fitting O-rings can also cause leaking. This unit does come with a warranty. Customer service is responsive and quick to resolve issues.

Media

This reactor will hold up to 200g of PhosBan. If using another media, it can handle up to 5” worth. This reactor is purigen and bio pellet compatible. There are two sponges included with your purchase. Most users have stated these sponges provide course filtration. If using fine media, this may cause clogs within the sponges. Thus, sponges used for purigen filtration may need more work. Please clean these pieces regularly. Two Little Fishies makes a separate Kalkwasser reactor if needed.

PROS

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    Easy flow control allows for the use of any size pump
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    Works with many types of filter media
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    Large size for ample filtration media
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    Pieces are under warranty
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    Good customer service responds to issues quickly

CONS

  • This does not include the hoses or pump
  • Hard to open top can result in breaks
  • Ill-fitting O-Rings can lead to leaks.
  • Sponges are for course filtration

AQUATOP has over 35 years of experience with reef tanks. It sells two versions of their media reactor. The variations support different sized tanks. They market several media filter for use with their reactors as well. 

Specifications

The AQUATOP reactor is an all-in-one unit. The product comes with a submersible pump. It includes a sediment discharge basket and necessary hoses as well. The acrylic reactor rube measures 15” tall and 2.4” in diameter. This product supports 50 to 75gal tanks. Installation is easy; it works with sump or tank fittings. Two attachment pieces come with the reactor. A hook for the top and suction cup holster at the bottom secure this device. Wallet friendly, this reactor is relatively inexpensive.

Design

As with the Two Little Fishies product, this reactor utilizes up flow. Unlike the previous reactor, this unit comes with an easy to remove lid. A recessed O-ring makes this possible. The included SWP-230 pump provides quiet filtration. Furthermore, it allows users to adjust flow rates. However, some owners felt this pump did not provide enough power. They note issues primarily with bio pellet use. While this unit comes with hoses, users also stated they are very snug. Several had breaks in the intake and output fittings. This occurred while struggling to attach the hoses.

Media

AQUATOP claims this reactor will work with most filter media. The included sponges work with all kinds of filter materials. This includes phosphate and nitrate resins and sponges. Activated carbon and other resin filter media will also work.

PROS

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    This all-in-one product includes everything except the filter media.
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    Easy to set up
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    This low-cost product is budget friendly.

CONS

  • The included pump does not provide enough power for bio pellets
  • The snug-fitting hoses may cause breaks when connecting to the unit

Innovative Marine designed this reactor for nano-tank use. (Please note this product comes in three sizes.) This product provides innovative technology for tank owners. The unique design makes it an attractive option.

Specifications

This all-in-one unit is very compact. Unlike other reactors, the pump connects straight to the bottom of this. The reactor tube is a cell-cast acrylic. This product is the smallest listed in this article. The nano-specific model runs 12” tall by 2.2” in diameter.  The pump attachment is slightly larger at 2.3” wide. As a complete unit, this reactor works instantly.

Design

Set up takes seconds with this reactor. This product utilizes up flow. By attaching the pump to the tube, many standard issues disappear. Attachments, like tubing, pipes, valves and screws, become needless. This creates a less clutters support system. Because of this, it reduces the overall footprint. The condensed unit can go in the tank or sump. Discreet and minimal, this reactor requires very little power to work.

Innovative Marine built easy maintenance into the design. This reactor has dual chambers. This chamber acts as a removable cartridge as well as flow control. (Please note that the flow dial does not have markings.) The self-draining piece slides in and out easily. Tools are not required to remove this chamber. Thus, cleaning and reloading becomes extremely fast. Amazon customers have complained about receiving damaged units. They also report that the company’s customer service responds quickly. Most exchanges are fast and hassle-free. Typically, replacement parts arrive within days.

Media

This reactor allows owners to add up to two media. Multiple choices allow for more options than competitors do. This reactor is bio pellet, GFO and carbon compatible.

PROS

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    The multiple media choices expand usability
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    This products works instantly.
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    The small profile is ideal for discreet set ups
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    Flow is easily adjustable
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    The internal chamber makes cleaning fast
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    Low power consumption is budget friendly
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    Users state customer service responds superbly

CONS

  • This reactor is expensive
  • The dial does not have flow markings

Reef Octopus is an Australian company. Relatively new, the company opened in 2006. It creates innovative, modern tank equipment with hints of color. All products primarily provide support for reef aquariums.

Specifications

Another all-in-one unit, Reef Octopus provides everything needed. This includes the reactor, pump, hoses and fittings. The reactor measures 15” tall and 2.5” in diameter. Cell-cast acrylic means the reactor tube will never rust. It is crack-resistant as well. Reef Octopus claims it provides filtration for tanks up to 150gal. However, several users believe the pump cannot handle this. Many complained the pump provides too little power for a tank this size. They recommend this for use with much smaller aquariums. Other size reactors are available from Reef Octopus. The company provides a 1-year warranty for the pump and reactor tube.

Design

The Reef Octopus reactor is tank and sump friendly. The fittings allow it to fit over rims up to 1” thick. The included tubing is bright green. Some users may prefer to replace this with clear tubes. Also of note, the pump is not adjustable.

Media

Reef Octopus designed this reactor for use with Bio Sphere media. However, it is ideal for activated carbon. GAC and GFO filter media work too. Some users have noted problems with purigen. The max flow for this unit (95gph) may grind some media.

PROS

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    “All-in-one” means owners just need to add media
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    Set up is easy.

CONS

  • This unit is relatively expensive
  • The pump is not adjustable.
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    This may not work with purigen

Final Thoughts

For healthy reef aquariums, maintaining water quality is vital. Fluctuations can result in the death of your tank inhabitants. A reactor provides added filtration to help maintain your tank. Reactors are available for all tanks sizes. All-in-one units help owners set up filters with little additional needs. For new tank owners, this can help prevent purchasing mismatched pieces.

A note on cost: all-in-one units cost more up front. However, it can save you money in the end. A reactor alone may appear more affordable. Buying the required pump and tubing increase that cost.

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