Do You Need a Calcium Reactor for a Nano Reef Tank?

Reef keeping is a hobby that has some very precise rules to be able to keep your reef alive and happy. There is a lot of information that you will take in when you are learning how to keep a reef. If there is one thing for certain, the maintenance of calcium and alkalinity levels is extremely important for your reef aquarium.

In some cases, you will be fine with using a two-part solution to maintain the proper calcium and alkalinity levels. However, if you have a larger reef collection and aquarium, this kind of solution won’t do the necessary work. There will be a few signs in your aquarium that will tell you when you need to switch from a two-part solution to a calcium reactor.

What is a Calcium Reactor?

A calcium reactor is basically just a container that is pressurized and filled with calcium. CO2 mixes with aquarium water inside the container and creates an acidic pH that works to melt calcium and enrich the water inside your aquarium with calcium and alkalinity. 

There are other parts of a calcium reactor. There is the input water line that supplies water from the aquarium to the calcium reactor. Then, there is the dosing pump which pushes the aquarium water into the calcium reactor. Next, there is the pressurized CO2 cylinder that stores the CO2 for injection to the calcium reactor.

There is also the CO2 regulator that reduces the pressure output from the CO2 cylinder and allows for consistent dosing of the CO2 into the reactor. Next, you have the CO2 gas line that carries the CO2 from the cylinder to the reactor. 

The CO2 check valve works to protect the CO2 regulator and the cylinder from any potential water damage. The pH controller is important because it controls the CO2 output based on the pH level of the water with the use of an electronic solenoid. Finally, there is the output water line that carries the calcium filled water from the reactor to the aquarium.

Signs You Need a Calcium Reactor for Your Nano Tank

As stated before, you will be able to tell when it is time to switch from a two-part solution to a calcium reactor. There are four most common signs that will be able to tell you that it is time to invest in a calcium reactor.

The most common signs that it is time to buy a calcium reactor are your expenses are getting too high from purchasing so much two-part solution, you are forgetting to dose your water, the water parameters are fluctuating too much, and your reef has grown and needs more space.

High Expenses

If you are adding several gallons of two-part solution a month, this will be extremely expensive to keep up with. If you do the math, it will cost you far less money to purchase a calcium reactor instead of constantly buying the two-part solution.

While it will cost a decent amount of money to purchase the calcium reactor, the investment will save you more money in the long run. Maintenance costs of the reactor will still run you less than purchasing a two-part solution every month. Purchasing a reactor will help lower your expenses.

Forgetting to Dose

If you are finding that your tank is so demanding that you are forgetting to dose one or more of the additives you use, you will definitely benefit from a calcium reactor. All of the chemicals that get added to your reef tank are essential. If you forget to dose, it can be detrimental to your reef. 

The water parameters of your reef need to be properly maintained for the health of your reef tanks. Corals react to improper care incredibly quickly, so forgetting a dosage can cause damage after only a couple of days. With a calcium reactor, all you need to do is set your settings and let the reactor do its job.

Fluctuating Water Parameters

If you notice that the water parameters in your nano tank are constantly fluctuating, a calcium reactor can help with stabilization. Stability is crucial for the health of your tank. While two-part solutions can effectively maintain your calcium levels, it can also cause the calcium levels to quickly rise and gradually drop over 24 hours.

This cycle repeats itself every time you dose your tank, causing instability in your waters. A calcium reactor provides a constant and stable calcium supply along with some other essential elements that your tank needs. This will provide your reef with an ocean-like environment that they will thrive in.

Corals Need More Space

Corals will grow and sometimes they will need to be moved to a larger tank. If you notice that your corals are starting to be too big for the tank that they are in and need a bigger tank, the move would be the perfect time to integrate a calcium reactor. 

When the calcium needs of your new tank increase as the corals grow, you can easily adjust the settings of the calcium reactor to meet the needs of the tank. This will ensure that your corals have everything they need to have a healthy and happy life.


If you are having a hard time keeping up with the needs of your reef aquarium and its water parameters, you don’t have to give up. Using a calcium reactor is by far the easiest and most stable way to take care of your nano reef. It is not necessary to use a calcium reactor, but it can make your hobby a lot easier and less expensive.

While the upfront costs of a calcium reactor are quite pricey, you will save money in the long run. You won’t need to constantly buy a two-part solution every month, and the maintenance cost of a calcium reactor is cheaper than the solution. 

You also won’t need to worry about missing a dosage of chemicals for your aquarium. A calcium reactor consistently feeds your aquarium the proper amount of calcium, alkalinity, and other essential elements that your aquarium reef needs to stay healthy.

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