Calcium Reactor or Balling method for reef tank? How to balance Ca Mg dKh

Calcium Reactor or Balling method for reef tank? How to balance Ca Mg dKh

Principal methods for manage Ca Mg and dKh triad values are two; “Calcium Reactor” and “Balling method”.



The principle of its operation is simple: dissolve coral material by controlled lowering of pH, to make available calcium Ca 2+, Mg 2+ and magnesium carbonate HCO3- and CO32. Calcium reactor is composed by cylinder loaded with coral sand in which circulate the water full of CO2. The water is drawn from the aquarium and pumped in to the reactor where it will be acidified by CO2. Bringing the pH to about 6.5 coral sand in the reactor will melt and will enrich the water of Calcium, Magnesium and Carbonate. It’s return then in the aquarium through a faucet to adjust the flow according to the needs of the aquarium.

The adjustment of a reactor is performed both on the injected CO2 with the help of a bubble counter, both on flow to determine the amount of enriched water which will be reversed in the tank. Calcium reactor is a tool that keeps the same chemical values in the tank, without correcting the errors if they are unbalanced, so before activating the rector you will have to worry about bringing the triad Ca Mg Kh to optimal values. Remember olso that you must to integrate magnesium with Mg granules in to the Cylinder.

To use the calcium reactor you will need:

– Calcium reactor;

– Pressure reducer;

– CO2 cylinder, bubble counter, non-return valve;

– Material For the reactor, aragonite, calcium carbonate, coral, magnesium granules.

– Electronic selenoid valve and PHmeter.

Pros and cons:

High initial investment for the purchase of the reactor, the co2 cylinder and the pressure reducer. But not expensive the management, considering that the purchase of the coral and charging of CO2 have an extremely modest cost, about 50 € per year, for a 100 liters tank.

The operation of a calcium reactor requires an initial technical learning and skill but once you understand and calibrated become independent for many months. Often, the achievement of the correct setting is difficult, it takes several attempts and testing to arrive at an optimal situation.


ImmsdsadsaagineIt is based on the principle of self-insert 3 liquid products previously prepared, to maintain KH, Calcium and Magnesium values in the desired levels. Those three products can be entered manually in the tank but generally is better using dosing pumps thatadminister the correct introduction of solutions. We should then monitor the values and adjust the dosages according to consumption that we verify in the tank.

Preparation solutions in tanks:

  • Calcium: dissolve the CALCIUM CHLORIDE DIHYDRATE in reverse osmosis water, or use ready product.
  • KH: the carbonate hardness using the carbonate and sodium bicarbonate in osmosis water, be sure to bring completely saturated solutions and to use only the liquid part.


To employ the method Balling you need:

– Automatic dosing -Pompe.

– Ca, Mg Kh salts for solutions.

– Libra and PHmeter.

– Tank or cylinders to conserve our prepared solutions.

Pros and cons:

this method unlike the calcium reactor does not alter the pH in the aquarium so you dont care to have low pH and then re-integrate the carbonates (Kh). Using pure materials there is the problem of adding phosphates to the aquarium, another negative characteristic of the calcium reactor instead continuously injects phosphates in the aquarium but not with this method. Contraindications maybe is the considerable purchasing of materials and their costs, which makes the method uneconomical and difficult. In large aquariums with lots of SPS corals you can also get to spend 250,300 euro the year.