ARID E18 review

Maxx

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This is a lengthy post. For those of you with ADD who will get distracted by squirrels and small shiny objects here ya go:

ARID E 18 pulled phosphates in my system from 0.08 ppm down to 0.00 in 11 days. No water changes, no phosban, no change in anything other than adding the ARID E 18.

Want more details?
Keep reading.

I?ve had phosphate issues with my tank for as long as I could remember.
It?s been so long that I honestly assumed that it was just something that SPS keepers just had to find a way to handle.

But I was never really able to get my phosphates under control.

When I say phosphate issues, I mean like doing 50 gallon water changes a week on a 250 gallon system while running GFO (half full normal sized/smaller Phosban Reactor) and changing out the GFO once a month was able to keep it down to 0.05 ppm.

I didn?t feed Nori because of the phosphate it added to the system. I didn?t feed any dried or prepared foods because of the phosphate preservatives they contained.

I soaked all frozen foods in RODi water for 30 minutes to thaw it and pull phosphate preservatives/binders from it, strained it through a brine shrimp net, and then dumped the water down the drain. The strained food was then squeezed out while it was in the brine shrimp net to remove all available water from it. The food was then fed to the tank.

My tank is and always has been bare bottom so that I could keep a handle on detritus build up.

I?d been running a bio pellet reactor for the past 3 years?didn?t do anything. Seriously.
The pellets tumbled, I saw no change in my system. I?ve still got the original pellets sitting in the reactor from when I first set it up 3 years ago.

I would try and run a refugium and had no luck?..I either didn?t get enough flow through it or I wasn?t able to keep the chaeto rolling so that it didn?t brown out on the bottom. I tried using Caulerpa racemosa and never really got good results either. I was also always concerned about it going asexual.

I tried lanthanum chloride with minimal results?sure phosphate was temporarily lowered, but washing filter socks every two days and scraping the annoying white film off the glass from the LC got to be ridiculous.

After eliminating every other variable in my system, I was able to pretty much able to narrow down the source of phosphates to my rock. I had purchased Pukani rock as live rock waaaaay back in 1993 when it was the hot new thing.
 

Maxx

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Manhattan Reefs
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Between the constant high phosphate levels and a heater failure which killed off all SPS and bleached out my anemones, (two H.magnifica anemones I?ve had since Mar 06 and Nov 2010 respectively), I was very close to calling it quits in the hobby.

I figured I?d give it one more shot and see if I could change things around and make this hobby fun for me again.

To that end, I decided to downsize and reboot.

My system was approximately 250 gallons consisting of a 120 gallon display, a 58 gallon display, a 40 breeder frag tank, all plumbed into a 75 gallon tank used as a common/shared sump containing about 50 gallons.

I drained and cleaned out the 120, leaving the 58 and the 40 breeder plumbed into the sump. All remaining livestock was moved over to those two tanks, (anemone?s, clowns, and some ridiculously hardy LPS and a Derasa clam), while I got things going again.

Old Pukani rock was removed from the system, and new base rock was procured from BRS and Marco Rocks.

But what to do to ensure I had no additional problems with phosphate?

I stumbled on JBNY?s post about his rebuild where he mentioned an ARID C30 reactor from Pax-Bellum. JBNY seemed very happy with his C30 and stated it was working on his 270 gallon tank. I?m not a person to geek out about fellow reefers, but JBNY is someone who I very much respect and has been around for awhile. I?ve followed his build from the get go, and remember when he had his old set up as well. Most importantly, I?ve seen that JBNY isn?t one to endorse something unless he feels it works for him and he?s also not afraid to state if he doesn?t like something. For you newbies to the reef keeping world, JBNY is the one who went waaaaaaaay out of his way to test various metal halide bulb and ballast combinations to determine PAR ratings and how each bulb ballast combination worked out together and most importantly, he documented and photographed his whole process. This was something that helped A LOT of people out when choosing bulb/ballast combinations and how they looked.

Google cnidarian reef for his work and his previous 180 gallon tank.
 

Maxx

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Manhattan Reefs
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So JBNY stating he was happy with this C30 and that he thought it was worth while was something of interest to me.

I did some digging and found very little about the ARID reactors, or Pax-Bellum outside of Manhattan Reefs.

The concept is nutrient export via algae. It?s not an algae scrubber, but it?s somewhat similar. Basically you use macro algae to out compete nuisance algae in your system, stripping the water of phosphate and nitrates. This is not designed as a refugium per se with regard to being a pod farm?.this is simply for nutrient export.

ARID stands for Algae Remediation Illuminated Device. E is for enhanced and 18 refers to the size of the reactor.

To dumb it down, it?s a lighted tube that you run water through and grow algae in. Once every week or two, you remove some of the algae and either throw it in the trash or give it to someone else. This is how you export the nutrients. Simple right?

It?s lit by LED?s which run though a central tube down the middle of the reactor. There are two chambers in the reactor, separated by acrylic strainers which allow water to flow through from the bottom up to the top, and back into your tank.

Seemed cool enough, but how about the longevity of this ARID thingy?

Turns out they?ve had one running continuously since 2007. They have video?s to prove it.


Does it get hot or heat up my tank?
No. The heat sinks for the LED?s are outside of the reactor and don?t come in contact with water at all. In fact, the lights themselves don?t come in contact with the water at all. They fit inside a hollow central ?spindle? that the algae is wrapped around for growth.

Does it use a lot of electricity?
According to Tristan from Pax-Bellum using an E18 with a Maxi-Jet 900 pulls about 36 watts?thirty six watts. A LOT less than I would be using running a normal refugium or an algae scrubber.

Can you only grow chaeto in it?
No, you can grow other algae in it as well. Chaeto just grows fastest which is nice for nutrient export since that?s the whole purpose of the ARID reactor.

Using it on a reverse lighting cycle will also stabilize your tank?s pH. It is recommended that it not run for more than 18 hours, in order to get maximum algae growth.
 

Maxx

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Manhattan Reefs
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I contacted Tristan via email and phone and spoke with him several times regarding the ARID.

Tristan heard me out and wanted to know if I planned on running a skimmer or going skimmer less. According to Tristan, if using a properly sized ARID reactor, a skimmer was not necessary. I?ve been in the hobby for along time and I?ve seen many fads come and go. I?m too entrenched (or brain washed if you prefer), in having a nice big skimmer for my system, (Super Octopus 5000 internal) to give it up all willy nilly.

Tristan laughed and heard me out. Based on our conversations, he recommended I get an E18 for my set up. Had I chosen to go skimmer less, Tristan suggested going with an E24 instead.

I went with the E18.

Two weeks later, it arrived in the mail.
A week after that, I was able to obtain some chaeto for it.

I set the ARID E18 reactor up on April 17th 2015. I took the GFO reactor off line as well.
The reactor is being fed by a Maxi-Jet 900 from my sump.

I took water to the LFS to get tested using their Hanna HI93713 low phosphate meter.

No3 was too low to measure using their Salifert kit.
Po4 was measured at 0.08 ppm.

First week of the ARID running, I wasn?t sure I saw any algae growth. Chaeto didn?t look like it was doing anything.

I asked JBNY how long it took his C30 to start doing anything. He stated it took about a week. Oddly enough, the next day, I saw some growth in the Chaeto.

On 04-23-2015 chaeto growth was observed in the reactor. ARID reactor had been running for 5 days at that point.

On 04-24-2015, I took another water sample to the LFS for testing using the same Hanna HI93713 meter.

No3 was again too low to measure
Po4 was measured at 0.03 ppm.

5 days of running the ARID E 18 and I now had phosphate levels I struggled to reach using massive regular water changes and GFO.
 

Maxx

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Manhattan Reefs
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Chaeto growth was very visible as it was filling in the reactor. The nice thing about the LED?s being in the center of the reactor is that it?s basically backlit so you can clearly see algae growth.

Today, (04-28-2015) I took another water sample to the LFS for testing.

No3 once again too low to measure.
Po4 was measured at 0.00

Yes, zero point zero zero.

11 days of running the ARID E18 and my Po4 levels were undetectable?????

I also brought chaeto to the LFS so they could sell it?got $10 store credit for it.

Low phosphates, better looking more stable aquarium, and store credit to boot!

Algae growth in the 58 and 40 breeder is minimal at best. I havent scraped the glass in over a week. Ordinarily that would mean I had a fairly heavy film of algae on the glass.

Not now.

Tristan states that the ARID reactors are so good at pulling phosphates and nitrates from your reef that you actually need to dose nitrates to maintain a healthy reef. They include a 6 month supply of iron supplements and nitrates to dose with the reactor.

I havent dosed anything yet, because I honestly didn?t think it would work this rapidly.
That changes tomorrow.

Bottom line, I?ve had the ARID E18 reactor from Pax-Bellum up and running for 11 days, and it?s worked amazingly. Better than I actually could have hoped in all honesty.

I don?t work for Pax-Bellum and couldn?t pick Tristan out of a lineup if my life depended on it.

But this thing works and has made a huge impression on me. Other reefer?s may not need the ARID Reactor, or may find other ways to accomplish the same thing. I can tell you that I?m very impressed with the ARID reactors. It does everything I wanted it to do and it does it in a rather compact package (compared to a refugium).
 

Maxx

Housemonkey
Manhattan Reefs
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Here are some pictures of the ARID E18:

Body of the reactor. It?s actually clear acrylic that has been wrapped with a flexible soft Styrofoam cover to keep light from seeping out. It still seeps out, but it dims it significantly. It also protects the reactor body from dings, scratches etc?



Innards of the reactor?pretty much a spindle with two ?screens? separating the algae chambers.





LED light assembly ?.These go inside the ?spindle?. You can see the heat sinks on top of the assembly. The heat sinks get hot to the touch. According to Pax-Bellum, these produce about 181 PAR on the E18. The LED?s are wrapped around the pole so there is 360 degree lighting.



Once every week or two, Tristan recommends shutting down the reactor, removing about 1/3 or so of the chaeto and disposing of it, and restarting the reactor. Since my chaeto had more than doubled in 11 days, I decided to go ahead and remove some. Here are pictures of the chaeto ?chambers? being loaded:

Bottom chamber



Top chamber




Top reinstalled and thumbscrews tightened down?reactor is almost ready to go:



Inserting light assembly into the reactor:



I ordered the quick disconnects with my reactor. They make disassembly and reassembly of the reactor much easier.

The only other option is a calcium reactor input so that you can feed your reactor effluent directly into the ARID reactor. JBNY?s C30 has this option and according to Tristan, it does cause back pressure so that a larger more powerful feed pump is needed if you order the calcium reactor input for the ARID reactor. I decided to go without it.

I?m only running Kalk right now, so I don?t really need it, but when I get my calcium reactor running again, I?ll see if that has an effect.

This is a fairly new piece of equipment and according to Tristan, mine is the first one in Missouri.

I?m not normally a fan of being an early adopter of something, I dislike being a beta tester for products I have to pay for. If it?s free, I?ll happily test some piece of equipment out?
But I paid for this, (not a free sample or a prize that I won) and as I stated earlier, Pax-Bellum has a proto-type of this reactor which has been running since 2007.?.so the kinks are pretty much worked out of this thing. From what I?ve seen, this was pretty simple to get running and working.

Unpack. Install algae. Plug in tubing and feed pump. Set light timer. Let it do its thing.

Once a week or two, unplug, disassemble, remove algae and dispose of 1/3 - ? of it. Reassemble, plug back in. Repeat as necessary.

Assuming this gets any replies or I get the impression that anyone besides me is reading this I?ll continue to post updates to this thread.
 

pecan2phat

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Manhattan Reefs
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Hi Maxx,

Nice review and yes, we would like periodic updates :)
I'm also getting ready to setup my ARID purchase soon, hoping for the same success that your experiencing.
 

pecan2phat

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I'm starting one reactor on a system with N03 @ 50ppm and P04 @ .53ppm so almost at the perfect ratio without adding any additives.
The other reactor is going on a system with N03 @ 5ppm and P04 @ 1.53ppm so I need to start dosing the nitrate/molybdenum additive to bring up the N03.
If the reactors work well, system one should show faster results.
 

pecan2phat

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Thanks for the detailed review. I've been thinking about one of these for a 120g for some time now but haven't decided as yet.
I think Joe @ Atlantis is having eight C30 reactors installed, you can probably get the former club president to give you a private tour :)
 

oh207

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I think Joe @ Atlantis is having eight C30 reactors installed, you can probably get the former club president to give you a private tour :)
Thanks for the heads up.
I got a chance to see the original design working at Pratt Institute. Its running on a tank that has an undersized skimmer and the tank looks amazing!
 

cmantis

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Ive got two of them running and as soon as I catch up on bills getting a third. Its cool to see my coozie idea in action (time to bug the boyz yo get mine).

Btw Tristans easy to pick from a line up - hes the guilty one!
 

slowsoaks

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I was curious for those that have been running one for several months or longer, what nitrate level are do you have and are you dosing? I have been having some issues with dialing the reactor in. I have had several batches of chaeto become brittle with little to no growth. My phosphate is at .15ppm and nitrate is about 20, I have color differentiation issues with my nitrate kit. I have had several nusiance algae blooms, the lastest being bubble algae and have not had the best luck with corals lately.
 

slowsoaks

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I have the PB18 on a 30 gallon. I have had it running for close to a year. I pick one up at the first frag swap that pax bellum was at. I as thinking a different type of algae. I have been in touch with Tristan but I was curious when people were adding the nitrate solution how much they were adding per week.
 
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