Intentionally injecting fine bubbles into a reef tank is a highly questionable endeavor, but one current craze I can totally get behind is the huge wave of DIY Chaetomorpha reactors reefers are building to lower nutrients in their reef tanks.
Unlike the purported ‘effects’ of irritating all your corals with tiny bubbles, the nutrient exporting and pH raising effects of having live Chaetomorpha in your reef tank is incontestable.Saltwater aquarists have been using live micro and macroalgaes as turf scrubbers in some form or another since the dawn of modern reefkeeping, and the wiry Chaetomorpha has been the favorite macroalgae of choice for many decades.
While we’ve been stuffing Chaeto/Keeto/Cheeto in just about every lighted corners of our sumps and refugiums since the beginning of time, oddly it was the professionally built and super hot rod ARID Reactor by Pax Bellum which really kicked off the current craze. This fancy pants Chaeto reactor features a totally patent-worthy LED lighting tube which actively wicks heat out of the reactor itself, and it’s great for large mission-critical reef tanks, but the price is anything but wallet friendly.
Naturally, the reef aquarium community is firmly rooted in DIY culture and it seems like everyone and their brother has gotten the memo to build a concentrated Chaeto reactor of their own. One of the reasons for this huge movement is that so many reactors have been sold for aggressive chemical media filtration that just about every reefer has one or more laying around.
Combine that with the low cost and easily mounted flexible LED strips, and you’ve got a recipe for a metric poop-ton of DIY Chaeto reactors springing up in all corners of the reefing world. The reduction in nutrients, higher pH, and especially the piles of harvested chaetomorpha are hard tangible proof that this is a worthwhile technique to employ on a reef tank. I still prefer the look of a big spinning planet of Chaetomorpha but obviously, tightly packed cylinders are the more practical option for most reef aquarists.
There’s so many DIY Chaeto Reactors going around I kinda feel left out even though my current reef doesn’t really have high nutrients, but I’m thinking about adding one anyway just so the corals can be fed more and more frequently. Below I’ve collected a selection of various DIY Chaetomorpha reactor designs from around the web, and it’s neat to see the small differences employed by their respective creators.