REACTORS- Filtration for stingrays


MFK Member
Apr 17, 2008
So what is the difference between k1 etc and bio balls? Does the k1 and others have more surface area because they are porous?
I got a new large canister from aquatraders and the bio balls inside of it tumble and crash around. I wonder if i could add an airstone or powerhead w/ airline shooting bubbles in towards the bottom of the canister to help agitate the bio balls even more. WOuldnt this be considered a reactor as well?


Silver Tier VIP
MFK Member
Apr 23, 2007
Chesterfield MI
My reactor is exactly the same as silent bobs.

TI it sounds like your design was flawed. Ive had the same airstones for years now and they still work as good as the day they were new. The whole point of a reactor is the air feed....

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Bronze Tier VIP
MFK Member
Apr 4, 2007
My biggest question is how much media if I set up a 50g reactor. I know it is based on feeding and stocking but a general idea. Would much rather overkill. Been wanting to do it for 2yrs but am a bit of a procrastinator.


MFK Member
May 13, 2012
So, should the reactor go before the sump or after? Does it really matter?

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DB junkie

Gold Tier VIP
MFK Member
Jan 27, 2007
Aquatic eco system sells turn key units. This is what I started with. Just crunched their numbers for a starting point.

This whole cheap media stuff blows my mind. Why the hell would you keep rays and skimp on the stuff that is the backbone for their life support? I'm too cheap to buy fancy filters like bead filters but there is one thing that I will NOT skimp on and that is media.

I wouldn't use anything but K1/K3. They designed it and I'm guessing pattents don't alow for cheap imitations. BUT the K1/K3 is only most of the reactor, the other part is the chips that most people ignore, or just look past cause it costs too much. I haven't seen cheap knockoff chips and wouldn't be suprised if there's some out there, but I think overlooking this stuff is a mistake.

Cheap airstones don't perform like good ones. No different then the media we are discussing.

There's also a huge difference in opinion on how much flow to run through reactors. Manufacturers say low flow, slow rate, long dwell time. The people keeping fish utilizing these methods of filtration run higher flowrates under the idea that more tumbling can't hurt.

The whole concept of a reactor is to remove the less efficient bio bacteria. Life expectancy of bio is short. Once past it's "prime" it's less efficient then younger bio. A reactor tumbles media knocking off the old less efficient bio making room for younger more efficient bio. So instead of keeping a sump full of old tired bio that you hope is even still alive, you keep a sump full of spartans. Strong, efficient, and in thier prime. Everything else lays on the bottom till you crack the valve, then it's gone.

That being said if you understand the concept it's pretty easy to see that "more" surface area (like we are used to seeing as a good thing) really doeesn't mean better performance.

Seems reactors shape seems to play a part in media needed...... All you can do is experiment. Like I said, I just used Aquatic eco as a starting point, then tweek it from there. :)
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Giant Snakehead
MFK Member
Sep 19, 2005
London UK
To me K1 or K3 is pointless. Less square footage then other media out there. Also costs more then other media that do the same exact thing.
Now I am jealous at all the people who get to look at moving things.
You want to go a cheaper route and produce the same results? Check into Stoney Creek Fisheries for media similar to the UltimaII.
I have no need to look at moving media i look at my fish if i liked the moving media i would just get a snow glo and save time and money

the other bad thing with k1 and k3 is the dam stuff floats which makes it very hard to contain you have a strong chance that some k1 will get into your pumps and blow into the tank
k3 is a bit more simple to contain but its bigger and if that gets into your pumps they will stop

i have a bit of k3 stuck in one of my return pipes hard pipe which i cant get out and it has slowed the flow right down

sand is much better as it sinks so the pump pushes it to the top then it free falls back down
sand has been used for years in pool filters why because it has the largest surface area


MFK Member
Oct 13, 2005
My biggest question is how much media if I set up a 50g reactor. I know it is based on feeding and stocking but a general idea. Would much rather overkill. Been wanting to do it for 2yrs but am a bit of a procrastinator.
As you said its based on feeding and stocking but you can start with 1 cubic foot of media in a 50g container and work your way up from there.

Important to have good mechanical filtration of the water prior to entering the reactor. Balancing the air volume and water flow is important as well. Excessive amount of air can cause the media to boil too violently, making it difficult for the thin film to develop on the media (K1, K3, bioflow, etc.) Slower water flow rate through the reactor and more contact time is better for bacteria growth (5-10gpm for a 50g container is a good starting point). It takes time for a new reactor to fully cycle and the media to properly mature.

Quick note: a MBBR (reactor) should be used as an integral part of a system and should not be looked at as a surefire fix for those experiencing ammonia or nitrate problems.


Mantilla Stingray
MFK Member
Feb 9, 2012
West Jordan Utah
Another question, where is the best place to buy media at??

Silent Bob

MFK Member
Nov 25, 2011
Plainfield, IL

DB junkie

Gold Tier VIP
MFK Member
Jan 27, 2007
That Stoney Creek stuff is actually more money then K1. One could argue it has more surface area, but without some sort of media similar to Kaldness's chips I would still go with Kaldness without a doubt..

Ultima 2 media? Is that not for a bead filter? Not sure why it should be used in something like a reactor if it's designed to be used in a filter that's backflushed regularly.

The bio chips are an important part of the equasion that always seem to get overlooked. Here's some info from Aquatic Eco on them.....

The Biochip is much more than just a different shaped media. In addition to having a total protected surface area more than 2.4 times that of Kaldnes® K1, the protected area in Biochip is a great environment for micro animals, not just bacteria. Micro animals feed on small particles such as fish waste, dead bacteria and algae. There are many different types of these micro animals, and they produce high levels of filtration. For example, Vortecilia filter 10,000 times their own volume per hour and feed on particles up to 5 microns in size. A hydrophilic layer in the Biochip creates extremely quiet zones in which micro animals can flourish, whereas other types of media would flush them out. Add to existing K1 moving bed at a ratio of 1 part Biochip to 4 parts K1.

I buy from Aquatic Eco. I have yet to stump people with questions there. They're supposed to pricematch, and there's way cooler stuff in that book then any other supply house I've seen...... :)