What's the boards view on them?
Necessity or something I can do without?
If so, whats a good reactor and why?
i run 2 reactors. one with phosban and another with carbon. theres lots of brands of reactors so it doesnt really matter. two little fishies makes a decent one.
I have a single DIY reactor, that I alternate using carbon and phosban in it. It was cheap, so I should just do like onefish2fish and build a second one, so I can run them both at the same time.
As far as your question: "necessity or not", the answer is of course it depends. It won't hurt anything to use phosphate absorbing material, how useful will depend on how much phosphates get introduced into your aquarium from other sources. I think the main two sources are if you use tap water (tsk tsk) for water changes and top-offs, and also from frozen foods that you use to feed your fish and corals.
So even if you have an RO/DI unit or use RO/DI water from your LFS, you can still be building up phosphates by dissolving frozen cubes of food in a cup of tank water then dumping it in your tank. Onefish2fish suggests straining your frozen food out before adding it to your tank, to reduce how much phosphate gets added with the food.
Running a phophate reactor will also help to combat it. I think it's useful, and since it doesn't really hurt anything and is cheap, why not do it? Of course, you have to keep up with changing out the media as it "expires" or fills up, and regularly cleaning your reactor.
I pop a cube into a fine net that sits over a container. i squirt tank water over the cube until the net is sitting in water. i let the food defrost, then pour out the water in the container (back through the net) down the drain and repeat a few times. it is visible just how dirty that water is on the first rinse. ive heard of people also using coffee filters. i pre-rinse frozen cubes, rods food, silversides, just about everything frozen.
another thing on phosphate media. ive heard that if it just ground up and released into the tank it can poison it. i do not know the truth to this, just what ive heard. it does seem logical.
another thing to consider is finding a local reefing club in your area. i recently had a group buy on carbon and phosban and i think i paid somewhere between $30-50 for a 5 gallon bucket of carbon, cant beat that.
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