Best nano media reactors
A nano media reactor can be an important and effective piece of equipment to use on a saltwater reef tank. They are used in conjunction with your aquarium filtration system and contain filter media.
The nano reactor is beneficial as it increases the overall effectiveness of the filter media inside it.
The water pumped into the reactor is forced to directly come in contact with the media you choose to put inside the reactor.
Media reactors are more effective and efficient than a typical aquarium filter where water doesn’t directly come in contact with all the media. Most times the water flows around some of the filtration media and is not in direct contact for the length of time it is inside a media reactor.
If you are new to reactors or simply looking for a new one, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your tank.
That’s why, in this article, we’ll be going over our top 5 favorite nano media reactors and giving you a complete buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice.
Innovative Marine Minimax Pro Series Media Reactor (Desktop)
If you are searching for a high-quality media reactor for a small tank, then our best pick is the IM Minimax Pro. The quality cell cast acrylic build is the first thing that makes the reactor a good choice. It’s designed for use with the Innovative Marine nano tanks, but it can be used with a variety of other tanks as well.
If you have an all-in-one tank, this nano reactor is ready to use out of the box. Plug and play. But if you don’t have an all-in-one, don’t worry; just use the included mounting bracket.
The reactor is quite compact and will hold up to 150 ml of filter media. There is also an option to upgrade to the midsize reactor if you need more media space.
Works well with all types of media, including gfo and carbon, bio pellets, and more. Depending on the media you use, there is a flow control channel to fine-tune the flow you need.
One issue with this specific reactor is that the desktop version has a maximum flow rate of 52GPH, which may not be suitable for your aquarium size. For most nano tanks it will be suitable but if you need something with more flow, go with the midsize reactor. Make sure to check the dimensions of both reactors to ensure the right size.
- Quality design and durable
- Compact and lightweight
- Very energy efficient
- Great for both AIO tanks and standard tanks
- Not as quiet as some others
- Sponges can be difficult to remove by hand without a thin tool.
The Innovative Marine Minimax Pro Series is available on Amazon here.
Aquatop MR-20 Multimedia Nano Media Reactor with Pump
Aquatop is a renowned and reputable brand in the saltwater aquarium hobby and the MR-20 reactor competes with several of the top reactors on the market!
The best thing we liked about the MR-20 was how solid and simple the design is. High-quality acrylic – no cheap stuff here. It has a cool modern look and can be used on sumps or hang on the back of your tank.
The Aquatop MR-20 comes with everything you need to operate right away. Included sponges, tubing, brackets, and pump. Use this versatile reactor for phosphate resins, phosphate sponges, gfo and carbon, nitrate sponges, and other resin filter media.
Another great feature of this reactor is the SWP-230 adjustable flow water pump. So you can adjust the flow rate to match the media requirement.
This nano media reactor is best for aquariums between 10 gallon and 75 gallons. A wide variety of tanks fall into this range and at only 2.4″ diameter, it is certain to match up well with your tank size. Grab the Aquatop MR-20 reactor on Amazon here.
- Quality modern design
- Easy to remove the lid
- Suitable for many tank sizes
- Precision flow adjustment
- Tubing is a bit short
- Some people found the pump to be weak – we never had that concern.
Innovative Marine Minimax Media Reactor – Desktop
The best feature of the Minimax reactor is the fact that its unique design eliminates the need for hoses, ball valves, screws and other clutter. It truly is an ingenious design and built for maximum performance and efficiency.
This IM nano media reactor is perfect for those who are on a budget and have a desktop nano aquarium. Perfect for all-in-one tanks and standard tanks. The Minimax is a small but powerful reactor and works well for all media types.
It is an all-in-one design that can be used for bio media, carbon, GFO, and others. Enhance your chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration with this simple and effective reactor.
Only using 2.5 watts power consumption, this reactor has a strong pump and will hold 150 ml of filter media. It is also designed for easy maintenance so changing the filter media and cleaning the reactor is a breeze. Available on Amazon here.
- Quality and clean design – no clutter
- Easy maintenance
- Updated and improved from the previous model
- Very quiet operation
- The pump can clog easily
- Flow adjustment can be difficult for people with large fingers/hands
AquaMaxx Fr-s Internal GFO Carbon and Biopellet Filter Media Reactor
The best thing about this reactor is the simple but yet solid design. There are no fancy bells and whistles or parts to clutter up your aquarium. AquaMaxx is one of the best producers of media reactors and other aquarium gear on the market today.
This internal reactor is compact and fits great with all in one saltwater tanks. You can use this with some filtration media types including carbon, GFO, and biopellets.
The up-flow design of AquaMaxx FR-S Internal Media Reactor helps to keep filter media suspended and evenly dispersed to provide maximum contact time between your aquarium water and the media inside the reactor.
One advantage that this reactor has over the others is the use of a Sicce pump. Sicce is well known and trusted for the reliability of aquarium pumps.
If you have a small nano tank and looking for a multipurpose media reactor, make sure to give the AquaMaxx Fr-s Internal GFO Carbon a try!
- Simple and solid design
- Multi-use reactor
- Uses a Sicce pump
- Holds 250ml of filter media
- More expensive than others
Two Little Fishies Phosban Filter Media Reactor
Although the Two Little Fishes 150 is rated for tanks up to 150 gallons, it works great on smaller tanks too. You can easily use this on a nano tank of 20–30 gallons in size. It might be too large for smaller tanks, but as it simply hangs on the back, it will most likely be hidden from view and the size won’t be a concern.
One of the best features of this reactor is it’s been on the market for many years and is one of the most commonly used. Not to mention it’s one of the most affordable reactors out there.
You can use the TLF 150 with carbon, GFO, biopellets, and many other filter media. You can pair these with different pumps, but the most commonly used one is the Maxijet or Cobalt series powerheads.
This reactor will come with the filter sponges, tubing, and ball valve which is used to control the water flow rate.
As mentioned, this reactor is larger than the others mentioned, so it will hold much more media. But remember to only use the required amount of media for your tank size.
We have tested this reactor with a variety of different filter media on different sizes of tanks and have only had positive results. The Two Little Fishies ATLPBR150 GFO PhosBan Reactor 150 is a great product.
- Holds plenty of media
- Easy to control the flow rate
- Easy to remove internal chamber to clean and maintain
- Great pricing
- Does not include the pump – sold separately
How does a media reactor work?
Media reactors work by forcing water through the reactor using a pump. The reactor will increase the effectiveness of the filter media by directing the water that enters to be in contact with the entire media inside.
The advantage of using a media reactor is the water will stay in contact with all the media increasing its effectiveness. A few other benefits include:
- They don’t take up much space and can be mounted in different ways
- Affordable and easy way to address water issues
- Provides additional filtration to your existing filtering methods
Here is a diagram that explains the operation of a standard media reactor.
Detailed instructions can be found here.
Are media reactors necessary to have?
No, you don’t have to have a media reactor on your tank. They are considered a beneficial piece of equipment for the reasons mentioned above, but not a requirement. Many saltwater tanks are successful without having one. If you have the option of keeping a media reactor on your tank, it would be a very wise investment!