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Top Five Beginner Media Reactors

Updated 2023

As we dive into the world of reactors in 2023, things can get overwhelming with various types designed for specific media:

1. Media Reactor – Ideal for activated carbon, GFO, and biopellets. Simply place the media in the container, turn on a submersible powerhead, and you’re set.
2. Kalkwasser Reactor – Similar to the Media Reactor, but with an additional stirrer and the option to connect to your ATO system for dosing Kalkwasser.
3. Algae Reactor – Similar to the Media Reactor but equipped with LED lights to cultivate macroalgae.
4. Calcium Reactor – Comparable to the Media Reactor, but includes a CO2 tank and doser for precise calcium supplementation.

For beginners, I won’t recommend calcium reactors, algae reactors, or kalkwasser reactors, as they are more advanced and usually unnecessary for beginners.




Media reactors are essential for maintaining clean and healthy aquatic environments. In this products roundup, we will explore a selection of top-rated media reactors that deliver exceptional filtration performance. From compact designs to versatile options, these reactors offer efficiency, ease of use, and excellent value for aquarium enthusiasts.

The Lifegard Aquatics Turbo Reactor is a highly efficient media reactor that excels in aquarium filtration. With its durable construction, ceramic bearings, and built-in flow control, this reactor offers longevity and ease of use. It can be used with bio-pellets, GFO, or carbon, providing maximum efficiency and water flow. Customers have given it a stellar rating of 4.4 out of 5, making it a trusted and valuable addition to any aquarium setup. Lifegard Aquatics continues to deliver high-quality products, and the Turbo Reactor is no exception.

  • Maximum Efficiency and Water Flow – The Lifegard Aquatics Large Side Flow Turbo Reactor is designed to provide maximum efficiency and water flow in aquariums and fish tanks. This ensures that your filtration media, such as bio-pellets, GFO, and carbon, are effectively circulated and do their job in keeping your water clean and clear.
  • Durable Ceramic Bearings – This turbo reactor is built to last, thanks to its durable ceramic bearings. It is handcrafted from high-quality materials, ensuring its longevity and resistance to corrosion. You can trust that this reactor will withstand the demands of your aquarium setup.
  • Built-in Aquarium Flow Control – Setting up and adjusting the flow in this turbo reactor is a breeze with its built-in flow control feature. You can easily customize the flow rate to suit the needs of your aquarium, providing optimal performance and efficiency.
  • Requires Additional Purchase – It’s worth noting that the Lifegard Aquatics Large Side Flow Turbo Reactor comes at a price of $159.99. While it offers great features and benefits, it may not be the most budget-friendly option for all aquarium enthusiasts.
  • Limited Reviews – With only 14 reviews available, it may be challenging to gauge the overall satisfaction and performance of this turbo reactor. While the existing reviews are positive, it would be beneficial to have more feedback from a larger pool of customers.
  • Requires Sump Setup – This turbo reactor is designed to be used in a sump setup, which may not be suitable for all aquarium owners. If you don’t have a sump or prefer a different filtration system, this reactor may not be the best choice for your aquarium.

The Two Little Fishies Little Reactor (Little Reactor Only) is a compact and versatile media reactor that has exceeded expectations in terms of efficiency and ease of use. With its upflow principle and multiple mounting options, it is perfect for tanks up to 50 gallons. Priced at $59.58, this reactor has received a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, making it a cost-effective choice for effective chemical filtration in aquariums. It is a reliable option for maintaining water quality and ensuring a healthy aquatic environment.

  • Compact Size: The Two Little Fishies Little Reactor is designed to be compact and is only 7″ tall, making it suitable for tanks up to 50 gallons. It is especially great for all-in-one tanks like the Coralife BioCubes.
  • Efficient Upflow Design: The reactor utilizes the upflow principle, ensuring the most efficient use of PhosBan or other chemical filter media. It evenly distributes water through the media and prevents channeling, thanks to the water being pushed from the bottom upward through a dispersion plate.
  • Easy Installation: The reactor comes with hose barb connections for 1/2 inch i.d. tubing, a 1/2 inch barbed ball valve for flow control, and hose clamps. It also offers the convenience of mounting options, allowing you to hang it on the back of the aquarium or below it.
  • Pump Not Included: The reactor does not come with a pump, so you will need to purchase one separately. The recommended pump is the Lifegard Aquatics Quiet One Pro Model 200.
  • Limited Flow Rate: The recommended flow rate for this reactor is 20 gallons per hour. If you have a larger tank or require a higher flow rate, this reactor may not be suitable for your needs.
  • Additional Accessories Recommended: If you plan to use the reactor with NPX Bioplastics or hanging it off the back of your tank, you will need to purchase additional accessories such as the Phosban Reactor NPX Screen or the Extension Kit.

The AquaMaxx Fr-s Internal Reactor is a fantastic media reactor that offers exceptional filtration performance. Its small size, powerful pump, and easy maintenance make it a convenient choice for aquarium enthusiasts. While there have been a few negative reviews regarding motor issues, personally, I have not encountered any problems with this product. Overall, the AquaMaxx Fr-s Internal Reactor is a reliable and efficient option for aquarium filtration, worth considering for its effectiveness and user-friendly features.

  • The AquaMaxx Fr-s Internal GFO Carbon and Biopellet Filter Media Reactor is compact and has a small footprint, making it easy to fit into any aquarium setup.
  • The reactor comes with a powerful pump that is adjustable, allowing you to control the flow rate according to your needs. This is especially beneficial for GFO media.
  • The reactor has a maximum capacity of 0.25L (250mL), which is approximately 1 cup. This is sufficient for most aquarium sizes and allows for efficient filtration.
  • One customer mentioned that the motor of the reactor plugs up quickly and needs to be cleaned every 3 days. This may require frequent maintenance and can be inconvenient for some users.
  • Another customer expressed dissatisfaction with the product, stating that it is not worth the price and does not perform well. This raises concerns about the overall quality and value for money.
  • One user reported that the reactor stopped working after only 3 months of use. This suggests potential durability issues and raises questions about the longevity of the product.

The Two Little Fishies GFO PhosBan Reactor 550 is a highly effective media reactor that offers great value for its price. It is specifically designed to reduce phosphates and maintain water quality in aquariums. Despite minor concerns with the O-ring, the reactor’s performance and ease of use make it a worthwhile investment. With positive customer reviews and feedback, it is recommended for aquarium enthusiasts looking for an efficient and reliable solution to combat nutrient problems and maintain a clean and healthy aquatic environment.

  • Durable and easy to clean. The PhosBan Reactor 550 is made to last and can withstand regular cleaning without any issues. This ensures that it will remain effective and efficient in removing phosphates from your aquarium.
  • Affordable price. Compared to other similar products on the market, the PhosBan Reactor 550 offers great value for money. It is reasonably priced, making it accessible to a wide range of aquarium enthusiasts.
  • Efficient upflow design. The upflow principle used in the PhosBan Reactor 550 ensures that water is evenly distributed through the media, maximizing its contact and effectiveness. This design helps to achieve the most efficient use of PhosBan or other chemical filter media.
  • Potential leakage issue. Some customers have reported issues with leaking from the PhosBan Reactor 550, particularly due to the o-ring at the top. This can be a hassle and may require purchasing a replacement o-ring.
  • Difficult maintenance. The screw top design of the PhosBan Reactor 550 can make it challenging to perform regular maintenance. Removing the tube and trays for cleaning can be cumbersome and time-consuming.
  • Not suitable for biopellets. While the PhosBan Reactor 550 is effective for using PhosBan or other chemical filter media, it is not recommended for biopellets. If you plan to use biopellets, you may need to consider a different reactor.

The AquaMaxx FR-SE GFO Hang-On Filter Media Reactor is a versatile and efficient media reactor that caters to various aquarium setups. Its ability to accommodate different media types makes it a suitable choice for maintaining water quality. While minor issues have been reported, such as the need for extra force on the plastic screws, the reactor’s positive customer experiences highlight its effectiveness in reducing nutrient problems. The AquaMaxx FR-SE GFO Hang-On Filter Media Reactor is a worthwhile investment for aquarium enthusiasts seeking reliable and efficient filtration for their tanks.

  • High quality reactor from a trusted brand, AquaMaxx.
  • Accommodates aquarium rims up to 1″, providing versatility for different tank setups.
  • Can handle various media options, including GFO, activated carbon, and biopellets.
  • Pump and tubing are sold separately, adding extra cost.
  • Some users experienced leaking issues with the plastic screws.
  • One threaded screw is too close to the hose on top, making it difficult to close properly.