Reactor hydraulics is one of the key factors for plant performance and plant control. The residence time distribution is a good but limited indicator of reactor hydraulics. A more detailed view is obtained by direct observations within the reactor. Two different techniques (conservative tracer, reactive tracer) are discussed to detect major anomalies in the flow field of a wastewater aeration tank. Experiments with conservative tracers give valuable information over a very limited period of time making the analysis of the flow field difficult. On the other hand, reactive tracers can be monitored long term which helps identifying the flow pattern provided that a high spatial and temporal resolution of the measurements is applied. Experimental data is used to determine the structure and the parameters of a compartment model that corresponds well with the measurements.