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Auto Top off/ wter changer Idea

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Gator, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. Gator

    Gator Junior Poster

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    I have this Idea for an Auto top off / auto water changer. I was trying to think of a way to automate keeping the water lvl constant in my 600G tank and at the same time changing the water in the tank. My first idea was to run an RO/DI unit to the tank but I dont want to use one due to all the extra water used since most of the water run into an RO unit is discharged as waste water and with RO units I know it removes everything and that you need to add trace minerals to the water with addatives such as Equilibrium so I thought I could just use one of the carbon block filters from an RO unit to remove the chlorine from the water and then regulate the flow with a ball valve thats plumbed right into the house water supply and replace about 25G a day. Now to remove the water I was thinking of using an over flow similar to what I have now that takes the water from my tank to the sump but plumb it directly to the drain I already have that takes the water to a floor drain in the basement. Are there any problems with running a set up like this? Should I run a single carbon block or two? Will the carbon block even work? TIA
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    My tank is set up very much like you describe. First, I have a tank that has one drilled hole in the back. In that I installed an elbow that points up, and I trimmed off the elbow until the top is even with the level I wanted to hold the water to. Next I plumbed a "whole house" water filter, with a carbon filter in it, in line with a regulator, a coarse needle valve, and a two way valve, with the outlet from that going through a 1/4 inch drip irrigation tube run to the wall outside my condo where the tank is located. That line connects to the filter return line into the tank. I adjust the regulator and needle valve to get a dripping flow, with the two way valve set to let that flow dump on the deck. Then I turn the two way valve to direct the dripping flow to the line into the tank. The overflow goes through the wall to a PVC line that has a valve in it that either plugs the line allowing the flow to go through an open tee fitting and into a 5 gallon bucket, or it is open and allows the dripping flow to go off the edge of the deck. The water I collect in the bucket, 8 - 10 gallons per day, most of the time, I collect to water plants on the deck. The system works great!

    Here is a thread on another forum that describes the design and building of my system:
    http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/diy-aquarium-projects/29066-continuous-water-change-system.html
     
  3. Gator

    Gator Junior Poster

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    Glad to see you have something up like that already and working and thanks for the link. Also might be a bit off topic but if I had another container that the water runs through filled with peat would that have any benefits to the plants I plan on having in the tank? I cant find the post anymore but I thought I read where it adds carbon to water and the plants benefit from it.
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    In my opinion the water going into the tank just needs to be free of chlorine and chloramine. When you try to doctor the water in any other way I think you are setting up an unstable system that will always be a problem for you. If you want to use peat, a good place is as a very thin layer under the substrate. The carbon the plants need is CO2, unless you are doing an el natural (Walstad style) tank, where you rely on very slow growth of the plants and let them get the CO2 from breakdown of organics in the substrate.
     
  5. Gator

    Gator Junior Poster

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    Gotcha I found the article and made a mistake in what I read. :eek:
     
  6. nerbaneth

    nerbaneth Guest

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    Is there any less intensive (drilling holes in the wall and adding a carbon filter to the whole house) way to accomplish this? possibly an overflow type system w/o a sump (I dislike sumps.. that was the only thing I missed from them is the constant water level.)
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Sure, but involves the solenoid and a float valve inside the tank instead of the sump.
    Spectrapure makes a vertical float switch that's small, connect that to a solenoid for the refill and put an in line carbon filter for the aquarium refill.

    One timer drains the tank via a solenoid=> to drain.
    One solenoid refills based on the float switch=> fill.

    Regards,

    Tom Barr
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    In my opinion whenever you plan to set up a system that allows water to flow into your aquarium you need to consider what happens when any portion of it fails. So, the first thing is to consider all possible ways every device can fail. Then figure out what the consequences of that will be. When you do that you have a basis for trying to protect yourself from those failures, in case they actually occur.

    When I decided on my system the worst failure would be a plugging of the drain line, because that would result in spilling a lot of water all over my living area. Even a dripping flow ends up being over 5 gallons in 24 hours. I minimized that failure probabillity by using the biggest practical size drain line I could use. It would take a big fish to flop into the drain, get stuck, and swell up to block my drain, and I only have two "big fish" in my tank. Guppies that take the plunge just end up in the drain bucket outside.

    The point of this is that relying on electrical parts to avoid flooding the room can be problematical - suppose a circuit breaker fails while you are away from home for a day or two? So, if you go that route, be sure to design around that possible failure.
     
  9. Gator

    Gator Junior Poster

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    The tank is in the basement and the main water line running into the house is 5 feet away from the tank. I was planning on tapping into the line buy cutting it and putting a "T" in the line then reducing that line and putting in a valve so I can close it when needed and also adjust the flow that way then a check valve and then hooking the Carbon block filter and running a line into the tank. The overflow will not require me drilling anything. Here is what I planned on building for the overflow. The pipe will have a bunch of 1/4" holes drilled into it where it is below the water line. The pipe itself will probably be made out of 1.5" pvc then tied into the drain line below the Ball valve I have for draining the tank. None of it will rely on electricity. I plan on the whole process replacing about 20-25 GPD the equivalent of doing about a 20-30% water change a week. Thoughts?
     
  10. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    One thought: it is hard to set a 20 GPD flow from 40 psi home water pressure, using just a control valve. What tends to happen is that small a flow causes erosion or silting up of the valve, which drastically changes the flow rate. I found a cheap regulator on ebay to use to drop the 40 psi down below 10 psi, and even with that it is tricky to maintain a steady low flow rate. If you had a really good needle valve I'm sure you could regulate the flow rate down to what you want, but my experience is that very low flows do erode valves. (Due to the pressure drop across the valve.)
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I'm not so sure, seems like a watery mess one day with the set up you have planned.

    I prefer semi automated fast Water changers for this reason. Turn a valve, drain fast, turn another, fill fast. This gives me a little time to work on the tank and adjust the fill/drain rates to suit.

    It's also better to remove/reset a tank by a larger %, say 50-70% vs 10-20%.
    Especially if you redo things a lot one day etc.

    I'd consider this type of system give the location and the other things you have planned. Redundancy is prime if you go the direction you are suggesting.

    I've only seen a few that worked well over time and they had water all over more than once, if you have costly carpets, clients, folks that live below, rent etc etc, you are asking for trouble.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  12. Gator

    Gator Junior Poster

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    Thanks for all the input gents. Sounds like the old tried and true method of Manual PWC every week is the only way to be safe. Maybe I'm being to much of a gadget guy on this! :D
     
  13. bpimm

    bpimm Junior Poster

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    The other thing about that type of overflow in a low flow application is over time they may build up an air bubble and break the siphon. I use one of those and to eliminate that possibility I drill a small hole in the top where it goes over the tank wall and hook it to the suction side of the pump using air line tubing or if you have a powerhead in the tank you can hook it to the air inlet of the powerhead and it will pull some water out of the overflow and keep the siphon strong. it will actually start the siphon for you when you fire it up.

    as for the drip control valves I have been using brass airline valves with pretty good results. but as Vaughn said the flow tends to vary some, you just have to check it on occasion.

    I have been running this type of waterchange system for close to 20 years, mostly with drilled drains. The only failures have been from plugged drains and I haven't had one of those since I installed a piece of pre-filter foam in each of the drains so nothing could get in and plug it.

    Brian
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    No, you can set it up to simply have a valve to drain and a another valve to fill.
    Semi automated, you still have to do something, but very little.


    This makes it very easy to do a large % water change fast and without any hassle.
    So you are much more likely to do it. You can even hire a plumber to come and a add all the lines in out near the tank.

    This has far less chance of over flowing onto your floor etc.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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