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automatic EI dosing

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by tedr108, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    I am interested is EI dosing automatically. I am willing to put my KNO3 and KH2PO4 (sp?) in liquid form, if necessary, so it matches my TMG (TPN), which is liquid. Is there some cool gadget out there that doses liquids or powders? If necessary, I can get some CSM to get my micros from a powder and use a gadget that doses dry.
     
  2. creighton

    creighton Guru Class Expert

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    This may work but it's a little pricy: Reef Doser - Aqua Medic


    I've always wanted to automate my dosing too, but it seems like it may be hard to initially set up.

    In the future I think I'm going to try to fully automate a tank and see how it goes. Hopefully I won't flood my house or kill any fish.
     
  3. geministudios54

    geministudios54 Junior Poster

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  4. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks to both of you ... just what I was looking for.
     
  5. creighton

    creighton Guru Class Expert

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    geministudios54,

    How's the automation going? Are you going to automate water changes and feedings as well? Feeding's I don't think would be very problematic , but if an auto-water changes malfunctions it could be pretty disastrous. I've been searching the net for reference for an auto water changes, but haven't found a good example yet.
     
  6. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Drip systems also work pretty well.

    I've found some peristalic pumps......well, they suck.

    Reef doser is a good better unit IME.
    AM stunk, I tried 4 of them.

    Sold them off.

    Tom's makes a small liquid dosing pump, 11$, they can pump 3 gal per hour.
    Cheap........you can cook up ideas.

    However, do you feed your fish daily?
    Oh what a chore?

    Not as likely huh?
    Maybe as well make the dosing for plant easy also.
    Add a dash or this, dash or that.
    Takes a few seconds.

    Same deal, same chore, feed fish vs feed plants.

    I feed live, frozen and dry foods.
    But the fish are fat and happy.
    So are the plants.

    Even if you automate most things, look at automating the real chores: water changes, filter cleanings, pruning........well not pruning, hehe.

    but the other two go hand and hand.

    Give that some thought before doing this.

    Regards,
    tom barr
     
  7. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    You bring up some good points, Tom. I started looking into this because I am going to be away at least 6 full weeks this year and probably some weekends, and I was seeing if I could get by without making too much work for other people. I have plenty of friends who would be happy to help me out here, so I'm probably worrying a little too much about this.

    I suppose for a weekend, I can dose ferts well before leaving and let it go. I could try one of those plaster or gel fish food packs for feeding ... I just get the feeling that a lot of my fish would go hungry!

    I've heard of automatic water changes -- I can't even imagine how you all do that. In my living situation, that is probably not possible, unless you can have 2 big barrels (one with good water, one with the waste water) near the tank to accomplish the task, at least while being away. While home, I just use a Python set up ... takes about 30 mins to do a 50% change for my 50G ... and I'm usually doing other aquarium related things while it is going on, so it's a productive 30 mins ... just have to be careful not to get too distracted, I darn near had water overflowing my tank the other day!

    One thing I would be interested in is what you feed your fish. I have cardinal tetras, galaxy rasboras, SAEs and have Panda Corys on order. I mostly feed flakes and small pellets, with an occasional treat of live blood worms from the LFS (these are a little too big, in my opinion) -- you can definitely see a change in the fish's mood after a feeding like that. :) I'm planning on raising brine shrimp to feed occasionally also. Haven't had much experience with frozen foods.
     
  8. creighton

    creighton Guru Class Expert

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    Even though feeding fish takes little to no effort, it still would be nice to have an auto feeder. Especially if you're raising fish that need to be fed more than once a day, and if you have clients that forget to feed the fish.

    Don't you wish that you had a setup with a solenoid drain valve that would drain exactly half of your tanks water and then refill it all the while back flushing your filter system? I do. Of course there is no subs. for the effectiveness of a man with a python, but sometimes I don't have time to do it. Ideally I'd like a system that I could simultaneously vacuum and back flush. But the price of failure is high with this one...no one wants a flooded house.

    For me dosing becomes a problem when I get too busy and don't have time to check my dosing sheet off. I can't remember when I added what to anything. I'd be nice to have something that could add pre-measured amounts of liquid ferts so I could see what's been added, rather than relying on a pump that could fail and flood your tank with a months worth of nutrients all at once.

    I really want a way to control CO2 levels precisely. I was thinking you could use a pH probe / drop checker combo. Somehow have the pH probe in the 4KH solution and then the pH controller could accurately control CO2 levels.

    Granted these all are wacky ideas that may never work, but I'd like to think one day I'll be able to just feed my fish treats a few times a way and enjoy giving away clippings from my ROBOT tank :p . It would most likely be a battle with technology and malfunctions to get any kind of reliability out of a system like this, but people do have dreams you know :D .
     
  9. naman

    naman Prolific Poster

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    automatic doser for planted aquarium from fish feeder

    idea moved...
     
  10. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Don't try using a drop checker with a pH probe in it for the controller. The very slow response of the drop checker would cause the controller to overshoot by a substantial amount, then undershoot by an equally substantial amount. That would likely kill the fish, bring on a massive algae attack, and lead to indigestion and acne!
     
  11. tedr108

    tedr108 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Naman,

    Thank you for the good ideas. Even if I do not automate everything, the quick-dissolving capsules and bottles would be very helpful in simplifying the work that others have to do while I am away.

    I'll have to skip the Russian article ... haven't learned Russian yet, in this life. :)
     
  12. creighton

    creighton Guru Class Expert

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    Vaughn,
    Is their anything that could be used as an indicator with a faster reaction time, or is it best just to stick to the eyeball method? The whole problem with the pH controller method it that the water's hardness changes as the plants uptake nutrients and the KH:CO2 relationship will be off?

    I don't really know, but somebody's probally done something that works.

    Didn't Tom do some type of automation on the Esquire tank?
     
  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Yes, I used a flow meter to calculate the mass flow of the gas and the required pH change.

    But it's relative to a known standard which I did for that tank.

    So without first knowing that standard, you cannot compare anything to.
    You can use a pH controller to do this to some degree.

    But it's as good as the assumption of KH and the accuracy of the pH probe and degree of mixing and lag time and and............

    So even for all the automation, etc, there are still many basic things a simple person can do that requires no real test kits etc, other than the plants.

    That's still my standard today actually and most every plant scientist, which is why we use dry weight mass and tissue analysis, not CO2 ppms.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  14. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    The processes that make a drop checker work are relatively slow: CO2 diffuses from the tank water to the air gap, CO2 diffuses from the air gap to the drop checker water, CO2 diffuses from the drop checker water to the air gap, CO2 diffuses from the air gap to the tank water: an iterative process that takes time to reach an equilibrium.

    There are two problems with the pH controller used as a CO2 concentration controller: First, the pH of the tank water is affected by more things than CO2, so the relationship between pH, KH and ppm CO2 is not the simple one the tables show. Second, the tank water pH at a given concentration of CO2 in the water is not the same as the tank water changes its chemistry, due to tannins, KH changes, and other changes such as the presence of some phosphates added by the water company to raise the pH.

    If you want to use the pH controller to automate the CO2 bubble rate I suggest first adjusting the bubble rate so the ppm of CO2 in the tank, as indicated by a drop checker, is stable at the ppm you want. Then read the pH controller indication of tank water pH, and set the controller to control to that value. If you want a faster rise in CO2 concentration, adjust the bubble rate to a slightly higher rate. Then monitor the drop checker color occasionally to be sure this is working as you want it to.

    Always present is the problem that we cannot accurately measure the ppm of CO2 in the tank water. First is the obvious difficulty of judging the color of the drop checker water. That leads to a possible +/- .2 pH error, which causes about a +/-60% error in CO2 ppm! If we use a good pH meter instead of judging the drop checker water color we are still likely to only be able to measure pH only to a +/-.1 pH accuracy, which causes a +/-25% error. Don't ever believe someone who tells you they have 23 ppm of CO2!

    A faster drop checker reaction time is possible, but only by getting rid of the air gap and greatly reducing the amount of water in the drop checker. This means using a gas permeable membrane to separate the drop checker water from the tank water. The difficulty of judging the drop checker water color is much, much greater as the amount of water gets smaller, so the improvement that can be made isn't great. To get a big improvement in response time requires using a small diameter pH probe to measure the drop checker pH, and a gas permeable membrane to eliminate the air gap. This is possible to make, but isn't something an average planted tank keeper can easily do, plus being expensive. (Most pH probes seem to be about 1/2" in diameter, with a water "depth" of about 1/4" being needed to cover the sensor bulb. As those dimensions get smaller the cost goes up rapidly.)
     
  15. creighton

    creighton Guru Class Expert

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    Vaughn,
    Thanks for that bit of knowledge! Maybe your club can get one of those CO2 meters, and they can store it at your house ;) .


    Tom,
    How did you go about calculating a KH standard for the tank? I'm still not really clear on the relationship of CO2 to KH. Doesn't the KH fluxuate throughout the day? I need to do some reading! :eek:
     
  16. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    KH is ppm of carbonates in the water, and I think it is expressed as if the carbonates are all from calcium carbonate, but that part I am not clear about. So, the KH of our tank water should vary very slowly, if at all. If we have a lot of plants that can use carbonates as a source of carbon, and no CO2 in the water, the KH would drop, but only slowly. Or, if the tank contains some calcium carbonate, the KH would slowly increase, since Calcium carbonate dissolves very slowly.
     
  17. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think I might be able to find a place to store the CO2 meter, so I would certainly be willing to make that sacrifice for the plant club.
     
  18. geministudios54

    geministudios54 Junior Poster

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    Hi Creighton. Just the feeding and dosing ferts will be automated. I'd rather control the water changes on my own.I'd be nervous dealing with automated water changes at this point. You can check out my thread on APC I just posted with pics.
     
  19. creighton

    creighton Guru Class Expert

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    Do you have the link?
     
  20. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You can do semi automated water change sand filter cleaning.

    Easy.

    Need a hard plumbed set up, then just turn a valve to drain and turn another to add warm temp refill water.

    You can set up the drain to blast through the filter in reverse also.
    cleaning your filter every time you do a water change.
    Then return the valve to the off position and refill.

    I did not want to drill into the floor or wall here, landlady would have a cow.
    So a 50 Ft hose takes care of anywhere I wanna put the water or add it, basically a faster version of a python.

    I have a garden hose drain nozzle on the Ocean clear filters.
    Makes cleaning them much easier than any Rena, Ehiem, etc.

    You can also refill through the same port through the filter to flush it clean.
    If your tank water is dirty etc, then bypass the filter backwash.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
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