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Simple, cheap auto dosing

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by stcyrwm@adelphia.net, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. stcyrwm@adelphia.net

    stcyrwm@adelphia.net Prolific Poster

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    I've just started experimenting with using automatic fish feeders to dose dry ferts. I saw three feeders on Dr's Fosters & Smith that dispense food from individual compartments - kind of like round pill boxes and thought they would be ideal for this task.

    First experiment was with the $29 Fish Mate Auto Feeder. This one did not work. The piece that divided it into compartments was so light that it would leave most of the fertilizer behind.

    Now I'm trying the $39 Lifegard Auto Feeder from Pentair Aquatics and it seems to work. It holds 14 days worth of ferts. It has a screw down spring that weights the divider so it moves all the fertilizer. Only question now will be whether the ferts get mushy from humidity over the two weeks. I'll let you know how this goes.

    If it works it seems like an easy way to automate this task - no setup, no pumps, no solutions to make and no major expense. It seems particularly ideal for folks also using dry traces.

    I'm also going to test the $69 Rondomatic because it is larger and could be used for fert dosing and food dispensing.

    Bill
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Simple, cheap auto dosing

    Drum based timers can be made to dose a daily amount if you like DIY.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  3. Milan

    Milan Prolific Poster

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    Re: Simple, cheap auto dosing

    Actually they dispense twice a day with 6 hrs dispense and 6 hrs refill cycle. So you would need one (or two) for macros, and one for traces. If we are talking about the design with a syringe attached to the drum, they don't work very well with syringes over 5 ml, since the motor is not strong enough, but you can always modify the solution to suit smaller volume. However, what is my concern is the fact that you can spread macros and micros apart no more than 6 hrs (theoretically) with this spread possibly becoming shorter over time due to relative inaccuracy of these timers. Anyhow, would 6 hrs in between macros and micros be enough, I'm not sure ... Tom would probably have a better opinion on this ...

    My personal preference would be a couple of fixed flow peristaltic pumps, controlled either by a high precision timer (say 1 sec resolution over 1 week), a PC controlled interface/switch, or some sort of low end PLC. But this gets to be a little bit techy and costly, so you may be better off using an off the shelf liquid doser such as EHEIM.
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Simple, cheap auto dosing

    AM makes a pump for about 78$, t5hey sell and timer and two pump unit from Marine Depot for 189$ or so.

    IV drippers work well also.

    I'm surprise more folks have not tried these.
    The dosing does not need to be accurate really, just somewhat consistent.
    Kent makes them for 16 oz, 2 gal and 5 gal I believe.

    You could use the 16 oz for the traces, and another for the macros for most tanks and they likely would work better.

    You can dose both at the same time if you use TMG for the trace and/or if you dose very small amounts at a time like with a drip method.

    Kent's run about 15-20$.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Re: Simple, cheap auto dosing

    BTW, you can use a metal stainless steel needle valve if you want more accuracy.

    You can also hook up a solenoid on the drip system to dose specific times at whatever drip rate you have set.

    So there are some good options out there.

    Regards,
    Tom Barr
     
  6. stcyrwm@adelphia.net

    stcyrwm@adelphia.net Prolific Poster

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    Re: Simple, cheap auto dosing

    I was looking for some sort of option like this when I stumbled upon the idea of using the auto feeders. The thing with the auto feeders is they are all pre assembled, they're inexpensive and you don't even have to make a solution each week- you just load it up. Down side of course is you can't use liquid traces but for those who use dry traces it would take care of everything. For liquids traces or Excel the Eheim Liquidoser would complete things.

    Bill
     
  7. srozell

    srozell Guru Class Expert

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    Re: Simple, cheap auto dosing

    Unless you are dosing a tonne of tanks, I can't imagine how a drum feeder would save you much time.

    I just keep the appriopriate sized spoon in each of my fert bottles and dose while I feed.

    If you're doing a large amount of tanks the drum feeder just wouldn't be cost effective.

    a dosing pump could work will with a large number of tank using needle valves, manifolds and liquid fertilizer.

    Personally I have no problem dosing manually.
     
  8. pigwiggle

    pigwiggle Junior Poster

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    Re: Simple, cheap auto dosing

    I use one of those Mon-Sun pillboxes. When I do a water change (Sat) I weigh my dry ferts for the week (including trace), divide the macros into four piles (Sun, T, Th, Sat), the trace into three (M, W, F), and put them in their corresponding compartment.

    It’s simple and easy to tell if I forgot a day.
     
  9. stcyrwm@adelphia.net

    stcyrwm@adelphia.net Prolific Poster

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    Update

    Okay it's been a week since I started using the Lifegard Autofeeder to dose my dry macros and it has worked well. I have had no problems at all. It looks like this is a good basic unit to dose dry ferts. I use it in conjunction with a liqidoser for traces and Excel. My costs for automating is 39 for Lifegard unit and 59 for liquidoser so basically a 100 bucks plus shipping. If you were doing dry macros & traces and not using Excel you could do this for $39 total.



    Downside to this system is that the mounting hardware is cheesy and the unit does not have enough compartments to do ferts and food for a week.



    I've just received the Rondamatic unit. It seems like a better quality unit than the Lifegard. The mounting hardware doesn't work on my tank though which is kind of a bummer. Preliminary tests show this not working as well as the Lifegard as some of the ferts are staying in the compartment and not being dosed. I'll fiddle with it and see if I can make it work.



    Bill
     
  10. Singtoh

    Singtoh Prolific Poster

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    I used 2, 1 liter quality plastic conatiners, 1 for macros and 1 for micros. 2 Sonic AP1000 powerheads($7 each). Used 10cc plastic syringes cut off to fit the output of said pumps. Connected air line to 5cc syringes with 26gauge neddles attached, hooked them to timers with 1min capability(cheap$10 each) set them next to the aquarium slightly elevated, and as luck would have it, they pump exactly 1cc per minute consistently. Been using these for quite some time with no problems. just my 2 cents worth.

    Cheers,

    Singtoh
     
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