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Old 02-08-2009, 10:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default DIY liquid auto doser

Ok... I'm lazy. Super lazy. I wanted to be able to fertilize daily without actually FERTILIZING daily, ya know? So some people here in the past talked about using peristaltic pumps with timers but I haven't seen anyone actually slap together a working system and post... so I'll do it! I'll first go through a run-down of my materials...

6 peristaltic pumps from www.aptinstruments.com. I used the OEM SP100 pumps (18rpm) w/ 1.6mm norprene tubing (about 0.9ml/min flow). i wanted to be able to dose up to 6 different wet ferts, so i bought six. wanna do 3? buy 3.

for the controllers, i got lazy... i picked up a bunch of table lamp digital timers off amazon.com. they were about 12 bucks a piece and have batteries in case of brief power outages. i put one timer on each pump so i could run them independently. if you are good and know what ratios you need to dose, you can get away with fewer. i went for maximum flexibility (at a much greater expense, though). the timers do an OK job. they have 2 "events" so you can even choose to dose twice a day if you'd like. in addition, you can easily turn them "on" for a few minutes manually if you want to dose something in particular.
http://www.amazon.com/Intermatic-TB1...4121541&sr=8-1

i also ordered about 50 feet of norprene tubing from APT as well. in addition, i picked up a few 90 degree elbow connectors so i could make the tube "hook" over the lip of the aquarium.

i have a prototype shop at work, so i whipped up a small "stand" to hold the reservoirs and the pumps are attached above. you can make this out of wood, metal, plastic, WHATEVER. it is not important at all. i used 1/2 gallon milk jugs (cleaned thoroughly) because they are tall and skinny so i could squeeze them in under my stand nicely.

as you can see, each side has 3 jugs and 3 pumps. the desktop lamp timers are nice because the "controller" portion has a cord that runs back to the power strip, so i could mount everything on the door.

so far, i've been running the pumps for about 1 month and i'm very happy. i keep slowly upping the time because i think there is a lot of backpressure so 0.9ml/min isn't what the flow seems to be. something less than that. but since everything is controlled independently, i can just increase whatever i need to increase. i can easily see what ferts are running low. i just used a label maker to clearly label everything. i spray-painted the "stand" black just so i didn't have to look at the bare metal (plus i'm avoiding rust).

oh, the only downside to the lamp timers is that they aren't grouned, so you should probably ground the pumps (mine were not grounded at the time i took these pictures).

it's not perfect, pretty, or sexy... but it works! you have no idea how nice it is just knowing that my ferts get dumped in every morning before the lights go on. and the 1/2 gallon jugs hold quite a lot of ferts... so i don't have to fill them very often. the ultimate in low maintenance!

and to avoid contamination, the output tubes are NOT in contact with the water. the output tubes bend over the lip of the aquarium to hook on, but there is a significant gap between the tubing and the water. the tubes are always filled with fertilizer, so people should keep that in mind if they ever set something like this up!

all in all... maybe around 500 bucks for the pumps and timers. everything else is cheap. and again... 6 independently controlled pumps should be overkill for anyone here. i would assume most people would only dose 2, 3, or 4 different liquids.


JP
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Old 02-08-2009, 05:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: DIY liquid auto doser

I always love DIY projects and I'm in the process of making a DIY Dosing pump. I like what you have done, but I don't like the price tag!!

Anyway, have you ever taken a look at the "Tom Aquatics Aqua Lifter—Dosing Pump". You could get those for $15 and put them on a digital time for 1 minute. This would be a lot cheaper!!!

g
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Old 02-08-2009, 05:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY liquid auto doser

yeah i didn't like the price tag either, but it has worked out to be pretty good. plus these are fairly heavy duty pumps... i plan on running them for a looooooong time.

i haven't seen the tom's pump thing before (just looked at it). certainly interesting... i never found any decent stuff in my searches so i decided to suck it up and do this. it was a while ago... i was just too lazy to post the pictures up here!

i'd be interested in seeing the durability of these 15-dollar pumps, plus the actual strength (can these push liquid against gravity for 5-ish feet?)... but definitely good for the budget-minded (I know I would have jumped all over them when I was a poor college bum).

thanks for sharing!
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Old 02-08-2009, 05:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: DIY liquid auto doser

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpmtotoro View Post
yeah i didn't like the price tag either, but it has worked out to be pretty good. plus these are fairly heavy duty pumps... i plan on running them for a looooooong time.

i haven't seen the tom's pump thing before (just looked at it). certainly interesting... i never found any decent stuff in my searches so i decided to suck it up and do this. it was a while ago... i was just too lazy to post the pictures up here!

i'd be interested in seeing the durability of these 15-dollar pumps, plus the actual strength (can these push liquid against gravity for 5-ish feet?)... but definitely good for the budget-minded (I know I would have jumped all over them when I was a poor college bum).

thanks for sharing!
Yeah, I think those cheap tom's dosing pumps are only rated for 30". I thought I read that somewhere. Head pressure is not as big of an issue for me cause I'm building an all in one inline Heater, CO2 Reactor, Liquid Ferts which will all be under the tank.

I'm actually working on a project that I use an air pump going into a gang value concept. The parts should be coming in this week.

g
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Old 02-08-2009, 06:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY liquid auto doser

Very cool idea and completion! Too pricey for me though. I only dose excel and flourish though.
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Old 02-11-2009, 02:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY liquid auto doser

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpmtotoro View Post
it's not perfect, pretty, or sexy... but it works! you have no idea how nice it is just knowing that my ferts get dumped in every morning before the lights go on. and the 1/2 gallon jugs hold quite a lot of ferts... so i don't have to fill them very often. the ultimate in low maintenance!

You're a man after my my heart. How long has this been up and running? Any issues, like balancing ferts, or salt build-ups, or hoses cracking, or............?


I had made up my mind to purchase dosers for ferts a few months ago. I do worry about the long term issues. Thanks for the post, this is great!

Oh, the importance is compounded during football season, hunting season, and good enough weather to ride a motorcycle. Maintenance is a hard crew to keep around.
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Old 02-12-2009, 03:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY liquid auto doser

Why the air gap? I'm setting up a tank with everything coming through bulkheads in the bottom of the tank. Would check valves at the point of introduction to the water stream serve the same purpose?
Those dosing pumps are sort of positive displacement by the cam pinching the hose aren't they? I've got access to a pretty good toy shop at work too and love your set up. Bob
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY liquid auto doser

so far, it's been up and running for about 2-ish months. it's been solid so far. i just keep tweaking the fert amount. with the independent timers, it's quite easy, so i don't worry about balancing. need more K? run the K pump for 2 more minutes per day. done. And the 1/2 gallon jugs last quite a while (the lowest one is still 1/2 full). so, i'm quite happy with it so far.

obviously, 2 months isn't going to crack and destroy anything yet... the norprene tubing SHOULD last quite a long time, though. i hope. that's the plan at least. and if it doesn't... it will take me 10 minutes to replace all the tubing.

as for the air gap... i did it so the aquarium water (and the microorganisms in it) would not come in contact with a 6-foot tubes of pure fertilizers. i'm pretty sure gunk would start growing and living in the tubes and it would just be bad in general. so now, stuff just "falls" into the water and the tubes stay pure.

as for the idea of a check valve... it SOUNDS ok, but the cautious side of me says no, and here's why: the pumps are extremely slow. i mean, this thing DRIPS ferts into my tank. drip..... drip.... drip... these are IV pumps. so i'm sure the check valves would open and the ferts would go in, but i think there would be some bi-directional flow as soon as the valve opened, because the pressure is just SO low. so i THINK there would still be some sort of back flush. i'm not certain, but it's not something i wanted to test on my system. besides, draping it over the back of the tank really is no big deal. the tubing is very flexible and small. but if you want to give it a go with check-valves, please do and give us feedback!

as for the pumps... the company also sells pumps with controllers built in. so they have the same capabilities of what i "created." however, they were quite a bit more expensive than my 12-dollar table lamp timers. plus my lamp timers have small internal batteries so the settings aren't erased during a power outage (or if i just unplug stuff for fun). so that's a bonus.

anyway, i'm sure there are a few ways of doing this. i know a lot of people here spend so much time perfecting their ferts but then they still dose manually. i just wanted everyone to see that YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THIS! STOP THE MADNESS!

this was definitely a worth-while project. i am much happier with my aquarium when it doesn't look like a giant maintenance CHORE. i think on my next tank (many years from now), i'm going to build in some sort of an "easy" water-change solution. then i'll reach nirvana.


JP
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:06 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY liquid auto doser

Quote:
Originally Posted by intothenew View Post
You're a man after my my heart.

this is a true compliment, coming from the nutty guy who made an I-beam elevator that would make an egyptian pharoh jealous.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: DIY liquid auto doser

wow, you make some reefers i know look like work-a-holics. haha! very cool set-up, man. now all you need is a robot to bring you beer and you're all set!

-nick
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