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Old 02-20-2011, 10:56 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Just a quick update on the system (over a year later). There have been no leaks from the saddle valves or plastic lines. Though if you make this system you definitely need to keep the tubes away from anything that is too hot to touch, especially furnace exhaust vents (hot water pipes seem ok for the most part as long as you can touch them with your hand). I had a small leak from one solenoid that seems to have been defective though which didn't cause much damage since it was only a few drops.

The main problem I've had with the system is that it flushes nutrients out of the tank very quickly. I also found that if you run the water too much (constantly 24/7) fish develop pop-eye from gasses dissolved in the water (similar to the bends divers get).

I had to dial back the time that I allowed the system to run each day. I now run the water change system for 15 minutes a day which is the lowest increment on my timer. I think running it even less then this or 2-3 times a week for a short time would be even better.

Since I posted this I added an RO unit and water storage tank to the existing system for my discus 180g tank. I suppose with a few plastic fittings I could mix RO water in with the other tanks I have if I wanted. I might post pictures of the RO system.

When I find time I'll wire up some peristaltic dosing pumps to the tanks to automatically take care of the fertilizers.
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

i have been running a very similar setup to yours in my tank. i made my drain out of 1/2" pvc however as to keep it small and ran 1/4" line to the tank to drip in. i figured the 1/2" will flow 4x as much water as the 1/4" can supply. my pickup for the drain though, i ran straight down towards the bottom of the tank which i may change to your up pipe design. the waste water is awesome for watering flowers and gardens.

a word of caution however, once you get enough air in the top of the drain loop that it shuts off the continuous flow to your vented side of the drain and then instead of the drain being the limiting factor of how high your water level is in your tank, the glass height takes over. but dont worry the water level will not go higher than the top of the glass, it just kinda trickles down the side of the tank then. if you have enough dissolved O2 or CO2 in your water to collect inside the drain it could do that. i had my setup for little over a year too and it finally did just that a few days ago. idk if having the pickup pointed up will help prevent that problem or not.
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Old 02-24-2011, 05:49 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Zab - I'd love to see some pictures of your setup if you have them.

Also, as for the air bubble problem in the drainage loop, I solved this by drilling a small hole at the top of the drainage loop where the gas gets trapped and running a 1/4" tube to an aquilifter pump. The pump sucks out the air and keeps water in the top of the loop. It works very well. I'll see if I can take a picture of it soon.
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Old 03-06-2011, 02:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

i plan to do something similar when I get a home (not an apt)

i think it would be much simpler and safer to eliminate the float switches, relays, pumps etc. and...

1. drill an small overflow on the back (no worries about breaking siphon)
2. use a solenoid on the water inputs w/ a timer (like 2-3mins daily) slowly adjusted until its right
3. have water outflow just lead to a drain or flower bed etc
4. have automated fert system

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Old 03-06-2011, 07:50 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

True, true, but my tanks are in the basement and there are no drains that the water can flow down to, it must be pumped up and out of the house. If my tanks were on a top floor I would eliminate the collection bucket and a lot of the other stuff I have. Also drilling tanks is somewhat risky and somewhat limits their aquascapableness (tongue twister!).

Its funny you should mention the fert system, whenever I muster up the effort I'll get around to hooking up the peristaltic pumps and digital second timers I bought to the system. I'll post pics of that too when I finish it.

Please post pics of your system whenever you finish it!
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:36 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

the simplest fert system i have seen is a friend uses a horizontal autofeeder

he modified it slightly so that each compartment has a small hinged false bottom...and its a smaller tank (like 30 gals I think)

as it rotates, the bottom falls out and drops macros and trace daily...surprisingly, he doesnt have problems with humidity
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:45 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

That sounds interesting! I was thinking of something like that as well a few months ago but using one of those electric salt grinders. I figured that humidity would cause the dry ferts to clump and they would need grinding to be dosed correctly. I bought one for 7 bucks off ebay but I never got around to wiring it up. But if humidity isn't a problem then autofeeders would be a great choice. I've got some lying around as well, I might put them to the test.

I think dosing dry ferts is the best idea for fertilizer dosing since liquid dosing allows the chemicals to spoil with whatever bacteria or fungus happens to like to eat them.

Do you think you could get some pics of the modifications he made to the feeder?
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:01 AM   #18 (permalink)
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What happens when a bit of plant or a snail gets in the overflow?

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Old 03-07-2011, 08:22 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

flood.

Thats why I've never liked the fill to have it overflow water change systems.

a much better option is have a stand pipe of a valve in your plumbing so the water will drain down to that point. then you refill. Its what I run on my discus tank. I have a stand pipe that is 12" below the water line on a valve. I just turn the valve, out goes the water.
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Old 03-07-2011, 09:29 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

No. Perhaps you should look back at the flood protection I added TAB.

If the overflow gets clogged then each tank has a float valve that is set to stop incoming water before it reaches the rim of the tank preventing a tank overflow.

Float valve on each tank:
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