Automatic water change system design DIY - Page 3 - DIY Aquarium Projects - Aquatic Plant Central

Go Back   Aquatic Plant Central > General Interest Forums > DIY Aquarium Projects

DIY Aquarium Projects For those that are handy or looking to save some money, discuss your DIY aquarium projects here.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-07-2011, 09:35 AM   #21 (permalink)
TAB
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Fair Oaks
Posts: 1,459
iTrader Ratings: 3
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
TAB is a regular member
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Floats can and do fail.

Murphy is a SOB.
TAB is offline   Reply With Quote

Advertisement [Remove Advertisement]
Old 03-07-2011, 09:58 AM   #22 (permalink)
The Plant Whisperer
 
Zapins's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: South VA
Posts: 6,405
iTrader Ratings: 66
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
Zapins is a valuable member of the community Zapins is a valuable member of the community
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Yep, but then again everything fails. You might worry about the tank seams bursting and flooding the entire tank on the floor. Adding floats makes the system that much more safe in an imperfect world. Better then no floats.

Toilets use floats, and everyone has one or more in their house. Sure they rarely fail (on the order of once in a dozen years if not less due to the float valve) but they are fail safe enough to be common and not cause people massive flood damage.

If its good enough for the loo its good enough for the tanks I think
Zapins is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2011, 10:18 AM   #23 (permalink)
TAB
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Fair Oaks
Posts: 1,459
iTrader Ratings: 3
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
TAB is a regular member
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

actually floats in toilets come out of adjustment/fail all the time. that and the flapper valve are the 2 biggest service calls I get for toilet repairs.

All I'm saying is if you can remove something mechanical, you are better off. Look at places like reef central for float swtich/valve failures. you will see dozens.
TAB is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Old 03-08-2011, 07:35 AM   #24 (permalink)
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 6
iTrader Ratings: 0
RSidetrack is a regular member
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Well this is my first post on this forum but I have taken great interest in this setup and what you are doing with it.

My current automatic water changing system works, but unfortunately it is risky. Currently I actually have two electrodes that go into different positions on the tank, one at the top for filling, one part way down for draining. I have a power head that pumps water out to drain the tank and a dishwasher water valve that lets water in.

The system works by having a small amount of electricity to complete the circuit - way to low to hurt any fish, even in a full saltwater tank (mine is freshwater tho). So at a certain time each day the controller for draining the tank turns on and water is drained out until the circuit is broken (water goes lower than electrode). The timer turns off after a certain time which stops the draining (if it doesn't turn off though the water can only go as low as the power head, most I risk is burning up the power head).

A second timer turns on which opens the dishwasher valve and lets water in until it hits the top electrode and completes the circuit which cuts power to the dishwasher valve.

The problem with my setup of course is while the draining has a couple fail safes (electrodes, timer, and bottom of power head); my filling part of the cycle is only timer based and electrode. As I discovered the other day of course, the electrodes get covered with standard aquarium "grime" and, well, the circuit doesn't get completed. I ended up with maybe a quarter gallon on the floor before the timer kicked off.

Anyway - whole point of this post is I have been trying to implement the drain system as a backup in case my electrodes get covered again. I tried basing my first design exactly off the way you set yours up - though I am trying to keep it small so I have 3/4" pipe rather than 1.5" and they didn't have "u" connectors like they do in the bigger sizes so I had to make my own with elbows.

Anyway, I filled it up, and well, it didn't work. If I tilted it slightly to towards the drain side [part that would go out of the house] (this brought the "drain" out of the water) it would start draining. If I put a direct water source to it it would work fine. So I trimmed down my pipe that is on the inside of the U with the air release (anti-siphon) in case I had it too high. Now it doesn't work no matter what I do. I guess my question is, how close do you have to be on the height for the drain and the 3rd U?
RSidetrack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2011, 07:47 AM   #25 (permalink)
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 6
iTrader Ratings: 0
RSidetrack is a regular member
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Oh and another thing for you guys with Chlorine and Chloramine - I built my own filter to get rid of the chemicals for my incoming water source. I have Chloramine in my house - so it makes it that much more difficult.

If you want to build your own filter, here is what I did.
Materials:
4" diameter x 3' long piece of PVC
Connectors for water input and output
Drain cleanouts for both sides
Pink (heavy duty) teflon
Womens Nylons
Big box of Carbon (forget amount needed)
Big box of Ammo Chips (forget amount needed)

Fill the 1 nylon with carbon and put in pipe, try to get half the pipe filled with the carbon. (input side)
Fill the other nylon with the ammo chips and try to fill the rest of the pipe (output side)

Put a polishing filter on the output side of the pipe so it fits the entire connection (this way any excess particles that do make it won't clog anything, and cleaner water getting in)

Hook up and run .

The carbon removes the chlorine from the water and the ammo chips absorb the ammonia (left behind from Chloramine). Test the water as it comes out, make sure there is no Chlorine or Ammonia (for chloramine water).

My setup has lasted over a year, still no chlorine or ammonia. I even fill up milk jugs with the water cause it tastes pretty good compared to straight from the tap.
RSidetrack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2011, 08:12 AM   #26 (permalink)
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 52
iTrader Ratings: 0
Jim Miller is a regular member
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

I can appreciate the desire for automation, while setting up my 90g I had the hose extending from the small bath shower head on the first floor to the tank continuously. Unsightly and a stumble hazard as well. I've since purchased a small hosereel from the HW store to tidy it up and make it easy to stow after use. SWMBO was complaining about the hosereel in the showerstall just before she left this morning. I'm going to add a quick disconnect fitting to make it easier to move to the basement.

I think a 50% standpipe drain would be pretty easy to hide in the tank and would eliminate the need for drain timers. Just a valve to open when needed. It will stop when the top of the pipe is reached. I'd still opt for a manual fill afterwards however via a dedicated 1/4" line. Stuff happens...

I'll do that in my next house for sure. Won't be automated but it would be much more convenient.

Jim
Jim Miller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2011, 12:19 PM   #27 (permalink)
The Plant Whisperer
 
Zapins's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: South VA
Posts: 6,405
iTrader Ratings: 66
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
Zapins is a valuable member of the community Zapins is a valuable member of the community
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

RSidetrack your system sounds interesting! I was initially considering using electricity in the same way you are but I never got around to figuring out the voltages etc... I would love to hear what types of electrical systems you are using (voltages/power supplies/what your electrode is made of/etc..) if you have the time pictures would be great too!

A side thought on your system vs mine is that your system is more efficient with water. A pump removes water in your tank then new water fills the tank back up. In this way you discard only dirty water and replace it with fresh. My system dilutes the dirty tank water by adding fresh water into it. It is less efficient but also slightly more safe for the plants in the tank since there is no risk of the tank draining to 50% and then something going wrong and the fresh water does not refill the tank again. If you have a wood scape with anubias plants and whatnot growing up near the surface on the wood a 50% full tank can leave the plants out in the air where they can dry up and die. I suppose its all down to preference and your water situation. I am lucky to have well water since it costs us nothing except the electricity to pump it out of the ground, but in a city it might make more sense to drain then refill especially if you have a lot of tanks on the auto system.

I am lucky that my house uses well water, so we have no chlorine or chloramine. I am surprised to hear that carbon removed chloramine though I didn't know that. Does carbon remove chlorine too? How long does a bag of carbon like that last? Fascinating idea though, I had convoluted plans for peristaltic pumps and dechlorinator liquid in mind before I realized our house doesn't have chlorine/chloramine .

I updated my overflow diagram. I think this one is much more clear. Basically the important thing to make sure of is that the top of pipe number 3 is below the U joint between 1 and 2 but at the same time the top of pipe number 3 must be above the bottom of pipe 1 (see dotted line in diagram). This ensures that the siphon tube never runs dry (solid blue tube).

When the overflow is set up in this fashion you will drain the tank water down to the point indicated (see before and after diagrams). Any water added to the tank after the initial setup will flow through the overflow pipe.

Also, since I made this design I had to drill a small hole in the overflow on the top of the U joint between pipes 1 and 2. I ran a small 1/8" tube into the hole and sealed it. The tube runs into an aqualifter pump which sucks water and air out of the U joint ensuring that gas bubbles do not build up there and break the seal. This system has worked well.


Last edited by Zapins; 03-08-2011 at 12:35 PM..
Zapins is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-09-2011, 07:18 AM   #28 (permalink)
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 6
iTrader Ratings: 0
RSidetrack is a regular member
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
RSidetrack your system sounds interesting! I was initially considering using electricity in the same way you are but I never got around to figuring out the voltages etc... I would love to hear what types of electrical systems you are using (voltages/power supplies/what your electrode is made of/etc..) if you have the time pictures would be great too!
I am actually in the process of redesigning the system and getting the units in safe boxes - once done I will get photos. Right now they are exposed circuits which of course are unsafe if hit with water. As for electrical systems I am using phone charge power supplies that are run through resistors to put out very very low current. Right now (another change) my electrodes are just wires, held in a small piece of air hose that are split at the ends so the prongs point out each side. When the circuit is complete (water covering electrodes) it flips a relay, which either turns on or off the pump or dishwasher valve (you can get these very cheap on ebay). I will get more detailed specs of the system once it is done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
A side thought on your system vs mine is that your system is more efficient with water. A pump removes water in your tank then new water fills the tank back up. In this way you discard only dirty water and replace it with fresh. My system dilutes the dirty tank water by adding fresh water into it. It is less efficient but also slightly more safe for the plants in the tank since there is no risk of the tank draining to 50% and then something going wrong and the fresh water does not refill the tank again. If you have a wood scape with anubias plants and whatnot growing up near the surface on the wood a 50% full tank can leave the plants out in the air where they can dry up and die. I suppose its all down to preference and your water situation. I am lucky to have well water since it costs us nothing except the electricity to pump it out of the ground, but in a city it might make more sense to drain then refill especially if you have a lot of tanks on the auto system.
Fortunately I don't have a large amount of plants in my tank quite yet. I am working on fail safes within my drain and fill design, basically redundant backups - two sets of electrodes per unit. Still possible to have both fail unfortunately - this is why I really want to get the drain pipe set up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
I am lucky that my house uses well water, so we have no chlorine or chloramine. I am surprised to hear that carbon removed chloramine though I didn't know that. Does carbon remove chlorine too? How long does a bag of carbon like that last? Fascinating idea though, I had convoluted plans for peristaltic pumps and dechlorinator liquid in mind before I realized our house doesn't have chlorine/chloramine .
Actually activated carbon only removes Chlorine. When it hits Chloramine it breaks it down into two parts - chlorine and ammonia. The chlorine is removed by the activated carbon, leaving only Ammonia. As a result, I use Ammo Chips to get rid of the Ammonia. I just had to replace the ammo chips in my system for the first time in a year - it was letting .25ppm of ammonia through - once the ammo chips were replaced it lets none through. I do checks every month to make sure no Chlorine, Chloramine or Ammonia are making it through the system. After all, why drain dirty water to add in dirty water .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
I updated my overflow diagram. I think this one is much more clear. Basically the important thing to make sure of is that the top of pipe number 3 is below the U joint between 1 and 2 but at the same time the top of pipe number 3 must be above the bottom of pipe 1 (see dotted line in diagram). This ensures that the siphon tube never runs dry (solid blue tube).

When the overflow is set up in this fashion you will drain the tank water down to the point indicated (see before and after diagrams). Any water added to the tank after the initial setup will flow through the overflow pipe.

Also, since I made this design I had to drill a small hole in the overflow on the top of the U joint between pipes 1 and 2. I ran a small 1/8" tube into the hole and sealed it. The tube runs into an aqualifter pump which sucks water and air out of the U joint ensuring that gas bubbles do not build up there and break the seal. This system has worked well.
Okay - that may be part of my problem. I redesigned mine so the #3 pipe was actually lower than everything else - including the intake. I will have to redesign to see if I can get it to function better.

How do you prime the tube? You may not have to now that you have it hooked into a pump, but before that how did you prime it? I think priming may be part of my problem too. I was able to get my set up to work to the point where overflow water would trickle out, but not fast enough to counter a filling. I am going to put one together that resembles your new diagram and see what happens. I will just hold off on the glue for now (just have to hope it is air tight )

What kind of pump are you using to remove the air and keep the flow up? Would it be possible for me to run a line into my Rena filter intake and have it do the same thing or would I have to splice into the system? In which case I would probably want to use a power head of some sort as I really don't want to mess up my Rena filter
RSidetrack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-09-2011, 07:38 AM   #29 (permalink)
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 6
iTrader Ratings: 0
RSidetrack is a regular member
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

While I have the stuff in front of me, for the water emptying circuit:

You will need:
A/C Power Cord
5.7v 800mA power supply (or close to it)
Outlet of some sort (to plug in emptying pump, you may hardwire if you wish, I just wanted easy removal)
OEG OJ-SS-109TM Relay
A diode (unfortunately numbers are worn off mine :-/)
Resistor (Mine is Gold, Orange, Black Brown)

I was trying to type out how to build, but too complicated. Will have to get a picture when done. If you are good with electronics you might be able to make what I provided work.

My brother is the electronic genius that came up with this system, I am just a computer nerd . I am not good with electronic lingo, etc, or how stuff actually works
RSidetrack is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-09-2011, 08:38 AM   #30 (permalink)
The Plant Whisperer
 
Zapins's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: South VA
Posts: 6,405
iTrader Ratings: 66
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
Zapins is a valuable member of the community Zapins is a valuable member of the community
Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Quote:
Originally Posted by RSidetrack View Post
I am actually in the process of redesigning the system and getting the units in safe boxes - once done I will get photos. Right now they are exposed circuits which of course are unsafe if hit with water. As for electrical systems I am using phone charge power supplies that are run through resistors to put out very very low current. Right now (another change) my electrodes are just wires, held in a small piece of air hose that are split at the ends so the prongs point out each side. When the circuit is complete (water covering electrodes) it flips a relay, which either turns on or off the pump or dishwasher valve (you can get these very cheap on ebay). I will get more detailed specs of the system once it is done.
What causes your electrodes to malfunction exactly? Is it corrosion or sludge/algae build up? It might be worth it to have a look at some of the other metals out there. I have heard that some are ani-microbial and do not tarnish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RSidetrack View Post
Fortunately I don't have a large amount of plants in my tank quite yet. I am working on fail safes within my drain and fill design, basically redundant backups - two sets of electrodes per unit. Still possible to have both fail unfortunately - this is why I really want to get the drain pipe set up.
You might also want to add small plastic float valves (from ebay) to your design. They will prevent incoming water into the tank if the overflow and the electronics fail. They will be a third safeguard. I think I might add your electronic safety system to mine for a third fail safe .

As a side note there are actually water sensors / water alarms that are available on ebay for about 7 bucks each. They could be useful as a fourth safety feature or an alert system. They could probably be wired into your preexisting electronic system or my solenoid/drainage system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RSidetrack View Post
Okay - that may be part of my problem. I redesigned mine so the #3 pipe was actually lower than everything else - including the intake. I will have to redesign to see if I can get it to function better.
Just make sure that 3 isn't too close to the bottom of 1 since the water level in the tank drains down to the level of 3. So if 1 is a very long pipe that sits near the bottom of your tank and you put 3 just above the bottom of 1 then your whole tank remains unfilled.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RSidetrack View Post
How do you prime the tube? You may not have to now that you have it hooked into a pump, but before that how did you prime it? I think priming may be part of my problem too. I was able to get my set up to work to the point where overflow water would trickle out, but not fast enough to counter a filling. I am going to put one together that resembles your new diagram and see what happens. I will just hold off on the glue for now (just have to hope it is air tight )
What I did before I had the aqualifter is I snaked an air bubbler tube into 1 and made sure the tube reached the U joint between 1 and 2 while the overflow sat in the tank. Then I sucked out the air by mouth until I saw water in the tube. Then I removed the tube. If you install an aqualifter there you don't have to suck out the air by mouth, you can just run the pump and it removes the air for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RSidetrack View Post
What kind of pump are you using to remove the air and keep the flow up? Would it be possible for me to run a line into my Rena filter intake and have it do the same thing or would I have to splice into the system? In which case I would probably want to use a power head of some sort as I really don't want to mess up my Rena filter
Yeah I agree, I think it would be safer to buy a separate pump for the job rather then using your canister filter. Getting airtube line connected securely to 1/2" filter line is difficult since the fittings are impossible to find at local hardware stores. Also, there might be unforeseen consequences to having multiple intakes into the filter.

The one I am using is Aqua Lifter, Aqualifter Pump by Tom AW-20 Drip/Dose. They are about $14.

Zapins is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Aquatic Plant Central > General Interest Forums > DIY Aquarium Projects > Automatic water change system design DIY

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:21 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1