Art, you demonstrate once again why you are The Boss. Your water change system manages not only to get the job done, but does so in a way which would pass the muster of anyone's significant other, non-fish type, better half.
The Python is also a great invention. One fabulous feature with it is the ability to screw into a sink faucet that has both hot and cold water. That way one can dial in the proper temp for the return water -- especially important in the winter months. The one thing I don't like is the waste inherent in draining the tanks by suction -- the suction being provided by your fresh tap water pulling the old tank water down the drain. This comment is only relevant if your sink happens to be higher that you tank's water level. If one can arrange to have the Python lower than the tank, one only has to start the syphon with a burst of tap water and then gravity will do the rest.
Still, if one lived in say, an upstair apartment - I can't see maintaining more than one tank without the use of these ingenious devises.
My proposed method, which I welcome everyone's criticism and help with BTW, since at this point it's all in theory, this idea would provide for a constant exchange of a reletively small amount of water at all
times. My movitation here is to totally automate water exchange and hopefully provide for a more natural, healthier environment overall. By not waiting until toxins build up to do a water change we might hopefully avoid their detrimental effects over this period as well as avoid possible shock from the introduction of a massive amount of water with new characteristics in one fell swoop when we finally do the water change. Ever wait too long to do a water change and watch all your Crypts melt? Ever do a big water chang and then
have your Crypts melt?
This is what I'm trying to avoid.
Plus, by exchanging the *proper* amount of water constantly, we might be able to cut way back on the amount of filtration needed, perhaps to the point where, between the plants doing their job and the nitrate devouring bacteria doing theirs - I'm thinking in some tanks man-made filtration might not even be needed. This remains to be seen, of course.
The mechanics of such a system would rely heavily on self-leveling syphons. Check out Wright Huntley's simple design for a constant overflow displayed on The American Killifish Association's site: http://www.aka.org/pages/libary/flow_through.html
His description of it's simple, inexpensive implimentation using easy to find materials is far more concise and elegant than my repeating it here.
Individual tanks on the same level, all in a row, could be easily joined together through the use of plain "U" shaped siphons one can either purchase, or make themselves from clear PVC, vinyl hose - or even white PVC: 2 elbows and three straight sections. Adding a nipple or drip irrigation emiter to the middle section or appex of the "U" siphon would allow one to hook the siphon(s) to a length of regular airling tubing which could in turn be hooked up to a power head somewhere in the system, hopefully on a lower level. This should insure that the siphon(s) won't loose their prime as they gather the inevitible air bubbles or if there is a power outage. Similarly, a piece of plain yarn run through the siphon into the water of both ajacent tanks may serve the same purpose.
Connecting one row of tanks to a lower level of tanks is as simple as using the Overflow described. Theoretically, however many rows of tanks one wished could be so connected together. All that remains is providing for drainage out of the house on the final overflow.
I gota run now but I'll describe the rest of my theoretical overflow system next post.