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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On another thread
we have been discussing our water change systems, and Brian's (bpimm) system aroused my interest in applying a similar system to my 45 gallon tank, which some day I will get set up. Like Brian, my tank has a drilled overflow hole in the upper right back corner, so I can install an overflow as he did. But, I have to use city water, which may have chloramine in it. My idea to "autodose" Prime is to use a sealed two gallon holding container, where I would dose about 10 times the amount of Prime needed for the two gallons of new water. Then as that water goes to the tank, incoming water would dilute what is left in the holding container, and in 24 hours it would be just about what is needed just for 2 gallons, at which time I add another slug of Prime. Because the holding container would be sealed, the incoming water would slightly pressurize it driving water up to the aquarium rim to drip into the aquarium, and any excess would overflow thru the drilled hole overflow pipe.

An added advantage of the holding tank is that the incoming water has to cross my very hot second floor deck to get to my aquarium, so it will be hot water when it gets to the holding tank. But, it will have a chance to cool off before going into the aquarium. In the winter, the opposite will happen.

By my calculations if I run incoming water at about 4 drops per second I will have replaced half of the water in the aquarium in a week - perfect for EI dosing.

Am I overlooking anything here? Has anyone else tried the holding container idea, and dosed Prime like that? What disaster awaits me????

 

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From another thread,

Naja002 said:
Carbon filters do not remove chloramines. "Super-Activated" carbon will, but it breaks it down into chlorine and ammonia---the ammonia remains free....
Let me start out by saying I am no chemist or biologist and my planted tank knowledge is dated so this idea comes from a non scientific, rusty brain so correct me where I'm wrong, and forgive me if I'm way out in left field picking daises.

If I understand this right the only output after a "Super-Activated" carbon filter would be ammonia.

Ammonia below 7.0 PH is in the form of ammonium.
Ammonium is the preferred form of nitrogen for plants.

depending on the quantity of ammonia released from the breakdown of the chloramines wouldn't this just be a supplemental source of ferts for the plants, assuming that the levels are low and the PH is maintained below 7.0?

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The chloramine issue isn't an easy one to get a handle on. For a continuous water change system the flow rate involved is so low it appears that a carbon filter would be effective. But, when I read about the various carbon filters available I can't determine how well they will work at such low flow rates, how long before replacing the filter element is necessary - they do breed bacteria - and how well they handle chloramine vs. chlorine. The only problem I see from introducing a steady, but low level of ammonia is possible algae blooms being triggered. But, since this would not be a fluctuating input the algae spores might not chose to "hatch".

Seachem doesn't seem too enthralled with my idea for dosing a holding container with a big overdose of Prime, then letting that get diluted as the change water cycles thru the holding container. I understand their concerns, so I probably will go with a filter of some kind instead. However I don't want to have to spend $300 for the filter and $100 each for monthly filter element replacements, so I really want to visit my local Ace Hardware and find something that fits my bank account better.

This is part of the fun of DIY though - the design decision process!
 

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hoppycalif said:
The chloramine issue isn't an easy one to get a handle on. For a continuous water change system the flow rate involved is so low it appears that a carbon filter would be effective. But, when I read about the various carbon filters available I can't determine how well they will work at such low flow rates, how long before replacing the filter element is necessary - they do breed bacteria - and how well they handle chloramine vs. chlorine. The only problem I see from introducing a steady, but low level of ammonia is possible algae blooms being triggered. But, since this would not be a fluctuating input the algae spores might not chose to "hatch".

Seachem doesn't seem too enthralled with my idea for dosing a holding container with a big overdose of Prime, then letting that get diluted as the change water cycles thru the holding container. I understand their concerns, so I probably will go with a filter of some kind instead. However I don't want to have to spend $300 for the filter and $100 each for monthly filter element replacements, so I really want to visit my local Ace Hardware and find something that fits my bank account better.

This is part of the fun of DIY though - the design decision process!
There are some cartridge units for ice makers that just screw inline, that may be a place to start. just set up a slow flow and test for chloramine. there was a Hach test kit mentioned in the second article but I didn't look it up figuring it would be spendy. Maybe there is a less expensive kit available somewhere.

(EDIT) It's not as bad as I thought it's $60.00 + shipping.
 

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Just a thought, can a whole house carbon filter block help in Cl removal ? It is a cylinder shape solid black carbon filter media for household use. Available in ACE.

They are cheap nowadays and require not much water pressure to go thru. I did the pH test before and after the carbon block now and then, the reading is different even after months.

I am a bit skeptical about the dosing part. There is no monitoring system installed. The running cost (anti-Cl dosing) would be much higher than weekly water change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The point of a continuous water change system is to eliminate the weekly drudgery of changing water, not saving money. It certainly doesn't save any money. I'm getting more and more interested in the carbon filters, especially the carbon block type. But, I'm still thinking about the ammonia being released. I suppose a two stage filter, with an ammonia absorbing media in the second stage would solve that, but I haven't looked into that yet.

I'm also wondering if a pressure regulator is really needed. The flow control needle valve seems to be all that is required, and I can get that pretty cheaply. I'm not sure how well a regulator would work for continuous drops per second flow rates, but I also wonder if a needle valve would survive that very long.
 

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hoppycalif said:
I'm also wondering if a pressure regulator is really needed. The flow control needle valve seems to be all that is required, and I can get that pretty cheaply. I'm not sure how well a regulator would work for continuous drops per second flow rates, but I also wonder if a needle valve would survive that very long.
I use the regulator because when I was just doing one tank I used drip irrigation emitters to control the flow, they are pretty crude and can't handle much pressure. and the side benefit is I could use the regulator for fine control. also all of my feed line is just airline tubing, I don,t think I want to try 80PSI in that stuff (Can you say water weenie).

The regulator I use came from a hydroponics shop it wasn't that expensive as I remember it.
 

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Hoppy,

Just a thought.... I suspect that a slow, steady drip of water wouldn't supply enough chlorine or chloramine to hurt anything. Concentrations just wouldn't be that high and I think your plants would easily accomodate the difference. Who knows, you might even invent the magic cure for algae. :) (but I doubt it). You might try it for a while to see if I'm right before adding nice plants & fish.

Don't forget about evaporation. You need to add enough water so that your outflow gets a significant quantitiy of water. Otherwise you'll see TDS creeping upwards over time.

I'd skip the pressure regulator. Pressure on the downstream side of the needle valve will be almost zero. I would look at some sort of strainer or filter above the needle valve or you risk it gunking up on a regular basis. There's always a bit of sand & sediment in water. The only other issue you might have is variable water pressure. I think that might make it hard to dial in the exact rate you want.

Cool project. Keep us posted.
 

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guaiac_boy said:
Hoppy,
The only other issue you might have is variable water pressure. I think that might make it hard to dial in the exact rate you want.

Cool project. Keep us posted.
Thats the other issue I forgot to mention in the why I use a regulator, with the well the pressure swings about 25 PSI. but for those on city water you may not have this issue, it will vary some but I don't think it will be very much. unless you are on an older system them all bets are off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
JERP, chloramines do degrade eventually. Nothing I have read disagrees with that. The advantages of chloramines for treating water are that they remain in the water much longer than chlorine does, and don't form carcinogens with other water contaminants. I haven't seen anything yet about just how long chloramines will remain if you fill a bucket with the water, for example. Is it years, months, days, centuries? Do you have any references that provide that kind of information?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
guaiac_boy said:
Hoppy,
-------
Don't forget about evaporation. You need to add enough water so that your outflow gets a significant quantitiy of water. Otherwise you'll see TDS creeping upwards over time.

I'd skip the pressure regulator. Pressure on the downstream side of the needle valve will be almost zero. I would look at some sort of strainer or filter above the needle valve or you risk it gunking up on a regular basis. There's always a bit of sand & sediment in water. The only other issue you might have is variable water pressure. I think that might make it hard to dial in the exact rate you want.

Cool project. Keep us posted.
Evaporation is an interesting part of the equation, one I have not considered. So, I did some rough calculations: My 29 gallon tank, in this hot weather, with 25 gallons of water in it, loses about 1 1/2 inch of water a week, which is about 10% of the total water. If my 45 gallon tank loses the same, and it should because the set up will be the same, it will lose about 4 gallons a week. The water flow into the tank to replace half of the water in one week will be about 12 ml/minute, or about 4 1/2 gallons per day. So, I will be adding water about ten times as fast as it evaporates. So, TDS shouldn't be an issue.

I'm leaning hard towards using an activated carbon filter upstream of the needle valve to eliminate some of the chloramine and most of the chlorine, possibly followed by an ammonia adsorbing filter to catch the released ammonia. Right now I'm trying to decide if that is overkill or prudence. And, I don't see a reason yet for a regulator - my water is city water, which, over a 24 hour period, should be at the same pressure every day. It makes no difference if it goes up or down 20% or more - this isn't rocket science!

Right now I am in the middle of a medical "episode" that is stopping me from actually doing much, but being a retired engineer, this type project is the most fun I have had for awhile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks, JERP! I remember reading that series of posts a couple of years ago. Isn't it amazing that the definitive answer on chloramine is still so elusive?

My goal is to divorce myself from the hassle of dragging in my water change kit, hooking it up, changing water, then getting it all back into storage, without spilling any water in the process. I have this new tank (used)I bought that has a drilled hole for an overflow, and Brian's continuous change system is just too intriguing an idea for me to forget. I was thinking of a holding tank with the incoming water going thru it, slowly of course, and dosing that tank with Prime. But, it doesn't look like that would be effective, plus it would be one more daily dosing task to do. So, I think I would be safe enough just using a carbon filter made for undersink filtering, and change it every 6 months. No one seems to have landed a fatal blow to that idea over the years.

I will plan to do a normal drain and refill change about monthly and do my major "gardening" then. In my dreams of course, I will not have algae issues requiring more closely spaced gardening.
 

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hoppycalif said:
Thanks, JERP! I remember reading that series of posts a couple of years ago. Isn't it amazing that the definitive answer on chloramine is still so elusive?

My goal is to divorce myself from the hassle of dragging in my water change kit, hooking it up, changing water, then getting it all back into storage, without spilling any water in the process. I have this new tank (used)I bought that has a drilled hole for an overflow, and Brian's continuous change system is just too intriguing an idea for me to forget. I was thinking of a holding tank with the incoming water going thru it, slowly of course, and dosing that tank with Prime. But, it doesn't look like that would be effective, plus it would be one more daily dosing task to do. So, I think I would be safe enough just using a carbon filter made for undersink filtering, and change it every 6 months. No one seems to have landed a fatal blow to that idea over the years.

I will plan to do a normal drain and refill change about monthly and do my major "gardening" then. In my dreams of course, I will not have algae issues requiring more closely spaced gardening.
I think you are on the right track with the carbon inline filter, it will be interesting to see your ammonia test results.

I don't know how it will work with the EI ferts, but with the soil substrate I use if I get algae starting, I crank up the water change rate and starve it, this may be detrimental to your plants without the nutrients in the soil.

right now I have two new tanks cycling and both have small amounts of algae, I have been able to control it with the water flow rate and the algae squad in each tank.

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm back to this project again: I have my filter, my pressure regulator and my needle valve now. The filter is from Home Depot (about $30 including the filter element) and it takes standard sized filter elements - the one I purchased is a carbon one. The pressure regulator is from ebay at an absurdly low price ($2, as I remember plus $4 shipping cost). The needle valve is also from ebay, where I got 3 of them for 99 cents plus $5.01 shipping cost. (I am offering two of them for sale here today if anyone else wants to try this system. This valve will be perfect for this use.)
 

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I use a 3 pod, sediment, chlorine/chloramine, heavy metal, filter unit manufactured by Pentek Filtration (an American company I believe). I purchased this from a UK based Discus breeder and importer. It won't alter the kH/gH/pH of the water but will remove all sediment down to 0.5 micron, breaks the NH3Cl2 bond and then removes chlorine and ammonia, finally it removes toxic heavy metals. Purchased from here. I use the DD HMA80C

When I do a rainy season on my river tank I siphon tank water out on to my garden through some 5mm id pvc pipe used on RO filters, the water is then fed directly from the mains supply, through the heavy metal/chlorine/chloramine filter and into the tank where a float valve controls the level in the tank (ie as the water siphons out, the level drops the float valve and lets fresh filtered water into the tank).

I leave this running for days at a time and the temp in the tank over the summer only drops 2 - 3 *C. But after a day the nitrates in a heavily fed, unplanted tank, are barely detectable. The fish go into full spawning mode:) .

Tom
 
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