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Automatic Dosing Pumps

In preparation for an upcoming vacation I've decided to automate the dosing in my tanks to eliminate the need for any pet-sitting services (from family or others). The method I've chosen involves the use of peristaltic pumps (APT Instruments SP100 OEM).

Here's the setup on my 125g tank. The reason for 5 gallon buckets is that these pumps will be adding both ferts as well as top-off water to the tanks. I've calculated the weekly evaporation rate and the 10 gallons of solution should leave me 3-4 gallons short of full after a three week period..which will be just in time for a return from vacation water change. The white bucket is for macros (N-P-K) while the yellow is the micros (in this case, TMG)

Here you see closeup of the pump on top of the bucket lid. The lid is mainly to keep solution evaporation down to a minimum. The acrylic tube serves the purpose of keeping the draw tube inserted fully to the bottom of the bucket (as seen in the next picture). Also in the bucket is a small water pump to mix the solution while it's being dosed.

Here's the setup for my 40g. Same as for the 125 but with smaller buckets (3.5 gallon).

Here you can see one of the drip tubes held in place with a rubber-band clamp. The clamp has just enough tension to hold the tube in place without the risk of constricting it. The drip tube's end is submersed to eliminate the possibility of any of the ferts crystalizing and clogging the opening while the pumps are off.

Here's the permanent setup on my 20g tank. Since this tank is closed top I don't have to worry about adding water to top it off so this setup is much cleaner. Solutions are stored in 500ml water bottles. No acrylic tube is needed for these since the draw tube is so short. The wrapper around the rear bottle is to keep light off the micro solution (CSM+B) since the back of the cabinet is open.

The solution (PPS standard + Flourish Excel) for the 20g tank is being dispensed into the HOB filter.

Once the vacation over, and I can dose the open top tanks without concern for top-off water, I'll mount their pumps inside their stands, too, and store the solutions in smaller bottles.

As for the actual dosing regimen, the past three weeks I've been logging the amount of ferts dosed to each tank while doing no water changes. Unsing this data I was able to calculate the total amount of each fert needed for a three week period. These were added to the bucket and topped off with water. The total amount of solution is based on the water added to top off the tanks over the past three weeks. So in the case of the 125g tank, it took 12g of top-off water so five gallons of macro solution and five of micros should leave me just a little short of full when I get back. Of course these pictures are of my three week trail preceeding the actual vacation so I'll be able to make any necessary adjustments before I leave.

Each pump's flow rate was measured by running it for five minutes then dividing the output by five to get the ml/min delivery rate.

This article was graciously donated by Bharada. Check out his website here for more great information and pictures.

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