DIY Automated dosing/topoff
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Old 11-09-2004, 10:18 PM   #1
IUnknown
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Default DIY Automated dosing/topoff

I'm planning to finally order this stuff. Here is the journal that I've written up,

For under $100, you can put together an automated dosing or evaporated water top off system. The system I designed allows me to dose 1mL up to 14mL of fertilizer, into my canister filter line, any day of the week. For a top off system, measure your average evaporation and determine how much R/O water to add using the SP100 cut sheet. I use a simple digital timer, the DT17 (available at HD), to dose (minimum of one minute). The SP100 Peristaltic Pump is available from http://www.aptinstruments.com. I selected the 15 RPM motor that uses 1/16" ID Norprene tubing to dose .9 mL per minute. I could have used silicone to get closer to 1 mL per minute but I was worried about back pressure in my canister filter. I've added a check valve and TEE to feed the fertilizer directly into my canister. The following is a list of adapters that I got from www.ryanherco.com. You can also simply dose the fertilizer straight into the tank.

http://www.aptinstruments.com/pdf/SP100FOPS.pdf
http://www.intermatic.com/images/ins...heets/dt17.pdf

1/16" tubing neoprene 2'
1/8" tubing neoprene 2'
1/4" tubing neoprene 2'
0706-103 1/8"x1/16" reducing connector
0706-153 1/4"x1/8" reducing connector
5111-0-03 PP tubing check valve 1/4"
0715T-050 1/4"x1/4"x1/2" polyethylene TEE

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Old 11-09-2004, 11:53 PM   #2
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Default I spent too much

I don't have it all in yet, the pump arrives Friday, but I clearly just spent too much money trying to do something similar. But getting the timer at Radio Shack, and the peristalic pump and a custom T from http://www.automatedaquariums.com was definately past $100. I feel a bit stupid now.

Can you explain the back pressure concerns on your canister?

And not to harp on a recent subject, but are you planning on putting the T pre, or post canister? And I haven't even stopped to consider questions like how this relatively high concentration of cold fert will affect an in-line heater or CO2 reactor. Gosh, it's all connected.

I can't wait to hear how it turns out - 'cuz I'm trying to figure it out as I go...
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Old 11-10-2004, 03:39 AM   #3
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Sorry I didn't informed you earlier, you definitely saved me some money. I have back pressure on the Co2 tubing that connects to the reactor. I think its because the glass outlet pipe probably restricts the flow. I'm planning to install the TEE on the intake side (no room left on the outlet side) so I guess there would be no pressure problems. I don't think it really matters either way. I dose so little on my 20 gallon, I don't think it matter where I install the TEE.
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Old 11-10-2004, 10:28 AM   #4
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The intake side has got to be free of most complications, but there still can be pressure to recon with. I have assumed that there is not enough pressure to worry about, but the check valve from www.ryanherco.com is great! I didn't know where to get a fluid check valve. Looks like a great site! So I may have overpaid for a T that doubles as a check valve, but I'll save money in the future on liguid flow problems using them as a source. Thanks.

All that said, if someone is willing to try it, I'll wager that a peristalic put deals well with the back pressure issue, and will not flow in reverse because of it. I guess the real danger is just something happening to your setup, and draining your tank. Check valve sounds like a necessity, not for pressure, but for safety.
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Old 11-10-2004, 02:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Check valve sounds like a necessity, not for pressure, but for safety.
I was also thinking the check valve was needed to keep the fertilizer from being sucked out.
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Old 11-10-2004, 03:01 PM   #6
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Pls excuse my ignorance. I know the check valve, in the direction you've documented it, will keep water from flowing our of the line if something happens to your dosing setup. But can it also keep fluid from being sucked out of the fert lines?

I did't know a check valve could do that. And even if it won't, the peristolic pump should act like a shut off valve when it is not moving, and not allow anything to flow thru it. In either direction.
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Old 06-03-2005, 07:15 PM   #7
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Default Resurrecting a thread rather starting a new one,

With a three week vacation coming up in August I've decided to jump full in to the auto dosing wagon. After looking at the gravity fed solutions and reading about the inconsistancies in their dosing rates I've decided to go motorized.

I ordered six of the dosing pumps (one each for macros and micros for each of my three tanks). I seem to have gotten into a pretty consistent dosing routing over the past couple of months so I'll be trying to mix up batches of macros to last about a month for each tank. I'll test tank and reevaluate the mix after the month is up. So I'll have at least a month and a half to configure the system before vacation starts.

The auto feeders will arrive next week so I'm fully on my way to automating my day-to-day routines.
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Old 06-03-2005, 08:21 PM   #8
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Hey Bill, that's great stuff! I love autodosing. Makes things soo easy. Welcome to the club.

With 6 pumps, you might have to be the honorary president!

Sound's like you got the aquamedics. And they may be very accurate. But I wanted to just let you know that some of these pumps (like mine) do not pump at their rated flows. I believe mine pumps about 25% slower than its rated flow. So you might want to measure it first to confirm the flow rate before you calculate your schedule.

If you'll be dosing everyday, you've got to deal with the "target vs. average" question, and decide what level you want to hit on your ferts. While with a typical dosing schedule you "target" a point to hit when you dose, you go lower than that in between doses. Daily doses allow you to peg a spot and hold it. But the spot you select might not be the same as your old "target".

Good luck! And keep us posted of progress please.
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Old 06-03-2005, 08:46 PM   #9
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Haha! Thanks for the nomination, Steve.

Once the pumps arrive I'll run them through their paces to see what their actual flow rates are. Do you notice appreciable differences depending on the height of the output tube? Or do these types of pumps have a flow rate based on head? Maybe not since the rollers are forcing the fluid out. Anyway, I'm planning on doing a three week test run once it's all set up, including skipping the weekly water changes. I should have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done by the time August rolls around.

As for target vs. average, right now I dose to maintain an average target level. Seriously, though, I've been testing weekly for the past month to gather data. What I'm finding is that NO3 levels stay pretty constant with only fish waste and feeding during the week. But both my 40 and 125g tanks go through about 1-1.5ppm of PO4 every other day. So I've been adding about 5ppm of NO3 after the Saturday water change, then none during the week. Then I add 1.5ppm of PO4 M-W-F.
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Old 06-03-2005, 09:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bharada
Do you notice appreciable differences depending on the height of the output tube? Or do these types of pumps have a flow rate based on head?
That's a great question. Most peristaltic pumps have phenomenal head height's, like 20', or something ridiculous I believe. But even then, I think it will depend on the mechanism you use to get the ferts in the tank.

You'll have to play with it. It's a bit more imprecise than many might like. In my case, there is some resistance to the flow going in because when I calculate the rate at which my fert batch is supposed to last, I've always got stuff left over. So it's not going in as fast as the pump pumps. But at the same time, with a little tinkering, you can select your target, peg it, and hold it there! Subject of course to the normal variance caused by any changes that occur in the tank (lights, fish, heavy trimming, etc.)

Sounds like you've got your targets established now. Can't wait to hear how it turns out.
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Old 06-03-2005, 09:38 PM   #11
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Well, this is definitely an expensive way to keep my brother-in-law from having anything to do with tank maintenance during our vacation. Since I'm not trying to plumb anything into the filter lines it made the part list a lot less complicated...just the pumps and some vinyl tubing.

Now that I think about it, I wonder how hard it would've been to rig up some drip sprinker heads to a small powerhead...to late now, but I may goof around with the idea for possible future setups (at work tank, for instance)
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Old 06-03-2005, 11:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bharada
The auto feeders will arrive next week so I'm fully on my way to automating my day-to-day routines.
I'm with you there! Next is auto drain/topoff to get out of the weekly water changes!
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Old 06-03-2005, 11:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scolley
I'm with you there! Next is auto drain/topoff to get out of the weekly water changes!
Well, there's no way I can get any of my tanks plumbed for auto drain and fill. I have only limited carte blanch with the missus for my hobbies, and running 3/4" PVC water lines across the living room would fall well out of that area.
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Old 06-04-2005, 01:34 PM   #14
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I'm just about to setup my peristaltic pumps (one for macros+one for micros). I was wondering did you tap into the filter lines for both? Or did you run the micros straight into the tank?
My micros are coming through a 1/16" ID tube so I was thinking of running it straight into the tank (opaque tubing to protect the contents from light damage). Dripping them in, not allowing the tube to touch the water. I will have such a low flow rate on these (1-2ml/day) I don't see any other viable alternative. Just concerned about the distance they travel from beneath the tank to top of tank and the residence time in the tube damaging the Fe.
For the macros I was thinking of injecting them into my CO2 line (just before it enters the reactor) and letting the CO2 push it into the water stream (I run a DIY CO2 reactor on my main filter line).I have a check valve which should stop any issues with fluid backing up but as per previous in this thread so will the pump.
Thoughts?
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Old 06-04-2005, 02:14 PM   #15
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Brett - 1-2ml/day? Is that right? Or do you mean that you have a timer that turns on long enough to push that out?

I certainly can't tell you the "right" way to get this stuff in to the tank. I think we are all kind of figuring that out now. But I'm injecting the stuff in-line on my canister return, using what is basically a T. I do believe that is how IUnknown is doing it too. IUnknown?

The T I have now is overcomplicated I think. But I've got another pump waiting to be set up for micros, and I bought a plain old plastic T for that. The pump provides enough pressure to push it.
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