Seeking to create an automated water change system for 4/5 tanks - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
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Question Seeking to create an automated water change system for 4/5 tanks

Hi all,

Really hope someone can offer some advice please!

Basically, I have a 4 tank shrimp setup, one ontop of the other, top most around 5'10" off the ground at highest point. I'd like to have a simple overflow system on each tank, with a powered pump refill that I could plug in when I feel the need each week!

The idea is to have say 10% change done on each tank at the same time, each will be getting the same RO water (including mineral additives essential for the shrimp) from a ground level bucket I'd fill.

The overflow system I assume can be something similar to this (although much smaller as my tanks arent large)



The difficulty comes in the topping up part. I can see there are various submersible pumps, some that can push 6' high with variable outputs, but my concern is the bottom tank would fill much faster than the top tank. Perhaps I could ensure each had the same length of hose, but still guessing I'd need some sort of valve splitter? Any suggestions there? Also, the pumps seem to have a large hose output, so may have pressure issues if splitting 4 times into smaller hoses....

The outlet for the overflow I'd be running via hose out the back door into a ground drain so that part should be ok, but would need a closing off tap.

Has anyone achieved this sort of setup before and have any advice please?

Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 04:20 PM
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If you do it right the bottom should not fill faster. The way it works is there is a set amount of water in the system. As the top tank reaches its overflow, it will dump down to next tank, if that one reaches overflow on to next..ect.. so the pump at the bottom is driving the flow. the only time there will be more water in the bottom is when the power to the pump stops, you need to calculate for that extra water draining down from the pipes but if you use a real overflow system it should always be about the same.

Think of it like this.. imagine 3 empty tanks and an empty sump. Fill sump turn on pump and the top tank fills then drains into the next one under it, it fills and dumps to the next one then that one dumps the water back into the sump at the bottom and goes back into pump and starts the loop again.

Then you do your 10% change IN THE SUMP and all tanks get the clean water.

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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 04:31 PM
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Hi nrps1,

I'm not certain how you presently have, or even if you have your shrimp tanks interconnected, but it might be possible to use an overflow system to this one on YT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65yVr7DiDls

I've had several tanks using this overflow and have had good success with it. I am presently using it on my 38g tank now. I'm sure it could work if you needed to move it from one tank to the next as long as the siphon is not broken. If the siphon does get an air bubble, it is not difficult to get it restarted.

For filling, have you thought about putting your refill bucket on a stool or small cart so that you could use a smaller pump to refill? Or, if your refill pump has sufficient capacity and do not want the refill to be turbulent, you could put a ball cock between the outflow of the pump and the tank to throttle the flow a bit.

I'm sure with a bit of creativity one could make a very functional water change system.

I hope this helps.

All the best,
TC

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dropline View Post
If you do it right the bottom should not fill faster. The way it works is there is a set amount of water in the system. As the top tank reaches its overflow, it will dump down to next tank, if that one reaches overflow on to next..ect.. so the pump at the bottom is driving the flow. the only time there will be more water in the bottom is when the power to the pump stops, you need to calculate for that extra water draining down from the pipes but if you use a real overflow system it should always be about the same.

Think of it like this.. imagine 3 empty tanks and an empty sump. Fill sump turn on pump and the top tank fills then drains into the next one under it, it fills and dumps to the next one then that one dumps the water back into the sump at the bottom and goes back into pump and starts the loop again.

Then you do your 10% change IN THE SUMP and all tanks get the clean water.
Ah, there is no sump as such and the tanks wont be sharing water, they all have to drain and fill separately to each other (fussy shrimps), but can share the same water source for the fill in if only a small 10% change. Any more than that or any cross contamination may kill the shrimps.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 05:21 PM
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I just use siphons to empty my tanks. I have them all plumed separately. Each one just has a ball valve, turn it on they empty and turn it off it stops. All the water just goes down the drain in my cellar but you could easily have it all go to a bucket.

I fill them all separately with a hose from a faucet. If you want to pump the water just attach a hose and pump the water into each one separately. Using a pump with four separate shut off valves is probably more trouble than it is worth.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrps1 View Post
Ah, there is no sump as such and the tanks wont be sharing water, they all have to drain and fill separately to each other (fussy shrimps), but can share the same water source for the fill in if only a small 10% change. Any more than that or any cross contamination may kill the shrimps.
Gotcha I misread what you are trying to do.

Ok, I think I can wrap my head around your setup now. So you have these tanks and they WILL have over flows. So you pump our water up to lets say a spraybar in each tank to fill, the one at the top should have more holes or larger ones, bottom one less and smaller. You will have to play with it but that is one way to adjust.. or valves for the lower tanks or all the tanks and have each level down the valve shut a little more.

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BruceF View Post
I just use siphons to empty my tanks. I have them all plumed separately. Each one just has a ball valve, turn it on they empty and turn it off it stops. All the water just goes down the drain in my cellar but you could easily have it all go to a bucket.

I fill them all separately with a hose from a faucet. If you want to pump the water just attach a hose and pump the water into each one separately. Using a pump with four separate shut off valves is probably more trouble than it is worth.
Well basically I do do that already, but wanted to automate the whole system to save time, I have 5 tanks in total which I would like to streamline

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Originally Posted by Dropline View Post
Gotcha I misread what you are trying to do.

Ok, I think I can wrap my head around your setup now. So you have these tanks and they WILL have over flows. So you pump our water up to lets say a spraybar in each tank to fill, the one at the top should have more holes or larger ones, bottom one less and smaller. You will have to play with it but that is one way to adjust.. or valves for the lower tanks or all the tanks and have each level down the valve shut a little more.
Yes exactly like that, but hoping someone knows the precise equipment options I'd need. Probably go with some sort of airline type hose poked into each tank to fill the water gradually, and what sort of valves will do? I like the idea of spray bar with differing outlets, but will take some practice, valves maybe easier. I had a look on ebay and saw this which looks suitable if I knew what sort of connections it used:

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 07:27 PM
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I think you're sort of combining two different ideas here. Do you want a continual drip system where freshwater is introduced literally drip by drip and the additional new water forces out the old via some elaborate over the rim overflow? Or, are you just looking to automate a water change? If you're talking about putting a pump in a bucket of new water it sort of leads me to believe you just want to make water changes a bit easier.

I wouldn't worry about figuring a way to overflow or even fill each tank at once. Especially if you have no sump and these tanks are not sharing the same water. You've got 5 separate systems and like you said, they cant be combined due to different water parameters for different shrimp. (which still leaves me wondering how you're going to use the same source water from the same bucket for your water changes). But, you could just use your pump to go from bucket to tank and you'll have to move the hose from one tank to the next as they fill. Trying to use valves to get a certain amount of flow in one tank and a different flow in another using the same pump is probably a lot more work than its worth (and is bound to fail eventually). You could just use 5 pumps if you really want to "automate" everything.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
I think you're sort of combining two different ideas here. Do you want a continual drip system where freshwater is introduced literally drip by drip and the additional new water forces out the old via some elaborate over the rim overflow? Or, are you just looking to automate a water change? If you're talking about putting a pump in a bucket of new water it sort of leads me to believe you just want to make water changes a bit easier.

I wouldn't worry about figuring a way to overflow or even fill each tank at once. Especially if you have no sump and these tanks are not sharing the same water. You've got 5 separate systems and like you said, they cant be combined due to different water parameters for different shrimp. (which still leaves me wondering how you're going to use the same source water from the same bucket for your water changes). But, you could just use your pump to go from bucket to tank and you'll have to move the hose from one tank to the next as they fill. Trying to use valves to get a certain amount of flow in one tank and a different flow in another using the same pump is probably a lot more work than its worth (and is bound to fail eventually). You could just use 5 pumps if you really want to "automate" everything.
Well, in theory, each shrimp tank should be the same, I'm trying to keep them all in line with the fussiest of the 4 tanks, so if the water is set right for them, job done! I see what you are saying though, I wasn't really intending on drip feeding the tanks, although come to think of it, they do need water topups now and then, but maybe that is something different.

Perhaps I should just worry about the overflow part and have a one pipe pump for the in flow, just getting the flow going and measuring 10%/keeping all water within confines whilst moving from tank to tank is going to be tricky!
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by nrps1 View Post

Perhaps I should just worry about the overflow part and have a one pipe pump for the in flow, just getting the flow going and measuring 10%/keeping all water within confines whilst moving from tank to tank is going to be tricky!
I dont follow. What size tanks do you have? Unless its something quite significant I'm not sure you want an overflow at all! How do you currently handle water changes?

What 10% are you measuring and why? Why would the water change when moving from tank to tank?
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lksdrinker View Post
I dont follow. What size tanks do you have? Unless its something quite significant I'm not sure you want an overflow at all! How do you currently handle water changes?

What 10% are you measuring and why? Why would the water change when moving from tank to tank?
So the shrimp tanks are 4 x 3 gallon, and need 10% each week I'd say. I don't like the whole syphoning out one at a time, and replacing (access is a little tricky as well) so wanted the easiest way to replace 10% water in each tank at the same time really. Laziness!
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-04-2015, 09:08 PM
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With a valve like that you should not need much tweaking if you put it above all the tanks. Lowest one will take a sec or 2 more to start (from long tube) but should be pretty close being they would all be gravity assisted.

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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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With a valve like that you should not need much tweaking if you put it above all the tanks. Lowest one will take a sec or 2 more to start (from long tube) but should be pretty close being they would all be gravity assisted.
Hadn't thought of putting it at the top. So you'd suggest a standard up to 6 foot type submersible pump to the valves above at the top then?
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-05-2015, 11:00 PM
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what i did to automate water changes on my shrimp rack was to use the drip irrigation drippers. i picked 2 GPH pressure compensating . pump comes on for a few hours once month, drips water into each tank and over flows to a drain.

my tanks are all the same level but it should work for multi leeled tanks too.

one issue is if u also have ATO you must take your time to set the level right below your over flow. If its too low the water chemstry starts to get out of wack. if its too high it never shuts off.

My tanks are still cycling so no running experience
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-06-2015, 02:33 AM
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Interesting discussion since I am setting up a similar system for my bee shrimps. At the moment I am changing the water only one tank at the time using gravity. I personally think (if I well understood your idea) of changing the water of all tanks at once with each an independent over flow could work. As long as your pump is strong enough for the height of your top aquarium, the fact that it is redirected through small airlines tubing should not affect the pressure, only the different height of each tank should cause different pressure, but you should be able to tweak the flow with the valves. It would be interesting to hear from someone who already tried this setup, to know if it would be stable or require constant readjusting to insure that a similar amount of water is changed on each tank, considering the use of cheap airline valves...
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