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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Inspired by Steves sophisticated approach to getting this done, and lead into the right direction via many PMs from Robert (Naja002 --> many thanks!) I have started my own, of course very cheap, water change setup.

After getting a pressurized CO2 and my cheap fertilizer autodosing, the next big time consuming thing is the weekly water change. Luckily, the room where my tanks are is next to the garage, in vincinity to water pipes.

(I am in the middle of the setup, not finished yet).

So here is how I imagine it will work: A float valve connected to a water pipe keeps the tank topped off, and a vinyl hose connected via T to the outlet of the XP3 will work as a drain. I have an unused 43 gal tank in the garage that will be catching the water for now (to be used for watering the yard).

For now, a ball valve will shut off the draining water. Later I will perhaps install another float valve in the collecting tank, so each time I take water out of it a water change will be done. Or use some irrigation timer valve for better controlled water changes. For now, opening a ball valve and watching the tank seems so much better than the weekly garden hose ritual.

So here is how it starts... a $8 ice maker connection kit, which comes with a wonderful reinforced 10ft hose, and a self-piercing saddle valve.



I am not a plumber, and had modest difficulties to get the self piercing thing to pierce (or are my copper pipes too fat?), but with lots of swearing and a drill it finally worked:



Drilled some holes into walls, pulled the hoses through, and need to connect the T to the outlet of the XP3.

And patiently waiting for the $9 float valve...
 

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cool idea......wondering how much persuading I would have to do to get dh to do something like that for me..........
 

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It comes down to saving time. I usually spend at least 4 hours every Sunday to drain, refill, prune, scrape and fertilize 3 tanks. With the water change reduced to opening a ball valve, this time is cut considerably, which might be a good reason for your other half to help you set up something like this.
 

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So with that tiny hole being the source of the new water, it fills slowly enough that the temperature probably doesn't matter much?

What about dechlorination? Do you have well water?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
endparenthesis said:
So with that tiny hole being the source of the new water, it fills slowly enough that the temperature probably doesn't matter much?

What about dechlorination? Do you have well water?
The self-piercing saddle valve is adjustable... you can drip, trickle, flow or blow with the turn of the little lever.

There's a couple of things about dechlorination. First off, I didn't use any dechlor for two years because there isn't much added where I live, and apparently they don't use Chloramine. With adding water very slowly I never noticed any stressed fishies. Now I am adding Prime, just to be on the safe side. If I continue my once a week water changes, I will just add the correct amount of prime when the changing begins.

If I go to daily water changes rather than weekly, I need to think about it a little more. If they are small enough (say 10 gallons per day in a 100 gal tank) I don't see any issues as long as our water provider doesn't use Chloramine (got to call them and find out if there are any future plans for this).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Definitely. I'll also do some MS Paint drawing, that's sometimes easier to grasp than a photo of some dark equipment corner. ;)

Even now, without the float valve, water changes are more funner. :) Open a lil ballvalve to drain the water, then open the saddle valve to fill 'er up. Just need to remind myself to turn it off again.

Still waiting for the float valve. I love Big Als, takes them only like 3 weeks to get something to you. This is how you learn to become patient!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Even Big Als orders arrive one day, and as soon as I got the float valve, I thought about ways to attach it to my tank. Drilling a big hole into one of the sides wasn't an option, so I drilled some holes into the tank rim and the valve itself, and connected the two as shown.

Interestingly, it seems like the way I attached it gives me a perfect level in the tank... without further adjustments. This kind of dumb luck always worries me. There is a tiny leak between the black and white connectors, which I can fix with some pipe tape around the threads or let it drip as another way of auto topoff.

Can't wait for my next waterchange!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Naja002 said:
Glad to see You are making progress on this.....

Please do us all a favor and keep track of every dime of cost, so the next person will know before they decide whether or not to do this.... :thumbsup:
So... the refill side is complete, and cost me less than $20 (icemaker kit, and float valve)

The drainage side cost was a few dimes for a plastic T and the hose barb (inline with XP3 outlet), and I had a good length of vinyl hose laying around, for $5 you should be able to get that.

Now I can decide how far I go on the outlet automatisation. Right now, I open a little dripvalve and the water drains into some holding tank.

My though is to add another float valve to the tank where I keep the drained water, so each time I remove water from it I get a tiny little automated water change. Like removing 6 gallons a day... every day... that would give me about what I am changing now weekly.

At this point water changes are effortless, and I can take my time to finetune things further.
 

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Glad to hear its working.....

If You do the math: On daily water changes-You need to change considerably more water per day than the equivalent per week.

In other words, on a 100gal. tank, if You change out 50% (50gal) then You have done a 50% water change. But if You turn right around and change out another 50% (50gal)--You've only changed out 75% of the original water in the tank.....If You are dosing EI--then You need to determine how many gals per day will equal "50%/Wk". And its not as simple as 50gals on a 100 gal tank.

That's just one of the reasons that I am going to go with 1-2 water changes per wk, as opposed to 7.

Have You determined the margin of error for the float valve...?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You are right with the water changes, but this is the fun part, figuring out how to do it in detail. Right now I can do it either way, daily little bits, or weekly 50... I'll see how it goes.

With mechanical devices, reliability is an issue. I am concerned about that. I have very hard water, and over (little) time, there will be calcium deposits on the float valve, which might keep it from closing completely :icon_eek:

After one night, the tank level is PERFECT. I'll need to monitor if, over time, the valve gives a little and the water level rises.

Next time I have $100 laying around somewhere, I might look into turning this all electronic, like what we checked out earlier....
 

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Wasserpest, you is a genyus. I recently gave my nice new shiny oak floor a real good wash ;-( when I acidentaly left the filler valve from the RO machine on. My wife was a little put out when she woke up in the morning to find water all over the floor. When I read your thread I figured it would save my marriage and I dont have to sleep with one eye open anymore. See you've saved my life and my marriage!!! :cool:..... I just got my float valve from F&S and hooked it up to the RO machine, works like a charm!...Thanks, Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I am having trouble with the mechanical float valve. It doesn't seem to completely shut the water off, which makes it dangerous to use...

So I decided to do the next step and use a float switch connected to a sprinkler valve instead, like described by toofazt! Unfortunately I am having problems locating a suitable 24V transformer.

Planning to not attach the switch inside the tank, but have a separate container with the switch connected to the tank via vinyl hose. To prevent light getting blocked out by the switch. Still working out the details...

Is it safe to use brass connectors in our tanks? Searching didn't give me good answers, except that brass has copper and copper is bad for shrimps. But does brass leach copper? And the fact that water lines are made out of copper, how do shrimps survive this?
 
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