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Automatic water change idea for Sydney's water


CThompson
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I will be moving my garage tanks, and I have been giving thought to reducing the maintenance in their new location. More specifically reducing the water changing effort. I'm looking at setting up a continuous water change system, taking out what I would take out each week manually, via automatic water additions.

I'm aware that pH probes/Octopus controllers etc are an option, but one of the things I like about fresh water is the low tech requirement. And anyway, with all those gadgets, you end up swapping one form of maintenance (water changes) for another (maintaining probes etc), not to mention the costs involved in setting up such equipment.

Here's the idea;

Water goes into the tank/s from mains supply, passing through an in-line water filter ( just a standard one used under kitchen sinks - which takes out chlorine and chloramines) and is pumped to “header” tank (header tank doesn’t have to be that high, just higher than the tank it drains to- in this case the sump).

Header tank has a tall standpipe, just short of top of container. Header tank itself is filled with limestone sand/gravel and or coral sand (preferably the former). The height of the standpipe will allow water to sit in limestone for a while before it goes into system via the mentioned standpipe.

From header tank, water over flows though stand pipe and into sump, entering just near the sump outlet that pumps to the tanks.

The tanks are all plumbed together, and pumped from sump to each individual tank. That is, it doesn’t flow through tank to tank and back to sump, but each tank has its own and separate water flow directly from the sump.

Each tank flows out to to the sump, and flows to the opposite end of the sump from the header tank inflow. Water has to flow from one end of sump, through filter media to exit sump and go through pump to be pumped back to tanks.

Where water enters the sump from fish tanks, before filter compartments, there is an overflow standpipe (with strainer) where excess water overflows to drain and goes out of system.

Water flow would be controlled via a solenoid, much like that which controls the watering system in my garden.

What do people think of the above system?

Very specifically too; do people think that salts and KH generator will not be needed and the header tank filled with limestone sand can maintain the pH, suitable for Tropheus for example? I assume there are people in Sydney keeping Tropheus and not using any water additives.

A slight deviation to the above is to periodically (weekly or every 3-4 days) add a spoon (amount?) of Seachem salt directly to the sump – or use a fish feeder type thing adjusted to dose a regular supply of salts directly to sump. Seachem salts don't require much in the way of volume so dosing via an automatic feeder would be easy and low tech.

Edited by CThompson
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see i like it :yes:

but i can see lots of points where people will suggest that you dont go down that path

i like the salt that you plan on using auto feeder you got points from me but are you talking tang salts that rase ph thats a big no no unless its a very small amout every day

but allnall a great idea

you are takeing a hobby tho and turning it into a buisness i see, WC are apart of the process of caring for your fish while you do this you take extra time looking at your fish

mouth fulls to note

finns nipped

sick fish

dead fish that needs to be removed (dont think it wont happen i had 3 dead apple snails in my tank caused my ram an infection popeye he died i never thought that i would have such a problem lucky i found it early for everything would of died ! imagine its a collony of tropheus ) plus you will be missing out on the vacuming part of water changes which you will still need to do. so not really saving time?

but more a great idea for a more helthyer enviroment as in fresh water :thumbup:

so allnall i like it :thumbup:

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After a bit of think about it Craig, if you have automatic sprinker system, do you have an extra "station" that you could use as part of the system? You could use that controller to time everything. I hadn't though of it before HMMM perhaps.....

Another option is to plumb the hell out your tanks and fire up some sort of remote control for refilling your tanks from water barrels. A discus breeder down this way did something similar. He gravity drains his tanks and refills them sitting in his comfy chair while drinking a beer with his remote control, now that is gold. He is a bit of electronics wizz, I think that I am going to get him to help me set one up.

The only problem I have with auto/semi auto change systems is that the waste is not cleaned off the bottom. I have bare bottom tanks so I can do bottom clean when I do water changes. I do think that it is good idea to ease maintainability of all these tanks we accrue. This has definitely gotten me thinking those unused station controllers at home that I have never installed for my sprinkler system.

cheers

rosco

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My gut feeling is the GH/KH/pH would not be reliable enough for a fully automatic system. I like the idea of pre made water pump or gravity fed. The next part is drainage and cleaning. Maybe something like a toilet cistern could be used for automatic draining. Pull a lever and out goes 25%. Gravel vaccing could be done at another time would one of those hoover things. Anyone want to invent a robotic aquarium hoover? Perhaps a fish could be trained!

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As Foti has mentioned, vacuuming if you have substrate in the tank would be an issue. The simplest way short of drilling an extra hole at the optimum water level for drainage would be some kind of permanent syphon for an easy water change. I've seen them made out of pressure pipe, when the pressure pipe is raised up above the tank’s normal water level then any water flow out of the tank stops, when you drop the syphon below the tank’s water level then the water drains out of the tank.

In regards to filling the system back up, in our marine tank we have a "top-up" bin next to the filtration, a simple powerhead and float valve, as the water evaporates the float valve tops up the tanks water level throughout the day, a similar device could be used on a water barrel next to your system, you simply hang on the valve as you fill the tank, walk away and it will stop itself, I can post up a few pic's if that helps explain the simplicity of the valve.

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I can post up a few pic's if that helps explain the simplicity of the valve.

yes please I have a sump that is way too small and I lose a fair bit of water through evaporation and I would be keen to see this in action as I could quite easily set this up in my room.

cheers

rosco

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Thanks for the comments guys.

Foti, water changes are part of the hobby, but there is nothing said that they have to be done by hand, and nothing that will stop me viewing the tanks for the reasons you mentioned if thhey are automated. Water changes do two things, they remove liquid and solid wastes. Provided there is enough water movement (and in the right places) little to no solid waste will build up, and if it does, a white net would fix it or a brief hand done water change just to remove the solids.

Also, an automated water change system will not replace feeding time/s, so any problems would be picked up then.

I don’t consider it taking the hobby to a business, just reducing my workload and get some of my life back to share with my wife and kids and dog (-;

you talking tang salts that rase ph thats a big no no unless its a very small amout every day

yes I mean SeaChem salts, and yes very small amounts would be used. Moreover, I was wondering if I could get by without them. Met a Tropheus keeper from the Blue Mountains a while ago who uses not salts. So, can I??

Rosco;

Another option is to plumb the hell out your tanks and fire up some sort of remote control for refilling your tanks from water barrels.

This was my first thought, two barrels plumbed into tank system with taps to cycle through one barrel at a time. Turn taps off/on to cycle through second barrel, refill first barrel for next water change, water change complete. The downside to this is the footprint the barrels will take up in fish room.

The idea I have suggested will require little to no space and if the water quality is good enough, will be even less work.

I have a sump that is way too small and I lose a fair bit of water through evaporation and I would be keen to see this in action as I could quite easily set this up in my room.

Put lids on everything can dramatically reduce evaporation.

Cpfc;

The next part is drainage and cleaning

The way this system works, is there is a standpipe in the sump that acts like a weir (I guess you could say), but this weir, instead of leading back to the tank, goes to the drain (out of the system). This weir or standpipe will be the maximum water level in the sump = max in whole system. Put water into system (via the way described) and the water will automatically “overflow” out the stand pipe to the drain. No float valve from a toilet cistern will be needed as excess water just overflows out.

Little to no gravel and good water flow = little to no bottom cleaning required.

Chris;

In regards to filling the system back up, in our marine tank we have a "top-up" bin next to the filtration, a simple powerhead and float valve, as the water evaporates the float valve tops up the tanks water level throughout the day, a similar device could be used on a water barrel next to your system, you simply hang on the valve as you fill the tank, walk away and it will stop itself, I can post up a few pic's if that helps explain the simplicity of the valve.

I must not have explained it well enough, the idea is that as the water flows in, it overflows out. No top-up bin is required, though the header tank is a bit like this, but in the header tanks use is more dwell time for the water to be buffed with the limestone sand.

Craig

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Put lids on everything can dramatically reduce evaporation.

I have, but I think that it is one of the sump pumps that runs very hot (it is a cheapy) doing most of the damage when it comes to evaporation. Eventually I will replace the cheaper pump with a more expensive pump as they run a lot cooler IME. But at the time it was backup and it is doing the job

cheers

rosco

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You've explained it just fine Craig, I understand it anyway...

I have seen threads about guppy breeders who have a similar setup, but that they have a pump that constantly runs from the 'reserve', maintaining pressure in black ag pipe that runs past each tank. Then ag drippers are attached to that line, that add a certain number of litres per hour to each tank day in day out. Each tank has an overflow, which runs to waste. So a very slow continuous WC.

I know this is not really applicable to your situation Craig as you want to treat the water first to affect the kh, ph etc, but the idea is perfectly valid :) Sorry I can't help w the tropheus Q.

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Put lids on everything can dramatically reduce evaporation.

I have, but I think that it is one of the sump pumps that runs very hot (it is a cheapy) doing most of the damage when it comes to evaporation. Eventually I will replace the cheaper pump with a more expensive pump as they run a lot cooler IME. But at the time it was backup and it is doing the job

cheers

rosco

You have the pump in the water? Plumb it in line Rosco :blink

Touch a pump when it's running in line, all that heat goes into the fish water when submerged in the sump.

Having said that, if the pump is causing extra evaporation, with the lids on mate, they water should just fall back into the tank again.

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You've explained it just fine Craig, I understand it anyway...

I have seen threads about guppy breeders who have a similar setup, but that they have a pump that constantly runs from the 'reserve', maintaining pressure in black ag pipe that runs past each tank. Then ag drippers are attached to that line, that add a certain number of litres per hour to each tank day in day out. Each tank has an overflow, which runs to waste. So a very slow continuous WC.

I know this is not really applicable to your situation Craig as you want to treat the water first to affect the kh, ph etc, but the idea is perfectly valid :) Sorry I can't help w the tropheus Q.

Thanks for the comment Mike, it is as you point out, not so much wether or not the plumbing system will work (as I know it will), but wether or not the water will pick up enough condition in the header tank for the pH to be maintained for Tangs.

Appreciate you taking a look and the time typing a reply :thumb

Craig

Edited by CThompson
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Maybe my real question is;

Is it possible to keep Tangs in Sydney water without using salts? And just using coral or limestone sand to maintain pH?

I will start a new thread, but feel free to add comments here.

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I can post up a few pic's if that helps explain the simplicity of the valve.

yes please I have a sump that is way too small and I lose a fair bit of water through evaporation and I would be keen to see this in action as I could quite easily set this up in my room.

cheers

rosco

I know this thread is pretty much dead but as requested by Rosco (sorry for my slow reply), a few images of my top up system, (sorry to hijack your thread Craig).

The "top-up bin" sits in the cabinet next to the filter.

IPB Image

Simple powerhead in bin.

IPB Image

The float valve at the top of the tank, connected to a piece of perspex hanging over the glass.

IPB Image

Tank tops automatically as the float valve moves, turning the power-head on and off.

For those none tech minded you can buy them pre made for $35.

HTH Rosco.

Cam.

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