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[APD] RE: autowater changers

> Tom, 
> You mentioned automatic water changing, which is something I have been
> planning on doing with my tank. I have actually run a feed and an
> exhaust tube into the stand, but I haven't plumbed it into the house
> yet. I really wanted this tank to run itself as much as possible. We
> have a baby on the way, due in two months, and I wanted to get this up
> and running while I still had some free time. I think it will be great
> to sit and watch the tank with the baby (more for my benefit for the
> first few months), but I won't have as much time for maintenance. Plus I
> hate to do water changes. 

Who doesn't?:-)
Basically the set up uses small slow water changes with a good timer(not a
junky cheapy). A float switch and sump actives things but the rate is very
slow, around 2-3 hours for a water change, typically at night etc. There's
less effect by Chlorine etc and temp this way also but some mixing of
tank/tap occurs but I do not think it's that big of an issue. 

Alan has more details and comments about the reliabilty which should be #1
with any automated design.
Generally, you can have that with slow rate water changes.  
People should always test and see if their set ups work well first before
wandering off. Design anmd make the set up redudant/fail safe as possible.
Prevent cloggings etc.

> I figure 5 gallons of RO water every day should do nicely. 

My plan at
> the moment is to have a small powerhead in the sump connected to a
> digital timer. I will program it to run long enough to pump out about 5
> gallons of water per day. Then, I have a mechanical float valve that
> will shut off the flow of water when it reaches the desired level. The
> idea obviously is that the water will get pumped out, and as soon as the
> level drops, the RO water feed will turn on. When the pumping out stops,
> the water will continue to fill to the desired level and then shut off.
> That seems to be pretty foolproof, unless the float gets jammed in the
> open position or something. Power outages also wouldn't affect this
> system.

This would work.
If your sump has a capacity of more, that would be great.

5 gal a day vs 75 gal 2x a week would be much better.

You can have the system drain and fill at the same time for a few hours 2x
a week ideally.
Some mixing will not matter much.

You have a huge tank, there is going to be a lot of work no matter how you
automate things.
Also, a dosibng pump might be nice and have it set up to dose with the
timer for water changes.

I still think a good substrate will help more than the cables and allow
less work down the road with better plant health/growth.

> My original hope was to have a system that pumped water in, and had an
> overflow in the sump that would drain any excess water out by gravity.

I guess a float switch+ a pump for the refill and timed pump for draining
would also work. 
There are a few things you can try. I'm sure there are many set ups for
this on the web.

I have my own design in mind for this, but you might want/need something
The overflow design will work depending on where the drain is.

> Trouble is the level of the drain to which I will connect is too high
> for this to work. The only other option is draining out onto the back
> porch, but it seems like I would be setting up a mini swamp where the
> water comes out. Plus, nothing would stop the inflow of water if the
> drain tube got plugged, it would just go on the floor. 
> Am I going about this the right way? 
> Thanks,
> Kurt
> PS: You're right that I like technical toys. Tinkering with them is part
> of the fun for me. ;-) 

Tom Barr

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