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FAQs About Water Evaporation, Make-Up H20: Gear

Related Articles: Marine Water Change, Captive Seawater Quality, General  Marine Maintenance

Related FAQs: Make-up Water 1, Water Changes for Marine Systems 1, Make-up Water: Rationale/Use, Frequency/Amount, Techniques, Water Quality/Adjusting, Trouble/shooting, & Top-Off System s, Controllers, Treating Tapwater Marine Water QualityMarine Plumbing

Just An Idea; IV gear for top-off  7/12/10
Hi there.
<Hello Bobby>
This email is not a question but more of an idea that other people might be able to use for their tanks, unless this idea has already been thought of.
<We do welcome suggestions/ideas, and yes, products like this are available.>
But before I explain, I just wanted to say that I came across this idea while my girlfriend was in the hospital. The same time that I found out that I'm going to be a daddy.
So anyway, I've been struggling with my water level. Trying to put water back into my saltwater tank as it evaporates with out hurting it. I'm still fairly new to the hobby so I have not yet bought any system thing to do
this. I have to add water by just pouring it in from the jug a little at a time couple hours each week or when ever needed. So now I'm sitting with her in her room when this idea came to me.... an IV dripper!! As her nurse
came back in, I told her about my idea and she gave me a complete hose system still in the bag. Once I got home I put it all together. Punctured the bottom of the water jug with the dripper and ran the other end into the back of the tank. The cassette as the nurse called it, the plastic piece that the hose runs into and out of adjusts the drip flow. So now I'm not going to run the chance of shocking anything in the tank. Plus, this is also a good way to acclimate new tank mates. I've also included some pictures to get a visual. Well,....just an idea.
<Thank you for your email and will post. James (Salty Dog)>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Plumbing Issue 12/19/07 I have a bit of a plumbing issue getting water for water changes into my aquarium. I put a basic diagram together in Visio to understand the issue. First some comments on why this was put together. 1.) I do not want to put more holes in the aquarium, otherwise I'd take the water directly here <Understood.> 2.) I do not want to take water to the sump as the water auto siphons out, put water in the sump and drain it back out, you are not diluting much actual aquarium water by doing water changes, this makes water changes much less effective. <OK> Any ideas to solve the issue on the diagram. I think the issue has something to do w/ the pressure on the line. Bryan Heitman <Your pump should be able to pump the water higher than you show in your diagram. Are you sure your solenoid is truly open? Also, you may want to try shutting off your sump return to see if you get better results. If you are running much flow through your drains it is possibly it is creating too much pressure for your pump to overcome. I hope this helps, good luck, Scott V.>

Minor Debacle... Automated Top-Off system... snail...  7/14/07 Hi Folks, I chose to automate the aquarium rather than add a refugium this summer. <Mmmm, are the functions of these refugiums automate-able?> In fact, I saw an automatic water top-off (ATO) on sale last summer and purchased it with a priority to free myself. <Okay> There were a few early and difficult choices that determined my current predicament: (1) a rather small 55-gal show glass tank from first marine experience was a fundamental constraint, (2) an annual unbudgeted need for a chiller (with a suspicion that Cyano grows much faster in warmer waters than cooler waters), <This is so in general> and (3) a desire to plan one annual holiday away. <I strongly agree with this last... In fact, with four scheduled trips away... one per quarter... a minimum of time to look forward (in anticipation) and back (in reflection)...> Friends have been great in the past but requires scheduling, planning, coordinating, and luck. Auto seemed to be the way to go. <Mmm, well, our lives are "on auto" to extents in many ways... as well as the minor part which are our avocations...> The summer allows more aquarium time, which is perfect for semi-annual maintenance and upgrades from the previous 12 months of observation and experience. Automation made the most sense as well as advancing the tank to support the growth of stony coral frags. Ricordea, and leathers have flourished. Tripled in size over the past year and are ready for propping themselves. I even have the toothpicks, and super glue ready with a plan on how to maximize the number of new divisions (cultivars?)... gardening is fun too. So, that has been the plan. I set up the ATO and it has been functioning great. I remember reading the design of the sensor reduced problems with snails and frankly, never gave it another thought. I also purchased 2 cobalt-blue moonlights. Flashlight-lit night observations were just too voyeuristic for me. :-) <Heeeee!> So, I placed them on the tank divider and was deciding where best to locate and how best to affix to compact lighting unit. Well, a snail managed to interfere with the operation of the ATO and lucky for me, I woke up to a damp floor. <Yikes> I starting turning on lights, grabbing towels, and making multiple observations about the tank...I still had no idea what was happening. 1. The pumps were working to the filter and the protein skimmer. 2. There was a red sensor on the ATO. 3. All the fish were swimming (key-hole dwarf angel, 6-line wrasse, and 2 PJ cardinals), 4. Frags were on the gravel-bed, 5. All Shrooms, polyps, and leathers were compressed, or constricted. Never have all of the leathers and Shrooms ever compressed at the same time. They had always alternated this compression behavior in the past. So, my immediate reaction was everything seems to be alive...whew! Then I noticed all 5 margarita snails were on the gravel bed and snails gone. (Wrasse?) or the fact that there was a snail on the inside of the ATO shut-off sensor preventing it from cutting off the water pump. As the water rose it submerged the moonlights. Thank goodness for the GFCI, however, it is my assessment that the tank is experiencing a recovery from poor husbandry skills leading to the unexpected environmental JOLT caused by water mixing with electricity. They are both very predictable and formidable forces. <Agreed. Well-stated> I shut-off the ATO. Removed the snail from the sensor. Mopped up the floor...I am so lucky (My summer project 2 years ago was installing laminate flooring in the great room and dining room. The aquarium is in the great room). And tested the tank parameters. Everything was okay...slight elevation of nitrates to 5.0 which had recently been bobbing its head, and a slight rise in ammonium to 0.25. Otherwise, pH (1.024), nitrites and phosphate were zero, alkalinity (9-10), and calcium (340-360) so they were normal. I very healthy and self propagating colony of zoo were only partially compressed and seem to be opening more from day to day. The toadstool leather opened today, even though there is a notable amount mucous around it. The finger leather is still rather compressed. I actually thought it was recovering yesterday, now I am uncertain. A blue lankia <Linckias sometime live in areas where there is sudden, large influx of freshwater> star is moving through the aquarium without visible distress. Astrea and Nassarius snails doing well. However, while doing a scheduled water change I noticed a lot of very small empty snail shells??? <May have died from the sudden lowered spg... been on/in the LR> The Galaxea seems to be the most injured, and I am uncertain whether it will withstand this acute episode of environmental stress. What would have happened to copepods? nanoplankton? other circulating creatures. For that matter, did this event affect algae counts? <Yes... all> Do I need to replace the GFCI? <Mmm, not likely... use the test/re-set buttons... if they work, it's fine> Was the damage limited due to the low wattage of the moonlights or the effectiveness of the GFCI? <Likely both> Although, I believe there was some contributory negligence on the part of the snail, I should have been more cautious with the temporary location of the moonlights. I had some plastic toothpicks and superglue on-hand for another planned project. So, I constructed a snail-guard around the ATO water sensor to prevent this from happening in the future. Perhaps others can benefit from same. <I, we and they thank you> I am not blaming the ATO. I think it is a great and necessary equipment upgrade to manage evaporative loss...for me that is about 0.5-0.75 gal/day. What can I expect in the short and long run. Will I loose all of the creatures slowly? <Likely the worst is over...> Will they survive if they made it this far? Is there a source on the effects of acute environmental distress by electricity in marine aquariums and coral reefs? Something else I should be doing to encourage healing?? <Mmm, slowly (like a thousandth of specific gravity) per day... raising the density of the water... but otherwise, general good husbandry should save the day, your livestock here. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Vacation, auto top off Hi Crew, <Aaron> Wanted to thank you guys for your reassurance on some trouble I was having with my colt. I did indeed just leave it, but did remove the necrotic tissue. The sponge was removed, back to a QT, that I will now be forever leery of, and everything is popping back to normal, albeit slowly. Again thanks for the info, I think it was early enough. <Thank you for this update> I will be leaving for the east for about a week this Spring, Baltimore, will visit and take lots of pictures of The Aquarium at the Inner Harbor. I've tried to design my system to be as fool proof (me being the fool most often) as possible. I do keep Anthias, and I have them on Prime Reef and Formula One and Two flakes, mixed. I added a bunch of slots to a pond feeder I have and it starts to distribute food at about 9am and drops little bits in till about 6pm- seems to work ok for 8 days. All the fish eat this, but I usually supplement in the morning and evening with higher quality foods. I figure a week won't kill anybody in this department, although I do feed filter feeders as well every two days. I will be able to have someone come by about every other day, I'm leaving enough food for 3 feedings, that's 6 cubes. I've added six cubes all at once to see what would happen. <Good experiment> Algae's what happens - sooo I'm ok there I think (any suggestions very much appreciated, as I seem to have painted myself into a corner with a tank that no one I know can take care of). Display is 180 gallons, sump is 30, holding about 20, refugium is 45 gallons.  With the light intensity and time of year I'm burning about 3.5 gallons of evaporative water daily, that would mean I'd need a reserve tank of at least 26 gallons, should probably make it closer to thirty. And this is the real questions, sorry for the rant, should I just bite the bullet on this and buy two DC solenoids, run them in series and plumb the sump to the RO unit using the LifeReef floats? <Could> I'm a biomedical engineer, and I tend to err on the side of caution with medical equipment, seems reasonable to do so with marine systems as well since it's technically life support.  <Agreed... am far more a fan here of a restricted source/volume... like car boys... of about thirty gallon total... simple float valving> Anywho, I've neglected to do this because, well, in the hospital, if a dosing pump fails, there's several people available at all times to fix it. It would be REALLY unfortunate to come home and find the house is totally and completely flooded with brackish water, and I'm unaware of any coral that would do very well with a constant influx of sterile water. Sooo the reserve or the plumb, that is the question! <Agreed...> Really appreciate any input.  PS: What came first the Zooxanthellae or the Coral? <The algae> An often argued subject between my wife and myself, she says the algae because they are the primary producers... <One logical approach... also, in terms of "fossil evidence", PCR manipulation history... the Thallophytes are much simpler, pre-date the cnidaria... Look to the popular works of Lynn Margulis here... you will enjoy the speculations as to origins of mitochondria, other endoplasmic inclusions> I say the coral because there are zooxanthellae species in both false and true corals, don't know which of these came first either- so what came first- time- wise? <The Monerans...> Thanks, Aaron and Michelle <Bob Fenner> 

Automated water changes Hi MacL, <HI! Timon> I live in tropical Thailand and the temperature of the room where my refugium and sump are located will vary greatly depending on if the sun shines that day so I am worried that the evaporation rate will vary a lot from day to day. <It might be a problem for corals as well as your tank temp is bound to fluctuate a bit> I have learned today that I can use a conductivity controller that can control a pump based on pre-set minimum and maximum conductivity values. Do you think this is a good way to make up for evaporation?
<I think it might be your only option because of the fluctuations. Please if you decide that's the way to go and it works, Please let me know. MacL> Thanks Timon

RO Top off in a 300 gallon aquarium 9/24/04 I have a 300 gallon aquarium with an additional 75 gallon sump/refugium underneath.  The system is in the high desert in a very dry environment and I am running around 2000 watts of VHO/Halides.   <wow... truly an excessive amount of light even for shallow water SPS corals. No other complaints from me though if you are happy and coral pigments are surprising dark, rich> As a result, I have a very high amount of evaporation.   <with 2K watts of lights... I bet you can see it ripped off as steam <G>> I haven't checked exactly, but it is around 4-5 gallons each day, possibly more during hot, dry days.  I also travel a lot and can't rely upon my wife to top of the tank.  I have relied upon a RO unit, with an automated top-off system based on the level in the sump.  The system works extremely well and I can leave for almost any period of time without worry.  I do small water changes each week and run a calc reactor.   <very good> The calcium level is consistently above 400 and the PH is stable around 8.3.  The problem is that the alkalinity is 2.5 meg, barely acceptable for SPS corals and I am sure that low alkalinity is caused by the RO water, which is pumped directly into the sump. <a small Yikes escapes the lips> Aerating the RO water is not an option because it requires my constant presence.   <ahhh... OK. Or not, mate. DO invest in an infrared float switch or like quality unit. These are in the $100-200 range as float switches go... but are well worth the investment.> Are there other solutions?   <yep... adding/dosing buffer and/or running RO input through a bed of lime/carbonate chips like the second chamber on your Calcium reactor> Are there products that can be added to an RO system or should I simply start adding an alkalinity buffer each week?  Thanks <you have your answers/good intuition my friend. Roll with it. Anthony>

- Automating SPG/Top-off -  Greetings Oh Great Ones,  I have searched the web (including WWM FAQs) for days and spoken to everyone I know in the hobby with no success so its time to bug you guys!   I am looking for a system to maintain spg in my 125g FOWLR. I want a monitor/RO dosing pump setup but have not been able to find a system that actually monitors SPG. <Hmm... you are looking for conductivity meters - this is the monitor for SPG. That being said, I don't think this is the way you really want to handle top-off. Unfortunately, as you mix in freshwater, the changes in SPG will not be immediately evident to a monitor/control device - you could end up adding much more water than should be before the probe registers the change.>  Most systems I have found (including Tunze...Mmm love my other Tunze stuff) utilize water level, and this is not accurate enough for my needs. <You may not think so, but it is... have been using such a system for a while now - works very well.>  I've only been able to find a couple of electronic SPG monitors, and none allow a away to control a dosing pump.  When my homes heat is on I lose about 1-2g's a day and in summer and the fan over the sump is running I lose the same; otherwise I lose about 1/2g to evap. This is causing a swing of up to .001 a day if I don't top off. Of course I do top off about 3 times daily in an attempt to keep the spg as stable as possible, but babysitting the tank is becoming a serious pain.  Any help would be great! <Take a look at http://www.innovativeaquatics.com/  - they have refurbished, medical dosing pumps with electronic float switches - keeps the top off very consistent.>  Thanks, E  <Cheers, J -- >

- Shut-off Switch, Follow-up - Hi again Crew, I was able to locate a few vendors who sell such a switch, but I guess my real question is: Is this something I should spend the $$ on?
<To me, peace of mine is often worth paying for.>
 Does this offer me some protection against overflow or is it prone to sticking and causing more problems then not having it?
<Depends on the nature of the float switch. May pay to give it a rinse from time to time.>
Have any of the Crew used this or know about them?
<You left out the important information - what is 'this'? You didn't name the actual product.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

Re: sump shut off switch 12/7/03 (2) Crew, Sorry, One that I found is the UltraLife float switch at MarineDepot and premium aquatics. Thanks. - Shut-off Switch, Follow-up - Hi again Crew, I was able to locate a few vendors who sell such a switch, but I guess my real question is: Is this something I should spend the $$ on?  Too me, peace of mine is often worth paying for.  Does this offer me some protection against overflow or is it prone to sticking and causing more problems then not having it? <Depends on the nature of the float switch. May pay to give it a rinse from time to time.>  Have any of the Crew used this or know about them?  <You left out the important information - what is 'this'? You didn't name the actual product.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

Question from new retailer continued II 10/30/03 That sounds very clever, I like it.  One thing that is kind of confusing me... what is a seawater float... is this different than a regular float switch?   <ahh... my fault my friend. Not clear. Both float switches are the same... by seawater, I mean that one is hooked up to bleed in saltwater (the coarse, fast-tuned one), while the other (the sensitive slow-tuned one) simply bleeds in freshwater for evap top off. Thus a sharp drop in water level (as from sales and siphoned saltwater) will allow the seawater float switch to top of faster than the FW bleed can make a difference. And the sensitive tuned FW bleeding float can feed FW for slow evap while the SW float is tuned to coarse to even sense the slow drop in water level> And thanks for filling my daily need for Bob.  I was getting a little worried when he didn't respond within 60 seconds. <ha! tis the standard we try for <G>> Thanks, Matt <best of luck>

-Infrared auto top-off by... Tunze?!- WWM Team/Kevin, I wanted to follow up on this question.  Turns out the AquaSense top off monitor is no longer manufactured. <Doh! I should have looked a lil deeper...>  However, I did find one that still is. It's called the "Tunze Osmolator Universal 3155". <I had no idea Tunze had such a product> Here is a review: http://www.pelzer.com/index.html?page=/reef/osmolator.html.  Marine Depot.com sells it.  Now, the big question:  Is this top off monitor worth $165? <After doing a reefcentral search I came up with many positive experiences with this product. The review alludes to a Kalk dispensing "kit" that can be purchased separately, but I didn't see if for sale on marine depot.> Possibly, if hooked up to a Kalk dispenser but I'm way too new to the hobby to offer any "formal" guidance at this time (hopefully soon). Thanks again for your help. <I may try one of these on my own system (was going to use a LiterMeter, don't need float switches getting crusty or clogging up impeller driven pumps) in conjunction with a Kalk reactor (I would assume that if the unit pumped freshwater into the reactor which then made its way into the tank that one wouldn't need the Kalk kit, but who knows...) Cool! -Kevin> Mark

- Infrared Auto Top-off? - I saw on your website that infrared auto top-offs are the best.  Where can I buy products like this?  Thanks! Mark <It took a few Google searches to come up with something, but I came up with a product called AquaSense. Here's some reviews: http://www.saltcorner.com/sections/reviews/productreviews/aquasense.htm by Bob Goemans and http://www.animalnetwork.com/fish/library/articleview2.asp?Section=&RecordNo=185 by Richard Harker. I'd check with Marine Depot b/c I found this  http://www.marinedepot.com/dp_aquasense.htm on their site, but with no price or availability. Good luck and let us know how it goes! -Kevin>

Can you make a recommendation on the automatic top off? Right now my R/O unit goes to a 80 gallon reservoir which I will use for my premix. I was thinking of teeing off the existing supply to the 80-gallon reservoir to the sump and controlling the flow with a Kent marine float valve.  In other words, the R/O unit would feed both the 80-gallon reservoir and another line directly to the sump.  Kent marine, however, does not recommend having a float valve in the sump connected directly to the R/O unit.  for some reason this is bad for the solenoid, since the constant evaporation from the sump will keep the R/O unit working constantly or at least turning the solenoid on and off constantly. The recommendation was to get yet another reservoir to which I would periodically pump water from the existing 80-gallon reservoir.  This second reservoir would be solely for fresh water and would gravity feed the sump and be controlled by a float valve.  This second reservoir would have to be refilled every week or so, so the automatic top-off would not be fully automatic, just automated during the week. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. <There are two ways to do this depending on your system. The above system allows you to buffer your top-off water as needed, but is less automated. The opposite idea works as well, automated with dosing pumps, calcium reactors, etc. You need two containers as above. The main reservoir is fed by the RO unit controlled by the Kent float. The pre-mix container should be the container that is periodically filled when needed, not the top-off. The top-off system can then be run with a small pump in the main reservoir, controlled by a solenoid in the sump (either DIY or one of the commercially available units) which refills the sump automatically. Check out marine set-ups at WetWebMedia.com  Craig>

Re: automatic top-off Two perceived advantages of not using the main reservoir as the automatic top off:   (1) The R/O unit isn't running all the time from the constant dribble replacing evaporation from the sump;   <This is a non-issue, RO's that feed drinking water tanks have the same intervals/use.  It will run as long as required to fill the reservoir, regardless.> (2) in the event of malfunction, only a limited amount of fresh water gets dumped in the tank. <This is a good reason to go with the gravity fed top-off of limited volume, only so much water can be accidentally added to the system.> What the perceived advantages of what you propose?  Solely automation?  The task of refilling the automatic top off seems hardly burdensome.  It's a flip of the switch. <I got the feeling you were concerned with automation, if not, I would go with what works best, is safest for you and your inhabitants. Enjoy!  Craig>

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