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Old 09-28-2011, 04:12 PM   #1
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Sump / Refugium question

Hi all,

I'm considering upgrading to one of these tomorrow. And for some reason, I can't wrap my brain around this right now. What happens when the water level evaporates by 1 inch and the left chamber does not spill over to the second (middle) chamber? What stops this from happening so the return pump doesn't suck air?

The reason I ask is because in my current system, I have a wet/dry sump with 1 chamber (with bio-balls removed long ago). When the water level used to get low (say, when I'm on vacation), the sump level would get low, but I would add water when I got back. No problems.

With this new system, it appears if my water level drops by 1 inch (or just below my built-in returns from the display tank), it'll cause an issue where the water won't fill the sump, and my return pump will suck air.

I appreciate your help!

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Old 09-28-2011, 04:18 PM   #2
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If I;m getting you right, the evaporation will occur in the last chamber where your return pump is. I have to top off twice a day in my open top 125g tank. You can also consider getting an ATO set up so it automatically fills that chamber from a reservoir when it gets low.
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Old 09-28-2011, 04:34 PM   #3
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Yep, the last chamber is where the evap happens. IOne thing you will get when the water evaps too much is microbubbles from the waterfall effect of the last divider, the return pump will blast the DT full of them. And can cause the overflow device to lose syphon.

A cheaper ATO is to use a limit switch with a float to turn the top off pump on and off. This is what I use. But, this can be dangerous due to cutting and splicing elctrical wiring.

Certain precautions have to be taken when doing this. When I done my splicing, I used heat shrink tubing to cover the spliced cord and then placed a layer of silcone over top of that to help ensure water proofness.
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Old 09-28-2011, 05:00 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies Cary and Kdogg.

So would you say that most people get an ATO system going? It sounds like if I don't top off every day, then I run the risk of the last chamber evaporating and me ruining my return pump.

Crazy there is no other method other than:
1.) ATO system
2.) Topping off twice a day or so

Do you know if I'd need to top off once or twice a day minimum? I'd love to hear from others with this same setup.

Thanks,
Mike
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Old 09-28-2011, 05:04 PM   #5
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it depends on the humidity in the air, and the size of your water surface area for the most part.
if your display is open topped, then you'll have better gas exchange, but evap more. i would rather have more evap and a healthier tank.
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Old 09-28-2011, 05:09 PM   #6
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I agree, Doug. I've also aimed ph's to agitate the surface as well.

I don't mind topping off, I'd just hate to have someone go over to the house to topoff if I'm gone for the weekend (which is frequently). I guess that's just more maintenance involved with this sort of sump setup.
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Old 09-28-2011, 05:17 PM   #7
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I've been tossing around the idea of getting one of these.

JBJ ATO Automatic Top Off System Water Level Controller - AquaCave

just havent pulled the trigger yet lol
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Old 09-28-2011, 05:18 PM   #8
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actually, you'll evap with or without a sump. you'll just see it better in the sump than you would a slight lowering of the dt water height.
just get an ATO.
i like the JBJ one. the downside is that an alarm goes off when it's topping off. it can be annoying if it's in the TV room or bedroom. i have heard of people opening it up and disabling the alarm.
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Old 09-28-2011, 05:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carey View Post
I've been tossing around the idea of getting one of these.

JBJ ATO Automatic Top Off System Water Level Controller - AquaCave

just havent pulled the trigger yet lol
Same here. Trying to find good deals on a few items before i get my build going. This is one hobby where cutting corners doesn't pay off too well.
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Old 09-28-2011, 05:44 PM   #10
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Thanks for the link, Carey. That looks like a pretty good way to go.

Not exactly sure how it "tops off", unless you have to hook it up directly to a container of RO/DI water...but that's what this forum and google is for!
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