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Old 03-22-2008, 11:15 PM   #1
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DIY Auto Dosing Solution

I'm horrible when it comes to remembering to dose my tanks. I used to do EI, and I was lucky to get 1 day each of macros and micros in the tank, I just never remembered to do it. The guys over at my local club, GWAPA, had built some autodosers, so I stole this idea from them. You can read their information here.

Anyways, I was asked to post this after some discussion in the PPS forum on APC, so I thought I'd post it here too.

I obviously needed a way to dose automatically, since I was so bad about it. There are several different products you can buy, but all of them, in my opinion, are way overpriced. This one, for example, is several hundred dollars for a twin system. While I've never used them, they may be much more accurate and controllable, but it just wasn't worth the money to me.
So, I set out to make some, thanks to the info from GWAPA.

At first, I modified what they had done and attempted to use some aqualifter pumps. Those have a maximum head height of 30", and that didn't work out for me for where I wanted to house the ferts in the stand of my 125.

So, I picked up a pair of mini-jet 606 pumps and used them as the heavy lifters of the system.

Knowing I would be using a lot of liquid, I wanted containers that could hold a good amount of fluid. I had a hard time finding exactly what I wanted, so when I finally found it I bought it, but I know that if I'd had kept searching I could've found something for much cheaper. The idea was something tall and somewhat skinny, to help keep the levels in the container above the PH, and make it more visible to how much is remaining. These are what I ended up getting, 3.2L containers. A bit pricey for what they are, but they worked.

The last piece to the puzzle was the timer. Hamilton makes a dual outlet digital timer that can be set in increments of 1 minute. They also make a single outlet as well. Since I'm giving PPS Pro a try, I opted for 1 dual outlet, but if you're doing EI you'll need two in order to set your doses for different days. The dual outlet cannot control the individual outlets, they're either both on or both off, unfortunately. Here's the one I got.

Next was to figure out how to convert the 1/2" outlet on the 606s into standard airline tubing size (3/16"). This was a trick, but here's what I came up with. I used a piece of 1/2" tubing I had laying around and a medication dosing syringe (that the pharmicist at Target gave me for free) to convert to 3/16" standard airline.

Here's a standalone shot of the pump and the "converter".


Put it all together, and next was to run some tests. I filled the containers up with water, placed the pump, and ran the tubing to where I wanted it to go. Set the timer for 1 minute, and captured the water in a measuring cup to determine how much fluid would be pushed per cycle. In my configuration, after several tests at different water levels in the container, I averaged 100ml per cycle.

I drilled some 1/4" holes in the lids of the containers to push the tubing through. I wasn't worried about the power cords, but if the tubing was to get pinched or bent, I wouldn't keep the same flow rate, so I wanted to make sure this didn't happen.

Having this information, I took the PPS Pro solution and "watered it down" (pun intended) to meet what my autodosers pushed vs. their recommended dosage. I have a spreadsheet I used to calculate this in the PPS forum if you're interested.

Finally, I mixed up the ferts and set it all up. Here it is:



Here you can see the setup inside the container.



And the oulet above the tank - taking special care to make sure they cannot get in the tank and create a backflush onto my floor. I opted to not use check valves, so it's critical to ensure they can't get in the tank and create a backwash when the pumps aren't working:



All in all, a much cheaper way to go. My total cost breakdown ended up at:
2x Mini-jet 606 pumps from F&S: 33.98
2x 3.2L containers from BB&B: 27.98
1 Hamilton dual outlet digital timer: 19.99
Misc tubing and syringes: Free since I had them laying around

Total cost for 2 autodosers: 81.95 (plus some shipping fees I guess).

A little pricey yet, maybe. Compare it to a $300 retail system, worth it.
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:47 AM   #2
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Just ordered the pumps and timer to set this up on my 40 breeder. I know, make fun of me because 'This thread is more than 1114 days old'. But... I just wanted to give a new price update. It's $66 shipped for the two pumps and timer from Marine Depot (combined shipping makes a big difference).

So, with that said... I'm going to get containers similar to yours for this tank. Once things settle down, I'll most likely order everything again and use 5g buckets for my 125.

Thanks for the play by play, and thanks for making the awesome spreadsheet (well, at least passing it on to others if you didn't make it) that ziggy forwarded on to me tonight. Very helpful.
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Old 04-11-2011, 04:04 PM   #3
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You could use a peristaltic pump like these Little Giant Pumps Products: Browse and Buy Online with Hawco (Page 1 of 1) or aspen pct pump,you can get them cheap on ebay,the pump stays out of the container.I use these for auto top off on a float switch,I also use 2 of these for PWC on my fry tank.
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Old 04-11-2011, 04:08 PM   #4
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You have to have quite a big of head height though, which most of those look like they can't handle. Not sure on the currency conversion, but these pumps are only $18 a piece over here. I looked and looked and couldn't find anything that I could be sure would provide the precise flow needed. I considered doing one pump with a 'T' in to both containers, but after discussing it a little, decided it wouldn't be so precise either.
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Old 04-11-2011, 04:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfdrookie516 View Post
You have to have quite a big of head height though, which most of those look like they can't handle. Not sure on the currency conversion, but these pumps are only $18 a piece over here. I looked and looked and couldn't find anything that I could be sure would provide the precise flow needed. I considered doing one pump with a 'T' in to both containers, but after discussing it a little, decided it wouldn't be so precise either.
A lot of these pumps have a suction of 1 metre and discharge length of 20 meters using 1/4" internal diameter hose.
There main use here is for condensation removal on air conditioning units.
£1 = $1.6
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Old 04-11-2011, 04:16 PM   #6
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Good to know. May check in to those when/if I build autodosers for my 125.
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Old 04-11-2011, 06:32 PM   #7
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I did test with a peristaltic pump and it was unable to push the 8' of head height I needed.
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Old 04-12-2011, 03:45 PM   #8
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I did test with a peristaltic pump and it was unable to push the 8' of head height I needed.

The air conditioning ones are made to pump a head of 12 meters at 6.25ltr/hour
Standard Peristaltic pump
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Old 04-12-2011, 04:05 PM   #9
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I used a Tom's Aqualifter which only guaruntees flow to 30" of head height, so obviously that one didn't work.
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfdrookie516 View Post
Just ordered the pumps and timer to set this up on my 40 breeder. I know, make fun of me because 'This thread is more than 1114 days old'. But... I just wanted to give a new price update. It's $66 shipped for the two pumps and timer from Marine Depot (combined shipping makes a big difference).

So, with that said... I'm going to get containers similar to yours for this tank. Once things settle down, I'll most likely order everything again and use 5g buckets for my 125.

Thanks for the play by play, and thanks for making the awesome spreadsheet (well, at least passing it on to others if you didn't make it) that ziggy forwarded on to me tonight. Very helpful.

Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I found the timer for $9.99.

It looks identical to the Hamilton one and can be programmed down to the minute also. I was at the local Harbor Freight store and I figured I'd see if they had a new timer to replace my analog one that won't turn on my CO2 and reactor anymore. I saw the same exact thing as the Hamilton, on sale, for $9.99. It can be found on their website for $10.99 - not sure what shipping is though.

Look similar?


Digital Timer
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