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Old 11-08-2010, 09:14 AM   #1
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WALFDIH 1: The ATO Float Switch

WALFDIH: What Adam Learned From Doing It Himself

There were a couple of things I've learned from setting up and maintaining my fish tanks (particularly my 150G saltwater setup) that I haven't seen mentioned on here. I thought I would share my stories just in case it helps someone down the road.


A while ago I decided that it was best to put as many fail-safe measures on my tank's plumbing as I could (which I still think is a good idea). Among those fail-safes that I implemented was a setup was the following:

I ended up taking an ATO unit with a float switch and reversing its direction so that when the water level got below a certain point in my refugium, the return pump going from that refugium back to the display tank would shut off. The purpose was to prevent the return pump from ever running dry, just in case I was away unexpectedly for a few days and enough water evaporated to make that happen.

I looked online (especially at AA) and couldn't find anyone who had attempted the same thing. I was actually surprised at that fact at the time.

I set it up and it actually worked perfectly. Whenever the water level got too low the pump would shut off. What ended up happening, though, is that once the pump would shut off, the residual water left would come back down and increase the water level enough to turn the pump on, so the pump would oscillate between off and on until more water was added.

It turns out that the setup I had to protect the pump ended up doing more harm than good. I ended up having a lot of pump shenanigans that I'm pretty sure was a result of turning the pump off and on repeatedly. The pump wasn't fried, but it was still more trouble than it would have been if the water level had gotten low once or twice.

In the near future, I think I'm going to set up an ATO switch the right way and use a smaller pump to move water from the reservoir to the main plumbing. At least that way if that pump runs dry it will be cheaper to replace than my main return pump.

-Adam Horton
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Old 11-15-2010, 11:45 PM   #2
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I have the JBJ ATO and it has 2 float switches one that goes in the reservoir tank and one that goes in my sump so that neither of the two pumps ever runs dry.
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