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Old 12-13-2004, 09:22 PM   #1
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Auto topoff setup documented (w/pics)

I believe this is going to be the best investment that I've made. This was a totally simple setup and I wanted to document it for anyone considering something similar.

Here is what you need:
1 Ultralife float switch - Marine Depot ($59)
1 Ph (aquaclear 201 used) - Marine Depot - ($13)
hose (1/2 used) - Lowes ($2)



The float switch is setup and ready to go, (i added an extra suction cup to ensure it stays in place). There is one male plug on the switch that runs to an outlet and one female that you plug the PH into.



Just setup your water storage container with PH and hose.



When the water falls below a certain level, the float piece of the floatswitch goes down with the water and causes the PH to run, when the water moves the float up, the PH cuts off.

Now i only need to fill the water container once a week ish and can go away for a few days and have the neighbor feed the fish and not worry about evaporation.

Man this was easy. WELL worth the $. Here is a pic of the entire setup. A bit messy under the tank (my first time using a sump) but it works.



Let me know if anyone has any questions or comments.
Happy holidays,
Jim
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Old 12-14-2004, 12:12 AM   #2
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how much evaporation were you getting before the install? I like the fuge.
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Old 12-14-2004, 12:38 AM   #3
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Yes, I agree. This is the best ever. I've done the exact same thing, except that I plugged the end of the water hose and jammed an irrigation dripper into it. That way, when the float triggers, the powerhead pumps but only manages to drip water into the system.
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Old 12-14-2004, 02:39 AM   #4
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An advantage to this system is that it uses really cheap powerheads....but watching my system in action the poor powerhead is switched on and off hundreds of times per day. That has got to be hard on powerheads.

I'm thinking of putting a timer in front of the float system. The timer would power off the auto-repl. system for 1/2 the time. It might ease the wear and tear on the pumps.

Right now, I'm just waiting to see how long the pump lasts. Does anyone else use a powerhead this way, or know a float switch trick to make them less sensitive?
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Old 12-14-2004, 07:08 AM   #5
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Very nice documentation. Kudos to you.
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Old 12-14-2004, 08:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad
An advantage to this system is that it uses really cheap powerheads....but watching my system in action the poor powerhead is switched on and off hundreds of times per day. That has got to be hard on powerheads.

I'm thinking of putting a timer in front of the float system. The timer would power off the auto-repl. system for 1/2 the time. It might ease the wear and tear on the pumps.

Right now, I'm just waiting to see how long the pump lasts. Does anyone else use a powerhead this way, or know a float switch trick to make them less sensitive?
I have the float switch plugged into the same timer as my moonlights for this reason. The PH will not have to work as often.

Jim
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Old 12-14-2004, 08:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RocketSeason
how much evaporation were you getting before the install? I like the fuge.
Thanks, I get about 1/2 gal a day evap. But even though top offs are simple, it's nice to go away and not worry about the water levels.

Thanks for the fuge comment! This is a quickie setup (and my first one) i have a PH in my sump bringing water in and a blukhead fitting letting graviy send it back. I put an extra bulkhead in just in case the first clogs up. Heres a close up pic.



Jim
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Old 12-14-2004, 08:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bearfan
Very nice documentation. Kudos to you.
Thanks Bearfan!
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Old 12-14-2004, 08:36 AM   #9
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An advantage to this system is that it uses really cheap powerheads....but watching my system in action the poor powerhead is switched on and off hundreds of times per day. That has got to be hard on powerheads.

Why? I mean the powerhead has no gears, it is a magnetic impeller so it really should not matter, the only thing to tear up is the impeller.
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Old 12-14-2004, 09:21 AM   #10
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My topoff has been going for about 9 months with the same PH. All is still good. I even dump kalk in my top off water so the pump gets some of that too.

I second the dual bulkhead on the fuge. I did the exact same thing after a hermit climbed the wall and got stuck in the drain hole. I also added a strainer on the drain.

Nice setup
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Old 12-14-2004, 09:52 AM   #11
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Nice setup for sure.

I have a gravity operated auto top off that uses a styrafoam float from a farm supply store. As the water level falls the float drops opening up a valve that allows water to syphon down from a storage container thats mounted above the floats level. When teh water level rises to a point the valve closes then the topoff ends till the water level drops again.

I know only having to add water to the system once a week is alot better than every day or every other day. Auto topoffs are great for helping stablize salinity.
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Old 12-14-2004, 01:01 PM   #12
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You have a pic of that FF?
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Old 12-14-2004, 04:07 PM   #13
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I just put that float switch on my Christmas list! I've been adding 3/4 gal every day.
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Old 12-14-2004, 04:15 PM   #14
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How does the Ultralife float compare to the autotopoff.com float? For about the same price, you get two floats with the autotopoff.com unit.
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Old 12-24-2004, 04:26 PM   #15
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I have my auto top off set up the same and have had the pump for aobut 1.5 years. It has run out of water several times with no problems also. I would not worry about putting the timer on the top off. I use a salt bucket to hold my water and it has worked out well...
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Old 12-24-2004, 04:48 PM   #16
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I just added a second float for a saftey check on getting too much water in my sump. I also added a relay to my floats since I did not have one before. My floats were from ebay and were relativley cheap. The relay and parts were around $10-15.

I have had my top off pump run dry a few times too but it is still chugging. I just need to figure out a way to feed my top off from my RO automatically.
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Old 12-24-2004, 07:37 PM   #17
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can these auto top off systems work for a sumpless system? or do the ripples on the surface cause too much fresh water to be dumped in the tank?
(I have a aquafuge on the back, but I dont know if that would work either)
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Old 12-25-2004, 12:55 AM   #18
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As long as your pump is not that big, you could supply the top off water directly to the tank.
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Old 12-26-2004, 02:50 PM   #19
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It would work but you would need to put a float switch into your fuge or in my case the tank. that would take up a lot of needed space and be unsightly to look at. Anybody have any suggestions to get around this?
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Old 01-03-2005, 10:18 PM   #20
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Where did you find the container you are using as you're refugium? Looks like it would work/fit under my tank almost perfect.

Thanks
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