Post by sdboers on Mar 12, 2015 17:53:44 GMT -5
Ever since starting up my aquarium I've been toying with the idea of implementing a continuous water change. I think it's beneficial to the fish, and I know it's beneficial to my back not having to cart off pails of waste water!
My goals for the project were:
- As DIY as possible
- As affordable as possible
- As fully automatic as possible
I needed to create solutions for the following areas:
- 1) Getting the fresh water into the tank
- 2) Getting the waste water out of the tank
- 3) Getting the discharged water off to the septic system
- 4) Have a way to clean the aquarium (vacuum waste) without removing water from the tank
1) Getting fresh water into the tank
I could not tap into a water source near the tank as it was important to take the water from before it went through the water softener. To keep the cost low and the installation simple, I went with 1/2" PEX pipe. A 100 foot roll cost me $25. Since I know I'll make use of it for other household projects, I also picked up a crimper and set of rings for the PEX fittings for about $40. I was feeling uber-lazy, so I also opted for a sharkbite fitting (solderless connector) to tap into the main 3/4" copper line. I added a shutoff valve so I could easily disable the new feed. I fished the PEX pipe through the ceiling and dropped it down next to the 2 tanks.
The inflow of water is done through drip irrigation fittings available at Home Depot and many other places. I put another shutoff valve on this end of the PEX as well as a 3/4" threaded connector. Drip irrigation runs on fixed 25psi pressure, so a 25psi regulator is screwed onto the end of the PEX. From there I needed a 3/4" male adapter to a 1/2" female adapter. The drip irrigation manifold I got (2 port) screws into that adapter (1 port for each tank).
Last two pieces of the inflow are the black tubing ($15 for 100 feet) and the drip/spray nozzles (About $5 for 2). The nozzles are adjustable to give anywhere from 0 to about 15 gallons per hour.
2) Getting the waster water out of the tank
I hate to point of the obvious, but now that there is a continuous supply of fresh water going into the tank, unless we start removing water at an equal rate - the tank will eventually overflow. Overflow... hmmm - there's an idea. See the thread on a DIY PVC Overflow located here: everythingaquatic.proboards.com/thread/3836/diy-pvc-overflow . A 20 foot length of sump pump hose cost about $6 and was more than enough to run from the PVC overflow to the collection bin.
3) Getting the discharge water to the septic
My tank happens to be located in the basement, so I can't rely on gravity to get the discharged water off to waste. I needed a way to collect it and then pump it off for disposal. To that end I simply used a large rubbermaid storage tote. A garbage pail would have worked just as well. I already had a submersible utility pump that I used, and a float switch for it cost me about $30. The lid was drilled to accommodate the plumbing and away we go...
The two large black hoses are the drains from each tank. The white PEX that goes through the hole is connected to the submersible pump and goes off to the household sewage line. The small back hose is the fresh water feed going to the 2 tanks. On the inside view of the rubbermaid, you'll see I've simply placed bricks to hold the float switch in position. In this pic - it's just about ready to trip the switch and empty the container.
4) Cleaning the tank
And the last thing to do (and the first thing I actually did) was to create a way to clean the tank since I won't be siphoning off sludge anymore. To that end I created a powered aquarium vacuum which is covered here: everythingaquatic.proboards.com/thread/3828/diy-powered-aquarium-vacuum . This allows me to quickly and easily clean the bottom of the tank without removing any water.
So - what's left? Thoughts to round out the system include:
- Mesh cover over the overflow pipes to discourage suicidal fish
- Float valves on the inflow tubes for safety if the overflow stops working
- Adding a powered shutoff valve to the inflow that shuts off when the power goes out
- List item 2
- List item 3