DIY ATO Auto Top Off for 40 bucks. Siphon method. Electronic free. :P

Discussion in 'I made this!' started by brew0688, Jul 26, 2011.

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  1. brew0688

    brew0688 Fire Shrimp

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    Hi everyone.

    So I've been having a hard time keeping up with evaporation. My SG is constantly on the rise, and continues unchecked. I'm too busy to deal with adding water every single day, which is about how often it needs to be done. Long story short - my constant fluctuation has caused the death of my hammer coral. Anyway, I decided to build an ATO.

    [​IMG]

    I wanted something simple, fail safe, and quick to build. I didn't want to purchase a $100 unit online and have to wait for it to come in.

    I didn't want to use any valves / switches that could stick and cause a problem, so I based my build on a siphon method my LFS guy suggested. I googled it, and didn't find a whole lot, but the idea is simple, so I headed to home depot to see what I could come up with.

    I'm sure many of you are familiar with siphon driven ATO's but for those like me, who aren't, here is a breakdown.

    The idea is simple: An airtight container rests higher than the sump. The container holds RO/DI water, and has two lines going to it; one to the base of the container (to allow water to drain from it, to the sump), and one line to the top of the container (to allow air in, for water to flow out).

    Line one (connected to the top of the container) is a breather. This line travels from the top of the container, into your sump. You fix the end of the line in your sump at a desired water level. As long as the sump maintains the full level of water, the end of this line is submerged, and will not allow air to move into the RO/DI airtight reservoir. Once the water in your tank evaporates to such an extent that the water level in your sump drops below the end of the air line, it will allow air to move back through the tubing, and into the top of the RO/DI container. This allows water to move through line two, which is at the bottom on the container. The water will flow through line two, into the sump, until the level rises and occludes line one, stopping the movement of air, and causing a vacuum that will hinder any further flow of water.

    Provided your container is airtight, and your lines are secured correctly, this system is pretty fail safe.

    [​IMG]
    IMG_1656 by Brett Marillier, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_1658 by Brett Marillier, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_1659 by Brett Marillier, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_1661 by Brett Marillier, on Flickr

    I have tested the system, and it is working great so far.

    AIR TIGHT is KEY!

    Feel free to throw any questions / suggestions my way.

    DIY = Manly!

    :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2011
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  3. rc_mcwaters3

    rc_mcwaters3 Clown Trigger

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    I want more pics LOL ;D and did you use silicone to make it air tight?
     
  4. brew0688

    brew0688 Fire Shrimp

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    Haha. I'll make a real quick video instead.

    Yeah, I used "Aquarium Safe" silicone.

    Stay tuned.;D
     
  5. blackreef13

    blackreef13 Coral Banded Shrimp

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    im following the thread looks interesting
     
  6. DBOSHIBBY

    DBOSHIBBY Sleeper Shark

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    Yep I used this on my 10g. Works pretty good.
     
  7. brew0688

    brew0688 Fire Shrimp

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    Here is a quick video. It's such a basic principal.. I love it!

     
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  9. blackreef13

    blackreef13 Coral Banded Shrimp

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    great video thanks for the explanation nice clowns
     
  10. Anthos312

    Anthos312 Millepora

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    a few questions/issues.

    When you refill the bucket with water and open the valve, what happens?

    Considering I dont have a sump i would have to somehow mount this above my tank. Since mine is only a 40 gallon, and i evaporate about 1.5 gallons -2 gallons over a 2 day period i think i should be able to squeez by with a smaller bucket.
     
  11. Tmobo

    Tmobo T-Rev

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    I am also wondering this. Maybe using a valve for the water line somehow would help that?
     
  12. brew0688

    brew0688 Fire Shrimp

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    This is why I have the stop valve at the end of the inlet (to the sump) tubing. When I need to refill the bucket, I close the drain line valve (the blue valve you see in my video), and open the fill valve on the top of the bucket. The bucket will at this point completely lose the vacuum. It is important to fill the container as high as possible at this point, because once the fill valve is closed, and the drain line to the sump is opened once again, a small amount of water will have to flow out to create a vacuum once again. Regardless of the level of water in the sump when you fill the bucket, so long as it drains to the point of occluding the air line, the bucket will re-establish a vacuum.