Hot Tips: Automation Tips

A selection of useful tidbits of information for the aquarist. Readers are encouraged to send their tips to terry@advancedaquarist.com
or to post them to our Hot Tips sticky in the Reefs.org General
Reefkeeping Discussion forum for possible publication. Next month’s Hot
Tip theme will be “Aquarium Photography Tips “.

Automation Tips

There
are many X10-based automations, but since pretty all the equip. are in
one location, I usually use relays instead. There are cons and pros of
each type, but IMO, it is easier to trouble shoot.

The most
common item on reef tank to be automated is light. For this, I just use
regular applicance timer. Those that are into astronmical timing
(moonlight simulation) may use more sophicated timer, but I am not a
big fan of it.

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Another item is topoff. This topic is a whole
field by itself. I prefer to use electric solenoid-based automation
because of the reliability compare to mechanical valves, such as floats.

— Reef Box Etc


Lights: Appliance timers

Top
off: Can’t beat a litermeter. After years in this hobby, I ahve read
dozens of posts about tank crahses after a float valve failed or how
the RO/DI unit kept going, etc. I have read only one bad story with a
litermeter failing. Even that one I think it iwas a lie LOL…………

CaCO3: Oversized kalk reactor. Pays for itself over time.

Huge CaCO3 demands: Large Ca reactor. You thank god someone invented this stuff.

Testing: Probes and probes. pH, temp, salinity

Water changes: Large water container connected via a pump to your sump, so a water change becomes turning 4 valves in 5 minutes.

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I
have found over time that the best automation tool is actually common
sense. If you take 5 seconds to looks at your equipment daily, you will
avoid 99% of the problems others have.

— dgasmd


I use
a SWCD as a surge device for an above tank refugium. The intermittment
surge created by the SWCD allows for a more realistic wave-action as
the refugium ebbs and flows into the display area. The other end of the
SWCD is just piped into the main tank as additional flow.

While
i’ve seen some other cool surge setups here I think the SWCD is a very
simple and useful device for creating more naturalistic wave/surge
action for those DIY-challenged (like myself). It’s sorta automation.

I’ve
found my corals/livestock respond better to the intermittment flows
(waves) than a constant flow (streams/river), regardless of respective
flow rates. I’ve also found that my plankton tend to flow better (thru
a drain) with a varying surge rather than a constant trickle/flow. I
guess the water’s surface tension affects the buildup of scum/crappie
at the drain. This is for the typical gravity-output refugium. It just
tends to get clogged over time.

— rcsjeng

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