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In-tank auto-top off controller?

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Hey all,

As I am struggling to piece together ideas for a potential new saltwater setup, I stumbled upon a small issue I'd like to get your feedback on. Currently, I'm leaning toward a 6g long with a second 6g long as a refugium sitting at a staggered height behind the main tank. Because of this setup, I'm pretty sure I'll need to have a float switch or ATO sensor in the main tank versus in the fuge. My thinking is that since the fuge is at a staggered height, I'll be using a powerhead from the main tank to push water into the fuge then a large bulkhead will drain back into the tank. In doing so, I think that the water level will remain constant in the refugium while the main tank will fluctuate. If that's accurate, then I'll need to place the ATO sensor in the main tank. So that brings me to my question, with a high level of surface turbulence is there a compact ATO that isn't going to trigger falsely as the ripples in the current fluctuate the height of the water? Maybe folks have other thoughts for an ATO design/option that might work better?

Any feedback is appreciated.

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Yes, there will be an issue with that, Float Sensors "Float" and any ripple or current causes them to go off. So I would avoid a Float Switch controlled ATO and be looking more towards Pressure Sensor that is not effected at all by waves or ripples, or an Optical Solution that is much better than float switch in regards to waves, but be very careful and make sure you have all your fail safes in place. This sounds like a cool project, very innovative will be watching this thread.

Sorry forgot to mention actual options "Pressure Sensor ATO" Avast Marine, "Optical Sensor ATO" Tunzee

Edited by Exodus
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You probably know this, but just in case... no matter what the solution you use, as @Exodus says, be sure there are at least two sensors in play.  Floats fail, all kinds for various reasons. 

Also, if you run an apex, you can use the defer statement.  This statement requires the float to be in activated for a configurable period of time before considering it truly on.  This will avoid the sloshing around issue and make the float more reliable.

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Thanks [mention=13424]Exodus[/mention] and [mention=15306]TheClark[/mention]! great points about dual sensors. I just wish they were a bit cheaper. Also because of the small dimensions, I’ll be really confined on space so I’ll have to do some digging on different options. Right now I am just in the planning stage and don’t have any of my old equipment so everything is on the table. As for the Apex, I’ll have to take a look at that. I don’t recall if that was available back when I had my prior tanks. I used to have an old Reefkeeper Lite controller and it worked great but that was years ago so I’ll have to see what options are available now. The ATO was the first snag I ran into while noodling the equipment. Unfortunately, on some of my previous picos and nanos water parameters got out of sorts very quickly without an ATO to help keep the evap in check. Fortunately, in my last tank I had a filter compartment that I could throw my equip into so this was not an issue.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

 

 

 

 

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if you are at all handy you can build an Ato for about $15. and then get an aqua lifter pump for the water. 

you can easily wire in extra float switches for fail safes.  people are right about the waves, but you can always mount a "slosh guard" around the float switch.  

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5 hours ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

if you are at all handy you can build an Ato for about $15. and then get an aqua lifter pump for the water. 

you can easily wire in extra float switches for fail safes.  people are right about the waves, but you can always mount a "slosh guard" around the float switch.  

That method uses float switches, so would not be beneficial for his purpose as float switches go on an off with water movement, I have the Slosh Snail Guards on both my AutoTopOff.Com ATO's and they still go nuts with any substantial movement in water.

Edited by Exodus

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Thanks @pdxmonkeyboy. I've done quite a it of modding in the past so think something like this I'd be able to tackle . Unfortunately, I had considered that option but figured if I were to go that route I would have to keep it as a secondary/backup unit as it would have to sit pretty low in the tank to avoid the surface turbulence. 

I haven't done much digging on this but did come across AutoAqua Smart ATO which seemed pretty small. Does anyone have any experience with that hardware?

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I have the Smart ATO.  I had some turbulence when I used it in my 55g, but just normal surface breaking from pumps.  It worked well.  It false alarms a lot though with regard to it's logic to determine if it took too long to fill or it has been too long since it was filled.  I am looking for something else due to spousal complaints about the beeping... (but I will be selling it when I do, if you're interested)

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