Good Idea Or Am I Getting Lazy?

Like many others I am quite keen on efficiency. My free time is precious and though I don’t object in any way to the maintenance of my reef system I don’t want to spend unnecessary time at it.

For example, a good while ago I wondered if I could take the bio-media out of my Eheim canister filters. These canisters have been running since the start of the system over 6 years ago – the rock which makes up the reef wasn’t purchased as live rock but it is live now. Therefore the bio-filtration could be undertaken fully by the rocks and the canisters used for mechanical filtration and surface agitation. I didn’t do it though, having looked at the fish and soft coral reef, at the growth and the colours and how everything does so well, I lost courage. I didn’t want to experiment and cause any problem. Besides, the maintenance on the canisters is not exactly difficult or tiresome; they are only looked at once every four weeks.

Anyway I had this bright idea (only took six years for it to surface!) to automate the evaporation top-up. It’s easy to do, and Tunze for example have a good system. When the seawater level drops a sensor detects it and activates a pump, which in turn moves RO (reverse osmosis) water from a reservoir. When the level is back where it should be the pump stops.

At the moment I do a daily manual top-up which entails filling a pint jug with RO water and putting it into the aquarium until the seawater level reaches a mark on the aquarium glass.

I then started to think a little further – how long does the top-up exercise take each day? So I measured it as near as I could. The answer – about three minutes. Doubt crept in.

Then I considered the feeding regime. The food is normally supplied twice a day, in the morning and evening. It is in the evening when I do the manual top-up, which is immediately followed by feeding. So I’m at the aquarium anyway.

I also realized that when the top-up and feeding have been completed, I usually dally a while looking at the aquarium, sometimes I’ll sit down and admire nature’s marvels for quite a while. This is what the aquarium is about, enjoyment. The auto top-up idea was nearly a dead duck.

I wondered if when I was on holiday an auto top-up would help Peter who usually watches over the aquarium. There wouldn’t be so much for him to do. Then the counter – when I’m away I put on cover glasses and the evaporation reduces considerably anyway, and feeding would still be required.

Then the auto top-up reservoir itself would need to be topped up from time to time.

The idea was now definitely dead.

The aquarium holds a lot of rock and the net gallonage is 45, not a lot of seawater. With a large aquarium auto top-up is a serious consideration, but in my case I decided not.

I now have to wait for my next idea to pop out. Wouldn’t it be good if it was a hobby shaking invention, but I guess it won’t be looking at history!

  1. You don’t sound lazy to me. 😉 You’re still going the manual route, aren’t ya?!?

  2. I’d say the true benefit of an auto-topoff is for keeping salinity as stable as possible. When you wait to top off all at once, the tank undergoes more of a change than if continuously topped off throughout the day. I wouldn’t say you’re being lazy but you might be missing the point of an auto-topoff.

  3. Audimating any task that will save you time and energy is not laziness in my opinion

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  4. Stability is a priority for the marine aquarium – very true.

    I did check the situation when I started considering automation. An SG check was done just before the manual top-up and a little after on three occasions. There wasn’t a detectable difference, probably because the amount of water required to correct the seawater level is so small. A detectable difference – or as said a large aquarium – and automation would be on the agenda.

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