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Cheapest ATO I could make? Standalone vs Apex?


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For my 7.5g frag tank, I want to get an ATO for it, but I want it to be inexpensive.


For my DT, I run a dual float switch standalone unit from autotopoff.com


So either

1) I buy the nano autotopoff.com unit

2) I do a DIY and wire into my Apex unit.


3) I put the standalone autotopoff.com unit from my DT on the 7.5gal tank and build an ATO using the breakout box and dual float switches for the DT? (would this give me more control over turning off pumps etc?)


What do you guys think I should do?



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If you want cheap do a gravity ato. You can make one for just a few bucks. Not the most sightly thing in the world, but they're cheap and fail safe.

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7 dollar float switch off amazon

Battery powered air pump

Gatorade bottle


Probably the cheapest you can get.

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Two of these float switches for $4.64 each

Cheapest, smallest air pump you can find ($10 to free)

Mason jar or other rigid container (old spaghetti sauce jar = free)

rigid airline $2

airline tubing $3

1/16" acrylic to build a bracket < $5

Adhesive for the acrylic $3-$6



Drill the lid of the container for the rigid airline and normal airline tubing. Use a heat source (heat gun, hair drier, gas stove, etc) to bend the rigid airline so it will reach to the bottom of the container and reach over the top edge of the simp/tank. Glue both airlines to the lid. Make your barcket to hang the float switches off the side of the sump/tank (set one switch slightly higher). Open the air pump and wire in the float switches (one wire from each float switch spliced together, then split one of the wires from the cord and splice the float switches in).


So assuming you have none of the stuff on hand, $30 or so for everything and you have a backup switch. Just make sure you size the container big enough that you can get a day or two before refilling.


I think the autotopoff.com is a bit too expensive for what it is. If you don't have the skills or ability to put it together on your own, it's not bad, but I can't justify it for what it is. My set up looks way cleaner than what you get. I had most of the stuff on hand and got 4 used airpumps for $8, so the setup cost me less than $10.

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I would be careful wiring a ATO directly to a pump that plugs into a house outlet as they can cause them to fail. Thats why I used to use a battery operated pump as it doesnt have enough juice to mess with the float switches.

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If you run a pump that draws 3W, it shouldn't be an issue. That's 25mA.

You are right though, a higher wattage pump could cause issues. I forgot to mention that as being the reason for the small pump.

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Check this out. It's what I plan to do with my Apex. While not the cheapest option it is a super clean option that allows you to use the I/O outlet on your Apex, saving you the troubling of wiring AND saving you the cost of buying the break out box for the Apex. With a Tom's Aqualifter and this top off unit you get a quality top off unit that uses a pressure mechanic to determine top off and also has a mechanical back up float switch (for a few bucks more).

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