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rsucre

Ideal dosing pump for nano reef tanks

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rsucre

Hi.  I have been researching a bit about dosing pumps, testing a couple of them, comparing features, etc. trying to find out the ideal feature set for nano reefers.  I'm considering building a product prototype.

 

I assume that most nano reefers use dosing pumps for:

  • Carbon dosing (vinegar, nopox)
  • Alkalinity
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Perhaps additives like the ones from KZ (Zeovit).

 

Some thoughts (product design goals):

  • Must be able to dispense small doses with a good level of accuracy.  1ml accuracy?  Adjustable flow rate from 5 - 14 ml/minute would be ideal?  Good enough for the needs of most nano reefers?
  • Must be compact.
  • What do you think about a dosing pump that comes with a power supply for stand-alone use (with a separate timer, just like most people do with BRS and Drew's dosing pumps), but also has an optional cable for connecting it directly to the 24DC port of a Neptune Apex controller?  Would that be a desirable option?
  • Easily replaceable pump heads.  Easy maintenance.

 

Your feedback is appreciated.

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Indiana Reefin

I don’t think you need to dose. 

I would go the vinager and kalk route in your ATO and weekly water changes to control your magnesium. 

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HarryPotter

BRS 1.1ml/minute is hard to beat. You can control it by the drop. 

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teenyreef

I tried a couple options but for a small nano the BRS dosers are best. Any doser that doses a minimum of 1ml will dose more than you want in a small tank. 

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rsucre
9 minutes ago, teenyreef said:

I tried a couple options but for a small nano the BRS dosers are best. Any doser that doses a minimum of 1ml will dose more than you want in a small tank. 

Thanks for the feedback.  

 

What would be the ideal minimum flow rate?  1.6ml/minute seems way to slow.  Why would you need slower than 5ml/min.?  5 seconds would dose less than 0.5ml.  Maybe some people need drop precision, but most people?

 

What about a dosing pump that is smaller, cheaper, adjustable (flow rate) and has the option of being connected directly to Apex (24DC port)?  One less power supply...

 

   

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Indiana Reefin

What type of corals are planning on keeping? 

How large of a nano?

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rsucre
3 minutes ago, Indiana Reefin said:

What type of corals are planning on keeping? 

How large of a nano?

This is a product conceptualization, not specifically for me or for a very specific target.  Let's say for nanos from 10 - 30 gallons with softies, SPS and maybe the easier LPS.

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teenyreef
4 hours ago, rsucre said:

Thanks for the feedback.  

 

What would be the ideal minimum flow rate?  1.6ml/minute seems way to slow.  Why would you need slower than 5ml/min.?  5 seconds would dose less than 0.5ml.  Maybe some people need drop precision, but most people?

 

What about a dosing pump that is smaller, cheaper, adjustable (flow rate) and has the option of being connected directly to Apex (24DC port)?  One less power supply...

 

   

Good questions. I think 5ml/min would be OK, but I don't know of any dosers on the market today that dose at that rate. As far as I know, it's either 1.1ml/min for the BRS dosers, or it's more like 60 ml/min for the typical multi-head doser. So if you can come up with a controllable doser that flows at 5-15 ml/minute, that would be really nice, but only if the dosing precision is below 1ml. It would probably need to have a precision of .1 ml to be useful for nano tanks. 

 

Maybe it would help to explain how things went for me when I tried to use the Jebao DP-4, a typical four-head doser at the cheapest end of the market, which doses about 60 ml/minute, with a minimum precision of 1 ml (which turned out to be more like 2 or 3 ml in practice). 

 

I dosed two part Seachem Reef Energy, which is a concentrated 2-part liquid dosing solution. In my tank, I typically needed to dose about 2 or 3 ml per day of each part. Since the whole point of dosing is to ensure as much stability as possible, it's better to dose in several small increment throughout the day, rather than dumping the entire daily dose at once. That way daily swings in alkalinity are minimized, which is critical for keeping sps. So I set up my doser to dose 2 ml per day, six times a day.

 

But then I realized that the pumps in the DP-4, which are typical for many dosers, can only dose with reasonable accuracy in 1 ml minimum doses. This is because the motors dose very quickly, about 1 ml/second, so dosing anything smaller isn't really possible. And then I found out that if I dose in 1 ml increments, the precision of the dose is not very good. In other words, if I use a single dose of 10ml, I would get 10 ml. If I dosed ten doses of 1ml each, I would get anywhere between 7 and 12 ml total. 

 

So I had eventually diluted the dosing solution 4:1 with RODI water, and dosed at higher levels. I also reduced the frequency of the dosing from six times a day to three times a day, which made the pump workable. 

 

None of this matters in a bigger tank because the dosing volume is much larger. If I'm dosing 30 ml/day in a 100g tank, I can easily do six doses a day at 5 ml/dose, and keep things very precise. I could even make things more even by dosing 12 times a day without too much variation. 

 

So if, you want a doser for a nano tank, you absolutely need the ability to dose at less than 1 ml per dose, and you need to do it with reasonable precision. That's why I switched to the BRS dosers. They dose 1.1 ml in a minute. So now in my 10g tank, I dose eight times a day. Even with the BRS dosers, just changing the time per dose by a couple seconds can change dKh in my 10g tank by .1 or .2 dKh in a day.

 

Finally, I'll note that some multi-head dosers will provide less than a 1ml dose. The Kamoer doser I have on my 40g tank will dose in .1 ml increments, and it works great on that tank.

 

I will say that if I could get the precision of the BRS doser with a faster flow rate like you're considering, I think that would be a real winner. It sucks waiting around for the BRS doser to take ten or fifteen minutes to clear out or refill the dosing line with new solution.

 

As far as your other thoughts, I think you've nailed it on the rest. Assuming the use of a separate controller like an Apex results in a cheaper doser option than the high-end, expensive dosers on the market now, it would be a great solution.

 

I hope this is helpful feedback for your prototyping!

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ajm83

I use a Jebao DP-4 on my 85 litre tank.  The smallest dose you can use is 1ml,  so for anything smaller I just dilute the solution.

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gone_PHiSHin

the more i research dosers the more i realize i don't know anything about dosers

 

i'll be following because i really want to automate my 2 part dosing but i haven't decided what would be the best route yet!

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gone_PHiSHin

i was planning on pulling the trigger on a GHL 2.1 Standalone 4 pump but recently found out that i need a PC to run all the software to set it up...i currently don't have a laptop, so looks like i'm still looking.

 

i would love some more reviews of the Coral Box wifi dosing pump if anyone has been using one

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jem454

Ghl doser2 is probably the best out. You only need pc for initial setup and firmware upgrades. After that it can be run with its app. I'm considering buying a second one along with their newly released kh director for automated alk testing and dosing.

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rsucre
On 2/10/2018 at 11:58 PM, teenyreef said:

Good questions. I think 5ml/min would be OK, but I don't know of any dosers on the market today that dose at that rate. As far as I know, it's either 1.1ml/min for the BRS dosers, or it's more like 60 ml/min for the typical multi-head doser. So if you can come up with a controllable doser that flows at 5-15 ml/minute, that would be really nice, but only if the dosing precision is below 1ml. It would probably need to have a precision of .1 ml to be useful for nano tanks. 

Hi.  With my prototype, I'm getting 5ml/min at minimum to 15ml/min maximum.  At minimum, it seems to be very consistent.  I would say that it is good for dosing down to 1ml with good precision if you set it for 12 seconds.  You could set it to run for 6 seconds and get something close to 0.5ml, but then it is difficult to even get the Apex to be that precise starting and stopping the DC24 outlet.

 

The issue I'm having right now is that the 24V power supply (in case you want to use it stand-alone, without an Apex DC24 port) is very slow to power the unit.  It takes 2 seconds from getting power from mains to starting the motor.  I have to find a power supply with faster capacitors, since every second is important for precision in this application.

 

I think that it is ideal for my 20 gallon tank.  For instance, I'm using it to dose a total of 25ml of vinegar per day in 5ml individual doses.  I have it connected to the DC24 port (2 pin ports next to the 1Link 4 pin ports).  I don't even have it at the minimum setting, because I don't want it to run for a minute.  I dialed it up so that I can get 5ml in 20 seconds.  I control it with the OSC command, like this:

 

Fallback OFF

Set OFF
OSC 000:00/000:20/059:40 Then ON
If Time 15:21 to 10:59 Then OFF

If pH < 8.00 Then OFF
 

I doses 5ml every hour from 11:00AM to 3:00PM.

 

I have another one of these pumps on my 10 gallon nano and it also dispenses vinegar.  A single dose of 3ml per day.  I can split it in 3 x 1ml doses, but I think it is not worth it so far no ill effects for this specific tank and application.

 

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Beer

Are you directly driving a brushed/brushless DC motor? If so, that is not going to be very accurate and there will be a lot of variability, especially depending upon the trpe of power supply you are using.

 

Consider a small stepper motor. There are plenty of inexpensive ICs for driving stepper motors. The controller output would then be triggering the driver instead or driving the motor. Tis will not allow you to just run the entire thing off of a lighting timer if that is what you are doing, but that is too imprecice of a way to drive something like this anyway. There are plenty of hobby options to run a timer off of something like an Arduino (for the love of god, do not use the oscillator on the Atmega chips for keeping time, they are far to slow and woefully inaccurate for time keeping functions).

 

what are you doing as far as designing the pump head goes? Are you using something that is already available, 3D printing, or looking to have something injection molded when you are ready to scale up? I don't believe you will have good luck with something that is 3D printed as far as longevity and durability are concerned unless it is severly overbuilt, which will not make this a viable or profitable venture (your questions and approach make this seem like you are looking into making this a commercial venture).

 

I think it is easy to assume that most people use equipment like this or that everybody doses based on a lot of the threads regarding topics of additives and dosing, but in reality, most people get by with water changes. Actually, most people are in the hobby for less than a year or two. Those are the people that really keep the aquarium hobby funded (other than the niche high end coral vendors and the like)

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rsucre

Hi Beer, thanks for your feedback.

 

I'm not building from scratch.  I'm based on a dosing pump from a reputable manufacturer (medical, industrial, lab, etc.).  So far, once you calibrate the pump, it remains very accurate and consistent.  Specially when connected to the Apex DC24 port, it runs very accurately, since the power supply is already "loaded".

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