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Top Off - Using a constant drip effect?


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I've just set up my new 29G and have implemented what I thought would be a simple and effective auto top off system.


Basically I have a tupperware container with a hole drilled in the bottom. I've run an airline tube through the hole and then sealed it with silicon sealant to make the hole water tight. I then ran the air line below the tank into just above the sump where I stuck one of those cheap airline valve on the end.


The plan was that I'd adjust the flow of the RO water out of the tupperware by adjusting the airline valve. The thing is it only tends to work for half an hour and then I end up with air in the tube and it stops working. :(


I know other people on these forums have used this method of top off. I just wondered if anyone had a solution to my current problem or am I onto a loser with this method? :blush:


I was considering using silicon sealant on the valve where it joins the tube to see if that would help but thought i'd ask on here first. Thanks in advance for any advice. :)

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matt the fiddler

to get you an idea my 55 looses a gallon a day... i drip a gallon of kalk daily i drip about 1 or 2 drips per second to get that rate



IMO you only want the container size to be such that if it all dumped in your tank would be ok, and would not flood. for a nano don't go larger than say a liter bottle....



buy some pickling lime.. thorw in a teaspoon per gallon and keep your levels up if you are allready dripping!



[a nano drip rate would be about 1 drip every 10-15 seconds..]

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Matt, thanks for the reply but I think you misunderstood my question. :blush:


I've got the tupperware container (2 litre) and tubing set up which hangs of the back of my tank. The tubing then leaves the container from it's base and drops into the tank cabinet below where it hangs above the sump.


I have an air line valve (cheap green plastic thing!) sat on the end of the tubing which has a valve that you turn to reduce or increase flow.


My problem is that with this set up I keep getting air in the tubing which eventually stops the flow of water into the sump from the container after about 30 minutes. :(


I just wondered whether someone on here had a similar kind of top off set up and whether they'd experienced a similar problem and how they went about fixing it. :)


Thanks for taking the time to try and help though.

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How does the air get in there? Thats your problem... and matt its great to have someone around who doesnt look at you like you're insane when you tell them to add pickling lime.

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i had my drip topoff dripping at about 1 drop per 8 seconds, and i was getting the same problems as you were... air comes in from the control valve ... cuz if u twist it to allow the thing to drip, air is exposed and somehow gets stuck a period of time later.


the only solution i found to fixing this problem was to increase the drip speed to about 1 drop every 2-3 seconds. i've had no problems with "bubble clogging" since i've done that

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Idea! Is there a way for air to get into the container holding the topoff water? Because if there isn't, then it would aquire air from another part of the system... If you've allready made sure that's not a problem, then idk what to tell you. Good luck.

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Anyone ever used an IV bag with the specialy designed drip rate valve to make a top off? You could fill the 1-5 liter bag with whatever substance indicated (they can be refilled if you are not concerned about sterility.) An added bonus... the drip rate mechanism is specifically designed not to let any air bubbles in. I'm a vet and go through IV bags and drip lines often. I plan on setting an automatic top off with this system on both my 12 gallo and my 30 this week. I'll try to post pictutres and let everyone who is interested know the results. The worst part about it will be that you will have a piece of medical equipment suspended above your tank, sump, or fuge, but some might find that a conversation piece. The best part about it will be how very controllable it will be, and the expense will be very minimal. Any vet or medical facility would probably give you the equipment for free.



David M. Frye, DVM

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i thin air is gettin in there by the valve. i have a cheap green valve for my airline tubing and ive noticed air gets into the tubing. i dont have a drop- top-off, but i noticed air gets in thru the valve, so maybe you want to get a new valve

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Originally posted by matt the fiddler

[a nano drip rate would be about 1 drip every 10-15 seconds..]


I saw your auto top off system that was in a thread last march i believe. So people who use an airpump auto top off system, they'll have to have a dripper installed at the end of the tube to just drip the top off that has kalk???

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matt the fiddler

i no longer use the auto topoff.. i will again once my kalk reactor is made...



let me take a picture.. and post it.. if you create a siphon, and there is a good 1-2 feet of dropping, i don't see how any air would get in the piping- assuming the air hose ins't going above the surface in the container... i have done one drip every 20-30 secs before... the only clogging i get is if the valve goes onder water, or get covered with lime [after weeks of use]

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Originally posted by DocFrye

Anyone ever used an IV bag with the specialy designed drip rate valve to make a top off?  


This is exactly what I do. Pinched the IV from a hospital (they would have given it to me for free anyway, like you said, but you have to get your kicks somehow).


Works slightly better than the Kent Marine Aquadose that I used to have (which was based on almost exactly the same idea). With the IV, as you said, I get that nice little mechanism that lets me adjust the drip rate *very* precisely.



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Yeah, why not instead of using a valve to control the flow, use something to pinch the tubing? Then the flow is restricted and the original siphon isn't tampered with. You can control the flow that way.

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Guys, thanks for all the input. I never expected so much help. :)


I hit upon the root cause this evening before I came online and after a lot of head scratching ! :D


BKtomodachi & Kogut hit the nail on the head. I never thought for a minute about the sealed lid on the container! It finally dawned on me when I tried to get the lid off and couldn't because of the air pressure ! :blush:


The whistling of air when I got the thing off led to my eureka moment. I've now drilled a little hole in the lid so hopefully all will be fine now.


The IV drip is an excellent idea DocFrye, so if I get some of the problems with the cheap valve (which I think I may) that others have had I might take that approach next.


Thanks again guys. :)

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