Friday, May 06, 2016

Setting Up an Aquarium Dosing Pump: It's Easier Than You Think!





Daily dosing can be a lot of work and many hobbyists tend to quickly get off track. A dosing pump is a great way to relieve yourself of this mundane task of daily dosing and can automate the process for you. Using a dosing pump will also help to maintain more consistent water parameters for a thriving reef tank.



As reef aquarium enthusiasts, we all know the importance of maintaining proper and stable water parameters. Most hobbyists start by adding supplements manually, often daily, to ensure the corals and invertebrates have what they need.

The most popular way to use a dosing pump is to automate the addition of trace elements along with calcium and alkalinity supplements to keep your parameters in check.  But this only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what a dosing pump can do for you; you can also automatically feed liquid foods, dose kalkwasser, and scheduled top-off. The Neptune Systems DOS along with the Apex Controller can even be programmed to perform automatic water changes.

When shopping for a dosing pump, it is best to choose a pump that has a built in controller with multiple channels or pump heads.  This allows you to dose multiple fluids and custom program the delivery of fluids to suit your needs.  The Aqua Medic EVO 4 is great for this reason; it includes a robust controller that allows you to individually program the on/off cycle of the pumps over a broad time span from seconds to days.

If you have a large tank or find the need for more than four channels, Aqua Medic also offers a handy extension unit that allows you to individually program up to 8 channels of fluid delivery with a single controller.



For our application, we want to automate the dosing of two-part Calcium-Alkalinity solution along with a magnesium supplement and a comprehensive trace element additive.     
We have a couple of these handy AquaMaxx dosing containers here which will be used to house our AquaMaxx Synergy-Plus two-part solution.  The AquaMaxx Dosing Containers allow you to easily see the amount of solution left and can be replenished by simply removing the lid. They are also stackable for those with tight-fitting stands. For the magnesium and trace elements, we will dose directly from the bottles as they will be depleted much slower. 
Tube holders are great for securing the dosing tubes to ensure they don’t fall in to the water and keeps tubes separated and organized.  As alkalinity and calcium solutions will precipitate when mixed, these 2 tubes should be kept far apart and their dosing times separated.
From our water testing, we find that our 70 gallon mix-reef uses about 50 mL per day of Calcium/Alkalinity and 3 mL per day of Brightwell Magnesion. The SeaChem Reef Trace will be dosed per manufacturer’s directions: which works out to about 3 mL per day. All the amounts can be easily programmed right on the built-in controller. 
Now that it is all set up and all the channels programmed, we can finally sit back and enjoy our reef tank. The days of mundane daily dosing is history. 
We will continue to test water parameters weekly and adjust the dosing amounts as needed. The dosing pump heads and tubing will be inspected monthly for proper operation. Replacement heads are offered by most companies and they can be easily swapped out should they ever fail or get worn out.


It is important to check all of the tubing and connections for leaks or clogs on a regular basis.  A leak or a clog can really set you back as it will result in the incorrect dosage of the desired fluid.
If you’re sick and tired of daily dosing and looking to automate your tank, a dosing pump is a great option.

-Take Care and Happy Reefkeeping.