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ATO - what's the best?

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Shane H View Drop Down
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    Posted: April 29 2016 at 10:57am
Hey All,

Looking to get some opinions on the best ATO system.   

Some items to consider:
1) Tank is small (29g Biocube)
2) Currently evaporating roughly 1/3 to 1/2 gallon per day
3) Reservoir space is limited to the stand size, but I could get creative.
4) Would be nice to add kalkwasser to the top-off reservoir (not a requirement)
5) I do not have a controller, nor do I plan to add one right now.

Thanks for your feedback. 
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aceofspadeskb View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote aceofspadeskb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 29 2016 at 12:11pm
I really like my Hydor Smart Level. So long as you use a small pump with it(I use one of the cheap vacuum type pumps) they work perfectly.  No worries about stuck float valves, and 1/3 the price of more expensive non-float switch options.

Been running it almost 2 years with no issues.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LakeCityReefs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 29 2016 at 1:16pm
I also have limited space under my 50 cube. I used a nice wicker basket on the side of my tank to conceal a 5 gallon top off jug and decided to go with the Tunze nano osmolator. It's a nice package for under 100 bucks considering it already comes with a good pump that has some fail safe measures put in place. I thought I was going to use Kalk in my ATO but I am only adding Alk to my ATO water and hand dosing Ca twice a week.
Here we go again
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Mark Peterson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 29 2016 at 2:06pm

How about a drawer full of RO water, gravity fed? Wink That was one of the most ingenious reservoirs I've ever seen.

Aloha,

Mark  Hug

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Adam Blundell View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adam Blundell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 29 2016 at 2:37pm
I'm testing the hydor now. Mixed feelings.
Gravity fed float, never failed.

Adam
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Shane H View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shane H Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 29 2016 at 3:11pm
How about a drawer full of RO water, gravity fed? Wink That was one of the most ingenious reservoirs I've ever seen.

That WAS a great system!

Any other input?  I know many of you have ATOs!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kromlech Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 03 2016 at 8:05am
I personally like the Tunze Osimilator, but they are quite expensive.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kevin.st Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 03 2016 at 8:23am
In my opinion, the Tunze top off's are the gold standard.  This is a part that fails for a lot of people so it's worth spending some dough on a good one.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote badfinger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 03 2016 at 10:32am
Tunze, used one for 6 years
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote scfurse77 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 03 2016 at 11:45am
This is the one use on my 42, And i love it. It's small and works through a laser instead of a float. I have it since day one ( 4months ) and so far so good.

http://www.amazon.com/Smart-ATO-Micro-Automatic-AutoAqua/dp/B0195D3LC6
CADLIGHTS 42 Versa, 20 Gallon Sump, ATI Dimmable 8 Bulb T5 w/SbReef Lights Sbar, Bubble Muggus Skimmer and really mad wife :)
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Mark Peterson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 03 2016 at 2:22pm
I'm reading all these replies and have to say that I agree with Adam the most. A simple gravity feed system is the best:

1.  Direct slow drip from an elevated reservoir. This is the simplest method of ATO and the least likely to fail;

2.  The Glug Jug; activated by the vacuum created in a tube leading between the tank water level and the top air bubble inside a sealed reservoir

Both of these systems can be placed remotely away from the display to certain degree. "Get creative". Smile They can be hidden in a hood, on nearby furniture, in a closet or a room behind the tank. Kalkwasser is easily delivered with this type of system. Hope this helps jiggle your brain.

Aloha,
Mark  Hug

P.S.
For anyone who may want to read the rest of the story:
Referring to my own experience as the King of Cheap, I try not to spend money unnecessarily. For me, the best top off is when I, or my client, have been able to attend to the tanks daily or every few days with manual top-off. But then one day the schedule or my own (or my clients) forgetfulness gets in the way. Failure to top off a stand alone tank is usually no problem. But if the water level falls to where a shallow positioned circulation pump starts sucking air, it leads to quick evaporation and air bubbles sticking on everything. This tends to be a serious issue for sessile inverts. Ouch 

The use of the AIO (All-in-One) tank with it's tiny enclosed sump or the use of the larger, traditional, typically baffle divided Sump/Refugium compounds the issue, because the return pump sits in a small reservoir of water. I view this as a major drawback. This is one reason I like to use open non baffled sump/Refugiums, providing a much larger reservoir. See the link about the "simple, easy refugium" in the Reefkeeping Tips.

What next? My brain tells me to go back to basics, to take note of KISS. No, not the band, not the show of affection. Wacko I'm talking about the 1960 military engineering acronym KISS; "keep it short and simple". Logic tells me to look at the simplest solution where mechanical and/or electronic device failure are minimal or non-existent
At that point, the best method I know of is a short term ATO, a gravity feed system. This system can be one of two types as listed above.


Edited by Mark Peterson - May 03 2016 at 2:48pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stout_trout Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2016 at 5:44pm
I have a different ATO on several of my tanks. There are lot's of people who will have more to say, but my experience is based on about 1 year of owning each.

Here is what I've found, in order of preference: 

1. Tunze 3155 on 30 gal - It has all my confidence. mechanical and optical sensors. The pump has plenty to get the water to where it belongs... my favorite...but you need a little room for the sensors and return. I think it would fit the 29 just fine. (got it used for $200)

2. smart ATO micro on 6 gal - This thing is awesome. the sensor and return take NO space (like the size of a nickel and the sensor holds the return hose. It's optical so it might be a problem for finding a place to put it on every tank but for a small tank, it rocks. (got it new for $120)

3. Tunze nano on 20 gal - It's solid and smaller than the 3155..but I miss the optical sensor. When I installed it, it was a bit finicky on the placement and angle of the sensor. It's a good one and probably the best small/proven option. (got it used, I don't remember...I want to say $50)

4. Hydrofill on 29 gal - The probes were problematic at first but have since been good... which makes me nervous (when things like that fix themselves). The pump is plenty powerful to push water from below. I think it was too expensive and it's not my favorite. (got it new for $200)

5. JBJ ATO on 6 gal - I think the sensor part works well...it's bigger than it needs to be though. I think my dissatisfaction with this one has been that I'm using a Tom's aqualifter for the pump so it struggled to lift water more than about 15 vertical inches...it could do it but it couldn't keep up with the evaporation (even with adjusting to the longest run period). It's working fine on my 6 gal because I have the water at the same level as the tank. Probably paired with a stronger pump I would probably rate this as a tie for #4. (got it used...I think it came with a tank or I got it for $40 or so)


Edited by stout_trout - December 05 2016 at 5:46pm
Farmington, UT

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kody72 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2016 at 7:05pm
elos osmocontroller on nano or large aquarium. It only puts out 50mil of water at a time making it ideal for nanos but works amazing on large aswell.

That or the tunze 3155
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kellerexpress Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2016 at 10:23pm
Smart ATO micro. Its tiny, comes with everything you need and would fit your tank perfect
IM 30L
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rfoote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 06 2016 at 7:55am
I've just ran a simple float valve directly from my RO/DI unit in the basement(pressurized tank) for years and years. Always keep a spare on hand, but have never had any issues.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bur01014 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 06 2016 at 3:52pm
tunze
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