Automated live food dosing system idea for reef tank

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Hi, guys.

I stumbled upon something from "Peter's fish tank". They've not done it yet, but the proposed diagram makes perfect sense and looks like a really fun project for me.

Plus, my new dosing pump has 3 heads, and I only dose calcium and alkalinity, so this can make use of the 3rd head.



The air pump keeps the creatures alive, the dosing pump serves two purposes, it "water changes" the creatures' water, so it, itself doesn't run out of nutrients, or go bad, with your main tank's water, and it also doses the creatures to the tank, as the water is added, it cascades down each level causing some water in each to overflow down. As the creatures will be generally dispersed, only the odd few will go down the pipe into the sump where they'll end up in the display tank. You then just adjust the dosing pump to vary the amount you're feeding.

The mechanics of building this I'm all over, but the culturing of the live stuff I'm a bit vague on, as I don't know what their requirements are in terms of lighting or food, so more research needs to be done...

I've wanted something to dose frozen foods over the course of the day too, but there's nothing I can find or think of how to build that would keep frozen, then get some, thaw it, rinse it and then dose it, it's a miniature production line needed, and that's proper complicated stuff,  even "Peter's Fish tank" is looking for exactly the same thing. This though, isn't complicated at all, and other than some simple plumbing parts and a couple sheets of glass, I've already got everything I need for this.

What does everyone think? And RyanAC, you culture brine shrimp on your windowsill don't you? I've hatched brine shrimp from eggs before, but never gotten them to adulthood, it's all this stuff I need to learn more about...
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Steveanem

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Reply #1

Interesting. Doesnt all the live food get mashed up in the return pump though?

T-Bone Tyrone

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Reply #2

Does look like fun.
As for the breeding of live stuff, I didn't try brine, but had copepods for a while. Had em on the window sill as they dont have any light requirements. I would squeeze in some phyto and a lil tank water to keep SG good and an air line.
Water change once a week.

 Just used to pour them from from the bottle straight into tank when I wanted to.

I did have a lil LED strip used for under shelf lighting, others use desk lamps.
Keep water good and quality phyto you'll be laughing.
I should really sort this out!!

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Steveanem

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Reply #3

Whilst we are on the subject is it possible to maintain a supply of Copepods in my sump without having to do the breeding on the windowsill thing? Would they breed in there if I get some cheato?

Mike

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Reply #4

Interesting. Doesnt all the live food get mashed up in the return pump though?

Nope. They're "in" the water column, and as they weigh so little, and are neutrally buoyant, they move, and accelerate with the water, so as water is propelled with the impeller, they move with the water rather than being hit by the blades. A few might be damaged or killed, but very few percentage wise, they just travel up through it.

It'd be another story with live food as big as mysis shrimp or krill, I'd think...
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Mike

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Reply #5

Whilst we are on the subject is it possible to maintain a supply of Copepods in my sump without having to do the breeding on the windowsill thing? Would they breed in there if I get some cheato?

That's what some people refer to as a "refugium", a safe-zone, a "refuge" for copepods, amphipods, etc to breed unpredated. My chaeto ball is certainly riddled with them, you can see them running around on it, but how much breeding is going on in it I don't know. I can't think of a good way to find out...
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Steveanem

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Reply #6

That's what some people refer to as a "refugium", a safe-zone, a "refuge" for copepods, amphipods, etc to breed unpredated. My chaeto ball is certainly riddled with them, you can see them running around on it, but how much breeding is going on in it I don't know. I can't think of a good way to find out...


Cool. Thanks. Do you think there would be enough in a refugium to keep a mandarin fish?

Mike

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Reply #7

It'll certainly help keep the numbers up, but the main benefit would be that it'd stop a "pod crash" being possible, where all the pods in the system get eaten and there's none remaining to breed, and the mandarin will continue to browse for them and you won't notice until it starts looking thin.

With somewhere like a ball of cheato or live rock rubble for the pods to use as a safe-ground, there'll never be none in the system.
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Ryan AC

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Reply #8

Hi, yes I do brine shrimp and phyto with good results, I've tried others with no success yet but think that was just due to poor starter cultures, personally I can't see it working and looks like a lot of work and space for something that won't work.

You'll have a catch 22 with the amount of flow, too much and you'll lose the cultures in no time at all, you think they'd not all overflow but I reckon they'll be gone in no time or atleast you'll never be able to keep enough in there to keep a working population.
Too little flow so it's just a trickle and I can see none going over and if any did then wouldn't they stick to the pipe inside and die.

But also the whole setup seems flawed due to it cascading over through each section. When doing cultures like this you have to make sure you don't contaminate any one with another type or it's game over. It'll only take one type of zooplankton to get sucked up and thrown into the phyto and it'll be wiped out in no time, same as if a rotifer got into any section for instance then they'd reproduce at a much faster rate than any other zooplankton and you'd get a population explosion which would demolish any food and leave the original inhabitants starving.
I have no idea how I managed it but about a week ago I woke up and checked my bottles to find my phyto full of brine shrimp, they must've reproduced at an amazingly fast rate and by the time i got round to filtering them all out a couple days later they were big, mature and breeding, also my phyto concentration had probably halved, they're all in separate bottles and I only touch my phyto when I need to split it and never touch brine shrimp before so I don't know how it happened but took me hours to filter them all out and set me back quite a bit with my phyto, I was lucky it was a larger zooplankton and not pods or even worse rotis which would've wiped it out in less than a day. You can see how easy a contamination can occur though so I can't see that working at all, especially working with fast metabolisms, the smaller it is then the faster the metabolism is I think, I know rotifers are the worst and if I remember right they can make new generations in less than every 4hrs given the right conditions and enough food.

You'd never do it the order in the pic that's for sure, you'd have every culture full of rotis wiping everything out. You'd start with phyto and work your way down in size, so mysis, brine, pods, rotis.

Lighting and aeration isn't really a problem, zooplankton don't need much light or air but you'd want a light on for around 12hrs maybe more for the phyto, the longer you leave it the faster it'll produce, a really clear sunny day I can see how much darker my phyto has got and a cloudy day with no sun you can't see as much so the more the better. I doubt you'd even need an airline if you had movement in the water and it's mainly just to stop everything settling at the bottom, they do fine without air but need movement especially with the phyto.

You're also going to have a phyto problem though, you're not going to be able to feed it the fertiliser it needs as it'll get into your tank and won't be nice, when doing it in bottles the phyto will use every last bit up and it'll reach a point where it gets no darker which means its run out of food and time to split it.

Also how are the overflows going to work, it'd either go down the pipe or cascade over into the next tank, I can't see it being possible to do both all the way down.

That's just a few flaws I can see atm.

I've thought of a few different designs for culturing but tbh I don't think it gets any better than bottles, they're easy to keep separated, easy to split, easy to do water changes and more reasons.

You could setup a small tank with baffles going to the top with a lid as well, so each compartment is fully seperated, then put a hole in each section which you'd add a tap to, then a whole in each at the top to refill. Then all you'd do is drain it and add the contents to your tank when wanted and refill. I think I'd rather use bottles still though tbh.
Last Edit: Sep 20, 2013 7:51:18 pm by Ryan AC

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Mike

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Reply #9

Yeah, you're right on loads of points there Ryan. Very helpful. Thanks.

That's that scrapped then... I thought it'd have been a fun thing to build anyway...

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Ryan AC

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Reply #10

You could still make a simple culture station with bottles, once you get used to it the only maintenance it needs is splitting when ready and topping up with tank water then a little fertiliser for phyto just the once when splitting, basically the same with brine shrimp if you get used to it you can get the culture population right by eye and once they breed they die, then when it looks empty you split the bottle, add phyto and if you get it right you don't have to touch it again until splitting again, if the population is too big you just remove some so it's the right size for the phyto to grow and be enough to see them through to breed and die again.

HK_Fuey

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Reply #11

Been reading about culturing phyto, rotifers and brine shrimp recently, after attempting to hatch some brine shrimp for my mandarin.  Anyway, as always, I then starting thinking about how to automate it all, and refound this thread.  I then found this, and thought it was worth sharing:
The "Geosapper" Feeder (Surge Feeder) by Dwayne Sapp - Reefkeeping.com
Then this:

They both use the same drip and surge idea.  Could solve the problems discussed so far in the thread.

Thoughts?

Mike

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Reply #12

Ha, that's neat.

So the drip drips into the phyto until it reaches the top of the siphon tube, then that drains a puck of water down to the bottom of that tube, dumping 200ml or so into the next chamber, which feeds the zoo, and also dumps the same volume of phyto/zoo mix into the tank?

Love it.  :wayhay:

ps. and much easier than the one in the first post.
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HK_Fuey

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Reply #13

Yep.  You could also remove the feeder tank and use a dosing pump to feed the phyto with water from the sump, passing that through a fine mesh to get rid of any critter that would eat the phyto.  It removes the problem of salt building up, but adds a risk that the phyto would get contaminated.  Given that you probably need to split it, etc. every so often, I guess you could just keep a separate phyto supply, and replace it every now and then.

Also, if you cultured a couple of different types of phyto, you could have two drips, or alternate the phyto supply.

It removes the changes of rotifers getting back up the chain too, so long as the level in that tank would never reach the level of the surge pipe.

Someone also pointed out that brine shrimp would eat rotifers, but mysis could only eat baby brine shrimp, not the adults, so I guess you'd have to put some sort of filter on that surge pipe, or accept that mysis and adult brine would grow in the last chamber together (can't see why that would be a problem?).

Mike

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Reply #14

Even if you still got the water from a separate tank (that'd also need an airline to stop it going bad), a dosing pump is way better than an uncontrollable unreliable drip anyway. Although dosing that quantity is pretty tasking. It'll be running a good few minutes a time?
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