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Nice Product if you mate it with the right pump By Rafik on 7/24/2014Rafik would recommend this product to a friendI must say that i have had mixed feelings since i got this product. At first, i tried connecting it to Maxi-jet 1200pump which was too powerful and the water ended up getting to the max level and the alarm would sound. On contacting hydor, they reocommended a pump of max 30 gph and one that would do the job in 10 minutes before the ATO turns the pump off. I ended up getting a hydor seltz 185gph with a flow control knob (also because the ATO only accepts 2 prong plugs).
I have been using it in my 40g long (48"), the sensor is very reliable and not interrupted by salt creep or snails or anything. However, there is about ~ 0.6 "between the min and max level so the ATO ends up kicking in every 3-4 days (without any drastic effect on salinity.
That is the only could be considered a disadvantage really.
From what i think, this sensor would be perfectly suited or better suited for a tall as opposed to a long tank if you know what i mean.
Nice simple system that needs a few tweaks to be perfect By Greg on 5/9/2014Greg would recommend this product to a friendI think this is mentioned in a couple other places, but one key thing to getting this ATO dialed in is to either pick a pump that will fill the water from the min level to the max in 25 seconds to 10 minutes. Otherwise if you'll be constantly triggering the alarm function on this ATO (for either overfilling or it think the ATO reservoir is empty). Once you have the return pump dialed it is a great ATO.
The setup that I have that is working nicely is using an Aqua Lifter with a valve from one of my drip acclimators to limit the flow of the pump. This way I can top-off the return section in my 13.5 gallon AIO in around 1-2 minutes. This prevents it from filling to fast; overfilling and thus tripping the alarm.
Great product By Swisher on 4/27/2014Swisher would recommend this product to a friendReally nice ATO system. The sensors keep the water level spot on in my sump.
good product By mnight on 4/27/2014mnight would recommend this product to a friendThis is a good auto top off system, with a few tweaks it works perfect.first of all the margin between the max level sensor and alarm sensor is very small about 8mm. The system tends to overfill setting off the alarm constantly. To correct this problem install a syphon break in your return line, which is simply a pin hole in the return line in your top off water reservoir above the water line. Water will squirt out off the hole so it must be in your reservoir. This will force air into the line breaking the syphon that's created once the pump shuts off. You can also add a ball valve to the line to slow the flow coming from your pump. I recommend using a small hose around 1/4 in for your return. With these small tweaks you will never have any problems with this system.
good product By mnight on 4/26/2014mnight would recommend this product to a friendThis is a good auto top off system with a little tweaking you should not have any problems.the system tends to overfill and make the alarm sound, by adding a syphon break which is simply a pin hole in the return line above the waterline in your top off container. This will force air into the line and breaks the syphon.this will keep the pump from over filling.also I found its best to use 1/4 hose or something close to it. You can aalso add a ball valve to the return line to slow the flow down a little. With these small tips its a great controller.
Have to power cycle often By Jordan on 4/20/2014Jordan wouldn't recommend this product to a friendMore often than not, the product works fine. However, I have been awoken in the middle of the night to its alarm several times because the water got too low and for some reason it did not turn on the pump to top off. A power cycle always fixes the issue. Also, it has overfilled several times. Not overfilled to the point of a problem, but overfilled enough to make it audibly alarm for several minutes.
EXCELLENT By Z28 on 3/31/2014Z28 would recommend this product to a friendHAVE THIS FOR A 75 GAL WITH 45 GAL SUMP/FUGE. HAVE IT IN MY RETURN PUMP SECTION WORKS GREAT. WAVES OR TURBULENCE DOESN'T AFFECT IT.ALL WARNINGS WORK. I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE AUTO TURN OFF AFTER 10 MINUTES OF RUN TIME.
A great ATO for smaller systems By gwbh on 3/31/2014gwbh would recommend this product to a friendI use this for my 14 gallon nano reef tank and it has been one of the essential tools to keep my tank healthy. My salinity has been at a stable level for the past 6 months because of this ATO. I tried manually topping of for the first month or so and it was just too hard to keep my salinity consistent, no more worrying about manual top offs. I highly recommend!
TOP COMMENT INCORRECT By ??????? on 3/27/2014??????? would recommend this product to a friendThis does work for saltwater my friend above. You can place the sensor were ever you need it to adjust for that? It does not just sit in one place obviously you have yours too high so it evaporates more before filling. If its filling to fast then you add a smaller or slower pump for kalk.....Same as almost all other ATOS?.
Not a ideal solution. By trey on 3/13/2014trey wouldn't recommend this product to a friendThis review is split.... good product vs practical application.
This product works EXACTLY as described. If you are looking for an ATO for a REEF <60 gal or so I would buy another system though. The water level sensor is impervious to waves, salt creep,algae, snails etc. It always works as it shoud. however in my 55 FOWLR the amt that must evaporate for the system to top off is about 2 GALLONS. There is no way to adjust it.YOU CAN'T USE IT SAFELY IF YOU MIX KALK IN YOUR ATO WATER. In my opinion this one is probably best suited to top off FRESHWATER systems, as there will not be a drastic change in salinity or Ph with top offs.
Ask a Question About 'Hydor Smart Level Controller Auto Top Off'
Previously Asked Questions
by Kelley on April 8, 2014, @5:40 AM
Could you recommend a pump or two that are known to work with this ATO without filling past the maximum level? This seems to be a known problem with this system.
"Maximum Pump Power: 50W" doesn't tell me much.
Bulk Reef Supply Hi Kelley,
The auto top off system cuts off power to the pump as soon as the max level is reached. If the pump is off, it can't continue to pump. Any water that continues to travel to the sump at that point likely is either because the system was setup incorrectly and a siphon has been created (which would be bad, as it would continue to flow and potentially overflow) or its just the remaining water in the tube draining via gravity. The later shouldn't be an issue unless one is using really wide tubing or a really long length of it (but largely the pump selection wouldn't make a difference there). The most common pump folks use is the aqualifter pump which uses small 1/4" tubing so any water that continued to drain from there would be pretty minimal and it comes in well under the 50w maximum of the top off itself.
by David on April 16, 2014, @6:34 PM
I recently purchased on of these along with a few other things just last week. Well I hooked up this system today and went to work. Later on I get a call from my wife telling me that my sump is overflowing with water and the alarm is going off. Now luckily there was no wildlife in my tank or I would have been real upset. Also, that my wife was home. I'm using the Cobalt MJ1200 pump that was recommended by you guys. My question is, why would the pump continue if it's supposed to shut off once it reaches critical. I will look into my set-up to make sure I didn't do anything wrong. But I followed the guy in the video.
Bulk Reef Supply Hi David,
It depends on how you set things up but 99% of the time on a new setup its because you set your system up to dose from a area of higher water to an area of lower water and you created a siphon, so the system turned off but since you created a siphon water continued to travel to the sump. The fact that the alarm went off indicates that the ATO system itself was likely operating correctly. You need to make sure that your ATO system pumps water to somewhere higher then the water level in the ATO container. If you have a tall ATO container or an unusual setup where the container is physically higher then the sump, then you will want to run the ATO water to the tank itself (or overflow box).
by Joe on April 22, 2014, @11:10 AM
Is it possible to mount the probe on a bias so that the distance between high water/low water sections of the probe is reduced? Say on a 45 degree angle? Would that help ATO's on smaller gallon sized systems not have such a significant top off each time.....thus helping maintain salinity more consistent?
Bulk Reef Supply Hi Joe,
I haven't ever tried it but it wouldn't be my first choice (might be some unexpected consequences). Really the probes are pretty close together so this isn't likely to be an issue on the vast majority of tanks. Really whether its a nano tank doesn't change much, how much water you need to add to go between the low level probe and high level probe is almost entirely dictated by the surface area of the return chamber of your sump. If its a 25" x 30" chamber its going to take a lot more water to raise the water level by 1/4" then if its a 2" x 2" chamber. Its unlikely that most nano tanks would have a chamber with a really large surface area for the return pump, so its unlikely to be an issue for the vast majority of folks.
by Chris on June 27, 2014, @11:03 AM
I was thinking of getting this ATO and was wondering what pump you would recommend. There will be very little head pressure on the pump since I have room to put the top off resevoir right next to my sump.
Bulk Reef Supply Hi Chris,
In very low head pressure applications the Aqua Lifter is the most popular choice by far. You can find it at the link below:
- Easy to install with no moving parts to malfunction by algae or salt creep
- Sensor is unaffected by surface movement thus eliminating false alarms
- Magnet and suction cup included - Mount up to .4" (10mm) thick aquarium
- Suitable for marine and freshwater applications
Dimensions: 5.75" W x 1" L x 4" H
- Included: Suction cup magnet mount for sensor
- Adhesive cable clamp for routing sensor cable
- Level sensor on 7" long cable
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