Week 16: ATO: Reducing daily maintenance, safely! | 52 Weeks of Reefing #BRS160

October 17th, 2015
It's Week 16 of 52 Weeks of Reefing, and this week we are contributing to stability, protecting your home, and evaporation with automatic topoff systems!

Today we are going to talk evaporation, why dealing with it is a critical component of tank stability and protecting your equipment, the various ways to deal with evaporation including one option where you never have to carry another bucket of top off water as well as some maintenance tips. We will of course finish with the auto top off installation for the BRS160.

Every aquarium is going to evaporate water however reef tanks typically evaporate more water than most other tank types because they have more surface area, most often don't have a lid on the aquarium, and they have high flow with a lot of surface turn over. It’s common for average sized tanks to evaporate anywhere from one to four gallons a day.

This is primarily a stability issue. As you know stability is one of the biggest components that differentiate the average to good tanks and the epic show tanks with incredible growth, health and coloration.

As water evaporates the water leaves but the salt stays behind so all kinds of perimeters start to increase like salinity, calcium, alkalinity, and even unwanted nutrients. Basically everything gets increasingly concentrated and then suddenly reduced when you replace all the evaporated water with freshwater. Not exactly as stable as most of us would like.

There are a few basic ways to top off the tank including by hand. If you do it every single day by hand, it is likely stable enough. Some reefers will set up some type of container with a slow drip to make it even more stable however doing this every single day is one of the bigger maintenance pains and not a stable or safe long term plan if you are not really going to do it every day. Topping off by hand also makes taking a vacation or leaving your tank alone for longer periods of time more complex.

The most popular method is what’s known as an auto top off which uses float, optical, heat or electrical sensors to refill the tank. The simplest form is probably just a reservoir connected to a float valve in the sump. When water evaporates the float goes down and allows water to enter the tank until the level is correct again.

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