Drop-Off Tank Build #9: ATO Install + Which Nutrient Control Method Should We Use?
In the last episode we asked all of you which ATO system should get installed on our new tank and the brand new Neptune Systems ATK Automatic Top Off Kit won the hearts of our viewers so stay tuned to get the inside scoop on this brand new ATO from Neptune Systems, see some awesome livestock footage and give us your vote for nutrient control.
I was super excited to get my hands on this new ATO system from Neptune Systems because the guys at Neptune Systems promised us this would be the best ATO to hit the market yet.
The ATK is the first stand-alone product from Neptune Systems. This means that you do not need an APEX controller to take full advantage of this awesome ATO. If you are an APEX user, of course, you can connect and integrate the ATK module to unlock even more functionality and custom set-up. For any of you not familiar with Neptune Systems APEX controllers and all of the great things an APEX can do for your tank, follow the links in the video description below to learn more.
The Automatic Top Off Kit includes the water level device which holds the sensors, the FMM module which is essentially the brains of the operation as well as the Neptune pmup 24 volt DC water pump, some cool orange tubing and the necessary power adapter.
What makes this ATK better than the rest is the redundant protection against sensor failure and overfill which is a huge risk with Automatic Top Off systems. The device has two optical sensors, one for the main water level sensing and one back-up optical sensor. It also has a unique built in program that sets a maximum fill time based on your aquarium that automatically learns the average fill times for your tank over time. In the very rare case that all of this fails, the system has a mechanical float valve which is the last leg of protection that will not allow freshwater to enter the tank if water level rises above the sensors.
Right out of the box the water level device and sensors are completely assembled which makes the install quick and easy. I double checked our salinity with a refractometer and then mounted the sensor in the pump chamber of our MD sump.
Next, I hooked up one end of the tubing to the pump and the other end directly to the float valve. I dropped the pump into into the ATO reservoir and then spliced in the anti-siphon valve.
Finally, I connected the sensor wires and pump to the FMM and then plugged in the power adapter. The entire system was installed in under 2 minutes. Pretty darn impressive.
At this point I have been running the ATO system for 5 days and so far so good! The FMM module has a couple of extra ports that allows you to attach additional sensors to help protect the pump from dry-run and water sensors that can detect a flood. Down the road we will get an APEX controller on this tank and I will revisit this awesome ATK system and talk about all the additional features you get when attaching this to your APEX.
Everybody here at the office loves our new tank and the corals are doing absolutely amazing. We are keeping up with weekly water changes of about 5-10 percent which is keeping the parameters stable for now.
As time goes on, I know we will need to supplement the tank to keep our corals growing. We are starting to see a bit of algae growth in the tank and as we add more fish, it is likely a nutrient control method will benefit the aquarium and this brings us to our next pole!
Way back in episode #2 we installed a manifold on the return pump with the intent of installing a media reactor. We have an awesome Extra Large AquaMaxx Fluidized media reactor here that will connect perfectly to this manifold and this is where I need your help. What should I put inside this media reactor to help keep our water clean!
BioPellets are a proven method of nutrient control that employs bacteria to help immobilize nitrate and phosphate. GFO is a time-tested media for removing pesky phosphates from the aquarium and then we have the option of using Chaetomorpha which is a type of macro-algae that will consume nutrients from the water as it grows.