If you are in the reef hobby and not running a calcium reactor, you likely are running some type of a dosing pump from BRS, Neptune, Aqua Medic, Eshopps, etc. The dosing pumps could be used for two-part solutions, macro elements or even other additives like aminos, Red Sea NO3:PO4-X or other coral enhancing nutrients. The trick to the dosing pumps is calibrating them and ensuring you have the drip lines high enough from the water to avoid clogging. If you don’t have it set up right, you risk the lines clogging and not dosing the proper amounts of additives.
Recently, we were redoing one of our sumps and decided to take the time to redo our dosing setup on one of our tanks. Previously we had used a simple Steel flat bar from Home Depot to run our dosing lines thru which was a big “no no” given the opportunity for the bar to rust, corrode and leach unwanted metals into the tank. As you can see in the image below, salt creep had built up and when we re calibrated our pumps, we found the doses were off; no surprise here!
In the new sump design, we wanted the drain lines from all the tanks to dump into a chamber in the sump with all the chaeto and other macro algaes. So as you can imagine, a lot of water movement, splashing and bubbles which could easily clog the lines if they are too close. To remedy this situation, we took a 1-1/2” piece of PVC and drilled 8 pilot holes for the dosing lines. We then drilled a ½” hole thru one side and then a 1/8” pilot hole on the other side. We then screwed it to a 2×4 mounted to the bottom of the workbench sitting on top of our sump. This allowed the dosing lines to be roughly 20” from the water.
So step 1, complete! Next step is always the tricky part when using a dosing pump without a line bleeding option. How do you bleed the lines without overdosing the additives into the tank? Simple hack! We took a coat hanger and cut a 4” piece and bent it into an ‘S’ shape to form a hanger. Then we took a plastic dosing beaker and drilled 1/8” holes on either side. We then drilled 1/8” holes on the side of our new dosing line holder.
We hooked one part of the hanger onto the side of the dosing line holder and then hooked the other side on the inside of the beaker. Now we had a catch container while we bleed the lines! Best part of this was when we finished bleeding the lines, we set a timer for 10 minutes, turned on the dosing pump and then measured the liquids after 10 minutes to ensure it was dosing the proper amount. Rinse and repeat for each of the dosing lines and voila, done!
The best part about both of these hacks is it cost us less than $5 total and is 100% reef safe! Not only is this a great hack to use when installing a new dosing pump, but it’s a great hack to use in other cases like:
- Replacing the inner tubes of the dosing pumps – our recommendation is to do this annually as a preventative maintenance check. Prior to replacing the inner tube, make sure you have the catch container hooked up. If not, as soon as you remove one end of the dosing tube, the pressure within the tubing will be lost and all the liquid will disperse into your tank. Depending on the size of your tank, the length of your dosing lines and the potency of the elements you are dosing, this could be a lethal and unplanned addition to your tank!
- Replacing the drip lines – our recommendation is to do this annually as well just to ensure no clogs form in the dosing lines and to ensure no salt creep has formed potentially clogging the drip lines. Just as noted above, ensure you have your catch container hooked up to ensure you don’t overdose your tank when disconnecting the drip lines.
- Refilling dosing jugs – it is a best practice to bleed the lines after refilling a dosing jug to ensure no air bubbles have formed that could alter the dosing amounts (critical in smaller tanks where the smallest change in doses could have a negative impact on the health of your tank).
- Preventative maintenance health checks – we would recommend that every 3-6 months, you set aside some time on a Saturday morning to set a timer and measure the output from the drip lines to ensure your pumps are still dosing the correct amounts. An hour every few months is well worth the health of your tank and a simple way to detect issues early on before they turn into a catastrophic issue for your tank.
Although this hack may seem like a simple one, we want to share this “tried and true” hack based on our many years of experience. Some days we find that things in the tank don’t quite seem right and then quickly realize that we’ve forgotten to perform a routine maintenance, forgot to refill a dosing jug or, worse yet, left a dosing pump on while we got distracted by something else.
We hope this Reef Hack helps you out! If you have any other questions, comments or things you would add, please feel free to drop us a line as we’d love to hear from you!