Ok, so you followed my advice and built a salt water mixing station and you now have a constant supply of salt water and you have eliminated the painful Saturday nights trying to get that perfect mix in your five-gallon bucket. That was a great improvement in weekly maintenance but there has to a better way to actually change the water than sucking out salt water, overfilling your waste bucket and spilling your fresh batch all over the floor, right?
If you have been reading my blog you know I am into technology and want to automate my life, including my tank, wherever possible. I researched all the forums for hours (err, ok days) for a better solution. I found options using the expensive Apex controller and the Neptune dosing pumps along with a super powerful pump that will bring water up from my salt water mixing station to the display tank. There were a few problems with this solution. First, as I previously wrote, I didn’t want to spend the money on a fancy controller. Second, my salt water mixing station is in my garage with no direct line to my fish room. That would require some pretty ugly pvc pipes going along the exterior of my house. Neither my wife nor my neighbors would be pleased.
Then I came across the Smart AWC. This little machine is amazing. It provides three pumps, two optical sensors and a brain controller. You set your high and low sensors in your sump. The high sensor is used to calculate your auto top off. That works by putting one of the pumps in your freshwater reservoir. When the water evaporates below the high level sensor, the pump automatically feeds freshwater in to keep the sanity stable.
You put a second pump in the sump itself and the third pump in your reservoir of salt water. When performing a water change the in-sump pump will pump out the dirty water all the way to the low level sensor. The pump in the salt water reservoir will then replace the water back up to the high level sensor. Voila! You have automatic water changes. You can program these changes for as many times a a day as you want.
Benefit of Daily Water Changes
The key to a healthy tank is stability. You don’t want your parameters—salinity, magnesium, alkalinity, calcium, phosphates, nitrates, etc.—constantly in flux. It is better for your numbers to be a little off and constant than to chase perfection and be in constant state of flux.
Mini-daily water changes accomplish that for you. Since you are not displacing a large volume of water, you can easily keep your levels constant without dosing. Dosing is great but it requires constant maintenance and observation to ensure you are keeping things stable. In a small nano tank, like the ever popular BioCube that I have, it’s just not worth the time (in my opinion). It is much easier to find a salt mix that has your desired levels and maintain that throughout the week by mini water changes.
The Smart AWC combined with a constant supply of salt water means less time changing water and on weekly maintenance and more time enjoying your tank. And that’s really what this hobby is all about, right?