Setting up a dosing feeder

Setting up a dosing feeder

Postby driftin » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:47 pm

My primary food right now is Rod's food, which I only feed to the tank once a day. I wanted to increase the number of feedings over the course of the day to make food more regularly available to my livestock. I don't trust dry food feeders, after some bad past experiences, and I'm not home enough during the day to do it manually. So I came up with a dosing system for liquid foods based on some other people's successes. It will allow me to dose a variable, but repeatable, amount of refrigerated liquid food to the tank as often as I want over the course of the day (and night).

Right now I'm in the process of buying components. For the food, I was thinking about using Reef Nutrition Arcti-Pods. It seems like a high quality product, liquid based, that would be appropriately sized for my fish. I was planning to start dosing at approx 1 teaspoon daily via 4-6 small doses (~1ml each), supplementing with Rod's food every other day or so.

Anybody see any issues with this as my primary food source? Will it be nutritional enough for the fish?
-Jim
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Re: Setting up a dosing feeder

Postby Scottt » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:41 am

I'd be interested in your method of dosing. I'm not sure about the nutrition of Arcti-pods. A mixed diet is usually recommended. I was going to use a peristaltic pump. It got to complicated for me though. Flushing the lines after each feeding, or refrigerating the lines... I'd need to do some serious micro-controller work.
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Re: Setting up a dosing feeder

Postby driftin » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:51 pm

I'm planning on trying a Bulk Reef Supply dosing pump, 1.1ml per minute. I'm going to use a digital timer to turn the pump on, with a delayed-off solid state timer (~$25 from McMaster Carr) that I can adjust to limit how long the pump runs. You can get them ranging from a few seconds to 5 minutes. 1 ml is approx 1/5 of a teaspoon, so it's a small volume that can be pretty easily regulated by adjusting the run time on the pump.

Agree on keeping the lines flushed and refrigerated to avoid spoilage. Steve Wyeast (probably spelled that incorrectly - oregon reef Steve) has been sucessfully using an idea I had contemplated. He houses the dosing pump in a small refrigerator with the food. He doses into a pipe that he tapped off his return pump, through the refrigerator, and into the tank. The lines with any food in them are always refrigerated, and the flow through the pipe prevents any water from getting stagnant. For my install I was going to tap a closed loop supply & return, use john guest fittings and run a 1/4" poly loop through the refrigerator wall. I'll dose into this line. This will create a small amount of flow at low pressure, but enough to keep water moving and get the food from the fridge into the tank. BRS says their pump can't back siphon...

Sounds easy enough on paper :) I'm tight on space so the challenge will be finding a reliable fridge (thermoelectric is the right size, footprint-wise, but not as reliable as a traditional compressor). And of course determining a good food to use.
-Jim
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Re: Setting up a dosing feeder

Postby "Umm, fish?" » Wed Oct 07, 2009 7:12 pm

I have the impression that it's a good idea to get the food to the tank quickly, rather than have it sit in tubes outside refrigeration. Maybe run a fast closed-loop that passes right next to a frig. Then run a peristaltic pump to dump frequent small amounts to a port in the closed-loop. That way, time in the tubes is minimized and the food gets to the tank really quickly.
Andy

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Re: Setting up a dosing feeder

Postby driftin » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:52 am

Agreed. I'm tapping on the suction and discharge side of an Eheim 1260 closed loop, so that should keep a decent flow rate through the poly and get the food into the tank pretty fast. I guess I should have clarified earlier when I called it a "small amount of flow", I meant in comparison to the total flow rate of the pump. :)

So the poly lines will run from the closed loop into and out of a fridge. Inside the fridge will be the bottle of food, the dosing pump, and the tee connection into the poly.
-Jim
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Re: Setting up a dosing feeder

Postby driftin » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:19 pm

I'd welcome anyone's feedback on this idea! Especially the food selection.....

Got the pump last night and it's a little bigger than I had been told over email correspondence. I was initially thinking about a small thermoelectric fridge, but I think the pump body will take up so much room there won't be enough space for a bottle of food. I may have to go with a compact fridge, if I can sneak it past my wife :)
-Jim
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