View Full Version : Tip for manual dosing

10-16-2015, 01:24 AM
First, many thanks to Christy for her help in figuring out where best to put this post - and also for being so welcoming!

I did a bunch of research and couldn't find anywhere that someone else has done this, so I thought I'd share my US$20 alternative to expensive dosing pumps (item: US$11.25, shipping: US$9.00! ugh). Please forgive me if someone else out there has already talked about this or something like it, but I couldn't find anything.

Over the summer I got a big fat bunch of stony corals (weensie candy cane, large bubble coral, two hammers, a Superman monti, a Jedi mind trick monti, an orange plating monti, two acros, two blastos, a leptastrea, an acan Lord and an echinata). OMG, it's scary as a list...

I had only ever had soft corals before. I did a bunch of research and realized I needed to pay some attention to calcium, magnesium and alkalinity in order to maintain health and help these beauties grow. So after replacing all of my expired test kits and buying some supplements, there was me, jammed into the corner beside the tank, in the dark (to take advantage of better calcium uptake in periods of slightly lower pH in lower light), baster in hand, dripping and dripping and dripping....this got old very fast. But I was getting pretty spectacular growth so I wanted to keep it up.

I debated getting a dosing pump or two but I'd rather spend my $$ on livestock wherever possible and I'm kind of afraid of automatic stuff that never breaks when it's convenient.

I can't remember when I first noticed this Innovative Marine Accudrip thing, but as soon as I saw it I realized I could use it for the opposite of what it was made for: I could put liquid INTO my aquarium sloooooowly.

I found mine on eBay (unable to find it anywhere else in Canada) and it works PERFECTLY as I had imagined.

I now mix up my doses in about 6 oz of water (tank water or RO/DI, depending on what I'm dosing) and pour it into a coffee mug that I set on my light stand above the tank. (Anywhere nearby and higher than the water level would work - I happen to use a stand intended for store mannequins, to suspend my two LED lights and it has a nice flat area on top.)

Then I close the check wheel on the tube, place the rigid J-tube end of the thingy over the edge of the mug, carefully put the other end of the tube in place just above the water level in the high turbulent flow of the wavemaker pump and then squeeze the siphon bulb and adjust the check wheel for the speed of drip I want.

VOILA. This thing is awesome.

An additional benefit is that by using a larger container, I can add back water for water changes and not have to worry about differences in temperature or variations in salinity - this thing allows me to add the water at a safe rate.

Here are a few photos...any thoughts on this? Will I end up regretting using this instead of a mechanical method?


10-16-2015, 01:31 AM
It will clog up on you, so you'll have to keep an eye on it. Dosers push the fluid through faster so they don't clog up as much, plus they have the mechanical pressure to burst a clog if it happens. Bubble Magus just released some inexpensive stand alone dosers. I haven't used them yet.

10-16-2015, 01:36 AM
That's a good point. I've been running a few ounces of RO/DI through it after each dosing so hopefully it'll take a while for any algae to start growing in the tube. I stash the whole setup in a drawer during the day mainly because it looks messy so that might keep the algae at bay also.

I will keep an eye on it.

10-16-2015, 03:10 AM
It's not algae that you will be worried about. It's the other things like calcium or alkalinity that will clog up your tube. (been there, done that ;))
Beside this method is not that accurate. It's probably inappropriate for anything other than water top-off in a small tank.

10-16-2015, 03:38 AM
I see your point and I'm wondering if running the RO/DI through after each dose will help delay any clogging.

Does 29 gallons qualify as small? Regarding accuracy, I'm adding very small amounts - 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of each type of supplement diluted in about 6 ounces of RO/DI or tank water, based on testing for alk, calcium and magnesium every day for three weeks to determine a regimen that keeps things stable. So far I'm maintaining calcium at 400-410, alkalinity at 8.3, magnesium at 1300 (though it does tend to drift downwards) and pH at 8.0. This is the first week I have not tested daily and I'm looking forward to testing on Sunday, when I can see how things stand.

I've kept a test result spreadsheet since early August and noticed a slow, steady trend upwards for all of these levels - they were very low at first, after about a month of having all the new stony coral. Alk was down to 5 at one point. That was when I realized I had to do something about it.

I really appreciate your insight and will have to monitor things closely.

10-16-2015, 04:58 AM
yep, with all the stony you acquired, your levels can drop fast in that tank. I still recommend getting a doser. Keep an eye out on the buy/sell forum in here. You can get a used one for a good price.
In the mean time, dosing by hand is probably better than your thingy. Get a couple measuring cups like this one (the smallest one): http://www.tapplastics.com/product/plastics/plastic_containers/multi_measure_plastic_containers/196

Use them to dose your CA/ALK/etc

10-16-2015, 09:10 PM
I was in the hospital a few years ago with my mom, she was on an IV and I just sat there watching it drip, drip, drip and thought hey! This would work great for my new saltwater aquarium as a way to top-off evaporated water! I politely asked a nurse about maybe, possibly, getting an IV bag to take home, new used, didn't matter. She said come with me. We went into the supply room and she just gave me a new one, told me "hide it, put it down your pants or something" LoL... I told her what i was gonna use it for and she said if the idea takes off and I patent it to let her know when she can pick up her share :lol:

Anyways, I used it for several months when starting out not wanting to buy an ATO, worked great! I had it set for a drop every 1.5 seconds on a 30 gallon tank, just about perfect... Then when I decided I enjoyed the hobby enough, bought an ATO and had this IV sitting around, then when I started adding stony corals and levels were dropping I utilized it for the same reasons you are, for CA and ALK. It worked OK but I would find coming back an hour later to check on it that it wouldn't be dripping anymore, it would often get clogged up with sediment. Not where you see the drip, but where you adjust the flow. I'd have to open it right up to clear the clog and then tune it back to a slow drip again... It wasn't long before I realized mechanical dosers are way more accurate than fiddling around with the IV.

It will work for what you're doing, but inevitably I think you'll realize that dosers are the way to go.

I think one of the reasons you're having success with this is because of the J-tube. It's not picking up the sediment like mine was when filling a bag instead. If it isn't clogging up on you then by all means, cheap and easy dosing method! If you're having to go to the trouble of mixing your new 6oz solutions everyday it might be easier for you do what George suggested and use measuring cups. Not sure what your daily consumption is but I wouldn't doubt that it's low enough that you could even pour it in one dose maybe 2 with no ill effects. Someone may be able to tell you what the max PPMs or DKH in a single dose would be

10-16-2015, 10:39 PM
That's a great story and confirms what I thought about others doing this kind of thing. I knew there had to be someone out there. I'm glad you shared your experience with it.

I'm not sure it's any more or less accurate to use measuring cups instead of what I'm doing now because I do use exactly the same cup all the time and I use measuring spoons to get the right doses. So the dilution is consistent. If I need a higher dose, I mix up separate batches.

And I guarantee the slow drip I set up with the gadget is much more accurate than me with my baster, getting a sore shoulder from standing there and trying to drip the stuff steadily into the tank. Plus, being human, I'm sure there have been faster, bigger drops using the baster as I got more and more anxious to finish. :surprise:

And the mention of a doser having more pressure to break up a clog just makes me wonder about when they do get plugged, or fail in other ways. What if I don't notice? How hard is it to fix? Will I have to spend yet further mucho dollars to replace it because it can't be fixed? And what happens if it is the opposite of a clog that's the problem - if it doses at too high a concentration for some reason? This worries me because it can damage the coral as opposed to a temporary drop in levels. If I end up with a larger system then I realize I will probably be better off with a doser but I will probably still worry about it.

I had this type of issue with skimmers. I have no less than 4 skimmers in my spare parts closet, all attempts to find one that would suit this small aquarium. One was too noisy. Like, ridiculously noisy. Another didn't fit the rim of the tank and I was never able to anchor it properly. The third one had micro bubbles that drove me mental trying to eliminate. The last one separated along the join between the front and back so couldn't maintain the pressure required for the Venturi to run properly. I finally got tired of spending $200+ each time I tried a new "best out there" skimmer, and now I just do 2-gallon water changes every 5 days. This works for me and though it is a pain, the hands-on nature of it keeps me well acquainted with what's going on in there.

I'm really glad to be able to have this discussion because it helps me figure out when it's time to stop inventing or adapting, and start working with purpose-built equipment. It sounds like I will be okay for a while as long as I'm careful, but I should be prepared to use the right equipment if I get any more ambitious in terms of tank size.

Here is a quick shot of what the tank looks like today (the glass needs a bit of a scrape). There is lots that is not visible, and the jumble in the front right corner is a bit of a holding area until I get a chance to remove the massive upright rock with the cabbage leather on it, and build a new structure for the montis. I have no sump and when/if I get one set up, I'll be glad to get that unsightly pump out of there. Or, I guess I could replace it with a different type of filter.

10-16-2015, 11:33 PM
I can appreciate your concern but I think you may be worrying a lite too much about what could happen. Dosers have been used for years, by myself also, and very rarely does something go wrong that regular maintenance shouldn't solve. Yeah they can get plugged, bit if you keep an eye on them and maybe every once in a while flush the lines with some RO water then all should be fine. You could even replace the lines if needed every few months (they cost about a buck a foot).

Also,if anything were to go wrong with your dosers you would notice it in your levels, or your corals behaviour.

A doser may cost you $90 but that's a small price to pay for mixing a gallon of chemicals once a month and having all the equipment hidden away somewhere versus being hanging from your light etc.

I'm not discounting your ideas completely, but with all the hassle of mixing each time, and then hanging up a drip line and worrying if it clogs and then constantly rinsing it, I'd buy a doser each year rather than mess around like that.

10-16-2015, 11:35 PM
Dosing by hand will also work very well. You don't have to drip it in, just spread a large dose over 3/4 smaller doses and all will be fine

10-18-2015, 02:40 AM
Cool idea but yeah you'll definitely have to be watching it. I wouldn't say daily but if left for say a week it might clog. I run a doser too and my "maintenance" isn't quite as tight as it used to be. The alk line plugs fairly often. I have my phone to send me a message to clean it at least monthly and so far so good. That being said it doses once daily of each solution and all at once, then the stuff sits in the line until the next dosing.

BTW, thats a great looking little tank! Nice work! :)

10-18-2015, 08:26 PM
I would grab a syringe and push some RODI through it after each use. Then use the syringe to push air through to partially dry it. The pressure and the rinse should help you keep clogs at bay for quite a while. It seems like a great idea I may have to steal!

10-18-2015, 09:27 PM
Yeah, it's a bit hard to express but I don't find it a problem to mix and dose daily. It takes a maximum of about three minutes to prepare the solution, pour it in the mug, set the mug up there and hang the contraption, squeeze the siphon bulb and adjust the drip and I can walk away from it. When the drip stops I give the siphon bulb a squeeze just to make sure the solution is gone and then pour plain water into the cup to run through and rinse the tube.

Maybe it's because I work from home and can take time out to check on things, but I really don't find it onerous.

When I was doing my research I learned about dosing rates and that I should separate different supplements both physically and by leaving time between them so as not to cause any shocks in my system. With only 29 gallons, I know I have to keep changes long and slow and this is why I'm a bit nervous about dosing an entire amount directly into the water.

As it is, my large bubble coral gets quite angry when I first start the calcium drip but soon expands again. Until the snails annoy it. I have three different types of snails, two of which are nassarius (4 of them) and cerith (5 of them) - what I call "rat b*stard snails" because they seem to really bug the various corals. The third type is a pair of fighting conchs that I really like. But all of them together, saved my tank from total meltdown early this year.

Which again is why I'm so concerned about stability. I never want to go through that again.

Sigh. My husband says I think too much.

10-18-2015, 09:37 PM
Cool idea but yeah you'll definitely have to be watching it. I wouldn't say daily but if left for say a week it might clog. I run a doser too and my "maintenance" isn't quite as tight as it used to be. The alk line plugs fairly often. I have my phone to send me a message to clean it at least monthly and so far so good. That being said it doses once daily of each solution and all at once, then the stuff sits in the line until the next dosing.

BTW, thats a great looking little tank! Nice work! :)

Thanks for the compliment - I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing I could get a photo that captured the true colours and textures in there. Maybe using a camera instead of my iPad or phone would make a difference. I can spend an hour sitting in front of it, geeking out with my magnifying glass until the wee hours.

You mention the chemical dosing solution sitting in the line when using a doser - maybe clogging won't be much of a problem for me because the line is rinsed and then I blow it out to remove water. I use a bulb syringe from the drugstore (meant to clean ears) to do that, works like a charm.

But I expect at some point the tube will rupture or crack because of being flattened by the check wheel on the drip adjustment. I've been moving it to different positions along the tube to delay this.

10-18-2015, 09:38 PM
I would grab a syringe and push some RODI through it after each use. Then use the syringe to push air through to partially dry it. The pressure and the rinse should help you keep clogs at bay for quite a while. It seems like a great idea I may have to steal!

I never thought of the second squeeze on the bulb syringe to dry it - that's a great suggestion, thanks!