ATO and return questions???

scott3569

New member
OK, so my main question is How do you keep your return section at a constant level?

I have just set up an ato with a Reef keeper..however, I am finding that because my return seems to be ever changing I am constantly tweaking the ball valve to keep things at the right level...

I just almost had an overflow in my DT.

basically whats going on is it seems like every time I turn my return pump of and then plug it back in..I have to adjust the ball valve again to get it all the level it was before..

I do have the level marked on the Sump in the return section..I have it marked at two levels..when the pump is off and when the pump is running..and I have the ATO sensor set at the level for when the pump is running...

but it is not stay constant...

I have the DIY overflow made from pvc(I don't need to be beaten up on this)..it has been working just fine no issues at all..until I added the ATO..

I am also wondering if I increased my flow from my dt into my sump would that help the variation??

As always your opinions are always welcome and needed.. Thank you
 

AZBigJohn

Usually confused...
Scott, how many dividers in your sump? I keep my a to set up in my fuge section so there is room for the re t urn section to fluctuate
 

CedzAquAddictio

New member
You just have to be patient. I have a 225g tank and a only a 30g sump that only holds about 15g of real water. My return section literally only holds about 1-2g of water. If there is any fluctuation, I am a prime candidate for it...

After a water change, I turn my return pump back on, and just watch to make sure the return section doesn't run dry. After about 5-10 minutes of circulation, things start to level out in the sump, and the only fluctuation is from evaporation. If you constantly adjust your valves, your system will not have a chance to find it's balance...

All of the above is unless your return and drain piping are unbalanced (the same size, or drastically different sizes) causing your return pump to pump in water faster than your tank can drain it, or vica versa...

These things can get a little tricky and aggravating... Believe me, I know...
 

scott3569

New member
Scott, how many dividers in your sump? I keep my a to set up in my fuge section so there is room for the re t urn section to fluctuate


I have 3 sections with the return being the last of course.. my ato line was in the fuge section..I don't think this really would have made a difference with what had happened..although I am not rocket scientist either LOL..
 

scott3569

New member
You just have to be patient. I have a 225g tank and a only a 30g sump that only holds about 15g of real water. My return section literally only holds about 1-2g of water. If there is any fluctuation, I am a prime candidate for it...

After a water change, I turn my return pump back on, and just watch to make sure the return section doesn't run dry. After about 5-10 minutes of circulation, things start to level out in the sump, and the only fluctuation is from evaporation. If you constantly adjust your valves, your system will not have a chance to find it's balance...

All of the above is unless your return and drain piping are unbalanced (the same size, or drastically different sizes) causing your return pump to pump in water faster than your tank can drain it, or vica versa...

These things can get a little tricky and aggravating... Believe me, I know...

I do wait a little bit of time for things to try and settle down after a water change..seems like every time though I need to adjust things be for the DT over flows..That only happens after a water change..Once I re adjust it its good to go..no problems.. Even in between water changes, if I shut my pump off to feed or what have you. a lot of times I have to re adjust the ball valve for the return..

now as far as the return and drain being unbalanced..I wonder if I have more flow from the drain..if that would help..in some ways more flow could actually cause more issues..at least with the way I am thinking..which could be way away from the ball park..

All I know is i need to figure it out..with what happened it brought my salinity down 5 points..NOT GOOD..

from what I can think of I have two options..

1. I could put a float sensor in the DT to shut off the ATO pump or the sump pump

2. I could increase my drain flow and or before I set my ato back up make sure that things are where they need to be..and stable
 

hdking

New member
I have 3 chambers in my sump...first one the overflow dumps into and that is where skimmer and group reactor are..that flows to middle one which is my fuge..which flows to return section that houses return pump and probes for apex. If your overflow box is set up correctly and I'm not saying it isn't your return pump should should have no problem keeping it level. If it all worked fine before you installed your ato I'd look at that setup first...also gate valves are far more easier to adjust than ball valves IMO. I've got a Herbie in a DIY overflow on a 180 gal with a 55 gal sump with roughly 30 gal of water.
 

AZBigJohn

Usually confused...
I do wait a little bit of time for things to try and settle down after a water change..seems like every time though I need to adjust things be for the DT over flows..That only happens after a water change..Once I re adjust it its good to go..no problems.. Even in between water changes, if I shut my pump off to feed or what have you. a lot of times I have to re adjust the ball valve for the return..

now as far as the return and drain being unbalanced..I wonder if I have more flow from the drain..if that would help..in some ways more flow could actually cause more issues..at least with the way I am thinking..which could be way away from the ball park..

All I know is i need to figure it out..with what happened it brought my salinity down 5 points..NOT GOOD..

from what I can think of I have two options..

1. I could put a float sensor in the DT to shut off the ATO pump or the sump pump

2. I could increase my drain flow and or before I set my ato back up make sure that things are where they need to be..and stable

If your salinity changed, what happened is your ATO malfunctioned, and dumped RODI water into your tank when it shouldn't have. The purpose of an ATO is ONLY to replace evaporated water, so salinity should never change. That us exactly why we use ATOs, is to keep salinity stable. If your ATO float is in your return section, and you turned off your pump, the back flow from the pump being off may have raised the set point, and then when the pump turned back on, and the water level dropped, the ATO sensed the water level dropped, and tried to fill it back up...
 

hdking

New member
+1 to azbigjohn. My ato goes to my first chamber and sensor is by return pump. It also helps if the tubing from ato is not under water
 

scott3569

New member
I have 3 chambers in my sump...first one the overflow dumps into and that is where skimmer and group reactor are..that flows to middle one which is my fuge..which flows to return section that houses return pump and probes for apex. If your overflow box is set up correctly and I'm not saying it isn't your return pump should should have no problem keeping it level. If it all worked fine before you installed your ato I'd look at that setup first...also gate valves are far more easier to adjust than ball valves IMO. I've got a Herbie in a DIY overflow on a 180 gal with a 55 gal sump with roughly 30 gal of water.

yeah my return pump has no problem handling what I put on it..It is turned down quit a bit actually to match the flow of the over flow..

I had actually concidered gate valves but was told there is not much of a difference..

I wanted to add above that all my piping drain and return is 3/4 I have no idea if that is good or not..but I didn't see much since in going with a bigger return if my over flow can't match it..
 

tallball158

New member
If your salinity changed, what happened is your ATO malfunctioned, and dumped RODI water into your tank when it shouldn't have. The purpose of an ATO is ONLY to replace evaporated water, so salinity should never change. That us exactly why we use ATOs, is to keep salinity stable. If your ATO float is in your return section, and you turned off your pump, the back flow from the pump being off may have raised the set point, and then when the pump turned back on, and the water level dropped, the ATO sensed the water level dropped, and tried to fill it back up...


+2 that sounds like a malfunction to me! I had that problem when I first got mine.
 

hdking

New member
Depends on how much flow Scott. I guess my point is that your pump and overflow work together...your return should put the same amount of water in as comes through the overflow. Gate valves are easier to fine tune than ball valves that's the diff IMO. I think you have an ato issue based on your description. Without seeing it its hard to troubleshoot. Sorry
 

scott3569

New member
ok hold on!!! some how we are going in the wrong direction..I am almost certain it is not a malfunction with the ATO..the switch is brand new..and I tested it, it works flawlessly.

what happened is I fed the tank..before I fed the tank I unplugged the return pump and the ATO pump..

After a little while to let the food settle and the few things I have in there get some food..I plugged in the return..I waited for the ATO just to try and make sure..things were going to level out..After it looked like they were leveled out I plugged the ato back in..then I notice that the return was pumping less into the tank than what it should be..I know this from getting gurgling from the drain..so I adjusted the ball valve..and then that when things started going bad..the return was doing what it was suppose to..and so wasn't the ato..it's just that damn ball valve is so hard to dial in and keep it dialed in..I always have to fix it when ever I do a water change or unplug the return by fixing it I mean readjust the ball valve
 

AZBigJohn

Usually confused...
If whatever happened resulted in a change (lowering) your tank's salinity, then fresh water was added to your tank (which is why I suggested something was wrong with your ATO).

You said that whatever happened directly resulted in your tank's salinity dropping.
 

IanWR

New member
I just watched your video, and it didn't show what is happening in the sump, but here is my take on it.

I believe your overflow is surging upon startup. In other words it has a slow flow, purges air dumping a bunch of water in the sump, then slows again, repeat. During the slow drains your return is pumping more than the drain is taking away, therefor the level of water in your return section drops, triggering your ATO. Fiddling with the return pump is not going to fix this.

I know you specifically asked to not get comments about your overflow, but I'm giving them anyways. :) It looks like you have a single drain line with a ball valve on it. If you are restricting that drain in an effort to run a siphon you are asking for trouble. I don't care if it's DIY or not, just that it works. I am not familiar with hang on/over the top overflows so I can't offer specific remedies, but I believe an unstable drain is your culprit.

- Ian
 

D-Nak

Active member
How did you get the air out of your drain line? I'm guessing there's air still stuck in it which lessens the flow.
 

scott3569

New member
no there is a pump that sucks the air out, the line that goes to the pump is at the top of the drain pipes..
 

scott3569

New member
again I don't believe my issue is with my drain line..its the amount of flow going back into the tank..now if the drain is not consistant that I could see where that would be part of the issue..
 

RocketEngineer

Space is big.
You're pushing more water through the overflow than it can handle in an air/water system. It is osculating between an air/water drain and a full siphon drain. Two solutions are to increase the size of the drain or decrease the flow into the tank. The first one gets you more flow, the second is easier to implement.

Good Luck,
 
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