There’s a relatively new class of reef aquarium and saltwater fish tank sump that have started to include built-in sections to function as reservoirs of freshwater to feed an automatic top off system. If you caught our last project building a gravity-fed Auto Top Off, you know how we stand on electrical ATO kits relying instead almost exclusively on gravity float valves, leaving us with an empty chamber in our fancy new 36 inch Reef Octopus sump.
Since we knew right off the bat that we wouldn’t be using this dedicated chamber for an ATO, and since it’s right next to the protein skimmer chamber, we decided to retrofit this part of the sump into an automatic waste collector. What made this very easy and practical are the built-in smart functions of the Reef Octopus controllable DC powered protein skimmers since they have a dedicated port for an included float switch!
All that was required to retrofit the ATO chamber into an automatic waste collector was to drill one hole for the skimmer to drain into, and another smaller hole for threading in the float switch. The float switch was strategically placed behind the stand brace so that it’s practically hidden, and with everything in place we now have five gallons of space to collect the protein skimmer waste.
At first you might be wondering how we intend to empty this skimer waste chamber before it gets stinky, and we were planning to install some kind of peristaltic pump to periodically evacuate it, turns out a battery powered liquid transfer pump does the job quite nicely. You might also be concerned that the fancy new, white walled sump will be sullied by the equivalent of a fishy septic tank, but for sure we’l be covering this section with a white plate that leaves only small windows to observes the current level.
Interestingly, the last automatic waste collector we used was made by Reef Octopus, so it’s a coincidence that now this function is built in to the smarts of the smart VarioS needle wheel pump and ATO reservoir of the sump. We still have a few tricks and tweaks we plan to install on this saltwater fish tank filtration system which should optimize its long term performance, and will be accessible and practical to employ on reef aquarium filtration as well.