If you’ve been reefing for anything beyond a week you already know how much marine life can grow in every area of your reef tank, and how fast it can spread. It’s for this reason that every part of all pumps, skimmers, and reactors needs to be regularly cleaned because everything from feather dusters to sponges and even snails can ‘biofoul’ every component that is in contact with ‘live water’ from an established reef tanks.
Dosing pumps have rapidly spread in popularity and while they were initially used primarily to dose precise amounts of chemically important additives, their applications have spread far beyond their original purpose. Nowadays reefers are using dosing pumps for all kinds of things including feeding calcium reactors, automatic water changes, and supplying precise amounts of water volume to be sampled by automatic testing machines such as the Alkatronic, KH Keeper, Trident and KH Director.
But one thing that has surprised us in our discussions with reef builders that use peristaltic dosing pumps for use in transporting this sort of living seawater is that virtually none of them have thought to use any kind of prefilters on the intakes of these dosing pumps. It doesn’t take more than a shred of imagination to picture how easily biofouling organisms will start to grow within the tubing of dosing pumps used in this way, not to mention all the detritus and debris which will inevitably be drawn into a dosing pump pulling from live aquarium water.
We know that some of the fancy auto testing machines comes with some kind of prefilters for the water sampling intake but it’s really surprising to us that the practice isn’t common knowledge. It only takes only little piece of debris to puncture a hose, clog the rollers, and over time the biofilm alone will greatly skew the accuracy of these live water dosing pumps, altogether reducing their output.
We’ve been using dosers like the Ecotech Marine Versa since they came out and in one case where the peristaltic pump is used to feed a calcium reactor we use a readily available automotive inline fuel filter as a cheap but effective micro-prefilter to prevent premature deterioration of its accuracy and precision. At only $10 for a pack of between 8 and 12 inline filters this is a cheap but very necessary precaution to protect the integrity of the tubing in contact with living water and to protect the dosing pump overall.
It goes without saying that if you end up going this route make sure to select a fuel filter without any internal or external metal parts, there’s a plethora of options that are made of simple plastic housings and paper micron filters. Also the diameter of most fuel filters will likely be a little bit bigger than typical small or average vinyl or silicone tubing but it doesn’t take too much finagling to get things to work.
As productive reviewers of reef aquarium devices and technology we are constantly thinking about how various reef gear can fail, and simply allowing dosing pumps to draw ‘raw’ seawater from a reef tank is a recipe for breakdown. We have no doubt that many reefers have independently concocted various ways to minimize gunk and detritus getting sucked up by the intakes of their dosing pumps but this problem has already been solved for other applications and at around a dollar a piece, inline fuel filters add the kind of piece of mind against preventable breakdown which is a rare value in an otherwise pretty expensive hobby.