Cobbled Reef Nutrition Autofeeder

Discussion in 'D.I.Y.' started by clsanchez77, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    This is something that has been in the works since the inception of my tank, but has taken me a while to logistically pull it off.

    The plan is to provide a full nutritional liquid diet throughout the course of a 24 hour period.

    The perceived benefits of this are:
    • Natural feeding responses from open water fish
    • Restoring grazing patterns for grazing fish
    • Natural feeding patterns for corals evening, over night and morning
    • Increased pod population as food is less limited than traditional feeding
    • Reduced nuisance algae as the food uptake efficiency will greatly increase
    • Reduced time required to "feed" the tank
    Here is the setup:
    • Small thermoelectric beverage cooler (6 can capacity)
    • BRS 1.1 ml doser, set to run 1 minute on the hour
    • RO tubing and fittings
    I have a 1/4" line tapped at the end of my return manifold to bleed off any built up air, especially at startup. This used to just dump in the sump but I now extended the line to the top of the cabinet and then back into the DT centered 4" above my right MP40. This line runs 24/7. The BRS doser will run for 1 minute twice an hour, every 30 minutes and discharges into this line with a Tee. The BRS doser is naturally anti flow reversal (at low pressures) so I don't have to worry about contamination of the food. The 1/4" loops will deliver the food from the doser to the tank.

    Food will be batched in 6 oz bottles so every few days, I just have to swap the bottle. Bottles will be prebatched and stored in the kitchen fridge. I use freezer packs to provide thermal mass to the mini fridge. This setup will maintain 45F for 3-4 days.

    Setup is located in the upper right partition of my cabinet
    [​IMG]110 Reef Autofeeder by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    The fridge is too small to fit the doser pump in the fridge like you see with the 1.7 cu ft setups. Doser pump is located to the left.
    [​IMG]110 Reef Autofeeder by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    I can access the fridge with my small door and don't have to open the canopy. Perfect for when in-laws and/or neighbors are tank sitting.
    [​IMG]110 Reef Autofeeder by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    Test stream of water.
    [​IMG]110 Reef Autofeeder by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    Final tubing installed, project the surface of the water by less than 1/4"
    [​IMG]110 Reef Autofeeder by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    [​IMG]110 Reef Autofeeder by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    Priming the system and test feeding. The fish didn't seem to mind a all
    [​IMG]110 Reef Autofeeder by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    The recipe is subject to change over time but this was my starting point:
    • Mysis-Feast, 6 ml daily
    • Acrti-Feast, 10 ml daily
    • Beta Brine, 12 ml daily
    • Real Ocean Eggs, 8 ml daily
    • Roti-Feast, 2 ml daily
    • Oyster-Feast, 1 ml daily
    • Phyto-Feast, 1 ml daily
    • Eco Reef Solution, 10 ml daily
    I plan to increase the phyto-feast over time. I may also look at dosing my Iron Gluconate through here as well instead of dumping 5 ml every Sunday. Similarly, Im trying to determine my tanks daily silicate uptake and I may do this through the food as well. Finally, I may switch to a larger 16 oz bottle and look at dilute the food 50% with RO/DI so that I can do 1 minute of feeding every 15 minutes.

    Two major drawback to this system is first, the fridge will not cool food down, only maintain cool. So in a power outage, the food will have to relocated to the kitchen fridge where there is more thermal mass or thrown out. Secondly, there is a plug of food between the fridge and the doser that sits for an hour between usage (2 cycles) and quickly comes to room temperature. This is also an outlet for heat loss from the fridge. I will be looking for ways to insulate 1/4" tubing. Also diluting the food and feeding twice will reduce this time.

    This is all experimental and Im sure it will need some improvements over time. Should be fun to play with.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
  2. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    I also wanted to add why Reef Nutrition. This food is undoubtedly more expensive than frozen. My concern with frozen food is that once thawed, it needs to be immediately used. Since the Reef Nutrition is never frozen, I have more flexibility with this product. The other issue is the Liquid foods have more water in them than the frozen foods, some products are twice as much. Oddly enough, mysis-feast has the same moisture content liquid or frozen. If I had the space, such as a dedicated fish room, I have seen some elaborate frozen fish food feeders I would absolutely experimented with. With this tank, I promised my wife everything in the cabinet, so this really limited my options.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
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  3. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Administrator LARC Supporter

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    Awesome! On the front page this goes. :D
     
  4. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    I can't handle that kind of pressure :p
     
  5. Kasdarack

    Kasdarack Kole Tang

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    Whoa!! Following with great interest!
     
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  6. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    First day went great! I did notice the temperature in the mini fridge came up as the product went out. So I have added another ice pack. One 6 ounce bottle only gives me 3 days of food, so I think this will be fine even at 50F.

    After the first day, I batched and loaded 3 days worth of food. My plan now is to not open the mini fridge at all until Wednesday evening and see how it works.

    Also, I never calibrated the actual dosing rate on the pump, did not get around to it today. So, what's left Wed or when it actually runs out of food is a crap shoot :D
     
  7. BluewaterLa

    BluewaterLa LARC Boil Master Administrator LARC Supporter

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    interesting project and use of materials.
    I like that your stand has been built to accommodate all equipment you use tucked away out of sight.
     
  8. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    That was a condition of my return to the hobby ;) The only thing left in that regard is an outside cabinet for salt water mixing with a pump to deliver the saltwater to my cabinet reservoir.
     
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  9. jleblanc26

    jleblanc26 For the people, by the people Global Moderator LARC Supporter

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    Definitely following. Nice job.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  10. CenlaReefer

    CenlaReefer Harlequin Tusk LARC Supporter

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    Woah! That is great Chris! Engineer reefers make LARC great!

    If I ever tried something like this for coral feeding purposes only, I would like to have it dose at night for couple of hours after the lights shut off also having the skimmer shut off automatically for a while to delay all this deliciousness from being skimmed out of the water.
     
  11. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    With an Apex (or other controller), you can set this up however you want. I debated the duration of the feeding with myself..do I go 24 hours, maybe only 2 hour after lights go out, etc. So for a few nights, I got up at random times and check on the tank. The corals are fully extended throughout the night, all the way until the lights come on while I'm in the shower. When I sit down for breakfast, the corals have only been closed for less than an hour. So my assumption is they are looking for food the entire night. So I feed accordingly and we will see how it goes.

    Regarding the skimmer, I only run mine for 6 hours a day anyway, 2 pm to 8 pm. The biggest issue I see with skimmer control is you want that skimmer to run for a minimum time frame to get a good skimmate production from it. If I were to shut it down hourly for incremental feedings, then it would never have a chance to perform its job. Might as well not run it at all.

    Also, because I am feeding so little food at a time, not that much goes over the weir. It's nothing like when I feed a full load.

    And again, let me emphasize the amount of food I am feeding each day has not changed. Just before I did a feeding at morning and one in the evening. Now I have combined these two feedings and spread them out over 48 feedings, one every 30 minutes. Volume of food has not changed. What I am hoping for is the uptake efficiency will now improve. My only gage for this will be algae growth, nitrates and phosphates.
     
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  12. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    Well, unfortunately, the food was all gone in only 2 days...it seems my 1.1 ml/min doser was really a 1.7 ml/min doser. Batched another bottle of food this morning and cut the dosing times in half. So I will have had 120 ml of food in only 2 days and then another 120 ml of food spread over 4 days. My target was 40 ml per day based on what I was feeding in frozen food.
     
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  13. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    I have not positively formed a correlation but since starting this, my ORP has dropped 100 points and has stayed around the 275-325 range instead of the 375-425 range. No other differences have been noted. Skimmer output is the same, socks appear the same. Fish are definitely out more and corals are closed up less.

    I am searching the web to see if I can find any references as far as when various planktons are out. I have not seen anything like what I am looking for yet. I did find one resource that provides plankton counts at various locations around the world and notes the times as either "day" or "night". Without buying a subscription, I don't see day or night defined. Numerically, it does not seem to make a difference.
     
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  14. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    A couple of notes here.

    First, the soft rubber tubing I used to the intake between the food bottle and the pump has food stuck in it. I think the rubber is too soft and "sticky" and the flow through the tubing is just too slow. I plan to swap this tube with clear polyethylene tubing, which should perform better.

    Second, I am calibrating the BRS doser now. This is confirming my suspicion, that this particular pump is about twice as its rated capacity...at 1.93 ml/min.

    [​IMG]Calibrating Feed Doser by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    Third, the large platygyra never had the tissue loss but has now gone 1 full year with no PE, no growth, no recession, no change in coloration. Now that I am on week 2 of the auto feeder, I have noted small PE on the large platygyra (thanks to @wazzel for noting this :)).

    [​IMG]Platygyra now showing PE by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    Forth and final, I am noting the recover of 3 LPS corals that I was previously losing. The correlation between this recovery and the feeder is anecdotal in its classic sense. But, these were 3 LPS that were beyond75% tissue loss, one beyond 90%. I have also noted near full tissue recovery on my large green favia (was about 75% tissue loss) and I have noted some tissue recovery on my raptor's peace favia (over 90% loss). The large favia has recessed to the point that only the polyp centers with no soft tissue connection remaining between the polyps. My small platygyra frag has stopped its tissue loss but is currently 100% concealed by my macro algae. This algae "migrates" around the tank and is currently receding in this area. From the little I have seen so far, this frag is recovering but I can't get a picture of it. I do not want to remove the algae covering at them moment as its providing some shading and its recession is providing some needed nutrients.

    Raptor's Peace favia, that just two weeks ago, had only a mm of soft tissue remaining
    [​IMG]Favia Recovery by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    Green Favia that two weeks ago was down to only about 2-5 mm left per polyps. Polyps are now recovering to provide continuous coverage over the corallites.

    [​IMG]Favia Recovery by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr

    ----------------
    From my June 2017 update for comparison - Green Favia
    [​IMG]LPS Corals by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr


    Raptor's Peace
    [​IMG]LPS Corals by Christopher Sanchez, on Flickr
     
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  15. BluewaterLa

    BluewaterLa LARC Boil Master Administrator LARC Supporter

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    I would relate the auto feeder and amount of food being added to the tank directly to tissue making a come back on your corals and the Pe on the Platy Mark noticed.
    Combination of particle food size that are being captured plus the dissolved organics being available to the corals as others eat / digest the food or it simply is broken down in the tank.
    The easiest form of nutrition for corals to utilize is dissolved organics, fatty acids and amino acids (proteins ) that they absorb through their tissue.

    Either way someone could spin this point of view, results of tissue regeneration is proof to me that something is going right for them to repair and added food for them is Top tier reason enough for me.
     
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  16. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    @BluewaterLa, this may be partly the case. But let's recap that my previous feedings were comprised of the same foods...just proportioned and then frozen. I was then feeding about 20 grams in the morning and then again in the evening. So the composition or volume of the food has not changed. What has changed is 20 grams twice a day vs 0.4 grams 96 times a day.
     
  17. BluewaterLa

    BluewaterLa LARC Boil Master Administrator LARC Supporter

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    True, you also lowered your light intensity as well right ?
     
  18. clsanchez77

    clsanchez77 Reefkeeping Extremist Global Moderator

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    Not yet, just playing with the numbers. I can't lower it too much because the bottom of the tank is already just above 100 PAR. So I mapped the tank with 40 readings at different lighting levels and what I will be doing instead is moving some of the LPS a little lower in the tank and then finding that easy SPS that fits my biotope recreation to cap the top.
     
  19. BluewaterLa

    BluewaterLa LARC Boil Master Administrator LARC Supporter

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    Got Ya.
    I think a stag would look great since you have the Caribbean style kicking.
     

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