AIO help! Rear chambers are emptying out (return pump one)

JohnRougeux

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returned from vacation to have my Watterbox AIO 20g tank acting up. There are 3 chambers in the rear...from left to right there is the intake, then the middle one, and the return chamber that has the return pump.
This return chamber is running empty. The 1st chamber (intake) is full, middle chamber is about halfway full, and last is practically empty. Level of water in tank is near top. I have stopped the pumps and drained out the chambers. Took a strong flashlight and shined light down baffles...I can see the light in each chamber. I run a plastic stiff tube down each baffle, nothing. I have cleaned the return pump. Added water back, same issue.

There is water flowing between chambers, just not at a speed that allows the middle and end chambers to fill up. I'm at a loss as to what to do.

From what I understand, it's the return pump that controls the water flow through the chambers....it pulls water to put back in tank. if the flow in the chambers is too slow, then the pump is draining out that chamber. Does that sound right? A slower pump would not pull so quickly....right?

I have also checked the (don't know what it's called) point of 1st chamber where water comes into the intake one. It's fine because the first chamber is always full.

Full disclosure, this has happened before, but previously the middle chamber had this sponge that I took out and cleaned. The chambers returned to normal. I did all that this time too, but nothing.

Any thoughts on what might be going on or what I need to do?

I plan on hitting up some pet shops tomorrow to see if I can get a new pump to eliminate that.
 
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JohnRougeux

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How do I "dial down" the pump? It doesn't have any adjustment settings that I can find

And how does changing the filter (by filter, I assume you mean the sponge in the middle chamber?) daily affect the flow if it's currently having no effect on it?
 

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Clean all the passes between the chambers, they may look clear but stuff will "gum up" the works, check water level in main display. My flex needs to be about 1/2 inch from the top of the tank to flow correctly. Also check the intake on the pump itself, mine has a "prefilter" that needs to be cleaned everyweek. Hope this helps, been through this in the past with the top overflows having algae growth blocking the flow, then the sponge prefilter in pump clogging up.
 
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JohnRougeux

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I ran a stiff plastic tube in the baffles between the chambers and nothing is blocking it.

the water level in the main tank is near the top. I cleaned out the return pump...if it was blocked, then wouldn't that mean that chamber (the return one) would be full and not empty?
 
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JohnRougeux

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Level of water in tank is near top.
I guess you guys missed this part? Evaporation is one thing, but the tank water level is near the top, so if I add more water, then it'll just start overflowing.



Also water evaporation will show itself first in the pump chamber you describe. And you were on vacation...
Water is not flowing into the return for some reason, thats why i said baffles and overflows, evaporation could have lowered the water level in your return. Might have to add some rodi (check your salinity).
Sounds like you need an auto top off.
 

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I guess you guys missed this part? Evaporation is one thing, but the tank water level is near the top, so if I add more water, then it'll just start overflowing.
Yes i caught that part, but the main display flows into the first chamber, which then flows into the next ,and so on. Evaporation will show in the return BEFORE it shows in the display. Without your pump running, where does the water level out at when it settles? Does the return chamber fill back up (at least to the previous baffle)? Adding water will flow into the three chambers until they level out before the display level goes up. Think of a sump, the sump level fluctuates with evaporation, but the main display stays the same. When you add water to the sump when its low, the display level doesn't change. This is the same principal in the aio. The three chambers are your "sump" the baffles regulate the flow through the chambers and the return is where you will see the change in level.
 
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s0mthinG

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Yes i caught that part, but the main display flows into the first chamber, which then flows into the next ,and so on. Evaporation will show in the return BEFORE it shows in the display. Without your pump running, where does the water level out at when it settles? Does the return chamber fill back up (at least to the previous baffle)?
Exactly this. The first chamber that will be evident in evaporation will be the return. If I come home and I had forgotten to fill up my ATO reservoir My return pump chamber is where the issue would show itself.
Essentially your understanding of how those rear chambers work is correct, The water from the display overflows into the first, then to the middle and into the return chamber, It is then pulled from that return chamber back into the display. That pump will pull no matter what the water level in its chamber is, so as the water evaporates, The same amount of still being pulled out of that back chamber and the same amount would still be being pulled from the display through the overflow, so The only place that doesn't have a static flow rate would be between your chambers, and considering it takes time to go from the overflow to the return chamber, The pump doesn't see that delay that it takes, and is still pumping at the same speed so the water can get from the middle chamber to the return chamber as fast as it needs to (or can depending on the flow rate from the overflow through the first two chambers) so when there is a restriction in this case less water, The only place that has a non-linear flow rate is the water moving between the second and third chamber as it's going over a weir.

Essentially you can think of that return pump chamber as the water level in your sump on a full system. I keep my ATO sensor right on the baffle between the second and return chamber.
 

fachatga

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Seems simple to me it’s evaporation. If it was a clog and this chamber was low on water another would be higher than usual. Water had to be somewhere if it’s just a clog. Since It seems like all other chambers and the main tank are normal water level there’s less water in the system. Evaporation. Or as my kid’s would say maybe the fish drank the water.
 

cmmatxh

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what pump are you running? i got a sicce 1.0 and had to dial it down by turning the knob on it. also if you are running the sponge i would suggest removing it it could get clogged. all i’m running on my wb20 is the inTank Chamber One with filter floss and i change it daily, if i wait 2 days it clogs and the last chambers “starves” bc the clogged sponge slows down the water flow
also i would recommend using a filter floss cup instead of the Chamber One. i didn’t have this problem with the cup until i installed the chamber one from intank
 

jopo4343

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I have this same problem on my waterbox 15. I just came back from vacation it had worked perfect for two months. The intank seems clogged from the filter floss even though it just has been changed and I have an ato thats what is almost causing the tank to over flow. If I remove the filter floss it fills both back chambers as it should so evaporation is not the problem. Anyone have this problem or have a solution?
 

Cell

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If it's not evaporation, then you need to change your floss or find a less dense product. When the rear compartment is low, it's from either evaporation or a clogged filter. If its evaporation, the water level in the display will still be normal and the water level in the back middle and right compartments will be low. If its clogged filter then the water level in the display will be higher than normal and the water in the back will be low.
 

jopo4343

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I have used the same floss for two months and it was working great. I may have the floss packed in too tight? Maybe cut it shorter allow a gap in the back?
is this an intank problem?
 
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