Discussion in 'Do It Yourself (DIY)' started by dbl, Oct 20, 2016.

Let’s Mix it Up! Designing and Using a Water Mixing Station

Water changes can be done using something as simple as a 5 gallon bucket. If that is how you currently do it, and you’re okay with that, you can...
  1. dbl

    dbl It Takes Less Energy to be Nice Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Messages:
    5,956
    Likes Received:
    11,626
    Location:
    SW Florida

    Let’s Mix it Up!

    There is one undeniable fact in this hobby – WE ALL NEED WATER! In fact, two types of water. Clean fresh water (FW) run through a quality RODI system and the obvious saltwater (SW). Secondly, we all know what a water change is. This is not an article on whether or not water changes are required or necessary, nor is it an article to discuss frequency. Your research and ultimate reefing philosophy will determine those answers for you.

    Water changes can be done using something as simple as a 5 gallon bucket. If that is how you currently do it, and you’re okay with that, you can stop reading and move on. But if you’re looking for something a little more formal, and might I add potentially easier, you may want to continue reading. I’ll try not to bore your too much!

    My personal goal was to never lift another bucket again…simple as that. So I started searching the internet for ideas. Between Google, forums, Yourtube and Mytube, I quickly realized I didn’t need to recreate the wheel. There is a plethora of designs out there to choose from…pick one. Remember, imitation is the highest form a flattery!

    The most critical component of making water is obviously the RODI unit. All I will say is, if you don’t have one yet, get one! I am of the opinion that having control of your water is vital. Making your own (nothing against LFS’s, I love mine) is about the only way to insure you know the exact quality of your water.

    The Equipment

    Subject to the design you choose, here’s a simple breakdown of what you will and/or may need:

    • RODI unit you already have or will be buying (hint-hint)
    • A shut-off valve and float switch – no flooding necessary!
    • Water storage containers with lids – two of them preferably
      • One for FW, and one for new SW
      • These should be food-grade quality containers, preferably they will be NSF Approved
      • Size determined by your needs/system capacity
      • The grey Brute trash cans are very common and often used
      • Although more costly, the water storage containers found online and in farm supply stores work nicely as well
    • Plumbing
      • I like to use good old PVC (we usually have some laying around anyway right)
      • Ball valves, T’s, Elbows and Unions
    • Connections – Plumbing in to container walls and/or tops
      • Bulkheads for flat surfaces
      • Uniseals for curved surfaces
    • Pump for mixing
      • If designed properly, you can use one pump for mixing and distribution
    • Powerhead and Heater – resides in the SW container
    • A switched Power strip for easy control (optional)
    • Hose long enough to reach your display/sump/top-off reservoir
      • Or if you have the ability to hard plumb to your display, even better.
    The Location

    Obviously this will be unique to your environment. My biggest suggestion is in a controlled environment, meaning it’s heated and/or cooled depending on your climate. If you’re lucky enough to have a fish room, then it’s pretty obvious! If not, then maybe it’s a spare closet, the laundry room, the garage or basement may work if temperatures are at least somewhat stable. Note: Garages and basements, particularly non-insulated ones, can cause issues with RODI unit production during extreme temperatures, so choose your space wisely.

    You may have to get creative. In my case, my wife wanted me to redo the foyer. Through intense negotiations (which I rarely win) I was able to commandeer the coat closet that had become the dumping grounds for all things junk. I took that space, which happened to back to our laundry room. So she got a new foyer and I got the perfect spot for a mixing station. Use your creativity and you’ll be surprised what you can come up with.

    One thing you do have to keep in mind is access to water supply and drainage. That RODI unit you already had or will be getting soon (hint-hint) doesn’t come with its own water! That’s why a laundry room works great. You’ll have both the supply and drain for the washing machine right there at your disposal.

    The Assembly

    By now, you should have already flattered someone by using their design, but here is a breakdown of the basics. To try to make this easier, the image below is a picture of mine just after setting it up. I’ve labeled things and will refer to this image moving forward.


    You can see my RODI unit mounted above. The lettered items are “equipment” and the numbered items are “valves”. This is merely for reference and by no means the only (or best for that matter) way of putting together a mixing station.
    The main idea of doing all this is to mix and move water, so at a minimum, your new mixing station should be able to:
    • Transfer water between containers
    • Pump/circulate water within the SW mixing container for well, mixing!
    • Pump both FW and SW to the display and/or top-off reservoir.
    • You will want to be able to empty the containers in case of prolonged power outage or a visit from Mr. Murphy - the inevitable pump failure.
    In both containers, you’ll need a connection towards the bottom. In the SW container, you’ll also want one towards the top of the container. This will allow circulation within the container for mixing. Your containers will determine how this accomplished – uniseal or bulkhead.

    The Operations – (Using the picture above for reference)

    Your RODI system will produce FW and be stored in the first container A. You will use this FW for top-offs, as well as supply your second container B with water that will become your new SW after mixing. With this design, and the turning of a few valves, pump C does all the work. Said differently, no more buckets!!! So let’s move some water:

    For discussion purposes, assume all valves are closed (like pictured) at the beginning of each task – represented by numbered items below. I would recommend closing all valves at the end of any task to lessen the chances of cross-contaminating the FW and SW. You will also need a hose with a ball valve on the output end. Again, if you can hard plumb to your display/sump/ATO reservoir, all the better.

    1. Move FW to top-off reservoir in the stand under display (in my case)
      • Attach hose to the outlet of valve 2 (there is a hose bib converter on the end of that valve)
      • Open valves 2 and 4, turn on pump C to fill reservoir via hose
    2. Move FW to the SW container B for mixing
      1. o Open valve 1 and valve 4, turn on pump C to pump over to container B.
    3. Mixing new SW
      • o Put salt into container B
      • o Open valve 1 and valve 3, turn on pump C and begin mixing salt via circulation
      • Editor Note: In my case, I built a shelf over my mixing station, so I purchased the hopper D to add salt. Totally unnecessary if you have access to the top of your container.
    4. Move SW to Display for Water Change
      • Open valves 2 and valve 3, turn on pump C to pump SW to display via hose
    5. Empty Containers without pump due to power outage or visit from Mr. Murphy
      • Attached hose to end of either valve 5 or 6, and open the valve. Gravity will do its thing
    Heating:

    I have a heater inside container B. I only heat just prior to using the SW. Some will argue this is not necessary dependent on the quantity of your water change, which may very well be true. But since I have the heater already, I just try to match the display.

    Water Storage and Continued Mixing:

    This is another area of debate among hobbyists. We’ve all seen the threads asking “How long can I keep mixed saltwater?” And “Should I keep it mixed”. There are far too many choices/options to discuss here. Me personally, I mix up about 50 gallons at a time. I mix and heat just prior to performing a water change.

    When it comes to storing your RODI water, the important factor is to keep it sealed as tightly as possible. Very simply put, RODI water has been stripped of all things bad, and if allowed, it will try to grab those bad things back! So an air tight lid is best and no stirring necessary.

    Over time your containers interior may build up some nasty’s and need to be cleaned. An annual cleaning (or more often if necessary) is recommended – let vinegar be your friend.

    Extras

    You may have noticed on my station a couple things under the RODI unit. In addition to a powerhead and heater, I also have a salinity monitor and thermometer inside the SW container. I didn’t want to drill a hole in the lid, so I came up with this.
    Are there fancier ways of doing this, sure? Did I have this stuff already lying amongst my fish stuff, heck yes! It works great and is essentially air tight once the uniseal is capped with the PVC. Lastly, although I do not have a picture, all the interior items in my SW container are zipped tied to a long piece of PVC that rests inside the container. So if need be, I can pull that one piece of PVC out and bring all the equipment with it. That is the one thing I thought of myself!!!

    Let your imagination run wild with one goal in mind…what you can do to make things easier on yourself. This hobby can be difficult enough on its own. Something as simple as a well-designed mixing station can make your weekly/bi-weekly/monthly/whenever water changes a little easier.

    I hope this has helped at least give you an idea of the what’s and how’s of a mixing station. Don’t be afraid to put yours together. Having control of the water quality will be something you will never regret. Never lifting another bucket isn’t bad either.

    Happy Reefing!
     
    Tags:

  2. mdbannister

    mdbannister Ahh...the Reef Life Staff Member Team R2R R2R Excellence Award SCMAS Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    19,738
    Likes Received:
    9,600
    Location:
    Ontario, California
    Absolutely EXCELLENT article, sir!
     
  3. 143MPCo

    143MPCo ASSIST PROTECT DEFEND Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Photo of the Month Award CTARS Member Article Contributor

    Joined:
    May 14, 2012
    Messages:
    6,539
    Likes Received:
    7,133
    Great write up David!
     
    120reefkeeper, dbl and jsker like this.
  4. ochriso

    ochriso Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Messages:
    150
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Cantonment. Fla
    nice set up and very good write up
     
    dbl likes this.
  5. dbl

    dbl It Takes Less Energy to be Nice Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Messages:
    5,956
    Likes Received:
    11,626
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Thanks...just hope it helps someone along the line.
     
  6. Neon Jungle

    Neon Jungle Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2016
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    NYACK NY
    In the trenches of setting up my new
    BRS 6 Stage Universal Water Saver Plus RO/DI System
    Great info thanks ;)
     
    dbl likes this.
  7. Arron209

    Arron209 Acroholic R2R Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    366
    Likes Received:
    177
    Location:
    Ca
    I've got a similar design. Definitely helps make waterchanges a lot easier. Takes me maybe 10 mins tops to do one now! I figured the easier they are to do the more likely I am to keep up doing them. IMG_3786.JPG
     
  8. Smite

    Smite Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2015
    Messages:
    350
    Likes Received:
    210
    Wow, just in time. I was googling images earlier today. I use 2 brutes now but there's too much added work without them being plumbed.

    Great write up and I'll be borrowing your design.

    Thanks!
     
  9. dbl

    dbl It Takes Less Energy to be Nice Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Messages:
    5,956
    Likes Received:
    11,626
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Great looking setup...well done.

    Just for a little more inspiration, there is a great thread here on R2R with a bunch of exammple. As I said in the article, no sense in recreating the wheel!!!

    https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/salt-water-mixing-stations-lets-see-them.36873/
     
    Don Lidtke and Smite like this.
  10. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Messages:
    1,622
    Likes Received:
    20,305
    Great job!
     
    dbl likes this.
  11. cromag08

    cromag08 anemone whisperer & acrylic/wood expert R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor Article Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2015
    Messages:
    4,388
    Likes Received:
    3,416
    Location:
    arizona
    where did you get those containers?
     
    dbl likes this.
  12. dbl

    dbl It Takes Less Energy to be Nice Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Messages:
    5,956
    Likes Received:
    11,626
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Ordered online from here. Farm supply stores also carry variations of the containers as well. Shipping can be a killer if you can't find them locally.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
    sheldonjjessup likes this.
  13. Wayneb332

    Wayneb332 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    42
    Location:
    Windber PA
    Very nice
     
    dbl likes this.
  14. paul4140

    paul4140 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2014
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    oklahoma
    A+
     
    dbl likes this.
  15. radiata

    radiata Well-Known Member NJRC Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2015
    Messages:
    225
    Likes Received:
    73
    David,

    Looking for info on the squarish container with the funnel shaped bottom (identified as "D") in your first picture. What is it called, and where did you get it?

    Thanks,
    Bob
     
    dbl likes this.
  16. dbl

    dbl It Takes Less Energy to be Nice Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Messages:
    5,956
    Likes Received:
    11,626
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Here is the link to the same part number I purchased. However, you will see it looks a little different. Appears that it would work though, just a different shape.
     
    Gordonjones likes this.
  17. pelphrey

    pelphrey Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Showcase Editor Build Thread Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
    Messages:
    1,675
    Likes Received:
    1,193
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Great right up! Check out the rural king website for their ace roto mold vertical containers. Orders over $100 ship for free!
     
    dbl likes this.
  18. Shaun Sweeney

    Shaun Sweeney Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2016
    Messages:
    343
    Likes Received:
    143
    Location:
    Lantzville, BC, Canada
    Excellent. Well written and timely since I'm in the middle of another build with my sump room (man cave) in the basement. Haven't gotten to top off and water change part yet but I'll definitely use some (or all) of your ideas. Thanks again.
     
    dbl likes this.
  19. billgillette

    billgillette Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2014
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    84
    Very nice write up! I love my mixing station! No more buckets for me! I copied off a couple YouTube videos to make mine. 1477111825200.jpg 1477111884044.jpg
     
  20. MaccaPopEye

    MaccaPopEye Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2016
    Messages:
    334
    Likes Received:
    393
    Great write up mate. I'm in the process of planning / starting to make mine.

    Im using 2 blue 55Gal drums. I have a question for anyone that might be able to answer, I couldn't find uniseals where I live so I got bulkheads but obviously the barrel sides are curved. Can anyone see any issues with putting the bulkheads in the base and building a stand to lift the barrels off the ground enough to fit all the plumbing? I was going to build a stand for it anyway, and this way more of the water would be able to drain out too.
     
    dbl likes this.

Share This Page

Loading...