Lifegard Aquatics 25 AIO water level oddity

AI Hydra

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Fellow Reefers,

I experienced an odd situation in my Lifegard 25 AIO that I can’t quite understand but have a possible theory on. Was hoping you all could chime in and confirm my ideas or offer a different explanation. It’s a long post but I want to be sure I give the details.

I first started to notice something was different a little less than a week ago when water started dripping down the side of my tank where I have the small clips that hold my screen lid which it hadn’t done previously. The reason for the dripping was clear enough. The water level was high enough to touch the inside part of the clip and capillary action pulled the water up over the edge and down the outside. I assumed it was a result of the return pump or wavemaker being positioned slightly differently and forcing water up the edge in ways it hadn’t before.

A couple days ago I went to feed my fish and noticed that beside the DT water level being almost touching the lid that the level in the return chamber was also several inches higher than it normally is. Overflow wasn’t blocked, lower back wall drain wasn’t blocked. Not knowing exactly why it was doing it I pulled the pump and sponge out of the back and did a water change to rinse the sponge (in hindsight it would have been way easier to just rinse with RO/DI but I’m so used to rinsing it when I water change I just went straight for that). After getting it all back together it was, and still is, running at the right levels.

Based on what I siphoned out of the back and the water after I rinsed the sponge it was definitely a gunked up sponge. However, what my logic, and other forum posts confirm, is that if the sponge was dirty and restricting flow the sump area would be higher (it was) but my DT would be lower.

My suspicion is that the flow to the pump was restricted by the dirty sponge, the return chamber then lowered below the ATO, causing it to trigger and increasing the overall tank water volume. The slow clogging of the sponge would also account for the slow rise in DT level and the drip problem.

Luckily, if my guess is correct, the volume of my tank versus the top-off is such that even if my entire ATO bucket empties I only lose .001-.002 points of SG so my livestock will be okay….and it won’t all empty at once.

The only other possibility that just occurred as I typed this was that earlier that day my wife floated some snails she picked up for me. I haven’t been able to ask her yet but if the bags floated in front of the overflow it would have had the same effect and caused unnecessary ATO fills.

The only thing that still doesn’t add up is that I did not notice the water getting higher and higher in the return chamber over the course of the week. It was always right where it should be on the sensor, but clearly the DT level was higher as evidenced by the dripping water.

Anything I might be missing?

Thanks,
Ken
 
AI Hydra

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