In the spirit of DIY I wanted to post my favorite DIY i made about 15 years ago, luckily the same parts can still be bought today, After being burned by optic auto top offs recently, I've gone back to a tried and true method I've used for many years.
back to gravity, these cost about 10 bucks and will keep water level rock solid, the top takes garden hose so needs to be fitted for RO hose and there is a metal cotter pin that holds the float to the housing it needs to be swapped for a plastic tooth pic or like, I use plastic antenna wire cover for R/C cars fits just right. Then plastic brackets need to be made to hold it to your sump. I used plastic brackets from an old float system. if one is good working with plexi or 3d printer. the metal bracketsit comes with dont touch the water but i would not trust them.
Then i use a food grade water cooler i bought at Walmart it holds about 3 gallons and the portion on that where you would get water from (the push button) is changeable to RO/ jayco fittings also. Basically around or less than 40 bucks 10 bucks for the float and 10 bucks for the cooler then whatever the extra fittings cost.
Back in the day i had a 35g brute can for water storage hooked up never a problem 10years and never even cleaned the float.
Little Giant TM825T Trough-O-Matic Plastic Housed Float Valve with Expansion Brackets
I do use a Aqua auto optical sensor attached to my RODI for filling the 3g cooler, it runs on a timer twice a day to keep the cooler filled.
Well thought i would give a update... The worst has happened.. I keep light grey carpets in front of my tanks because light grey turns to dark grey patches as the carpet gets wet... So going to bed the other night i noticed dark grey spots on the carpet and turns out the 180g started a small drip in the center front. the tank is only 5 years old and silicone seemed fine when i set it up, so not sure what happened. But got all fish and corals loaded into a 75g and a 20g been a few days and no losses, so that is good.
Wife gave ok to get a new 180g but thanks to the pandemic and glass shortage that is not happening. (none available)
So i decided to try and reseal the tank. I cut out all the silicone (leaving the structural) washed all sealing edges with acetone. then i wire brushed the edges. then wet sanded then dry sanded (600 grit), then scrubbed with acetone again . then a scrub with rubbing alcohol and then resealed. In a week or so i will start leak testing.
I dont have high hopes or trust for this tank. but i can say that in a area where i slopped a little silicone (that had been cleaned and sanded ) after a few hours the silicone was extremely hard to remove unlike the factory that just kinda pealed off with ease. so maybe a good sign.
Tank is fully disassembled. I did find a flaw in my stand that I saw from a distance. front left corner was a tad high. Putting a 4ft level in that spot and being able to slide a piece of paper underneath is also where the leak started. So i don't know if it from a defect in my old house floor or from building the stand or both. either way nice to find the possible cause. But still i should not have had the marineland silicone just peeling away.
After seeing what i've seen can't say i would ever buy another tank from them at least not a large tank.
So now i start the process of getting the glass cleaned up of any left over silicone.
If anybody has any tricks or tips for this process and putting it back together when the time comes i'm all ears.
For anybody that might be following along or going to attempt this job. This wire brush set from harbor frieght rules at removing silicone. And I assume the micro scratches they may or may not leave behind will really help with silicone bonding.
So the master plan has been decided. Its been a long week of scraping silicone, but were ready to start assemble. I found a YouTube video posted by a guy named Steve Poland and how custom aquarium builds there aquariums. We will be doing this. Just without the fancy machines and also dealing with 400 pounds.
For anyone attempting a rebuild of there tanks, what is dubbed the "injection method" does work very well the trick is squashing the tip on the silicone tube to your gap size and a small mirror can help in seeing how much silicone your pushing through the gap . I was able to get a very nice bubble free structure seal and then laid the inner seal. While im not worried in the least it will leak or not last, it was a heck of job i hope to not do again any time soon! hope fully leak testing in a week. my poor fish are looking cramped in the 75g.
Been leak testing the last few days, every thing seems fine. Hope to get underway filling it back up here real soon.
The sad part is (And not tooting my own horn) But I've rebuilt a couple tanks over the years and I'm pretty sure my silicone job looks way better than original job from Marineland.