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Setting up a dosing pump

by Martin Lister February 27, 2017

Taking the plunge into the world of dosing pumps can be a daunting one. From all the different pumps and additives available. To calibrating and maintaining the pump, a lot of things can go wrong. Done well dosing pumps feed your tanks needs and allow for that growth you have dreamed of, done wrong they can crash your tank. By following this guide, I hope I can help you achieve the former.

The first job is to work out what you need want to dose. There are hundreds of different additives that can be added to a marine tank. As each tank is different not all methods will work with the same effect in each tank. The best thing to do here is go to your local fish shop and ask their advice. Once you have got their recommendations go online and do a little research yourself, into their suggest method. This will give you a better understanding of dosing and whether it’s something you wish to pursue. In this guide I’m going to be using the Oceanlife Range of Additives.

To start with you need to pick a pump, this is fairly straight forward. Once you have selected the number additives you wish to dose you need to select a dosing pump with the same number outlets. Dosing pump prices vary a lot. As a general rule, you get what you pay for. A Jecod dosing pump that retails for around £60 will be a lot harder to set up than a Kamoer dosing pump that retails around £250.  Both pumps will do the same job but often the setting up and maintenance of the cheaper pump can be very fiddly, whereas the more expensive pump is usually very easy.

In this guide I won’t go over how to calibrate the dosing pump as all pumps do this differently. Generally calibrating the pump involves measuring the amount of water that passes through it over a set period of time usually a minute. The best advice is to read the instructions carefully. 

Now you have got the dosing pump calibrated and in place it is time to work out the amount of additive you need to dose into your tank.

Your chosen additive will usually state a recommended dose per 100 litres of water. As I’m using the Oceanlife additives I have added a table containing that info below.














You can see that by adding 19ml of the Kh solution to the tank the dKH within the tank should raise by 0.5.  By adding 8ml of the calcium solution the calcium level should raise by 10 and by adding 17ml of the magnesium solution the magnesium should raise by 10. These are a good starting point but often your tank will require a higher amount of each solution as the animals in your tank use what is available.

To start dosing your tank. You need to test your tanks parameters. For this example, let’s say I have a 100 litre tank with the following parameters, a KH of 6, a Calcium level of 350 and a Magnesium level of 1300.

I would begin by dosing half the recommended dose so in this case that would be 10ml Kh solution, 4 ml calcium solution and 9ml magnesium solution. It is best to divide this into four equal doses throughout the day.

Once 24 hours have passed test the tank again. If the parameters have raised leave the dose as is until the desired levels have been achieved. Once the parameters are at an acceptable level half your current dose, this should leave you with a maintenance dose (the maintenance dose is the dosage required to keep the parameters stable in your tank).

If the parameters in your tank have not be raised increase the dosage by 50% and leave another 24 hours. Test the water again if the parameters have raised leave the dosage as is and follow the paragraph above. If not just repeat this process until a raise is seen.

It is important to note a maintenance dose may need increasing slightly so it is important to test the water a week after the maintenance dose has been added. This dosage will also need increasing as more stock is added to your tank so it is a good habit to test your water every month as this will allow you to catch any problems before they arise.

Hopefully this guide has made the world of dosing pumps a little less daunting. If you have any further questions forums like ultimate reef are a place to find information.


Martin Lister
Martin Lister


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