Water is the most important for keeping fish because it is their natural habitat. Therefore, you must ensure that you can maintain an adequate level of water by filling the tank with water regularly. The water evaporates every single second, especially in the summer. That is why you need to do it.
However, the problem is, if you are away on a long trip and you cannot ask anyone to do that job, who will be responsible for that? Your fish cannot wait until you are back because your tank might be dry. Of course, if this terrible thing happens, your fish will pop off. This is a real headache, right?
Understand your difficulty; today article will provide you detailed information as well as full reviews of the best auto top off system which can savage your fish from dying of the evaporation.
If you are still a bit hazy about this item, we will find out what it is, but first, I want to show some great benefits that the system can offer you and your aquarium.
Why should you by an Auto Top Off System?
Of course, the first question which pops into your head when you see a product is ‘Why do I have to buy it?’. Thus, to satisfy your curiosity, here are some special advantages that you will have after installing an Auto Top Off System.
- An Auto Top Off System will ensure the optimum water level in your tank by automatically replacing it. Therefore, there is no need to use a heavy bucket to refill your aquarium
- An Auto Top Off System will prevent the salinity of the water from increasing quickly by replacing the lost amount. One thing you should know is that salt in the water does not evaporate like water that could destroy the natural habitat when the water becomes less and less
- An Auto Top Off System will protect your pumps because it is very good at maintaining the water levels
- An Auto Top Off System will provide an adequate amount of fresh water to create and maintain a good index. It is true that you cannot measure and replace accurately how much water your fish tank needs
- Everything is done automatically so that you can save tons of effort and time. Hence, you can thoroughly enjoy your frequent trips without worrying about the fish at home
As fish keepers, you will see that how important and great an Auto Top Off System is. It is such an active supporter of people who are as busy as a bee or have a memory like a sieve. Keeping fish requires a lot of steps to take, so why don’t you let this item help you out? Let’s find out what it is and why it can successfully cope with all tasks mentioned above.
What is Auto Top Off System?
The name sounds quite weird, so it is easy to understand that some people get confused when they heard about the system. In fact, an Auto Top Off System is designed to notice the level of water in your tank automatically. Therefore, the amount of lost water will be refilled immediately if it detects any deficiencies.
The combination of an auto top off system and an auto fish feeder is becoming popular as you nearly do not to take care of your fish aquarium so often like before. As a result, you will have more spare time to pursue your hobby, or simply spend time with other family members.
Next, we will do deeper to see a basic structure of an Auto Top Off System as well as the main function of each part. From that, you will have a general idea of how this item works.
What does the box include?
There are zillions of products available in the market with different technologies to help you top off your reef tank. Based on your personal needs and other contributing factors which will be introduced later, you will find the best Auto Top Off System. However, all system will have 3 basic components to function normally:
- Water reservoir
- A pump
Earlier, you might ask yourself where this item takes water out to refill your tanks, and the answer is a clean water reservoir. Yes, all systems are equipped with a reservoir to store water that is ready for the replacement at any time. Plastic jugs and 5-gallon buckets are the most popular types of reservoirs that fish keepers use because they are efficient and easy to set up apart from being inexpensive.
Otherwise, acrylic or glass containers are very well-loved by fish keepers. To save money, some make use of sumps or even their old aquarium to create a new water reservoir. Good news for you: most storage reservoirs could be hidden inside your tank or behind the furniture to provide you with a compact set-up.
However, in case you want to fill a very large tank, you should go for a bigger container, for example, a big polyethylene tank or trash can, as the amount of evaporated water will be more significant than a small or medium sized aquarium.
The most important component – Sensor
It is very true to say that a sensor plays a key role in the performance of an Auto Top Off System. To meet the different requirements of customers. manufacturers have produced a wide variety of products in general and sensor in particular that apply different methods to detect the lost amount of water.
To help you have a general view about this item, today we will introduce you 4 main types of sensors on the market which are an optical sensor, conductivity sensor, temperature sensor and float switch.
Without moving parts, an optical sensor is produced in the shape of a prism that helps the machine avoid a risk of failure. Also, an infrared LED light is used which glows through the prism and is led to something called light receiver.
- If there is no water, your pump will get activated after the light is led into the receiver
- If the rise of water level is detected, the light will be refracted passing through the water. Next, the little light will be headed to the receiver, and your pump will stop working
Another kind of sensor is the conductivity sensor. In fact, it takes advantage of 2 probes which are set as the standard water level. An electric circuit will be made immediately when the probes into the water to get the pump deactivated. Nevertheless, if the water is below those standard lines, that circuit will be broken right away to make the pump do its job.
Additionally, the conductivity sensor is made without moving parts to avoid the possibility of failure.
As its name suggests, the temperature sensor will make use of the heat to influence the pump. The user will install a probe inside the tank so that it is immersed in water. Once the water is below that probe, the heat will be generated quickly to make the sensor gets warm causing the pump to be activated.
Similar to the optical and conductivity sensor, this is produced without any moving parts to maximize the accuracy of the result.
This original sensor is the one and the only type to be produced with parts. If you have to buy a product on a tight budget, the float switch would be a good choice because it is effective and cheap. A buoyant magnet is utilized to close and open a circuit when the magnet moves along the water level.
This sensor is quite easy to get stuck since small animals can enter the float and some substances like calcium sometimes can be obstacles to magnet moving freely. Therefore, to avoid failure, most companies have made backup floats or plastic shields.
To be honest, even you purchase a pricey sensor or a cheap one, keep in mind that you must always keep it clean and clear of the blockage. All of them require monthly maintenance to make sure that everything is functioning well.
The last component in the list today is the pump as it will bring fresh water from the reservoir into your tank. Several systems come with a pump while others do not include it for a custom purpose.
There are 2 types of pumps on the market for you to choose – submersible and dosing pump.
- A submersible pump can be immersed into water and quickly transfer fresh water from the storage into your tank. It is very user-friendly and not expensive at all. Also, the submersible pump is accepted by most Auto Top Off Systems which do not have a pump included
- A dosing pump can help you prevent the dry-run. This pump will transfer water slowly to avoid the overflowing in contrast to the submersible pump. Instead of sinking into the water, it needs an external mounting above the water container
How to set up an Auto Top Off System?
Another common concern about this item is how to set up an Auto Top Off System to make it work properly. Before going to the detailed guide, let’s watch a video about the basic installation.
Here are necessary steps that you need to take to set up an Auto Top Off System
- Make sure that you read and understand the instructions thoroughly in advance because each product has its features that you should pay attention to. It is also a nice way to avoid irreparable damage
- Before setting everything up, you had better check each item, especially the pump and the sensor carefully to see whether it works or not. You can skip this step if you want but how long will it take you to take everything out in case you get it done, but something does not function?
- Have an empty water reservoir since it is for safety reasons and honestly, it is much more challenging to work with full container
- Your water reservoir should go with a small opening to prevent the evaporation. On that lid, just drill a hole that is big enough to let the tubing go through. Again, do not make a big hole as the water will evaporate quickly
- There will be 2 sensors coming with your machine, and both of them need immersing into the water. One will be placed inside your tank, and the other will be installed into the reservoir. Please see to it that you strictly follow the manual instructions since sensors are the most important items when it comes to an Auto Top Off System
- There are 2 outlets that you will see in the pump – ‘in’ and ‘’ Connect the tubing to the reservoir to the ‘in.’ After that, run the other tubing from the ‘out’ to the sump in your tank. Ensure that you do not let your pump sink into water because it will suck the water to the water container
- Before plugging your machine make sure that the outlet is away from the water and your hands are completely dry for safety reasons
- Fill the water container and let the system do it job!
You might think it is too complicated when reading all those steps but trust me the installation is easy and will not take too much time.
What should you consider when buying an Auto Top Off System?
As I mentioned above, in today article, you will see how to choose the best Auto Top Off System which can suit your demands by considering these following factors before making a purchase.
How large your tank is?
A lot of customers do not check the size of their aquarium before they buy a system. Why do you need to know the capacity? The reason is simple. It will help you pick the appropriate water reservoir as well as the pumps. A very large tank should not go with a 5-gallon container or weak pumps as it will take a lot of time to refill your reef tank.
What does that box offer you?
Well, in other words, you had better how many and what kinds of items you will receive after payment. A full package will have:
- Self-leveling controller
- 2 sensors
- Manual instructions
In some situations, you might get your water container or the pumps already, so find or ask the sales clerk the kit that does not include those accessories. However, if you do not have anything, a full package comes highly recommended since it helps you save tons of time when installing.
Is it easy to set up?
The ease of installation is another important contributing factor. It will be fine in case you are familiar with the technical stuff, but to those who never touch these things, it might be a big problem in case they accidentally pick a product that is too complicated. Systems which are equipped with magnetic mounts should be taken into consideration.
Does it work well?
Please ask the salesman to check the performance of your preferred system, particularly the sensors, before bringing it home. If they are not good at detecting the levels of water, your tank can get dry, or the water might be over the floor if your sensors are not sensitive enough to realize the lost amount of water or it is increasing too high.
How much can you afford?
There are thousands of choices for you available in the market. Thus, do not spend too much money on a pricey system. The most expensive one cannot guarantee that it will satisfy your personal needs. Hence, set your budget and find the system which you can easily afford.
Full reviews of Best Auto Top Off System
To help you have a clearer view of products on the market, we will do full reviews of 5 candidates. Hope that you will find it useful and apply the information to find out your best Auto Top Off System.
1. Tunze USA LLC 3155.000 Auto Top Off System for Aquariums
- Tunze 3155.000 Osmolator provides you with a small and compact design
- Tunze 3155.000 Osmolator is lightweight
- Tunze 3155.000 Osmolator is user-friendly which is easy to set up and equipped with magnet mounts
- Tunze 3155.000 Osmolator is efficient at reading the levels of water as well as refilling your tank
- Tunze 3155.000 Osmolator is a well-made product coming from a leading brand in the industry
- Tunze 3155.000 Osmolator is quite expensive
- Tunze 3155.000 Osmolator needs regular maintenance to increase the level of durability
This brand – Tunze USA LLC is one of the most famous companies in this industry since it was founded in 1985. If you do research on the Internet, you can easily see that Tunze USA LLC 3155.000 Auto Top Off System for Aquariums is a well-loved model chosen by many fish keepers.
This is a lightweight and compact design. In fact, it weighs only 2 pounds with the dimensions: 4 x 1 x 2.5 inches. This Tunze system utilizes 2 kinds of sensors which are optical sensor and float switch. The combination will work together to make sure that the product can detect the levels of water and provide an accurate result.
The product is user-friendly that is easy to set up. Also, it comes with a full kit, so you do not need to buy extra accessories to make the system function well. Magnetic mounts are included too; this feature is highly beneficial for people who do not get on well with technical items.
The only downside of this Tunze system is not durable which can perform well in 1 year. Otherwise, monthly maintenance is required as it makes use of float switch which is easy to get stuck due to marine animals and substances in water.
2. Smart ATO Micro – Auto Top Off System AutoAqua
- Smart ATO Micro System is lightweight
- Smart ATO Micro System applies Quick Security Technology to avoid failure
- Smart ATO Micro System is good at detecting the levels of water
- Smart ATO Micro System is user-friendly
- Smart ATO Micro System provides customers with a full kit
- Smart ATO Micro System comes with a full 2-year warranty
- Smart ATO Micro System is not produced for large reef tanks due to the weak pumps
- Smart ATO Micro System does not go with a strong magnetic holder
- Smart ATO Micro System is not durable unless regular maintenance is carried out
With the weight of 12 ounces and the dimensions of 2.8 x 6.3 x 6.5 inches, Smart ATO Micro seems to take more space than Tunze system. The reason why it is called ‘Smart Auto To Off System’ is that the product employs Quick Security Technology (QST). In fact, this digital sensor is produced to minimize the risk of failure.
Similar to Tunze system, Smart ATO Micro product makes use of an optical sensor to improve the accuracy. All you need to do is using that sensor to set the standard level of water. The pump will immediately get its job done when it receives a signal from the sensor.
Another plus point that attracts a lot of customers is the full kit. It means that there is no need to pay more for accessories because all required items are in the package. The box offers you a controller, a magnetic holder, tubing, and power adapter.
In addition, Smart ATO Micro System does not have any moving parts. Therefore, you can install the whole system with ease even if you are not a craftsman. Likewise, the mount is magnetic, so it will make the set-up more convenient, and you can save a lot of time of efforts.
However, there are some minuses that you need take into account when buying. First, this device is not made for large aquariums as the pumps are not strong enough. Moreover, the magnet holder is quite weak, so be careful when installing it. Last, regular maintenance is necessary to improve its durability.
3. Aqua Auto Smart ATO System for Aquariums
- AutoAqua Smart ATO System employs Auto Feedback Technology to decrease the possibility of failure
- AutoAqua Smart ATO System is lightweight
- AutoAqua Smart ATO System is efficient at detecting the levels of water and refilling your aquarium
- AutoAqua Smart ATO System is easy to set up
- AutoAqua Smart ATO System comes with a full 2-year warranty
- AutoAqua Smart ATO System is not likely to be durable
- AutoAqua Smart ATO System needs regular maintenance
Another well-known brand in this industry is AutoAqua with their product ‘Smart ATO System for Aquariums.’ Thanks to the Auto Feedback Technology, the product is an intelligent aquarium automation. Like Quick Security Technology of Smart ATO Micro System, this technology is created to decrease the possibility of failure.
Although this device is lightweight (1.3 pounds only), it will take a larger storing space because of the dimensions (10.2 x 2.5 x 6.5 inches). Also, a digital sensor is installed to support the system in monitoring and refilling the evaporated water accurately.
The manufacturer also provides you with all items required for an Auto Top Off System including pumps, sensors, controller, universal holder, and power adapter. Otherwise, the magnetic mount and no moving parts help you install the product easily. You can place it on any edges of your tank so that the natural beauty is still maintained.
In spite of the fact the, Aqua Auto Smart STO System comes with a full 2-year warranty, the level of durability is not high, especially the pumps. Therefore, you should install the device with great caution and carry out the maintenance regularly.
4. Hydor Smart Level Controller – ATO
- Hydor Smart Level Controller – ATO is energy efficiency
- Hydor Smart Level Controller – ATO is lightweight
- Hydor Smart Level Controller – ATO can work with different environments
- Hydor Smart Level Controller – ATO can distinguish between water movements and the real levels
- Hydor Smart Level Controller – ATO can inform you about errors via the dual alarm
- Hydor Smart Level Controller – ATO can cause annoyance sometimes due to the sound alarm
- Hydor Smart Level Controller – ATO has a quite weak pump
Another system on the list today is Hydor Smart Level Controller – ATO. This Hydor device is very famous for its energy efficiency thanks to the low voltage. Similar to all systems mentioned above, it is a lightweight and compact design, weighing 14 ounces with the size is 5.5 x 1 x 2.5 inches.
The advantage of Hydor Auto Top Off System is that it can work in different environments even freshwater or marine tanks. Its build is strong enough to protect it from being covered with rust, so the system can quickly adapt to many conditions.
The alarm system is equipped with both light and sound. Therefore, you will be informed about any errors apart from the levels of water in your tank. Similar to sensors of other product, Hydor Auto Top Off System can recognize the evaporated water and quickly get the pump activated to transfer freshwater into the tank.
Another special feature of Hydor product is that it can distinguish between the water movements and the real levels of water. Hence, a better result will be achieved that could prevent the shortage or the excessive amount of water. The device is user-friendly which brings you manual as well as instruction video.
However, the Hydor system is too smart sometimes. The alarm will go on immediately when it detects the change in the water level. Consequently, it might cause great annoyance to especially while you are sleeping at midnight. As it is a dual system, you are not allowed to turn off the sound or light. Last, the pump is a bit weak to go with a large aquarium.
5. Tunze USA LLC 3152.000 ATO for Under 55-Gallon Aquariums
- Tunze 3152.000 ATO is lightweight and compact
- Tunze 3152.000 ATO is energy efficient
- Tunze 3152.000 ATO is easy to install
- Tunze 3152.000 ATO operates quietly
- Tunze 3152.000 ATO has a reasonable price
- Tunze 3152.000 ATO does not perform well with big aquariums
The last system today also comes from the reputable company – Tunze. The model 3152.000 and 3155.000 are their best-sellers. Like its sibling, it is very lightweight (1.7 pounds only) and does not take too much space (1.5 x 1.2 x 1 inches).
The device also employs 2 sensors – optical sensor and float switch to maintain the optimum water levels that keep your living animals happy. Tunze 3152.000 is very easy to install which could be placed on the tank edge or in a filter. Thanks to the magnetic holder, you will not overcome any obstacles.
One of the biggest benefits that this device brings customers is the energy efficiency because it is low voltage (11V only). Otherwise, the system operates quietly so it will not disturb your sleep.
As its name mentions, the model 3152.000 will deliver the best performance with under 55-gallon aquariums only. It does not mean that the device could not work with bigger tanks. However, the efficiency will greatly decrease.
Those are 5 products on the list of best Auto Top Off System today. Hope that with our detailed reviews and complete buying guide, you can find your favorite product. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. Last, do not forget to like and share article today with your friends.