Water is a very basic part of our lives. Without it, how can we fill the fish tank, am I right?
However, water also has a characteristic that can be inconvenient for us the fish keepers. In order to ease our burden, the Auto Top Off System for Aquarium has been invented.
As clear and transparent as they are, they have a few certain characteristics that can give us a few troubles when taking care of the aquarium. Water evaporates. It evaporates at any temperature so regardless of your tank temperature, the water in your tank will be less and less a little bit every day. And you cannot let that happen or else your tank will be empty and the home for your fish will also be gone.
Having to check and refill the water in your tank every day can be quite a chore. So, the good news is there is a device that can automatically do that for you. It’s the auto top off system.
The auto top off can work for many types of aquariums. I’m here to present you a list of the best auto top off system for reef tank, saltwater aquarium, freshwater aquarium and many other aquarium types.
Table of Contents
- Best Auto Top Off System for Aquarium
- Auto Top Off System Reviews
- What is an auto top off system?
- What is the best auto top off system?
- How to set up an auto top off system?
- Video set up an auto top off system for reef tank
Best Auto Top Off System for Aquarium
There are many convenient inventions nowadays that make your fish happy while easing the burden of taking care of the aquarium for you. Auto Top Off System is one of them.
There are many options on the market and it can be confusing to choose a good one for your tank. So here is a list of the best auto top off system out there.
|Tunze USA 3155.000 Automatic Top off Osmolator||4 x 1 x 2.5 inches|
|Smart ATO Micro - Automatic Top Off System||2.8 x 6.3 x 6.5 inches|
|Tunze USA 3152.000 Automatic Top off Nano Osmolator||1.5 x 1.2 x 1 inches|
Designed for tanks up to 55 galons
|Hydor Smart Level Controller||5.5 x 1 x 2.5 inches|
|Autoaqua Smart Automatic Top Off System||10.2 x 2.5 x 6.5 inches|
Auto Top Off System Reviews
1. Tunze USA 3155.000 Automatic Top Off Osmolator for Aquariums
Tunze is a company that has been producing top off systems since 1985. They are on top of their games. The 3155 Tunze Osmolator is the gold standard of the auto top off system world.
The Osmolator is secure and reliable. It is a product that has been tested and built through the course of many years and many previous models. The osmolator is small with a size of 4x1x2.5 inches and it weighs less than 3 pounds. It is one single compact unit.
The osmolator uses a set of two sensors to detect the water level. The primary sensor is a mini optical infrared sensor which can provide highly precise regulation. The second sensor is a float sensor, which serves as a back up sensor to feel the water level.
The osmolator is easy to set up. The device comes with magnetic mounts for easy and convenient installation. It comes with a full package of tubing, pump and power supply. It does not only recognize the dropping level of water but also effectively pump water from your external source into the tank.
This product is one of the top notch products on the market. That’s why it can be a bit more pricey compared to other products. The price is a little high for an auto top off system. However, you know that you will get what you pay for, so the pricey tag, in this case, will not disappoint you about the product’s quality.
- High-quality build
- Small in size
- Easy Installation
- Precise estimation of water level
2. Smart ATO Micro – Automatic Top Off System
The AutoAqua system is one of the most highly rated Auto Top off systems in the market. The system is small with a size of 2.8 x 6.3 x 6.5 inches and weighs only 12 ounces.
This product includes an advanced technology called Quick Security Technology (QST). It is a contactless digital sensor. This technology acts as a sensor to continuously provide real-time fail safe protection against failure. The technology is designed to make it not only convenient but also very reliable. You can simply move the optical sensor to adjust the desired water level of your tank and whenever the sensor senses that the water level drops below the desired mark, the pump will be activated to automatically refill the tank. Your fish and plants will stay happily in a water filled tank.
The unit is very easy to install. It contains no moving parts that can cause you any troubles while installing as well as when using. The device comes with a controller, sensor, power adapter, tubing and the mount. The device is ready to go right out of the box and the mount is also magnetic, making the set up even more convenient.
The problem with this system is the pump that comes with the device. Some people complained that the pump can be a bit weak for their tanks, while others found that it worked fine. It all depends on the size of the tanks. If you happen to have a tank bigger than the capability of the pump, you can purchase an external pump to substitute the one in the box out.
- Easy installation and usage
- Small and convenient size
- Quick Security Technology with contactless sensor
- 2 year warranty
- Weak included pump
3. Tunze USA 3152.000 Automatic Top Off Nano Osmolator
This is another product of the Tunze company. As said earlier, Tunze has been producing Auto Top off systems since 1985 and they have made themselves a reputation in the market. The Tunze 3152 system is one of their two best selling auto top off systems.
This model is small with a size of only 1.5 x 1.2 x 1 inches and weighs less than 2 pounds. It can be installed in a cabinet filter or directly on the aquarium edge. The mount/holder is magnetic, making it easy to install and it can mount over the glass wall up to 3/8 inches thick.
The device comes with two sensors. The primary one is a mini optical infrared sensor which can provide precise regulation of the water level. There is also a back up sensor that floats on the water. The two layer of sensors makes the system fail proof and keep the quality of the whole system consistent.
The device is very energy efficient. It works with only 11V power supply and the pump is also low-voltage. It also runs reasonably quiet so you don’t have to worry about the noise of the system disturbing people around.
This device is very small and convenient and there is a trade off for that size. This auto top off system can only work efficiently with tank the size up to 55 gallons. It can work in bigger tanks, but the quality is not efficient enough for the whole tank and failure can happen. If your tank is smaller than 55 gallons, this device is a still a very good choice since its price is much cheaper than its brother who can work in bigger tanks.
- High-quality build
- Small and convenient price
- Easy installation
- Work efficiently in tanks up to 55 gallons only
4. Hydor Smart Level Controller
The device is 5.5 x 1 x 2.5 inches and weighs about 14 ounces. It is low voltage and very energy efficient. It is designed to be used in many different conditions, including both marine and freshwater aquariums. The quality of build is super, helping the device to resist rust in both fresh and salt water.
The device comes with a dual alarm system that has both light and sound. It will alert when the water level drops below the desired level and it will also alert you if there is any malfunctioning with the device itself.
The sensor is designed to not only be functional but also ‘smart.’ The sensor of the device will recognize the water level and alarm you when the water level drops. The device will automatically activate the included pump to fill the tank with water. This system is also capable of differentiating between actual water level and movements of waves. Thanks to this functionality, the tank will not be filled and you will not be alerted by mistake.
As convenient as the alarm system, it can be annoying to some people. The audible alarm system can ring at random time during the day and it can bring some annoyance and inconvenience. With the double alarm system, you cannot turn off one of the two alarms.
The pump works well. However, it is a pump included in the package so it’s safe to say the pump is not the highest quality. If you have a big tank, you can always purchase an external pump and switch it out for bigger capability.
- Easy installation
- Energy efficient
- Dual alarm system
- Smart sensor system
- Cannot turn off the audio alarm
- Pump may not be strong enough for big tanks
5. AutoAqua Smart Automatic Top Off System for Aquariums
AutoAqua is a big name in the Auto Top Off system world. This product is one of the ‘smartest’ systems in the market currently.
The device is a little bigger than other devices. The size is 10.2 x 2.5 x 6.5 inches and weighs more than a pounds. Everything you need to set up your system comes right from the box: tubing, pump, alert, etc…The device contains no moving parts that can fail so the set up is easy and straightforward.
This system features an AutoAqua patent Smart ATO technology called Auto Feedback Security. The sensor of this device is a contactless digital sensor that monitors and automates the refilling of evaporated water. The Auto Feedback Security provides real-time fail safe protection against failure so you can be at ease when leaving your house for a long vacation.
The device comes with sensor, controller, and magnetic mount so you can set up the device easy on the edge of the aquarium or anywhere you like. In order to set the desired water level, all you need to do is move the controller outside of the tank to adjust your sump. Anytime the water drops below the set water level, a pump will be automatically activated and refill the tank.
Even though the system is very smart and efficient, it has a little issue. After a long time of using the device, you may experience some rust on the material, especially if you use the device in a saltwater tank. But that is after a long time, you will experience no issue in the beginning since its build quality is actually very good.
- Auto Feedback Security system
- Easy installation
- Smart alert
- 2 year warranty
- Larger size
- May experience rust issues
What is an auto top off system?
Water evaporates at any temperature. For keeping a fish tank or an aquatic aquarium, this characteristic of water can be troublesome. There will be less and less of water in your tank each day. And when the water drops too low, it can cause a severe problem for your fish and aquatic plants. In order to save fish keepers from this problem, the auto top off (ATO) system has been invented for everyone’s best convenience.
An auto top off system is a system designed to automatically detects the water level in your tank with a sensor. Whenever the sensor senses that the water level drop below a certain point, the system will automatically replace the evaporated water so the water level in the tank can go back to the optimal level.
Without this system, you may have to carry a bucket of water, pour into the tank and wipe down spills. Having to do that almost every day can be quite a chore. But with an auto top off system, you will not have to do all those things. The salinity is also kept stable with the system. The auto top off system will maintain your pump from running dry.
The auto top off system is not only useful for your everyday life maintaining your fish tank, but it is also especially useful when you are out of the house on a vacation. You can set an automatic fish feeder all you want when you are away on your trip, but it won’t do as much for your fish if you come back to a tank all evaporated without any water left. The auto top off system will take care of refilling the tank with water and not let the tank dry out and destroying the living environment of your fish and aquatic plants.
What is the best auto top off system?
When choosing the best auto top off system for you and your tank, consider some of the followings:
- What is included in the package?
Normally, the basic kit of a package of an auto top off system would include a self-leveling controller, one or two sensors, and mounting implements.
Sometimes the complete package will also include a pump and hoses. The pump is an accessory you need to pay attention to. If you already have a pump with you, then you don’t need the included pump in the package. But if you do not have one already, choosing a complete package with one included can save you a lot of time setting up the system in the beginning.
- How is the installation process?
Do you mind getting all handsy and complicated during the installation process? If you are a crafty person then you may not worry about what your choice is for this step, because you can do it all. However, if you are not the most crafty person ever, opting for something easy to install and set up in your tank can help you save lots of energy and efforts. Many systems come with magnetic mounts. They are very easy and simple to install.
- What is the size of your tank?
Most of the time the auto top off system does not take the size of the tank into account. However, the pumps do. So check the pumps of the system or the pumps you already have, see what their capacity are. If the pumps are too weak, it will take the tank very long to be refilled.
- What is your budget?
As with buying anything, you need to consider your budget. There are quite a few other accessories you need to buy for your fish tank so don’t let the auto top off system uses up all your budget. Choose one that you can afford comfortably.
How to set up an auto top off system?
- Take all your supplies out of the box. Before installing anything, power all the unit up and test the sensors and the pump to see if they work. If there are sounds or light alarm, check to make sure they work probably as well. It is much easier to test the device now then having to take them out of the tank later because they don’t work right.
- Just prepare an empty reservoir. Do not fill it with water yet. It is safer and easier to work with an empty reservoir during the set up.
- Prepare a freshwater reservoir by the side of your tank. It can be a bucket or a big jug. The smaller the opening is the better with the reservoir since it is harder for water to evaporate and you will not have to change the reservoir as often. I recommend using a jug with a small lid, similar to a gas can. Drill or cut a hole in the lid, big enough for the tubing to go through later. With the lid close, the exposed water surface is limited and therefore limit to minimum the evaporation of water from the reservoir.
- There would be two sensors with the device. They need to be floating in water in order for the whole unit to work right. Place one in the freshwater reservoir. The other one should be installed in the sump just above the water line. Sometimes, some devices come with special or smart sensors that work differently from the other common sensors. If that is the case, make sure to read the included manual carefully to set them up correct. The sensors are the most important part of the whole system.
- Get ready to install the pump. There should be two outlets in the pump: the ‘in’ and the ‘out.’ Run tubing from the freshwater reservoir to the ‘in’ on the pump. Then run another tubing from the ‘out’ on the pump to the sump. Try to make the tubing stay above the water line when installing the ‘out’ tubing. When the tubing is underwater, it is possible to create a back siphon and that can accidentally suck up all the water from the tank to the reservoir, which is the opposite of what we want to do with the system.
- Plug the device into the outlet. Make sure your hands are dry when plugging in the device. Also, make sure there is no water close to the outlet. It can be dangerous so it does not hurt to double check.
- Finally, fill up the freshwater reservoir and your auto top off system is ready to go.
Video set up an auto top off system for reef tank
An auto top off system is not an absolute accessory for your tank but it is such a convenient and useful one. With an auto top off system, you will almost never have to worry about your tank whenever you are away from the house for a long time anymore.
If you are looking to purchase an ATO system, make sure to do your research and answer for yourself all the questions I stated earlier in the ‘What is the best auto top off system?’ section. You can also read people’s reviews and comments about the products online to understand more about the product’s quality, strengths, and weaknesses. Make sure when you buy one, you are happy with your choice. And a good quality, functional ATO system will ease your mind and keep your fish and plants happy and healthy in their tank.