Fail-safe auto fill or auto top off for outdoor pond.


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Hi all
I've read some of the other posts after coming home from vacation and finding most of my fish dead due to overfilling. I had a sprinkler control valve connected to a resistive sensor. The sensor collected some crud and was permanently in the ON state. Unfortunately the water bill will be spectacular. The heartbreak over the fish is also on par.
This is my second catastrophe. My first occurred about two years ago when I was using magnetic level sensor and during a storm it got knocked over with some leaves inside and it stayed on for a week. That water bill was astronomical.
Needless to say, I need a better solution.
I have no space for a proper auto-fill kit which "lives" outside the pond.
So I'm thinking of rigging a computer-controlled dual water level sensors unit with a water flow sensor such that if both water level sensors fail (in the "needs water" position) the flow sensor would measure the total amount of water and stop watering after a maximum amount of water has been used.
I've spent all day looking at you-tube videos where outdoor christmas-light controllers are used as well as dual water level sensors and dual sprinkler valves.
My question is: Has anyone here tried some computer-controlled solutions? Any hints?
Thanks!
 
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Jhn

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Many have timers on here, that there auto fill or water will only run for a set amount of time. Have auto top off on my reef tank but not on my ponds, still do the pond top off the old fashioned way toss in the garden hose then turn off once desired level is reached. Unless I could get my sensor out of the pond proper some way, ie in a pump vault, etc….wouldn’t trust it for the reasons you mentioned to easy to get plant debris stuck in it keeping it in the on position. Do know some here have very slow trickle/constant drip into their pond, as well.
 
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i use irrigation timers 2 of them ........... Both set for the same time both set the same duration. This way the water is always on but the timers shut the flow after so long. Now all they do is open a valve. so as one time turns on or opens it's valve the water flows past that valve but gets stopped by the second until it opens. This way there is a back up if one fails the second will shut down after the time allowed. an it does not cost a fortune for them . i also bout a very expensive water sensor that opens a valve inside the house by means of blue tooth but that has to be set in a pond that has a water level that drops as the water evaporates. mine does not the only place my water fluctuates is underground and the blue tooth won't work there.
 

brokensword

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i use irrigation timers 2 of them ........... Both set for the same time both set the same duration. This way the water is always on but the timers shut the flow after so long. Now all they do is open a valve. so as one time turns on or opens it's valve the water flows past that valve but gets stopped by the second until it opens. This way there is a back up if one fails the second will shut down after the time allowed. an it does not cost a fortune for them . i also bout a very expensive water sensor that opens a valve inside the house by means of blue tooth but that has to be set in a pond that has a water level that drops as the water evaporates. mine does not the only place my water fluctuates is underground and the blue tooth won't work there.
that's a very smart idea, GB; I think I may follow your example. I don't have any auto fill on now, but it's in place. For filling, I do use a timer but it's the egg-timer type; I turn it and it counts down, so it means I have to be around to be activated. I not typically away as long as you so don't have the same situation. And with the float valves, my bigger fear of the pond emptying by accident isn't realized.
 
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Yup - I'd go with a hose timer. Set it and forget it.

We just bought a wifi connected one, as one of my mechanical ones failed after about 6 years - do not recommend. I can't keep the hose end online for more than a few hours. The mechanical ones never failed me... until it did!
 
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Interesting bit about the timers. However, the only ones I've found so far have a 30-minute minimum interval. In 30 minutes I can overflow my pond if the water level sensor is stuck ON. Note: I'm talking about the electrical timers used for switching on outdoor chrismas lights. The ones where there are 48 little push pins which control on/off during a 24-hour period.
I also don't want to top off the pond all at once. I would like to top off as needed throughout the day.
Of course I could reduce the water flow...
Due to travel needs, I sometimes leave home for weeks at a time. It's impractical to have someone come over every day to top off the pod which is why I need the auto-filler option.
 
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brokensword

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Interesting bit about the timers. However, the only ones I've found so far have a 30-minute minimum interval. In 30 minutes I can overflow my pond if the water level sensor is stuck ON. Note: I'm talking about the electrical timers used for switching on outdoor chrismas lights. The ones where there are 48 little push pins which control on/off during a 24-hour period.
I also don't want to top off the pond all at once. I would like to top off as needed throughout the day.
Of course I could reduce the water flow...
Due to travel needs, I sometimes leave home for weeks at a time. It's impractical to have someone come over every day to top off the pod which is why I need the auto-filler option.
I'm assuming you've looked at sprinkler controls and valves; don't need to be home for those. Course, if you lose power and the unit doesn't have a battery backup...
 

addy1

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I have used just one irrigation valve for about 7 years now. I have it set to come on for x amount of time, which increases as the summer advances IE more water needed. Also can do a manual add if for some reason it drops low ie a plant caused leak.
 

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@pondDUCK
 
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I'd just use the auto hose timer and set it to run for X number of minutes per day. The ones I use can be programmed to run several programs a day. But honestly if you run it for a few minutes every day - however long it might take to top off the pond - you shoudl be fine.

How big is your pond? When you say your fish were dead due to overfilling, do you mean due to chlorine?
 
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@pondDUCK i had this same issue earlier this year when i built my pond. Every timer or valve switch i found came with tons of reviews saying they they fail pretty regularly. I know many members use them, but i didnt want to take that chance. My solution was a 50g rain barrel with the hose on a timer running to it. I then ran a small tube(the size of airline tubing, just more rigid) from the bottom of the barrel to the pond with a drip emitter on the end that regulated the flow. The thought is that the timer sends the water to the barrel which is away from the pond(about 15') and if the timer stops working and gets stuck in the on mode, the barrel will overflow and all the excess water wont be dumped into the pond. It works great. Now depending on your set up, it may not work as well. My rain barrel sits a few feet above the pond, plus i have it on about 1' of cider block as well. That gives it plenty of "natural pressure" to send the water down the tubing. Its a another possible solution that i wanted to share. Full disclosure though, i found my pond doesnt lose as much water as i thought it would, so i took the timer and drip emitter off after a few weeks and just manually turn it on to fill the barrel every few days. Without the emitter the barrel drains into the pond in about 18-24 hours and that has been enough to keep the pond regulated for me. But the above solution did work well.
 
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I don't understand how your fish died from overfilling. Chlorine?

If the water is treated with chlorine, you are taking a big risk using timers or electronics when you are not there to add a dechlorinator. I wouldn't chance it unless there were some sort of dependable, accurate automatic metering device that can add dechlorinator as needed.

Are you really away from your pond for that long that you can't keep an eye on the water level?
Does your pond regularly lose enough water that can risk the lives of the fish? If so, maybe you have a leak somewhere.

Could there be that much evaporation while you are away and not able to keep an eye on things?

I'm lucky since nature keeps my pond topped off. Some areas with not much rain can be a problem I guess.
 
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I just have a line of 1/4 inch tubing that goes into the pond whenever the sprinklers or drip system kick on. It's well water though so no worries about anything bad happening to the fish. I've adjusted the flow down a bit now that things aren't as hot, and will probably turn it off completely in winter to prevent freezing.
 
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I use a stock tank float valve, sits inside my skimmer and works great. I never have to worry about the water level as it always stays the same. Fortunately I am also on a well so no chlorine .
 
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