Being eco-friendly with the hobby: Is it a brilliant, dumb or just a goss idea?

Discussion in 'More Freshwater Aquarium Topics' started by immoya, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. immoyaNew MemberMember

    Dear fishloreans,
    This is an idea I have had for a long long time on how to save water, while, at the same time, keep giving quality care to my little friends. I know that this would imply a lot of DIY (and therefore this thread may need to be relocated to another part of the forum), but the purpose of this thread is just to hear other people’s opinions about the idea and not really about the actual “how to do it”(of course some ideas here and there without really getting deep into details would be fun to hear).
    What do you think, on the one hand, of having the fish in you favorite fish tank enjoying the benefit of almost constant supply of fresh water due to several daily water changes?, while, on the other hand, you enjoying your fish and hobby without the burn of doing the water changes yourself?, and, on top of that, stop wasting a huge amount of water per week due to routine maintenance of your tank? Isn’t it the ideal situation? Like this, which is probably a dream situation for a lot of us, not only that we will ensure the health of our fish (by reducing nitrate levels, secreted hormones, providing dissolved minerals, etc), but also we would make this hobby more eco friendly in terms of amount of wasted fresh water that ends up (polluted) in the sewer system.
    OK, so the idea would be like this: What if one could (hypothetically) make a kind of circuit that links a water reservoir (aged, chlorine/chloramine-free water) to your fish tank (preferentially big one) and finally to the toilet tank. The idea would be that every time that people flushes the water from the toilet, the toilet tank is refilled automatically with water from coming from the fish thank, and in turn, the fish tank gets this very same volume of water replaced with water that comes from the aged water reservoir, and the water reservoir gets the same volume refilled with tap water. If this toilet in discussion is used very conservatively, say 3 times a day, and, if modern toilets flush 1.6 gallons (older models can use up to 7 gallons) per flush, this means that we are able to do at least (with modern toilets) daily water changes of 4.8 gallons and weekly water changes of 33.6 gallons. Of course, the more frequently the toilet is used and/or the older and bigger the toilet tank is, the more water you replace in your aquarium. So, in each case it will be different and will need to be considered in relationship with the fish tank volume to not excesive amounts of water for some "small fish tanks. The aged/chlorine-free water reservoir should probably have an air stone and a heater (if required) running 24/7 plus a dosing pump that dispenses water conditioner each time that new tap water comes into the system. Obviously, the bottom/gravel should still be vacuum-cleaned, but wouldn’t it be great to safe this amount of water that any way is going to be flushed by the toiled and now use it I a way that will improve our fish health and reduce water waste as a consequence of frequent water changes?
    Unfortunately, for the time being I am living abroad and renting, so I won’t be able to do the modifications my apartment would require to implement this system.
    In any case, this is the only idea I could come up with to optimize/combine the use of water that we are using any way during our daily live with the necessities of our fish and hobby. Any other ideas/comments are welcome :)

  2. cichlidmanWell Known MemberMember

    I used my old water to water house plants and/or garden plants

  3. JustKeepSwimmingWell Known MemberMember

    It'd be difficult to rig up safely (for the fish) and would make your toilet stink.

  4. BumblebatWell Known MemberMember

    Or own a powerful filter system you could put old tank water in to reuse a good portion of it.
  5. JustKeepSwimmingWell Known MemberMember

    True. But I think the best re-use of it is plant watering. It's GREAT for plants. Especially if you grow your own food.
  6. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    Sounds fine in theory, but when you start trying to put it into practice, it becomes hard to implement, not mention very expensive!

    Too, water is only wasted if it is not used efficiently/effectively. I pour my old FW tank water on the plants, it actually saves water because I don't need the tap to water them. If I was to flush it down the toilet, then I'd have to take even more water from the tap.

    If I'm honest, I probably waste more water standing in the shower a minute longer than I need to, than what I use keeping my pets healthy.
  7. BumblebatWell Known MemberMember

    I use tank water for my plants, but not everyone has plants.
  8. p3t3rValued MemberMember

    I have been pondering a similar idea for quite a few years. I am lucky that I have a constant supply of clean spring water, which you would think would make it an easier task. But riging up a system where the supply of water is only pumped into the fish tank when it has reached an apropriate temp(pump rigged to thermostat) is not as easy as it should be.
    The onward chain is not as difficult if you want to use the disgarded water for watering plants, using something as simple as an overflow system into whatever recepticle you want and storing it until you need it. Using it for flushing a toilet is again an idea I've thought long and hard about, and unless you collected the discarded water and pumped it up to a water tank that is higher than the toilet cistern and would work alongside your normal plumbing setup you may end up having to cross your legs for a while.
  9. ryanrModeratorModerator Member

    You may also want to google "plumbed auto top off systems" Some SW Reefers use these types of systems for their tanks, and it sounds similar to your concept.
  10. p3t3rValued MemberMember

    Just Googled it and looked at Melevsreef. I had thought of using a an electrical float switch and pump linked to a header tank(with heater). All you would need the other end of the fish tank would be another pump linked to a timer switch, to pump out water once or twice a day. You would have to calculate how long the pump needs to be on depending on power of pump and the percentage of water you want to replace.
    Anyone know, what a safe amount of water to change per day is, or would the fish get used to having a complete change per day(providing water is at right temp and levels).
  11. immoyaNew MemberMember

    HI, thanks for your comment. Why do you think it would be difficult to do it in a safe way? What are the possible problems you anticipate?
    Regarding smell of the toilet... I am not sure, I guess it would depend on each case and on how long this water is kept there in toilet until the following flush. In my case, despite that I have goldfish and they are big waste producers, the water of my tank is completely smell free. Would one could put some activated carbon in the toilet tank to keep smells down?

    I also think that tank water is great for plants, but in my case I live in an apartment with no garden, so basically after a couple of litters of water from my fish tank, all my potted plants are soaked wet. And even if I would have a garden, here in Belgium rains all the time, so the think that you want to do the least is to water your garden :)

    THanks for your comment. In my case, as I don't really have enough plants or a garden to really use more than a few litters of aquarium water in my potted plants, I am pretty much forced to flush almost all of it. However, I first try to use that water to do water changes in my outdoors Daphnia, amphipods and tubifex cultures. Yet, due to time constrains (and because they dont really need it), I dont do it every week.
    Eventually, once that I am living in my own home, I would really like to do optimal use of as many resources as possible. FOr instance, my algae scrubbers produce weekly a huge amount of algae, that can be perfectly used for compost, or who knows what.
    Kind of have a ione way integrated systems, so that the water can be redirected to the next lower system regularly and efficiently (let say, Fish tank, life food culture tanks, garden, or if not, at least try the idea of the toilet in one way or another).

    I am glad, I am not the only one thinking about this type of ideas : )
    Yes, I know it is a complicated set up, but I would really like to integrate (some how) a system of this sort in the future.
    In my case, my biggest tank is a goldfish tank, so the water temperature (as long as the reservoir tank is kept inside too) wont represent a big problem.
    I am not sure I understood why do you need to have an additional tank higher than the toilet cistern to collect the aquarium water. Why wouldn't if be fine to pump the water directly form the aquarium to the toilet cistern? I am very basic regarding to DIY skills
    thanks for the comment

    Yes, I think that the system would be very similar to it. I will check for more details
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2013
  12. p3t3rValued MemberMember

    The reason for the tank above, to feed the cistern, would be as not to end up pumping water into the cister that has already been filled by the plumbing system, as the aditional water would just end up pouring out through the overflow.
    The pipe feeding the cistern from the tank above would then need a torvec valve(smaller modern version of a ballcock valve).
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2013
  13. Orion5Well Known MemberMember

    I think this is a great idea. THere are of course practical considerations such as size of the tank in question , and what one does once they don't want to keep an aquarium any longer (hey, it happens! :) ) There may be a simpler way to do this by using a storage tank connected to the toilet where old aquarium goes after a water change, and it could be used that way instead of having to rig up a system that automatically does it with each flush.

    You shoud look up similar systems that do this with shower water. They exist.

    The toilet shouldn't stink too much because technically, at least with shower water reuse systems, the water is gently filtered beforehand.

    As for using water efficiently, no matter how much we aquarists are using water responsibly the fact remains that our hobby, by its nature, is pretty much a waste of precious drinking water in its entirety. I know this is going to cause a flurry of off-topic remarks, but it remains true.

    Good luck, and keep us posted! :)
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  14. CreekwalkerValued MemberMember

    Seems to be that this could be done fairly easily.


    You would need a float switch that opens/closes an electrical circuit mounted in you toilet's reservoir. That circuit would then send power to two identical pumps, one in your fish tank supply water to toilet, and one in your tank supplying water to your fish tank. You would want both runs from the pumps to be the same distance so that a very similar amount of water gets pumped from both.

    Is their a reason you are not using rainwater for your fish tank currently?
    Hopefully no pets would drink from said toilet.
    I think the toilet reservoir would get disgusting over time.
    I think the real "savings" in an idea like this is not drinking water but time spent doing water changes.
  15. immoyaNew MemberMember

    Great!!! thanks for the advise : )
  16. Scott HValued MemberMember

    This is a very thought provoking thread! I'm sure it could be done, just while i read the thread i did a couple sketches using multiple reservoir's and house hold pressure pumps and i think i could make a stable system that would work. Plus i like the idea of having a random current in the tank, i think it would more closely simulate a real world environment. as for using the water for plants, that's perfectly valid for those that have them but i only have two, a cactus and a bonzi.

    I also like the idea of having guests over to see my tank then excusing myself to use the bathroom and the water level in the tank drops when i flush the toilet... :;smack
  17. immoyaNew MemberMember

    Yes that would actually be awesome!!! Let us know your progress if you are planning to do something like this.

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