IV Style Drip System

While this type of drip system may not be an option for everyone, anyone that has access to the used saline (Sodium Chloride) IV bags used at clinics, hospitals, etc can take advantage of this simple system. Since the used bags are typically discarded when empty, most clinics are willing to let them go if someone asks for them.

I have found that this simple system works very well for drip acclimation when adding new livestock to your tank. This system also works well for adding Kalkwasser if you have a smaller tank as the IV bags only hold one liter (1000ml).

The Components There are several components required to complete the drip lines so when collecting the parts be sure and get all the pieces needed:
When you originally get the vinyl tubing and other parts they will not look exactly like this.  I cut the 1/4" tubing shorter and replaced the end with one of the twist connects from one of the other lines.  The system show above is the assembly I use for dripping Kalkwasser so I use the twist connect end to attach to the line connected to the tank.  For use with livestock drip acclimation the twist connect is not necessary you can insert the end of the vinyl tube directly into the livestock bag. iv_drip_system.jpg (35739 bytes)




Drip Chamber

(other photo)

Backflow valve



Filling the Bag
Filling the IV bag is actually easier than first thought.  What I use is a 60cc syringe which has an end on it that fits the end of a 1/4" vinyl tube perfectly.  

Cut a length of 1/4" vinyl tubing approximately 5' long.  This allow enough length to insert into the Kalk jug and reach from the counter to the floor without stress on the tube. I use a backflow valve in my fill line to help the siphon effect but it is not necessary.

Attach the syringe to the end of the tube similar to photo and that's it.

syringe_fill.jpg (22069 bytes)

To fill the bag, insert one end of the fill tube into your water source, this can be either a jug of Kalkwasser or salt water out of the tank.  You can us a small squeeze clamp, clip, clothes pin or other type of weak clamp to hold the line in place while filling.  Use the syringe to draw water out of the source and completely fill the tube.  Pull the tube off the end of the syringe and insert the end into the open stem on the IV bag.  Place the bag on the floor to start the siphon process.  In about five minutes or less the bag should be completely full. Lift the bag up so it is higher than you fill source and pull the fill line out of the bag while holding the bag stem at the top. (Hopefully you are over the sink as you will likely drip some water out of the tube).  Pull the line out of the fill source and let the line drain into the sink.


Kalkwasser Dripping Connection
For dowsing the tank with Kalkwasser I use the connection shown to the right.  I have inserted one end of the drip line into the intake opening in the nozzle of my MaxiJet power head.  What this accomplishes is introducing the drips of high PH Kalk (12 PH) into the direct flow of the powerhead and disperses the Kalk quickly into the tank.

For the other end of the line I have installed a shut-off valve which is also available as part of the IV accessories.  This valve has a quick connect fitting that can attach to the other end of the bag line shown above.  

When attaching the valve to the line I used clear silicone adhesive to seal the line.  (Be sure and use silicone obtained from the LFS and not construction silicone.  Construction silicone can contain Cyanide which can leach into the system water)  While gluing the line I turned the valve to the open position and inserted a toothpick through the valve and into the end of the line to make sure the silicone didn't block the tube.

kalk_connection.jpg (38670 bytes)


Kalkwasser Drip System
Shown to the right is the IV bag connected to the tank line shown above.  To hang the bag on the wall I found that picture hanger hooks work wonderful.

To make the connection insert the Spike into the bag while you are still by the sink (just in case).  Turn the thumbwheel to the off position which is the narrow end of the housing.  Carry the bag to the tank, hand on the wall and connect the one end to the valve on the tank line.

Once connected, turn the tank line valve to the "on" position (hopefully to have it turned off to prevent siphoning when disconnected).  Roll the thumbwheel up until the water starts dripping in the drip chamber.  When there is a consistent two drips per second, your done.

kalk_drip.jpg (21083 bytes)


Drip Acclimation System
When adding livestock to either the quarantine tank or the main tank, this system works very well. 

The method I use when adding livestock to a tank is to float the bag in the tank as soon as possible once you get them home.  While the bag is floating I take a pitcher of water from the tank the livestock is going into.  I use this water to fill the IV back using the method listed above.  Drop the line into the pitcher and use one of the small clamps to hold the line in the pitcher.

Open the bag and fold the top of the bag over the top of the tank.  Use one of the small clamps  to hold the bag in place (clothes pins don't work well). 

Attach another section of vinyl tube to the end of the IV bag line and insert the other end into the livestock bag.  Use the other small clamp to clip the end of the line so it doesn't sip out of the bag.

Start the drip process similar to listed above.  This should take about 1 1/2 hours to add one liter to the livestock bag.  When done, pull the line out, unclip the bag and add add the livestock.

acclimation_drip.jpg (11458 bytes)

Note:  When using this system for drip acclimation of live stock, use a different bag for the seawater, do not use the same bag that has had Kalkwasser in it.  Kalkwasser has a PH of about 12 and is caustic at this concentration.

Notes on livestock acclimation:
I have found that nearly all LFS (Local Fish Stores) that I have encountered keep their marine system water at about 1.018 to 1.0195 SG (Specific Gravity).  Most of us keeping reef tanks are keeping our systems closer to 1.025 SG.  That much difference in the SG can stress the fish pretty severely when adapting to the new system.  Fish and corals can adjust to a quick drop in SG of 1-2 points over an hour or two easier than a fast jump to a higher SG.  Higher levels can stress the respiration of the fish.  During the time the fish are still in the bag and acclimating with the IV drip I use the pitcher to dip water out of the tank and replace with pure RO.  For my tank, which is a 38 gallon I try and reduce the SG to about 1.0225 - 1.023 before introducing the new fish.  This obviously will not work if your adding the fish to a 180 gallon tank.  I strongly recommend that you do not add new fish directly to your show tank unless absolutely sure of the water and the fish you are adding.  This system mainly works when adding fish to a quarantine tank   A lower SG in the quarantine tank will help the respiration levels of the fish when introduced to the tank and reduce the stress on the fish.

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