HOW TO: DIY dosing system TUTORIAL – Reef, saltwater and planted aquariums

Get my guide book:
Follow me:

Hi everybody, joey here again and welcome back.
Today, I’m going to show you how to build a dosing system.

A dosing system allows you to dose trace elements, fertilizers, supplements and any other liquid to your aquarium.
It does so in small set amounts at set times of the day.
Many planted aquarium and reef owners dose their aquariums on a daily basis. Some rely on a dosing system to do it for them, while others manually dose daily.
Manually dosing does not offer a lot of consistency though. There are times you might miss a dose, or simply not be able to dose at the same time every day. This is where a dosing system comes in handy while offering consistency.
A dosing system consists of two main components:
A dosing container and a dosing pump
Both are typically sold separately. Purchased, this will run you are $200.
The one I will show you how to build will only cost you less than $30.

So let’s get started.
For the dosing container
You will need a small plastic container that has a sealable lid. Preferably spill proof and around 2 liters in size. This one, I paid $2.50 for. Size will depend entirely on what you want to use it for. You do not need anything fancy or expensive though. Even a simple water bottle will work. (If it has a flat bottom)
You will also need Airline ball valves: You need two of these. These are pretty common to find online with an aquarium supply store. They fit perfectly inside an airline hose and are barbed at the end so the line does not come off. They will cost you around $0.50 each.
Common airline hose will also be needed.
A small amount of silicone will also be used.
Start by drilling a hole as close to the bottom of the container as possible. The hole should be the same size as the airline hose.
Take a small piece of airline hose and attach it to one of the ball valves.
Insert the ball valve with the airline end, into the hole in the bottle. The ball valve slightly makes the airline wider than normal and this helps to create a seal on the bottle. The seal will prevent leaks and movement. The purpose of this valve will be discussed later.
Add a dab of silicone around the ball valve to help seal it.
This completes the dosing container.
Now we need a pump. I recommend using the “Tom Aquatics Aqua-Lifter Dosing Pump”. If you search it online, you will come to find it will average around $15. This is similar to an air pump, but instead of air, it can pump liquid. It pumps small amounts of liquid though, which is perfect for this project.
This pump is a must.
Connect the lift pump to the valve on the container. This valve should be connected to the suction input of the pump.
Connect a small piece of airline to the output of the pump. Then the second ball valve. Then more airline. This will serve as the return to your aquarium.
That’s it.


The king of DIY


What do you think?


Written by The king of DIY

Content AuthorYears Of Membership


  1. Hey, your video is great. I was advised my my aquarist to dose 4 different liquids. So should I be using 4 pumps like this or can I connect all pipes to one pump? Please suggest. All the liquids will be of same dosage for the aquarium.

  2. Why would restricting the flow going into a diaphragm pump ruin it? That does apply to centrifugal pumps but doesn't make any sense for diaphragm pumps.

  3. u could also try using a windshield washer motor for a car, cheaper than the TOM pump, you just need to get a 12 V adapter that can handle the current, or you could try lower voltage and see if the pump goes at the speed u want

  4. One small problem. Not all drops are the same size. So this isn't quite a 100% accurate way to dose. Although I'm sure the difference is negligible, it's worth mentioning.

  5. I'm having a problem with mine PLEASE HELP! the system will work for a few days then it won't pump anything at all. why is this happening? could it be because in the container, pumping out the liquid is creating a vacuum and not allowing the liquid to be pumped out?

  6. i was watching ryan at BRS do his DIY dosing container video and he basically did this but except added a air hole to prevent a siphon is the air hole needed or no? thanks!

  7. Hi Joey,
    was thinking that for a small tank you could use this set up with a larger bottle or bucket to perform auto water changes as you showed in the BRS challenge with the PVC overflow. Love your work by the way!

  8. what happens when you go from a drip to a pour? I suppose a new calculation is in order now. lol. and maybe a dosing bucket. what are the specs on that pump?

  9. is there a way to control this with the Apex Neptune system. I have the breakout box. I tried using the tom lift pump on my EB8 but it will not turn off even if I turn it off from the outlet. I have to unplug it and plug it back in for it to turn off. I like DOS but it is only 2 channels which sucks. I need at least 4. If I can do this with the Tom lift pumps like this video shows this would be perfect but the Tom wont turn off from my EB8. No matter what I do it stays on. Anybody got any ideas?



HOW TO: DIY Aquarium chiller TUTORIAL

HOW TO: $5 DIY aquarium alarm TUTORIAL