How Do Aquarium Dosing Pumps Work?


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Dosing pumps draw a measured amount of liquid into a dosing chamber, which is then released into the aquarium water using an electric motor (or an air actuator). Most dosing pumps also have a separate controller attached to manage the flow rate and control the power. 

The more experienced you become in the aquarium hobbyist world, the sooner you will start learning about dosing and why dosing pumps will become your best friend when it comes to keeping your aquarium healthy. 

Dosing pumps (also known as chemical metering pumps) are a perfect way to control water conditions inside your aquarium. Once set up, dosing pumps can easily control the alkalinity and calcium levels inside the aquarium water, both of which play a vital role in tank stability and to your aquatic organisms’ health. 

Manually Dosing Vs Dosing Pumps

Deciding to manually dose, or use a dosing pump, usually depends on how stocked your aquarium is. Aquariums that are heavily stocked, are likely to need to be replenished every day from trace elements and nutrient depletion.

Manually dosing your aquarium with additives still works in replenishing most vital elements and nutrients, however, if your tank demands are greater than daily supplementation, maybe it is time to consider investing in a dosing pump. 

How Do Dosing Pumps Work?

Dosing pumps slowly administer particular fluids over time, without having to manually dose your aquarium water. These fluids include liquid supplements, foods, and trace elements that are accurately measured and pumped into your aquarium via the dosing pump. 

Before setting up your dosing pump, it is essential to test the water quality with a reliable testing kit over a week to understand your tank residents’ consumption of compounds. This allows you to set accurate replenishment levels on your dosing pump. 

Peristaltic Aquarium Dosing Pumps

All aquarium dosing pumps use a peristaltic pump design. 

Peristaltic pumps (also known as roller pumps) are a type of positive displacement pump that is used in a variety of different industries. They are the most popular dosing pump in the aquatic industry, because of their accuracy. 

Peristaltic pumps consist of flexible tubing that runs through a roller wheel (sometimes called rollers or shoes) located in the pump head, which allows fluid to move upwards or downwards. As the roller moves, the flexible tubing is constricted, which increases the low-pressure volume. When this happens, a vacuum is created which pulls the liquid into the tube.  As the fluid travels through the pump head, packets of fluid are created. The size of the packets and the speed of the rollers that turn determine the flow rate. 

Once the liquid is in the pump, it is pushed through the tube by compressing it at different points where the rollers (or shoes) are.

Accurate meter readings of the media are achieved by controlling the size of the tubing and the speed of the pump head.  Flow rates from ~0.3 – 20 gallons per day are achieved by size adjustments, allowing you to easily control the amount of liquid you are dosing in your aquarium. 

At Atlas Scientific, our peristaltic pumps are perfect for precision dosing in aquariums. We have both a standard peristaltic pump and a large dosing pump. The larger dosing pump can move up to 7 times more fluid per minute than the standard pump, making it perfect for aquarium hobbyists with larger tanks.

Aquarium dosing pumps can operate in 5 different modes:

  1. Continuous dispensing: The pump is run continuously.
  2. Volume dispensing: A specific volume is pumped.
  3. Dose over time: A specific volume is pumped over a set time.
  4. Constant flow rate: A specific volume is pumped per minute.
  5. Dispense at startup: A specific volume is dispensed at the start.

Depending on what your aquarium requires, having the option of different operating modes, means you no longer have to worry about your fish and other aquatic organisms. 

How To Calibrate An Aquarium Dosing Pump?

You will also need to calibrate your dosing pump before use. Calibration is critical for accurate and consistent dosing. 

Calibration can be done at any volume, however, we recommend using volumes above 5ml. Remember that calibration should be done with water not a chemical, and you want to make sure the tubing is full of water and has no bubbles before calibrating. To remove any bubbles, run the pump while tapping the tubing.  If the air bubbles are not removed from the tubing, they will slowly group into larger air bubbles, which over time leads to accuracy issues.

  1. Instruct the pump to dispense 10ml into a graduated cylinder or beaker on a scale.
  2. Measure the amount of liquid that was actually dispensed.
  3. Inform the pump how much liquid was actually dispensed.
  4. Calibration is now complete.

Once the pump has been calibrated, it will accurately dispense any volume of liquid.


With the correct dosing pump, you won’t need to worry about your aquarium receiving the right amount of trace elements or nutrients needed to maintain a healthy aquatic environment! Dosing pumps slowly administer particular fluids over time, without having to manually dose your aquarium water, making that weekend vacation away from your fish tank, less stressful.

If you would like to learn more about other water quality measurements, characteristics, or what dosing pump will best suit your needs, do not hesitate to reach out to the world-class team at Atlas Scientific.

Peristaltic Pumps

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