The IceCap Liquid Dosing Pump is a budget-friendly aquarium dosing pump that is easy to operate. But, can you rely on it for dosing your aquarium…
I used two of them for a year to dose 2-part solutions in my 24g mixed reef tank. Here are some of the pros and cons I have found with the IceCap Liquid Dosing Pump in that time:
- Can be daisy-chained. Each IceCap Liquid Dosing Pump is a single, stand alone pump and you can purchase either a master or a slave. Each master comes with a DC adapter to plug into a power outlet. Slave units cost about $5 less and come with a short power link cable for plugging into the master or slave next to it. You can link up to 3 slave units to each master. This allows great flexibility for keeping down the cost and space used. For example, I only needed two pumps: one for dosing the alkalinity component of the 2-part, and one for dosing the calcium component. If I ever wanted to dose something else in the future, such as magnesium, I could purchase another slave unit if needed.
- Easy to program. You don’t need a computer to program the pumps. There are six buttons next to the pump display: one to prime the pump, one to enter calibration mode, two to adjust the timing schedule, and two to set the dosage amount. Say you want to dose 20ml a day. Simply set it to 05 for the dose amount and 6H for the timing. The pump will then dispense 5ml of fluid every 6 hours for a total of 20ml every 24 hours.
- They seem quite reliable. Over the course of the year I never had a pump fail. After initially setting up and calibrating the pumps, I also never had to re-calibrate them (I checked them every 3 months or so but never had to make any calibration adjustments.).
- Limited flexibility in the dosing schedule. The way you schedule the dosing times is the set the pump to dispense every so many hours or days, either: 1H, 2H, 4H, 6H, 8H, 12H, 1D, 2D, 3D, 4D and so on up to 9D.
- Can only dose in whole milliliter amounts. The pumps only have a precision of 1ml.
In essence, the simplicity of the pump and the ease of programming it can be a bit of a double-edge sword at times.
Let’s say you are currently dosing a total of 16 ml/day by having the pump dispense 4ml every 6 hours. But now you have to raise that amount to 17 ml/day. Since 17 is not an even number and cannot be divided by a multiple of two, you will only have one option: to dispense the entire amount in one big dose each day.
If you are dosing something like alkalinity buffer this may cause problems, such as pH or alkalinity swings that upset sensitive SPS corals.
The inability to dose in 0.1 ml increments can cause similar problems if you have a smaller-sized aquarium. For example, while using the pumps to dose 2-part in my 24g, I often found either my Alk or Ca would continue to slowly rise or fall because I had to dose, say, either 19 ml or 20 ml instead of the 19.5 ml I need to stay in balance with what my corals were consuming.
Final Thoughts on the IceCap Liquid Dosing Pump:
The IceCap dosers are nice little pumps. And if I were running an aquarium 100g or larger with ordinary corals in it then I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to use these dosers.
For tanks that are under 100g … or that have sensitive or expensive SPS corals, a doser that has finer dispensing precision and more scheduling flexibility may be a better choice.
As for me…
I got tired of constantly fighting to keep the Alk and Ca (e.g. 2-part) in my small 24g tank in balance with my coral consumption due to the inability to make fine dosing adjustments. So I replaced my IceCap Liquid Dosing Pumps with a much pricier, high-end GHL 2.1 Doser that would allow me to dispense with a precision of 0.1 ml.