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Q: What are the components of an Automated Watering System for Small Animals?
A: The three main components are:
  1. Drinking Valve
  2. Distribution Piping
  3. Water Supply

Q: Which drinking valve should I choose, Original or Vari-Flo?
A: That depends on what species of animal you have and its size. The Vari-Flo Valve is smaller and is ideal for small animals like gerbils and hamsters because it is easier to activate. The Original Valve is slightly larger and appropriate for larger gnawing animals. We also have special drinking valves available for guinea pigs and parrots, and cup waterers for domestic fowl.

*Please refer to chart to determine which valve is best for your Small Animal.

Species
Original
Vari-Flo
Guinea Pig
Chinchilla
X

 

 

Ferret
X

 

 
Gerbil  
X
 
Guinea Pig  

 

X
Hamster  
X
 
Mouse  
X
 
Rabbit
X
   
Rat  
X
 
Sugar Glider  
X
 

Note: The drinking valves marked for each of the animals (except guinea pig) are the preferred valve choice, but it is possible to use either the Original or Vari-Flo valve.

Q: How do the drinking valves work?
A: To drink, animals simply move the stainless steel stem by biting or licking, releasing water. When the animal releases the end of the stem, the elasticity of the silicone rubber diaphragm located behind the stem head pushes the head back to the closed position, stopping the flow of water.

Q: What size of flex-tubing should I choose?
A: First determine the length of the cage rows. Flexible black tubing works well for cage rows up to 100 feet long. The 3/16" Flex-Tubing is designed for a cage run up to 50 feet long, and the 5/16" Flex-Tubing is designed for a cage run up to 100 feet long. The larger tube becomes necessary as the length of the cage rows increases to supply the proper amount of water pressure. All 5/16" systems also require 3/16" tubing for the short lengths extending down from the Tee Barbed Fitting to the drinking valve.
Important: When buying 3/16" or 5/16" Flex-Tubing, you must also buy the same size Fitting Barbed Tee, Tubing Stand-Off, Drain-Vent, and Shut-off Valve. For example, if you want 3/16" Flex-Tubing, then the items mentioned above must also be 3/16".

The Flex-Tube system is easy to assemble-the tubing is cut with a pair of scissors and pushed onto the Tee Barbed Fittings. The tubing may be susceptible to abuse from animals and birds; however, the Tubing Stand-Offs are designed to prevent this. Furthermore, abuse of the tubing is mainly associated with large birds. The rigid PVC pipe system is designed for cage rows up to 200 feet long. It can withstand abuse from the animal such as chewing, but may be more challenging for beginners to assemble. The pipe must be cut and glued together and must be measured exactly due to its inflexibility.

Q: What water supply should I choose?
A: You have three options to choose from:

  • The Storage Tank is ideal for a small setup, and is refilled every day manually. It is also easy to medicate animals/birds with the Storage Tank.
  • The Float Tank is connected to a water supply and automatically refills. This system is ideal for a slightly larger setup. Animals can be medicated by turning off the main water supply, and operating it as a storage tank.
  • The Pressure Regulator connects directly to a water supply resulting in no tanks to monitor and fill. However, if you need to medicate, the pressure regulator must be disconnected and a Storage Tank temporarily installed.

Q: Can I use my own storage tank?
A: Yes. If you wish to use a larger tank for the water reservoir, the Tank Connector can be attached to it. You will need to drill an 11/16" diameter hole in the side of the tank, approximately 3/4" above the bottom.

Q: What other pieces do I need?
A: To complete your system you will need:

  • Valve Clips: used to hook the drinking valve onto the cage.
  • Tee Barbed Fittings: they connect the Flex-Tubing that runs horizontally along the row of cages, and also connect the short length to the drinking valve.
  • Tubing Stand-Offs: they keep the Flex-Tubing at a safe distance from the cage.
  • Drain-Vent: used at the end of each line to permit easy flushing of the line for sanitization.
Q: How many valves should I supply for a certain number of animals?
A: Typically, you should supply one valve per cage. If keeping many animals in a single pen, you may need more.

Q: Do I need a Filter?
A: It is recommended because it keeps the water clean and keeps the water supply equipment in good condition. It can be used with either a pressure regulator or a float tank.

Q: Should I buy one Tubing Stand-Off per cage?
A: Install one Stand-Off at each tee connector and one every 18 for additional support. Do not space Stand-Offs further than 18" apart.

Q: Do I need a Shut-Off Valve?
A: It is recommended because it allows you to turn off the water supply for an individual line if not in use. Remember to drain any lines that will not be in use for long periods of time.

Q: What is the maximum number of drinking valves I can use with the different water supply systems?
A: The maximum number for a gravity supply tank is 75 drinking valves, and 600 drinking valves for a pressure regulator.

Q: How do animals learn to drink from the drinking valve?
A: Animals can sense water and will learn how to drink from the valve quickly by playing with it. If your animal seems to have difficulty, remove all other water sources, and activate the valve allowing a drop of water to hang from the valve. The animal will discover this and quickly learn that the valve is the source for fresh, clean water.

Q: How do I put my watering sytem together?
A: Installation is easy. Check out our installation overview.