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Sump Builders - Need your input

Quagulator

Active Member
Founding Member
Nov 1, 2022
128
326
London, Ontario
Quick tank breakdown:

120 gallon display tank, 40 gallon breeder sump. looking to use an overflow + pump rated for 1200 gallons per hour.

I really want the main focus of the sump to be on mechanical filtration that I can easily remove / replace / clean.

No refugium, no fancy fluidized media etc. etc. think of it as a glorified canister filter.

I'll attach a picture I came up with. My thinking here is:

1) If anything gets plugged up within the water path, there is a clear path from overflow to return pump.

2) If return pump shuts off, there is plenty of room to cover excess water from the tank before the overflow stops.

3) If overflow stops, and the pump runs dry, the chamber with the heaters will not empty out - keeping the heaters submerged.

4) Plenty of room in the return section for CO2 reactor inlets / outputs, auto dosing, evaporation (eventually I will get an auto top-off).

5) Easy access to all mechanical media for simplistic maintenance.

xhmP0Mr.png



What tips, tricks, or changes are out there?
I know there is a singular water level, with no bubble traps, is this "fine"?

I am in no rush here, going to take my time.
 
Hi -

So I setup an experimental planted tank in the past to try out some of my theories. It had a sump for many reasons. I've also set up several saltwater aquariums that also used a sump so I have some experience.

Here's my planted tank with sump.

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This was set up in my workout room so my wife didn't have to look at things when they got, let's say, "ugly". The overall concept was to try to get as close as possible to ULM (ultra-low maintenance).

My first question to you is how are you planning on running water down into the sump from the aquarium? Probably the most important point of potential failure.

Here is mine with the view of staying away from the U tube siphon:

IMG_2497.jpg
 
View attachment 365


My first question to you is how are you planning on running water down into the sump from the aquarium? Probably the most important point of potential failure.

Here is mine with the view of staying away from the U tube siphon:

So looking at your photo's, it seems my concept is roughly the same idea as yours, with a single water level, water moves left to right, over and under each baffle. CO2 reactor stemming from the return section.

For the overflow, I was going to use a hang on, Siphon U-tube style. My old man has one on his live rock with fish tank - it has never failed on him and his maintenance schedule is... virtually non-existent. The tank I have cannot be drilled. Of course I would ensure the water that could possibly be pumped from the sump + RO reservoir (if I incorporate an auto top-off) could not overflow the tank if the siphon were to break.
 
If you're stuck with a U tube siphon, you need to install a float switch that controls your return pump. That will turn it off on siphon break. Something to alert you would be nice also.

I know many people have U tube's running forever without a problem. However, I always plan to be the one that experiences the siphon break on a power outage or something. Others, like @plantbrain, I believe had a dedicated pump on the siphon that sucked out the air bubble and restarted the siphon.
 
If you're stuck with a U tube siphon, you need to install a float switch that controls your return pump. That will turn it off on siphon break. Something to alert you would be nice also.

I know many people have U tube's running forever without a problem. However, I always plan to be the one that experiences the siphon break on a power outage or something. Others, like @plantbrain, I believe had a dedicated pump on the siphon that sucked out the air bubble and restarted the siphon.

That's a good idea on the float valve switch for turning the pump off it it breaks. I was planning on having some sort of alert system in place as well.

I know what you're talking about with the pump inside the siphon if it were to break - Tom's aquatics aqualifter was a popular choice but they are hard to find these days I think and from what I've read they seem to quit on people often.

Maybe it's time for me to look around for another small pump that could work.
 
What if the return pump stopped working, won't this cause the water volume coming out of the tank to exceed the sump volume, or the outflow inlet is on a level in the tank which makes the maximum coming out of the tank equals the total volume of the sump ?

The idea for keeping the first chamber always filled with water is excellent
 
What if the return pump stopped working, won't this cause the water volume coming out of the tank to exceed the sump volume, or the outflow inlet is on a level in the tank which makes the maximum coming out of the tank equals the total volume of the sump ?

The idea for keeping the first chamber always filled with water is excellent

Overflow inlet will be at a level in which it cannot exceed the sump volume if the return were to stop working.
 
Okay... Fluval FX6 or DIY 40B sump?

Opinions?
Well, I know what I would recommend :)
Been using a Fluval FX4 for my 75g tank for awhile now. Wish I had enough vertical space in the cabinet for a FX6 as I really like the FX6 pump design over the FX4 pump design - oh well. In my case, I have a drain stand pipe in the cabinet, next to the FX4 so draining the filter for maintenance is really easy give the lower drain on the filter (now I don't have to wrestle around a filter full of water).

As for a sump - one of the better "Freshwater" designs I have seen involved various blocks of Poret foam. You could look thru the glass sides of the sump and tell exactly which of the 8 blocks of foam was getting clogged up (backup of water level at that block of foam). So, for filter maintenance, all you had to do was pull the dirty block out; leaving the rest of the blocks in place. Neat design, just wish I could find the youtube video to show you.

With both of the above stated, I would probably go with a sump if I were starting over. But, I am really please with the Fluval FX line. Best I can offer.
 
For my setup I didnt want to drill my beautiful huge cube so went with an Eshopps PF 120 Hang on Back Overflow. It works but I find I have to clean the intake strainer daily from plants, leafs snails or it impedes flow. It goes down through gate vales into 2x 5 micron filter socks. These socks HAVE TO BE CLEANED minimum of every 2 weeks or the sump pump starts running dry. Bought an Aqueon 20 gallon tank and a Fiji Cube sump kit. Works perfectly. Pump is a Jeboa DCP 9000. Currently it contains: chamber one 1x bag charcoal, 1x bag fired clay media. Chamber 2 5 or more shower scrubbie things. Chamber 3 medium and course filter foam. Last chamber that contains the pump is completely full of lava rock.

These are older pics. Guess I should take new ones haha.

IMG_20210101_172527.jpg

IMG_20210823_170320.jpg

IMG_20210823_170411.jpg
 
What tips, tricks, or changes are out there?
I know there is a singular water level, with no bubble traps, is this "fine"?

I am in no rush here, going to take my time.
I have a 120 display with a 29g homemade sump. I had essentially all the goals as you. some notes:
* tank was factory drilled for 3x 1" bulkheads and set up with the internal center overflow
* I run the 1900GPH current usa eFlux at about 65%
* Primary drain runs into the sock-adjacent compartment, outlet is submerged a couple inches, leading to a completely silent continuous siphon on the main drain.
* ATO level sensor and output operates in the return chamber, source from the 5g bucket you see
* back up drain runs into my bio media/heater chamber due to ease of plumbing that route
* if you use a 29g you'll have 2 more inches of headroom which permits the use of longer socks (i'm using 14"x4"). my socks do 95% of my filtration, I personally find sponges totally unnecessary
* use the thick cottony filter socks. the mesh ones will last longer, for years, but they when they catch big stuff it quickly breaks down in heavy flow and then smaller bits just come right through. I change them often and wash 6 at a time in the washing machine, turned inside out. They can be reused maybe 20-30 times in this way before they start to fray too much
* I also have a small disposable dense floss polish pad, between the heater+bio media chamber and the CO2 injection chamber
* I have a single water level until the return chanber and no bubble traps. all fine in my experience
* you'll note that my silicone skills are lacking, the great news is it still runs great more than a year later, regardless

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Out of curiosity, why the siphon overflow and not drilling the tank? Sorry if I missed that somewhere in the thread.

I have a 40B drilled with a bean animal overflow and a 20 gallon tall sump. I have two, 2” thick blocks of Poret foam that act as my baffles. One is 10PPI and the the other is 20PPI. Water comes down the overflow, goes through the 10PPI and flows through several bags of lava rock. It then flows through the 20PPI into the return pump area. Here I have my heater and cerges reactor.

In consideration of how effective our aquascapes are at scavenging the water column, I think having too much bio media is actually a detractor. Let the plants take up that NH4 before it becomes NO3. As you’ve indicated, you’d prefer mostly mechanical filtration, and I truly believe that’s really all that’s needed. I have my lava rock in there as a back up and it’s useful if I need to seed another tank, but in no way do I believe it needs to be in there with the Poret foam baffles more than likely holding the bulk of BB in my sump. The only downside to this setup is that the water level drops uniformly throughout the hole sump and not just one chamber so I have to keep an eye on that and refill when necessary. But in terms of simplicity and ease of maintenance, you just can’t beat it.
 
Out of curiosity, why the siphon overflow and not drilling the tank? Sorry if I missed that somewhere in the thread.

I have a 40B drilled with a bean animal overflow and a 20 gallon tall sump. I have two, 2” thick blocks of Poret foam that act as my baffles. One is 10PPI and the the other is 20PPI. Water comes down the overflow, goes through the 10PPI and flows through several bags of lava rock. It then flows through the 20PPI into the return pump area. Here I have my heater and cerges reactor.

In consideration of how effective our aquascapes are at scavenging the water column, I think having too much bio media is actually a detractor. Let the plants take up that NH4 before it becomes NO3. As you’ve indicated, you’d prefer mostly mechanical filtration, and I truly believe that’s really all that’s needed. I have my lava rock in there as a back up and it’s useful if I need to seed another tank, but in no way do I believe it needs to be in there with the Poret foam baffles more than likely holding the bulk of BB in my sump. The only downside to this setup is that the water level drops uniformly throughout the hole sump and not just one chamber so I have to keep an eye on that and refill when necessary. But in terms of simplicity and ease of maintenance, you just can’t beat it.
Given sponge bio filtration ability why do you use lava rock ?
 
Out of curiosity, why the siphon overflow and not drilling the tank? Sorry if I missed that somewhere in the thread.

First reason is the sump was housing the fish, so I would have to drill the tank, set up a temporary housing tank, build the sump, test it, and then move the fish over.

Second reason is the tank is made from tempered glass so drilling is impossible.

Third reason was buying a pre-drilled tank was just outrageous in price, and this size tank was already down to only 1 supplier in my country, so the chances of finding one drilled was very low.

Fourth reason would be my dad's FOWLR tank is using the hang on overflow style with great success.

Fifth reason would be my ability to build the sump in a way that allows for ample room for tankwater should the return fail, and ample space in the tank should the overflows stop. Plus I will be using a water alarm that connects to my Wifi, and will shut the return off should it sense water.

Sixth reason would be the ability to use this tank 10 years down the line for something else, and not be limited by having it permanently drilled.

Seventh reason would be the way this tank is built - meaning for a clean, symmetrical look of equipment in the tank I need to have 2 overflows, not 1, so if one were to fail, I have a second that can pick up the slack (not entirely, but this would mean less water on my floor).

With all these reasons, I have accepted the risk of using hang on overflows, and have made the decision that I am willing to take these risks - I have the glass and silicone now, so I should start building it this week.
 
The biggest concern is breaking the siphon and your display tank overflowing until the pump in the sump runs dry. A drilled tank the only concern is a clog but if set up properly, it’s a very rare occurrence. There risk for both options, drilled being the least risk.
I see, thanks. I’m beginning to inderstand how sumps work.
 
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