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FAQs About Sump/Filters Design/Engineering 3

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- Sump Design Questions - Good afternoon! I have been trying to get this email to go through for approx 3 weeks with no luck. I can send you text with no problems, but don't seem to be able to get the attachments to go. Thought I'd try again. <Made it through this time.> Anyhow, I know you must get tired of looking at peoples drawings, and I have been all over your site but haven't seen one quite like I am planning. Have a minute for a quick critique?  <Of course.> The main questions I have : 1) Will the refugium work as drawn?  <Yes, I think so, although I would make a couple of changes - I'd reduce the height of the baffles/weirs on the left side of the sump so that when the sump is full, it doesn't flow back into the refugium. Rather, make the baffle on the refugium the highest one so that it can exist as a singular entity in this shared space.> 2) Are 2 pumps needed or am I "over killing"?  <Two pumps are actually wise, and very few people do this - if one fails, you won't be stuck trying to find a replacement while your tank goes idle.> 3) Do you think this setup is going to be loud? (Keep in mind the sump is in the basement and the tank is on the first floor)  <Not necessarily... certainly not more loud than any other sump.> 4) Is the sump portion going to be able to handle the water turnover?  <I think so... if this is in the basement though, why not double all the dimensions?> 5) Should I scrap the idea and try to put a separate fuge in and use the entire 55 for sump?  <Nah... I like the idea, but again I'd try and encourage you to build this in a custom size to get better performance from it.> Thank you so much for your time and willingness to share your experience(s). You have the patience of a Saint! Tom (The <Cheers, J -- > 

Re: Product plug I put the incorrect dimensions in my email the refugium is actually 24"Lx12"Wx14"H.  If you can correct this typo before posting, I would really appreciate it.  Below is the entire email with correct dimensions plus your comments.  Thank you. <Real good. BobF> Product plug Hi Bob! I don't want to violate proper Wet Web Media protocol so I felt it best to ask first.  Is it okay to put in a plug for a product on the forum? <Certainly. Please do.> I recently purchased a refugium kit on EBay.  This is a 24"Lx12"Wx14"H kit that comes with the pre-cut pieces of 1/4 Plexiglas, bulkheads, baffles, glue, and instructions.  I just finished mine and it is awesome at a fraction of the price of a pre-made refugium.  I only paid $89.00 for this kit from the vendor's eBay store, http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZusa_aquariumQQhtZ-1 . I feel that others out there may want or need a refugium but the price of a pre-made one is too restrictive.  I know it was for me.  Also, the owner Bill Heil, quickly responds to emails regarding his products and is very helpful and friendly. I ask permission because I love your website and so not want to be banned for making a forum mistake. <Heeee! We have never banned anyone... nor ever will> Thanks as always, Mike Henry <Thank you for this. Will post. Bob Fenner> Jumping Into A Sump! I have a 75 Gal saltwater tank. I have had very few problems with it over the years. Partly because it is well established (original water was started 19 years ago) and partly because I have a number of filters on it, including a Fluval 403 (Canister), Emperor (Dual Trickle), Undergravel (I know it's outdated technology), a wavemaker (sponge powerhead) and a Skilter. <Hey, the undergravel works...can't argue with success! You sure have lots of different systems on board this aquarium!> My Skilter after many years of faithful service has died. I am looking for an upgrade, but want to be cost effective ($100 - $200 USD range) and prefer a hang on type, since my stand has the Fluval and lots of storage stuff and has no room. It should be built well and easy to set up and use. What 2 models would you recommend and why? What is the best value, in your opinion? <Hands down, I'd suggest the Aqua C Remora Pro and the CPR Bak Pak. My rationale is simple: Both are well made, proven designs that are easy to understand, easy to service, and are very efficient.> Second question is...am I better off eliminating all those filters above and going with a trickle sump style filtration system? <In my personal opinion, yes. I am a big proponent of sumps (particularly without bioballs or other filter media). Biological filtration is definitely the way to go; you won't regret the simplicity and flexibility that sump-based systems offer. Mechanical filtration systems are good, but if service intervals are neglected, you'll end up with organics accumulating in the media, degrading water quality over time.> If so, what 2 models do you recommend and why using the same criteria, easy to set up and use, built well and the best bang for the buck? I don't want the most expensive, nor the cheapest, if it is junk. I am looking for your expert advice on the "Best Value" for both the Protein skimmer and the sump filtration system. <Well, with regard to sumps- there are some designs that are better than others- many can even be made by the hobbyist with glass or acrylic aquarium, some spare acrylic, and a little bit of effort. If you prefer, you can certainly purchase on pre-made, either "off the shelf", or custom built to your specs.  Try some of the larger e-tailers, such as Dr. Fosters and Smith, Premium Aquatics, Champion, etc. to see what they offer. If you want something custom, search the web for places like SoCal Creations, which can build custom acrylic sumps to fit your needs. Lots and lots of choices out there. Also, check out the brilliant Australian DIY site, ozreef.org for lots of DIY plans and information on sumps.> Do you have a recommendation for a mail order place that has great prices and good service? <Any of the above will do fine, IMO!> Please email your reply to my work email address so that I get it right away and can order one in the next day or two. Thanks for your help and expert advice. <Glad to be of service! Regards, Scott F.> 

Marine Setup, sump diagrams, instructions... 9/5/05 Hi, I am just about to replace my current tank and have decided to buy a drilled tank with a weir. I am trying to understand about setting up a sump system and wondered if you could point me in the direction of a good book with maybe a few clear diagrams. <Mmm, wish I could... the site (WWM) has about the most complete set of ideas, methods... but is not well-organized. Ozreef.org has a good deal of useful DIY input here... and Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" is worthwhile as well...> Also can you suggest any good out of the box sump systems for a 150 gallon tank. <Don't actually know of any I would endorse... better to build your own, really... out of individual "components"... e.g. quality skimmer... that won't come in a packaged deal> Any help would be much appreciated Kind Regards Darren Adams <Do keep studying, keeping good notes... not hard to filter, synthesize down what is better, best for such set-ups... just not easily straight-forward... Perhaps involvement in a reef/marine club, enlisting the help of a "guru" there will be of use. Bob Fenner>

Looking for large (enough) sump for a EuroReef skimmer  11/14/05 Hi, I have a problem with my fish tank. I currently have a 215 gallon tank, I bought AquaC-180 skimmer and I was very dissatisfied with it, anyway I already tried everything even spoke to the owner of AquaC. But that's not my question, I traded it in for a EuroReef skimmer, and now the footprint is way too big for my sump, <...> much larger than AquaC. I have an Aqua-line 300 gallon sump. The space for filter media is large, but the sump space is not enough. Could you please suggest a brand of wet/dry filters commonly used for EUROREEF skimmers. <I would write them re... or contact the suppliers of such re dimensions...>> I read about a lot of people building their own sumps, but I don't have time or experience to do that. I'm sure there something out there I can buy. I would really appreciate you time to answer my question. Thanks. <We don't possess this information. Bob Fenner> 

Sump Re-Design Project 11/4/05 Hi, <Hey there! Scott F. at your service today!> I would like to convert my wet/dry into deep sand bed under my cabinet. I have measured about 4 inches from the bottom egg crate where the Bioballs used to sit to the bottom of my sump. Can I add the sand there? <You could, provided that it's easy to access for maintenance (often overlooked in sump designs, BTW), and that the sand won't be distributed all over the compartment, potentially damaging your pump.> I currently have 2 overflow boxes that flow into the drip plate. Does this drip plate have to be removed? <It doesn't have to, but I probably would. On the other hand, if you are ultra-dedicated to maintenance, you could leave it in place and use some sort of prefilter pad on the plate. Remember, however, you need to change it or clean it several times a week, or it will become a source of excess nutrients and affect water quality.> I have no bioballs and no prefilter in the wet/dry. My other question was how do I separate the sand and the pump chamber where my skimmer and return pump reside? Currently the only barrier between the 2 chambers is a foam block. Can you can guide me towards what modifications have to be made? <Ahh.. That's the issue I mentioned. Glad you're considering this. You have two potential things that you can do. You could create a baffle out of a piece of acrylic, glued into place. Or, you could use one of those "tank divider" plates, positioned in that area. Do a little experimentation here. I'm not a big fan of those foam blocks, but they can be effective particulate and even biological, filters if kept clean. Look at some commercially-made sumps and see how they position baffles and make compartments in their sumps for some more inspiration.> The point to all this is to reduce my nitrates down from less than 20 ppm. for my reef tank. <An admirable goal.> My current residents are 1 Torch Coral,1 Hammer Coral,1 anemone, 2 Blue Damsels,1 Freckled Hawkfish,2 Cleaner Shrimp,1 Coral Banded Shrimp and 1 Protoreastor nodosus with approx. 150 lbs. of live rock in my 125. Thanks in advance. You guys are great! < Thanks for the kind words! Sounds like a neat population you have there! If knocking nitrates is a goal, do also consider growing some "purposeful" macroalgae, like Chaetomorpha, in the sump, where it can be harvested regularly to assist in nutrient export. Also, do employ (passively) some chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon or Poly Filter, as these media are also a valuable source of nutrient control. Make sure that your skimmer is working optimally, too. Good luck with your project! I'm sure things will work out well for you! Regards, Scott F.>

Dump The Sump? (System Design) Hi guys <Hi there! Scott F. your guy today!> Been browsing the site. Loads of great information, the only problem with that is I can't figure out what's best for me!! <I can certainly relate to that predicament!> I'm setting up a 7 foot reef tank and don't particularly like the idea of a sump. I have these recurring nightmares of a pump failing and it all going horribly wrong! <I used to have those nightmares, too- but a properly sized sump/pump/overflow will be able to handle the "drain down" from your display with room to spare, even in a total power failure (generally the only time you have to worry about this type of problem)...All part of the design phase. Do consult a professional in your area if you have concerns about doing it yourself> The tank will be placed in a space 9 foot wide so there is a couple of foot of space to play with to the side of the tank. Would it be possible to house the skimmer and other equipment free standing at the side without any problems? <Sure. Lots of hobbyists do that. However, in my opinion, well-designed sump gives you the flexibility to both hide unattractive elements of the system (such as the skimmer, heaters, etc.), and lets you accomplish lots of filtration processes (biological, chemical, etc.) and diversity enhancements (like cultivating macroalgae and copepods) in a dedicated area.> Is there a skimmer you would recommend? <I am a big fan of Euroreef, Aqua C, and- in Europe- Deltec.> I have also seen somewhere like a secondary tank that is to the side of the main aquarium that houses the heater, filter material etc. - would this work and how? <If it looks like a sump, acts like a sump, than it's a sump! Call it what you want- but that's what you're talking about. It's just that you are locating it besides the tank rather than beneath it. Tunze makes systems like that. Again- I'd encourage you to go with the tried-and-true under the tank configuration, if it can be safely worked into your design. Consult a local fish store, aquarium service, or-best of all- a fellow hobbyist. There are many do-it-yourself websites with great information on sump design and planning (such as my fave- OzReef).> I would also welcome your advice on how many fish a tank this size would accommodate. <Well, it really depends on the ultimate size of the fish, the type of animals you want to keep, etc. I would imagine that a tank 7 feet in length would have a capacity of at least 150-180 US gallons, probably more. If you are properly filtering the system, and employing good husbandry techniques, you could accommodate a good number of small fishes, such as damsels, blennies, etc., or several larger fishes (such as Tangs, angels, etc.). Again- it really depends on what your goals are for the system. Ask yourself what kinds of animals you intend to keep, research their requirements, and design the system around their needs. All of the most successful systems I have ever seen or built were conceived in this manner. It's really one of the most enjoyable parts of the hobby!> Thanks in anticipation of your expert help!! Lucian Burlingame Glasgow, Scotland <Our Crew is ready to help whenever you need us, Lucian. I hope that I gave you a little "food for thought" here. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> A sump design question Hi Guys, I want to start a FOWLR saltwater tank.  The display tank is 55gal long and I just purchased a 20 gallon long glass tank to make into my sump. My question is how would you design the space inside the sump.  How many baffles and such. How is your sump designed and why? <Good question... would take a few to several pages to answer completely... size of sump, possibility of locating peripheral gear like skimmer/s, heater/s there, the issue of having a live (refugium) component, lighting, electrical, timers... Baffles are a good idea, particularly to back up water for devices like skimmers, enclosed contactors that rely on such for continuous optimal service... But this space is too small, and time to short to try answering completely. Please delve through the archived FAQs files on WWM re sumps AND refugiums, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm and do take a look over the many materials on Ozreef.org re such DIY projects. Oh, and if you'd like to pen an article, series on these devices, do take photographs, make drawings, and I will help you sell your work to the online and print 'zines. Bob Fenner> Any advice is GREATLY appreciated. Joe

Starting a sump Adam, thanks for all your info and Steve's new email address.  I've been running ideas back and forth with him on the setup of the 72 gal oceanic bow.  I still haven't purchased any equipment yet.  I'd like to ask you a few more questions:  regarding the setup of the refugium, I have a 30 gallon tank, if this would fit in the new stand do you think I can utilize it as a refugium? << Absolutely. >> If so, how would I hook it up to the main tank? << Well here is where good planning pays off.  You can buy at just about any local store now, pre-drilled tanks.  They have holes in the back or bottom and have plumping to drain to the sump.  Then you just have a pump in the sump to push the water back up.  Great way to go. >> I don't know the process of hooking it all together.  Is this feasible?  How do you connect the two systems? I know you suggested drilling the main tank, can you tell me what size holes/fittings would be best? << Better to just look at some tanks in your area.  Also, try visiting some local pet stores as the tanks are drilled and plumbed already. >>  Do you need two pumps, for this system; one to pump the water out of the main tank and into the refugium and another to pump the water back to the main tank? << Gravity feeds the sump, just one pump to push it back up. >> Do you need power heads in the refugium as well? << No. >> Also, Steve stated that he uses Reverse Osmosis water.  Is this a stand alone system that is only used with water changes, (and initial filling of the tank), or is it connected to the system in some way? << It is a separate item. >> Any info you could offer would help. All part of the learning process.  Thanks again, << I'd definitely read more and look at some tanks running in your area.  You need to see this in action and understand how it works before setting it up. >> Frank <<  Blundell  >>

Plenum, sumps setup I have a 55 gallon standard tank with about 80 lbs Bali live rock.  This is a glass tank, therefore I  installed an overflow about 6 months ago.  This overflows to a small refugium (10 ga) located underneath in the stand. <This IS a relative to your main tank, small sump... any chance to double plus size it... or more?>   This tank is composed of three compartments.  The first being an area containing my protein skimmer, heater, activated carbon.  The water then spills over into the next compartment, containing a 4 in live sand bed, with Bali live rock pieces and am growing Caulerpa to assist in nitrate reduction, and also to feed a mandarin in the future.  Next the water spills into the next are containing bioballs, and is then pumped back up into the display tank.  My refugium is lit 24 hrs a day to prevent it from going sexual. <All sounds good... except my concern should the power or pump go out... do test this... will the water overflow onto your floor?> My nitrates remain about 10-12.  Located next to the display tank, I have a 15 ga high tank which has been up and running for about 6 months.  My goal is to install a plenum to further help with my nitrate battle. <A good idea> I do 10% water changes to each tack every week or so, and each is lightly stocked. (pair of perculas with carpet anemone, 3 small Chromis plus a handful of small shrimp and crabs in the 55, a pink skunk with LTA, and Harlequin shrimp with his chocolate chip star in the 15)  Also I have numerous hermit crabs and snails in all 3 tanks.  My question is; what would be the best way to incorporate this 15 ga with plenum into my other system? <Actually, ideally, to mount it at about the same level as your current refugium... to ward against the overflow issue... have water run through it 3-4 volumes per hour... overflow into the ten...>   The 15 ga is a glass tank as well and the water level is just about one inch taller than the 55.  Ideally I would like the 15ga to overflow into the 55 ga, then down to the refugium, and ultimately back up to the 15 ga.  How much would I have to raise my tank in order to do this using a conventional overflow? <Oh... a few inches... depending on desired flow rate should do it. Know that the "transit volume" in the fifteen will now be additional to that of the 55 should power or pump fail... DO run all with the lowest/ten gallon not filled, turn off the pump/s, see where the water rises to below... drain till it's not overflowing, mark the sump/refugium level with a permanent marker, tape... and NOT fill the sump any higher>   I'm worried the water being able to drain down the hose and then back up it into the 55 ga without substantially raising it.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated and a big thank you to your staff which has gotten my tank to where it is today. Corey <Really wish you could add more volume underneath... do look into a container you can tie into the current refugium to take up the excess volume if you can't switch out the ten for something larger. Bob Fenner>

- Splitting the Sump & Refugium - Howdy again! (I know WAY too soon for ANOTHER question!)  Thank you so much for the very quick response to my other question and as always, your sight and advice to everyone is extremely helpful!  I have a slight dilemma brewing with my what will end up a 75 gallon reef tank. I built the stand out of 2 24" base cabinets (prior to knowing about sumps and refugiums) so now I have limited space under my tank lengthwise, height and width are okay. I was originally going to use a wet/dry filter with protein skimmer combo but after much more research and advice I opted against that and on advice from the WWM crew I purchased a Euro-Reef C6-1 protein skimmer and am going to go with a sump/refugium if I can. I can build  a sump 21"L x 17"W x 18" D (almost 28 gallons) but since the footprint of the protein skimmer is 8.5 x 10 there would be very little room for the refugium part of the tank. So what I was thinking is that I could use one side of my stand for the sump side and drill holes through the middle wall (cannot get rid of it, it is structural) and plumb into a refugium tank and return pump. This way I would not have to worry about space and I would actually increase the surface area of my water. Please give me your thoughts. <Sounds like a workable solution to me... make sure the bulkheads you plumb between the two [yes, you must have more than one] are at least an inch in diameter, I'd shoot for 1.5" each. Should work fine.>   Thanx...Butch <Cheers, J -- > Sump-thing Special! (Sump Options...) Hi guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight!> I'm going to be running a 75 gallon reef ready tank with corals and clams.  I have dual 175 watt MH for the lights and I'm now looking for the filter.  I was going to go with a traditional Berlin sump with the new Euro-Reef ES-2 (I think, one size smaller than the CS-6). <A sweet choice...> My question is that I saw the CPR AquaFuge pro refugium/Skimmer with a Rio 600 running the skimmer.  My question is, are they any good?  I would be spending about the same for either filter system, but I want to know if the skimmer on the CPR refugium will skim anything. <CPR makes good quality products, IMO. They have been around for some time, and I like 'em. The skimmer that comes with the AquaFuge may be adequate, but I find that "throw in" skimmers (i.e.; ones included with a filter system) are usually not as effective as one that you'd buy separately. Not sure on this particular one.> Are refugiums beneficial or more of a gimmick? <Nope...A valuable addition to any system, IMO!> Would I be better off getting a sump with baffles that allow me to have a refugium and have foot print large enough to have the Euro-reef skimmer? <Well...Since you asked...I'd go for a custom-made sump and accommodate a Euroreef...They are phenomenal skimmers, IMO> I just want to do it right the first time. <You can't go wrong with the Euroreef, as far as I'm concerned!> Thank you! <You're quite welcome! Good luck with your system! Regards, Scott F>

Sump Secrets! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F.  here today!> I have a 75 gallon All-Glass with one mega-overflow. I am building a sump and wanted to run it by you to see if it will work.  I have a 220/3 Tunze skimmer and will be using a Mag 950 for the return.  I was going to put valves on both the down flow tubes and the return tubes in case I needed to balance the flow.  Is this necessary? <Probably not- but I suppose it is a potentially useful feature...> I was going to use a 20 gallon long 30x12x12 for the sump and am going to cut four pieces of glass for the baffles.  The first chamber is for the Tunze with the first baffle being placed about 2-4 inches? from the tank bottom and the second baffle 2 inches over from the first and bonded to the bottom of the tank.  The second chamber will be a refugium.  the third baffle will again be bonded to the bottom of the tank and the fourth will be 2 inches over from it and placed 2-4 inches? from the bottom of the tank.  The last chamber is for the Mag 950 return.  I don't want to drill any bulkheads and am hoping that I can do everything within the sump.  My questions are:  Are two baffles necessary for dividing the chambers or could I just place two baffles bonded to the bottom of the tank? <I would use two baffles to divide the chambers, myself...> How high should the baffles be? <Say, 4 inches or so...> How far apart if I use two to divide the chambers?   <Depends on what you're gonna put in there...You may have to look at some DIY sump plans, like you could find on the DIY site ozreef.org. You'll probably find some good plans there!> It is my understanding that my overflow allows for 600 gph. The output at 5' for the mag drive is a little more than that.  How do I make sure that the pump doesn't drain the sump dry?  Can I use the valves for that? <Ball valves can help> Is the 20 gallon large enough, if not what dimension? <Should be adequate, but I wouldn't fault you if you went larger...> I'm going two AquaClear 4000 powerheads in the tank. Is this enough water turnover for SPS and clams? <Probably not...You might want to look into external powerheads, like Geminis or Tunze Turbelle Classics...They move a LOT of water!> One of my main concerns is the sump either running dry or flooding.  How does the water from the overflow stop draining if the power goes out or the pump dies? <Well, generally, it will drain no lower than the bottom of the "teeth" in the overflow box. You may have to do some rough calculating to see how much "drain down" you'll get when the pumps are off. You'll get an idea of how many gallons per vertical inch will drain down...> I know that there are a lot of questions and I appreciate you addressing as many you can.  Thank you. <You're quite welcome! This is not an exact science, unfortunately, but it is kind of fun-and frustrating-at the same time! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sump Design... Howdy again, <Hey there Scott F. here today!>      I have asked you a couple of questions in the past and the advice was extremely useful. I feel like I have read novels worth of information on your site as there is so much info out there! <So true! And more to come! We sure have fun bringing it all to you- glad that you're enjoying it!> Anyway to my question. I have a 75 gallon main tank that will be set up as a reef tank. I purchased an overflow box that I think has 600 GPH flow rate on it. First of all is this enough? <Well, it depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the pump you are utilizing, the desired flow rate through the sump, and what type of animals you intend to keep.> This is going down into one of two acrylic display tanks I modified to fit under my stand. They are about 20 gallons apiece. Here is what I had in mind. Please tell me what you think. It will come from the overflow into tank one that will have enough bio balls (according to the box) to filter a 60 gallon tank. This is just to get the water filtration process started. From there it flows under a partition (how much space should be left from the bottom of the tank to the bottom of the partition for water flow?) into the area where I have a Euro Reef C-6 protein skimmer. <I like it...But I'd lose the bioballs and rely on live rock/sand for your biological "filtration" in the system. Good that you have the skimmer will it will receive "raw", unprocessed water from the tank> I will then have the water flow through  the middle part of my stand through 2 1.5" bulkheads into tank #2 (should water free flow into them and how high up should the bulk heads be place on the side of the tanks as I am not sure how full they will ever be)? <Free flow seems fine, but you will have to experiment a lot to get the right bulkhead positioning, unfortunately> In tank # 2 about 3/4 of that will be my refugium with live sand/rock etc. Then I plan on overflowing that via a partition into the area with the return pump. How high should this wall be? <Well, again- it depends on the water depth and flow through the system...One of those things you will have to play with once more...> And last, but definitely not least, I was planning on using a Sedra 750GPH return pump. Is this sufficient for the proper amount of water turn over? I realize I am restricted by the overflow box but can make that drain larger if necessary and use a larger return pump. Whew...thanks for taking the time to listen and hopefully that all makes sense. You guys are great! Sincerely...Butch <Rich, your plan does seem to make sense, and is well thought out. I'd contemplate a larger return pump, as you could always dial down the flow with ball valves, if required. Do check out the impressive (and useful!) DIY site, ozreef.org for more ideas on sump/refugium design and configuration. Have fun, and make sure you keep a lot of towels handy! Regards, Scott F> - System Planning and Plumbing - Hello crew! Thanks in advance for your help here.  You guys and gals are great.  So I have a few unanswered questions that I haven't been able to pinpoint on the FAQ's.   I have been planning a 150 gal. custom reef tank for about 4 months now.  Constant reading.  I plan on having LR, some fish and eventually go reef.  40 -50 gal sump with skimmer.   1.  I want to buy a Kold Ster-il ® water filtration system for my setup. I know that you shouldn't plumb the FW refill top off directly into the sump without letting it age and correcting the PH and temp, but this filter claims to not lower the hardness of water.  Can I put the Kold Ster-il water directly into the sump without aging it, or should I have some sort of reservoir? <I'd go with the reservoir, but am aware that many people do plumb their RO directly into their sump.> 2.  I have been purchasing a lot of books about reefing and SW tanks.  I also have been looking online everywhere.  I want to find a good book/site that includes plumbing ideas with pictures.  More on the big schematics of where pumps, sumps, others go in the big picture. Do you have any good references/sites? <No, I'm afraid not... do think this is a place where the recent Paletta book, Ultimate Aquariums falls flat on its face. This information should have been included.> I like the sites that explain what kind of problems individuals encountered. <Yes... much cheaper to learn from other's mistakes.> 3.  Is it better to have a refugium as part of the sump or two separate entities (a separate sump and a separate refugium)? <In larger tanks, it's probably better to have the two split, but an all-encompassing sump will work just fine.> 4.  If I wanted to do a water return manifold like the one described by Anthony Calfo, does that need a separate pump? <Can be powered off the return pump.> Is that a closed system? <Doesn't have to be, but would work as one.> Is there anything specific needed when I get my tank made and drilled to know upfront so these plans will work? <None that I can think of... measure twice, cut once.> 5.  I want to have a water turn over rate of 10 -20 times the tank size per hour.  If I have the tank drilled to turn over 10x's, will the return manifold provide the other turnover or is that something totally different? <Is up to you... certainly moving that much water though a sump will complicate your desire to combine a sump with a refugium. Do consider having addition circulation in the tank that would supplement the main return pump.> Or should I just have the tank drilled to turn over 20x's per hour? <A viable option.> I know water movement is important, I just haven't gotten the whole concept. <As much as possible is a goal worth shooting for.> 6.  If I have a refugium in the sump will the high water flow be ok for the refugium or does the refugium need to be separate?  (same as ? above) <Based on your stated plans, I'd separate them.> I know these questions are kinda vague, but I have been reading so much and I want to get it right before I buy the tank and equipment.  I have built the stand and I am currently running the electrical now.  I'm a little lost on the plumbing but I'm sure that will come.  Thank you again for taking your time and helping me.  Have a great day.  Dan <Cheers, J -- >

Sump design or "Someone never learned the KISS principle" Here's a long one so take your time... I wrote a few weeks ago with questions about a new tank that I'm setting up in my Dad's office.  He will have to take care of the tank when I leave for college after the summer.  The following is an explanation of the sump system.   I've tried to attach a diagram and key as JPEGs (each under 100KB) but the mail was "undeliverable."    The goals of the new tank are to: *Simplify topping off to a weekly valve turning << Float switches are loved by many. >> *Simplify water changes to a monthly valve turning *Increase biological nutrient export << Go with an algae refugium. >> *Eliminate the possibility of a wet floor << You mean decrease the odds right?  Because you can't eliminate possibility, it will happen eventually. >> I appreciate any suggestions.  Thank you very much. The tank is a 55-gallon All Glass Aquarium with a built in Megaflow overflow. The overflow runs in 1 flexible PVC pipe into the sump in the basement below.  The water runs first into a 30-gallon Rubbermaid tub with an 8 Southdown sand bed.  The tub has an emergency overflow a few inches above an overflow into a 45-gallon, 2 by 2 clear acrylic refugium with a 65-watt compact fluorescent bulb above.  The refugium has a 5 sand bed of CaribSea Seaflor Special Grade Reef Sand with a 1 plenum.  It has an emergency overflow; a bulkhead to the return pump, an Iwaki 30rlt rated for about 300 gph at 12 ft head; and a drain with a ball valve for water changes.  It has three float switches: high, low, and top off.  High and low both turn off the return pump and keep it from running dry, keep the main aquarium from overflowing, and prevent problems in the case of many different leaks or malfunctions.  The top off switch activates a dual channel peristaltic pump that pumps equal amounts of top off water from the two 4-gallon reservoirs: calcium and carbonate.  The calcium reservoir contains fresh RO water with the calcium part of a two-part dosing additive.   It has an emergency overflow in case the bulkhead from the reservoir above leaks.  The carbonate reservoir contains fresh RO water and the carbonate part of a two-part additive.  I will probably use Seachem's Reef Builder and Reef Advantage Calcium. << Be careful not to add these until you have a coral load requiring them.  Test first, add second. >> We fill the two reservoirs weekly from the RO reservoir above and add the appropriate additive.  An air pump keeps the water in the reservoirs fresh and mixes in the additive.   The 10-gallon RO reservoir on the top shelf also serves as a saltwater mixing container.  It has an air pump and a titanium heater.  Usually this 10-gallon reservoir is filled with freshwater ' it is emptied weekly to fill up the 4-gallon top off reservoirs and then fills to the top until the shutoff valve stops the inflow from the Kent Maxxima RO/DI unit.  Every month, we add a few cups of salt to the reservoir, let it mix for the day, empty ten gallons of aquarium water from the refugium and then add the freshly mixed ten gallons.  Then the reservoir fills up again and we use it for freshwater.  There is an electronic float switch near the top of the reservoir that turns off the heater as the water level drops to keep the heater from overheating when we empty the reservoir. The return pump returns the water to the tank via inch PVC.  There are true union valves on either side of the pump for maintenance.  There is also a ball valve on the piping from the aquarium overflow and on the return line.   There is a pipe between these two lines that is usually closed with a ball valve.   However, in six months we will be moving the tank for a few days while we renovate the office.  This pipe will allow us to run water through the sump system and deep sand bed while the tank is disconnected. The tank itself has a wave2k unit for circulation, a hang-on Remora Pro protein skimmer, a titanium heater, a very shallow sand bed for appearance, and manmade concrete rock that is currently curing in a stream behind my house. << Be very careful with this.  There are lots of success stories, and lots of horror stories regarding stream cured man-made rock. Sounds like you have things well thought out.  I say go for it, and fix the problems as they arise. >> <<  Adam Blundell  >>

Sump design? 6/12/04 I am putting together a 155 gallon Bow Front All-glass Aquarium with 2 Mega-Flow Overflows.   <is this is a siphon overflow (not a drilled tank) let me offer my running half-serious joke, " I would not sleep in a house that has a siphon overflow." They can/will fail in time. Many possible ways to do this... especially with the heavily aerating and aspirating devices that go on reef tanks that throw fine bubbles in the tank which rise, overflow and build up top break a siphon after days/weeks> I got a main system return pump that is a Dolphin with a nominal rating of 1200 gph.  I am using two Tunze Turbelle Stream pumps inside the tank for wave/flow.  I have a CPR Aquafuge Pro for one Refugium underneath and am planning to have the flow from one overflow come down, T into two equal halves, and put one half into the protein skimmer chamber of the Aquafuge Pro and have the other half go into the last chamber to go to pump suction.   <too complicated, poor design (avoid using tees... really bad habit) and never steal raw water away from a skimmer (allows for mineralizing faculties to handle organics that you'd rather export)> I am trying to decide what kind of sump I should have for the other overflow to come into; I am trying to decide between an Ecosystem (possibly the one that is 30 inches long and is rated for 800 to 1000 gph or the one that is 24 inches and rated for 600 - 800) and a greater volume large box type sump that just acts as a place to dump the water, <yes... the latter. A simple, large open sump would be best IMO> have a level controller for make-up water from the Kalkwasser reactor to account for evaporation, put the submersible pump to feed my EVA 180 protein skimmer, and provide a place for my Calcium Reactor to interact.  If I did have an Aquafuge Pro and an Ecosystem sump, do you think there would be places to put all of the other gear?   <a valid concern... indeed part of the reason for my recommendation. Do keep it simple, open, large and stable> And, what are the benefits to having just a larger water volume in the sump instead of the benefits of the Miracle Mud system?   <stability, plus no baggage from the use of Caulerpa with mud systems (see our archives detailing these challenges in the FAQs)> I would like to take suction with the main system pump out of both of the sumps; do I do this with a standpipe arrangement in the middle with a T? <again... avoid using tees always.> Please let me know what you think would work best.  I also have a 24" CPR hang on the back refugium.  I would like to grow enough copepods and amphipods to support in about a year a mandarin dragonet, <mandarins only eat copepods my friend... do encourage them with fine deep substrates in the refugium. Read our extensive coverage of this topic (refugiums, plants and algae) in "Reef Invertebrates" Calfo and Fenner 2003> one of the rock slinking blennies, and I really like the sand sifting goby but I have heard it is hard to keep them well fed which is part of why I am trying to have so much Refugium capacity.  But, the Aquafuge Pro only holds about 12 gallons of water during normal operation and the Ecosystems do not have very large volumes and I read in one of my reef books that to do any good you should have a minimum of 20% of the main tank volume which would be 31 gallons; what is the sump of my dreams? <indeed larger is better here. 20% minimum to be sure... 40% would be nice> If I could figure out how to design it Precision Marine would build it but I am not sure what it should look like.  About half of the space in the cabinet under my tank is now full of the Aquafuge Pro. Thank you, Laura <do check out the illustrations and FAQs we have on this topic in our marine plumbing sections of the wetwebmedia.com archives  best regards, Anthony>

Sump Configurations       Hi Crew <HI there! Scott F. here tonight> Thanks for the info on my Sump / Nitrate problems. I filled the first 2 compartments of my sump with Aragonite (5'). Also Added a 18 " tank with DSB and some Macro Algae. I got some of the rubble in the Live Rock Containers from our LFS to help seed my DSB. These guys seem to think A DSB will become live by itself so that's the only places where I got some critters. <Well, it's a start!> I would like to setup 4 3 foot tanks as tanks for breeding pairs of clowns, I'd like to run them all off 1 sump This time I'd like to start of right so I'm looking for some help again. <Will try!> Each 3 foot will have a DSB, some Macro Algae and will house only one pair of clowns. Still deciding what to put in with them as a host (Anemone etc..). <well, if you're dealing with tank-bred Clowns, they may have never even seen an anemone, so you may not even want to add one. Not at all necessary> I'm not sure which sump to use but was thinking in the line of these 2. I want as little problems as possible with Ammonia, Nitrites AND NITRATES.       Option 1      Will use another 3 foot tank for this design       Light      Wool                Siporax                      Space or chemical filtration (Activated Carbon)                           Deep sandbed      Can plant Macro Algae      Live Rock      Power heads to Tanks       Option 2      Here I will use 2 3 foot tanks to get more water volume and to have more space for live rocks.       Light              Space for wool &           chemical filtration (Activated Carbon)                       Space for heaters                         Macro Algae                          Live Rock                        DSB            Tank 1                Tank 2      Over flow to tank 1      Tank 1 to hold power heads to main tank       My Questions are : Will any one of these sump setups work? <Sure, they will both work> Can I leave out the Siporax in any one of these setups or should I leave them for a trickle? <If you want zero nitrates, I'd ditch the Siporax or any other mechanical/biological filtration media. Why fight the work that you're trying to accomplish with a DSB by including media that can accumulate nitrate. Just do it the easy way. Trust me. A DSB is fine, either in or out of the sump. I'd simply have a large sump with ample space for some live rock and a great protein skimmer, as well as some bags of activated carbon. That's about it...Really easy...> What type of lighting should I use and must the lights stay on 24 hours a day? <Some people do, but you can effectively run the sump lights on a "reverse" schedule with your display tank> When Cycling the tanks when do I add the live rock? <I'd cycle 'em with live rock> Should I use a Protein Skimmer? <Absolutely. Get the best one you can and maintain it well. An essential piece of equipment, IMO> Can any one of these be used for my main reef tank? <Absolutely. Just consider what I suggested about keeping things really simple> Hope you can give me more info. Regards, Gustav <Well, Gustav, your plans look fine. I didn't want to disappoint you by giving some rather general information here, but I'm just a big one for keeping things simple. There are some great sites on the internet (ozreef.org comes to mind) that can help you design a great sump. Do a little more research, then go for it! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Sump/Nitrates part II and breeding Clownfish 8/3/04 Hi Crew,  Thanks for the info on my Sump / Nitrate problems. I filled the first 2 compartments of my sump with Aragonite (5'), Also Added a 18 " tank with DSB and some Macro Algae. I got some of the rubble in the Live Rock Containers from our LFS to help seed my DSB. These guys seem to think a DSB will become live by itself so that's the only places where I got some critters. <The rubble should help, but exchanging some sand with fellow aquarists will help too.> I would like to setup 4 3 foot tanks as tanks for breeding pairs of clowns, I'd like to run them all off 1 sump.  This time I'd like to start of right so I'm looking for some help again.  Each 3 foot will have a DSB, some Macro Algae and will house only one pair of clowns.  Still deciding what to put in with them as a host (Anemone etc..). <Host anemones are definitely out for a breeding system.> I'm not sure which sump to use but was thinking in the line of these 2. I want as little problems as possible with Ammonia, Nitrites AND NITRATES. Option 1  Will use another 3 foot tank for this design: Light, Wool, Siporax, Space or chemical filtration (Activated Carbon), Deep sandbed.  Can plant Macro Algae, Live Rock, Power heads to Tanks Option 2  Here I will use 2 3 foot tanks to get more water volume and to have more space for live rocks. Light, Space for wool & chemical filtration (Activated Carbon), Space for heaters, Macro Algae, Live Rock, DSB Tank 1, Tank 2 - Over flow to tank 1 Tank 1 to hold power heads to main tank My Questions are :  Will any one of these sump setups work?  Can I leave out the Siporax in any one of these setups or should I leave them for a trickle?  What type of lighting should I use and must the lights stay on 24 hours a day?  <Breeding systems have some special requirements, and I would not recommend a refugium for filtration.  Both of the systems you describe (Your diagrams did not come through) would be fine for a display system, but not for breeding.> When Cycling the tanks when do I add the live rock?  Should I use a Protein Skimmer?  Can any one of these be used for my main reef tank?  Hope you can give me more info.  Regards, Gustav  <I always recommend cycling with live rock, since it is the rock itself that needs to cycle.  A skimmer can be used for breeding systems.  If you are considering breeding Clownfishes, please find a copy of "Clownfishes" by Joyce Wilkerson. It is an excellent guide.  Best Regards.  AdamC>  

- Sump Questions - Hi all, <Hello, JasonC here...> I know there's lots of information all over your site about the questions I'm about to ask, but to be honest I'm finding things a bit confusing (and I've recently made some bad purchases).  I have a 180 gallon fish only with about 100 pounds of live rock and 50 pounds of Carib sea rock that's been there for about a year (I was told that it would become live rock, and it looks like it has life on it).  I've got an Aerofoamer skimmer powered by an Iwaki 55, and a mag 24 return.  The tank has about 1.5-2" of live sand and crushed coral (I have wrasses, so some areas are deeper than others at different times).  I also have bioballs in a 35 gallon sump right now.  I'm planning on getting rid of the bioballs and changing to a bigger sump.  My questions are: I can get a Rubbermaid tank (150 gallon) for less than a 90 gallon glass tank - so I think I'll go that way, unless the extra water capacity is a waste.  (I think it's easier to drill, so that makes it cheaper for me too).  Is more water better? <Always... or at least as long as it's not on your floor ;-) Do keep in mind that while Rubbermaid containers are cheap and useful, it's also difficult to get other materials to stick to them... I see in your plans you want 'compartments' - do experiment first before committing the tank's water to the design to make sure your dividers will hold when the container is full and the sides are bulging out.> I want to put a refugium in the sump with a DSB, LR, and macro algae.  Is a DSB a good idea here? <Better to have it in the tank... sumps usually have too much water flowing through them to have a sand bed that won't be disturbed by the flow. This can be addressed by design, but still - live rock in the sump is probably better.> How much LR do I need, if I count what's already in my tank (I'll get what I need, but it's expensive $10/lb around here). <It's generally expensive anywhere, but one pound per gallon is ideal - and would be for total system volume.> I was planning on putting Caulerpa and mangrove pods also (I can get them locally, will look at more when I can find them). <Well... the Caulerpa would work, but mangroves grow to very large trees so unless this sump is external, then I think the mangroves might not be such a good idea. Individual pods won't do you any good until there is a root system and leaves.> I was planning to have the first chamber put all water from the tank and have the skimmer intake and return.  Then would be a series of baffles for bubbles (the Aerofoamer is a great skimmer - my wife added Greenex to my sump instead of my QT by mistake and the skimmer went nuts - I think it got everything out before it got back to the tank (5 gallons of wet skimmate in about a minute) - but this thing returns more bubbles than you could imagine to the sump). <Don't count on the skimmer getting all the Greenex - I'd run some carbon in there if I were you.> After the baffles would be the refugium and then the return to the tank. <Again... probably too much flow to call it a refugium - better to have a second tank, perhaps on top of the sump that would act as a true refugium.> I'll also have a bulkhead in the first chamber to assist water changes.  I'll be putting 2x40watt actinics and or daylight bulbs (I have a bunch of both).  Is this plan sound?  I'm not being original, but I just can't afford any more "learning experiences" right now. Final question - will my tank go through a cycle if I start using this system? <Probably not... if your tank has the majority of the live rock in it now. Also, if you plan to add more live rock, curing it first will go a long way towards dealing with the removal of nitrogenous wastes.> Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.  I've been making the cardinal sin of listening to the different LFS experts around and getting nowhere with a solid solution.  I'm doing 20 gallon water changes twice a week right now, just to be safe, and I'd like to reduce that - the salt cost is adding up! <I'd do 10% every two weeks... works for me - or 5% every week - twice a week is excessive.> Cameron Hancock <Cheers, J -- >

Looking for Sump Design Dear WWM Crew: How do you do? <Fine Bazza, and yourself?> I would like directions/advice on a very simple yet effective sump for a Fish-Only tank. <Sure, two ways to find this: search on Google at WetWebMedia.com, enter "sump" or simply go to marine section on WetWebMedia.com, scroll down to marine set-ups, sumps.  Much info there including Anthony's big system plan-schematic for marine/reef systems including sumps and refugiums.> I recently purchased a 46 gallon bow front (Oceanic) and the equipment in my tank especially the Rio 1700 power head (apart from the hang-on-back filter and titanium heater) has made my tank rather unsightly. I do have enough room in the stand (cabinet) that came with the tank for a 10 gallon (sump) tank. What all would I need from here in order to "hide" my filter, power head and heater (and the eventual skimmer) in my 10 gallon sump. I am having difficulty in finding a simple diagram on the internet that matches my hardware setup. Please advice and thanks in advance. Best, Bazza <Do check out the marine set-ups pages and also info on overflows, J-tubes, and retro-fitting glass tanks with either overflow boxes or drilling for bulkheads to drain by gravity to sump. Make sure you work out all of your plan including flow rate, pumps, plumbing, etc. before laying down your $.  Craig>

Sump/Refugium Question Hello,  I am in the early stages of planning a 150-180 gallon reef tank. I have a 40 gallon tank and a 50 gallon tank and I am planning on using one as a sump, and one as a refugium. The difference between them is that the 50 gallon is taller but the length and Width dimensions are the same. How should I use each tank? <I would use the 40 for the sump, if it is to be placed in a cabinet. This will make for easier access of heaters, skimmers, etc. You could potentially use the extra space in the 'fuge! In the tank I use as a sump I will also have a section for live sand, or live rock rubble. What do you think would be better? <Try some rock rubble. I used to have a no-light 'fuge underneath my main w/ just rock rubble and it was crawling with critters. Just remember to feed it. Good luck w/ the tank project! -Kevin>

-Minimum sump size- I'm planning on a 75G reef Aquarium.  I was wondering what the minimum sump size would have to be if I planned on putting my 5-6" DSB in it? <Size doesn't matter (refrain from dirty comments), the bigger the better. At a minimum the sump will need to hold all of the extra water that will drain down during a power outage and then some. Section portions of the sump off with baffles to add a sandbed.> Also would a flow rate of ~1800 GPH disturb the sand? <That would depend on how you set up the sump. With tall baffles around the sand portion, the flow shouldn't matter unless the sump is really small. -Kevin>

- Sump Design - Hi Crew, I tried sending this from home last night, but somehow it would send the attachment along with the email, so here I am at work trying again. <It came through this time.> This is the design of the sump that I was planning on having built.  I am currently in the middle of remodeling my 125 g tank.  I will be adding two internal overflows with Durso Standpipes going to my sump.  I will also add a refugium to the mix as well as a closed loop for circulation.  The return from the sump will be ~750 gph through a SCWD or ~900 without one, or so I've been told.  I will have a separate pump in my sump (hey that rhymes) supplying the refugium which will gravity feed back into the sump.  Could one of you take a look at my drawing and tell me if it would be OK? <Looks fine to me.> Thanks Vince <Cheers, J -- >

- Tank & Sump Design - Good afternoon, I tore down my 7 year old 150 reef 2 weeks ago, and am now installing a new 100 plexi. Tank. I am using a new filter/refugium setup, and will also use your advice with regards to a plenum. I used CaribSea sand for the plenum cover ( about 2 inches), and now am searching for fine sand for the upper 4 inches. I had to use coarser grade for the plenum due to the size of screen. I have attached a drawing of the setup, and hope you have some recommendations. <Everything looks good to me. As an aside, plenums work well, but the deep sand bed has somewhat supplanted it as the way to go for natural nitrate reduction. Still, I think your plan to use the plenum will work just fine.> Thanks in advance for you assistance. <Cheers, J -- >

- Sump Design Follow-up - Thanks for taking a look. <My pleasure.> Another question if I may?  I'm trying not to take up too much space under the tank, but I wanted to add a lit refugium to grow macro algae and critters.  With the flow mentioned in the previous email, ~700-900 gph, would I be able to do a DSB (4") for NNR in the middle chamber of the sump instead of the skimmer? <I wouldn't... that flow rate would potentially keep things pretty stirred up. You'd be better of with a DSB in the tank itself.> I'm wondering if the flow would blow the sand around. <That's what I'm thinking.> Would a DSB of that size help me, or should I just do it in the main display as I'd planned? <I think a DSB of that size would help a little, but again would help even more if it were in the main tank.> There are so many opinions on the subject, I'm confused.  If I do this, I would plumb the protein skimmer to the outside of the sump taking in raw water from the first chamber.  Thanks again for your help! <No worries. Cheers, J -- >

- Sump/Refugium Design - Hi I'm planning to set up a 4x2x2 marine tank and for filtration I was thinking about a refugium/sump combo but I wanted to run it through with you. Three outlets from tank, one to refugium and two to sump. Refugium overflows into the final stage of the sump to head back to the main tank. Should the refugium water go through a filter sponge before going back into the main tank <No.> or would this eliminate the amount of critters going to the main tank. <Yes, the sponge will filter out more than is desirable.> Attached is a plan of what I thought up let me know if this is something to go ahead with and if there are any improvement please let me know. <I think this is a good plan - one thing you might want to consider is a valve on the overflow that feeds the refugium so that the flow into that portion of the sump is not so boisterous that it upsets the contents of the refugium. But it seems to me to be a good design.> Thanks
<Cheers, J -- >

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