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Plumbing a Second Sump Remotely   1/24/07 Hi,   We have a 50 gallon sump in the garage, separated from the 180 gallon display by a wall.  We are adding grow out tanks and a large refugium to the garage area.  I need to expand the water holding capacity of the sump to ensure it does not overflow. <Good. Glad you are aware>   The trouble is, the only place to connect a bigger tank requires that the plumbing make a 90 degree turn and go across the wall about 40 feet. <With how much drop over this run?> I would gravity flow into the second sump (100 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank) from one of the refugiums. <Again... how much height difference? Serviced by what sort, size of plumbing?> I am hoping if I connect it to the main sump with 2' pvc pipe the two return pumps in the main sump will draw the excess water out of the remote sump back to the main tank for continuous flow.  The pumps are BlueLine pressure rated at about 1000 gph each (probably each pulls about 500 gph after head pressure).  Will the pumps from the main sump to the display be able to pull water through a 2' pipe from that distance with the 90 degree turn plus another 90 degree turn to attach it to the stock tank? <Mmm, w/o a careful drawing of all this, am hesitant to reply... The size of plumbing need not, should not be any larger diameter than the discharge/volute of the pumps> The remote stock tank just needs enough flow to keep it from getting stagnant and will have about 400 gph gravity flowed in from the refugium.     Thanks in advance for your help!  Plumbing is not my thing!   Doug <Make a drawing of all this... ahead of cutting, buying anything... and show it to your LFS AND fellow local marine aquarists (do you belong to a club?) and/or send to us for review. Bob Fenner> 911..... I think... Not ready for prime-time reefing   12/31/06 Hi Guys <Does this term include women? Am wondering> I just realized by reading your forums that I may have a serious situation. Here's what happened. Late afternoon yesterday (Fri Austin TX) the power went out due to a storm and I had to drain some of my sump water so it wouldn't overflow. (I'm new at this and didn't realize all I had to do was close the ball valve) <Actually... not a good idea to have to rely on having to adjust anything here... The sump should be able to handle the transit volume should a/the pump or electric fail... mark the maximum height of water (starting with the power off, the sump filled up), with the power on, and don't fill the sump beyond this> Yes I know my sump is supposed to handle this situation but my 'aquarium guy' decided to remove the bio balls and replace them with live rock rubble to try and eliminate the microbubble problem. This doesn't work and the displacement for the LR vs. bio balls has made the sump too small to handle the drainage. I'm going back to bio balls to fix this prob but that's got nothing to do with this). <...> When the power came back on the pump sucked out the intake chamber and in turned sucked up a bunch of air before I could get the water back in fast enough. <Ditto> I didn't think fast enough to pull the plug. Hard knocks. Now I've got so many micro bubbles from both intakes to the tank that it looks like intense smoke!! I've tried plugging and unplugging the pump many many times to avail. I just found out this is dangerous to critters even tho they are minimal because it's a 8 week tank. I do have a nice size Goniopora and a flame scallop (I didn't know these shouldn't be in such a new tank and low survival) <Very poor choices...> and cleaning crew. No fish. I've got a 90 ga. AGA with 15 ga. Eco-system sump. <Too small...> No skimmer. <I'd add> Also a Aqua-Euro chiller tee'd into my supply. The pump is an Iwaki WMD40RLXT which I was going to replace with a Pan World 100PXX because its quieter (I hope) and I've got about 13 ft head pressure due to 15- 90's and 3 ball valves. It's a 4 ft rise to the intakes to the tank. The Iwaki doesn't even move the water in the tank. I have a Rio 600 to do it. <Watch this pump... easily burn out> Next prob: Due to the holiday I can't get my replacement pump until Wed. I'm worried about my critters etc. but what can I do? Any help will be much appreciated. Thanks, Lorie <... fill the sump, bleed the air out of the line/pump (by turning off and on if that's all your plumbing will allow)... and read re sizing sumps to tanks, plumbing... Here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner>

Re: 911..... I think... air trapped in pb... sump f'?  1/2/07 Hey Bob: <Lorie> Yep, when I say 'guys' it includes gals too since I am one. <Ahh! I do think this noun has "evolved" in our language... to include both genders as you state> I did as you said and tried filling the sump etc..... and I'll be... if it didn't work  and the -----bubbles went away after a few times by playing with the ball  valve going to the chiller and plugging and unplugging the pump. Thank you so  much!!! It's like you've done this before. <Ah, good> I'll also take your advice on a bigger sump! It will be nice to sleep at night. It also looks like I've got a lot of research to do to improve plumbing. <Yes my friend> I knew I was going to take flak on my ill choices of scallop and coral, but I want you to do that help is already here. I got your and Anthony's book on "Reef Invertebrates" and will never buy another thing without exhaustive research on compatibility.... no matter what the LFS folks say!! <Outstanding> Unfortunately I got it after the above purchases. I'm enjoying it  very much and appreciate another fellow beer drinker!! Cheers! Happy New Year!! Lorie <Heeee! Here's to us! Bob Fenner>

Sump Setup?   12/11/06 Good Day to you all, <Hello Clinton! Tim answering your question today... Just out of curiosity, where in Norway do you live? I spent 6 1/2 years living in Stavanger, on the west coast... Clinton does not strike me as a typical Norwegian name... Anyway, to your question.> My name is Clinton and I live in Norway, Europe and have found so many conflicting pieces of information that my head is in a spin. I have a 400 l. marine aquarium (mixed reef) mainly soft corals, fish( mainly smaller fish, gobies, dart and fire-fish, wrasse, three tangs, shrimps, hermits etc) My question is this; I have a decent skimmer that is able to handle the bioload of a 500 l. tank, But I would like to set up a sump, and try and free up the sides of the tank. I have ordered a U.V filter and an inline filter that I will use for ROWAphos. Apart from this I have so many conflicting suggestions on other necessary or '' should have'' hardware items for the sump, I would like to know if you have any tried and tested set up guidelines or at least what is not advisable to get? I have a 120l. tank that I had thought of using as a sump, is this large enough or should I get a larger tank. <You will find much information on sumps on the wetwebmedia website. The reason for the confusion is that there really is no one right way of setting up a sump. The 120l tank will be sufficient for your aquarium, but what you put into it will depend largely on what you hope to achieve from having a sump. If it is nitrate removal you seek, then consider a DSB and macro algae refugium, whereas if all you want is to free up the aquarium from clutter, then the sump will act simply to increase water volume and provide a convenient hidden place for your equipment. What is it you hope to achieve from having a sump? Decide this and the advice will be less conflicting in relation to your particular needs... but only less, for there is still much debate as to the best method of achieving certain effects. Let me know what you are setting the sump up for, and I will try to point you into the right direction. Ha en god dag! Snakkes.> Thanking you in advance Clinton

Re: Sump Setup?  12/13/06 Good Day to you Tim. <And to you!> Well I am not Norwegian by birth I Have only been in the country for 5 years. I live in Horten, which is about an hour and a  half south of Oslo. Well the main reason that I want to get a sump up and going is to work at getting rid of nitrates. I have heard a lot about this miracle mud that people use in a sump, (more horror stories than anything else) is there any other filters, reactors, or such like that I should get? or that you can recommend? <The miracle mud works by encouraging the growth of macro algae in the sump. You can grow macro algae in your tank for nitrate export without the use of miracle mud which, as you note, is the subject of much debate. You should also consider the use of a DSB - much info on this on the website - as a means of reducing your nitrates. Lastly, you could consider purchasing a sulphur (or other type of) denitrator to reduce your nitrate problems. An excellent denitrator is produced by Korallin, though it is by no means cheap. I would suggest you use the tank you previously suggested with a strong 24hr light, have a DSB in this sump and grow macroalgae. This is the most natural and best way of eliminating nitrate problems and, depending on the what is in your main tank, may also act as a beneficial refugium where you can grow food for tangs or copepods for fish such as the mandarin dragonet. Any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Hilsen, Tim> Tusen Hjertlig takk for hjelpen Tim Clinton

A Couple Sump Questions - 11/07/06 Hi there, <<Hello>> I currently have a saltwater 55-gallon FOWLR tank.  I'd like to add a sump and turn it into a reef but the only tank I'd be able to fit under would be a 15-gallon high. <<Mmm, same "footprint" as a standard 10-gallon tank...not much space to work with but may be do-able>> <Actually two inches wider. RMF> The doors on my stand are split right in the middle of the tank secured to a bar holding the tank up, leaving only enough room to get a 10 gallon in there. <<No chance of placing a larger vessel behind/beside the stand?>> Only other option is to drain & move the tank (do not want to do) or sell & buy bigger RR tank. <<Hmm, do rethink moving the tank now if that would allow you to go forth with a better system (why be disappointed with your setup after it's all said and done).  As for going bigger I'm always a fan of that>> I'd like to know 2 things about sumps.  Is there any chance a 30-35 gallon hexagon tank be able to be used as a sump standing just about right next to the 55 gal long? <<Sure...you can use about anything that holds water and is non-reactive with same, but you'll find a rectangular shape to be easier to configure (install baffles) if needed>> I do have a hang on refugium on the tank now, but it only holds about 6 gallons of water.  Another question, if the hex is possible, is there anyway a sump can be kept very clean & not unsightly? <<With LOTS of maintenance...maybe.  But you'll probably find it to be more work than it's worth>> I do have a skimmer & overflow box, and planning on getting a Phosban reactor as well. Thanks for your help. <<My pleasure, EricR>>

Re: Sump Design   11/7/06 Bob, I took your advice and did a lot of research over the past several weeks :)  I started fresh with a whole new design, which I attached to this email. <I see it> The only thing that remains the same is my 180 gallon oceanic tank. I now have a Bubble king 250 external protein skimmer for my tank.  The skimmer is powered by the red dragon pump.  I will have to use a feeder pump as well, <?> because of the lower flow I will be using in this design.  I am considering the Blueline 30 HD pump (590 GPH @ 0 feet), but do to room constraints I will need to put an elbow before the intake of the pump.  I am considering using a split sump design to allow room for a larger refugium and also a decent return section.  The sump itself will be cast from 3/8 inch acrylic.  The bottom half of the sump will be 41.25 inches long, by 20 inches wide, by 12 inches tall.  The skimmer section will be rather small because of the external skimmer and the external pump.  I was planning on having the skimmer section be 4 inches long, by 19.25 inches wide.  Then, I was considering placing a media chamber attached to the first baffle.  This would allow me to hold carbon and other media if I decide to use it.  The first and third baffle will be 4 inches tall.  The second baffle will be 5 inches tall, and one inch off the base of the sump, making the baffle 6 inches high.  There will be 2 inches of space before baffle #1 and baffle #2. This will also be the area of drainage from the refugium as well.  There will be only 1 inch of space between baffle #2 and baffle #3.  The return area will be 29 inches by 19.25 inches.  I plan to keep the water level in the sump at 5.5 inches.  This will allow for a little more than 13 gallons of water in the return area of the sump.  The refugium will be attached on top of the sump.  It will be 29.25 inches long by 19.25 inches high.  The refugium itself will be 10 inches tall, however the drain will be at the 9-inch level.  The refugium will hold nearly 22 gallons of water.  I plan direct 75% of the overflow into the skimmer area of the sump and 25% of the overflow into the refugium area.  I will use a low flow powerhead for additional flow in the refugium. <Likely not necessary>   I am not sure how much flow to use in this sump design, but was considering using around 500 GPH.  I would like to use a BlueLine pump for the return as well, and once again would have to place an elbow before the intake because of room constraints.  I would love to hear any feedback and thoughts if this is a good sump/refugium design and what would be optimal flow through this design as well.  Again, thanks for all your help, it is very much appreciated :) <Reads as okay... I strongly suspect that you will have another revelation re such designs about the time you're done installing this one... BobF> Lou

Re: Sump Design  11/10/06 Bob, <Mmm, yes> As I am sure you know by now, trying to finalize my sump design to get it into production.  I think I was able to make a combination of my last two design so this sump would not be so bulky.  Also, in doing this thought of a new book idea, sump designs for dummies 101 :) <Heee! Perhaps not a best-seller, but I'd buy a copy> My biggest problem with doing a sump and refugium is lack of room, fitting it under my 180 tank. <How about above? Or to the sides?>   Most designs won't be practical and won't have enough room.  The split sump was the only thing I figured that had a shot, but was wondering if I would be able to combine the return and refugium in one area. <Yes, could> I attached a sketch of what I was thinking.  I could not find any designs on the website that didn't have raised baffles after the fuge, so was not sure if it was not a good idea do <due> to micro bubbles. <Mmm, the baffles are more for providing a constant level on their fore-sides...>   I am still a novice at all this :)  I was going to place the baffles in between the skimmer section and the refugium to cut down the micro bubbles and then place a small baffle at the end of the refugium so the sand would not get stuck in the return pump. <Sounds good> This would allow enough flow so my skimmer would be able to be gravity fed as well, thus eliminating the need for a feeder pump.  That way save on electricity in the process as well.  The outside of the sump would measure 42 inches long, by 20 inches wide, by 16 inches tall.  The skimmer compartment would be 4.75 inches wide.  I then have a media compartment attached to the first baffle, this way I can put carbon or filter floss if I decide to.  The first and third baffle would be 8 inches tall.  The second baffle would be 9 inches tall and 1 inch off the base of the sump, making it stand 10 inches high.  This would be the approximate height of the water level as well (or close to it).  Then, I would have a 24-inch long refugium section, with a 2.5-inch live sand bed. <Mmm, I'd make this deeper... see WWM re DSBs... physical make-up> The refugium would hold roughly 20 gallons of water.  Then I have the 5-inch baffle simply to spates the sand from the return pump.  The small return section would be 4.75 inches long; however, with the refugium it would be 28.75 inches long, thus holding 23 gallons of water.  I would need to run 500 gallons per hour through this sump in order to power my skimmer. <Mmm, this is a bunch, perhaps too much flow/turnover through the refugium itself> My main concern with the design would be micro bubbles, and if passing 500 GPH through the design would be a good idea.  I really appreciate all the help you and Anthony have giving me on this design.  Without your help I would have a half a dozen sumps, and probably still not have one good one.  Hopefully, I won't have to make to many more modifications, as my wife is wondering why I am spending so much time on the computer... <Better by far to "do all this" on paper, the computer now, rather than re-do the actual work later. Mmm, you have read through OzReef.org, seen other commercial sump/refugium designs at shops I take it. Bob Fenner>

Reef Ready Aq... or not  - 10/28/06 Hi there,     I have a quick question that I'm sure you get all the time.  I am setting up my new 125 gallon All-Glass Reef ready aquarium.  I am using a 20 gallon aquarium for a sump with the BioRocker.  I have all the plumbing set up to my sump as was shown to me.  I am confused on how the sump will not overflow and drain my tank in the event of a power outage.   <... depends on how the tank is/was drilled, plumbed... How much water is in the system total...>     I've read similar questions and I still need a clearer explanation.  I know you guys can help. Thank You Aaron <... What? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm The articles and FAQs on plumbing, overflows... Bob Fenner>

Re: Sump Design    10/6/06 Bob, thank you so much for your input.  I have been reading like a mad man this week.  You and Anthony have been terrific.  I have decided to scrap the sump design because it looks to be a poor design.  I was wondering if you could refer me to a company that can custom design and build a sump and refugium to fit my specific needs if I give them the space I have to work with.  I would like this to be a professional job instead of me designing a sump with such limited experience... <There are quite a few... I would elect to have your own design gone over, and a more-local fabricator knock out what you want specifically... but will mention a couple of outfits/folks am familiar with, that make commercial units of worth... CPR and Tenecor... have websites... Again, if it were my money, system, I'd invest the time to read over what is posted on WWM re sumps, refugiums and related plumbing, other issues... Bob Fenner>

Sump Design/Seahorse Air Bubble Malady - 07/25/06 Hi WWM Crew, <<Hello Diana>> This is my first time posting a question, but have been using your site to answer many of my other questions, Thank you for all the info. <<Is our pleasure>> Here is my question... I have a 150 Gallon Pre-Drilled tank that is running on a Wet/Dry system (I'm also running a Canister Filter that works together with my Chiller) and I want to convert to a refugium with a Skimmer build in (was thinking about the ASM G-2 or 3) and I was hoping you could send me to a good link with diagrams etc. on how to build your own.  I have a 29 Gallon tank that I want to use for this purpose. <<Ah yes, have made several myself.  Very easy to do...the simplest version is to merely add some baffles for a bubble trap and to define the dimension/water height of the skimmer and pump chambers.  This site has representations of several different styles that should give you some good ideas: http://www.melevsreef.com/allmysumps.html >> One other question if you don't mind, I also have a Seahorse tank for over a year now and I noticed today that my Male seahorse has an air bubble in his belly and when he lets go of his rock he ends up upside down. <<Not good>> I have read somewhere before that you can manually expel the air from their belly, do you have any experience with this? <<Have heard of this but have no practical experience/exposure re...try reading here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seahorsdisfaqs.htm) and among the associated links.  I'm sure I've seen this addressed on the site>> Thank You so much for your help and keep up the good work, Diana <<Will try.  Regards, EricR>>

Filtration/Berlin System   7/2/06 Do you know where I can find diagrams to build my own Berlin system, sump and all? <This link will lead you to a complete diagram of LifeReef's Berlin System.  http://www.lifereef.com/berlin.html Hope it helps  Can't seem to search our site today for additional info.  James (Salty Dog)> Keenan

Micro bubbles returning from sump    5/2/06 Hello, thanks once again for your site... lots of great info!  I am setting up a 125gal reef tank with a 30 gal sump. I divided the sump into 3 compartments.   Water drains from the tank through a 2" bulkhead ( 2 90's and a 45 elbow and pipe) into the first chamber which houses an EV-180 powered by a mag 7. (tight space in here, nothing but the 2" return pipe, skimmer and mag 7 pump)   It then flows over, under, over 3 baffles into the center section (housing a Via-aqua 3600 return pump). Baffles are 1" apart (maybe a bit less) and center has 1" space under it.  The return plumbing has a T and a ball valve so I can send some of the water into the 3rd chamber (planning on using as a refugium). the reason I set it up this way was so I can run 8" water depth in the first chamber, let the return chamber fluctuate a bit with evaporation, and run 14" depth in the refugium ( planning on 5-6" aragonite and some live rock in the fuge) this seemed like a great setup but I'm having lots of bubbles making their way into the return chamber of the sump. If I open the ball valve all the way so most of the water is coming back into the sump and not being returned to the tank, then my bubble woes go away ( seems like not enough water flow returning to the tank though) <May have to increase this some other way...> Should I change my design and put the fuge in the middle and the return at the end (chamber 1 would then be 9", fuge would be 8" deep, and  return chamber would be 6-8 depending on evaporation). this would give the bubbles more time to pop before getting to the return chamber ( going through the fuge and another set of 3 baffles)...  but I'd lose some overall water volume in the fuge. <This is one approach... might want to experiment with a bit of mechanical media (large/r cell sponge, Dacron batting...) twixt the baffles as well... to see if this will solve the bubble issue... will have to be serviced often though> I'm also in the process of plumbing a Mag12 on a closed loop so total water turnover in the tank should not be too big of a concern) <Oh! Good...> Thanks again, Mike <All possibilities, plans sound good Mike. Bob Fenner> Re: micro bubbles returning from sump    5/2/06 Thanks so much for the reply... I'll try some batting in-between the baffles and see if that helps (I'm assuming I can get it at the pet store, anywhere else that would have it cheaper, like a fabric/sewing store?) <Ah, yes... the latter is best> Is my sump design flawed by having the return chamber so close to the raw water from tank/skimmer chamber? <Mmm, no...> One other question, the 2" drain pipe entering the sump has about a 13" vertical drop straight into the sump, is there a better way to have thee water enter the sump to help get rid of the bubbles? <A tee on the end may be of service here... as might a perforated "receiving chamber" that allows bubbles to coalesce...> I did put a 4" piece of PVC around it so it dumps into the 4" and then flows out the top, this seemed to help some, I need to cap the bottom of the 4" though so the bubbles are forced out the top and don't blow down and around the bottom, maybe putting a small piece of live rock in the bottom to keep it in place. Thanks again, Mike <Welcome. BobF> "Best" Sump/Refugium Setup? - 04/16/06 Greetings from England, <<Back at ya from South Carolina!...but I did live in Ipswich for 3 1/2 years...>> I am in the process of spending the (vast) amount required to setup a FOWLR setup. <<Indeed mate...and a bit more "vast" over there than here!>> This will be my first marine tank, so I'm doing an awful lot of reading first and your site has proved by far the best resource on the net. <<Thank you for this...but please don't limit yourself to a single source/opinion>> My tank will be 1,200 L aprox (a 7 foot tank) and my prime objectives for it are for it to be as fish friendly and easy to maintain as humanly possible. <<Ahh...a "dream" tank then? <grin>...>> I would also like to build it to be as quiet as possible. <<Married, eh?>> My questions relate to the filtration and general "underneath" set up of the tank. <<Is that a "technical" term? <G> >> After a few re-designs, I THINK I've settled on the following. <<Alrighty then>> My problem is that there are so many options that I'm drowning in choices! <<But at least you have "choices">> I wonder if you could look over the following and answer a few questions? <<Be happy to>> The tank will have between 100 and 120KG's of live rock in it, with live sand to maybe 1" deep.  This will be supplemented with another 2" or so of "normal" sand which will hopefully be colonized over time. <<It will...but might I suggest you add 3"-4" of the "dry" sand, and place the "live" sand on top of this>> Beneath the main tank, there will be two cheap 3 foot tanks. Each will be in three sections. <<ok>> The main tank will flow into the first small tank, which will be a sump.  This will have crushed LR in the first area, which will hopefully act as some sort of crude mechanical filter. <<Some settling will occur here, yes>> My other thought would be Lava rock in this position. <<Mmm no, I don't recommend this...possible introduction of unwanted elements (metals, etc.)...stick with the live rock rubble>> This then overflows into the main section, which will hold the skimmer, heaters, any dosing gear I eventually buy etc., etc.. There is then a return area to the main tank. <<Were this me...I would move the skimmer to the first chamber to catch/process the raw surface water from the tank, and move the crushed rock to the center chamber>> From the first chamber in the sump, there will be a low velocity (3-4x turn over) feed into a separate 'fuge.  This again will contain crushed LR in the first (small) section, and then have a 20" x 7" deep DSB/Miracle Mud area, with macro algae above it.  This overflows to a third, small section that will feed back into the third chamber of the sump, meaning that anything that the 'fuge generates does not get skimmed. <<An important consideration...>> This will be lit on a reverse cycle to the main tank, to avoid major fluctuations in stats, etc.  Firstly, does this seem suitable? <<With a few caveats, yes>> Have I missed anything major? <<The placement of the skimmer...in my opinion>> Secondly, some more specific questions. 1) I can't decided between MUD and a DSB.  I read many opinions on each saying that one is better than another. <<That's opinions for ya! <grin> >> Is there a "right" answer? <<I have not used a "mud" substrate myself...but neither have I heard/read anything to convince me to switch from a good ole' sugar-sand DSB>> If not, which would be less maintenance/better for the fish? <<I don't like the idea of having to periodically "replace" portions of a mud bed...would much rather just "top off" my DSB as it "shrinks" from dissolution.  As for which is "better"?  If employed/maintained as intended...either I think>> 2) I have read that DSB's benefit from being turned over, and lots of suggestions as to what makes the best "turner-over", with everything from brittle stars to gob's suggested. <<Mmm...not "turned-over" as such, maybe just slightly "disturbed" (or maybe I'm thinking about myself...), though a sugar-fine DSB with adequate water flow will do just fine on its own (worms/micro-crustaceans)>> What would be your personal recommendations? <<I like/suggest less invasive species than some others here.  I DON'T like sand-sifting starfish, much too efficient at what they do...will quickly deplete the biota in your sand bed...my opinion of course.  Sand-sifting/sleeper gobies can be of benefit, but many of these are far more destructive than I like (Genus Valenciennea).  My suggestion would be a bullet/dragon/brown-barred goby (Amblygobius phalaena).  The gobies don't tend to dig as "deeply" as the Valenciennea species in my experience, nor do they seem as likely to grab mouthfuls of sand and "crop dust" the corals high up on the rock...though sand/bottom dwelling critters will get a sprinkle or two...but then these usually have mechanisms for dealing with it>> 3) Bob states in his book that Ozone is the best thing to add to a system, and so I am planning to add it into the skimmer.  However, the ozone units that are practical to buy will not allow a skimmer of the size I plan to use to be fully supported.  It would need to be 75% air and 25% ozone.  Will this still generate the correct affect? <<Not sure I follow/understand this line of thinking.  For your size tank, an ozone generator in the 200mg-250mg range should be sufficient.  How "effective" it is will depend on the quality/efficiency of the generator...and I suggest you also employ a controller>> 4) As there seem to be so many vocal supports of both the Berlin method and the Ecosystem method, can I take it that both are equally as effective when used correctly? <<Likely so...many folks employ different methods/combinations of methods quite successfully>> 5) Will I have to modify anything in this design in a year or two if I move into making a reef tank? <<I don't think so...other than maybe adding more flow to the display tank>> Many thanks indeed. Steve <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Sump/Refugium (Overflow?) Confusion - 04/08/06 Hey folks me again. <<Hello "me">> I have a Perfecto 125 gal reef ready with two corner flows.  I called the company and they said each overflow is rated at 700gph. <<Mmm, yes..."rated" indeed...but expect only about half that before incurring problems (excessive noise, surge, air entrainment issues, etc.).>> This gives me about 1400gph to use. <<A lot of water to try to push through a sump...hope it's not in your living room.>> I would like to use a Mag 18 for my return and according to spec it will give me a little less than 1400gph with the head length. <<As I've intimated, I think this will be too much flow for your overflows/sump.  Go ahead and give it a try...just be prepared to make adjustments/downsize the pump if things don't turn out as you expect.>> I will use a "T" and a gate valve on the return. <<wise>> My question is this.  First question I have is can I run a "T" off one of the drains, put a gate vale on it and let it drain into a refuge chamber in a sump. <<You can>> The water would then flow over a baffle to the second chamber.  This is where I will be doing the skimming. <<I would design the sump/refugium to skim water 'before' the 'fuge to keep from trapping/removing beneficial plankton/epiphytic matter on its way to your fish's/coral's mouths.>> Then I will pump the water back into the display with the Mag18.  If this sounds ok what size should I have for the refuge. <<As large as physically possible.>> I want the main purpose for nitrate reduction.  If macroalgae is suggested then what type could I use and feed the extra to the fish. <<My personal fave is Chaetomorpha (is what I use), it provides an excellent, dense matrix for pod/plankton production.  But if your looking to feed your fish with the algae, Gracilaria is probably a better choice.  Though excellent nutrient export mechanisms, I tend to keep away from Caulerpa species due to their inherent risks (toxicity, sexual events, et al).>> Would it be a problem with the raw water going directly into the refuge portion? <<Nope.  I have separate vessels for my sump and refugium...the 'fuge receives raw water from the display which then flows to the pump chamber in my sump.>> The last and biggest question is, I have been looking all over the internet and can not find a sump/refuge that will do the above.  Any suggestions. <<Have a look here and among the indices in blue:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumpusefaq10.htm >> I don't know if a DIY project would be appropriate with my skills. <<Not all that difficult...really.>> If you have other suggestions for the sump/refuge let me know as I am confused on how to do it right.  I know 'right' is a matter of opinion but I trust your opinions. <<Indeed my friend...for a combined unit, my "opinion" is to have raw water flow in to the skimmer chamber (first chamber), then overflow to the refugium, which then overflows to the pump chamber.  Baffles to help eliminate excessive bubbles can be installed between the skimmer chamber and refugium chamber.>> Thanks a bunch and I am still reading your site. <<Excellent...lots of material/help abounds.>> With all this knowledge I am starting to look like I am on steroids (hehe). <<Heee!  EricR>>

Sump to Display ratio 3/20/06 Hello, I've spent some time looking through your website with respect to sump systems... although I see a lot of FAQ's, I can't seem to find general guidelines and rules.  A few simple questions? <<Fire away!>> I am having a custom built 165 gallon tank built into my wall. I'd like to incorporate a sump system to minimize my hands in the tank water and for ease of maintenance.  What would be the recommended size of sump tank to be used with a 165 gallon tank?  Would 50 gallons be sufficient?   I also have a 90 gallon tank that I'd like to have setup with a sump... 20 or 30 gallons for this one? <<A crude rule of thumb for a minimum might be about 20% of the display size.  The most important thing is that they sump is at least big enough to hold all of the water that will drain down from the display when the pumps are shut off.  Other than that, I would suggest using as large a sump as is practical.  The more water volume the better, and a larger sump offers a greater degree of flood safety than one that is barely large enough.  I would say that the sizes you are proposing sound fine.>> In my 165 gallon tank, I'm doing fish only with a Zebra or Snowflake Moray Eel.   Does the 1lb live rock/per gallon ALWAYS apply? (as I have seen many fish only systems with hardly any or no live rock at all).  Obviously I want enough to give my fish and eel ample hiding places... but do I really need to invest the 1lb rock/gallon rule in this scenario? Look forward to your response. Regards, Dave Brynlund <<I am a big fan of live rock even in fish only systems.  However, the rule of 1 lb per gallon is a very rough guide.  If you choose very high quality, open, porous rock (Marshall Islands, Kaelini), as little as 1/2 lb/gal should be sufficient to provide cover for your eel and provide adequate biological filtration.  On the other hand, some Florida aquacultured rock is very dense and might require 1.5-2 lb/gal for the same effect.  In terms of using live rock at all, I feel very strongly about it's benefits.  See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm  Best Regards.  AdamC.>>

Re: Sump to display ratio 3/24/06 Thanks for the response... I went to a few local aquariums to take a look at sump systems to get a better idea of how they work.  My intent with the 165 gallon tank (5 1/2 ft long, 2' x 2') is to have one overflow into about a 45 - 50 gallon sump. I've noticed a number of posts talking about two overflows, what would the benefit be?  Obviously, with two overflows one would need one BIG sump tank, correct?  I intend to split my inflow back into the tank via some tubes to create water flow in all areas of the tank. <<Multiple drains do not require a larger sump as long as the drains are positioned at the same height... the water will still only drain as low as the drains are positioned.  However, multiple drains can handle much greater flow and do so with much less noise, both of which are very important considerations.>> As well, I was curious with sumps... If I choose to use live rock as a filter media, do I ever have to change out the liverock or rinse it?  I'm under the impression that I can use liverock in the chamber where tank water enters the sump... In the middle chamber I keep my heater, protein skimmer, and perhaps a refugium?  Does the refugium have to be in a distinctive container? Do I just put substrate in the middle chamber as is?  I've noticed a few sump kits advertising 'miracle mud' or something to that effect.  Looks like they use bio balls in the tank to sump chamber, and then a miracle mud in the middle chamber with Caulerpa or mangroves... Etc.  Know anything about this? <<Live rock and it's attendant critters are meant to be self maintaining.  An occasional blast with a powerhead or turkey baster is all it needs.  You can place live rock in any chamber of the sump, but it is much better applied in the display where it makes an attractive, functional substrate.  If you use a divided sump, no special container is necessary for a refugium.  In fact, I have seen very functional refugia constructed out of a 5gal plastic bucket with a hole in the side placed in a sump!  Miracle Mud is a name brand substrate.  I have seen it work very well for some people, but no one has convinced me that it has benefits beyond a conventional refugium.  FWIW.. mangroves make attractive plants, but grow much too slowly to accomplish meaningful nutrient export.>> I've very SUMP unintelligent... I think I need to actually set one up and run it for me to fully understand what happens.  I've read through your info and FAQ's but there seems to be no "SUMPS for Dummy's" section... Hehe. <<There really is no magic!  Simply put, a sump is just a convenient place to put equipment where it can be out of sight and maintained without disrupting the display.  It does not have to be any more complicated than a plain, standard aquarium, although placing baffles to control bubbles is helpful.  The addition of a refugium, elaborate baffling systems, etc. may be helpful, but are not necessary.>> Is there a fool proof way to ensure that neither my tank or sump does not overflow?  As long as I get a big enough sump to begin with...?  I want to ensure safety measures for a syphon break or pump failure. Dave <<Ha!!  Don't we all wish!  Seriously though, the most important consideration is choosing a large enough sump that it won't fill up when the pumps are turned off.  This should of course be tested!  A close second in importance is maintenance.  Make sure that prefilters, screens, drain lines, etc. are all kept clear of debris to prevent the display from overfilling.  If you plumb your return lines up over the edge of the tank, the use of siphon breaks is also helpful.  These small holes in the return line are placed just at the water line to allow air to enter the line if the pump stops.  This prevents a siphon from forming and sucking water back to the sump through the return line.  Last but not least... do not rely on check valves!  While they may function flawlessly when new or nearly new, they are very prone to failure as organic material and living creatures accumulate on them.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>> Sump Size - 3/10/2006 Hello <<Hello Andrea.>> My boyfriend Jim has a 90 gallon tank.  At this time he is using a 30 gallon sump in the basement that runs back to the upstairs for his tank flow. <<Just for flow? There are better/easier ways to achieve this.  Is it a macro-algae refugium?>> Jim would like to increase the sump volume to 150-200 gallons, if he does this would it be a strain to the Eco system of the tank and kill things off? <<I'm not sure why this would be a problem.  If it were my tank, I'd have the larger tank as a display, with the 90 as the sump.>> Jim also wanted to know, since he has used this email before, does he need a specific contact person, or does it not make a difference? <<Only if he'd prefer to talk to a certain crew member.>> Thanks Andrea <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>  

Sump Design/Filter Socks - 03/08/06 Hi WWM Crew: <<Hey there Tom!>> Thank you very much for all the help so far, you've been huge. <<Our pleasure>> I have another question:  I'm just not understanding how best to provide raw water to the sump skimmer, because I also thought I needed (and would rinse at least weekly) a filter sock for incoming sump water to remove as much detritus as possible from our 120G mixed reef system.  Is the sock really needed? <<Opinions vary...but I don't use them on my reef.>> I've attached a top and front view of the new sump I'm planning.  It's as big as can fit under the tank, otherwise I'd have a larger refugium section. <<Nice drawings...very helpful.>> If I were to remove the filter sock, how could I then physically filter the water before it gets to the return pump? <<Mmm, not always necessary, again, in my opinion...but even without the filter sock much will settle out in the baffles and can be vacuumed/siphoned out periodically.>> Could you also review the diagrams and tell me what's good (and not so good)? <<Happy to...  I would move the skimmer to the first chamber and let ALL the raw water from the tank enter here to be processed by the skimmer and overflowing to the refugium in the middle compartment.  This way plankton/epiphytic matter from the refugium doesn't get sucked in to (and wasted by) the skimmer, but rather, has a free ride to your return pump and up to the display tank.>> Thanks,
<<Regards, EricR>>

Sump Design/Filter Socks II - 03/09/06 I guess now I have a couple of follow up questions, appreciate your patience. <<No problem>> I'm sure inclined to go the route you suggest, without a sock, but I would not have any physical filtration in the system other than the skimmer, is that right? <<Correct.  Ideally you will have enough flow in your tank to keep detritus in suspension to be utilized by the tank inhabitants.>> Just curious...about how often should the sump detritus need to be siphoned out of the baffles and skimmer compartment? <<Depends, maybe 2-3 times a year...but you'll likely find this area densely populated by bristle worms, amphipods, other micro-crustaceans, and may not have to bother with it.>> Also, with the refugium section in the middle, would the 1000 GPH going through it be too much? <<Most any refugium methodology will do fine with the flow.>> Thought of a new question, still related.  Would you say I'm better off going with an external sump return pump (like a GenX Mak4), or a similar capacity internal pump (like a Mag 12 or 18)?  I'd like to get an actual 1000GPH through the 1" SeaSwirl.  A submersible internal pump would allow me to make the sump a few inches longer, but I'd like to avoid the added heat of the submersible Mag. <<If you were to use an Iwaki or GRI pump I would say go external.  But given the choices listed I would use the Mag-Drive pump.  Noise will be less and the difference in heat transfer negligible.>> Thanks, in advance! Tom <<Always welcome, EricR>> Combined Sump/Refugium Design - 03/11/06 Good Evening Crew, <<Morning here>> I have a follow-up question to a submission posted by another querier (Tom) titled "sump design/filter socks" from the WWM daily FAQs of 03/08/06.  The submitter of this initial query provided very nice drawings of a proposed refugium/sump design (side and top views).  Distinguished WWM responder, Eric R., provided an answer that suggested switching the position of the refugium & sump.  Eric's answer is perfectly clear/understood.  However, seeing the submitted drawings mentioned above, reading Eric's response and having read some of Mr. Fenner's (and other Crew member's) comments about sump/fuge design has me wondering about another element of sump/fuge layout. <<Ah yes, I recall the exchange(s) well...EricR here...again.>> I believe in one of Mr. Fenner's archived answers on the topic, he indicated that sump/fuge design might be optimized by incorporating some ability to implement carbon and/or Poly-Filter when/if necessary. <<No might/when/if about it in my opinion <G>.  Virtually any/every system would/will benefit from the addition of these media.>> I am wondering, referring to the design drawings mentioned above, where in this design would one place such (carbon/Poly-Filter) bags/pads, etc? <<Anywhere along the filter flow-path.  In the sump mentioned, the media could be placed in amongst the baffles.  Some manufactured sumps incorporate a dedicated "media chamber" for this purpose.>> Would one envelope the output pipe from the skimmer in a carbon-filled or Poly-Filter type bag? <<Could, but I wouldn't.  Aside from being a pain to employ, it would likely wreak havoc with your drain's output/flow.>> Or, would it be better to direct the skimmer output to a higher-level, drip-tray type device or compartment (similar to Marineland's filter-drawer-style sump) wherein carbon material and/or Poly-Filter pads are placed in "drizzle path" to achieve necessary chemical filtering if/as necessary? <<Mmm...me thinks it would just be easier to place the media somewhere along the filter flow-path...>> In addition, acknowledging the fact that there are greatly varied opinions in the hobby on this subject, my reading of the FAQs re sump/fuge design has led me to believe that "parallel" flow systems here (i.e. a specifically determined volume & turnover-rate-based % of tank output going separately but concurrently to both sump and fuge, with the two coming together again at the return) are better than a "series" method of sump-into-fuge-to-return design? <<I absolutely agree!  Employing a separate sump and refugium is always better IMO/E.>> If one is running, for example, an Aqua-C EV-240 using a Mag 1200, wouldn't the output of that into your average fuge cause total destruction in an average setup unless (even if) manifolded? <<Mmm, no...many refugium methodologies benefit from high flow rates.  I have a 55 gallon vegetable refugium (6" sugar-fine DSB w/Chaetomorpha algae) with a flow through of more than 1,000 gph.  I'm not saying it has to be that high (though some authors might disagree), but it does tolerate the flow well and could easily stand more.  The high flow rate also assists with getting planktonic/epiphytic matter out of the refugium and in to the display tank.>> It would seem much more logical to divert tank output to the sump and fuge compartments separately and have skimmer output going directly to main return, bypassing fuge. <<More logical to have separate vessels/inputs/outputs, yes...though for "combined" vessels, focus should be on having the 'fuge output bypass the skimmer chamber else much of the benefit re (IMO) is wasted.>> This is what I am planning in my design, anyway....am I mistaken?   <<As long as you aren't flowing from your refugium to your skimmer I think you are on track.>> Part of the reason I am trying to design/build my own sump and fuge is because I haven't yet found any manufacturers that produce (at least what I can tell is) a "parallel" system. <<Agreed>> I am wondering why truly parallel-style systems aren't more widely commercially available?. <<Good question, would appeal to me...perhaps folks/manufacturers are just "comfortable with/complacent about" current design.  Perhaps you could use your design to spark a change!>> Or, are they, and I've just not looked in the right places?   <<Don't think so.>> Highly regarded (apparently) sump/fuge systems such as those offered by Ecosystems (those that I've seen) seem to be of a "series" nature...unless I don't fully understand their design/functional flow? <<My experiences match yours.  Commonly available sump/refugium systems employ designs where water flows through a "series" of chambers from one end to the other.  I envision a parallel system employing a lengthwise center panel/plate allowing the formation of two longitudinal chambers, with both terminating at a single pump chamber.  As you stated each chamber could be fed individually, with flow tailored to suit, and each side customized /compartmentalized for its intended purpose.>> Thank you very much for your time/advice here. Best Regards, Brian <<Cheers, EricR>>

Sump Design/Filter Socks II  - 3/16/2006 Hi Eric, <<Hey Tom!>> I see the diagrams I included with my recent "Sump Design/Filter Socks - 03/08/06" inquiry resulted in more discussion on the topic, so I wanted to make sure the other WWM reader (Brian) knew about www.melevsreef.com/allmysumps.html. Some of Melev's sump designs looked similar to what I needed, plus there are several other examples that might help Brian with the "parallel" sump/refugium design. <<Thank you for this.>> Regarding placement of the skimmer in the center section, I thought very little of the refugium output would end up back in the skimmer because of the way the EV180 skimmer body will partition the center section.  On one side of the EV180, around 800-900 GPH will be coming into the skimmer pump area via the overflow, and the EV180 can only process around half that flow. So this "excess" flow into the skimmer pump area should keep most of the skimmer and refugium output, which is on the other side of the EV180, from getting back into the skimmer pump...the bulk of the skimmer and refugium output should just flow into the baffles.  At least that's the theory... <<Mmm, I see your point...likely will be fine then.>> These drawings were done in a hurry and are missing lots of details.  I'll be putting media bag(s) in the baffle area, and redundant float switches, for auto top-off, in the return pump area.  The divider between the refugium and skimmer section will be opaque, black acrylic to keep the algae growth in the refugium. One minor difference from some other refugium designs I've seen will be that the refugium output will not simply flow over a wall into the return area, rather it will come from near the bottom of the refugium where I figured most of the 'pods like to hang out. <<Indeed they do.  And once the mysids start breeding (feed them well...are cannibalistic) you will see little "clouds" of tiny young swirling just above the substrate.>> The main goals with this sump design are (1) a decent size refugium and (2) high, 1000+ GPH, bubble-free flow to a SeaSwirl return...but it all has to fit in a very limited space with a pre-determined overflow location. <<A common tale.>> Lots of other equipment (Ca reactor, CO2 bottle, freshwater reservoir, PhosBan reactor, closed-loop pump, chiller pump, power strips, timers, etc) needs to fit in the same cabinet, and I'll be using every square inch of space. <<A very common tale <grin>.>> One thing I've learned in my short time as a reef keeper is that it's the opportunity for individual planning, design, and methods that help make this hobby interesting. <<Yes!  To bad so many overlook these steps.>> Another thing I've learned is to read, and get advice from WWM...please let me know if I'm headed the right direction. <<Keep reading/questioning/learning my friend.>> Just to confirm your earlier answer to the sump return pump selection, would a 110 watt, external GenX Mak4 really add about as much heat to the water as a 145 watt, submersible Mag18? <<Actually, I had a Mag12 in mind when I made that comment...but even so, I don't think you will find the temperature transfer from the Mag18 to be a problem, no.>> I've been using a Mak4 for a closed loop, and it sure seems like the bulk of the heat is produced & dissipated away from the wet end of the pump. <<Agreed...but I also think the GenX pump runs hotter than the Mag-Drive.  I think you will do fine whichever method you choose.  If heat is going to be an issue for you I really doubt which of these pumps you use will be a deciding factor.  Mounting fans (I use 4" 12v computer fans run on inexpensive outdoor lighting transformers) to blow across your tank AND your sump/refugium will go a long way towards mitigating any "overheating" issues.>> As always, a big thanks, Tom <<And as always, very welcome.  Regards, EricR>>

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