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FAQs About Sump/Filters Design/Engineering 5

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Sump Design Question  - 03/12/07 Dear Crew: <Paul>     I apologize in advance for the lengthy question but I have read through the FAQ's and articles but I need an expert opinion.  My wife forbid me to get a bigger tank until we move into a larger house (5 years from now) but she didn't say I couldn't add a sump. <Heeee! You sneaky devil you> My tank is 30 gallons and is 36"x12"x16".     I have two designs #1 is a single sump design, and #2 is a two sump design.  My concern with design #1(about 20-25 gallons) is too much flow through the refugium I would like to move around 200 GPH through the sump which is more than the recommended 5-7x turnover.   <A valid concern... overcome by either design/bypass... or the possibility of two sumps... one as a refugium> I am trying to achieve a 15x turnover in the display, in addition I would use a powerhead in the display to create opposable flow and a loc line on the return.      Design #2 would be about the same volume total but I am worried that drilling 4 holes in the back of the tank would weaken the back panel. <Mmm, no... not if done/spaced "properly"> It would eliminate the use of a powerhead in the display but again it would put a lot of flow through the refugium.  The single overflow into each sump seems to be a disaster in the making if one of the overflows becomes blocked somehow.  I could run the returns over the lip and use all four holes as overflows but I would rather not unless recommended.   <Depends on size/diameters... with good screens... blockage is not such an issue>     I have read about the overflow stands that can be placed in tanks but in a 30 gallon it would take up way too much room and I don't like the look. <Me neither> I want to do all this to my tank to prepare for a larger tank in the future and I figure make the mistakes now. <Let's avoid them altogether, eh?> I'm looking to provide pods and food for my scooter dragonet (who eats Mysis) and a Protula magnifica. I would also like to bring my nitrates down and inhibit algae growth in the display. <All good goals and achievable here> I know I should wait for a reef ready tank but I want to try drilling glass, plumbing, and tinkering with my system. I want to design my future 200+ gallon custom tank (my wife think it's a 125 but I'm pretty sure she can't calculate volume just by looking).   <Mmm, careful Abdul... you never know who reads the Net... and it goes on forever... "Remember, thou art mortal"> Once my larger tank is set up I could use this tank as a quarantine tank or species specific tank (peacock mantis).   <!> This is my first attempt and I know there are many things that I don't see so any critiques or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, even if it is to say all hope is lost and this design is a total failure.  All this started because: "<Mmm, and a fave suggestion... do consider a "living sump", a refugium... for several benefits, one of which is endogenous food production for such filter feeders. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the linked files above... in order... Rationale... Bob Fenner>" Sincerely,
<I blame... myself. BobF>

Marine Water storage tanks  -- 03/09/07 Hello Crew, <Hi Mike.> I've searched the site and I have not found a question similar to mine, so I apologize in advance if this is a repeat. <There are some similar issues here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circpumps.htm> I have a 180 gallon FOWLR with a 55 gallon refugium (both with deep sand beds).  I was seeking your opinion on the use of large water storage tanks in a setup. I have been offered a 210 gallon FDA approved plastic water storage tank.   <nice!> By virtue of where my aquarium resides, it would be a simple matter to drill two appropriate sized holes through my wall and keep this tank in my laundry room (where noise is not an issue). <Convenient place to put a laundry room!> My thought was to take the output from my sump and pump it through a spray bar into the top of this (full) tank.  Then pump it out of the bottom back into the tank - essentially giving me an additional 200+ gallons of water volume. Additionally, I've thought about putting a large quantity of coarse crushed coral in this tank for additional buffering.  Drilling a hole in the tank and adding a spigot for fast water changes is also planned. Is this a good idea?  Are there any pitfalls that I may be missing? <The pitfall is that pumping in and out will cause a flood when the pumps aren't perfectly matched. This is addressed here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm You can incorporate this extra tank, maybe overflow from the aquarium into the tank, then overflow (bulkhead at appropriate height) to the sump.  Then pump back to aquarium.  You can only pump once, or you will have a mess. Levels set so that when power fails, nothing overflows.> Many thanks for an outstanding website <Very welcome.> Regards Mike

Sump advice   3/3/07 Hi there, <Hello> > Thank you for a fantastic website <Welcome> > I have attached a sketch of my proposed sump and overflow plans > If I have misdirected this e-mail please just push me in the right direction, if the pics are too poor or incomplete please let me know <Well... I do like the proposed overflow with the two drain lines... over the alternative with one... You might want to search for an "in-sump" model skimmer, rather than one that necessitates drilling the input and return as illustrated. But all other elements seem accounted for, reasonable in perspective> > Thank you so much <Again, welcome. Bob Fenner>>
Re: Sump advice   3/4/07 My reasoning behind the external skimmer is because of the large footprint, I just assumed if I make arrangements for it to be mounted externally I would not only get more water volume in the sump, better water flow and I would not be restricted to a small model just because my sump is small. <Mmm... I'd gladly trade (in most cases) the added safety of having "less stuff" that could "go wrong"... a break in a line, less noise from pumping... and inserting the skimmer in the sump myself...> I could remove the piece of  glass that I am currently using to direct the flow of the water to the skimmer and just pop a skimmer in the second compartment.. agree? See attached revision. <I do agree... do be diligent re cleaning that mechanical media illustrated... likely at least once a week> My second question is , with the fuge chamber being  52x38cm, and 28cm deep ( half of which is sand ) My Q: is this size too big / too small <Never too big... and this should be "about right" in terms of being "enough" volume> Thanks for your valued assistance

Flood prevention in upstairs/downstairs display/sump 2/26/07 Hello again. <Hi, Kris. GrahamT here.>   I'm back with a new question/suggestion.   I have been entertaining the idea of adding a sump to my 55gal FOWLR tank. <I agree with sumps. "Add volume, add buffering!" I always say. At least, I *should* say that. That would be cool.>   The sump will be in the basement, my tank is in the living room one floor up. <I hope you have a solid plan for this. Can be troublesome in the early stages if not planned extremely thoroughly. Imagine having to run up/down stairs to observe what is happening simultaneously.>   One of my hesitations about adding the sump is the plumbing involved and the fear of flooding when something goes wrong.   <Mmm, flooding can happen regardless of location of the sump. Actually, that's probably what you meant; sumps introduce the possibility of flooding. D'oh!> I understand that of the three options for getting water out of the tank siphoning is the worst, external overflow boxes are better but still problematic, and a drilled tank is best.   <Would agree on basic principles here, but every situation calls for a different application, as you probably know.> My tank is not drilled, and for the obvious reasons I will not go the route of a siphon, so I'm left with a hang-on overflow box. <Or you could drill the tank? That aside, I think the overflow is a solid plan. (BTW some of the systems I service have been drilled, and still utilize a overflow, but instead of the lift-tube that could potentially fail, we plumb directly between the two with PVC bulkhead fittings.>   That said, I understand that, should I lose power, the sump won't flood because the overflow box will only let a minimal amount of water into the sump.   <Right. The overflow will reduce the level in the tank only to the point where water cannot cascade over the skimmer-edge.> What I am worried about, however, is flooding the display tank with sump water when the power returns and the pump empties my sump. <Not to say that that is altogether unlikely, but it *is* quite avoidable with some basic planning/foresight. Make sure the overflow is designed so that the water level never goes so far down below the skimmer-box level that the siphon is lost and you will be alright.> However, if there were something the pump could be plugged into that would require a manual reset to restore power to the pump after power returns then the display tank could not be flooded from the sump as there would be no water returning to the tank until I reset the pump.   <This is true, and there are interrupt-reset power-supplies that serve this purpose. The only thing I would reflect on here, is that while the pump is off, your filtration, circulation, possibly heating, etc. are all isolated from the main display. All this is moot if the sump pumps onto the floor though, huh?> This makes all the horror stories of floods seem easily avoidable to me.    <I would try to avoid needing the interrupt-reset power-supply, but it would make a great backup in case of failure. One thing you need to have in mind when designing a system is contingency and flexibility.> Am I missing something in the dynamics of water flow or do you agree that what I have described would all but eliminate flooding at either the tank or the sump? <I think that if the siphon in the overflow is never interrupted, you won't have to worry about the water not returning to the sump, causing a flood. That said, insurance is the backbone of a solid dependable aquarium. You need to feel secure that you can leave home without placing a camera and broadcasting on a webcam that you check every half-hour. Your idea is one more wall of security. I say, do it!>    Thanks again for your great service to this incredibly enjoyable and sometimes challenging hobby. <You're welcome, and thank you! -GrahamT.>      -Kris

Sump a Distance From the Tank, is Feasible.   2/14/07 Hi there, <Hi Deryck! Mich here.> I am thinking about putting my sump in another room about 10' away from the main tank because it doesn't fit very nicely under the tank.   <OK.> Is this going to cause me problems?   <No as long as you consider there will be a reduction in the flow the pump produces related to the further distance / increased resistance.> I am looking at getting some decent size pumps in for the returns, but would like to know if this is even feasible? <Is feasible.> Currently I have two drains in my tank, both 1" pipe. Thanks, <Welcome!  -Mich> Deryck

Cramped in space...and time... not a Hemingway pastiche!  Skimmer fitting 2/12/07 Hey Crew,    <Adam>   You guys rock, I have been able to be very successful in having marine aquariums the last 4 years with no outbreaks and ich, etc.. Who would ever guess a quarantine tank would save so many lives...??!??    <Yay! You and I at least...>   I have this sump in my 120 GL FOWLR and Shrimp/Snails/Hermit/Star Fish tank.      http://www.seatrademarine.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=PCA75&Category_Code=PCA        We just bought a really cute small, Yellow Eye Kole Tang which is doing well in our old tank, a 30 gallon, that has a aqua c remora skimmer which we use for our quarantine tank. I am very PRO skimmer BTW.    <Mmm...>   we currently have about 80 lbs of live rock and are going to add another 40 when we introduce our new tangs (hoping to get a chevron or another one with Kole (not same sub-species) to separate/differentiate the current territories. <Are conspecifics in HI...>   We have approx 20 hermits, 10 snails, 2 cleaner shrimp, 1 dwarf angel and 1 false eye puffer .. so a small bioload..      We do not have a skimmer yet, and with the 2nd compartment of the sump being only 10x10 we are going to probably get a EV-120 with the intake positioned directly underneath the bioballs.. <Good choice> I will extend tube the pump for the ev120 under the bioballs chamber and cut a hole for the tubing to go through the sponge divider (small hole) This then would drain through the return valve via skimmer into the same 2nd compartment which the skimmer would share with our mag 7 pump, which would be positioned sideways in remaining 5' area.    <Okay>   The sump's 2nd compartment is 10x10 and the ev120 is 8.5 w x 4.75 pressed flat against bio-ball compartment, then the sideways mag 7 pump 5 x 3.8 with our water heater in there as well.. pretty tight fight but it will work.      the background info is done, now the questions.      1. Should I 86 the bio-balls? <I would, yes> I do not plan on having any other inverts than current stock and they are doing great.. The bio-balls clean stuff up and I don't think it would "hurt". We do 10-20% water changes 1 or 2 times a month.. Only algae we are getting is a little green hair algae on a few spots in the very fine (less than 1 inch) sand at the bottom of the tank. I have dual overflows pre-drilled and 2 pumps aerating water positioned at the top left and bottom left front of the tank (fish love to swim in the current.) <Nice to have the redundancy>   2. If you think I should remove them, what should I put there? <Mmm, nothing if you'd like... some rock, other calcareous media...?> The skimmer is too tall 18' and the drains drain directly on top of them.. (see intake in picture... right on top) BTW: 2 overflows = 2 drains which are T into 1 for that connection.      3. Do you think the skimmer is even worth it even though it is getting pre-filtered water and sits very close to the return pump? <Oh yes... very worthwhile. Wait to you see the gunk it removes, your improved water quality, the improvement to the vitality of your livestock> You don't think this may get extra microbubbles with the EV-120 and be very undesirable?   <Not likely to be an issue here> (bubbles drive me nuts)      4. Or should we bite the bullet and buy a different retail sump with more room.... would you recommend one (not the one you get a 10% kickback for recommending! ;) JUST KIDDING)    <Heeeee! We don't "do" kickbacks>   I think this should work as long as the EV 120 Extension tubes do not make the skimmer less efficient...    <Marginally>   Let me know what you think, you guys have always helped me well in the past and I owe you guys big time!      -Adam <I'd make this addition, improvement. BobF>

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