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FAQs About Sump/Filters Design/Engineering 6

Related FAQs: Sump Design 1, Sump Design 2, Sump Design 3Sump Design 4Sump Design 5 Sump Design 7, Sump Design 8, & Sumps/Filters 1, Sumps/Filters 2, Sumps 3, Sumps 4, Sumps 5, Sumps 6, Sumps 7, Sumps 8, Sumps 9, Sumps 10, Rationale, Construction, Sump Components, Pumps/Circulation, Maintenance, Refugiums, Plenums in Reef Filtration, Marine System Plumbing Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing NoiseMake Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Related Articles: Pressure Locking Sump Baffles; Welcome to the World of Versatility! By Joshua McMillen, Refugiums, Marine Filtration, Reef FiltrationMechanical, Physical, Marine System Plumbing Fish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Refugiums

Upstairs or downstairs? Reef/sump set-up, maint.  -- 06/28/07 Good afternoon all! I am in the midst of oodles of research regarding adding a sump with refugium to my setup. I have a 55 gallon FOWLR at the moment, and would like to move up to a reef. The tank is about a year old now. I've been researching the proper plumbing, and am toying with the idea of putting the sump/refugium in my basement directly below the display tank. I have much research to do, and I'm sure I'll have questions coming regarding the specifics once I get to that point. My question at the moment relates to maintenance and water changes. It seems to me that many people with sumps perform their water changes directly from their sump. Is that correct? <It depends on the person and their set up. But I can try to explain to you the logic of doing a water change from a sump/refugium rather than the display. Many systems are set up such that water pumps from the sump/refugium to the display while water flows via gravity back to the sump (through a 'drain(s),' a hole(s) drilled in the display tank). If you do a water change from the display, you'd likely be bringing the water level down below the drain(s). But the water in the sump would keep pumping water back up. Since most sumps/refugiums are only a fraction of the volume of the display, your sump could pump itself dry during the water change. This is bad for the sump and for the pump in the sump. You could turn off the pump in the sump, but you'd have to do this after you lowered the water level in the display (or else the sump will overflow). Having a sump in the basement could make this tricky. You might find yourself running up and down the stairs, racing against the pump or gravity or both. If you do the water change from the sump/refugium, assuming the water volume of your display is much larger, the vertical water level in the display tank should not drop nearly as far as it would in the sump. Also, doing the water change from the sump could allow you to more easily pace your water change. Of course, the situation changes if you don't use a gravity-pulled output to the sump. Some aquarists use two pumps instead of a pump and a drain. And some use a combination of pumps and drains that can get quite complicated. But in your case, and for most beginners, I strongly suggest the use of a gravity pulled drain from the display to the sump, with a pump from the sump to the display. You can have more than one drain though. That just depends on how much flow you want from the two tanks and how many holes you're willing to drill in your tank.> In my current tank, when I perform water changes, I take that opportunity to siphon off the liverock, clean the sand, etc. I'm wondering when the "sump people" do that? <They likely do it as they feel they need to. To prevent either one tank from going dry or another overflowing, you will need to take out just enough water so that the water level is below the drain(s). Then, before the pump in the sump/refugium brings the water level back up, you'll have to turn off that pump. Again, this is where having the sump in the basement is a bit of a disadvantage. Some aquarists use float valves which automatically turn pumps off if water gets to a certain level.> Do water changes turn into a two step process......one being cleaning the display, and one being water exchange? Could you shed some light here? <It doesn't have to be a two part process. I have a 65g display with a 29g refugium and I do all my water changes from the display. Even if you get confused in trying to figure out when to turn off the pump or where to lower a water level to, usually you learn after your first overflow or dry out. Something about seeing it happen often helps people better understand what's going on.> I'm ultimately trying to find out where will be the best place to make all my water... ...upstairs with the display, or downstairs with the sump? Will I be doing equal amounts of work upstairs as well as downstairs? Am I better off to just put a sump underneath the tank in the stand? (I do love the idea of having ample room in the basement though). <I can understand why having the sump in the basement is tempting. Many aquarists do this and wouldn't have it any other way. However, if you plan on having a reef tank, there's another thing you will have to consider; build up in the pipes. The longer your pipes are, the harder they're going to be to clean and/or replace.> I should have prefaced this by letting you know that I am currently battling hair algae. In response, I have upped my water changes to weekly (from every other week), and considering twice weekly. <Have you tried getting more herbivores?> Every water change is a major ordeal, as I am removing and cleaning all the powerheads, heaters and canister filter intakes/returns during each water change. Believe me, I'm up to my eyeballs in frustration! I have finally figured out that there is phosphate in my tap water, <Ah, there's your problem! You should invest in a RO/DI water filtering unit. You will especially need this if you plan to keep reef invertebrates.> and thus have ordered and received a Kold-Steril unit along with their alumina media. (I just cannot stomach the thought of the wasted water of RO units). <Hmm'¦ it might be difficult for you to keep a reef tank without RO/DI filtered (or distilled) water.> I have added Chemi-pure as well. And until I get the Kold-Steril running, I am purchasing RO water for all change and top off. I hope that my battle plan pays off, as the tank is nowhere near a max bioload, <What are you considering the 'max bioload?' I ask because people usually overestimate their 'max bioload.' You can't go by the inches of fish per gallon rules, especially not for reef tanks.> I feed sparingly, and have four powerheads along with an Eheim 2026 filter that is cleaned out weekly. I guess I'm wondering if when a reef tank is running "optimally", whether the hobbyist is spending very little time invading the display to keep it clean? (making the downstairs setup more desirable). I should note that I believe I am very understocked as far as clean up crew. I have 3 crabs (which I could certainly do without......I'm not thrilled with having them at all) and 3 snails. I believe I need to add a significant amount more snails. <3 snails is probably not enough. While there's no certain rule for how many snails you can or should have, you definitely want more than one kind of snail. Different snails eat different kinds of algae.> I've been researching, and as always, everyone has a different opinion. Would 20 snails in a 55 gallon be a safe middle ground? <It would be two many if they were all of the same type. It's best to get 3 to 5 snails each of 5 different types. Also makes sure that whatever type you get, they are species that live at reef temperatures. Unfortunately, some of the snails sold for reef aquariums are species from much colder waters and so are not suitable for tanks at reef temperatures> Lastly, my plan for all this is to purchase a 75 or 90 gallon for the display, and use the current 55 for the sump. Is the 55 gallon too big? <Absolutely not, big sumps/refugiums are good things.> And my apologies for one more question.........when you add a sump, do you calculate the amount of water to change based on the total new volume? Say you've got a 90 gallon display, and 30 gallons in the sump, would the 10% for the water change be of the 90 gallons, or the combined 120 gallons? <This is something of a trick question. Theoretically, yes, you'd consider the total new volume of water when calculating for a water change. However, the more water your system has, the lower your effective 'bioload' (assuming you don't start putting animals in your sump) and so it's likely that, with the increased water volume, you can do fewer or smaller water changes.> As always, thank you for your time and willingness to share your knowledge. All the newbies are eternally grateful! <Happy to help :-) Sara M> Best regards, Kim

29 gallon sump, new SW, another MegaFlow re-do    6/16/07Hello Crew- In July, if everything goes well, my new home purchase will go through. This of course means now is the perfect time to upgrade my system. <Lots of changes!> The current setup consists of a 29 gallon marine. All of the beginner mistakes were made and the project has cost me far more than it should have had I done more thorough research on WWM. SeaClone, Berlin Airlift, and a myriad of other devices drained my wallet before learning the better way to accomplish my goals. <Ah, yes> My plan is to setup the system approximately one month before the fish and I pack our fins, and the accoutrement of keeping house. This will promote proper cycling with the addition of BIO-Spira and allow the live rock curing time. The tank will be either an All-Glass or Oceanic, leaning to the Oceanic if the budget supports such luxury. Naturally this will be a drilled tank with an overflow to a 29 gallon sump/refugium. I do realize the MegaFlow moniker is a bit of a misnomer and expect roughly 300GPH flow rate. <We are in agreement> The sump will be a DIY based on the pressure locking baffles article on the website. I have calculated/researched the pump volume and with about 5 feet of head on a 3/4" return am thinking about the Eheim 1262. Although this may be overkill, the gate valve with the return T to the sump should mitigate flow rate concerns without taxing the pump. <Good design... but might I ask re the function of the check valve pictured? Likely the overflow/s will be at the same level... I would likely leave this off...> Additional turnover of 10-20 times will be handled by diametrically opposed Tunze Stream 6000's placed in the display in lieu of a closed loop system. Skimming will be accomplished with either an AquaC Remora Pro or AquaC Urchin Pro. <Okay> An RO unit will be the principal purchase and installation. I have not decided which unit yet, but something in the range of 30 gallons per day for both human and fish consumption is a must. The use of Tropic Marin PRO-REEF has made dramatic improvements in my existing FOWLR and now it will be purchased by the bucket. <A savings there> Lighting is still in the early days and the current agenda calls for a T5 retrofit to be placed in the custom hood of my building. No corals or other heavily phototropic will be placed. 4-5 watts per gallon should suffice in my estimation, and is on the current setup. The sump will have a reverse light cycle to the display aiding in pH stability. <Okay> Automatic top off is indicated in my diagram and is high on the wish list. I am not certain how this will integrate into the sump, or if it will function properly where it is located. <Could be made to work in the tank or sump/refugium> I would appreciate your thoughts and input on my plans and "design" which I have attached as a small JPEG. My apologies for the long email, but wanted to be certain you have a complete picture. This venture, dubbed 'Fish II' looks like it will be in the neighborhood of $3,000 but will be worth every cent. Kind regards, Jake in NC <Sounds like you're cogitating furiously... and are good at making plans, contingencies... Moving into new digs, esp. ones that are purchased tests one's mettle... Do consider the value of flexibility... and please read here re the possibility of having the new tank p/re/drilled for more through-puts of size: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbholessizeplace.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Ecosystem 3612 sump help.   6/13/07 Hi WetWeb Crew, <Hi there> My Name is Mitch, I'm From Australia. <Hello Mitch> I have recently had the ecosystem 3612 installed in my 120g tank. There was allot of hassles importing the kit here so my local aquarium guy had the sump made here. <I see> This system is very new here so there is not much information around about it. <Mmm, am friends with Leng Sy... We had long discussions re this line... skimming... Some while down diving off Cairns... know this products history quite well...> I Don't think the internal measurements are totally accurate so I am hoping somebody who has the 3612 can give me the internal measurements. <Will cc Leng here re> I have attached a diagram of my system. Any help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks,
<Bob Fenner>

Sump/'Fuge design and layout 5/10/07 Hello crew and thanks for all the great reading and advise that you have provided people with. <Hello back at ya! You are welcome to our great store of info!> My question is that I know now for my 90 gal tank that nitrates are up around 10 to 12 and no amount of water changes get it lower than that so a sump is needed now. <Have you considered the cause of the nitrate levels? While that is an acceptable number, and I also applaud your trying to maintain zero tolerance, I wonder how much livestock is in here and how much you feed?> I talked to my LFS and bought a sump and the hardware. I already had a remero <Remora?> pro hang on back skimmer with a mag5 pump so for now I wanted to use it to save expense. I have drawn a pic of the setup. Does everything look right to you? Meaning where the lower cut in the glass is, and the upper level into the last chamber. <The only thing I question about this setup and layout, is that the last chamber will be the only variable in the sump. When there is excess or surplus water in the system, it will only have the first and last chambers to occupy, as the middle chamber will not hold more that the baffle holds back. Make sure that you leave sufficient volume in the variable zones for time between top off, or you may end up feeling the need to add another remote sump for the surplus. Also, the foam block on the input to the sump is a poor choice IMO since you may need to clean it daily to avoid it backing up. I think a sock would be a better choice in this case. Finally, the long plunge the water takes to the last chamber and then to the pump would almost certainly make for bubbles being constantly blown into your display. Consider adding a small series of baffles to give the bubble a chance to settle out.> I will also place a 250w heater in the middle section. <I would keep the heater away from the "plants" if possible. It does seem as though the sump is rather small, if that drawing is anywhere near scale. You may have to put the heater there, but if you can manage to put it anywhere else, I think it would be better.> Does everything look ok to you guys before I begin to plumb it all in this way or do I need to make a change now? <I think the layout is good, as long as you are aware of a few things: 1. The smaller you make chambers one and three, the less reserve you will have and the more frequently you will be adding water to avoid blowing bubbles into the display because of low water levels. 2. Once you create this sump and have it running, it will be harder to make any changes, so the proper research and digging through the archives is going to profit you greatly in this case. > Thanks again for your help. See attachment. <Attachment seen. -GrahamT>   Randy H. Randy, I forgot to mention that the location of your skimmer would not work as shown in the picture. the water level in the first chamber would be well below the pump. -GrahamT
Re: Sump/'Fuge design and layout pt.2 5/10/07    5/11/07 <Morning Randy!> Thank you for your comments. <My pleasure, of course.> So you would recommend putting the skimmer in the middle or the last chamber of the sump? <I only saw an issue with the skimmer location as drawn, because the pump seemed well-above the proposed water line. If you submerge the pump, the location would not be an issue. You are actually best-served to place a skimmer in the first chamber of your sump to ensure that the scummiest water gets to it from the skimmer box.> I will also take your advise and add a baffle to give the bubbles time to clear so that they don't make it into the main tank. <Nicely done. I would recommend experimentation before permanent placement of the baffles to make sure they do what you need them to in the space you have to work with. One good method (and sometimes as far as you need go) is to wedge the baffles in their place with foam rubber on the ends to practice their placement. When you find what you like, you can cement them later with 100% silicone.>   Again, thanks for your help,   Randy
<Again, it is my pleasure, Randy.

Which Sump Design? - 05/05/07 Greetings! <<Hello!>> Bob, I need your help! <<Tis Eric here this evening>> Since I greatly value your opinion, could you please tell me which of these two sump designs in the attached photos you would go with? <<Happy to, but only the first photo is visible>> I am in the process of building my own sump from an All-glass 20H tank and 1/4 inch acrylic for the baffles. <<Smart...the manufactured sumps are overrated and overpriced...in my opinion>> This is the only size sump that will fit under my stand. <<Understood>> I want to keep it simple yet effective. <<Agreed...and easy to do>> In case you need additional info, the overflow on my 55 gal. reef tank is a CPR CS102 (two drains), the return pump is a Mag 12. <<Mmm, aside from this much flow through this small sump being problematic, unless you will have a lot of head restriction on this pump I doubt the overflow will be able to handle the volume.  Do be sure to plumb a gate-valve on the output side of the pump to temper the flow if necessary.  Or better yet, downsize the pump to a Mag 5 or Mag 7.  Either of these pumps should provide plenty of flow through the sump (depending on head restriction/backpressure), and they will definitely make dealing with plumbing hassles (noise/bubbles/etc.) much easier>> My Euro-Reef RS100 skimmer will be in the first chamber, along with a filter sock. <<Sounds fine>> The first baffle is an over baffle at 11 inches high. <<Eight or nine inches will be plenty/just about ideal for the ER skimmer and give you a bit more capacity for transient water volume when the return pump is off>> I want to add an eggcrate media holder so I can place carbon, Poly-Filter pad, and/or foam (bubble-removing) sponge. <<Ok>> But I am not exactly sure of the best location for this media holder for maximum efficiency, and of course bubble-free water. <<Anywhere between the skimmer and return-pump chambers is fine Once again, I value your opinion, so I would love to know which you think would be best. <<As stated, only the first image is visible...and it looks as if the first baffle is an "under" flow design with little/no room in the first chamber for your skimmer.  Actually, I think the design you "describe" will work just fine>> Should the water run down through the media, or through it sideways? <<Either method will work>> Thanks so much!  I love this site and the awesome job you guys do on it! Laura <<Thank you for the kind words...and do write back for further clarification if necessary.  Regards, EricR>> What do you think about this sump for a 180 - 210 gal FOWLR? ***  4/25/07  http://futurepet.com/cgi-bin/FULLPRES.exe?PARTNUM=ACA794096*< http://futurepet.com/cgi-bin/FULLPRES.exe?PARTNUM=ACA794096> <Looks like a nice, practical unit... I do like the first chambers filter sock (needs to be cleaned at least once a week... I'd have two... one to take out, clean, have drying... while the other's in service)... and use the sump area for placing a skimmer... Bob Fenner>

Tank Set-Up, sump... 4/4/07 Hello. <Hello Pam.> I have spent COUNTLESS hours in your site over the past couple of months doing research for my first tank.  Thank you all at WetWebMedia for spending your time helping us all. <You're very welcome.> Counting down the days before I can fill up my first tank! Have everything I need except for the lights.  As soon as I'm back from vacation on the 1st, the RO/DI is going into the tank!  :) <RO/DI going into the tank???  Do not understand, this is used for purifying make-up water.> The wait is TORTURE!! <Oh yes, but do have patience...is very important to success.> Below is a picture of my Sump (tank is 53g 31.5" x 19" x 19").   There are two compartments built into the front of the sump (about 1/2" to 1" at the bottom, is open between the two chambers).   I know that these compartments can be used for media, or as a refugium.  I'm not sure, but I think the divider between the two compartments may also be removable.  What would you do with this setup? <Mmm, looks too nice to be a DIY project.  Who makes this product?> I don't plan on adding a refugium to the system...so I'd either use one or both of these compartments for a refugium, or have none.  If using them as a refugium, would you use both sides, or just one and save the other side in case I need to use media of some type down the road? (or would I just add media into the filter sock?) <<No. RMF>> <Would like to see a top photo of this sump with the top cover removed, and a photo from each side.> I wouldn't mind having a spot to breed some type of Mysid shrimps or pods to feed my fish.   If I go that route....would I put some small scrap pieces of live rock at the bottom of one or both of these chambers, or live sand or what, and if so, how deep in inches?  Would I want any macro algae in there as well, or just the live rock rubble and pods/shrimp? <Yes to both, but I'd wait at least a month before adding any macro algae.> Below are a couple of fish I'll be adding down the road.  With these fish in mind, what would be the best type of pods and/or shrimp to breed in a refugium for food? <I would not worry about breeding shrimp right now until you learn more about this hobby.  Pods can be bought from etailers and used to stock your tank with a breeding culture.  I would do this first before adding fish so as there is plenty of time to develop a healthy population.>   Pair of Percula or Ocellaris Clowns Possum Wrasse Some other type of wrasse Some type of Goby Some type of Blenny Thanks so much!!    Pam <Do send requested photos and I can give you more assistance, and thank you for writing.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re:  Tank Set-Up. James - Here are the pictures you asked for of my Sump with built in Refugium  4/5/07 Thanks for the quick response James. <You're welcome.> Sorry...wrong choice of words for adding the RO/DI.  I at least know enough I have to mix it with salt first.  :)   Do I need to add a buffer first before adding the salt though? <Would not add buffer until mix is completed.  May not be necessary.  Do aerate your make-up water 24 hours before mixing the salt to insure no CO2 is present. CO2 will quickly exhaust the alkalinity level.> I attached the pictures that you asked for of my Sump with built in chambers that can be used as a refugium or to hold media.  It also has a built in reservoir for Top-Off Water (you'll see the blue top-off pump in there), and the top-off controller attached on the left wall of the inside of my stand. The Display, Sump, Skimmer, Top-Off Controller are all made by Elos and sold as a system (Eheim 1260 Return pump, and Eheim 1250 skimmer pump also included in setup).  Awesome setup!  I attached a picture of my display too. <Appears to be a well designed unit with quality components.  No much room for a refugium, I'd rather use that space for Chemi-Pure, heater placement, etc.  Did not see the pic of your display.> I was wrong about the divider between the two chambers (without sock) being removable, it's not, BUT, the black plastic divider on the left of the chamber with the sock, IS removable. <Do clean the sock on a weekly basis along with the reaction chamber of the skimmer.  A bottle brush works well in cleaning this area without the need for removal of the skimmer.  In looking at the pics, I sense you are a very neat, well organized person.> Thanks!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

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