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FAQs About Sump/Filters 6

Related FAQs: Sumps/Filters 1, Sumps 2, Sumps 3, Sumps 4, Sumps 5, Sumps 7Sumps 8, Sumps 9, Sumps 10, Rationale, Design, 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, Live RockLive Sand, Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

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Living sumps help make systems more livable... to keep touchier species like Catalaphyllia

Sump-mania >Hello, fellow fish hobbyists.   >>Hello. >I have a few questions for you, and I thank you in advance for your always-insightful and informative comments. >>Let's hope mine qualify. >Recently (over the last couple of weeks) I put in a 30 gallon refugium/plenum under the tank to replace my 20 gallon wet/dry trickle system that was used for my 150 gallon tank.   >>Alright. >After monitoring water levels for several days, I removed the bioballs over the course of a week with no detrimental effect to the tank, although nitrates were still around 50 (as they have been since I've had the tank - thus the reason for my putting in the refugium/plenum). >>sounds like a plan to me. >The FOWLR tank has about an inch of crushed coral substrate and 125lbs of live rock, although I suspect that it isn't truly live rock any more because the previous owner may have treated the tank with copper (I can't verify this, though).   >>Well, at the very least the rock has been repopulated with nitrifying bacteria. >I've owned the tank and the rock for over 5 months, and the rock does have coralline algae growing in abundance on most surfaces, although it had none when I received the tank (which came, established, with the rocks and surviving aquatic life).  This leads to my first question: over time, can sufficiently porous dead rock become live rock?   >>Yes, and no.  It can indeed become repopulated, but not to the extent (read: variety) that it would be were it recently harvested with little to no loss caused by something like the aforementioned copper treatment.  However, coralline is, at least, a very good thing. >Is there a way to determine whether or not my live rock is truly live rock?   >>For the average hobbyist, none that I know of.  Scientific analysis would be the only way to determine faunal variety resembling freshly harvested live rock.  As I said before, chances are that it's at least populated with nitrifying bacterial colonies. >Given the size of the old sump, the rock is undoubtedly carrying a lot of the bio-filtration load.  Frankly, I'm not positive that the rock was treated with copper, but I have a strong suspicion that it was.  However, there is no copper detected when using a copper test kit. >>All is relatively well, then.  If you wish to re-establish some variety, buy some UNcured live rock, and cure it yourself doing many water changes to ensure least loss of flora and fauna in situ. >Currently, the refugium/plenum is just a plenum, and I'm reconsidering whether or not to add plant/animal life to it, given the fact that, after the plenum, 2.5 inches of crushed coral, and 2 inches of live sand, there is only 4 inches of surface water left in the main chamber of the refugium.   >>I'm wondering why you didn't go with the much simpler method of a deep sand bed, both work though. >If the water level is any higher than four incest over the surface sand while the return pump is running, I risk overflowing the tank when I turn off the return pump (the main tank has two overflow boxes draining down into the refugium/plenum and old sump).  Is four inches of surface water enough to add plant life to the new refugium for use as a water scrubber?   >>I'm sure it is, just take care as to what macroalgae you're placing.  The Caulerpa species I can think of would do fine, be careful not to let too much surface area become dry, though.  There certainly ARE other species of macroalgae, and a good source is Mary Middlebrook's seacrop.com or Inland Aquatics. >If I did, would it negate some of the effects of the plenum, especially if plants/algae dig into the top layer of sand?   >>Not being anywhere nearly as familiar with plenums as I am with refugia, I can't answer that very well for you.  However, I don't see why the roots of the macros would necessarily interfere with the sand's ability to convert nitrogenous wastes, other than utilizing some of it first. >Can I add detritivores to the refugium with only four inches of surface water, and would it be detrimental to functionality of the plenum? >>Again, cannot speak to functionality of a plenum WITH detritivores, but with a deep sand bed their use is encouraged.  If you kept the detritivorous life to animals such as Archaster typicus (white or sandsifting starfish), and maybe certain types of cukes, I see no issue for their safety. >I found that I needed a place for my protein skimmer, so I drilled a hole into the new refugium/plenum and into the old sump, and I added bulkheads and a ball-valve between the two so that water could be skimmed in the old sump and sent into the plenum/refugium (by gravity). >>I strongly suggest that unless you're using the ball valve to completely open or close off water flow, replace it with a gate valve (finer tuning, less chance to "stick"). >Currently I have one of the main tank's overflows going into the old sump to be skimmed, and the second overflow goes into a drain chamber in the refugium.  My thought process for this was that I wanted to "feed" the refugium/plenum while still having the water skimmed.  As it stands I can redirect the flow either way (or keep it as it is).  Do you see a problem with the way I have it set up now? >>I'm not positive I understand this mental diagram, but do you mean that some water goes into the 'fuge and some goes to be skimmed?  Actually, thinking about it, I see no problem with this, and it gives the microfauna we often wish to culture in a 'fuge more of a chance to grow.   >My last question(s) are: Would it be better for me to add plant life to the old sump instead of the refugium/plenum?   >>Water flow might be an issue, also, if you have a pump in there you would want to maintain good accessibility, and avoid any overgrowth. >If so, I wouldn't be able to put sand in the old sump, because of the skimmer pump.   >>It doesn't require sand, just *something* to attach to, this can be crushed coral, or small chunks of live rock. >Would macro algae be able to attach to rock and/or egg crate material with no real substrate? >>Or unreal substrate?  Essentially, yes.  See above, think pea gravel. >Or should I forego plant life altogether for live rock? >>What for?  I think you can have the best of both worlds. >I could get 20lbs of live rock in the old sump in addition to having the plenum in the new refugium/plenum tank.   >>Be careful of too much water displacement, have a plan for loss of power, mate. >If I run live rock without plants in the old sump, does it need any light to be effective as a nitrate reducer?   >>No. >I wouldn't mind running plants and live rock.  Do you see a problem with this?   >>No. >Also, I noticed you don't like Caulerpa.   >>Anthony doesn't like Caulerpa, I like it just fine and had excellent results when I used it (when it was legal in California), as well as seeing a financial benefit from harvest.  I did not mix species, I lit with normal output fluorescents, dedicated 1/3 of my tank to it, and unwittingly harvested properly by removing holdfasts and all, not just pruning the fronds like a houseplant. >What plant/algae do you recommend as a nitrate export method? >>Personally, I did great with Caulerpa, C. taxifolia IIRC.  If you want other options, I suggest checking out "The Natural Marine Aquarium-Reef Invertebrates", or calling a place like Inland Aquatics or checking Mary's site.  Too vast to name here. >I hope my written description is clear enough, but if you'd like for me to sketch a diagram, I'd be happy to.  In any case, I guess I've asked all of my questions.  Sorry for the long e-mail. Thanks again, T. Cave >>Any relation to Nick?  No problems with all the questions, but do know that we sometimes have differences of opinion/knowledge here.  Marina

Sump Stuff Hi, John here. <Hey John, Scott F. with you today!> Been reading a ton of the questions on WWM site before venturing into setting up a new 72g bow front FOWLR setup.  You guys do a great job!   <Thanks for the kind words! We're happy to be here for you> My question concerns designing a sump (which I would like to construct myself). I'm considering a 20 gallon (30" x 12" x12") glass aquarium as a sump to be positioned in a cabinet below my tank (can't go bigger due to space constraints).  From what I've read, I plan on putting a protein skimmer into the first compartment where the raw tank water drains (probably a Euro Reef CS6-1). <Nice choice!> Next would be a baffle about 8" high from the bottom up to maintain a constant water level for the skimmer.  This would be followed by two more alternating baffles about 1" apart to eliminate bubbles.  The next compartment would be a refugium with live rock and the last compartment would house the return pump and heater.  The footprint needed for the CS6-1 is about 9" wide and the baffles take up another 2" in length.  This leaves about 19" in length for the refugium and pump chambers.  From what I've read the preference seems to be to maximize the refugium area and minimize the pump chamber.  Doesn't this leave a small amount of water for the pump to operate thereby running the risk of running dry because of evaporation? <Potentially, yes, but keeping a moderate flow inside the sump should keep the water level higher> Is there another simple method to keeping a decent volume of water for the pump chamber without too much sacrifice to the live rock chamber? I'm thinking I would like to keep a volume of about 5 gallons in the pump chamber to minimize monitoring the water level for evaporation replacement. Any help would be appreciated.  Thanks. <Actually, you hit it on the head. A moderate flow rate within the sump is a good way to keep the water level up. I think that your sump design will work okay, and you may need to do a little tweaking with the sump to get things right. All part of the fun. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Shut-off Switch - Hi Crew, I am trying to add a sump to be 75 gal reef. It is not drilled, so I need to use a hang on siphon box. As I fear floods if the siphon breaks, is there a type of float switch I can install in the sump which will shut off the return pump if the water level falls below a certain level? <I'm sure there is, but I can't recall any product names. I'd scan the online retailer - there are a number of variations on the electric float-switch out there.> I imagine it would be always "on" and it would have to be mounted up at the correct water level. I guess I am thinking a switch like a boat bilge pump switch only 110 volts. Is this a feasible idea or am I missing something? <It's out there...> Where would one get such a switch? <Check with your local fish store first. If they can't help, go online, perhaps Marine Depot or Fosters and Smith... each of these has extensive catalogs. I'm sure they'd have something that would fit the bill.> Thanks for any assistance. <Cheers, J -- >

- Shut-off Switch, Follow-up - Hi again Crew, I was able to locate a few vendors who sell such a switch, but I guess my real question is: Is this something I should spend the $$ on? <Too me, peace of mine is often worth paying for.> Does this offer me some protection against overflow or is it prone to sticking and causing more problems then not having it? <Depends on the nature of the float switch. May pay to give it a rinse from time to time.> Have any of the Crew used this or know about them? <You left out the important information - what is 'this'? You didn't name the actual product.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

Re: sump shut off switch 12/7/03 (2) Crew, Sorry, One that I found is the UltraLife float switch at MarineDepot and premium aquatics. Thanks. > - Shut-off Switch, Follow-up - > Hi again Crew, > I was able to locate a few vendors who sell such a switch, but I guess my real > question is: Is this something I should spend the $$ on? <Too me, peace of mine > is often worth paying for.> Does this offer me some protection against overflow > or is it prone to sticking and causing more problems then not having it? > <Depends on the nature of the float switch. May pay to give it a rinse from time > to time.> Have any of the Crew used this or know about them? <You left out the > important information - what is 'this'? You didn't name the actual product.> > Thanks > <Cheers, J -- >

- Draining into the Sump - Ok, I'm confused!!! <Oh?> Should vertical drain lines going into the sump be an inch or so just below the sump water level, or just above the water level??? <I'd do this just under the surface of the water, would keep the noise down a small amount.> I have mine about 2 inches below, and am getting a ton of little bubbles in the sump (some making their way back into the display via pump) please advise/clarify in your opinion Thanks! <The bubbles are actually not from having the outlet below the water but from the process of water coming down the pipe in the first place - you can tweak the plumbing somewhat to reduce this but it's almost impossible to eliminate.> Blair <Cheers, J -- >

Skimmer/sump ponderings 11/11/03 Ok Anthony here is my email or something close to it.  I am setting up a 100gal. acrylic tank that will eventually have the reef environment to it.  I want to take it slow and do things right from the beginning.  Your site recommends either the Aqua C or Euro Reef skimmers for their high performance.   <yes... both very good skimmers and good values> The Euro reef line is very large, and for a 100gal. tank which one would be good for the task at hand.  They also have a new series out called the "ES line"  which are supposedly cheaper for a good product.   <both brands are so reliable, I would simply install the biggest skimmer that you can fit/afford rated for 200 gallons or greater to serve your 180 gal tank> Under my stand I have only a maximum 20inches of height so that is a limiting factor.  Which Euro reef would you recommend and what do you know about the "ES series"? <you can trust the manufacturers recommendations here. If you expect a bigger tank in the 5 year pictures, or intend to have large or messy fishes... then scale your purchase higher than a unit rated for the appropriate 200 gall tank or so> Next question (thanks so much!!), under my stand there are two vertical support pieces in the middle of the stand and the distance between them is only 12inches.  This has limited me using a one piece sump/refuge, so I need to go with two separate containers.   <this is very challenging to water plumbing. Do consider if you can move this brace or replace it (with a steel header bar)> One will be where the water flows out of the tank, onto a piece of filter into the sump where the skimmer will be  as well as the return pump.  This sump will connect to a container for algae growth and a sand bed.  The water will be returned by a small powerhead into the main sump.  How does this setup look to you?   <two part sumps are typically problematic. It's hard for me to diagnose off-site too. Do see if you can simply use one sump... even if it is smaller> Any suggestions or recommendations?  I have one bulkhead at each end of the main tank with a flow through diameter of 1inch.  One for return water and one for "draining" to the sump.  Do I need to add more "holes" for better circulation?    <again.. I cannot say without any specs of measurements. The number of bulkheads is determined by the flow you intend to run through t. Once you have figured out your water flow/pump needs... then simply drill enough holes (over bulkhead mfg specs for flow-through rates) and it will be short work> Thanks so much!!  Your website has been a terrific help for me and many others!!       Mike in Salem Oregon <best regards, Anthony>

Sump noise Hello, I appreciate the service you folks have at WWM. I just have few questions. I converted my wet dry into a sump. I took the filter media box and bio balls out ( I have 60lbs of Tonga live rock in a 55gal tank). I attached a 1" pvc pipe long enough to extend from my overflow flexible hoses to the bottom or my sump. there is a lot of water noise from the pipe's water pressure hitting the bottom of the sump and rising to the surface water level of the sump. <add a prefilter bag it will get rid of noise and bubbles> there is also water noise from my output water of the skimmer. I enclosed a picture. the left side is the return pump. the right side is the overflow and skimmer side. the foam block keeps the microbubbles away from the return pump. can u tell me how to reduce the noise from the overflow and skimmer side? <Pics did not come threw try using sponges Hope this helps Mike H> thanks very much

-Converting Wet/dry to sump-  I have a 55 gallon tank running with 45 lbs of Foster and Smith Fiji live rock (been running two months). Currently the system has a small (Amiracle SL-50) wet/dry running. Over the weekend I spent hours finding a way to cram my remora pro skimmer under the stand hanging on the sump side of the wet/dry, it fit by a hair! Your site, and a local pet store recommended slowly removing the bio-balls from the filter. <Forget slowly, yank it all at once.> I am wary about this, since most of the people in your FAQs on converting wet/dries seem to have a ton of live rock per gallon. Is 45 pounds enough? <That it is. It's been known for quite some time that you can ditch the entire bio-chamber in one shot if you have a reasonable amount of live rock and/or live sand in the tank (Sprung and Delbeek proposed this in The Reef Aquarium which came out in '94).> I also have about 15 pounds of lace rock in there left over from my cichlid tank. The substrate is 60 pounds of Carib-Sea aragonite (I now realize that more than 1 inch less than 4 is bad, but I bought it before I knew that). I don't plan to have a heavy bio-load in there. I want to do mostly fish and inverts with some easy corals. I would prefer to take the media out of the wet/dry, but I want to be sure I have enough bio filtration, and I don't have the money for more live rock right now. <You're all set, ditch away! You shouldn't notice any ill effects, but you should always plan for the worst and test your water frequently for ammonia and nitrite. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks for the great advice! -Ken

Sump setup for Eclipse System 3  Hey Guys,  <Hey! Ryan with you today>  I have a Eclipse system 3 hood (29g. tank) that has been retrofitted with pc lighting, and while I sort of wish I'd taken a different approach to setting up my reef tank (i.e. not eclipse and larger) the money has been spent and I can't financially justify a complete revamp at this point.  <Well, then we have a lot in common. I too have this setup, and it was my only for a long time.> That being said, everything seems happy and healthy. Regardless, I feel like I'm flirting with disaster by not having a protein skimmer. <Yes, certainly helps> I know there are mod.s to add one without sacrificing the current filtration, but when I start cutting things, I'm more apt to destroy than improve. <Actually, it's not that difficult. I asked a few questions on Reefcentral, got out the Dremel and started cutting. I use a CPR Bak Pak on that tank, and there is adequate room.> Knowing that, I decided that skimming in a sump was worth exploring. <An overflow will be much harder to get in that hood> Now, I can't seem to find a small enough overflow box to mount in the eclipse, <thought so> and it's a little late in the game to start drilling (besides, if I can't cut plastic, I certainly can't handle glass). So...here's what I'm thinking. I take a power head and mount it to draw water from about 1-2" below the water surface of my tank and use it to pump water through tubing to the sump. <hmm....> In the sump I mount another powerhead at a level that would preclude it from flooding the tank should the other powerhead fail. Obviously, it would be a practical impossibility to match water flow in and out of the tank, so the relative water volumes would be in flux, but beyond that is there any reason why this wouldn't work? <Bad ideas.... A powerhead's flow is not adjustable. Asking for problems> If I have a more powerful unit up top, then it would only be active when the sump powerhead supplied enough water. Water would drop in the main tank, the sump unit would replenish it, the water would then drop below the tank powerhead as it would remove water more quickly than it was supplied, and so on... <Powerheads are designed to work constantly...this is why many fail so quickly with "wavemakers." I would just use a hang-on skimmer, like a remora or CPR. Both great choices, minimal cutting. I see many headaches in your future with the powerhead scheme.> I could even put the pumps on a timed switch once I had a good notion of the cycles. Does this make sense, or am I missing something vital? Also, any other suggestions on ways to add a sump to an eclipse would be welcomed ( like where can I find the world's narrowest overflow box). <Drilling is the only way> If this is a viable solution in you're estimation, product recommendations and relative gph specs for the two powerheads would be appreciated. <If it's helpful, I will post a pic of my Eclipse with CPR installed. Easy cuts, the skimmer goes on the back-right corner. The output for the skimmer occupies the area previously for cords, and the intake requires a 1/2 inch cut. Good luck, Ryan>  Thank You, G. Andrew Stricklin  Filtration Options For A Predator Tank Hi Scott, one thing I don't understand, the primary "filtration" has to take place in the sump, you say. <Not really. Perhaps a confusing choice of words on my part. The "filtration" occurs throughout the system, wherever rock and substrate are available for bacteria to attach. The "primary filtration" that I am referring to is the live rock or sand. The sump is mainly a vehicle for processing water from the display tank. However, the protein skimmer (and I hope that you get an efficient one) should be located in or near the sump.> Ok but how, which supports nitrifying bacteria? I have to fill the sump with live rocks? <You certainly can fill the sump with live rock "rubble", as previously mentioned.> Or what else? The refugium with DSB and macros work for Phosphates/Nitrate reduction but which element perform nitrifying action? <Well, your deep sand bed and live rock, wherever they are located in the system, can perform this function. I like the remote DSB that you are thinking of. It can remain undisturbed and do a great job processing nitrate if properly composed> I've forgotten to say I've just got a great skimmer fortunately (Aquamedic 5000 twin the greatest AquaMedic skimmer for 1320 gallons tank). <Excellent!> Thanks for your quick reply! Lorenzo <My pleasure, Lorenzo. Sorry for the confusion. Basically, if you look at a sump as your "water processing center", it will make it easier to visualize what functions it performs. Sumps provide a tremendous amount of flexibility for all kinds of captive systems, and allow the intrepid aquarist/DIYer a lot of freedom to create a system to meet the exact needs of his/her tank! Have fun! Regards, Scott F>

- Sump Question - Hello Bob, <Actually, JasonC today...> You helped me a couple of years ago and I have used your book as well as WWM since then to continue to learn as I go. Thank you for that! I am starting a new setup on a 90 to move some of my fish over from my 50 until renovations are done for a 180. This will give me some time to learn the ups and downs of bigger skimmers and sump use. A lot of my new equipment was inherited from a friend who got out of the hobby a while ago so I am not too attached to it financially... I intend to have fish and inverts, small amount of live rock, (40-50lbs) sand bed 1-2" deep some corals with average light requirements. So far I have as follows: 24Hx48Wx18D tank All Glass PC lighting x1 drilled overflow tube drilled spray bar Plexiglas sump particulate media over Bio Balls overflow baffles Red Sea Berlin Classic driven by a Mag 700 in sump Mag 500 return to tank pump 40 lbs. Aragalive Sand 30 pounds Aragamax finer sand Tank is slow to cycle without any traces of ammonia or nitrites after three weeks. My question is for down the road when time passes and my accumulations of Nitrates increase (presently a nagging issue with overstocked 50) I have read on WWM in several locations you are not fond of bio balls. I can see why and agree. My problem is I am not sure how to place live rock or macro algae in the same space occupied by the balls as it is above water level. My sump is arranged very close to your photo on page 111 of CMA only larger). <Answered a similar question just a little while ago. Unfortunately, these types of sumps don't easily lend themselves to other uses.> Am I to increase the water level or does this rock or algae sit above water? <Would be the only way.> I don't really have room on the other side of the baffles as it is occupied by the skimmer, pump and heater. <Consider a new sump designed for this purpose.> Your help is again appreciated. Keep up the great work!! We need ya! Later Rob <Cheers, J -- >

Putting A Sump To Work! Hi Guys Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I am currently converting my 72gallon fish tank from fresh water to salt water. <Ahh- welcome to a whole new world!> I need to know what would be the best filter material to put in my sump. <Well, the purpose of the sump is to serve as a "processing center" for your system's water. As such, the sump can contain bags of activated carbon, Polyfilter, or other chemical media. You could also use a micron filter sock underneath the standpipe supplying water to your system, so that you can remove some particulate matter before it gets to the sump...A lot of what goes on in the sump is biological, which can be achieved by placing chunks of live rock "rubble" in the sump, and/or macroalgae, which assist in nutrient export. If using macroalgae in the sump, be sure to light the section containing the macroalgae. Finally, a lot of what occurs in the sump is "settling" of particulate matter and detritus, which can concentrate in the sump, facilitating easy removal.> I also have a canister its a small Fluval 103, it is just lying around so I thought I might as well just use it for the extra filtration. <Not a bad idea..> What filter material do you suggest I put in there. <I like the idea of using activated carbon...> A guy from my LFS told me to fill it up with activated carbon and replace the carbon every 6 weeks? <Good advise, but I'd replace the carbon more frequently-more like every 4 weeks. By the way- if you are going to use mechanical media, such as prefilter material, be sure to clean/replace it often.> Thanks in advance for your time and advice Regards, Ziad Limbada Total South Africa <Glad to be of service, Ziad! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sump and Pump Question 10/8/03 I am currently in the initial stages of setting up a 125 Gal FOWLR.  I was given a W/D filter (about 32 gal) from a friend that was using it on a 200 Gal at one time.  I am planning on removing the Bio Balls and using the LR for my filtration.   <good> The tank has a built in pre-filter.   <a hindrance if it is small and inline with the overflow> I have a couple of questions.  If I was to add some LR to the sump would it need to be completely submerged?   <it would be better/best to do so> Also and probably more importantly I am looking for advice on a pump.  I have read that you really like the Iwaki Water Pumps and since it seems that they are of good quality I will look into purchasing one of them.   <correct... time tested, reliable, quiet and very durable> I need to know which one.  I have read that you suggest turning the water in the system aware form 5 to 20 times an hour, which does not seem unreasonable.   <indeed... and some hardcore reefs with shallow water corals actually take towards 40X per hour. Your flow will depend on the needs of the animals you keep. ID them first before picking your pump> My main question is how much GPH and will the pre-filter and sump cause any reduction in the flow rate if I was to get a bigger pump that pumps more GPH?   <there are calculations for this (some handy ones on reefs.org and reefcentral.com). Its rather long to explain in a brief e-mail here... do seek these online calculators for operating head/pressure on pumps. Use the search tool on their pages> I do not want to by a bigger pump like a 40RXLT and have it dry out the sump because it can pump more that the pre-filter and sump can handle.   <you are missing the big picture here my friend... please do see if you can find a local aquarium society and aquarists to see and learn from their set-ups. Else a good LFS that will let you peep their systems> The last question that I have is about the Iwaki pump themselves.  I notice that they have one that have American made Motors and ones with Japanese made motors.  Do you know if there any significant difference in performance and quality because there is a large price difference? Thanks for all your advice and what a great site. Todd <the Japanese pumps have enjoyed a long reputation for being well-worth the added expense. Their advantage is durability and pump life. Anthony>

Sump and Pump Question II 10/8/03 Dear Anthony, Thanks for the information.  I will look up the references that you gave me. As for the built in pre filter (Overflow box) it is 6" by 6".  Is this what you mean by a hindrance? (not large enough).   <yes... quite so. Remove the prefilter in it and run it unrestricted. This will be much better for a skimmer too (receiving raw water)> As for my pump question, the reason that I ask about drying out the sump because I have read several posts in the FAQ on your site and several time I have seen references to dry out the sump because of a pump that has to high a GPH for the Overflow and sump. I guess my question is can you dry out the sump?  If I am still missing the point please let me know.      Todd <no such thing as drying out a sump if the system is designed properly. In this case... as long as you don't exceed the max flow through the overflow (cal this by the number and size of drainage holes/bulkheads). After that... no worries. It really is as simple as it seems sounds. Anthony>

Sump overflow prevention 10/6/03 Hi, First let me say that your site is very informative, thank you for your help. <thanks kindly... please do tell a friend> Is there a way to keep the water in your tank & sump from spilling onto the floor if the power goes off?   Yuell <yes, my friend... very easily! It requires simple planning. Any/all return tubes must either be pierced at the top for a vented flute to break a siphon during power outages... or (my preference) any such return lines are to be limited to near or above the water surface. More importantly, the sump needs to be sized big enough to handle any minor backflow during a power failure. A sump that is 20-40% of the display tanks size is a fair minimum. Do seek local aquarists (aquarium society) and LFS to give you an eyes-on exposure to a properly adjusted and sized sump system. Best regards, Anthony>

Adding a sump Hello, Currently have a 5` x 2` x 2` reef setup, 80" soft corals, 20" hard, 60kg live rock, DSB and Turboflotor skimmer (hanging) With an Eheim external filter filled with only floss polishing the water and a UV.  The system as you will see has no sump connected due to the person I bought it off having back problems.  My question is the sump is there to connect the pipes are in but it is waste pipe he used and a waste pipe connector, < this part is very confusing to me I'm not sure what you are asking> I've had different ideas told to me about this, one guy said it would be ok just replace the pipe every 12-18 months, The other said put a new connector on using PVC but how can I do this when my tank is full and about an inch off the back wall. Even if I don't have to move it could I still silicone it?  The reason I would like the sump connected is to add a calcium reactor and use it as a refugium.< without better explanation, the best thing I could suggest is Hook the sump up using new schedule 40 pvc. Sorry for the lack of direct answer but I'm just not clear. Eric> Thanks in advance!  Carl

Sump design spec.s, heater, sand Hi,    Am building a 125 gal. reef with 55 gal sump below, will divide sump into 3 chambers, first area for water to drain into and skim, 2nd area for my live sand bed, 3rd for return pump and heater. What height should my baffles be, 1/2 of tank height ?<As tall as you can make them, and still leaving enough room in the sump to hold all of the H2O if the power fails,  Should they be different heights? Remember some skimmers (Euro Reefs) require a certain set height on the baffle to maintain a perfect running height in the skimmer> I'm assuming the distance apart should be #1- wide enough to accommodate skimmer and pipe coming in, #2 As wide as possible for sand area, # 3 wide enough for the heater and the return pump.<Correct> What wattage heater can you recommend?<depends on how cold your ambient winter temp will be in the house and how fast your water is moving, 200 watt should be more than enough> Should my thermometer be in heater <Separate is better> (#3) chamber<In the last chamber> or in display tank?<no> The main tank will have a 1/2 live/1/2 regular sand bed with live rock, can I do the 1/2 and 1/2 sand for sump or does it need to be all live sand?<1/2 & 1/2 will be fine for both. Eric>  Thanks,  Louie

- Cyano in Sump; Good or Bad? - HI there all, <Howdy.> Recently I put some macro algae in my sump and fitted two Narva white T5s. The algae seem to be growing ok but I also have a thickish mat of dark red Cyano developed recently. <Undoubtedly spurred by the new lighting.> I never had any in the tank. Here is my question: is it a good thing? <Not really - it will compete for nutrients.> Will it spread? <It can.> Will it feed on the excess nutrients in the tank providing a suitable place for critters to multiply? <It will do those things, but there are other macro algae you should encourage - Cyanobacteria really isn't one of them.> Thanks for you great site.  Massimo <Cheers, J -- >

-What to fill the sump with...- Hello Fish Gurus <Howdy, no idea why it took this long to get you a response, but here it is nonetheless!> I have a short question here. I have a 180gl tank with two over flows. I was wondering what you would consider a better choice for a fish only tank. A sump filled with bio-balls, live rock or mud. <Well, you don't exactly "fill" the sump with any of these. If you wanted to use bio-balls, you'd need to have it set-up in a wet/dry filter. If you wanted to do a refugium, you could use either mud or sand in a compartment of the sump, but not just spread out across the bottom (you need somewhere with no substrate to keep your return pump). I would suggest using ample live rock in the 180, and sectioning out part of the sump for a deep live sand bed refugium.> I have read a lot about all three but can't decide. Kinda leaning towards mud but I figure I would leave it up to you to make my decision. <Well, you can use a mud refugium instead of sand if you prefer, do plenty of research on both methods.> I hope I gave you enough info about the tank. Thanks for you input. <Good luck! -Kevin> Marty

Macroalgae for sump question 9/13/03 Hi all, <cheers> I have decided to put a couple of T5s in my sump and turn it into a 'fuge. <excellent> Albeit there are some people that rave about the properties of Caulerpa, I am inclined to side with a few friends who reckon it is the 'devil incarnate' of macroalgae due to its bleaching/wiping out tank/going sexual properties. <both are true <G>... it has great potential, but requires due diligence... more than many other macros> Unfortunately Thalassia sp., which I am informed is one of the best alternatives, is not available in the UK -someone quoted CITES, but I don't know- <not protected as such to my knowledge... at the very least, I expect that you can get seeds like mangrove propagules. Thalassia has gone to seed right now in Florida and will be available for some weeks... do seek a local supplier that imports product from Florida and see if they can procure them for you> and Caulerpa is the mass available choice. Now for the question. I found what looks some brown  kelp in a LFS (attached to rocks, small spherical bodies near the stem of the lanceolate 'leaves' brown/reddish in color) and some other shorter green algae. <perhaps a Sargassum species> Will they be better that the poisonous Caulerpa? <likely yes... but if Sargassum, still somewhat noxious> What length of lighting do you suggest to prevent it going sexual or in other way polluting the tank? <sexual events are not common with Sargassum... no worries. A normal photoperiod of around 10-12 hours will be fine> Any supplements apart from iodine and the gunk from the thank? <weekly water changes are your best form of supplementation> I must say that the misinformation (shops wanting to sell Caulerpa, the only mass available macroalgae here)/lack of information on the issue is rife. Can you shed some light? <Hmmm... if you'd be interested, our UK distributor may have our new Reef Invertebrates book in stock. In it we have extensive coverage of plants, algae and refugiums... the most complete to date in any reference. See Tim Hayes at MidlandReefs.co.uk (West Midlands/Hammerwich)> By the way my regal angel and majestic are better than ever. Thanks a lot, Massimo UK <very good to hear... best regards, Anthony>

- DSB, Plenum, and Lighting - Hello! <Hello to you.> I want to "redo" my sump (2/3 full 29g) to better promote denitrification. I have non CaCO3 gravel and want to replace it with a DSB & plenum (Jaubert method). <Your sump isn't big enough for both of these. You would lose space by building the plenum. Much better to just go with a deep sand bed here.> My sump is not lighted and I prefer not to have it lighted because of the algae growth (increased cleaning of the protein skimmer). My display tank (65g) uses 3" of sand and 1.25 lbs of live rock/gallon. I have a 3rd tank that is connected that grows the macro algae (29g). My question is: will I still see the benefits of the DSB/plenum with the lighting? <Not sure I follow - I thought you weren't going to light it. In any case, a deep sand bed will benefit your system with or without the light, although the amount of benefit is debatable... you simply don't have very much space in a 29g sump. Much better to build a deep sand bed in your tank.> Will I see a nitrate spike after I redo the sump because the anaerobic bacteria will not be present for some time? <I wouldn't think so... you've got plenty of live rock to fill this need.> Instead of this can I just fill my sump with Fiji rock/rubble with out lighting it and still get the denitrification benefits of the Berlin method? <You can do that too.> I currently have nitrates at 10 ppm (20% water changes per month) and would like to achieve a more normal <1 ppm using the natural means. My LFS suggested the Kent Nitrate sponge, but I thought it sounded like a band aid and not a solution. <I agree.> I do appreciate your expert help! <Cheers, J -- >

-55g sump setup- thanks for the reply. I have created 2 ideas I have in paint. Which one would be better? <I like the one with the whale, the boat, and the beautiful sun!> or am I totally off on what I need. Keep in mind this is a 55 gallon standard. 48 long. Am I missing something? or do I need to go back to the drawing board? <I'd suggest going with the "classic" sump style. Have the incoming water enter the left side of the sump. Affix a baffle 6 or so inches away from that end, starting the 'fuge. This first baffle will serve to section off the 'fuge and reduce bubbles from the drain.  Affix the other baffle where you would like the 'fuge to end, then after that baffle drop in your skimmer, heaters, and return pump on the far right side. Easy? If you want I can draw you a fabulous picture in paint :) -Kevin> Thanks, Jason

Plenum construction in sump 09/04/03 Dear WWM crew, I recently constructed a plenum hastily in my sump to battle the persistent high nitrates. the problem is I didn't do it the right way by adding another screen layer on top of the 1st layer and top it off with sugar fine sand. I merely added about 3 inches of coral sand over the egg crate and screen. Is the setup workable to cultivate denitrifying bacteria considering the fact that there's no burrowing critters in my sump as it's empty? Cheers, <Well, I think lighting it and grow Chaetomorpha would be a better way to remove nitrates. You can use a Lights of America Security Light as your light source. They're fairly inexpensive, and the right spectrum, not to mention wattage. Mine was $30, for 64watts  of 6500K light. You don't really need the plenum, but the sandbed would be better in your tank. www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm Have a nice evening, PF>

-Sump critique- Dear WetWeb Crew, I am in the planning stages for a sump for my tank and was wondering if you could answer a few quick questions for me. <Will try> The main tank is a 75 gal fish only with live rock.  I recently moved and could not take the deep sand bed with me.  Now I have just a thin layer of sand right on the bottom of the tank and plan on using a standard 30 gal tank as a below-the-tank sump for nitrate reduction.  I have attached a rough drawing (in Excel) of the sump and was wondering what you think of the layout? <Looks good> I plan to modify the Remora Pro to hang on the back of the sump tank and dump skimmed water into the area with the deep sand bed. <ok> There will be some water that flows over the 1st baffle. <No worries, there's really no practical no-bypass way to skim> The main tank is not drilled for overflows so I need to purchase one.  I was thinking of a standard J tube skimmer box assembly, the Tidepool surface skimmer, or a CPR Continuous Overflow to draw up to 600 gal of water per hour.  Any preference? <I'm a J tube user for life (if drilling isn't an option!), the CPR overflows are horrid, and I'm not sure about the tidepool ones as I haven't used them> I know they aren't the best devices to draw water out of the tank.  The return pump will be a Mag 7, pushing about 480 gal per hour @ 4feet of head.  Should I install some type of valve between the return pump and outlet?  <A true union and a ball valve are always handy to have installed for pump maintenance.> How is the height of each sump baffle? <Looks good> I estimated this based on the height of the tank, the skimmer, and the deep sand bed.  The baffles will be cut from glass and siliconed in place.  Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated. <It looks pretty straightforward, you should have great success!> I have learned many valuable fish-keeping tips from your site.  Thank you. <You're very welcome, good luck! -Kevin>
Jason Bartlett

-Going up a few gallons!- Top-o-the morning to ya, <And to you too laddy>   I have had a 55 gallon FOWLR for about 8 years now and I feel I have gained enough experience (through some unfortunate mistakes and knowledgeable books and literature) to expand my hobby (or obsession if you will). The main reason is that my tank is getting old and the caulk is starting to break away from the corners. <Ooo, not so fun> I know I could drain and recaulk but its the perfect time to try something new. <You got that right!> Here is what I am thinking. I don't want to get rid of my 55 gallon tank. I think I can make a lot of use for it. I was thinking about getting a 100gal(60 inches long) so I could fit the 55 under the stand and use it as a sump. At 1st I wanted to just try my luck at a 75 but Its the same size length as a 55. What do you think about this idea? <Wouldn't you want to go more than 20g larger?> Is a 55gal overkill for a 100 gal tank? <No such thing as overkill; shame on you> I've went through your Faq's about DIY's but couldn't find anything about a 55 gal sump. Also, I hear a lot about refugium(s?). I have never ventured into this dark realm of fish keeping. Could I partition off some of the 55 to use solely as ref? <Absolutely> Would I need to? <No, but you'd probably want to> How should I divide the tank? <I'd use a pair of 10" baffles to section the largest possible space off that does not crowd or interfere with the other stuff you'll have in your sump> I know for the sump part of it, I would separate into 2 or 3 chambers. Unsure if I need sand in it though. <Would be a great place for a deep live sand bed!> Thanks for any light you can shed on my situation. <Uh oh, here comes another shameless plug for Bob and Anthony's Reef Invertebrates book. It has an incredible chapter on refugiums, and would serve you well. Good luck! -Kevin> Jason

Where to buy EuroFil? Hello Bob, Where can I buy a EuroFil sump for a 200 gallon tank? Thanks Darren <Wish I knew. Am unfamiliar with this manufacturer, line. I would check on the BB's re. Ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ and Reefs.org, ReefCentral... under "Equipment" headings. Good luck. Bob Fenner>

Marineland Tidepool 2? <Hello! Ryan here with you> I was wondering what you guys think about the Tidepool 2 filters. <Not bad at all- I think Marineland does a good job with nearly all of their products.  Only gripe is that it feels a little flimsy for such a pricey filter.> I like the fact that the water can pass through an abundance of other medias before being passed to the bio wheel. <As do I> I am going to have a FOWLR tank that will house a porky and two triggers, along with a few more fish. <Great> Considering that I use this filter or any other wet dry system I was thinking about eventually adding some macroalgae to my sump to help with nitrate removal. Would this be necessary or will about 60 lbs of live rock in a 90 gallon do this removal for me. <Both will have beneficial effects on your aquarium.  Try posting on WetWebFotos to chat with other owners of the filter- perhaps they can give you a few good recipes for success.  Here are some other tools you may find helpful: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrh2oqualfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/algaeasfriend.htm Please load me up with ideas. <Consider yourself loaded!  Now you'd better hand over those car keys, buddy! ;)   Best of luck! Ryan>

Sumps and Skimmers (8-20-03) Thanks for the quick response Cody! <No problem!> I am going to construct my own sump using a smaller aquarium. How do I calculate the size aquarium, protein skimmer needed for the sump? <There isn't really a set rule that I know of except bigger is better.> Also, can you direct me to any DIY plans for a sump? Also, are there any certain protein skimmers that you would recommend?  <I would recommend Euro Reef or Aqua C for skimmers.  Check here for sump info: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm Cody>   

Beginner Help - 8/18/03 Hi I would like to Know what a sump pump for a marine aquarium does (what's the use of it?) <it is a pump used underneath the aquarium on a trickle filter or empty sump reservoir to return water back up to the display aquarium which overflows water in a circuit which includes the aforementioned. Please use the google search tool at the bottom of the main index page http:// www.wetwebmedia.com   for searches and more information for your new hobby. Best regards and welcome! Anthony>

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

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

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

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

Sump dilemma Hello everyone, <Hi Derek, Don today> For the last two years I've struggled with a 60g FOWLR tank and it drove me insane.  Recently I had to move and due to my frustration I decided that I would shut the tank down until I could figure out what all of my errors were.  Since then, I've been reading as much as I can to try and figure out the best way to do everything.  I now seem to have a secure grasp on what to do about everything with the exception of what to put in the center chamber of my 30g sump.  See, I want to place as much fish as I can into the tank without overloading.  From what I've read, it seems that most people recommend not placing bio balls in the sump and instead using LR/DSB/refugium etc.  I'm concerned that if I do this the LR will not be sufficient at breaking down the ammonia and nitrite.  However, if I use bio balls then it will become a nitrate factory.  What is your suggestion on this matter (keep in mind that the rest of my setup is as follows:  60g tank with 75lbs of LR, 1/2 to 1 inch Southdown, corner overflow boxes leading to 30g sump, 1st chamber contains EuroReef skimmer, 2nd unknown, third return with mag9.5,  overall water circulation in tank about 18x). <You could simply leave it empty (additional volume adds stability), You could put some live rock in to help with filtration, add 4-6" Southdown for NNR. Or you could put a phosphate remover/carbon/foam/PolyBio). This area would not be ideal for a refuge as the water flow is pretty strong. A separate, upstream refuge is recommended. Good luck getting things going again. Don> Thanks for the help, Derek    

-Sump questions- I have been looking into buying a sump for some of my tanks. A sump look easy to but I was looking systems and pumps and thought about the sump overflowing or the water level in the pump going to low. <Both of these issues are not anything to lose sleep over.> If the tank water siphons out using an overflow in the tank wouldn't the return pump in the sump have to pump the same amount of water back to the tank? Even if the flow rate was off by a few gph wouldn't there be problems like the sump overflowing? <Think about it: The overflow can only suck down as much water as is being pumped up since it's running on a gravity siphon. Just be sure you know your overflow boxes max GPH rating (most single 1" ID u-tube style overflows can handle a max of 600gph). As long as you follow the rules, it will be good to you!> I would also like to have a dosing system  to drip into the sump and a denitrator the using water from the tank and drips it back slowing into the sump. <Ah, just install a deep live sand bed (over 3.5" deep) to remove your nitrates. They also do oodles of other good things for your tank.> How do I factor these into picture. <No biggie, if the doser is for top-off water, you'll need to figure out your evaporation rate first. My favorite way to eliminate the low-sump-pump-gurgling problem is to install a float valve or switch to automatically top-off with purified water.> Last question, what brand sumps and pumps do you like. The BioRocker by Kent marine looks very nice and sound good but I have not seen and reviews for them. <If you are using live rock and sand, you will have no need for a sump with a bio filter. In this case a cheap aquarium or Rubbermaid tub will do. If you've got money to burn and want something really cool, get one custom made. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks for all your help, Andy.

Laterite addition to marine substrate for Caulerpa sump (07/25/03) Dear Reefers, <Hi! Ananda here today....> Can someone please tell me if it is safe to add aquarium grade laterite to the substrate in a marine sump? <You are considering adding this for the iron content of the laterite, I presume....> Why would one want to? - Well, the Miracle Mud substrate, which appears to work so well in a 24 hour illuminated sump with Caulerpa growth, when analyzed shows the same mineral composition as a mixture of silica sand and laterite. <When I helped a friend tear down her tank prior to a move, we took a look at the Miracle Mud from her refugium. It seemed to have flecks of gold in it -- or iron pyrite.> I am setting up an experimental reef system sump with a mixture of aragonite sand and laterite instead. However, there is evidence of adverse effects from an increased concentration of aluminum in reef systems, and laterite of course contains aluminum bound up in the clay particles. <Yup, definitely something to be concerned about. Another item you might try instead of the laterite is Seachem's planted tank substrate, called Fluorite. If you write to Seachem, they should be able to tell you if there is any aluminum in it. I believe it is primarily clay-based, but it does contain quantities of iron. If you have a friend with a planted tank, ask to get the dust that comes off of the stuff when it is sifted. You can get several cups of the dust from a single bag of the stuff, especially if you rinse it.> Hence the appeal to see if anyone else has tried this before I subject living creatures to the test. <I have not. I would suggest two things: first, post on the WetWeb chat boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk to see if anyone has thought about this. Second, if you decide to try it, set up a small, isolated system for it. I would try a system with only your substrate and Caulerpa initially. You might consider adding some live rock later. When you have enough algae, add a snail. Another good test critter would be ghost shrimp. They are sold as freshwater feeders, but can be acclimated (slowly!) to full saltwater. Assuming those fare well, the next creature I would try is a mushroom coral. Do keep us posted on the progress of your experiment!> Thanks and best regards, Eric Brightwell FZSL <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Live Rock in Sump I have a question to ask:  Do I have to have Live Rock in my Sump and does it matter if the return sprays or can I just lay the overflow tube into the water? <With live rock in your tank, it isn't necessary in the sump, also, the overflow feeding the sump can be placed into the water without worry.> I would also like to cut down on salt creep caused by the spraying or dripping of water into the Sump. (I do have a cover over the main spay, but I not over the entire sump). I have plenty of rock in the tank and could really use the extra room I would have if I removed the rock. I know that Bio Balls will eventually build up the Nitrate level within the tank, but if you replace the Bio Balls with Live Rock and the water is spraying over the rock would 't you be doing the same thing? <if the rock is exposed to air like the bioballs would be, yes, you would still produce nitrates disproportionately. If you want to relocate the rock to the sump, examine the feasibility of placing it in the bulk water of the sump, rather then the spray/drip chambers where the bioballs are held. Best, Chris>

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

Skimmer in the Sump - 07/13/03 Folks, <Hi Brian, PF with you tonight> Thanks for all you excellent advice so far. 5 x 2 x 2 now on order. My LFS makes excellent tanks and cabinets but isn't a marine dealer. The great strength is, when the owner doesn't know, he says so! My new tank will have a sump with twin overflows and two return pumps. It seems that most of the customers having marine systems made ask for the last compartment in the sump to hold the skimmer. I've asked for mine to be first to get the overflow 'raw' from the tank. This then flows into a compartment with Rowaphos etc. then into a larger section with living rock, algae, DSB(? o.k. in the sump), then into a section with pumps, heaters etc. & return to tank. Throughput with twin pumps is about 12 - 14 times tank volume per hour. Does this sound ok. to you?  I've read through all your sump FAQs and the right answer seems to be that there isn't a right answer! So is it 'anything goes' (within reason) for sumps. Thanks again. I feel I've had more than my fair share of excellent advice from you, and I haven't even got the tank yet. Brian <Well Brian, that sounds really good to me. As for "anything goes", well pretty much. A DSB is ok in the sump, as well as the main tank. Sounds like a sound plan to me, have a good night, PF>

- New Sump, New Problems - Hello, <Hello to you, JasonC here...> I just installed a new AquaClear pro 75 wet dry system and now all my fish are breathing fast and DYING!! <Really...> ran to the pet store to test ALL my params.  and all is good. <Do tell more about your system - what filtration did you have before you installed the sump? Is that filtration running now? Did you clean the sump before you installed it? Is there a new pump on the system? Is there new plumbing? As they say, the devil is in the details but I feel like I'm missing some of them here...> Salinity was a little high at 26 but I think that was done in a rush to do a water change. any ideas? I out of ideas myself. <Again... I'd like to answer the question but without more information, and you say the store tests were fine... it would be a wild guess and potentially unhelpful.> Jason <Cheers, J -- >

Sump melted by heater? >Hello to all at WWM: >>Good morning, Marina here. >This might sound like a silly question but here goes. I currently have two 200w Visi-therm heaters in my sump. I have always been concerned if the suction cups did not hold and the heater actually was laying directly on the acrylic can it in fact melt the sump? Always wondered......never asked until now.  Thanks a million, Gene >>If the sump is acrylic, and the heater were to become stuck in the 'on' position, yes, it could happen.  Is it *likely* to happen?  Not very likely at all.  But, if really concerned, then you could simply slip them into a sleeve of PVC, with many holes/notches cut into it, they won't usually be sufficiently hot to melt PVC.  I would like to suggest spacing the heaters, though, to help reduce temperature differentials.  I like having one hidden in the tank, and one remotely located (the sump).  

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

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

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

Plumbing the Sump Hi WWM Crew, <Hi Paul, PF with you here tonight> First, let me say thanks for all of the guidance you have already provided through the FAQs and other info on your site, it has been an immeasurable help in clearing the confusion in my newfound interest in marine aquaria. On to my question. I have recently acquired a Perfecto 220 gal tank (72x24x30H) which I plan to use first for fish (with LR and live sand) and eventually for coral. The tank was drilled with three holes in line at one end. The holes are big enough for bulkhead fittings for 1" PVC. Hopefully this should work well since I intend to set the system up in a 'peninsula' format with the short end with the holes being up against the wall.  The system does not have an overflow box. One of the LFSs has two tanks setup (same as the one I have) that are just using straight 1" PVC standpipes for the overflows (no boxes). What are the disadvantages to this? <A box lets you draw the water off the top, this water contains most of the organics that skimming is trying to remove from the tank.> What are my options for adding an overflow box? <Here's the results for the google search I did: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=DIY+overflow > I thought I might silicon in a piece of 1/4" acrylic, with notches cut in the top, across that end of the tank if I need to? If I don't need the box, how far below the top of the tank should I make the standpipes? <Look the DIY sites over, and look at using Durso style standpipes, you'll be happy you did.> I plan to run the center hole into my sump (28 gal Rubbermaid, should I get a second one? see info on refugium below) and return it via an Iwaki WMD40RLXT (about 5' of head) and a SCWD with the outlets going to opposite corners of the tank.  I planned on using the other two holes for closed circuit circulation using the same setup as the sump (i.e.. Iwaki WMD40RLXT and SCWD) for each hole. Three pumps total. It sounds like a lot of pumps, but doing the calculations gives me less than 3,000 GPH (not including the head created by the SCWDs which sounds fairly substantial from most of what I've read). <SCWDs produce the same head as a 90deg elbow ~ per my conversation with the manufacturers, don't forget the heat the pumps put out.> I like the idea of having three pumps since It would allow me to deal with a failure or servicing without a huge effect to the flow in the tank. <Redundancy is a good thing.> I have a Rubbermaid 55 gal ag.. tub which I plan to use as a refugium with Mangroves and macroalgae and about 3-4" live sand/mud and some LR. I plan on plumbing the refugium so that it is gravity fed from the sump and maintain the same water level in both (zero head from sump to refugium). The return from the refugium would be an Eheim 1048 directly back into the main tank at about 100 GPH (to avoid traumatizing/mincing the critters pumped out of the refugium any more than necessary). <It would be better to have the refugium gravity feed into the tank, and have the refugium fed by the Eheim.> Is regular PVC glue/primer ok to use? <From what I understand, no it's not. Some brands are ok, others are toxic. The DIY sites should have more info.> Will seven return nozzles (two from each main pump and one from the refugium) be enough for a system this size? <I imagine more than enough.> I planned to place one in each corner except for the corners where the overflows are and the refugium return somewhere near the center. <Sounds good, especially with the SCWDs.> Thanks again for all your help. Paul <Your welcome, have a good night, PF>

Two Sumps Instead of One Thanks but I do not have the room for 1 larger sump, only 2 smaller ones. The bubbles come from the turbulence in my 20 gal sump. Even though it is a lot of work would the 2 sump setup work passively? <Joined with bulkheads the two sumps will function as one, and separate the pump section from the return and stop the bubbles. Should be fine.  Again, use bulkheads to join the two for reliability. Craig >

Micro Bubbles You guys have been a great help since my reef beginnings on 1/10/03. Now for the next problem. I have what I believe is a 20 gal AMiracle sump. Inside is a gs-2 protein skimmer. There is one 3/4" bulkhead that leads to a little giant md-2 that pushes water thru a heater/chiller and back into the sump. A second 1" bulkhead leads into the quiet one that pumps water thru a ql-25 ultraviolet sterilizer (this is now 3/4" tubing since leaving quiet one pump) and into top of tank via 3/4" x 6" black flexible ball type tubing. I also have a magnum 350 with constant carbon filtering. I had a 275gph power head but I removed it since I do not like the way it looks. The return was a j-tube with 1" flex tubing into the sump. With this setup I estimated about 1000gph turn over. (this is a 90 gal tank) With this setup I have very few microbubbles.     I decided to increase my gph turnover. To do this I first bought a CPR cs150 continuous siphon overflow with an 1800gph flow capability. This was added to my original J-tube overflow that now helps to handle my extra flow and is a backup overflow. The cs150 uses 1.5" pvc into my sump. I then added another 1" bulkhead from my sump to a little giant 4-mdqx-sc. From this pump it goes thru 1" tubing where it tees off into two 3/4" x 12" black flexible ball type tubing. This now gives my tank around 1800gph turnover, eliminates any dead spots and helps with nutrient export. The problem is with all this turbulence that is now in my sump I am getting MANY micro bubbles. How can I eliminate them? <This is a lot of flow through a 20 gallon sump!  First, drain lines should extend under sump water line if possible to eliminate as much splash and air intro as possible. Into a mesh filter bag may help. Extend to degree possible the distance between drain line and return pump inlet. Use sponges or baffles to make water rise and fall on it's way to pump inlet, giving bubbles opportunity to float to surface. Try checking in Marine Set-ups for some ideas to eliminate bubbles, also the DIY section. Craig>

Re: Microbubbles/sump Thanks for your help. I am thinking about getting a second 25-30 gallon sump. I want to run two 1" lines from the original sump to the new sump using passive flow to feed it with water. In the new sump I would like to put a remora fractionator and run my 1" and 3/4"return lines from it. This would make the intakes going into my original 20 gal sump and the returns from the new sump. Will this eliminate the microbubbles due to the separation of lines? Will the new sump fill correctly by passive means? Are 2 fractionators massacre and worthwhile? My current fractionator produces a cup every 2 days of fairly dark skimmate but it is not black. Your thoughts before I do this would be appreciated. Thanks <If you are going to the trouble of installing a sump, go with *one* properly sized sump and one efficient skimmer. Then, one or two drains and one properly sized return, perhaps a manifold for more than one outlet, depending on set-up. In short, I would simplify the sump, drain, return, and skimmer.  There is no need to produce "black" skimmate, the skimmate may range from fairly light to dark green. With a longer sump the bubbles will have more than ample time and space to dissipate before getting to the return pump. Before you go through all this, be sure your return pump line(s) are tight and not sucking air....causing your bubbles.  Craig> Sump Question Hello Crew, <You're with Scott F. today!> Thanks again for taking my questions.  All is well with my 150 gallon so I thought I'd take the time to upgrade the sumps.  I am now running a dual drain wet dry (36 x 12 x 18) and a separate 20 gallon sump dedicated to a Euroreef CS6-3 skimmer.  I recently upgraded the skimmer from a Sealife Impact 400 and am waiting for a negligible difference.  It is a great skimmer, though. <It is a fine skimmer; you'll see tremendous results over time, trust me!> My current question is as follows.  I have freed up quite a bit of room in my wet dry by relocating the skimmer.  I have placed some extra live rock (about 20 lbs) in there that I had in another tank.  I do not have lighting in my sump area and am wondering if the live rock will lose its usefulness if not under light.  What is your opinion re: whether or not the sump must be under light.  I would like to know the benefits.  I would also like to know if a regular 20" florescent will do the trick and whether I could keep it on all the time or must dedicate a timer.  What would the effect of either be?  Thank you very much. Michael J. Busse <Well, Michael, these are all good questions, and there are lots of opinions, so I'll give you mine for a start! The live rock, when placed in a sump, is mainly functioning as a "supplemental" biological filtration substrate, and as such, lighting is not mandatory. Lack of lighting will not hamper the filtration capabilities of the rock. If you do opt to light the sump/rock, you may get some additional biodiversity, such as Polyps, macroalgae, etc. coming from the rock itself. In a lighted sump, you could also grow some "purposeful" macroalgae, such as my faves, Chaetomorpha linum and Gracilaria parvispora, to help serve as a nutrient export mechanism for your system (by regularly harvesting the macroalgae, you are permanently removing nutrients from the system). A 20 watt regular output fluorescent will definitely work, considering the distance above the water surface in the sump. I leave mine on 24/7, and other people use a "reverse daylight" regimen. The thought process here is that you will enjoy greater stability of pH by lighting the macroalgae during the display tank's "night". Lots of controversy here, but that's what works for me...You will certainly benefit from a lighted sump- just go for what works best for your needs! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 575 reef components So I am setting up a 575 gallon reef in my house and my local store, which I have been using for years is insisting that I use a 200 gallon Polyethylene tank along with a 200 gallon sump for filtration.  My question to you is, is this necessary and how would I go about setting this up?  I have a separate equipment room in which all of the gear will be going into but this is the largest adventure I have gone on. Any help or points in the right direction would be helpful. Thanks <Sorry if this is a repeat, I tried sending the reply and my internet connection dumped me.> <Well, as for sumps, I would recommend one. A cheaper alternative is to use a feeding trough as a sump, you can find them at farm or home repair style stores. As for you system, I would recommend you read through this FAQ, it's full of good advice:

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