is it better to have a sump? Or can we do the same thing as we did with the 29 high with just a CPR BakPak 2R? I'd really like it to look nice an neat, but what is the maintenance like on a sump? When you clean it how messy is it?
Is it better to have a sump? Yes and no. Yes in that you can move all your equipment from the tank to the sump. So no heater, skimmer or any other device in your main tank other than maybe an accessory powerhead or two.
A sump adds water capacity to the system. So lets say you had a 20 gal
high sump (i know i know you just returned one). The 20 gal
would sit under the 20 in an enclosed stand. Your heater and your skimmer would sit or hang on the 20. You would fill it 3/4th the way full and in effect add 15 gal
to your system. The additional water makes the water quality more stable.
I answer NO to the above question because sumps do increase the complexity slightly. Instead of just adding equipment that hangs on the back you add an overflow and plumb this down to your sump. Then you have a large circulation pump that in your case can push 400-500GPH at 3' head. This way you can get most of your current in the main tank from just 1 pump that is hidden in the sump. Then you plumb your circiulation pump from the sump back ot the main tank.
If a sump is installed correclty its very neat. The only thing you see in your main tank is the overflow and the return lines. All your equpiment and electical cords are under the tank.
When you do water changes its as simple as taking water out of the sump and pouring water back in.
Lets say you have a 20 gal
sump with 15 gal
of water in it. Now lets say you want to perform a 10-15% water change. That would require you take out approx 7-8gal of water.
TO do this with OUT a sump you have to put a syphon hose in the tank and drain it into a buicket. Probably have to shut off your pumps and your skimmer since the water level is going to drop. THen you carry the buckets to a drain and pour them out. THen you have to pour or scoop the fresh water into the tank. Since most tanks are not on the ground this means you have to pick up the water 4' or more and pour it into the tank. THen power up all the equipment again.
Now. TO do this WITH a sump. you would scoop out the water with a pitcher or something. Since the sump is lower to the ground you probably cant syphon it into a bucket beside it but you could use a small PH and pump it from sump to bucket or sump to drain with the aid of a hose. Then you pour the old water down the drain. Then you get your new water. But insetead of having to add it to your main tank you can just pour it into your sump. You may or may not have to shut down your skimmer but your main cicrulation pump should be able to continue to run during this whole process.
The only real maintance you have on a sump is making sure its not overfull or underfull of water. And also makeing sure the overflow is free from debris that could impeed the water flow down to the sump.