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Old 02-15-2014, 09:26 PM   #21
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How much do you want to spend on an LED system?
Unfortunately none of the "good" systems have a built in timer. The Marineland Plant LED has a built in timer with moon lights but it is WAY WAY WAY overpriced and really not that great anyway.

Good: Current USA LED+, this will get you low to medium light, and is a really "fun" light with lots of possible color effects. You can turn it manually to blue at night, or just get a separate blue strip on timer. This light is really cool because you can do a lot of interesting color schemes to mimic different times of day, and it has a remote. All of these changes must be done manually however, no timer.
Better: Finnex Ray II. Excellent plant growing light, will provide medium to high light. Just day lights, no night lights.
Best: Build My LED. Best PAR ratings for plant growing available. They are considered the Ferrari of the LED world. I have one of these in the planted 10000k color and it is an exceptional light and would show off your amazing huge tank quite nicely This light provides high light. They are expensive but totally worth it. Worth noting they cost about the same as the Marineland LED with the timer but are at least twice as good.
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Old 02-15-2014, 09:30 PM   #22
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I have mystery snails, they are extremely interesting. I think they poop more than they eat, so they aren't really cleaners.

Nerite snails - we have a dozen and I HATE them. Do you see in the picture with the return pipe in the tank, there are tiny white dots all over my wood and plants, those are nerite eggs. They will never hatch but they are everywhere and I absolutely loathe them. They do eat algae.

Shrimp will become delicious meals for your Angels.

I don't know much about "cleaner" fish or invertebrates, just tossing out the few things I'm familiar with.
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:20 PM   #23
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Alright. Been doing some more research and ultimately decided to try to leave the sump in the stand. There's a .pdf attached showing my current plan. I'm very open to suggestions for modifications though! I tried to take into account everything people suggested and fuse it with my own research.

All of the illustrated plumbing is 1" PVC (Schedule 40) except for the return lines in the overflow (above the bulkheads) which are 3/4". Additionally, the plumbing for the UV Sterilizer is 3/4" (didn't figure it would need 1" since it isn't pushing the kind of volume the return lines are).

Color code for plumbing is that the red lines are drain lines, the green lines are return lines, and the neon/pea green lines are UV Sterilizer plumbing.

Using transparencies I attempted to make the system as easy to see as possible, showing where things cross behind other things by fading the item closest to you. Hopefully this is clear (pretty tough to make everything plainly visible in a system like this and I just wasn't willing to do full-blown section views across the system) I pointed out some specific areas that I had questions on, using little orbs with letters on them. I'll start addressing those:

A. Any opinions on whether it's better to sit the pumps on some sort of rubber mat or something, to keep them from vibrating against the glass bottom of the tank and causing noise? Necessary? No?

B. The pump I ultimately purchased is a Fluval SP4, which nominally pushes 1823 GPH at 0', 1672 GPH at 1'6", 1548 GPH at 3', 1347 GPH at 4'6", 1281 GPH at 5'9", 1135 GPH at 7'2", 805 GPH at 9'5", 499 GPH at 10'8". I really hope it's sufficient because I found out after buying it (after, mind you), that the shyster running the pet store I picked it up at won't do refunds, at all, on anything (even new merchandise). That's what I get for supporting local businesses, I guess. Anyway, it has a union fitting just above it so that I can remove it when necessary.

C. I managed to acquire a Tidepool Biowheel sump cabinet for less than 50 bucks. Figured it was worth it just for the drawer system and wheel already configured. As illustrated in the tank, I plan to cut the "sump" portion of the plastic housing away from the unit and stage it elevated in the sump tank, allowing the water to spill toward the left side of the tank, under the unit, then up and over the baffles to the return pump. Due to the mess of plumbing to the right, I figured it was best to just let the media drawers pull out to the left. I plan to build some sort of plastic tray to cover the wooden shelf there, so the drippings don't soak into the stand.

D. As illustrated, basically every joint in this system is going to be solvent welded with PVC cement (except the ones connected to pumps and accessories). I'm curious about the 1" threaded x1 slip" adapters threaded to the bulkheads though. Since I can't fit Union Joints beneath all the bulkheads I figure I'm going to have to saw everything off if I ever have to remove the plumbing anyway, so I didn't know if it was worth it to use nylon tape on these particular joints.

E. I've read that it's best to drain about 25% of water to the refugium, so I placed this ball valve with the intention of using it to control how much flow went through this particular jog in the drain plumbing. My untrained assumption is that if I leave this valve half open, it would result in half of the water from this particular drain line flowing to the refugium, and since there are two drain lines, each taking half of the drain water, taking half of half would result in 25% of the water ending up in the refugium. Sound about right?

F. Based on recommendations I decided to utilize the Hofer Gargle Blaster design of stand pipe. I placed them as low as I could in the illustration, which amounts to about 4 inches of water in the overflows. I still haven't had very many suggestions as to exactly how much water you want in the overflows at any given time. Is it better to have the overflows nearly full, nearly empty, somewhere in between?

G and H. I picked up a Coralife Turbotwist 6x 18W UV Sterilizer, as I knew the chincy ones I have been using on our smaller tanks wouldn't cut it in this larger one. There seem to be a lot of opinions on how much water should be channeled through a UV Sterilizer in an hour. I was thinking about getting something like a 500 GPH pump to run this. Does that seem reasonable?

I. Ignore I. I covered my I question along with the Hofer Gargle Blaster in F.

J. This bit of the sump is troublesome for me. Obviously it is going to contain some sort of stand to hold the biowheel cabinet, but otherwise it's empty, and it's going to be rather hard to access once everything is in place. I honestly don't know if that's a problem or not. Since nothing but water will be in this section, I can't envision any issues arising, and I can slip a net in along the sides of the thing if I had to get ahold of something like debris. While I don't like leaving an area inaccessible, I'm having a hard time working around it in the current configuration.

Note on Bulkhead Plumbing and lack of Union Joints:
I really wanted to put union joints on all of the plumbing here, just beneath the bulkheads. I tried all sorts of configurations to get them to fit, but with all of this stuff crammed into the stand, I just couldn't see how I could make it work without putting way too many additional elbows into the system. Technically, I CAN put unions on the return line plumbing, but I'm not sure I see much of a point if the drain plumbing doesn't have the same treatment. If anybody can envision a way to make this work while fitting union joints on all four bulkheads, I'd definitely be interested to hear it.

Note on sump configuration and backflow:
I haven't done any kind of volume studies on the plumbing or overflow yet, as I figure modifications will be made to the plan based on suggestions from forum contributors. I realize the baffles will probably have to be adjusted to make the compartments different sizes, and possibly the heights adjusted, to account for backflow in the event of a power outage, etc. I could certainly use some advice on that process if anybody has expertise there.

Again, thank you in advance for any advice or suggestions you can provide.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Aquarium Plan without Unions Small.pdf (501.4 KB, 33 views)
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Old 02-21-2014, 06:13 PM   #24
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That is a very impressive diagram! I've got some stuff to do this afternoon but I'm very anxious to get some forum time later so I can check it out and read your writeup
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:59 PM   #25
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OK I want to take some more time later but the things popping out at me right away to critique -

The water going straight to the refugium - I would be hesitant to have it bypass the mechanical filtration, just to keep gunk out of your return pump/pipes. Can you maybe get some mechanical filtration in the baffles between the refugium and the pump, maybe just shoving in some polyester fiber (filter floss)

I would be very hesitant to hard plumb anything that would require sawing off if you NEED access. There are times you may want or need to access your plumbing. Personally I would look for areas that you can utilize soft tubing instead of PVC in order to get access if you need it. We've gotten everything we need from Lowe's so it doesn't have to be fancy or unusual to make it work.

I like your idea of nothing under the bio box. If that area can't be accessed I agree that you don't really want anything in there. It's ok if there's just open space. I know it feels "inefficient" but at least it's adding to your system capacity.

I would aim to have the level in your overflow box as high as possible or the tank is going to be incredibly noisy. Having the water drop down several inches in two overflows is going to sound like a waterfall.

I know you have this thread in SW area too but I haven't checked it out. I hope they are giving you good advice since SW uses sumps so much more than we do.

I'll read this over again later and see if I have other thoughts.

Amazing work so far!
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Old 02-27-2014, 09:23 PM   #26
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I was under the impression that it was beneficial to have raw drain water reach the refugium to provide nutrients, etc., to the plants living in there. I'm kind of fuzzy on this, but I can definitely see your point regarding gunk getting back to the return area un-filtered. I guess I could reverse the location of the refugium and return zones, so the water coming immediately out of the filtration tower/biowheel cabinet goes into the refugium. Would also negate the need for the ball valve and seperate jog for the drain plumbing.
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:40 PM   #27
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Here's the newest revision of the system, based on feedback. Would love to hear some more comments, suggestions, or potential problem spots that experienced aquarists might see in the design before I go ahead with construction.

A. Small pump for UV sterilizer (haven't purchased pump yet, still not sure what sort of throughput the sterilizer should have for optimal efficiency).
B. Fluval SP4 pump for return.
C. Tidepool biowheel system, with "sump" portion cut away. I'm just using the biowheel and media drawers.
D. Coralife Turbotwist 6x 18W UV Sterilizer.
E. Refugium area. Plan to include plants and lighting to run during night-time hours. I think I read this helps with nitrate scrubbing or something along those lines? Would also like to keep shrimp or some other sort of cleaners in here to further assist the tank above, but what sorts of critters would provide such benefits? And would these critters be getting enough food, since the current configuration has all the drain water running through the mechanical filtration trays before even reaching the 'fuge?
F. This area is still difficult to reach, but I think in the rare events that it might be necessary, I can move the biowheel cabinet up and back slightly and get an arm in underneath to clean or whatever is needed. Considered various ways of adding unions to the drain lines to free up the pipe space above, but just couldn't find a way to do so.
G. Moved the stand pipes up, and as illustrated there is about a 2" drop for water entering the overflow. Should I plan on making this even less? Is there any benefit to keeping a few inches drop, or should the water fall even less distance? 1 inch? a half inch?

As I narrow down to a final plumbing layout, I need to start considering just how tall my baffles in the sump should be. Anybody have advice on how to calculate water volume in the plumbing, overflows, etc?

For purposes of power-outage situations, do I assume that ALL the water in the overflows is going to end up in the sump, or only the water that will drain in before the water drops below the stand pipe drain holes? I simply wonder because I'm under the impression that the standpipe mated into the bulkhead isn't sealed or glued in any way, so I wonder if leakage just above the bulkhead is a possibility that has to be accounted for.
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Old 03-04-2014, 04:13 AM   #28
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Will you draw diagrams for me?!

I think this is looking really solid.

For your stand pipes, just be flexible so that if you feel like the water level is too low, you can raise em up. Even if it's just having an extra piece of pipe laying around.

Our gurgle buster is only installed via pressure (so that I can take it out sometimes to clean it) and it does not leak at the install position down below. So your water *should* only drain to the height of the lowest gurgle buster entry.
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Old 03-28-2014, 04:06 PM   #29
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Thanks again for all your thoughtful advice. The last month has been really busy for me and I haven't had much time to work on the aquarium build, but I plan to post updates here as construction progresses.
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