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Old 02-16-2008, 04:00 PM   #1
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Baldface Newbie Part III - Sumps & Pumps

OK, my nascent plans have to be redone due to the realization that a sump/refugium would be most beneficial. In trying to get a grasp of what is needed I have become slightly confused. Here is what I have and am thinking of doing - correction/suggestions as well as product recommendations are appreciated. Remember, none of this has yet seen a drop of water:

55 Gal., LR, soft corals and (I hope) some inverts, few basic nice fish. Sump underneath to act as tank buffer as well as refugium/macroalgae home. Distance form bottom of sump to top of main tank appx. 3 feet. Sump will be a generic 10 gal tank.

The tank has zero overflow provisions. So that means I need a siphoning overflow or a two pump setup (up to tank and a return back). The two pump is uttely foolish it seems, balancing the two is critical and a slight change can lead to an ooopsie. So it seems an overflow using a siphoning weir-type system is in order.

The thought of an ooopsie has me nervous, so I envision a float switch in the main tank to interrupt the pump(s).

So how does this work? Sump pump(s) up to powerhead(s)? Am I missing anything, such as a check valve in the line up to the tank? That has me nervous as well, no check valve or one that doesn't seat properly can drain the whole main tank, depending on where the exit of the sump pump line is.

Thanks all again.
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Old 02-16-2008, 08:21 PM   #2
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Check out the diagrams on Melevs site. also look at this page on his site for photos of one he built. He has plans for the overflows and sumps, etc. Best site out there for this stuff IMO.

A properly designed overflow breaks siphon before the sump overflows and is self priming for when the electricity comes back on. I pull the plug on main pump at feeding time to prevent food from going down the drain.
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Old 02-16-2008, 10:01 PM   #3
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I debated the DIY sump/Refugium for a while. Than I read that a Refugium should be roughly 20% of the tanks volume to be truly beneficial. Too small of a Refugium is comparable to not having one at all. I decided to have one custom made for me(plus I am not really a DIY kinda guy) It was designed to fit underneath a 46bow its 32"long X 10" wide X16" high The refugium zone is 10x12x16 (Paid $350.00 came with nice light as well) During shipping the side wall was broken so I am getting another one shipped. If DHL doesn't want the old for any reason I get to keep it and hopefully find someone who is willing to purchase it and just glue in a simple 10x16 piece of acrylic. If you are interested PM me and let me know,
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Old 02-26-2008, 12:25 AM   #4
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OK, sumps & pumps is back, I've been distracted for about a week and am slowly getting aquarium stuff going again.

I am thinking of using an existing 10 gal tank for my sump/refugium. I would like to modify it by making some baffles and whatnot.

Can I cut acrylic pieces and glue the edges to the glass or does the acrylic welding solvent/glue not adhere to glass? How about RTV, is that inert enough for critters? I'm not sure exactly what's in it, it does give off acetic acid when it cures, mostly long chain silanes I think.

I am not quite understanding what a powerhead does. I am guessing that it is essentially a nozzle of some sort that creates a water flow pattern, as opposed to just an open pipe. Is this correct and what is a good one to get (55 gal fish, LR and hopefully some soft corals and inverts, probably only one pump)?

I am having a hard time finding a prebuilt weir/overflow. I want one that will hold the siphon and also that has room in it for me to put a float to monitor the level. I am thinking of hanging one on each end of the tank running individual pipes down for redundancy. Recommendations?

I would like a single pump for simplicity. Is this a good idea, short of redundancy matters?

Thanks again.
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Old 02-26-2008, 02:31 PM   #5
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You can glue the edges and use aquarium silicone to seal them in place.

Powerheads are small pumps used to move wataer within the tank. Take a look at some of these . For years everyone raved about the MaxJets. Now the Hydor Koralia's are the rage. The MJs have a narrow outlet and give a strong narrow flow. The Koralia's have a wider opening and impeller and give great flow over a wider area.

I'm trying to understand the reason for the float in the weir. You can always DIY if you can't find a prebuilt. Photos are here.

A single return pump is normal for home tanks.
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Old 02-26-2008, 03:30 PM   #6
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You can glue the edges and use aquarium silicone to seal them in place.

Powerheads are small pumps used to move wataer within the tank. Take a look at some of these . For years everyone raved about the MaxJets. Now the Hydor Koralia's are the rage. The MJs have a narrow outlet and give a strong narrow flow. The Koralia's have a wider opening and impeller and give great flow over a wider area.

I'm trying to understand the reason for the float in the weir. You can always DIY if you can't find a prebuilt. Photos are here.

A single return pump is normal for home tanks.
Hmmm, a little confusion here. A powerhead is a pump in of itself that has nothing to do with a sump/return system? I was thinking that a powerful sump pump would also act as the agitator, with some sort of fitting on the end. The 10x - 20x turnover rate, that is for the powerhead and not the sump? Can I use a sump for everything? If I need a sump AND powerhead, what type of flow should I have from the sump?

I don't feel like messing with making a weir setup, and am having a hard time finding a nice 'bulletproof' one. The float is to let me know of a possible return clog, I would like to shut off the sump if the float contact is made.

I was planning on gravity draining back, no return pump necessary. Right?

Thanks.
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:39 PM   #7
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CPR Overflow Boxes
Theres the link to an overflow box if you don't want to make one. Funny I am doing a 10g sump right now myself. Had all my stuff delivered today, so I will probably start working on it this weekend. If you are worried about the flow rate to the tank like I was earlier, make a T connection to the return line so that a portion of the flow goes back to the sump.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:15 PM   #8
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A powerhead is a small self contained moter (usually epoxy sealed for water protection) that spins a magnetic impeller. It has an intake and an outflow. Look at the ph's on the link I gave you. Yes, there is an electric cord coming from the ph to an electrical outlet. It allows you to adjust the flow pattern within a tank. This can also be done with a closed loop system.

The flow from the sump (in the absence of a closed loop system) is limited by the capicity of the overflow. The return pump needs to be sized based on the rated capacity of the overflow.

In my 125 gallon tank I have two corner overflows (built in) with a 700gph return pump going to my two return lines. I have two Hydor Koralia 3's and a Seio 820 for additional flow.

You may be over thinking the weir. The pre-made ones work. Have you looked at this one? If the return clogs then no water is being pumped back into the tank. Your pump will probably burn out, but it's no different than a power outage. The sump will hold the water that drains down. Now if the drain becomes clogged (extremely unlikely) you may overflow the tank with a few gallons of water. I don't remember hearing of anyone having that problem.

Yes, gravity feeds the sump from the overflow box.
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Old 03-01-2008, 11:26 AM   #9
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CPR Overflow Boxes
Theres the link to an overflow box if you don't want to make one. Funny I am doing a 10g sump right now myself. Had all my stuff delivered today, so I will probably start working on it this weekend. If you are worried about the flow rate to the tank like I was earlier, make a T connection to the return line so that a portion of the flow goes back to the sump.

Thanks for the link. Most helpful, especially the drawing w/ different dimensions. Those boys are pricey and now I am rethinking my reluctance to DIY acrylic work.

As for flow, I am not worried so much by too much, I am just trying to figure out how the flow is distributed. I know I need 20 GPM, is it mostly sump feed? Powerhead? Any combination of the two? A bypass line is of course necessary.

This screams for automation, at only an upcharge of several thousand...
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Old 03-01-2008, 12:00 PM   #10
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A powerhead is a small self contained moter (usually epoxy sealed for water protection) that spins a magnetic impeller. It has an intake and an outflow.

[...]

The flow from the sump (in the absence of a closed loop system) is limited by the capicity of the overflow. The return pump needs to be sized based on the rated capacity of the overflow.

You may be over thinking the weir. The pre-made ones work. Have you looked at this one? If the return clogs then no water is being pumped back into the tank. Your pump will probably burn out, but it's no different than a power outage. The sump will hold the water that drains down. Now if the drain becomes clogged (extremely unlikely) you may overflow the tank with a few gallons of water. I don't remember hearing of anyone having that problem.

Yes, gravity feeds the sump from the overflow box.
OK, I've run into a nomenclature issue. I see that (unique to aquaria?) that the term 'return' is actually referring to the sump pumping up into the tank. The gravity flow back is the 'drain'. In my work, working with very similar things but on a large industrial scale, the 'return' is what drains back into the source vessel of the pump. So I've been quite a bit confused seeing 'return' used in pumping up to the main tank while my brain is thinking it is the drain. Hopefully that explains some of what must have seemed an inexplicable understanding of a basic plumbing setup.

As for flow balancing, using the magic 10x -20x range for hourly turnover, my 55g, say roughly 10-15 GPM, would be needed. Is that a combination of PH and sump or just PH? I am guessing the magic number is for turbulence (that is gas exchange) while the powerhead is more for agitation and keeping from forming stagnant areas in the tank. Also, as best I can tell from the picture, the PH is entirely self-contained in the tank, that is its source does not require plumbing elsewhere (i.e. sump).

Using those flow rates, if I have a 10g sump, that is going to be rather violent, turning over in less than a minute. Will that be ok as a refugium or do I need a little more tranquility down there?

As for float in the weir, I was trying to plan for a clogged drain that would cause the weir(s) to back up and trigger a spill before the main tank float could shut things down. That may be pointless, I guess it all depends on how much 'free space' there is in the weir design; can it absorb the volume overflowing after a pump shutdown until things settle down.

That is a great picture of a weir. I can see how it holds its siphon. Funny thing, I was at a Japanese wheel assembly plant this week and, being Japanese, had tanks all over in the office areas. There was a (grungy) salt water tank in the office I was using and they had that very weir, smaller though. But it was filled with all kinds of gunk. The pumps from the sump were Tygon tubing and you could see a ton of buildup. I squeezed one of the tubes and a bunch of junk dislodged and shot into the tank. Is that typical or just poor housekeeping?
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