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Old 02-13-2014, 10:29 AM   #1
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Diving Into Deeper Water - Advice for setting up a 125g with a 55g sump

(Originally posted to the freshwater "getting started" section because the initial goal of the setup is to be a freshwater tank, but some readers thought the emphasis on sump construction might be more relevant to you, the saltwater crowd. Also, I'd prefer to design the system with an eye towards ultimately turning the tank into a reef aquarium some day.)

This is my first post to the forum, though Iíve been an occasional visitor to aquariumadvice for a few years now (since first getting into the aquarium hobby). Started out with a leaky 30 gallon Hex tank from my parents basement, quickly upgraded to a 55 gallon standard tank (due to aforementioned leaks), added a 30 gallon bowfront to another room in the house about a year later, and now weíve purchased a 125 gallon tank, planning to move the inhabitants of the other two tanks up a step (the guys in the 30 gallon will get the 55 gallon, the denizens of the 55 will move to the 125, 30 will likely be taken down or turned into a vivarium). All weíve worked with so far is freshwater, and for now, are happy to continue to do so. The new 125 came with a 55 gallon sump tank, and while I pride myself on being a pretty handy guy, Iíve never done plumbing work of any sort, so setting this thing up is a little intimidating. I fully intend to plumb it myself, and Iíve been doing all I can to research the topic, but Iím hoping that some of you who have the accumulated wisdom of years in the hobby might be able to give me some suggestions, advice, and pointers.

A little background, in case it should prove relevant. I am a professional model maker by trade (specializing in consumer electronic mockups and prototypes), so part of my job is being well-versed in the use of all manner of hand and power tools. Aside from that, Iíve been building things as a hobby ever since I was a child, and enjoy learning new techniques and methods for doing so. My point is, Iím comfortable doing the work myself in almost all cases, and have most of the tools I could possibly need to execute the work (I think?). With all that said, I AM NOT versed in the engineering aspects that might be relevant to advanced aquarium setup (flow dynamics relating to pumps and pipes, the minutiae of electricity, etc.)

Weíve previously worked with various power filters, but our two current tanks are set up with canister filters. Doing a lot of reading online, I had long since decided that if we ever got a larger tank, there was no question that I wanted to include a sump in the design. It sounds like there really is no good substitute for them, even on a freshwater setup. I purchased the 125, stand, and 55 sump tank on Craigslist, from a female version of Ace Ventura. Seriously, the lady was a professional equestrian dressage trainer, had several birds, dogs, and more fish tanks than I have rooms in my house. This tank, supposedly, was brand new when she got it, though the stand and sump tank were previously used. She purchased it, never had time to get it properly set up, and it sat in her living room for two years before she decided to get rid of it. I believe the stand is a scratch-built, home carpenter sort of setup, but itís extremely sturdy. While she could have been lying about the tank being brand new, I honestly donít think so. This thing is immaculate. Even the overflow bulkheads are spotless (You know that region between the inner and outer walls of plastic? No residue of any sort between them).

A Note on Weight:
I am well aware that this setup will weigh significantly more than any of our current tanks, and unfortunately I have no choice but to situate it parallel to the floor joists (and it only sits astride two joists at that). I have done some reading on the hazards this presents. Before getting this tank up and running, I will be adding at least two additional joists directly underneath the tank, spanning from the relevant load-bearing wall to the steel support beam running the length of the home. Our home is a very standard ranch-style setup. The joists in question are only about 16 feet in length, so Iím not overly worried about the difficulty of this task. I had considered placing jack stands directly underneath the tank (our basement is unfinished, so I donít really care about the aesthetics), but doing so would put a jack stand directly in front of one of my basement doors, in addition to the annoyance of having multiple immovable pillars sticking out two feet from the wall in my home gym area.

The Basic Setup:

-Attached are a photo of the basic setup, as well as a plan view I drew up that eliminates all the unnecessary stuff in the way, giving a section view of the tank and stand, along with dimensions I thought might be useful.

(Refer to image Front View (Small) and image Aquarium Plan (small))

-The tank came pre-drilled with the holes illustrated in the section view provided. I presume that the people who built the tank and pre-drilled it would know what the ideal sizes of holes for the system would be, but Iím curious anyway. Do you, who know the hobby well, feel that when bulkhead flanges and everything are accounted for, that these stand pipe and water return holes are sufficiently large to allow for quiet operation, efficient flow from the pump, and ideal aeration of falling water into the stand pipes? I understand that itís hard to get holes drilled in this thick glass, but Iíd rather take the trouble and time to get it done now than live with less than ideal filtration on down the road.

-Is there a good rule of thumb to determine how tall the stand pipes should be in a setup like this? I donít really understand (and havenít seen any real references to) whether the overflow chambers should be mostly empty, mostly full, or what difference it would make either way? Whatís quietest? Whatís most efficient? Is there an agreed upon middle ground somewhere?

-Do most people, when installing the bulkheads between the overflow chambers and the outside world below the tank, utilize rubber gaskets on the PVC bulkhead, or permanently bond the threads with PVC cement? My only concern is that rubber gaskets are likely to dry out eventually, and I canít even imagine what a nightmare it would be to disassemble those bulkheads on a live tank to replace the gasket in the event that it starts to crack and leak. I suppose, depending on the setup, turning off the pump and pulling the standpipes out of the bulkhead would leave the overflow chambers essentially empty of water, in an ideal situation. If this were the case, disassembling those bulkheads would actually not be much of a hassle, would it? Iím thinking out loud here, because my understanding of how the plumbing of this system works is still far from complete.

-What do most of you utilize in terms of a standpipe design? Iíve read about this ďRichard DursoĒ standpipe, which appears to have a capped top, a gooseneck, and a small hole drilled in the pipe somewhere. Supposedly, this design is very quiet and doesnít drain during a power outage. Are any of you familiar with this design? Are there other layouts I should consider?

-I read in a few places about standpipe and water return layouts that placed the entire tank/sump into a ďclosed loopĒ situation, making it extremely quiet and immune to draining problems in case of a power outage. Is anyone familiar with this sort of setup? The claims for the Durso standpipe sound similar, but I donít think that was what they were referring to when I was reading on this ďclosed loopĒ scenario.

Sump Placement Ė Under Tank or In Basement?:
-Iím curious about the advantages of having the sump in the basement? Iím not averse to drilling holes in the floor (I used to install and sand hardwood floors, so if I ever need to move the tank, I can fix the holes), and the basement is unfinished, so having a sump down there doesnít bother me. Aside from moving the noise of the pump to the basement, does this layout really gain me anything? If the tank and sump are set up correctly, a power outage is simply going to drain the pipes into the sump, which should bear the extra water without flooding anyway, right? Obviously it would be easier to access everything downstairs, but are there other benefits Iím not considering? I imagine a pump thatís up to the challenge of this is going to cost a lot more, right?

Sump Design/Accessories:

(refer to image Aquarium Sump Plan (small))

-Will this sump setup work as-is? Do those glass bulkheads look like an efficient layout? Iím thinking in terms of the sump holding all the necessary water in the event of a power outage, as well as overall efficiency. I donít mind stripping out the bulkheads and re-doing them if thereís a superior layout that would be worth the extra time and effort, but I havenít seen much nitty-gritty detail as to why a sumpís bulkheads are laid out in some specific way vs. another.

-I know basically nothing about the ideal contents of a sump, in terms of media, etc. Iíve seen bio bags, bio balls, ďberlin filtersĒ, media baskets, all sorts of things. I really donít know what sort of setup is best for a freshwater aquarium like this.

-How does the plant refugium thing work? Iíve heard itís useful as an additional filtration process. What sort of media is best to ďpotĒ said plants in a sump? Do we need to vacuum this media like we would the show tank media?

-Which region of the sump would be the best place for the drains to drop into? Where would be the best location for filtration media? Does the refugium go in between the filtration area and the pump return, or does the filtration area rest between the two?

-Is it ok to just put heaters in the sump? Iíve seen many people do this, but I wondered if itís as efficient as placing the heaters directly in the show tank? Iíd obviously prefer them in the sump for cosmetic reasons, but I also donít want the fish to suffer for my aesthetic sensibilities. Is it more efficient to use one big heater, or multiple smaller ones? If the sump is placed in the basement, and the water is going to travel through 10+ feet of PVC pipe exposed to open air between, is that going to affect the temperature in the show tank upstairs?

Pump/Plumbing:

-So the pump that came with the setup is an AquaEuro EU-1340. I havenít been able to find any details about this pump online at all. It's a submersible, 120V pump that operates at 60Hz and draws 1.6 Amps (125 Watts). It has an Hmax of 13.5 Ft, and a maximum throughput of 1340 Gallons per Hour (supposedly). Any estimations as to whether or not this thing would be sufficient for this aquarium? I assume the situation changes if I move the sump downstairs, as it has all that extra height to push the water? This pump says it has a maximum height of 13.5 feet, but Iím sure splitting the output to two separate outfeed pipes would hinder that somewhat. If I have to buy a new pump, does anybody have a recommendation? What are the advantages (or disadvantages) of using a submersible pump as opposed to an external one?

-Iím a little confused on what the ďdual overflowĒ design of this tank means for the plumbing layout. Do we require two separate pumps, plumbed independently? Can one big pump handle everything? Doesnít adding a ďTĒ junction to the plumbing drastically affect the performance of the pump? Is there some sort of symmetry required in the plumbing design to assure that both outfeeds are replenishing the same amount of water to the tank? Does that even matter?

-Iíve seen some sump layouts that involved an auxiliary water outfeed that immediately fed back into the sump, used as a relief system for an extra powerful pump so that the pump can run at full power. Is it bad on the pump to be throttled back? I think the designs I saw involved a ball valve so that the amount of ďextraĒ water could be controlled. Does anyone have a good explanation as to what purpose this serves? I have ideas, but would like to hear it explained by someone who really knows the systems.

-Iíve seen many people mention a device called a ďchiller.Ē I assume this has something to do with mitigating the heat generated by a large pump system, but Iím not entirely sure how it fits into the overall picture. If the pump is generating heat, wouldnít that just take some of the load off of the tank heaters? I have no idea how much heat weíre talking about these pumps generating, so pardon my ignorance. How do you know if you need a chiller or not?

Miscellaneous:
-Are there other considerations I should be thinking about when designing this system? Common pitfalls Iíve not addressed yet? Keep in mind, the largest tank Iíve used so far is a 55 gallon with a canister filter. Anything beyond that (regarding larger tanks or anything to do with a sump) I am completely ignorant of, excepting the things Iíve read online (which Iíve covered most of above).

-Does anybody have recommendations as to good books on these topics, additional web resources that might be of value to me, etc.? I poked around on Amazon for awhile and couldnít find a single book that seemed to discuss the matter of sump systems at length.

(refer to image Power Housing (small)

-It seems that the previous owners were plugging all their accessories into this home-made outlet box, which appears to be ganged into a single extension cord. Iím no electrician, but is this safe? Nevermind the fact that they have electrical wiring and multiple non-GFI outlets directly underneath a tank full of water, but theyíre ganging ALL of the outlets to a single plug. My brother-in-law tells me he used to run all the electrical systems in his 110 gallon tank off of a single outlet, but Iím not usually a fan of trusting in a single anecdote for a matter that could burn my house down. I guess in theory if everything on the circuit comes in under the amperage of the breaker, it COULD all go through a single outlet, but as I said earlier, Iím not well-versed in residential electricity. Obviously if I moved the sump to the basement most of this stuff is going to be plugged in down there, but if I were to leave it in the stand, does this setup as shown seem like something any of you would use?

In Conclusion:
Yeah, I realize how sad it is that I actually felt the need to write closing statements to a forum post, but this thing has become rather epic in length. First off, if youíve read this far, thank you. If you can chime in on any of the thousand questions I asked, it would be greatly appreciated. Not just by my girlfriend and I, but by our bevy of very large, very cramped angels who are looking at me more harshly by the day, as if to say ďyou know, weíre not getting any smaller, and this 55 gallon house just isnít cutting it anymore!Ē
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Old 02-13-2014, 10:56 AM   #2
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Nice setup. I'm no expert but I'll help as much as I can here. You could locate the sump in the basement you just need to get a large enough pump to pump the water high enough to reach the tank upstairs (head height FYI). I did see an issue with your sump, the first baffle is much to high (the left most divider). You need to size the baffles in accordance with how much water the tank syphon a into the sump in a power outage. In this case if your 125 syphons 30 gallons down to the 55 then you can only keep 20-25 gallons in the 55 to avoid an overflow onto the floor. Another option is to install check valves on your return lines so once power goes out they close and prevent a syphon. In this situation you only have to accommodate the water that drains down through the overflows and drain lines, likely to be substantially less. Another tip is when you install the bulkhead fittings on the bottom of the overflows (the threaded gasketed fittings to seal the tank and allow you to plumb through) I highly recommend that you install a valve on each one so you can close them as needed when needed. A lot of people will say its pointless but if you ever need to close them you will be glad they are there. Also if you use a valve that requires more turns to open/close you can use it to fine tune flow. Also if you plan to use PVC and hard plumb everything I highly recommend using "union" fittings so you can disassemble the plumbing if need be without having to break out a saw.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:43 AM   #3
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Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Do you happen to have any experience with internal/external pumps in a system around this size? I'm not sure how much noise to expect out of either variety, and noise is one of the big reasons I'm still on the fence about locating the sump in the basement.
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:57 AM   #4
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1. Do not glue the bulkheads. They will last 20 years, and if they don't, the overflow box will hold back the water while you are replacing them.

2. Do you have a utility sink in the basement? If so, put the sump (larger than a 55 gallon) in the basement. This way you can do water changes in the basement without disrupting the display and it's inhabitants.
Never have to carry buckets to the tank, and the automatic top off will be in the basement as well, along with your RODI unit.
Position the sump near the sink, if possible.

3. As for the weight, you could put a substantial header under the tank and support it from each end. Three or four 2 x 6 glued and screwed, would be plenty strong.

4. That pump is sufficient for the tank with the sump in the stand, but not for the basement setup. You will need something with considerable head pressure for this.
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Old 02-15-2014, 12:05 PM   #5
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Per the sump:
The large section to the left is the intake section with your protein skimmer. The second section could be a refugium, and the third (after the bubble trap) is the return area.
The refugium needs no substrate. Some algae have anchoring roots, and you can put some live rock in the refugium and the algae will attach to it. Otherwise, it will still live fine tumbling freely in the water.

A chiller isn't necessary in most cases. It's usually fighting the heat from the lighting more than anything, and now we have cool running LED lighting. Plus, your basement sump should keep the water cooler, correct? Unless you are in a hot climate and don't regularly run the house A/C, don't worry about a chiller.
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Old 02-15-2014, 12:08 PM   #6
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Drain symmetry doesn't matter. All that matters is that the tank is level, and both overflows will drain similar amounts. You can T them if you like, but don't restrict the flow.
The return can be a single line and split into 2 or more outlets if you like. 1 pump for all.

The T with a ball valve redirecting water is unecessary also.
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Old 02-18-2014, 12:45 PM   #7
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You also want to elevate the center baffle of your bubble trap so that water will flow under it rather than over it.
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Moose72 View Post
You also want to elevate the center baffle of your bubble trap so that water will flow under it rather than over it.
Excellent detail, thank you for catching that.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:06 PM   #9
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im about to walk out the door from work but i have the same DT with dual overflow as you and the same 55g refugium DIY setup at home. id love to help out as much as possible.
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my 125g Sw...Round 2!https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...220171-33.html
ever see someone cut a 125g in half??
https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...-286438-4.html
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:52 AM   #10
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im about to walk out the door from work but i have the same DT with dual overflow as you and the same 55g refugium DIY setup at home. id love to help out as much as possible.
Thank you for the offer. I'll be posting some updated ideas as it develops, probably going to be posting a sump layout in the next few days and once that's done, a new layout for the sump tank. In the mean time, any suggestions or comments you have regarding the ocean of questions I listed in the initial post would definitely be appreciated.

At this point I have decided to leave the sump in the stand, and I'm going to remove the power receptacles built into the stand and use something professionally constructed (power strip, etc. Just don't think I trust that cobbled together looking thing).
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:29 AM   #11
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if i could make a recommendation, buy a controller, either a reefkeeper or a neptune apex unit. yes i know they seem expensive and a bit excessive but i had the same thoughts until i got my apex up and running. its worth every last penny. esp if you are planning on investing a decent amount of money into the tank
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my 125g Sw...Round 2!https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...220171-33.html
ever see someone cut a 125g in half??
https://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums...-286438-4.html
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:22 PM   #12
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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.
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File Type: pdf Aquarium Plan without Unions Small.pdf (501.4 KB, 39 views)
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:19 PM   #13
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I would move your return pump to either the far left or far right side. The drain should enter one side then the return on the other. This will leave you an empty chamber to fill with rock and macro algae to create a refugium. Also if you are not aware you will want your water level higher in your overflow boxes on the tank. Not for any functional reason just to reduce the sound of cascading water.
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:41 PM   #14
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A. yes, use mouse pads to sit pumps on to lower vibration/noise.

C. Tidepool is basically a wet/dry. Not an ideal sump IMO.

E. how did you come to this? I would run all water through the refugium.

F. Doesn't matter as long as they are quiet and enough water is changed out.

G. I have only used a UV sterilizer one time and it was for a green water outbreak. I don't recommend them as they kill only what flows through them-good and bad. And the amount of bad does not outweigh the good.

J. Do not leave any areas inaccessible.

Why would you need unions on drains? Your overflows will stop the water when the power goes out.

Your diagram shows a lot of pumps when you only need one.

Back siphon will be stopped when the return lines suck air. Just keep them just under the water line and you will be ok.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:30 PM   #15
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Not sure if I made this clear before or not, but this is a freshwater setup, not saltwater. I posted it here because the freshwater folks suggested I should, assuming that the saltwater gurus are more familiar with sumps and larger tank equipment, etc.

Getting a lot of comments about the refugium being on the opposite side of the return. Sounds like I really need to move it to the center. Was originally under the impression that you wanted a certain amount of raw drain water to reach the 'fuge to feed the plants with waste nutrients, etc. I must have missed something. I can understand not wanting unfiltered water to go back into the return area, at least.

There are actually only two pumps in the illustrations, you're just seeing them from two views. One is the return pump, the other is dedicated to the UV sterilizer. I'm using a sterilizer because the tank is right next to a window, and my previous experience with our other tanks has led me to believe that in our situation, it's sort of a necessity to keep algae down.

The unions beneath all the bulkheads was an ideal situation, based on suggestions and comments I've received so far, basically intended to make switching out all the plumbing easier if it were ever necessary. Might just not be enough room for it, and I guess it isn't strictly necessary.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:13 PM   #16
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C. Tidepool is basically a wet/dry. Not an ideal sump IMO.

E. how did you come to this? I would run all water through the refugium.
C. I actually chopped the front off of the Tidepool, and will be using it only for the media drawers and biowheel. It seemed like a convenient and inexpensive way to get ahold of those components without having to cobble something together. It will drain into the larger sump tank as illustrated.

E. A couple of articles on Sump design I read elsewhere, though perhaps my understanding of the concepts was not complete enough and I misunderstood their intent. Most of the illustrations and photos I see around seem to place the 'fuge right in the center of the layout. I'll make that adjustment.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:21 PM   #17
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For a fresh water setup, I would imagine the refugium could be anywhere in the system. The reason the refugium is after the protein skimmer in salt setups is so tiny crustaceans can make it back to the display for food for multiple creatures without having to navigate through more pumps and filters. Otherwise, it would not matter where it's placed.
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Old 03-02-2014, 04:01 PM   #18
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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.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Aquarium Plan Rev 2 Small.pdf (944.2 KB, 27 views)
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Old 03-10-2014, 02:32 PM   #19
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Sorry, but I forgot to check back.
D. You don't need anything in the refugium area if you don't want it. the tidepool filters will catch the large particulate matter so there won't be much for critters to eat in there.
G. I believe you want the water to fall a couple inches inside the overflow. I would think it's to keep that water moving and somewhat turbulent in there so that you don't have a build up on the overflow bottom.

You would have to simulate a power outage to see how much water is going to drain and adjust as needed. Remember, the return lines are submerged and will back siphon if the power goes out. I would install a check valve(s) somewhere to prevent this.

I always glued my standpipes in, because I didn't want the contents of both overflows in my sump if I didn't make it home in time. the downside to this is if you ever have to change out the bulkheads, you'll have to construct new standpipes as well. This is probably going to be needed once every 15 years or so
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Old 03-28-2014, 04:10 PM   #20
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Thanks for the advice, definitely appreciated. Been extremely busy the last month, so haven't had much time to work on the aquarium. Planning to post photos as the build continues.
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