I'm a newbie here, but not new to the hobby. I am, however, starting my first reef setup and am looking for some seasoned advice on a few matters.
I'm setting up a 55 gallon tank with a 15 gallon sump run "ecosystem" style. My first question concerns sump plumbing. I bought the main tank used and it has been drilled about 4 inches below that I imagine will be the waterline. The hole is about 1.25 inches in diameter and came with an overflow that consists of a vertical PVC
pipe (the interior diameter about .75 inches in diameter) with a strainer and an elbow that runs perpendicular to the back of the wall via a bulkhead. My main concern is that this hole is not large enough to permit enough water to exit the main tank for the aquarium contents to circulate a sufficient amount of times (e.g., about 10 X). I know that the tank will only drain as much as water as the sump returns to it. I'm running a Mag 7 which I estimate is getting 500-600 gph
with the head. So basically, the PVC
strainer must be able to handle at least that. Should I change the diameter of the PVC
overflow? If so, how large should it be? I have also heard that the draining line must have a larger diameter than that which leads from the sump to the tank. But how much larger? Of course, I could just install a ball valve at the output of the sump pump. But, I would like to get as much flow as possible. Morover, does the pressure built up behind the ball valve affect the pump at all?
My second question concerns protein skimmers. Taking advice from other ecosystem sump enthusiants, I initially decided not to use a protein skimmer. But now, I think I want the insurance it provides. Trouble is, I don't want to spend a bunch of money. Is there an affordable but effective in-sump skimmer on the market for less that $100? Do I REALLY need it? Furthermore, if I do get one, should I run it as soon as I begin to cycle the tank, or should I wait a while? How long?
And finally, back to the sump. Most of my equipment is DIY, and I beginning to realize the problems posed by my sump having the same width as the main tank. That is, it's hard to get it comfortably into the stand. Could I get away with a 10 gallon sump? It wouldn't be a problem as I really enjoyed making the first one, it was inexpensive, and in retrospect, there are some changes I wouldn't mind making.
Anyhow, I guess that's it. Sorry for so many questions. I really appreciate anyone and everyone for their time and attention to my inquiries. Please feel free to respond to one or all of the above questions. I appreciate it all and look forward to hearing from everyone.