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Old 01-11-2013, 01:42 AM   #1
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Hey guys, so I have a 55 gallon tank cycling in my living room. It has nothing but a makeshift light, old filter and soon to have a layer of pool filter sand in the bottom.
I am hoping to keep 4 Red Zebra, 4 Cobalt Blue Zebras, 4 East African Flameback Cichlids, and 2 albino Bristlenose Plecos. I want to make a diy filter (canister or sump). I know how both of them work, but am still unsure of which will be better.
So here are my questions:
1) What are your experiences with diy canister and sumps? Which are easier to build, and which are more efficient?
2) For a sump, how will I get the water out of the tank and into the sump? I do not have any holes drilled in my tank and it is not something I plan to do.
3)For either of them, what kind of gallons per hour am I looking at for pumps and powerheads?
4) What are the best kinds of filtration for these cichlids? Mechanical, biological, chemical?
Thanks in advance for your replies!
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:39 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by aquamami8326 View Post
Hey guys, so I have a 55 gallon tank cycling in my living room. It has nothing but a makeshift light, old filter and soon to have a layer of pool filter sand in the bottom.
I am hoping to keep 4 Red Zebra, 4 Cobalt Blue Zebras, 4 East African Flameback Cichlids, and 2 albino Bristlenose Plecos. I want to make a diy filter (canister or sump). I know how both of them work, but am still unsure of which will be better.
So here are my questions:
1) What are your experiences with diy canister and sumps? Which are easier to build, and which are more efficient?
2) For a sump, how will I get the water out of the tank and into the sump? I do not have any holes drilled in my tank and it is not something I plan to do.
3)For either of them, what kind of gallons per hour am I looking at for pumps and powerheads?
4) What are the best kinds of filtration for these cichlids? Mechanical, biological, chemical?
Thanks in advance for your replies!
I haven't done any DIY filter projects, except for small scale stuff.

For either project, efficiency is all about how you build them. Sumps, canisters, hob, matten filter, whatever. You can either build or buy an over flow box that uses siphon to get the water over the side of the tank. Plenty of reference out on google for that.

Sumps can be noisier and IHMO, take a lot more fine tuning to get right. They're easy to build though Canisters are relatively simple too, but can have their own complications. Flow is determined, in either project, by what size pump you install and how you design the filtration flow.

My wife and I have 4 cichlid tanks - a 275 gal, a 210 gal, a 100 gal and a 36 gal. We use multiple canisters on each (Rena) and have great success. With that much water, I leave it to the pros. But I've have always wanted to try a matten filter. Their elegance is in their simplicity.
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:48 PM   #3
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I haven't done any DIY filter projects, except for small scale stuff.

For either project, efficiency is all about how you build them. Sumps, canisters, hob, matten filter, whatever. You can either build or buy an over flow box that uses siphon to get the water over the side of the tank. Plenty of reference out on google for that.

Sumps can be noisier and IHMO, take a lot more fine tuning to get right. They're easy to build though Canisters are relatively simple too, but can have their own complications. Flow is determined, in either project, by what size pump you install and how you design the filtration flow.

My wife and I have 4 cichlid tanks - a 275 gal, a 210 gal, a 100 gal and a 36 gal. We use multiple canisters on each (Rena) and have great success. With that much water, I leave it to the pros. But I've have always wanted to try a matten filter. Their elegance is in their simplicity.
I should also note that you'll want to pump 5x-10x the volume of the tank per hour. So up to 550 gph at the outlet in your case, but you'll want a pump that has higher flow than that to account for pushing the water up to your tank (rise), and media types you're going to use. Remember that it's much easier to turn down the flow of your intake/output than it is to increase it.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:41 PM   #4
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Yeah the more I read into it, the more it seems like I would be better off to buy one. I just hate to spend over 200 dollars on a good canister or two. And even after pricing out the DIY Sump, it would cost around 200 as well!
Oh, I always filter my tanks at least 10x the tank volume, if not more. I have a 29 gallon with 350gph filtration.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:43 PM   #5
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Lol I tend to get lazy now and then so its nice to have a little extra for those days when a water change just isn't feasible.
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:39 PM   #6
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Sump all the way with the right cheap setup I don't get nitrates at all I filter my water to 5 microns yes 5 and I can go mouths and mouths with out doing water changes the only reason I do is just for minerals that's it and I'm very over stocked
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Old 01-14-2013, 02:20 PM   #7
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Holy crap :/ I wish I was that lucky! Although I don't have test kits yet, (Hopefully ordering them tomorrow!) I usually do 50% water changes on the weekends and 25% on wednesdays.
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:03 PM   #8
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Holy crap :/ I wish I was that lucky! Although I don't have test kits yet, (Hopefully ordering them tomorrow!) I usually do 50% water changes on the weekends and 25% on wednesdays.
All you need is a sump just buy an old smaller fish tank.anywhere between 1 and 50 and 50 25 and a 5 micron sock all 3 on eBay for 15 jbl bionitratex 25 off net lots of bio media pot scrubbers will do give it 3 mouths and start cutting back water changes start by leaving it a,week then test if all ok leave till second week test so on and so forth but no longer then 6 mouths with no water change not bad for about 100 and sump add more water to tank I have a 275l tank with a 60l sump giving me 335l
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:03 PM   #9
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Wow it seems so easy when you explain it lol!! Aquarium supplies are a lot harder to come by in my area, and I am personally not an Ebay fan lol. I do a little searching through kijiji (the canadian version), but not with much luck. I plan on ordering everything from 2 websites-
Pet Supplies | Dog & Cat Supplies, Pet Meds | DrsFosterSmith.com Pet Products
Pet Supplies | Dog Supplies | Fish Supplies | Bird Supplies | PetSolutions
The most expensive thing on my list-so far- is a pump, to get water back into the tank. I found a DIY overflow diagram, but I'm not sure if it will work. If I posted it, could you help?
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:48 AM   #10
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Wow it seems so easy when you explain it lol!! Aquarium supplies are a lot harder to come by in my area, and I am personally not an Ebay fan lol. I do a little searching through kijiji (the canadian version), but not with much luck. I plan on ordering everything from 2 websites-
Pet Supplies | Dog & Cat Supplies, Pet Meds | DrsFosterSmith.com Pet Products
Pet Supplies | Dog Supplies | Fish Supplies | Bird Supplies | PetSolutions
The most expensive thing on my list-so far- is a pump, to get water
back into the tank. I found a DIY overflow diagram, but I'm not sure if it will work. If I posted it, could you help?
ill help as much as I can just tell.me what you need to know. As for pumps look in to pond pumps same thing sometimes cheaper
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:37 AM   #11
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First of all, how big should the sump be for a 55 gallon? Secondly, how many gallons should be going through it per hour?
Another question, my tank sits in my living room, and there is a closet door that is about 5 inches from the right side of the tank. I was thinking of putting the sump inside of this closet (Ill post pics to help clarify). Would that be ok?
What size pipe would I need to get the right gallons per hour for my overflow?


Ps here is a link to the overflow I was talking about http://www.google.com/url?q=http://w...IcUzjyybn4s7nA
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:26 AM   #12
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I think the fact that you have an available closet behind your tank (if you are willing to go through the wall) allows for you to have just about any type of diy filtration and you are not limited to the space under your tank. With all that space think big.

I think, in your case, with the closet being behind the tank, a DIY canister/sump combo would be a better bet than a tyical sump. You can make yourself a canister with 2 large sotrage totes or container (you can go pretty big, 40 gallons or so, so a 50% increase in the water capacity of your tank when accounting for filter media), corrugated hosing from a pool supply store, filter media, return pump.

Set the tote up with three or four chambers of sizes that you prefer custom fit to your media. Create chamber walls by cutting pieces of pvc from one of the totes and using pvc cement (approved for drinking water) to fuse the newly cut walls inside the "canister" tote. Leave a few inches of space from the top of the dividers for water to overflow into another chamber. Fill the first chamber with mechanical media (tons of pot scubbies works well here). Fill the second chamber with more of a fine material like poly-fill or a roll of batting. Leave another chamber for any chemical filtration you desire. Then the return chamber with the return pump where filtered water can collect and be pumped out of the canister.

Set it up just like you would a regular canister filter, with a siphon vacuum out the top of the tank, down the outflow hose about 12-18". You can then do a 90 turn to run straight through the wall into the closet and then another 90 turn straight down into the canister. Make sure the total fall of the water is 3x the length of the horizontal run through the wall.

Drill a bulkhead in the lid to the tote over the chaimber filled with coarse mechanical media. Let the hose run all the way through the bulkhead to within a couple inches of the bottom so the water has to fill up through the media and overflow into the next chaimber.

I think you get the idea and I'm sure there are some pretty important technicalities to this that need to be addressed. But if something like this interests you then I'm sure it can be set up to work right and well.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:28 PM   #13
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First of all, how big should the sump be for a 55 gallon? Secondly, how many gallons should be going through it per hour?
Another question, my tank sits in my living room, and there is a closet door that is about 5 inches from the right side of the tank. I was thinking of putting the sump inside of this closet (Ill post pics to help clarify). Would that be ok?
What size pipe would I need to get the right gallons per hour for my overflow?

Ps here is a link to the overflow I was talking about http://www.google.com/url?q=http://w...IcUzjyybn4s7nA
Well as for sumps bigger the better no smaller than 20 gallons as for the closet that would be ok but be awhere of condensation. as for pipe 2inch out 1 inch in is the norm for that size tank. 165 gallon ph pump to turn the tank over 3 times an hour
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:41 PM   #14
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Thank you so much! This is exactly what i needed. However, we rent our home and are unable to drill holes in the walls.. I drew out a plan so i could have the overflow on the left, and return coming in on the right (next to the closet door). I did this to save money on buying a return pump to go through all the turns. Would this even be possible or would it reduce the flow of the "overflow" too much? ill try to post a pic.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:51 PM   #15
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However i also like to turn my tanks over at 10x let alone 3x. I will settle for around 6x in a sump though.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:05 PM   #16
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Thank you so much! This is exactly what i needed. However, we rent our home and are unable to drill holes in the walls.. I drew out a plan so i could have the overflow on the left, and return coming in on the right (next to the closet door). I did this to save money on buying a return pump to go through all the turns. Would this even be possible or would it reduce the flow of the "overflow" too much? ill try to post a pic.
I don't under stand what you mean by saving money on return pump sorry as for flow it depends on the fish you have if you have to much flow your fish will be stressed and die
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:23 PM   #17
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Also if you do insist on turning the tank over 10 time witch u can do with a sump I would use 2 2 inch outlets or the tank would be very nosey turning over 550 gallons ph I turn my tank over about 5 times ph if u look at my profile and look at all my pics you will see what I mean
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:49 PM   #18
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Oh, so having that much power in the pump will make too much of a current.. I never thought of that.

Phin, The pictures should be attatched to that comment now, take a look. Would it be better to have the over flow on the right and the output on the left? My landlords said a definite no to holes in the walls
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:09 PM   #19
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Oh, so having that much power in the pump will make too much of a current.. I never thought of that.

Phin, The pictures should be attatched to that comment now, take a look. Would it be better to have the over flow on the right and the output on the left? My landlords said a definite no to holes in the walls
So most are on the same side the water coming in pushing to the other side bottom corna pushing the water up the glass across the top to the out let to cycle all the water
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