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Old 10-09-2006, 11:23 AM   #1
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My cheapo, basic sump for under $125.

When I first started looking into converting one of my tanks into a SW tank, the most confusing and daunting concept for me to grasp was building a sump. So many people had all kinds of interesting plumbing, and extravagant setups. things like closed-loop designs kept infiltrating my brains. Tons of options and doodads. Acrylic? Glass? Siliconing..welding..baffles...I was baffled!

So, being the lucky ducky I am, I turned to someone I knew could help me...my friend, who manages an aquarium store. With his help, here is my 10 gallon cheapo-simple sump that does the same job as the expensive ones, just not as pretty. THIS IS NOT A PRETTY SUMP. But it works really really well, and I have yet to flood with it.

Materials needed:

10 gallon plastic rubbermaid bin (on sale at WalMart, $5)
3 gallon plastic rubbermaid bin (on sale at WalMart $3)
10 feet of 3/4 inch drinking quality PVC pipe (Home Depot, $3)
A PVC cement kit, drinking quality (Home Depot, $6)
2 3/4 inch PVC ball valves (Home Depot, $6)
3 3/4 inch PVC 90 degree elbows (Home Depot, $6)
1 3/4 inch to 1/2 inch PVC adapter (Home Depot, $2)
1 3/4 inch PVC endcap (Home Depot, $1)
1 400 gph beckett pond fountain pump (Home Depot, $60)
1 3/4 inch bulkhead (Aquarium supply shoppe, $10)
PVC Cutter (Home Depot, $10)

What I had on hand:

Dremmel power tool

Now, my tank is drilled for the bulkhead. If you do not have a driled tank, or don't want to drill, you can do without. I'll post a real ugly pic of how later.

Here are the instructions of how we did it.

Put 3 gallon bin inside 10 gallon bin. fill with SW, LR, LS, etc til it is heavy enough not to float inside 10 gal. overflow 3 gal inside 10 gal. You can get the general idea of what i mean in this picture:

Next, we did the drain plumbing:

Screw bulkhead into place.
attach 2 in piece of PVC to bulkhead
attach elbow to 2 inch pvc
attach 2 foot piece of pvc to elbow

attach ball valve to 2 foot pvc
attach another 2 feet of pvc to other end of ball valve

put that open end in the 3 gallon part of your sump.

Now, we did the pump in part:

take a 10 inch piece of 3/4 inch PVC and drill holes in it about 2 cm apart. Put the end cap on one end. Put a elbow on the other end. Now make a U shape with a 3 inch piece of PVC and another elbow. See picture:

Then make another 4 foot piece joined in the middle with a ball valve like the other side.
Instead of just resting the open end in the sump, attach the 3/4 to 1/2 PVC adapter to the end. Attach that to the opening of the pond pump. (my pond pump was an exact fit. you might have to get a 3/4 to 1/4 or whatever size adapter for your return pump. Ask for help at home depot, and bring the return pump with you)

Now, here came the tough part. Making it all work.

so now, we filled the tank above the top of the bulkhead. let it drain until it was done draining below the lowest hole in the 3/4 PVC return line. that way we knew the maximum water level in the sump, in case the pump ever shut off.

See Pictures:

Drain side

return side

Sump levels

Then we turned on the pump. let it fill, and regulated the flow using the ball valves until the bulkhead started to syphon at the same speed as the pump.

There you have it. A simple-cheapo sump.


in case you don't want to drill, your overflow will look kind of like this, built out of PVC and PVC elbows. the left hand side sits below the water level of your tank. the right hand upside down U shape hangs over the tank edge.

Hope this helps others understand sumping. This is the basic concept behind all those complicated ones.

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Old 10-09-2006, 11:54 AM   #2
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Pretty cool, and nice pics!

Age is relative, you are only as old as you act....of course, this works in reverse....

Questions loved, heeded advice greatly appreciated!

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