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elzool 03-12-2006 12:17 AM

Sump Plumbing Questions
Morning Folks,

I'm looking at plumbing my sump and have a few questions.

I have an Oceanic 75 gallon rr tank and this overflow has a 1" drain and a 3/4" return.
According to the website: This overflow has a maximum flow through rate of 600 G.P.H. per overflow.
My return pump is a Mag Drive 950 (950gph).

I was planning it all out and was hoping you could tell me if any of these three designs were better than another?


Design 1

Design 2

Design 3

ryguy 03-12-2006 12:42 AM

Where did you get the idea for the air release? I like it, wonder if it works well. I would put the input line on a 45 degree angle instead of having a horizontal section. And put a true-nion ball valve immediately after the pump so you can service the pump and not disturb the plumbing. and I would dry fit and run the setup to see if you need an excess flow pipe back into the sump, it may not be necessary with the pump you have.

Finally, what program did you use to draw these in?

elzool 03-12-2006 12:30 PM

The idea came from other posts where people mentioned they were getting air into their drain lines and it was splashing into their sumps. I figured this would give the air a way to get out before hitting the sump. At least in my mind it made sense.

45deg angle makes sense. I just thought that having it horizontal and adding the wye fitting would make it easier for the air to escape.

I hadn't thought of the unions. I'll need to add those in or go with flex tubing.

I did the drawing in CorelDRAW.


03-22-2006 11:09 PM

ok dumb question, im gonna attempt to make a sump and i was wondering whats the grey thing in the middle of the tank?

and in the first little area do you put a rock/sand mix?

ellisz 03-23-2006 12:18 AM

Design 2 looks good to me. I think you will have to throttle the pump back otherwise and that is not good in the long run. I dump my display drain around rock as well. It works as a great bubble trap and mine drops about 12ft. I do have a T on the drain line but that was by accident. I just left it open so it could breath. I have capped it and not really noticed a difference.

ryguy 03-23-2006 12:19 AM


i was wondering whats the grey thing in the middle of the tank?
That's a protein skimmer, but it doesn't have to go IN the sump, it can go outside too.

jasno999 03-23-2006 08:25 AM

My suggestion is use something like design 2- However add another section on the right side of the sump and plumb your T-line to that section instead of back into the section with he skimmer or filter.

You can then make the new section to the right a fuge. Add sand and a little LR with some algae. This area will see flwo from the pump but this flow should not be very high and will allow the pump to operate at its design flow but it gives you the additional benifits of a sustem with a fuge and a sump.

tecwzrd 03-23-2006 10:18 AM

All the diagrams have a major flaw IMO and that is the 90 degree angles from the overflow which will greatly reduce your water flow. Even 45 degree angles will reduce it slightly and if you can just use a flex hose with a slight bend or no bend at all then you will get maximum water flow from your overflow.

I use a 1200 gph overflow and my Mag 9.5 is maxed out without having to reduce with a ball valve although I do use one for maintenance. With only 600 gph flowing you will have to slightly reduce the flow coming from the pump.

Personally I section my return partially off to my 10 gal refugium which gravity feeds back into the 20 gal sump and the rest goes to opposite sides of the tank pointed at each other.

If you are worried about flooding then you can get an auto top of switch to turn the pump off. sells them cheap or you could get a Tsunami AT1 unit for just a little more.

ellisz 03-23-2006 10:29 AM

I agree with the use of the 45's. You an use 2 45's to make a 90 bend. The idea of the T on the pump will allow him run the tank return wide open. He will have to adjust the ball valve going back into sump so that the tank will not get too much flow. My tank would get about 1000 gph if I did not have a discharge loop going back into the sump. My overflow can only technically handle 600 gph.

The fuge is a great idea but you might be limited on space in the sump. He would have to add another baffle which would make the return section smaller. You will need an auto top off or you will be filling that chamber up alot. The smaller the return chamber the more you are going to be topping it off. The return chamber will be the one dropping from evaporation so a nice return chamber is needed if you don't have an auto top off. This might not be a big deal for some but I lose almost 1.5 gal a day from evaporation.

tecwzrd 03-23-2006 12:22 PM

ellisz, just curious but why do you have an aversion to using vinyl tubing? I like the ease of it personally and flow issues are never a problem. They do have to be cleaned/replaced every so often but for me it’s not really an issue.

Even pvc has to be cleaned periodically and having to deal with cutting/gluing is a pain even though it’s not really hard.

Also I use a separate 10 gal refugium that sits above my 20 gal sump instead of the refugium within the same tank. With a 75 gal being 48” X 18” elzool should have enough room for both.

ellisz 03-23-2006 12:33 PM

Tecwzrd: I think I came across wrong. I have no issues with vinyl. I sued it on my previous setup. For my basement sump, I used PVC. I have 1.5" PVC from my return pump and 2" on my drain. I do use vinyl at the tank bulkhead though since my bulkheads have barb fittings glued to them.

On my 75, I had a hard time finding a container to fit underneath. My stand is DIY so I don't have the clearance of the normal every day stand. My statement was soley based on the picture representation. It might not be to scale though :) I am not sure what size his sump will be. I had a 20H under mine and I don't think I would of had room for a refugium. A longer tank maybe but I have never liked the idea of the pump chamber running dry. I loved my old setup which sounds like yours. My current sump is big so I condensed things.

tecwzrd 03-23-2006 12:45 PM

You didn’t come across wrong :) I was just curious on the 45 degree recommendation which would require pvc and was wondering the advantages of pvc over vinyl if there are any.

With a basement setup I’m sure that would almost have to have pvc due to the length of plumbing needed.

For me it’s really just a personal issue with vinyl since I like to make plumbing sumps as idiot proof as possible so more people will try to do them :D

Forgot to mention that for returns if you want to branch out more has excellent pricing for Loc-Line.

elzool 03-23-2006 08:35 PM


I was about to ressurect this post to see if anyone had anything further to say about it. But it looks like marty_wolff helped me with that. Thanks Marty

I've since changed the sump a bit. I had purchased a 20L and was marking it up for making my own but then the lfs called and the All-Glass Megaflow model 3 acrylic sump they had used for $125, they further reduced to $89. So I bought that and am done. No room for a fuge in it. I won't have too much more room beside it. My thought is to find a tall sturdy container(trash can perhaps?), drill it and put in a return connector to go from the container back into the return of the sump. Maybe two returns from the fuge to sump in case one gets blocked.

Any other ideas?

I did the drawing with pvc and then after looking at it a few days figured I'd use flex as I would rather not have all that gluing to do. Hose clamps and I'm good. Then I don't have unions to worry about either.

What would loc-line be used for that tubing couldn't do? Aside from coolness.

Hmm, loc-line looks like it would work perfect for the fuge to sump return.

I have a sink on the opposite wall, so I was going to put the ro/di unit in the stand as well and was looking at this float valve. Any reason to not use it and use something else?
I figured I'd run the outgoing line from the ro/di unit through a sprinkler timer, set it to only come on once a day for an hour, that way if the solonoid fails, it will only leak for an hour.

I figured I'd mount the float in the return area somehow.

Thanks for the input, any more would also be appreciated.

Feelin_Salty 03-26-2006 04:11 PM

You dont want a 45 or 90 degree angle comin in at all... You should check out It shows how to build a refugium/sump and has several different styles that will give you lots of great ideas that's just right for your needs

nsu7 03-26-2006 05:18 PM

Yep melvsreef was the impetus to me getting a RR, and a huge help when it all came together

tecwzrd 03-27-2006 09:53 AM


Originally Posted by elzool
What would loc-line be used for that tubing couldn't do?

Loc-Line is used for easy placement of return nozzles and for easy adjustment to create the proper currents you want.

elzool 03-27-2006 04:51 PM

More questions.

I set everything in the sump today to start connecting all the connectors for plumbing and realize that the with the intake filter on it, the Mag Drive 9.5 I have takes up a lot of room in the sump return. Am I safe using it without the intake filter?

I went out looking at containers for a fuge' this weekend. Couldn't find too much. Best thing I found was a 21 Quart semi-translucent trashcan. 16.5"H x 7"W x 13"D

Sound like it might work ok?

You know, without this site I'd prolly just have a picture of fish on the wall.. now I'm getting closer to actually getting the tank up and adding water and finally fish. Man I like this place.

Brenden 03-27-2006 05:52 PM


I found was a 21 Quart semi-translucent trashcan
Can you not find a tote that will work?
The mag should be fine without a filter. I run a mag 5 without a filter in my sump to pump water to my fuge. There should be nothing in the sump to get in it.
Also locline is good stuff. I have lots in my tank. My next tank will have even more.

elzool 03-27-2006 06:21 PM

Great news!

That gives me more room for my float valve.

Just another 8-10 trips to home depot and I should be halfway done with the plumbing.

ColdFish 03-27-2006 07:13 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here's a pic of my $5 Walmart refugium. I originally plumbed in a 10 gallon aquarium as a fuge, but the end panel developed a crack leading from the hole that was drilled for the bulkhead. Wish I had went this route in the first place because it was a real mess to get the cracked 10 gallon out of the cabinet. It wouldn't fit thru the door in one piece. When I put everything together, I had loaded it in from the top before placing the tank on the stand.

You can probably find something that will fit the space you have pretty well. If not in the area where they have most of the rubbermaid, then also check office supplies. Lots of this kind of stuff used as file boxes.

Brenden 03-27-2006 08:30 PM

coldfish: Those work great but keep in mind they need to be replaced because they "dry" and get brittle.

03-27-2006 10:52 PM

i want to put a 10 gallon glass sump on my 55 gallon tank(to hide some of the equipment) is that to small for a sump?

ColdFish 03-28-2006 02:19 AM

Thanks for the tip Brenden. I had no idea. This is my first attempt at a sump/fuge. My sump is acrylic so no problems there. What am I looking at for useful life on the fuge?

elzool 03-30-2006 07:04 PM

Dumb question time

If I have a float valve in the sump return area, will I still have to do top offs in the aquarium?

ryguy 03-30-2006 07:23 PM

No. That does it for you. Provided you have your float hooked up to your RO:)

The level in the main tank will always stay the same, your sump level however will fluctuate.

elzool 03-30-2006 07:29 PM

heh, yeah it'll be hooked up to that

Why would the sump level fluctuate if there is a top off in the sump?

tecwzrd 03-30-2006 09:05 PM

The top-off only triggers when it reaches a certain lower level and stops when it’s reaches another higher level. Both of those levels are usually controlled by you.

ryguy 03-31-2006 01:00 PM

There are a couple ways that top-off systems work. Some are strictly a float valve that is plumbed directly to your RO, and some are a pump that has 2 sensors that detect the water level.

If your RO has a auto shut-off solenoid on it, then a simple float valve is the cheapest and easiest. you just manually set the height of the float and when the water begins to drop below the set height, the float drops and opens the valve, and soon enough, you're back to your desired level. You won't ever see much fluctuation with this system because the float opens right away and keeps you constantly topped up.

The other one with a pump and sensors, is more expensive and more hassle in my mind, although it may be the only option if you can't plumb your RO all the way to the tank. You would have a receptacle beside your tank with fresh water that would have a pump in it. When the sensor detect a lowered level in the sump, it would turn the pump on until the other sensor detected the appropriate level and shut the pump off.

This method still requires you to manually fill the receptacle, but it's your choice how large of one you may be able to only fill it once a week.

elzool 03-31-2006 03:00 PM

Luckily I have a bathroom sink on the opposite wall, so I have plumbed the ro/di unit into that.

As I am paranoid about water flowing everywhere I have the incoming line to the ro unit going through a sprinkler timer which is set to only come on once a day for an hour. It comes on, flows through the ro unit and out to a tee.

One line of the tee goes to the float valve should it need topping off.

The other line is a longer length of tubing with a shut off valve on it that I can pull out when I need to do a pwc and can then hook up that line to a trash can and fill it up. I would just have to turn the timer on manual and let it flow. I may get another float valve just for the trash can so I can walk away. Course I'll prolly walk by it every five minutes 'just in case'.

Hopefully thats the right way to achieve this.

ryguy 03-31-2006 03:43 PM

What you are describing is essentially my setup. I have my sump float valve and a Tee running from the RO to a rubbermaid tub with another float valve on it. I put a small ball valve on the WC line before the flaot in the tub, so I can just flip that switch when I want to get my tub filled and walk away. Once you check everything for leaks, you should be fine to let it do its thing. The float valves are rated at a higher pressure than what the RO is running so your only concern should be the bulkhead fitting of the float and the line fitting into the float. I had to modify my floats so the backpressure didn't cause continuous leaks at the joints. Small little O-rings and a flush sanding job was all it took. No leaks!!

I also have a 3/4" bulkhead at the bottom of the rubbermaid tub. It has a valve on the outside and I keep the tub elevated. when it's full, I slide a bigger rubbermaid tub under the 3/4" outlet and drain the RO water into another tub for SW mixing. This allows me to not have to disconnect the RO plumbing at anytime and gives me a larger bucket to decrease "sloshing" when carried for PWC's.

elzool 04-09-2006 01:16 PM

Well, I have my stand in place, the ro system set and plumbed, the megaflow sump in place, have that plumbed and just now thought about shimming the stand.


ok, so i'll shim it up today put this stuff back in and hopefully this week I'll get a tank and water going.

i want to put a refuge beside the sump for pod production and have found i don't have much horizontal room, but have a lot of vertical room. what's the opinion of tall refuges?

I figure I could go 16" deep, 6-7" wide and maybe 24" high. I'd throw two bulkheads on it around 20" high and let them gravity feed back into the return section of the sump.

Is there any problem going that tall? my only concern is the small amount of water movement.

Brenden 04-09-2006 02:49 PM

If you go too tall the light will not be able to penetrate the algae for good growth.

elzool 04-09-2006 05:27 PM

hadn't thought of that....

initially i wanted pod people and chaeto in the fuge, but i didn't want to light it, so i rethought it and decided that I just want pods in there.

whats the easiest kinda light to light a fuge if one were to light it for algae?

noteworthy 04-09-2006 06:38 PM

All this talk of durso standpipes... you really dont need one.

I just hooked up my overflow. Its a cpr type. I have the drain line go to a ball valve.. then to a t section for air release.. then to another ball valve.

I set the first ball valve closest I can to where the tank goes down instead of up. So I set it too small so the water rises.. once I have a point of reference I open it up just enough to make the level fall some. Then I'm golden. I have a small piece of pipe and an endcap drilled with an air hole on the top of the t section air release. the purpose of the second ball valve is to force the air to go up the pipe and not into the sump. I turned it to where the water barely comes out of the t section hole.. then open it up to where it doesn't come out. TOTAL SILENCE from air. No durso standpipe. All I'm using is the foam prefilter that comes with the overflow.

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