First Sump Progress (pics and questons)

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Aquarium Advice Freak
Feb 4, 2005
A while ago I posted an idea about plumbing a 20g sump into my closet. Well, since then, the idea grew to a 50g including a 12g fuge. I already have the sump made. It is in place and the plumbing FROM the main tank, through the wall into the sump, is finished ... well, basically finished. I have some questions (many of them nick-picky and annoying, I'm sure) if anyone has a chance to take a look and give me some advice.

I threw together a web page quickly with pics to illustrate my questions better. I've repeated these questions in greater detail on the page linked, so no need to double your reading efforts if you go to the link......

1. The opening of the drain pipe into my skimmer chamber right now uses a 90 degree angle and is located at the very bottom of the sump. Should I change to 2 45s, and raise nearer to the surface? It's at the bottom now because I'm filling the chamber with rock rubble.

2. I'm splitting my return line (ball valves not yet installed) but I'm confused how to plumb from the return pump to the tee...I'm assuming I can't hard plumb everything because it'll be impossible to clean the pump.

3. Could I position the pump sideways? And, not a huge deal just more curious than anything, should I use prefilter sponge or not on the return pump?

4. How much of the spraybar should have holes in it? As you can see, I've made a straight line. Should I be adding a bunch? Never done a spraybar before.

Thanks for reading - I realize none of these questions are really life or death. I'd just rather get as much perfect as possible before running this thing. It's my first attempt at a sump/fuge. Hoping for the best - with your help.

Thanks again.

- Skins
Yes, eggcrate was needed to raise the skimmer. The chamber was too deep for my new ASM G3. So, I'm going to use it to my advantage and place rubble rock above the eggcrate to hopefully help and break up any bubbles, which is why I have the draining going to the bottom.
This is made of glass? Whats that teeth on the return I would be interested on how you did that?
The teeth is actually just a row of eggcrate that I siliconed to the top of the glass. Just to stop chaeto and snails from making their way to the return chamber.

A few observations (from a relative newbie)...

1) Do you plan to have a sandbed in the refugium? You might need to raise up the spraybar.

2) A pre-filter sponge on the return pump might trap 'pods from the refugium and prevent them from getting up to the main tank.

3) Regarding the drain, here's what I encountered while recently plumbing my sump. First, having the drain extend deep into the skimmer section caused problems for me. The overflow (the standard Durso-like that comes with an All-Glass reef-ready) would regularly make a "toilet flush" sound, which I eventually learned was due to air that had been pulled down into the drain pipe along with the water, and was trying to fight its way back up, causing drain efficiency problems. Cutting my drain pipe to just extend an inch or two below the surface solved that problem. However, it caused (or simply revealed) another problem... a very obnoxious "pot of boiling water" effect in the sump and a lot of bubbles. It was suggested to me that the way to fix this was to replace the pair of 45 elbows that made the last turn down towards the sump with a tee on its side so that one end is open and faces upwards, and the other end goes down into the sump. This gives the previously-mentioned trapped air an easy way out of the system. A larger final standpipe into the sump was also recommended. I used a 1 x 1.5 x 1.5 tee (my drain pipe size is 1 inch), and also ended up placing a short section of pipe along with an elbow with some floss stuffed in it (to muffle the drain noise) to the open end of the tee. Here's a photo (the drain is partially obscured by the skimmer)...


I've also been battling microbubbles being returned to the main tank. With some experimentation, I determined that both the skimmer output and the drain from the main tank were introducing a lot of bubbles into the sump, and enough of them to cause problems made it back to the main tank (despite a bubble trap after the skimmer section).

I rotated the skimmer to have it's output be further away from the first baffle, and I also modified the end of the drain pipe. I added a pair of 90 elbows and a short section of pipe so that instead of discharging downward into the sump, it discharges upwards, with the final pipe extending about an inch above the surface.


Forcing the water to the surface like this, along with the common-sense skimmer rotation, effectively eliminated my bubble troubles.

Now, that's not to say that YOU will have to go through all this... it's just what I ended up having to do.

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