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Old 11-25-2003, 01:38 AM   #1
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I have a small paludarium (20 gallon high tank) with about 5-7 gallons of water in the tank--not much! So, I added a 5-gallon sump to the tank. The sump is great for adding equipment (CO2 injection, cooler, heater, probes, etc) and filtration and doubles the water volume in this already cramped tank.

Sounds great...except for a couple things:

1) Since the water level is low, the siphon tube is very visible in the tank. Hopefully some emersed plants will conceal it over time.

2) The tank is very sensitive to the water level--too high, and the land floods. Too low, and the fish are unhappy. This has been a major problem. What happens when a leaf falls off and gets stuck on the siphon intake? High tide. I've been trying many different siphon set ups, but none seem to eliminate this problem except for a unfiltered siphon intake. I don't want to constantly fetch fish and shrimp from the sump, so I really need some sort of filter on the siphon. I'm currently testing some PVC caps with slits sawed into them. They have promise, but need fine tuning to account for the small size of red cherry shrimp.

Anyone else use a sump with their paludarium? If so, how do you regulate the water level in the tank? In my tank, even a half an inch is too much variance...

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Old 11-25-2003, 02:39 PM   #2
DanConnor
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I have used them in all my vivariums. The nice thing is, if employed properly all the variation in water level will be in the sump, not in the tank. I use regular strainers on stand pipes that come up either through a hole drilled in the bottom or back of the tank. You can use more than one for backup. Also I have relatively large drain sizes compared to small pumps, because I don't want a huge flow in my water features.
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Old 11-26-2003, 02:29 PM   #3
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The easiest method I found was to drill a hole in the bottom right corner of the tank. I used a "Surface Skimmer attachment to keep the fish out and if the level falls too low, no more water loss. (ie pump failure). I use a ten gall sump (cheapest to buy) and pump back down a water fall.

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Old 11-27-2003, 12:19 AM   #4
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Forgot to mention that this particular tank is glass--made it long ago when I didn't know what I was doing. I've had to make some ugly compromises because of this.

I also must admit that I don't have a clue what I'm doing with the sump--I am just building by trial and error. The current setup consists of a 1/2" siphon tube between the tank and an overflow. From the overflow, water drains through a hole in the side of the overflow and into the sump via a 1/2" tube. Water is pumped up out of the sump via two pumps--one creates a "stream" effect and the other supplies a waterfall. Probably about 200gph altogether.

There are very few enhancements--its just a basic setup. Though I did modify the "standpipe" in the overflow so its intake is submerged (nice and quiet). Also, the siphon intake is capped with a 1/2" pvc cap with slits cut in it (keep the fishies out).

Anyone know what I can do to stabilize this system? Its working out fairly well as it is, but occasionally something gets stuck in the siphon intake and flooding occurs. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 11-27-2003, 04:23 AM   #5
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Do a search on Richard Durso. The tank can be drilled, just takes a lot of patience, a diamond-tipped bit, and water.
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Old 11-27-2003, 06:11 PM   #6
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Not too keen on that idea...drilling tempered glass doesn't sound like much fun. Nor does it sound very safe--the tank bottom already has quite a bit of weight in one corner. I'm afraid that a hole, even if successfully made, will introduce microfractures that will eventually be the end of my tank.

The tube is working fine--just a little ugly at the moment. Plants are beginning to grow in though...and its becoming less visible. If I can replace them with black tubing, it'll disappear into the background. Just need to be patient...

I am going to try out a different strainer.

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Old 12-25-2003, 04:58 PM   #7
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Stuff like this sounds like it may be more deserving of the tried and true methods of a false bottom. You can make a false bottom that is hidden totally from sight. EG.. the whole bottom doesn't have to be false, only a majority. See attached picture.
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Old 12-25-2003, 10:10 PM   #8
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I decided to go with a sump so I could double the water volume in my tank. Plus, it makes for a nice, out-of-the-way area to put a diffuser, filter, thermometer, and chiller. This tank is very cramped as it is--a sump was the only option.

The tank houses mostly aquatic and semi-aquatic species, so the land portion is fairly small compared to the water portion of the tank. In a frog tank, I would probably go with a false bottom--much easier to set up.

Regardless, the new strainer I put together is working perfectly. Still, the water level fluctuates a little but not terribly. Now, I just need a check valve for my pump (anyone know a place to get them cheap? I've been looking at marine depot...)

Right now, I fear leaving the house for extended periods...if the power goes out, the fish and I are buggered.

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Old 12-26-2003, 12:46 AM   #9
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Get a UPS... At least, if the power goes out, you will get about 1 hour to 4 hours if the pump is the only thing on it...

Have you tried a pingpong ball and a micro switch with a relay as a water level sensor? Use a (NC) Normally closed relay, the coil should be rated at 9Volts - 12Volts, and the contacts should be rated at 120 Volts @ 20 Amps. Single or double pole makes no difference, you only need one set of switched contacts.

Get the appropriate adapter for the relay power, I personally use a 12 Volt setup for all my non 120 Volt power stuff. Fans, El-Wire, relays, etc... The reason that you want to use low voltage in the tank for "Home-made" stuff, is because if you F*** it up, you won't be killed, or kill your creatures. So, the relay should be outside the tank, and all 120 Volt connections should be sealed properly. GFI and grounded plugs only... etc... yada, yada, yada... If you doubt your electrical skill, then never try this!

How it works. When the tank drain starts to get clogged, the water rises. When the water rises, this lifts the floating pin-pong ball up, equal to the level of the water. If the water level ever gets to a dangerous level, the switch gets depressed by the floating ping-pong ball, which sends power to the relay. The relay normally allows the pump to run, but will now the coil will have power, and the relay will cut power to the pump.

How to set this up.
(This assumes the sensor will be mounted so that it rests on the bottom of the tank, attached to a stone or mount.)
Get the water in your tank to the desired level. Lower the switch slowly into the water until the pump turns off. Mark the canister where the water level is at right now. Determine how much more the water can safely rise by flooding your tank a little. Record the flood distance from the bottom of the tank, to the top of the water. Mount the sensor so that the mark on the canister is the same distance from the bottom as the flood level. Test this setting and adjust as needed.

NOTE, The return hose from the pump should barely touch the water surface when the water is at its normal operating level. If the return hose from the pump extends deeper into the water, the water will siphon out when the pump turns off. If the hose is at the bottom, your tank will be empty. If your hose is at the top you will loose almost no water. When the water falls below the level of the return hose lip, air will fill the pipe and no more water will be siphoned. You can minimize this with the aid of a check valve, but that is only a temporary delay.
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Old 01-24-2004, 12:18 AM   #10
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I'm thinking a float valve that shuts off the pump could be used somehow in this system you are thinking about. I don't know how cuz I can't picture your setup, but consider it.
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Old 01-24-2004, 12:30 AM   #11
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A float valve would work, but I'm going to try a different (more convenient) setup with a siphon that won't break.

Not sure when I'll get around to it (or when I'll be able to afford it), but I plan on a complete rebuild of the sump system.

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