Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Are these tanks all in one room?
Is it a finished room, or a basement? Is it OK if plumbing shows? Is there a floor drain?
Drill 2 or more holes in each tank. One is outlet (2 for the 100 gallon), one is inlet. Inlet could come in over the top, too.
Flows through gravity through large pipe to a sump/refugium/filter.
Top of inlet is a grid that fish cannot get through, and is large enough that some leaves may block some of it and it will still flow. Minimum pipe size for each tank:
100 gallon: two pipes @ 1" to 1-1/4" diameter.
55: one pipe @ 1" to 1-1/4"
10 and 20 probably OK with 1/2" or 3/4" pipe. If there is ANY possibility of large leaves entering the pipe use larger pipe. It will not affect the amount of water flowing out of these tanks.
At the sump (by any other name) the water flows through a coarse foam, poret or similar media to stop the largest debris. Then bio media (poret is bio and coarse filter media) then through finer media, but have a safety path in case the finer media gets filled with debris. Optional media such as activated carbon, purigen, peat moss, coral sand, or anything else can be in easy to remove bags, but, again, have a safe path for the water in case these finer things get plugged up.
Heater, fertilizer supply, even an auto top off can be added in the sump.
Then a pump to return the water to the tanks. One pump that pumps the water through a manifold with ball valves would be best.
Pipe from the sump to the tanks would be the same as the outlet size and quantity, or could be a bit smaller. Not much, especially if you need to pump the water to different rooms.
100 gallon tank could have 2 returns of 3/4" to 1" pipe. Inside the tank could be a spray bar, but I would not restrict the flow very much. A shear descent might be better.
55 could have a single return of 3/4" or 2 returns of 1/2" to 3/4".
20 and 10 would be fine with 1/2" returns.
Control the flow to each tank with ball valves so that the overflow is completely capable of handling the flow, even when some of the intake screen is blocked. Large area of screened intake is best.
All the intakes need to be near the top of each tank. If the power fails then all the water above the intake will drain out and into the sump. If you add it all up, for example, 2" deep from each tank the sump will be oversized to meet this volume.
Example: (You must do the math for your tanks)
100 gallon tank, maybe 4' x 2' x 2" deep = 10 gallons
55 gallon....................4' x 1' x 2" deep = 5 gallons
20 high.......................2' x 1' x 2" deep = 2.5 gallons
10 ........................20" x 12" x 2" deep = 2 gallons
Safety space in the sump needs to handle a possible overflow of 20 gallons.