Central Filtration Advice? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 04:14 AM Thread Starter
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Central Filtration Advice?

Hey Guys!

I know this has been discussed in the past, but I was hoping for some more up-to-date input. I am thinking of assembling a central filtration system. I have a few FW tanks that I would like to link together. I don't care about the cost, but more of the ease of use and lack of work. I am not home too often right now, so when I am home I don't want to constantly be cleaning my tanks. I have a 100G, 55G, 20(H)G, 10G, and possibly more soon. Would anyone care to provide any ideas or links to information on how to properly build one of these systems. If I didn't provide enough input, I would be more than happen to explain in further detail.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 10:48 PM
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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?

Simplest method:
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.
Outlet:
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.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 11:41 PM
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Having a central filtration system won't reduce the amount of tank maintenance very much, in my opinion. You will still need to wipe down or scrape the tank walls, and prune the plants. If you use an EI dosing method, you will also need to do big water changes on each tank. I just don't see how you will gain anything from this system. Canister filters can go for a couple of months without any maintenance, anyway.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Wow! Simply Wow! That was great information. Truly awesome. Most of the tanks will be in the same room, the 100 may not be. If I can plum it in, I will, otherwise I will just get a standalone wet/dry for it. Piping can be exposed to an extent, but I can come up with ways to hide or cover it. There is no floor drain. It will be a finished room on the bottom floor of a house (concrete slab beneath). When I set this up full scale with automation equipment and storage basins, it will be on a sealed concrete floor with multiple floor drains. For now it will be a small setup. If I cannot find a way to prevent a possible overflow, I won't do it till I get the new room set up.

Thanks,
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
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Hoppy,

I agree with you. I will still need to clean the inside of the tanks. The part that takes the longest for me is the water changes and filter changes. Plus, it can get real messy. With a central system, I will be able to drain and fill tanks/sump easily with valves. Also, the filters are all in one central spot without having to worry about breaking the seal on a canister and creating a slow leak. Also, I am aware that if I am going to dose, I will be dosing a ton due to the water volume. Not sure what I am going to do yet, but I am toying with the idea. I had some ideas similar to this in the past, but they weren't very elegant and quite complex. Better to plan and decide not to do it, then go for it and make a big mess.

Thanks,
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 02:26 AM
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Planning is always good! I think the single biggest labor saver is a water change system where you just open a valve or two, no hoses, no buckets, no switching connections, etc. Add to that an automatic water topping system, and you have cut the dull routine maintenance way down.

Hoppy
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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Very true Hoppy! Good words of wisdom.
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