Sump Design (feedback) - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-16-2020, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Sump Design (feedback)

Hey y'all,

I'm building a sump for a 185 gallon planted tank, and I'd love to get your feedback. This will be built in a 40 breeder, and I'd like to have it include a refugium -- to have plants growing in the evening to offset pH changes, use for acclimation, and possibly store a bully fish from time to time until he can be re-homed.

Let me know what you think:
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-16-2020, 08:53 PM
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Not seeing the point of the dish scrubbers. Doesn’t look like water will be flowing through them. Looks like water will drop in then back out the
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-16-2020, 10:13 PM
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First chamber would serve more of a purpose if you used filter socks. Otherwise, I don't see why you couldn't combine the first two chambers (ie just dump intake water onto the filter pads). That might leave you more space for biological filtration as well.

edit - there also isn't chemical filtration space if you found you needed to intermittently use it
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Last edited by amnoor; 04-16-2020 at 10:14 PM. Reason: .
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-16-2020, 10:16 PM
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I haven't built a sump yet, so take this with a grain of salt, but wouldn't you want at least some water flowing through the refugium rather than only across the top of a dead space?
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-16-2020, 10:41 PM
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I like it in theory, but see a couple of things that might disappoint down the road. Mind you, I've only used sumps on saltwater and fish-only fresh, but I've used and built at least 20 of them. I agree with every reply post made thus far. I would lose the dish scrubbers, lower the level on the first wall, and lose any biomedia entirely. You are going to get so much biological filtration from the mechanical filter that that additional colonization space simply isn't needed, plus it's a planted tank and in theory NH4 is going to be uptaken in the aquarium. I would also tinker with the dividers. If it were mine, I would lower divider 1 to just above the media level, and divider 3 would be 1-2"off of the bottom to let water flow underneath so there is some flow in that chamber. Not sure what you were planning to use but mechanical filters needn't be too fine. They have a tendency to clog with sediment. You don't need to be concerned with pH changes from day to night, that's part of nature and fauna is unphased by these swings. Heck, they're unphased by even full 1 point pH swings from CO2 that happen in a few minutes. And your sump isn't a place you want to spend a lot of time cleaning, and with a light on, there will be more than you would otherwise have to do. I think what you have mapped out would work, just pointing out what I think might irritate me down the road in a planted aquarium.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-16-2020, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xWingman48 View Post
Hey y'all,

I'm building a sump for a 185 gallon planted tank, and I'd love to get your feedback. This will be built in a 40 breeder, and I'd like to have it include a refugium -- to have plants growing in the evening to offset pH changes, use for acclimation, and possibly store a bully fish from time to time until he can be re-homed.

Let me know what you think:
All the posts are good but I want to throw my 2 cents in as well.

What size tank is this sump? It should be about a 60 gallon tank but its 36" long. Are you planning for this to be a 40 breeder? If the size of the walls are to scale it looks like 2/3rds or more of your tank is going to be underwater. Leaving only about 10 gallons of empty space.... This could be a REAL problem. If your 185 gallon is a pretty standard 25" tall then every inch of water height in your main tank is about 7.5 gallons of water. So depending on how far below the surface your intake and return are, you could be in a flooding situation when you turn off your pump, or something clogs... A safer bet might be to plan to have only half your sump underwater at any one time leaving 20 gallons of empty space if this is a 40 breeder.

I also don't see a good spot to stick a heater. With all those walls up you the biggest horizontal space is only 11 inches.. most big heaters are longer then that. I am assuming of course that you want to put the heater in the sump to keep equipment out of sight.

I would instead try to have as few dividers in the sump as possible. Anything more then 3 is just window dressing anyway. If you are planning to do a wet dry thing anyway then definitely use socks. If not then just have the water come in to the first chamber, go under the first wall into your mechanical media, and then over the second wall. Done. This leaves you a big chamber for equipment, bags of chemical if you need it, return pump, whatever.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the quick feedback everyone! Here are the adjustments based on the feedback:
  • Dropped the scrubbies in favor of filter socks -- I wanted something to catch most of large detrius before going over the filter pads
  • Dropped the bio-media and made the filter segment and the refugium larger
  • Added a note about putting heaters in the refugium (and dropped the plants)
  • Added some measurements on the side. It's a 40 gallon breeder so 17.5" tall internally. The baffles would be 12" tall for the main water level, leaving 5.5" of expansion. That leaves 12-15gals of extra capacity. Think that's enough? The main tank only dropped an inch or so when killing the pumps when it ran saltwater.
  • With the removal of the biomedia chamber, I now push water through the refugium from bottom to top.
  • No worries about chemical filtration needing to fit -- I have some reactors plumbed into the supply line for carbon / etc.

Here's a diagram of the updates. Thoughts?


Do you still think I should lower that first baffle? The water level will effectively rise up to baffle #3 anyway right?

Last edited by xWingman48; 04-17-2020 at 03:29 PM. Reason: (clarifying the question at the end)
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 04:38 PM
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When I researched this, several people mentioned how quickly the filter socks clog, which would be an issue for me when I'm on vacation. Since then I've seen others talk about installing a coarse prefilter (knitting mesh?) to catch the worst of it, either above the filter socks or above the first filter block after removing the socks for the duration of the absence.

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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xWingman48 View Post
Thanks for all of the quick feedback everyone! Here are the adjustments based on the feedback:
  • Dropped the scrubbies in favor of filter socks -- I wanted something to catch most of large detrius before going over the filter pads
  • Dropped the bio-media and made the filter segment and the refugium larger
  • Added a note about putting heaters in the refugium (and dropped the plants)
  • Added some measurements on the side. It's a 40 gallon breeder so 17.5" tall internally. The baffles would be 12" tall for the main water level, leaving 5.5" of expansion. That leaves 12-15gals of extra capacity. Think that's enough? The main tank only dropped an inch or so when killing the pumps when it ran saltwater.
  • With the removal of the biomedia chamber, I now push water through the refugium from bottom to top.
  • No worries about chemical filtration needing to fit -- I have some reactors plumbed into the supply line for carbon / etc.

Here's a diagram of the updates. Thoughts?


Do you still think I should lower that first baffle? The water level will effectively rise up to baffle #3 anyway right?

I would still try to plan for a lower water level, you don't need the extra 10 gallons in your sump, and it won't make a big difference to capacity. I am assuming you either have an overflow or an emergency drain of some kind in your main tank? What happens if your tank is filled to a point where your emergency activates and then the pump stops? How many inches of water do you lose in your main tank? 1.5 inch drop is enough to overflow a 15 gallon empty capacity in this setup.

I would also change how you have your mechanical media. Currently you have it being stacked ontop of each other vertically. Change it so they are stacked horizontally. This means you can pull one for cleaning without disturbing the others. You may find that your fine clogs quicker then the other 2 for instance and rather then pulling all 3 you could just pull the fine one as needed.

And then... why do you have a refugium? It makes sense in saltwater tanks but we don't really use them. For instance, you REALLY do not want a light on in this cabinet all the time. Unless you just love cleaning algae off of glass. Instead it should be dark down there unless you are servicing the sump. If you need a storage area or grow out location for plants a separate tank is a much better option, it doesn't even need to be a tank, a plastic sterlite container works fine. And if for whatever reason you really really really want another compartment down there, your return pump doesn't need to be 11 inches wide, something like 7 inches is more then enough. And definitely look into the size of heater you need for this tank.. cause 13" is probably still too small.


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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for all of the responses, this feedback is AWESOME!

Quote:
Originally Posted by minorhero View Post
I would still try to plan for a lower water level, you don't need the extra 10 gallons in your sump, and it won't make a big difference to capacity. I am assuming you either have an overflow or an emergency drain of some kind in your main tank? What happens if your tank is filled to a point where your emergency activates and then the pump stops? How many inches of water do you lose in your main tank? 1.5 inch drop is enough to overflow a 15 gallon empty capacity in this setup.
- The main tank has dual overflows (one on each end), so if one clogs there is a backup. There is also the protection factor that the pump supply segment will run empty if I stop getting overflow -- meaning I can only pump an extra 5-10 gallons in there. I get your point that you probably don't need the extra capacity down there. Let me drop it another inch or two.

Quote:
Originally Posted by minorhero View Post
I would also change how you have your mechanical media. Currently you have it being stacked on top of each other vertically. Change it so they are stacked horizontally. This means you can pull one for cleaning without disturbing the others. You may find that your fine clogs quicker then the other 2 for instance and rather then pulling all 3 you could just pull the fine one as needed.
- If you turn them sideways, wouldn't they have to go the full width of the tank and height of the waterflow? I think that could work if I removed those baffles and just used a big egg crate section to have sideways flow. Is that more or less what you would do for freshwater? Could potentially be interesting. I was just thinking that if I'm rinsing / replacing filter pads I'd cover the whole stack.

Quote:
Originally Posted by minorhero View Post
And then... why do you have a refugium? It makes sense in saltwater tanks but we don't really use them. For instance, you REALLY do not want a light on in this cabinet all the time. Unless you just love cleaning algae off of glass. Instead it should be dark down there unless you are servicing the sump. If you need a storage area or grow out location for plants a separate tank is a much better option, it doesn't even need to be a tank, a plastic sterlite container works fine. And if for whatever reason you really really really want another compartment down there, your return pump doesn't need to be 11 inches wide, something like 7 inches is more then enough. And definitely look into the size of heater you need for this tank.. cause 13" is probably still too small.
Agreed, it's not necessary for freshwater since you don't have things like skimmers or ATS in there. Since I had the space, I like the idea of having it for acclimation or to isolate a bully fish (agreed, you could do that in a separate tank). What would you reclaim that space for? Side note, a 40 breeder is 17" wide, so there's plenty of room for heaters long ways in there.


Do you have any plans / photos of sumps you've done for freshwater? I'd love to see the arrangements.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 06:03 PM
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Just a though, likely similar to what @minorhero posted above. The glass partition would be used to set your sump water level.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 06:07 PM
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I have always liked the mattenfilter sump approach.

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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by xWingman48 View Post
Thanks again for all of the responses, this feedback is AWESOME!


- The main tank has dual overflows (one on each end), so if one clogs there is a backup. There is also the protection factor that the pump supply segment will run empty if I stop getting overflow -- meaning I can only pump an extra 5-10 gallons in there. I get your point that you probably don't need the extra capacity down there. Let me drop it another inch or two.



- If you turn them sideways, wouldn't they have to go the full width of the tank and height of the waterflow? I think that could work if I removed those baffles and just used a big egg crate section to have sideways flow. Is that more or less what you would do for freshwater? Could potentially be interesting. I was just thinking that if I'm rinsing / replacing filter pads I'd cover the whole stack.


Agreed, it's not necessary for freshwater since you don't have things like skimmers or ATS in there. Since I had the space, I like the idea of having it for acclimation or to isolate a bully fish (agreed, you could do that in a separate tank). What would you reclaim that space for? Side note, a 40 breeder is 17" wide, so there's plenty of room for heaters long ways in there.


Do you have any plans / photos of sumps you've done for freshwater? I'd love to see the arrangements.
For mechanical filters you could use material similar to matten filters. Your baffles would just be there to support it. Or if you can't source such large pieces you could always create half walls to block of sections, but it shouldn't be hard to find what you need for this.

I did forget about the width, your quite right.

As for what to use the space for, basically anything you want or need. Maybe you decide at some point you want to toss a couple of bags of purigen in, and a bag or 7 of ceramic rings, and a submersible UV lamp (which you should throw in anyway), and a backup heater. All of this can be done if you have the space, but if you put up a wall just for giggles then not only have you made it harder to clean but you have taken up space that could be used for ... anything... at at worst additional water volume/empty space. I wouldn't worry about reactors for carbon.. that's the great thing about freshwater and sumps. Just toss it in and your good to go.

As for designs, well I don't have any. I've spent the last 1.5 years researching sumps for my own build but haven't built one. My sump when I build it will be... different. So I hesitate to recommend it. Mine will have 2 baffles splitting it into 3 chambers. The first is for incoming water which will flow under the first baffle. The next space will have a static bed of K1 Micro thats floating. This is mechanical and biological in one. At the top of this chamber will be 2 durso pipes that lead down the second baffle into the main chamber which is the rest of the tank. When I need to clean it I redirect the return pump into the chamber with the static bed turning it into a moving bed. This releases all debris. Then I drain the sump and refill a few times and my media is cleaned without getting my hands wet. Or such is the theory. Never done it. Never seen it done except for in ponds (which is where the idea comes from). So maybe it works... maybe it doesn't.


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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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For mechanical filters you could use material similar to matten filters. Your baffles would just be there to support it. Or if you can't source such large pieces you could always create half walls to block of sections, but it shouldn't be hard to find what you need for this.
I feel like y'all are talking me out of all but that last baffle in my design. I can find bigger foam panels I think, and I could make a single "baffle" from eggcrate just past the intake -- and one glass baffle 11-12" high close to the pump return. I like keeping that there so the water level in the whole sump doesn't drop with to evaporation (leveraging less filter area). If I put that first eggcrate baffle far enough back, I do still get some open space for heaters, purigen, or some of the acclimation options I had before. Definitely makes this thing cheaper and easier!
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-17-2020, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quick question: If you remove the over / under baffles in the sump, do you have to worry about micro-bubbles making it through the sump, or will the sideways pads / Matten Filter be able to clear those out?
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