Refugium fed by canister? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 06:38 AM Thread Starter
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Refugium fed by canister?

Had an idea tonight while trying to figure out how I'm going to go about building a refugium for my 90gal out of a 20h. I want to maximize the useable area in the fuge, minimize the cost & effort of the build, and keep it absolutely silent.

Here's what I'm thinking...only divide the tank into two sections, one for the fuge & one for the return pump. In the fuge section, mount the spray bar off one of my xp3's. The filter would be siphoning from the display tank and pumping filtered water into the fuge, the return pump would then be pumping the filtered water back into the DT through a DIY spray bar.

I THINK this seems like a pretty solid idea. The flow rate of the return pump is much higher than the canister, so I shouldn't have a problem with getting the flow rate balanced. I don't know what would happen in the event of a power outage. With the canister return being lower than its intake, I would need to see if the siphon will continue pumping water out of the DT until it's dry.

If thats the case, then I would have two options that I can see off the top of my head. #1: Get a battery backup, this would be pretty simple, but it only helps if I get back to the tank in time to shut it off. #2: Add some plumbing to the canisters intake & install a solenoid that controls a valve...if no power runs through the solenoid, the valve closes. I don't know how much this would cost or how feasible it is, but would 100% eliminate the chance of a flood due to power outage. It would also allow the system to get itself going again when the power were cut back on.


What do you think? I think its pretty solid as long as the canister will work in this configuration.

The thing I have NO idea about it setting the water level between the two sections. I'm hoping that with the two baffles I could fill the tank from the left side until the water is where I want it on the right side, but I have a feeling it just won't work like that. Although, if I don't have to worry about power outages causing an overflow, then I could just install a single baffle & fill the entire tank to a desirable level.

Edit: I don't know why I hadn't also thought of this....but another (easier) option might be feeding it with a powerhead out of the display tank. I already know I can put a 1/2" flex hose on my powerhead and it'll blast water into the 20gal sitting in the stand. And I'm fairly certain that between the adjustable flow on the powerhead and putting a ball valve on the return plumbing to adjust that flow rate I could achieve a perfect balance there....and then I wouldn't have to worry about power outage at all since its being ------and it hits me------a siphon would still continue to flow through the powerhead even without power, damnit. Still might be easier though.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 06:58 AM
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I think for anything with a sump you'd want to do an overflow box or something similar. It's very hard to match a siphon with a pump because there's so many variables.

Whats the reasoning for a refugium in a planted tank though? Not bashing you just curious.


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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 11:45 AM
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you will never get 2 pumps to balance, you will need to use an overflow box and return pump.


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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Well that blows.

Reasoning for the refugium...I already have 2 canisters which are Hamelin my bio very well so I dont really need a sump for more bio. The refugium would give me a safe place to breed livebearers and/or shrimp as a food source, as well as a space to grow out plants if I need it.

It's really pretty unnecessary I know. But I got my mind stuck on building SOMETHING out of this pump and 20h that I have so....why not?
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 05:09 PM
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Why not just set up the 20H tank separately, with its own filter and light, and grow the plants or fish you want, independent of the main tank? That is boringly conventional, but very safe.

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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah it's definitely an option. Reasons are two-fold. First, reduction of maintenance. If i set it up as a fuge then I don't have to do separate water changes for the 20. Second is the learning experience. Eventually I want a 220g or so with as large a tank as I can house under the the stand set up as a huge refugium. The system would be filtered 100% or as close as possible by plants etc etc...this is just the first step in learning how to do that.

The reality of it is that I'll probably wind up doing nothing. I don't have space in my current living arrangement to set up a separate tank, so whatever I do has to sit inside the stand for the 90. Sure I could set up the 20 as it's own tank down there, I'm just not sure I want to do that. I have a few weeks before I'd be able to do anything about this anyways so I have plenty of time to decide a good course of action or lack thereof.


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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 08:12 PM
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Consider putting the 20g tank a bit higher than the top of your main display tank. You can drill the 20g and use the larger tank as the "sump" even though it's still the display tank.


You can use your canister filters for water circulation just fine. Pump it from the display tank over into the 20g and let gravity return it to the display tank.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redfishsc View Post
Consider putting the 20g tank a bit higher than the top of your main display tank. You can drill the 20g and use the larger tank as the "sump" even though it's still the display tank.


You can use your canister filters for water circulation just fine. Pump it from the display tank over into the 20g and let gravity return it to the display tank.
then you have to hope the 20g can empty at the same rate it is being fed


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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-04-2011, 08:45 PM
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An overflow box would be an easy solution if you want to use the 20 as a sump.


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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2011, 03:04 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by IWANNAGOFAST View Post
An overflow box would be an easy solution if you want to use the 20 as a sump.
I know, I was just trying to avoid an overflow in the interest of noise & not having to make a separate section in the sump to allow for a filter sock (since the water would already be filtered by the canister).

The more I think about it the more I think I'm just not going to bother doing anything about a sump/fuge. Between not having much of a use for one anyways, not being sure if I can make it run silently and not REALLY having the space in my stand for it....I just don't feel like dealing with it at the moment.

Thanks for all the input anyways.

I do like the idea of having the refugium above the display tank and technically using the display tank as the sump. This would DEFINITELY work if I can ever get a riparium set up like I want. If I had a 220gal set up as a riparium with only 120 gallons of water (random figures) then I could have anything up to 75-90 gallons as a refugium without having to worry about a power outage at all. The only bad thing that would happen even if the siphon never broke is that my emmersed plants would be submersed until I fixed the issue. Now, I probably wouldn't use a tank that large anyways, I would probably still go with something like a 20h or 40b, but I could probably make a pretty sweet display out of it with a custom built stand....

Yeah...now THAT is an idea I like. Even better still...this would definitely require a large room with a lot of wall space that I could dedicate to aquaria but... Use two large tanks, say 225's (72x24x30) and one slightly smaller tank ------------

I'm stopping this now because its f'ing ridiculous.


anyways thanks for the input.
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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2011, 11:19 AM
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if you use an overflow box and set it up properly you dont have to worry about power outages causing flooding. If you follow the link in my sig to the 50g corner tank it has a DIY sump setup and there is a link in there to a DIY thread detailing the sump and plumbing principles involved in overflow box setups. It is really easy to build once you understand the concept so just read up and you might realise its not as ridiculous as you think, even on a tight budget and with limited room


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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2011, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by VaultBoy View Post
if you use an overflow box and set it up properly you dont have to worry about power outages causing flooding. If you follow the link in my sig to the 50g corner tank it has a DIY sump setup and there is a link in there to a DIY thread detailing the sump and plumbing principles involved in overflow box setups. It is really easy to build once you understand the concept so just read up and you might realise its not as ridiculous as you think, even on a tight budget and with limited room

Yeah I know I've been doing nothing but reading sump threads & stickies. I know I could build a perfectly working sump with PVC overflows. The general idea I get about them though is that they're noisy by design and I can't have that. And then of course there's the issue of gassing off c02 and needing to seal the sump to avoid it and all that jazz. I'm just not in the mood any more to try and deal with all of that when I don't NEED the sump for filtration or anything else anyways.

I will follow the links you mentioned though. I still don't fully UNDERSTAND how it all works, I just know that I could follow the tried & true designs and be fine. I just haven't yet grasped how to control the flow of water via gravity.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2011, 07:56 PM
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Consider putting the 20g tank a bit higher than the top of your main display tank. You can drill the 20g and use the larger tank as the "sump" even though it's still the display tank.


You can use your canister filters for water circulation just fine. Pump it from the display tank over into the 20g and let gravity return it to the display tank.
Quote:
Originally Posted by scapegoat View Post
then you have to hope the 20g can empty at the same rate it is being fed
No you don't, that's why you drill it and put a drain pipe on it. As long as you put the 20g higher than the water level of the display tank, and don't overwhelm your standpipe with too much water flow.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2011, 08:14 PM
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maybe i'm thinking about this all wrong. but even if it is drilled and higher than the tank, you have a canister filter w/ a pump, pumping water into a 20 gallon tank from a 90 gallon tank. so you're pumping water from a large tank into a small tank. If the filter pumps water faster than the 20 can empty or if there is a blockage in the piping you'll overflow the 20 and keep going until you hit the inlet of the filter.

i don't see anything keeping the 20g from overflowing w/ it being higher than the main tank. it'll certainly empty out if the power turns off... but then you've probably got a 90gallon flooding over as well unless the combined water is less than what the 90 would hold.


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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-05-2011, 10:20 PM
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Google for beananimal overflow. Thing is dead quiet. the basic idea is to use a constrained full siphon in one drain pipe (siphons are dead quiet) and have a second pipe that mixes air and water, but at such a slow rate, there's no vortex/chortle noises from air mixing with water (water clings to the sides of the drain). Add a third pipe for safety and you're good to go. if it becomes loud, freak out because your emergence pipe kicked in.

Sumps are really fun, but it's best to make sure you uave fault tolerance. One of the locals near me had a faulty drain in his 220G saltwater.... Hes no longer allowed to have a.tank in his living room for insurance reasons....
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