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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-25-2006, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Custom filter for automated Display tank.

Over the last few months I have been working on a 180gallon automated display tank. Not wanting a ton things inside my tank to tank away from what the tank was for "looking nice". I ordered a tank that came "reef ready" meaning that it had two build in overflow columns. I chose to use a sump type filter over a canister type filter simply because I could not figure out how to connect all of the automation equipment I wanted in line with the canister filter without risking something going horrorably wrong when nobody was around and flooding my house.

The goals I had were:
Automatic water top off/water change
Automatic Fertilizer dosing
CO2 injection
Low maintenance filter

The basic sump filter design is a Matten filter. Details on Matten filter design can be found at the following link:

http://www.janrigter.nl/mattenfilter/

I bought a 20gallon High glass aquarium for the sump filter which cost me about $40. I also bought a couple sheets of 24"x16"x1/8" plexiglass to make my filter cartridge and sump tank top for about $16 from a local window glass place.

Filter Cartridge design:

I cut one of the sheets of plexiglass to divide the 20gal tank in half length wise and reach vertically from the bottom of the tank to about 2 inches from the top. I had to cut a small notch into the plastic trim at the top of the tank so that my divider would slide straight in and be flush against the glass. I used the scrap plexiglass, to cut into about 1/2" wide strips which were glued to the inside of the tank to act as rails for the cartridge to slide in and out using silicone aquarium sealant. I used a 2 1/4" hole saw to drill about 32 holes in the plexiglass divider. I then bought a large sheet of Marineland Rite-Size bonded filter pad that was a little over 24 inches long by 12 inches wide and about 1/2" inch thick. I cut the filter pad so that it would completely cover the holes I drilled and to leave about 1/4" of bare plexiglass all around to avoid getting in the way of the rails I had made. I used more aquarium sealant to glue the filter pad to the plexiglass. Dirty water would enter the front half of the sump tank and be pumped out the rear half.

Here is a side view of the sump tank. You can barely make out the rails glued to the inside of the glass.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/SumpSideView.JPG

Here is a view of the filter cartridge from above and behind. You can see the many large holes drilled in the plexiglass.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/CartridgeTopBack.JPG

I purchased two Rio 1700 submersible pumps to pump the water back to the main display tank from the sump tank which was locacated underneath the display tank inside the stand. These pumps were chosen because they each gave me flow rate of about 200gph for a combined flow rate of about 400gph.

If you do the math on the flow rate I chose verses the size of the filter cartridge you will find it a little above the ideal for biological filtration. I was not really concerned by this because it was to be a heavily planted tank, I mainly want the suspended particals removed from the water column and any bioligical filtration of the filter is just a backup system to the plants.

Last edited by vidiots; 06-27-2006 at 02:17 AM.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-25-2006, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Automatic Water Changer Design:

For my automatic water changer I wanted to hook my aquarium up to the house water supply and drain. Fortunately my water comes from a well than is not treated for chlorine and doesn't require modification for the plants & fish I keep. The waste water drains into a septic system that is located under my front lawn. I do not think this water will cause any more of a problem than a light rain for the septic system since it does not contain large solid waste only filtered & fertilized water which should be good for the lawn.

I started by drilling two 40mm (about 1.5") holes in the rear side of my sump tank near the top of the tank. In these holes I mounted two 3/4 inside diameter bulk head fittings that I purchased from Big Al's Online.

http://www.bigalsonline.com/catalog/...tegory_id=2643

These bulkheads were connected to a house drain pipe using 3/4" vinyl hose. this basically gave me an overflow in my sump so that all I had to do now was add water for a water change.

http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/S...rflowDrain.JPG

For adding the water I tapped into the house water line and have it entering the top of my sump tank on the front side of the filter. In the line I installed a soleniod valve for a sprinkler system that could be controlled by a timer to turn the water on and off. I purchased the solenoid valve Online from Automated Aquarium Systems.

http://www.automatedaquariums.com/

I timed how long it took to fill my tank with the water on to figure out the flow rate of my water changer. Took about 1 hour to fill both the display tank and the sump tank, which have true combined volume of just under 180gallons. So that is about 180gallons per hour or 3 gallons per minute. To do a 10% daily water change I would need to set the timer to come on for at least 6 minutes each day.

Because this system is more like a continuous drip system where the water being drained out is a mixture of clean and dirty water I used an online calculator to get a better idea of how long I needed for a 10% water change.

http://www.angelfish.net/DripSystemcalc.php

This told me that I needed to change 19gallons per day to do a 10% daily water change. This still seemed a bit off to me for my setup since I was adding adding and removing the water to my smaller sump at little less than 1/2 the speed it was being cycled between the two tanks and mixed with the old water. So I did some rough guestimating and desided that 24 gallons per day would probably be closer to 10% daily change than 18 or 19. I used my guestimate to set my timer for 8 minutes per day. I basically wanted to be sure that my tank was getting atleast a 50% weekly water change to keep my water parameters fairly constant.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-25-2006, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Sump tank top Design:

For the top to my sump tank I needed something that was removable so that I could get at my filter cartridge and other devices inside the tank but it still had to hold the plumbing rigidly in place. For this I again used 1/8" plexiglass. I cut 4 5"x5" squares to glue into the 4 corners of the sump tanks plastic top trim. I drilled holes in these squares for the plumbing to pass through and attach to for securing it in place. The squares left a slot open in the middle of the tank to slide my filter cartridge out. I also cut small notches in the inside edges of the plexiglass squares to allow for power cords for the pumps to exit the sump.

I cut another large almost square piece of plexiglass to set into place to cover the center section of the sump top. I don't remember the exact dimensions but its roughly 12"x11".

I wish I had gotten a 1/4" thick sheet of plexiglass for making the top. the reason is that the large center cover bows slightly under its own weight. I don't think it will ever bow to the point it falls in but would look better without the bow. But hey I can always change it one of these days.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/SumpTop.JPG

Here is a pic showing the Bow in the plexiglass I was talking about. It also shows the hoses coming in and out of the sump. The 1 1/4" hose with the white connector on the left is incomming water from the top tank. The 3/4" hose with the black connector is the incomming house water supply. In the far back corner there is another 3/4" hose leaving the sump which is the filtered water returning to the top tank. In the middle you can see the gap left between the squares of plexiglass for the cartridge to slide out.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/SumpTopBow.JPG

Last edited by vidiots; 06-27-2006 at 02:12 AM.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-25-2006, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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Wow there was a lot that went into this, much of which I haven't begin to cover yet. I'm typing this as seperate posts so that I don't have to remember everything all at once for one giagantic post.

I will continue on later tonight with more details, gotta run for now.

I openly welcome any and all questions, comments, suggestions, criticisms from anyone. Even though it is currently up and running, there are still many things that can be improved on. So I consider it a work in progress even though I've been at it for months.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-26-2006, 04:21 PM
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Nice post so far. All it needs is lots of pictures at every stage

For inspiration try either the construction post (link on page 1 here)
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ph...ahuna-56k.html

Or the rest of the post mentioned.

The reason I chose that post is that his goal was to to be full automated and have no visible equipment. He also did not want to use a sump so the plans are for a canister which contrasts with your method.

Moved to Tucson.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-26-2006, 04:39 PM
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WE WANT PICTURES!

Thank you for sharing your setup. Lots of stuff to read and ponder about.

Draining the waterchange water to irrigate the lawn is ingenious.

Can you add a brace to the plexiglass so it won't bow?

But yes, some pictures to underline your detailed descriptions would be great!


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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-27-2006, 01:18 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest
WE WANT PICTURES!
Thank you for sharing your setup. Lots of stuff to read and ponder about.
Draining the waterchange water to irrigate the lawn is ingenious.
Can you add a brace to the plexiglass so it won't bow?
But yes, some pictures to underline your detailed descriptions would be great!
I hadn't thought about, bracing the plexiglass. I'll have to take a better picture of the sump top. The picture posted above that shows the rear of the sump tank and it's overflow to drain connection. Here is a picture of the Sump top from the front.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/SumpTop.JPG

Here is a pic of the front of the sump during modification. Origionally both sides had PVC coming straight down from the Main tank overflow. I modified this because of the noise and excessive bubbling. The pic shows both. On the left in my new and improved plumbing and you can clearly see the difference it made in the bubbling compared to the straight pipe on the right. Since the picture was taken I have modified the right side to match the left.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/SumpPlumbing.JPG

Here is a blurry pic of one of my failures. I tried to install a shower valve for temperature adjustment of the house water suppy. I connected it before my solenoid valve. The problem with this setup was that while the soleniod was off and the shower valve was on set to the temperature I wanted. It allowed the house cold water supply to mix with the hot water supply, and could only get slightly warm water to come out of our sinks and showers. Ooops! As a temporary fix I just adjusted the shower valve all the way to cold, so that the hot water is shut off. Maybe I'll get another soleniod valve and connect both soleniods before the shower valve. I might also be able to get some sort of check valve for the hot water line from the local plumbing place.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/SumpWaterSupply.JPG

And for anyone interested in the point behind all the work, here is a pic of the main display tank.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/180GallonTank.JPG

I'll try to take some more pics of everything and get them posted. Tonight I went back through some of the above posts and Edited to insert some more pictures, to make it easier for others to follow.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-27-2006, 06:58 PM
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That tank looks beautiful! Really nice setup too! how were you planning on doing the auto ferts? i was thinking that maybe there could be a way to have it dose the ferts dry into the sump. maybe an automatic feeder? probably not exact enough. ahh, it would be cool to do that though because that way you wont have to mix up buckets of fert solution every 2 weeks or month or whatever. you could have it automatically dose the tank every day for years without refilling the ferts!
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SammyP
That tank looks beautiful! Really nice setup too! how were you planning on doing the auto ferts? i was thinking that maybe there could be a way to have it dose the ferts dry into the sump. maybe an automatic feeder? probably not exact enough. ahh, it would be cool to do that though because that way you wont have to mix up buckets of fert solution every 2 weeks or month or whatever. you could have it automatically dose the tank every day for years without refilling the ferts!
Actually I bought a small dosing pump. The irritating thing about it is that it broke the 2nd time I turned it on. A little plastic gear stripped itself out. My wife said I should try to return the pump, but I didn't bother figuring that they would just send me another cheap piece of junk that might fail when I'm not there to notice.

I tried using an air pump to force fluid out of a 2liter or 1 gallon bottle. I was unable to get a consistant amount of fluid dispensed from it. Wasserpest has a design that I might try. I've also been thinking about suspending a bottle above my sump with an air hose going in thru the bottom of the bottle and allow gravity to drain the bottle. All I would have to do then is attach a soleniod valve to the hose. Just gotta find a cheap tiny soleniod valve. I'm still searching on that.

For now what I have done is just use a 2 Liter bottle, I measured and marked on the bottle every 143mL which gives me 14 increments. I mix two weeks worth of dry fertilizer with water in the 2 Liter bottle. Then to dose each day I just pour until the level in the bottle drops to the next mark. It beats calculating & measuring everyday, and only takes a couple seconds of my time to do it.

I do have one of those battery powered vacation feeders that could be used to dispense the dry fertilizer directly into the sump. I just don't think it would be all that flexible with the amount it dispenses. I would also worry about possible moisture causing the powder to clump. However I still might be able to modify it to do what I need.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 01:12 AM Thread Starter
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Plumbing the Sump:

The Drain:
I explained above how I drilled overflows into side of the sump to connect to the house drain. I connected to a drain pipe for a nearby sink. I just cut out a 45 elbow in the pipe and replaced it with a 45 "Y" connector. This made the new branch of the pipe continue going straight instead of bending toward the sink. I installed a "P" trap in the line just where the drain pipe from the aquarium comes through the floor to prevent septic vapors from backing up to the aquarium and into the house. Also above the water level of the sump on I installed an air inlet. I needed a 4 way cross connector to connect my two hoses from the sump coming in from the side, the air inlet on the top and down thru the floor to the "P" trap & House drain on the bottom.

Here is the photo of the plumbing from beind the sump:
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/S...rflowDrain.JPG

Here is a photo taken from the basement looking up to where the Drain pipe comes down from the aquarium to the "P" trap.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/S...nThruFloor.JPG

Here is a photo taken from the basement looking up to where I tied into the plumbing for a nearby bathroom sink (about 10ft away from the aquarium).
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/S...tionToSink.JPG
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-28-2006, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vidiots
Actually I bought a small dosing pump. The irritating thing about it is that it broke the 2nd time I turned it on. A little plastic gear stripped itself out. My wife said I should try to return the pump, but I didn't bother figuring that they would just send me another cheap piece of junk that might fail when I'm not there to notice.

I tried using an air pump to force fluid out of a 2liter or 1 gallon bottle. I was unable to get a consistant amount of fluid dispensed from it. Wasserpest has a design that I might try. I've also been thinking about suspending a bottle above my sump with an air hose going in thru the bottom of the bottle and allow gravity to drain the bottle. All I would have to do then is attach a soleniod valve to the hose. Just gotta find a cheap tiny soleniod valve. I'm still searching on that.

For now what I have done is just use a 2 Liter bottle, I measured and marked on the bottle every 143mL which gives me 14 increments. I mix two weeks worth of dry fertilizer with water in the 2 Liter bottle. Then to dose each day I just pour until the level in the bottle drops to the next mark. It beats calculating & measuring everyday, and only takes a couple seconds of my time to do it.

I do have one of those battery powered vacation feeders that could be used to dispense the dry fertilizer directly into the sump. I just don't think it would be all that flexible with the amount it dispenses. I would also worry about possible moisture causing the powder to clump. However I still might be able to modify it to do what I need.
Read this, it does look like a great way to dose if you have a sump, and the suitable auto feeder!


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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-29-2006, 09:29 PM
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You have a hose collapsing in your last pic in this post, even though it is water supply might wanna fix that. What kind of fish going in there? Check out photobucket for pic posting http://www.photobucket.com/ ....DC

Quote:
Originally Posted by vidiots
Sump tank top Design:

For the top to my sump tank I needed something that was removable so that I could get at my filter cartridge and other devices inside the tank but it still had to hold the plumbing rigidly in place. For this I again used 1/8" plexiglass. I cut 4 5"x5" squares to glue into the 4 corners of the sump tanks plastic top trim. I drilled holes in these squares for the plumbing to pass through and attach to for securing it in place. The squares left a slot open in the middle of the tank to slide my filter cartridge out. I also cut small notches in the inside edges of the plexiglass squares to allow for power cords for the pumps to exit the sump.

I cut another large almost square piece of plexiglass to set into place to cover the center section of the sump top. I don't remember the exact dimensions but its roughly 12"x11".

I wish I had gotten a 1/4" thick sheet of plexiglass for making the top. the reason is that the large center cover bows slightly under its own weight. I don't think it will ever bow to the point it falls in but would look better without the bow. But hey I can always change it one of these days.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/SumpTop.JPG

Here is a pic showing the Bow in the plexiglass I was talking about. It also shows the hoses coming in and out of the sump. The 1 1/4" hose with the white connector on the left is incomming water from the top tank. The 3/4" hose with the black connector is the incomming house water supply. In the far back corner there is another 3/4" hose leaving the sump which is the filtered water returning to the top tank. In the middle you can see the gap left between the squares of plexiglass for the cartridge to slide out.
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/SumpTopBow.JPG
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-30-2006, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiabloCanine
You have a hose collapsing in your last pic in this post, even though it is water supply might wanna fix that. What kind of fish going in there? Check out photobucket for pic posting http://www.photobucket.com/ ....DC

Yeah, that hose looks pretty nasty. I had a problem with the hoses wanting to kink when I tried to bend them in the opposite direction from the way the were coiled on the spool when I bought them. To fix this on the other hoses, I cut out the sections of hose that were kinked and inserted a 90 elbow connector. Just didn't bother with the water supply hose yet, because I plan to eventually re do the whole setup anyway so that I can use my origional plan of having mixed hot & cold water enter the tank so that it is closer to tank temperature.

As for fish I currently have tiny "community fish" in it. Salt & Pepper Platies, Neon Tetras, Algae Eaters, Black Tetras, Black Lyre Tail Balloon Mollies, and a few Ghost Shrimp. Very light stock for that size tank.

Watching the large number of Neon Tetras swimming in a tight school in a large tank, is very cool sight. Don't care much for the Ghost Shrimp, even though they look cool in the empty tanks at the pet store, they are extremely difficult to find in that big planted tank. I think I prefer a variety of highly active brightly colored fish that contrast the plants.

I found some brightly colored Swordtails and some albino corys that I will add to the tank after they get out of quarantine. The corys are so active I don't think they can sit still, and I figure their white color ought to contrast the dark flourite substrate well.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-07-2006, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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Drilling the Overflow Holes:

This was not as easy as it sounds. I tried calling around to various local glass shops and they all told me the same thing. They would not drill my aquarium for me with the glass in place. They would attempt it for me only if I removed the pane of glass myself prior to them drilling. I don't know if anyone has tried to remove the plastic frame from a tank without damaging anything, but I found this to be an impossible task. It's just glued together too well and in cracks that are too small to get into with a blade to cut it loose.

I desided to try drilling it myself. I read up on how to drill glass. Here are some links to sites I found helpful.

http://www.uhh.hawaii.edu/~pacrc/big...g/Drilling.htm
http://www.wetdryfilter.com/drilling_holes.htm
http://www.drillglass.com/drillingglass.html

The hard part was finding a glass drill bit that was large enough to do the job, and still be cheap. I wasn't going to pay $60-$70 for a drill bit for just 2 holes when I wasn't sure it was going to work. Home Depot stocks glass & tile drill bits, but only up to 1/2". I needed 1.5" (40mm) holes for my 3/4" inside diameter bulk head fittings. I finally found a 40mm drill bit on Ebay from an online store in Hong Kong for about $10. I know probably low quality tools, but I only needed it to work for 2 holes (and it did).

I also bought a cheap $10 10gal aquarium to practice on, before spending $40 for the 20gal high tank I intended to use, figuring if it didn't work I wasn't out much. After having no problems with the 10gal tank I went and got the 20gal tank I wanted. When buying a tank to drill make certain that it is not made of tempered glass or at least not on the side you intend to drill. From what I have read tempered glass will shatter if you attempt to drill it. Some tanks only have tempered glass for the bottom pane and regular glass for the sides, while others are either made of all tempered or all regular glass. Most small tanks are all regular glass.

Drilling glass is very different from drilling wood. When drilling wood the drill bit cuts it's way through, where as with drilling glass the drill bit grinds it's way through like sand paper. When drilling glass you don't want to apply much pressure to the bit just enough to hold it in contact with the glass. You also do not want to generate any heat while drilling that might crack the glass. To avoid heat while drilling I used water as a lubricant between the bit and the glass. To keep the puddle of water in place I used some of my daughter's play dough to mold a ring around it, then filled the ring with water. Drilling glass also takes much more time than drilling other things. For example it took me about 30 minutes to grind my way through the 1/8" thick glass on the 10gal tank, and about 45 minutes per hole on the slightly thicker glass on the 20gal tank.

On the internet I saw some examples of people using a hand drill, however I thought I'd get a better hole using my small bench top drill press. The problem with switching from a hand drill to a drill press is that you loose the feel for the amount of pressure you are applying and therefor have to be extremely careful not to apply too much force with the drill press.

I marked where I wanted my holes using a permanent marker, which comes off glass easily with a little rubbing alcohol.

For my holes I wanted them drilled in the back side pane near the top. I turned the top of my drill press so that the top and the table were over haning my work bench while the base was turned toward the work bench and clamped in place. I screwed a piece of wood to the drill press's metal table to protect the glass from being scratched. I mounted the tank on it's side with the drill press table inside the tank and against the inside surface of the side I was going to drill. I also supported the weight of the tank from underneath using some 2x4s I had laying around.

Here are some pictures I took during this portion of construction:
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/DrillSetup.JPG
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/DrillPlayDough.JPG
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/DrillFinished.JPG
http://users.adelphia.net/~vidiots/DrillBulkHeads.JPG
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-07-2006, 01:07 PM
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Nice job with the drill press! What ebay store did you get the bit from? I was looking into getting a bit and found an overseas store on ebay. How many holes do you think their bits are good for?.....DC
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