DIY sump design - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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DIY sump design

Hello all.

I am contemplating DIY sump design for a freshwater tank. the tank is a 75 gallon tank. I have a 35 gallon (36x12x18 LWH) which is about to be upgraded, and i plan to convert the 35 gallon into a sump. The main tank will be planted, and I will have injected CO2, for which I hope t make an inline reactor (I'll probably post that design with questions later :p). This is my first attempt at DIY anyting for my tanks, and my first experience with a sump.

i have a pump which outputs about 360 GPH. It is actually a replacement pump from a red sea reef system. I tested the GPH by pumping 4 gallons and doing the math. As a side not, I may be able to trade it for a rio 2500 pump (which I believe for over 700 GPH).

The baffles are 12 inches, with the raised baffles 2 inches from the floor. Water level would be at about 13 inches. My design has a 6 inch entrance chamber, a baffle allowing water flow over, a filtration chamber, a "refugium" for plants, and a pump output chamber. I attached a deign schematic.

I may place scrubber sponges in the entrance chamber. I also plan to use a filter sock.

The filtration chamber is 6 inches long (and 12 deep, the tank depth) and will start with a sponge for additional mechanical filtration, followed by biological filtration consisting of ceramic disks (such as Fluval Biomax), and at the bottom smooth river stones (around 1-2 inch) with lots of room for water flow around them.

The "refugum" wil have some fast growing stem plants and frogbit, as nitrate sucks. I realize this may not be necessary on a planted tank, but more plants means more nitrate reduction, and cleaner water. I will also densely plant is to allow more surface for biological filtration.

One alternate option is to separate the refugium a bit from the main flow by making a separate square chamber with holes in the glass to allow water ti only flow in and out at a slower rate, as to much flow is bad for the plants.

Finally the pump chamber is about 6 inches, with the pump raised as an extra precaution against floods. That was only so much of the sump water can be pumped into the main tank in the case of a failure in the overflow.

I would like any comments on this design, as I frankly don't know what i am doing. I have some specific questions:

1. Is 360 GPH enough? I have hard a hard time finding info on appropriate flow rates in freshwater sumps.
2. Is 6x12 inches an adequate size for the filtration media chamber?
3. Is the filter media OK? Should I use something else, like filter floss (with which I have no experience), or anything?

Any other comments or constructive criticism are welcomed.

: )
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 12:40 AM
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The design could use some work. An important thing to consider in cases of sumps is the possibility of a power outage. You want the sump level to be very low to accommodate water that'll enter from the output in a siphon. Best way to achieve this is with baffles separating the sections. First set should be 3 in an over, under, over fashion to regulate water level in the fuge. Second set after fuge should be over under with this being lower than the first set. You can put sponge there to avoid using a filter sock. As for the pump I would go larger and if its too strong you can,split it.,better than having too little flow. If you need any more help with design feel free to PM me
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
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I plan to use an overflow box. I was under the impression this mitigated most of the risk of flooding?

I don't really understand how the over-under-over baffles work. Most of my research seems to show designs closer to this, with flow moving from over the baffle to beneath it.

Can you explain a bit how the over-under-over works?

I'll see about the bigger pump.

Thanks!
: )
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 02:17 AM
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sump over flooding is 1 thing but a clog in the over flow will send all the water from ur sump into the tank it self... if u want to do it right and do it safe i would build a DIY overflow sensor

what it does is, if the overflow is clog and water from the tank rises, if the water touch the sensor. the sensor will cut off the power from the pump till its button is restarted...

you can never be to safe if u ask me...
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 02:26 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryanmc1988 View Post
sump over flooding is 1 thing but a clog in the over flow will send all the water from ur sump into the tank it self... if u want to do it right and do it safe i would build a DIY overflow sensor

what it does is, if the overflow is clog and water from the tank rises, if the water touch the sensor. the sensor will cut off the power from the pump till its button is restarted...

you can never be to safe if u ask me...
That is why I sat the pump higher up, so if the overflow clogs there is a limit on how much water can return. I am not sure I have the DIY techie skills for the overflow sensor.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 02:28 AM
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Overflow sensors are not necessary if you build the sump with the right ratios. Colin I'm at work at the moment but I will PM you with the basics and some diagrams. Also, overflow boxes are notorious for being some of the least dependable forms of sump filtration, but if they're set up correctly you will have 0 problems. In the 2 years I've been building sumps and helping set ups, I've never had one overflow.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryanmc1988 View Post
sump over flooding is 1 thing but a clog in the over flow will send all the water from ur sump into the tank it self... if u want to do it right and do it safe i would build a DIY overflow sensor

what it does is, if the overflow is clog and water from the tank rises, if the water touch the sensor. the sensor will cut off the power from the pump till its button is restarted...

you can never be to safe if u ask me...
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 02:54 AM Thread Starter
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Maybe what I could do is put a side baffle which makes the pump section have a 6x6 inch footprint. That way, if the overflow clogs, there is only about a gallon of water at or above the level of the pump. Once the sump level drops a bit, water will stop flowing into the pump chamber, and only a small amount of extra water can enter the tank.

How does that sound?
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 03:13 AM
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Do you mind me asking, why you need a sump? I love sumps in my reef tanks, I don't think I would want to run a tank without one, but Im not sure why you need one in a freshwater tank.

Is the display tank filled with large, messy, herbivores that will eat your plants?

Is the display just filled with a carpet of something and a lot of fish and you're not getting enough nitrate removal through plants and water changes?

I only ask, because I have a jungle style medium dense planted 25 gallon planted tank with a heavy bioload*, and I still have to add nitrate fertilizer 3 times a week, or the plant growth slows down. I don't test much anymore, but when I did, it took about 2 days for the tank to suck out everything the fish produce, plus what I add using the EI dosing method.

So a sump just for nitrate reduction seems like overkill.

*My heavy bioload consists of 20 hengeli rasboras, one large betta, about 15 peppered corydoras (they just bred, I randomly found 3 half inch babies in there last week while cleaning the tank), 3 amanos, 10-20 cherry shrimp, and a billion Malaysian trumpet snails. All heavily fed twice a day, flakes pellets, bloodworms, etc.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 04:19 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altiuscitius View Post
Do you mind me asking, why you need a sump? I love sumps in my reef tanks, I don't think I would want to run a tank without one, but Im not sure why you need one in a freshwater tank.
...

So a sump just for nitrate reduction seems like overkill.
I don't need a sump, I just want one. I am about to have a surplus 35 gallon, and this sounds like a fun project to me. Plus it makes for good filtration.

And I have a moderately heavily stocked, extremely heavily planted 35 (to be sump), and my nitrates tend to be fairly high (30-40 ppm) despite a good water change schedule. but the purpose of the sump it not a nitrate suck, but for filtration. I know a bit filter would be fine, btu I can drop 200 bucks on a filter, or build a sump : )
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 06:10 AM
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Are you going to run the sump on a reverse day?

Not only is a sump fairly cheap to set up they make great places to stash all the hardware, provide pristine water surface and the display tank has a constant water line. Over the years I have had a great time changing the drain and return configurations, easy to do with standard PVC.

They are also very noisy unless you take steps to quiet them. Think flushing toilet that won't stop. Really. Look into how you want to quiet it. A Durso standpipe helps and a Beananimal or Herbie overflow is silent. HD Blazingwolf writes that a very large diameter drain is also silent.

I have used an HOB overflow box for 12 years, recently graduated to a drilled tank. Drilled is better if you can do it. I never had a middle of the night flood but many a booboo during and after water changes. U tube bubble collecting>lost siphon happened slowly enough that I noticed a problem. Ditto for clogged skimmer box teeth [which can happen even with a drilled tank]. Main drain is always covered with a sponge and has never clogged. Leaves covered the antisiphon hole in the return line so siphon wasn't broken when power went off [can still happen]. Guess it is a good thing power doesn't go out often here and I noticed right away that the sump was getting too full.

Plants will do just fine with even 400-500gph going through. I had a black neon tetra fry arrive in the drain area and grow to adult size in my drain area when I was running a Rio 2500. The little guy never looked like he/she was in an current at all. I know sumps are supposed to be more efficient with longer dwell time but between 400gph then and 1200-1400gph now with the exact same sponges I don't notice any problems with more or less nitrate or algal blooms. Wouldn't worry too much about it.

I don't have dividers in my sump as it is a warped acrylic tank that would be super fun to fit with such so no suggestions there. Just consider how to quiet the thing and look into drilling but HOB aren't always disasters.


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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 06:21 AM
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For those of you with sumps, do you go through more CO2 with your sump than without?

The only gain that I can see to a sump over a canister(for freshwater) Is a place to hide your heater. Yeah, you have more room for media, but is it it necessary? I have a heavily stocked 75g with just an XP4 on it.

FWIW, I run a 20g sump on my 72 reef. I have an area sectioned off for my chaeto, then i have some rubble, my heater, and my Reef Octo skimmer, and finally my return pump.

When considering flow rates for sumps, make sure you are considering the head, or height the pump has to lift the water vertically to get to the tank. Also, match your pump size to the draining abilities of your overflow(s). Too much pump results in your DT flooding, too little and your sump floods.


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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colin View Post
I don't need a sump, I just want one. I am about to have a surplus 35 gallon, and this sounds like a fun project to me. Plus it makes for good filtration.

And I have a moderately heavily stocked, extremely heavily planted 35 (to be sump), and my nitrates tend to be fairly high (30-40 ppm) despite a good water change schedule. but the purpose of the sump it not a nitrate suck, but for filtration. I know a bit filter would be fine, btu I can drop 200 bucks on a filter, or build a sump : )
That's a reasonable then.

Sumps are awesome for doing easy water changes and holding equipment you don't want in the tank, heaters, thermometers, probes, etc.

They're just a lot of extra initial set up work, and then I always have the worry that its going to overflow one day if something goes wrong. I like closed loop systems for peace of mind when possible.

There is a new (to me at least) style of overflow that Ive been seeing on reef websites lately, that is supposed to be flood proof. The mame overflow. The intake and outlet are integrated with vacuum lines to the point where water entering the sump self primes the outlet and its impossible to break the siphone and have it overflow.

Something to look into.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 07:24 AM
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They aren't exactly new. New in the US, yes, but they've been around in Japan for a while if I remember correctly. Problem with the mame is noise and lower flow rates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by altiuscitius View Post
That's a reasonable then.

Sumps are awesome for doing easy water changes and holding equipment you don't want in the tank, heaters, thermometers, probes, etc.

They're just a lot of extra initial set up work, and then I always have the worry that its going to overflow one day if something goes wrong. I like closed loop systems for peace of mind when possible.

There is a new (to me at least) style of overflow that Ive been seeing on reef websites lately, that is supposed to be flood proof. The mame overflow. The intake and outlet are integrated with vacuum lines to the point where water entering the sump self primes the outlet and its impossible to break the siphone and have it overflow.

Something to look into.
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
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I am actually thinking of a DIY overflow, such as this:


I have a black background so it should be minimally invasive in terms of decor, and by keeping the pipe near the top I can ensure I don't flood the sump, which will have a good 10+ gallons of empty capacity.
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 07-05-2013, 09:49 AM
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Those actually have the same general problem as the mame if not more. Since they aren't clear you'll never know if it starts clogging, you mess up the measurements something will go wrong, you don't glue it right you'll have a leak, and so on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colin View Post
I am actually thinking of a DIY overflow, such as this:



HOW TO: DIY Aquarium Overflow - YouTube



I have a black background so it should be minimally invasive in terms of decor, and by keeping the pipe near the top I can ensure I don't flood the sump, which will have a good 10+ gallons of empty capacity.
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