DIY sump system for multiple tanks - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 02:27 PM Thread Starter
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DIY sump system for multiple tanks

I decided to consolidate my tanks of like purpose and parameters and eliminate individual fllters to make maintenance easier and to work with a larger, more stable body of water across several tanks.

I picked up a used sump


Rack will be a 3' wide x 16" deep HDX rack from Home Depot. All tanks are CAD Lights ZEN nano tanks, 7G, 5G and 3G

Water will be pulled from tanks using a DIY overflow like this
I think 1/2" PVC is pretty large for my small tanks so I plan to use either 1/2" or 3/4" PEX tubing from Home Depot

Water will be delivered back to the tanks using U-tube returns like this one connected to PVC tubing


I am now designing my rack system, plumbing circuits and flow requirements. I am planning on 2 shelves, so I was thinking of 2 pumps, one per shelf to make maintenance easier. I am considering http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000256ENK/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER which will move 200gph at 8' head height though I won't go that high, a ball valve will be installed on each pump to master-limit flow and individual ball valves on each tank return to trim and fine-tune flow per each tank's needs.

Suction clamps will secure tubes and fixtures to the tanks to keep things flexible vs. making rigid PVC pipes to each tank like the LFS has. I will probably route one manifold to each shelf and thread hose adapters into the manifolds allowing a flex hose to each tank. More on this later or please advise.

Lighting will be installed above each shelf, suspended from shelf above, and these will all be low light tanks so I was thinking of these http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0045LAS3O/ref=ox_sc_act_title_4?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A2L77EE7U53NWQ to keep cost and profile of the lights low.

Basic rack layout will have tanks installed lengthwise, meaning perpendicular to the shelf, so I can fit more tanks per shelf.

Top Shelf: Light weight storage, really just to suspend light from.

Third Shelf: 3 x 3G tanks (12" x 7" x 8"H) with room for a fourth and fith

Second Shelf: 2 x 5G tanks (14" x 8" x 9"H) with room for a third and fourth

First Shelf: 2 x 7G tanks (16" x 10" x 10"H) with room for a third

Lowest Shelf: SUMP (24"W x 14"D x 14"H)

Rack will be secured to the wall at the top and bottom to keep it square and stable. It will be on concrete so I am not concerned about weight on the floor. But the weight of the tanks is a concern at 10# per gallon of water. There will be minimal hardscape in these tanks so that is not a factor.

The rack is rated to hold 1750# but I will have far less than that, I calculate the following
3G shelf (assuming 5 tanks) 150#
5G shelf = (assuming 4 tanks) 200#
7G shelf = (assuming 3 tanks) 210#
Sump = 200#
Total weight is less than 800#

I will update the thread as I go but the obvious questions are:
1) pump size and flow rate needed
2) size of PVC tubing for output to tanks, per shelf
3) any suggestions re equipment listed so far (pump, lights, etc)

I will be building this in my garage to test all aspects before setting up at home so I have time to work things out.

I'd love to hear from anyone with experience building this setup, or who owns a setup like this. I am sure there are plenty of things I have not considered and I don't want to find out the hard way.

Thanks TPT!


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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 03:33 PM
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With all those small tanks, you may want to consider:

http://www.watts.com/pages/_products...s.asp?pid=6654

The valves are pretty much the same size in either tubing size. Lowes and HD carry them, but you may have to go to more than one store for quantities. Shop for price. The price in these box stores is really high. The quick-connect stuff is a snap to work with, and just takes up so much less space than PVC or CPVC.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushkill View Post
With all those small tanks, you may want to consider:

http://www.watts.com/pages/_products...s.asp?pid=6654

The valves are pretty much the same size in either tubing size. Lowes and HD carry them, but you may have to go to more than one store for quantities. Shop for price. The price in these box stores is really high. The quick-connect stuff is a snap to work with, and just takes up so much less space than PVC or CPVC.
Cool, thanks for that link

I was looking at these in-line valves http://www.marinedepot.com/Two_Littl...FTVLBV-vi.html


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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 04:40 PM
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I'd be careful with how you plumb it in case of power loss. I'm mainly worried you would overflow the sump.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 06:27 PM
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I'd be careful with how you plumb it in case of power loss. I'm mainly worried you would overflow the sump.
get an overflow tank/bucket/whatever in case of water loss. of course the issue then is what happens when the power goes back on? gotta pump the water from that back into the system.

complications


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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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I'd be careful with how you plumb it in case of power loss. I'm mainly worried you would overflow the sump.
The sump is the overflow. The tanks will not be drilled on the bottom, they will have U tube pickups that the water drains into. In the event of a power outage or pump failure, the water drains to the level of the pickup tube and stops draining. There is a vent to the atmosphere behind the pickup U that is higher than the top of the U, water cannot pass the height of the elbow. Once the Pickup is primed the power can go out and come back on, the pickup stays primed. Watch the YouTube link I included, it's quite slick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scapegoat View Post
get an overflow tank/bucket/whatever in case of water loss. of course the issue then is what happens when the power goes back on? gotta pump the water from that back into the system.
The sump itself is the overflow. But if it becomes a problem for any reason, I can install one-way flow valves in the pump output piping so the water from the manifolds can't come back to the sump. I can also wire in a switched relay requiring manual start, or use a UPS, or both.


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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 07:43 PM
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I use one 10g for a sump and have two others plumbed to it in sequence. I found it was beneficial to have the return from the pump split so I could regulate the flow. One branch simply returns water to the sump the other returns water to the other tanks. I found that ½ inch pvc restricted the flow too much and so I increased it to ¾. The returns from the pump are still ½ inch. So that is ½ from the pump and ¾ back to the sump.

Restarting this system always takes some adjustment. I am not sure but I think that is because the returns should be even bigger. One other thing is that I am still not very happy with the flow in these tanks. I think I may split the return from the pump and have it dump into each tank instead of having the tanks in sequence soon
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BruceF View Post
I use one 10g for a sump and have two others plumbed to it in sequence. I found it was beneficial to have the return from the pump split so I could regulate the flow. One branch simply returns water to the sump the other returns water to the other tanks. I found that ½ inch pvc restricted the flow too much and so I increased it to ¾. The returns from the pump are still ½ inch. So that is ½ from the pump and ¾ back to the sump.

Restarting this system always takes some adjustment. I am not sure but I think that is because the returns should be even bigger. One other thing is that I am still not very happy with the flow in these tanks. I think I may split the return from the pump and have it dump into each tank instead of having the tanks in sequence soon
This is just the kind of info I am looking for, Bruce, thanks!


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 08:58 PM
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I would drill your display tanks. Any reason for that not being an option?

People are too often merely stating an assumed truth from flawed observation.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 10:55 PM Thread Starter
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I would drill your display tanks. Any reason for that not being an option?
Come over and do it!

I'd rather leave the tanks intact so if my needs change in the future I have viable tanks to repurpose or resell.


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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 11:19 PM
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what happens if one of those overflow pipe gets clogged?
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-17-2014, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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what happens if one of those overflow pipe gets clogged?
I don't anticipate that but I guess it could happen…

I was planning on socking the overflows with sponge pre-filters to keep critters out


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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-18-2014, 03:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by octanejunkie View Post
The sump is the overflow. The tanks will not be drilled on the bottom, they will have U tube pickups that the water drains into. In the event of a power outage or pump failure, the water drains to the level of the pickup tube and stops draining. There is a vent to the atmosphere behind the pickup U that is higher than the top of the U, water cannot pass the height of the elbow. Once the Pickup is primed the power can go out and come back on, the pickup stays primed. Watch the YouTube link I included, it's quite slick.
I understand how it works. I'm just saying you are going to have a bunch of tanks hooked up and each one of those pipes is going to drain to the sump with a loss of power. Depending on the exact lengths and the diameter of the pipes it could be a significant volume of water. You're setting it up in the garage first anyways so it will be easy and safe to test.


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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-18-2014, 12:15 PM
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Cool, thanks for that link

I was looking at these in-line valves http://www.marinedepot.com/Two_Littl...FTVLBV-vi.html
Those valves are really good as well. They really are smooth to operate. But with the barbs on the end, you'll see that they are designed to work with vinyl tubing. That's not a bad thing at all. I'd just suggest that you use black tubing. The clear will get "funky" faster than you think.

The quick connect fittings I suggested aren't perfect. The tubing is pretty stiff and coiled tight. So you have to soak it in hot water and straighten it while it cools or you can use a heat gun. But it just slides right into the fittings and the whole thing at 3/8" tubing and fittings is almost invisible. It may be worth just trying one out to see what you think, since it's at the box stores.

Last suggestion: I re-read the tank list. I can understand why you wouldn't want to drill all those little tanks. They are all made of the window-thickness glass. It won't stand up to any sort of torque whatsoever. Folks that have drilled a lot of tanks specifically shy away from 10G's and smaller for that reason. As a compromise, have you thought about buying a 20L (think Petco $1 sale here) and siliconing in partitions? The glass is twice as thick, and when you factor in all the trim around the 5G's, etc. it may even take up a hair less space than 4 tanks would. And to be honest, would save you a bundle over all the price of all those little tanks. It's nuts really. I've seen 5g's for $15, but I can get a 20L at Petco right now for $20.

A hardware store or box store could cut the partitions to size, a tube of aquarium silicone adds about $10 and a caulking gun and blue 3M painter's tape few $ more.

Just a thought.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-18-2014, 01:10 PM
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I might have missed this point if it was posted above please disregard.

I'm using the heaviest duty rack system I found at HomeDepot @ a rating of 600#s per shelf. I did not trust the pressboard shelfs that came with it and replaced them with 3/4" plywood. I have my 40gl Sump/goldfish tank on the bottom and still got some flex so I had bricks directly under the tank as additional support for the apps. 400#s of weight.

At the least do some stress testing prior to full set up. I would highly recommend using 3/4" plywood as shelf decking.

*** A central system is a great time saver. It becomes even more important to have a Q-tank when you go to central filtration.

Last edited by DogFish; 01-18-2014 at 03:17 PM. Reason: sp
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