Sump water level question... - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Sump water level question...

I am thinking about building a sump for my new 75g, which would involve drilling the tank.

Is it possible to have the water level in the main tank above the level of the outflow? If not, that means the water level would never reach the bezel.


If water level can be above the outflow hole, then what is ideal level?


Please advise.


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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 06:38 PM
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You would most likely be drilling the back of the tank and have to build an overflow box inside the tank. The 1st photo I've attached you can see the black overflow box inside the tank and the 3 PVC drain pipes running down the back of the tank. The 2nd photo I've attached shows the bulkhead fittings when I had to re-attach the overflow box a few weeks back. The 3rd photo shows the overflow box installed while I was building the background.

The slits on the overflow box control the height of the water inside the display tank and can be higher than the elevation of the bulkhead fittings on the back of the tank. If you go on bulk reef supply or other websites you can find pre-fab overflow boxed that you'd silicone into your tank. I have 90 deg street-elbows on my bulkheads pointed down into the overflow box, this way the drain inlet is fully submerged.

When I shut down my pump for feeding the water line is maybe 1" below the top trim of the tank.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 06:47 PM
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To the best of my knowledge, the water level will be above the bottom of the overflow teeth. It cannot be above the top of the overflow teeth since that means the overflow is not draining quickly enough an the top tank will flood. The water level between the top and bottom of the overflow teeth is dependent on the amount of flow from the return pump. If the return pump is pumping 100gph and your overflow is rated at 1600, the water will trickle over the bottom of the teeth an not raise the water level. If the return pump is pumping lets say 1500gph and your overflow is rated at 1600, the water level should be at the top of the teeth.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by ChrisX View Post
I am thinking about building a sump for my new 75g, which would involve drilling the tank.

Is it possible to have the water level in the main tank above the level of the outflow? If not, that means the water level would never reach the bezel.


If water level can be above the outflow hole, then what is ideal level?


Please advise.

There are a lot of different variable that could come into play. But the short answer is "no", the water level in the main tank really cant be higher than the level of the outflow (not by much anyway).

But there are ways to combat this depending on how you plan to set everything up. There are lots of different DIY ways to plumb a sump, as well as options right off the shelf with premade kits of overflow boxes, etc.

Or, The simple way would be to drill a hole, install a bulkhead and use an elbow and some pvc to make a standpipe that you can adjust to whatever height you'd like. But since this method doesnt really use any sort of overflow box or anything its not the greatest idea to use with a sump and a return pump. It's likely to be noisy and difficult to tune the flow perfectly.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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There are a lot of different variable that could come into play. But the short answer is "no", the water level in the main tank really cant be higher than the level of the outflow (not by much anyway).

But there are ways to combat this depending on how you plan to set everything up. There are lots of different DIY ways to plumb a sump, as well as options right off the shelf with premade kits of overflow boxes, etc.

Or, The simple way would be to drill a hole, install a bulkhead and use an elbow and some pvc to make a standpipe that you can adjust to whatever height you'd like. But since this method doesnt really use any sort of overflow box or anything its not the greatest idea to use with a sump and a return pump. It's likely to be noisy and difficult to tune the flow perfectly.
Is it true then, that a sump usually means water level below the bezel?

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Originally Posted by Bratmanxj View Post
You would most likely be drilling the back of the tank and have to build an overflow box inside the tank. The 1st photo I've attached you can see the black overflow box inside the tank and the 3 PVC drain pipes running down the back of the tank. The 2nd photo I've attached shows the bulkhead fittings when I had to re-attach the overflow box a few weeks back. The 3rd photo shows the overflow box installed while I was building the background.

The slits on the overflow box control the height of the water inside the display tank and can be higher than the elevation of the bulkhead fittings on the back of the tank. If you go on bulk reef supply or other websites you can find pre-fab overflow boxed that you'd silicone into your tank. I have 90 deg street-elbows on my bulkheads pointed down into the overflow box, this way the drain inlet is fully submerged.

When I shut down my pump for feeding the water line is maybe 1" below the top trim of the tank.
I get it now, ty! I thought that overflow boxes were used instead of drilling. Now I see they are used together.


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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 07:45 PM
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Is it true then, that a sump usually means water level below the bezel?
No it doesnt have to be.



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I get it now, ty! I thought that overflow boxes were used instead of drilling. Now I see they are used together.

There used to be at least one overflow box that did not require you drill the tank actually. But 99% of the time if you're trying to use a sump you need to have a hole somewhere in the tank no matter what method you use to bring water from the display to the sump.

Sounds like you're going to want to look at some of the various options. You might want to search for things like durso, bean animal, or herbie to see the typical ways people set these up. There are also plenty of options right out of the box from places like https://www.glass-holes.com/

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 07:58 PM
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First off, what is a "bezel" ... Ah the trim! Ok, that makes more sense. One my 150, My overflow is installed such that the water line is above the bottom of trim. Having the sump is very nice because the water line in the tank never changes.

There are two kinds of overflows.

One is your normal "drilled tank" overflow that is generally siliconed into place. This style is just about impossible to have the water level get too high, as long as your plumbing size is correct.

The other style is a "hang on back" or external overflow. Usually, this requires a small pump like a Tom's Aqualifter or powerhead venturi to ensure constant siphon. If you do not include this small pump and the siphon is broken due to air collecting in the hob riser, the tank can overflow.

This is a photo of a HOB overflow with siphon break pump.


This is a photo of a HOB overflow without siphon break pump.
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Last edited by vanish; 03-20-2018 at 08:00 PM. Reason: Add photo
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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Am I correct that a sump could cost less than even a budget canister?

Lets say a canister for a 75G tank costs $100.

Sump would be a 20g high tank (dpg sale). $20
Three or four pieces of glass (home depot, cut to size from larger piece..) $20 (?)
Diamond hole bit for drilling $15
Bulk Head $10
Hoses $ 5
Pump $25
DIY overflow box $5
-----------
$100

Besides media, what am I missing?


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 01:45 AM
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Originally Posted by vanish View Post

This is a photo of a HOB overflow with siphon break pump.


This is a photo of a HOB overflow without siphon break pump.
I tried both the CPR and Eshopps overflow boxes and could not keep them running quiet. If you're still in the planning stages and have the ability to drill the tank for a bulkhead it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. With that I run a BeAnAnimal 3-pipe overflow with 1" PVC and have run 800 gph with my Africans and now down to 300 gph with my South Americans with a minor adjustment to the gate valve. I could probably run about 1200 gph max. The system is so flexible and SILENT!

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Am I correct that a sump could cost less than even a budget canister?

Lets say a canister for a 75G tank costs $100.

Sump would be a 20g high tank (dpg sale). $20
Three or four pieces of glass (home depot, cut to size from larger piece..) $20 (?)
Diamond hole bit for drilling $15
Bulk Head $10
Hoses $ 5
Pump $25
DIY overflow box $5
-----------
$100

Besides media, what am I missing?
For fresh water I think you might be greatly overthinking how to setup your sump. My 75g tank is running a 20g as a sump. ALL of my filtration is handled by 3 sheets of Porret Foam. The foam sheets are 2" thick and 12" x 12" square so they fit inside a 20g tank. They are 10 pore-per-inch coarse, 20 ppi medium, 30 ppi fine in that order. I take out 1 sheet every 6 mo and rinse it out, that is it for my maintenance. I still keep 2/3 of my biological filtration going.

The reason for baffles in a saltwater tank is to force out the micro-bubbles, but in a freshwater tank its not as much of an issue. I don't run any other media like carbon, purigen, etc. I've had this tank running like this for 3 years with healthy and stable African Cichlids, I just recently switched to South Americans.

One of the best ideas you can add to your tank if its possible is an automatic water change system. My sump has a bulkhead drilled in it with a 3/4" hose running into the wall and down to my basement slop sink. I have a 1/4" tap on the fresh water supply to the house (like you'd hook up a fridge/ice maker) with a valve set for a slow drip. My running volume is about 90g total (tank & sump) and the system changes out about 5 gallons per day. I vac the tank & sump once a month, about 5 gallons total...makes life so much easier!
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 02:31 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Bratmanxj View Post
I tried both the CPR and Eshopps overflow boxes and could not keep them running quiet. If you're still in the planning stages and have the ability to drill the tank for a bulkhead it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. With that I run a BeAnAnimal 3-pipe overflow with 1" PVC and have run 800 gph with my Africans and now down to 300 gph with my South Americans with a minor adjustment to the gate valve. I could probably run about 1200 gph max. The system is so flexible and SILENT!



For fresh water I think you might be greatly overthinking how to setup your sump. My 75g tank is running a 20g as a sump. ALL of my filtration is handled by 3 sheets of Porret Foam. The foam sheets are 2" thick and 12" x 12" square so they fit inside a 20g tank. They are 10 pore-per-inch coarse, 20 ppi medium, 30 ppi fine in that order. I take out 1 sheet every 6 mo and rinse it out, that is it for my maintenance. I still keep 2/3 of my biological filtration going.

The reason for baffles in a saltwater tank is to force out the micro-bubbles, but in a freshwater tank its not as much of an issue. I don't run any other media like carbon, purigen, etc. I've had this tank running like this for 3 years with healthy and stable African Cichlids, I just recently switched to South Americans.

One of the best ideas you can add to your tank if its possible is an automatic water change system. My sump has a bulkhead drilled in it with a 3/4" hose running into the wall and down to my basement slop sink. I have a 1/4" tap on the fresh water supply to the house (like you'd hook up a fridge/ice maker) with a valve set for a slow drip. My running volume is about 90g total (tank & sump) and the system changes out about 5 gallons per day. I vac the tank & sump once a month, about 5 gallons total...makes life so much easier!

How do you deal with chlorine from the tap?


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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 03:07 AM
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How do you deal with chlorine from the tap?
If your town uses Chlorine (like mine) it off-gasses in 24 hours. If you town uses chloramine then you need to use a conditioner.

So 4 gallons diluted in my 90g running volume plus the aeration action of the overflow/return & large media volume of my filter material...it hasn't affected the fish in any way over the past few years.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 03:38 AM
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You can get a dead silent setup with a HOB overflow as well as long as you use one that has two drains. I use a overflow box similar to the Eshopps pf-1200 rate for 150-200g on my 53g rimless running a herbie drain. It's best if you drill but with a HOB you can set the waterline since the overflow box can be adjusted up or down. A drill one cannot once you silicone it the only way to adjust the water level is to remove it and silicone it back.


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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 03:43 AM
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You can get a dead silent setup with a HOB overflow as well as long as you use one that has two drains. I use a overflow box similar to the Eshopps pf-1200 rate for 150-200g on my 53g rimless running a herbie drain. It's best if you drill but with a HOB you can set the waterline since the overflow box can be adjusted up or down. A drill one cannot once you silicone it the only way to adjust the water level is to remove it and silicone it back.
Did you make "mufflers" for the drains? I could get mine to run for a few days, maybe a week before it would start to gurgle.

75g that has rolled through various incarnations over the years...
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 03:52 AM
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Did you make "mufflers" for the drains? I could get mine to run for a few days, maybe a week before it would start to gurgle.
I never even use the pipes that it came with for the eternal box, I just "modified" it like any other herbie drain, stuck in a long pipe as the emergency, the main drain is just the bulkhead hole without any pipes. I hard piped everything and added a gate valve.





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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 03:57 PM
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I never even use the pipes that it came with for the eternal box, I just "modified" it like any other herbie drain, stuck in a long pipe as the emergency, the main drain is just the bulkhead hole without any pipes. I hard piped everything and added a gate valve.
Its been 5-6 yrs since I plumbed mine and had to go back and re-learn the different drain types.
You have your Hurbie set up with one close-flow pipe (not open to air when running) and one overflow pipe?
How quickly does it "balance" after pump startup?
How hard is it to tune for different flows?
What size pipe?
What is your typical flow?

What I like about the BeAnAnimal is it adds a 3rd open-flow pipe that can self adjust (within a certain range) silently. You tune the closed-flow pipe with the gate valve, but I can still adjust my DC return pump 1-2 steps without changing the gate valve. Its great when you need to blast a bit of debris out the the tank and set the pump higher for 10-15 min. I can hit the feed timer on my pump and when it kicks back in it takes less than 2 min to "balance" back to silent flow.

75g that has rolled through various incarnations over the years...
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