Flow and plumbing in ~130 gal "peninsula" tank with sump - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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Question Flow and plumbing in ~130 gal "peninsula" tank with sump

I have been designing a new custom tank with sump, and would appreciate any feedback on the dimensions and drill plan, especially regarding flow. It will be a peninsula layout, although not visible from behind. I would like to have no equipment other than the overflow box and return visible in the tank. Pictures first:

Front:

Top/plan:

End:

In context:

Drawing:


You can also view and download my current 3D model.

The main geometric constraint for this tank is depth. The main walkway through the house is directly in front of the tank, and there's other furniture about six feet away from the wall. The standard two-foot tank depth is definitely too deep; I think I can get away with a 22" deep tank, but it has to be almost flush to the wall. The current tank dimensions are 5 feet long, 22 inches deep, and 24 inches high.

Because the tank is visible from the front and right sides, because I'm tight for depth, and because I want to minimize equipment visibility, I'm planning to place both the overflow and the return on the left side of the tank, with the overflow in back and a single 1" return line drilled in front of it just below the water surface. (Hence "peninsula"; although it's only viewable from two sides, the back is not available for plumbing.) This would, I hope, act a little bit like a traditional canister flow pattern, with the water traveling across the front of the aquarium and then returning at lower velocity through the rest of the aquarium volume.

I'm not married to that layout, but I'd really like to avoid using circulation pumps or having any plumbing on the right side of the tank (tip of the peninsula). I have considered running a closed loop through the bottom of the tank, or using clever siphon breaking techniques to allow sump returns at the bottom of the tank, but I think either option introduces excessive complexity. I'm also planning automatic dosing and water changes; I really would like this build to be as straightforward as possible.

The sump will be a 40b with sock filters and some sponges. The CO2 reactor, UV sterilizer, and any other accessories will be on a separate circuit running to and from the sump. The overflow is currently a Synergy Reef 16" Shadow; it's a little bigger than I need, but I want three drains. I've currently planning to run the return line straight into a 1" bulkhead, with no nozzle to speak of. I will probably fit a stainless steel mesh over the return to prevent anybody climbing in when the pump's off. I also have the capability to 3D print custom nozzles/diffusers. I could also have the return come over the rim, but all the solutions for that I've seen are a bit unsightly, especially since the return will be in a highly visible location. The downside of the no-nozzle bulkhead design is that there's no siphon loop; the tank will drain to the bottom of the bulkhead, rather than just until the nozzle starts gulping air. A two-inch drop will put something like twelve gallons into the sump, which is definitely doable but would require me to keep something like a third of the usable volume of the sump empty.

The return pump will likely be a DC variable-speed pump, either a Jebao or something that I can control with a 0-10V input. For now, let's say that I'll be able to set the overflow/return flow rate to whatever I want.

I generally expect to have some significant hardscape and heavy planting, but with an islands or sloping layout that leaves plenty of open space in the top front and top right (peninsula tip) of the aquarium. I may want to have some emergent growth, which would likely complicate flow patterns.

Fauna hasn't been chosen. My main "bad idea" is to have some rainbowfish mixed in. I say "bad idea" because I really don't want to put a cover or canopy on the tank, and I know they're occasional jumpers. Also, I may end up needing to run the return flow at relatively high velocity, which I understand some 'bows don't like. I currently have the waterline set two inches below the rim in a bid to make it a little harder to jump out. There seem to be different opinions on where to put the waterline in a sumped rimless tank anyway.

This project isn't budget-constrained, within reason; my priorities are (1) reliability, (2) simplicity, and (3) cost. I'm tentatively planning to order the tank and stand from "Custom Aquariums." I'm not a big fan of their black silicone, but otherwise they seem like a good builder.

I plan to post a full tank journal at some point; I also have an interesting but conservative design for an automated water change/dosing system that I'd like to run by the community. For now, I'd really appreciate anyone's thoughts on whether this design is viable, and especially any input on how to choose the dimensions and drill locations!

Here is another link to the 3D model, which is viewable online and downloadable.

Last edited by conklech; 02-17-2019 at 11:16 PM. Reason: update images
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 12:04 AM
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Both Read Sea and Waterbox manufacture peninsula tanks with similar dimentions. Worth checking their designs out.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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I hadn't come across Waterbox; I'll check them out. Thanks!

The Red Sea Reefer Peninsula models look really nice, and a local reef store has a few that look great. But both of them are too deep to fit in the space. The 500L/132gal, at 23.6", is borderline; but it's only 50" long, which I think would look small on that wall, especially with such tall stands. But I've definitely been looking closely at them for inspiration.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 10:41 PM
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Why not run it along the stairway

Bump: What about a deep tank (31") and slop it with plants on the high end only. 48x18x31 would give a really dramatic effect on the end that's viewable.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aku Sakana View Post
Why not run it along the stairway
Because the cat would jump from the stairs into the tank. Also, it wouldn't be visible from the living area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aku Sakana View Post
Bump: What about a deep tank (31") and slop it with plants on the high end only. 48x18x31 would give a really dramatic effect on the end that's viewable.
That's an interesting idea. I'm not sure such a deep rimless tank is possible. Also, maintenance would be more difficult and lighting would be tricky. I'll do a render to see what it'd look like.

I can't fit the return next to the overflow at 18" deep. Here's 48x21x31:



Link to online 3D model

I'll have to think about the taller design. My first reaction is that it's not what I'm going for; there are definitely ways to scape that kind of tank, but I like the lower, wider look.

Also, would a tall tank exacerbate potential circulation/flow issues, especially in the bottom left?

Last edited by Darkblade48; 02-20-2019 at 10:52 PM. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 04:16 PM
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Years ago, I had a 6' 150 set up as a room divider and solved the circulation issue by placing a sump return line out of PVC across the top of the tank, and had it enter the far rear side of tank via a 45* elbow. This was cut off about 1/4" below the normal tank surface, making it essentially invisible from inside the tank.

Now, that was not a planted tank, so lighting interference was not an issue, but I'd think you could run this at the far back of the tank, and not have to worry about it.

The set up worked well to create a circular flow back towards the intake on the opposite side of the tank.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nodim View Post
Years ago, I had a 6' 150 set up as a room divider and solved the circulation issue by placing a sump return line out of PVC across the top of the tank, and had it enter the far rear side of tank via a 45* elbow. This was cut off about 1/4" below the normal tank surface, making it essentially invisible from inside the tank.

Now, that was not a planted tank, so lighting interference was not an issue, but I'd think you could run this at the far back of the tank, and not have to worry about it.

The set up worked well to create a circular flow back towards the intake on the opposite side of the tank.
Interesting. Since it was at 45ļ, it would create a good gyre. Also, the flow at the front of the tank would be right to left (in my orientation), causing fish to generally swim towards the peninsula tip, which seems more correct in my imagination.

Was that your only return?

That's probably a better layout than mine, but without a canopy the return would be visible from above the tank. Maybe I could bend an acrylic tube to form the return? It'd get algae, but it would probably be easy to clean in-place with a pipe brush.

Thanks!
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by conklech View Post
Interesting. Since it was at 45ļ, it would create a good gyre. Also, the flow at the front of the tank would be right to left (in my orientation), causing fish to generally swim towards the peninsula tip, which seems more correct in my imagination.

Was that your only return?

That's probably a better layout than mine, but without a canopy the return would be visible from above the tank. Maybe I could bend an acrylic tube to form the return? It'd get algae, but it would probably be easy to clean in-place with a pipe brush.

Thanks!
I did not have a canopy either, but the visual of the PVC did not bother me one bit, and I'm not sure anyone ever commented on it. Since it is not inside the tank, you might think about painting the PVC either black to disappear, or the color of the wall behind it. Either way would reduce the visual "impurity" of the pipe!

It was not the only return - the tank also ran a medium canister which returned at the end where the intake was and pointed across the top, (towards the end where the PVC tube entered) which somewhat helped that gyre effect you mention.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nodim View Post
I did not have a canopy either, but the visual of the PVC did not bother me one bit, and I'm not sure anyone ever commented on it. Since it is not inside the tank, you might think about painting the PVC either black to disappear, or the color of the wall behind it. Either way would reduce the visual "impurity" of the pipe!

It was not the only return - the tank also ran a medium canister which returned at the end where the intake was and pointed across the top, (towards the end where the PVC tube entered) which somewhat helped that gyre effect you mention.
These are good ideas. Perhaps I will move the overflow to the center of the left side, and plan to run returns over the edge one way or another.

It doesn't look like I can readily find fittings for acrylic tubing, so perhaps white PVC will work, matching the wall behind. I wonder how closely I could match the color. I could run it along the wall just behind the rim, and then bend it forward over the rim and down to the waterline. And I could have another return tucked just behind the overflow.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2019, 07:44 PM
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Couple of issues with tall tank: maintenance at substrate level and PAR if you are aiming for high tech.

@Greggz is our in house Rainbow specialist - he has a very detailed journal


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