Sump or Canister Filter - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-27-2020, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Sump or Canister Filter

I am in the process of setting up a 48, 90 gallon high tech planted tank. I have the opportunity to get the tank in a drilled version to set up a sump system. I have never owned a sump so I thought Id reach out to the community for your thoughts. Here are some of the thing I am wondering:

1- How easy is to maintain sumps? I find cleaning canister filters and the associated hoses a major chore and so they often get extremely dirty. My LFS said that sumps are much easier to clean. No need to clean the plumbing and everything In the sump is easy to access. Is that your experience? This is the main reason I am considering a sump.

2- What about CO2? Is there any issue with CO2 - beyond the fact that Id expect to have to dose more due to larger surface area, which is not a problem for me.

3 - I have lots oh nano fish - tetras, raspboras etc. - and shrimp. Will the overflow be an issue with them getting sucked into the sump. If it is a problem are there any solutions without reducing the flow from the drain. One person suggested using plastic or stainless steel mesh on the weir which sounded like a good idea. Any other suggestions?

4- Anything else?

Thanks everyone for your input.
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post #2 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-27-2020, 08:42 PM
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One thing you do need to do is use an auto top off system. As a sump requires a constant water level to work properly.
I have used them for 30 years on reef systems. You have to clean the mechanical filter regularly. As it can cause three water level in the sump to change.
As with all things there are trade offs.
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post #3 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-27-2020, 09:01 PM
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Regarding nano fish and shrimp, they certainly can take a trip to the sump! I have a filter sock which will catch any joy-riders. Some fish take a ride or two then seem to figure it out and aren't caught anymore. Otos in my case fall into that category. Amano shrimp seem to be constantly getting into the sump. I try to look in the filter sock every two or three days but I have lost shrimp to this. Some folks fashion a pre-filter out of mesh but this can reduce your flow and it will need to be maintained.
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post #4 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-27-2020, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdWiser View Post
One thing you do need to do is use an auto top off system. As a sump requires a constant water level to work properly.
I have used them for 30 years on reef systems. You have to clean the mechanical filter regularly. As it can cause three water level in the sump to change.
As with all things there are trade offs.
Thanks. Yes you are right about the top off. I already have a 20 gallon rodi container - I use mineralized rodi water - so I should be able to set that up from the Container. When you say mechanical filter, do you mean the filter socks? If so, I see what you mean. I was hoping to use floss in the sock and replace the floss every couple of days, which I hope is manageable given how easy it is to access - but it may be a case of "the grass is greener".

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Originally Posted by billb View Post
Regarding nano fish and shrimp, they certainly can take a trip to the sump! I have a filter sock which will catch any joy-riders. Some fish take a ride or two then seem to figure it out and aren't caught anymore. Otos in my case fall into that category. Amano shrimp seem to be constantly getting into the sump. I try to look in the filter sock every two or three days but I have lost shrimp to this. Some folks fashion a pre-filter out of mesh but this can reduce your flow and it will need to be maintained.
Thanks. These are indeed the two I have had problems with even with the canister filter. I use a skimmer type intake on my canister, and I had to put a mesh on the skimmer since I kept of digging out dead ottos and amano from the canister at the time of cleaning. Who knows how many had disintegrated between cleanings.
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post #5 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 02:29 PM
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I am a fan of sumps when possible. Regarding the ATO for planted tanks, it depends on the design of the sump. Evaporation on FW is far less relevant that SW. SW changes salinity with evaporation. FW just increases the concentration of nutrients, normally by a nominal level. The most important thing is making sure your pump doesn't run dry. If your return section is a few gallons, this may be days or a week for it to run dry. For my sump on my 180, I have a 75 gallon sump. The pump is sectioned off with mattenfilter, so it has access to 50 gallons or so. It would take over a month to run dry. The downside would be if the overflow clogs, the display can overfill and flood. With a beananimal style overflow, this is not a concern.

There are some pictures in my build thread if you are interested in some DIY ideas.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...pic-heavy.html

Regarding the OG questions
1- Sumps can be as easy or simple to maintain as you want. It is mainly dependent on the design and how much crap you put down there. In FW, this is less of an issue as you wont have a protein skimmer taking space. Most people also do not run many or any reactors or algae scrubbers or....excess equipment. Additionally, stand design will effect ease of maintenance. If you have a sump under the tank and the stand it short, it may be difficult to access the filter. This will be the same issue with a canister, but just something to consider.

2- This is again dependent on the design. For instance, if your drains are above the sump waterline or are not tuned properly (gate valves are the way to go), this will create a ton of surface agitation gassing off co2. Drain lines should sit around 1 inch under the water surface

3-Nanofish will make it into the sump. Depending on design, this may or may not be an issue. If there is a lower flow section, they will make it there and be fine. One major benefit of this is if you have fry, they will make it down there and it is a sanctuary where they will not be eaten. Until I added foam to my canister intake, I would commonly find shrimp in there and occasionally a nano fish fry. They are less likely to live in a canister than a sump.
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post #6 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 03:49 PM
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As someone who setup their first sump system recently I enjoyed it very much. There is definitely a learning curve, it's not plug-and-play like a canister. But I found it very interesting and am enjoying the learning and experimentation. I like the additional water volume and customization/configuration options. I also like how open and accessible everything is. Need to rinse the coarse mechanical sponge? No problem. Where with my canister I'm like ehh do I really feel like disconnecting it and opening it up. It's not a huge difference, but I do feel like the sump is slightly better here.

I haven't had any issues with evaporation screwing up the water level. I've found it to be pretty tolerant in that regard actually. I did have one instance of level going low in the sump, but that was due to feed into sump getting backed up.

Overall if you want something that's going to be plug and play probably go with the canister. But if you are looking for a learning experience, and ability to customize and optimize the sump is the way to go.
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post #7 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 07:43 PM
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In my opinion a sump is neither harder nor easier to maintain than a canister filter... it all depends on the design of the sump! When I design a sump I look at each piece of it from a maintenance point of view. I specifically design a sump so that I can maintain it easily. So for me my sumps are MUCH easier to maintain than the wide variety of canister filters I have owned. On the flip side I have seen sumps with such complex designs that maintenance would be a nightmare!

Mechanical media needs to be removed, rinsed and replaced on a regular basis. Design your sump so this is an easy quick task and I think you will find that you are likely to do this more often which should make for healthier and happier fish!

In one of my tanks I have guppies with the associated numerous guppy fry. I use a very coarse sponge filter in front of the overflow to keep the fry from going down the overflow. This sponge is the most maintained piece of my tank as it cakes up with debris pretty quick. It is VERY easy to pull the sponge, rinse it and replace it. I also have a second layer of the same sponge INSIDE the overflow. When I pull the outside piece of sponge I don't have to worry about the fry going into the overflow because of the second piece of sponge. I usually pull the outside sponge, clean it, replace it, then do the same for the inside sponge. I usually do this once a week because the tank level rises when the coarse sponge starts to clog. If both the outside and inside sponge clog the tank water rises over the top of both of them and goes down the overflow before the tank level gets too high and causes a flood.
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Last edited by Oughtsix; 09-28-2020 at 07:55 PM. Reason: ex
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post #8 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarlindescent View Post
I am a fan of sumps when possible. Regarding the ATO for planted tanks, it depends on the design of the sump. Evaporation on FW is far less relevant that SW. SW changes salinity with evaporation. FW just increases the concentration of nutrients, normally by a nominal level. The most important thing is making sure your pump doesn't run dry. If your return section is a few gallons, this may be days or a week for it to run dry. For my sump on my 180, I have a 75 gallon sump. The pump is sectioned off with mattenfilter, so it has access to 50 gallons or so. It would take over a month to run dry. The downside would be if the overflow clogs, the display can overfill and flood. With a beananimal style overflow, this is not a concern.

There are some pictures in my build thread if you are interested in some DIY ideas.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...pic-heavy.html

Regarding the OG questions
1- Sumps can be as easy or simple to maintain as you want. It is mainly dependent on the design and how much crap you put down there. In FW, this is less of an issue as you wont have a protein skimmer taking space. Most people also do not run many or any reactors or algae scrubbers or....excess equipment. Additionally, stand design will effect ease of maintenance. If you have a sump under the tank and the stand it short, it may be difficult to access the filter. This will be the same issue with a canister, but just something to consider.

2- This is again dependent on the design. For instance, if your drains are above the sump waterline or are not tuned properly (gate valves are the way to go), this will create a ton of surface agitation gassing off co2. Drain lines should sit around 1 inch under the water surface

3-Nanofish will make it into the sump. Depending on design, this may or may not be an issue. If there is a lower flow section, they will make it there and be fine. One major benefit of this is if you have fry, they will make it down there and it is a sanctuary where they will not be eaten. Until I added foam to my canister intake, I would commonly find shrimp in there and occasionally a nano fish fry. They are less likely to live in a canister than a sump.
Thanks. This is very helpful. Ill make sure my drain does not cause a lot of turbulence to minimize CO2 loss. Also appreciate the Bean Animal overflow suggestion for dealing with a clogged drain. Does Herbie style overflow have the same advantage?

I look forward to checking out your build thread tonight, after work.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oughtsix View Post
In my opinion a sump is neither harder nor easier to maintain than a canister filter... it all depends on the design of the sump! When I design a sump I look at each piece of it from a maintenance point of view. I specifically design a sump so that I can maintain it easily. So for me my sumps are MUCH easier to maintain than the wide variety of canister filters I have owned. On the flip side I have seen sumps with such complex designs that maintenance would be a nightmare!

Mechanical media needs to be removed, rinsed and replaced on a regular basis. Design your sump so this is an easy quick task and I think you will find that you are likely to do this more often which should make for healthier and happier fish!
Thanks for your reply. I am new to sumps. Any design tips for prioritizing ease of maintenance would be welcome. Do you have a post about your sump?

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by simplechamp View Post
As someone who setup their first sump system recently I enjoyed it very much. There is definitely a learning curve, it's not plug-and-play like a canister. But I found it very interesting and am enjoying the learning and experimentation. I like the additional water volume and customization/configuration options. I also like how open and accessible everything is. Need to rinse the coarse mechanical sponge? No problem. Where with my canister I'm like ehh do I really feel like disconnecting it and opening it up. It's not a huge difference, but I do feel like the sump is slightly better here.

I haven't had any issues with evaporation screwing up the water level. I've found it to be pretty tolerant in that regard actually. I did have one instance of level going low in the sump, but that was due to feed into sump getting backed up.

Overall if you want something that's going to be plug and play probably go with the canister. But if you are looking for a learning experience, and ability to customize and optimize the sump is the way to go.
Thanks. I feel exactly the same way about opening up my canister - plus I also worry as to how much effort itll be to get the siphon going - every now and then it is a bear.

I do like tinkering though, so I hope itd be fun for me as well.

Last edited by Sordbodan; 09-28-2020 at 08:02 PM. Reason: Removed double reply
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post #9 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 08:32 PM
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My overflow. A piece of 2" PVC pipe. It has been running for 5 years without any issues.

My very dirty overflow in need of a cleaning:
Click image for larger version

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Pull the outside sponge and rinse:
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Replace the outside sponge and pull the inside sponge then rinse:
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This is what my overflow looks like with both sponges removed and the return pump turned off:
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ID:	903505

This is the sump. About $60 off ebay and perfect for my 35g tank. I lift the lid, pull the filter matt, wash it then replace it all without turning off the pump:
Click image for larger version

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Maintenance time is about 3 minutes.

About every month or two I will pull the fine sponge filter under the bio balls and wash it. Due to the design of this commercial sump this is MUCH more of a hassle than it should be!

For those wondering this tank is in my living room and this very simple overflow on my 35g tank is perfectly quiet. The fans on the lights are louder than the overflow.




Here is the sump I am building for my new 180g planted tank:
Click image for larger version

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Last edited by Oughtsix; 09-28-2020 at 09:49 PM. Reason: added info
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post #10 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 10:20 PM
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On a large tank, the draw for me to a sump would be the ability to run the Co2 reactor on a dedicated pump to get optimal diffusion, without cluttering up the tank with equipment or slowing down the filter outflow.
Another draw is the filter media capacity versus a canister filter, being able to run through a prefilter into a range of sponge mesh sizes along with a good amount of biological filter media and chemical media if needed is really appealing.
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post #11 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-28-2020, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oughtsix View Post
My overflow. A piece of 2" PVC pipe. It has been running for 5 years without any issues.

My very dirty overflow in need of a cleaning:
Attachment 903497

Pull the outside sponge and rinse:
Attachment 903499

Attachment 903513


Replace the outside sponge and pull the inside sponge then rinse:
Attachment 903501

Attachment 903503

This is what my overflow looks like with both sponges removed and the return pump turned off:
Attachment 903505

This is the sump. About $60 off ebay and perfect for my 35g tank. I lift the lid, pull the filter matt, wash it then replace it all without turning off the pump:
Attachment 903507


Maintenance time is about 3 minutes.

About every month or two I will pull the fine sponge filter under the bio balls and wash it. Due to the design of this commercial sump this is MUCH more of a hassle than it should be!

For those wondering this tank is in my living room and this very simple overflow on my 35g tank is perfectly quiet. The fans on the lights are louder than the overflow.




Here is the sump I am building for my new 180g planted tank:
Attachment 903509

Attachment 903511
Thanks for sharing. Great re the overflow. It makes sense. Your new sump for 180G looks interesting. What is the canister doing? It looks like it is connected to the sump.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quesenek View Post
On a large tank, the draw for me to a sump would be the ability to run the Co2 reactor on a dedicated pump to get optimal diffusion, without cluttering up the tank with equipment or slowing down the filter outflow.
Another draw is the filter media capacity versus a canister filter, being able to run through a prefilter into a range of sponge mesh sizes along with a good amount of biological filter media and chemical media if needed is really appealing.
Thanks for posting this. Good information. I had never thought of a CO2 reactor. Ill look into that.
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post #12 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 02:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Sordbodan View Post
Thanks for sharing. Great re the overflow. It makes sense. Your new sump for 180G looks interesting. What is the canister doing? It looks like it is connected to the sump.
The canister is a Hayward EC40 Diatomatious Earth pool filter. It is like the old Diatom XL filters supersized and I will be running it full time. DE filters can trap particles so small they can even filter out disease causing bacteria and viruses. All of the return water from the sump will go through the DE filter for a final polishing before returning to the tank.

Here is a link to a thread that better explains it if you are intersested: https://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/f...filter.434493/



The sump for the 180g is plumbed into the house plumbing and will do auto water changes. Water in the right compartment of the sump will be pumped down the drain which will cause the water level in the left compartment to lower opening the float valve refilling the left compartment with fresh water. I am using a temperature compensating valve in front of the float valve so the incoming water will be tank temperature. Since I am on well water I am lucky to not have to worry about chlorine.

Easy maintenance and laziness are my goal: https://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/f...-build.714316/

Last edited by Oughtsix; 09-29-2020 at 02:32 AM. Reason: added info
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post #13 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 03:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oughtsix View Post
The canister is a Hayward EC40 Diatomatious Earth pool filter. It is like the old Diatom XL filters supersized and I will be running it full time. DE filters can trap particles so small they can even filter out disease causing bacteria and viruses. All of the return water from the sump will go through the DE filter for a final polishing before returning to the tank.

Here is a link to a thread that better explains it if you are intersested: https://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/f...filter.434493/



The sump for the 180g is plumbed into the house plumbing and will do auto water changes. Water in the right compartment of the sump will be pumped down the drain which will cause the water level in the left compartment to lower opening the float valve refilling the left compartment with fresh water. I am using a temperature compensating valve in front of the float valve so the incoming water will be tank temperature. Since I am on well water I am lucky to not have to worry about chlorine.

Easy maintenance and laziness are my goal: https://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/f...-build.714316/
The DE filter is actually a really cool idea, it's definitely going on the list if I ever find myself in a situation where I implement a sump.
For the charging process how will you do it with what seems like hardline fittings, and in your past experience what happens when the power goes out and pressure drops?
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post #14 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 11:48 AM
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Easy maintenance and laziness are my goal: https://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/f...-build.714316/
Wow! Epic build!

You may have to amortize all of the build effort over many years to get to EASY :-)

A great read...
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Last edited by mourip; 09-29-2020 at 12:26 PM. Reason: wording
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post #15 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-29-2020, 03:28 PM
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With an over flow the water level can only drop a couple of inches. Before it stops working. So a ATO is required.
Any tank with a skimmer over flow requires a ATO.
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