Linking two tanks together? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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Linking two tanks together?

Hey there,
I was interested in trying to link my 20 and 5.5 gallon together. I have the 20 gallon setup and have an empty 5.5 gallon. I was wondering if I could build an overflow for the 20 gallon and set the 5.5 as a sort of sump. Only thing is I wouldn't be using it as a filter. I would like to put nano fish or shrimp in it. Just wondering if anyone has done this. I could plant both heavily. I'm trying to save on electricity. I have noticed a serious increase in my electric bill since I came down with MTS. I have a 55 gallon Mbuna tank, 29 gallon shell dweller tank, a planted 20 long with rams and tetras, a 20 high that is empty but cycling, a 10 gallon planted dwarf puffer tank, and the empty 5.5. The 5.5 will fit right on a self below the 20 high and I would love to link them together. The plan is to have all the equipment besides the return pump obviously in the 20. The filter is a sun sun 302 canister so it is plenty capable of filtering 5 extra gallons of water and the heater is easily capable of handling 25 total gallons of water. Is this possible? Anyone out there do this. I've done lots of searching and can't seem to find anything about this, besides the normal sump filter setup. I really don't need extra filtration, I'm just looking to link two tanks together to save energy. Sorry this is so long winded. I was just researching sumps, because I'm not really familiar with them, and this idea came to me. It looks as all I would need would be a small return pump, some PVC pipe, tubing, and PVC glue. Just wondering if this could work and if anyone could recommend a small return pump for the 5.5 that wouldn't take up the whole tank.

Thanks, Matt.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 11:43 AM
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Yes, this could be done, woudl basically be a planted sump. I often keep extra critters in the sump of my 150g until I have a more permanent home for them. Look into adding a drip tray to the top of your 5.5g to avoid splashing from the overflow.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 01:11 PM
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The same plumbing concepts work, no matter what you do in the sump.
Would your 5.5 be at the same elevation as the 20? (Such as next to it on the same shelf)?
It will still flow just fine (top of 5.5 is lower than the top of the 20).

Some sort of baffle so the incoming water does not tear up whatever you do in the 5.5, though if they are at the same level the flow will be gentler than a sump that is in the stand below a tank.

Tabletop fountain pumps might be the way to return the water to the 20 gallon, if they are at the same or similar elevation (ie: sitting next to each other). These pumps will not do much with too high a head, though. I have used them in a tank when the HOB filter is dying, and they will work that much, almost no head. I have also used them to make a water fall in a riparium (about 6" above the water level, running a spray bar the full length of the tank) I think these little pumps are rated at about 60 gph with no head. Probably half that with as little as 1' of head.
The next size up of pump (around 100 gph) might be better if the 5.5 is at all lower than the 20. Maybe have to go even bigger if the 5.5 is on a shelf under the 20. This is starting to take up a lot of room in the tank, though.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-20-2015, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diana View Post
The same plumbing concepts work, no matter what you do in the sump.
Would your 5.5 be at the same elevation as the 20? (Such as next to it on the same shelf)?
It will still flow just fine (top of 5.5 is lower than the top of the 20).

Some sort of baffle so the incoming water does not tear up whatever you do in the 5.5, though if they are at the same level the flow will be gentler than a sump that is in the stand below a tank.

Tabletop fountain pumps might be the way to return the water to the 20 gallon, if they are at the same or similar elevation (ie: sitting next to each other). These pumps will not do much with too high a head, though. I have used them in a tank when the HOB filter is dying, and they will work that much, almost no head. I have also used them to make a water fall in a riparium (about 6" above the water level, running a spray bar the full length of the tank) I think these little pumps are rated at about 60 gph with no head. Probably half that with as little as 1' of head.
The next size up of pump (around 100 gph) might be better if the 5.5 is at all lower than the 20. Maybe have to go even bigger if the 5.5 is on a shelf under the 20. This is starting to take up a lot of room in the tank, though.
Even if it were at the same height it would still flow. The water level in the two tanks will be at the same level also. Until you turn the pump on. Being at the same height might not be a bad idea to prevent a potential water disaster.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 08:52 AM
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If the water level in the two tanks is identical...

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately the 5.5 has to sit about 20 inches below the 20 gallon. I'm trying to figure out the safest and cheapest way to do this. I was thinking I would by an adjustable pump that I know could handle the flow and just turn it down if need be. Would an inline pump work? That way, the pump wouldn't have to sit in the 5.5 gallon. Anybody know of an affordable inline pump that is adjustable? Thanks for the help.

Matt.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 03:15 PM
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but .. if you're running a pump, wouldn't that use as much power as a filter? I mean, there's plenty justifications of joining tanks .. "saving power" might not exactly be one of them.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 03:56 PM
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An inline pump would basically be an external pump such as is used in sumps. A hole is drilled in the side of the sump and using a bulkhead the pump is attached to the lower tank. Leaking is an issue, slow cost pumps aren't set up to be water tight. Heat is an issue, a pump in air might have a shorter life span if water isn't cooling it constantly. And of course drilling the thin glass of a 5.5 gallon tank and having a bulkhead with pump attached to it sounds risky.

Or you could have a really odd set up where the pump is in the top tank discharging there but the intake has the plumbing going to the lower tank. I have never read about doing this! I suspect it would fail because pumps are designed to push water rather than pull it.

Other than using just one heater for both systems you won't save any energy. HOB and canister filters use less power than water pumps. A sunsun HOB pumping 90gph uses all of 3 watts for instance.


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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 08:46 PM
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That 5.5 will make a great quarantine tank.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-21-2015, 09:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ipkiss View Post
but .. if you're running a pump, wouldn't that use as much power as a filter? I mean, there's plenty justifications of joining tanks .. "saving power" might not exactly be one of them.
Lol, unfortunately you are correct. Im just going to leave it empty for now. I'll use it if I need to. Thanks for the input all.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 07:54 PM
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I had a similar idea for a 10 gallon tank I wanted to use for shrimp. My 75 gallon was connected to a sump tank so that is the main reason it worked out well for me. I split the return line from the sump to go about 95% to the 75 and 5% to the shrimp. Then I made a separate over flow (extremely simple - youtube DIY overflow) and fed it back into the sump. By doing this I added a second tank to my system without needing to buy any more pumps, heaters etc. I also had the idea of just making a siphon leading from my 75 to the 10 rather than splitting the return line. This would have worked because the 10 gallon was below the 75 and also above the sump. Here is a picture of the system.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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That is very much what I had in mind. I'm going to add a sump to my mbuna tank, maybe I'll link in another tank. Thanks for idea.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 03:04 PM
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No problem! Very simple to do and beneficial. The 10 gallon not only added the extra water to my system for stability, but I LOADED it up with plants, moss etc to soak up nitrates. Let me know if you have any questions or need an opinion.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 03:30 PM
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Red15, that is really attractive.

The two display tanks plumbed to the sump so this is a 3 tank system, right?

Since the sump can be any old container that holds water maybe that would work. You need 2 lights, 1 pump and 1 heater. Still isn't going to save any energy but would be attractive without hardware in either display tank and a great idea if you already have a pump up for the job.


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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 05:49 PM
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Red15, that is really attractive.

The two display tanks plumbed to the sump so this is a 3 tank system, right?

Since the sump can be any old container that holds water maybe that would work. You need 2 lights, 1 pump and 1 heater. Still isn't going to save any energy but would be attractive without hardware in either display tank and a great idea if you already have a pump up for the job.

Thanks, and yeah three tanks the sump is in the stand.


So if you're planning to put a sump in on another tank, just plumb in that 5.5 with it!
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