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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, I have revised my plans for my sump filter I will soon be building. I was originally going to use my current 75G tank as a sump, but after realizing for my purposes I dont need to build walls and such inside the sump I figure I'll just use a really large tote or tub of some sort. Will be cheaper and I really wont be able to use my 75G cause I'll need to have the sump up and running before I can break down my old tank (dont know what I was thinking there lol!).

Here is a pic I snapped of my sketch (scanner isnt working). Click for larger pic.


First, the overflows will have 2" pvc down to the bottom of the sump, were I can wrap a media bag around the ends to catch larger debris. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of 12"x18" 250micron media bags. This would be a prefilter of sorts, and probably be cleaning out weekly. Should be easy to clean. Then the main filter will be in another smaller tote placed inside the tub. it'll have two return pumps, perhaps with a spraybar looking intake tube to equal out the suction across the whole filter. Spaced above this will be eggcrate with lots of potscrubbers for bio filtration (a gallon or two of potscrubbers?). Another eggcrate and some filter floss ontop for the filters main mechanical filtration. I am not sure the micron rating but I have a large roll of big als filter floss 24"x120" that I can cut out large squares to use. Then the lid will be placed ontop to retain everything in the smaller tote - with large holes cut into the lid. Rena micro bubblers will also be routed into the filter and into the intake tubes of the return pumps to bubble co2 into the return line (this will be a heavily planted and co2 injected tank).

So, before I put hand to wrench is there any flaws anyone sees or perhaps improvment suggestions? I didnt show heaters but they will be placed in the sump as well, along with any other equipment or probes I might include like additional pump to drain the tank for auto water changing, etc.
 

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i've made something along these lines for one of my aquariums...be careful with the heater...it can melt your tub and then you'll have a few issues...instead of filter floss i go to Wally World and get the stuffing used to make pillows to polish my water...better then anything i have ever bought on the market commercially...even used it on my pond outside...turns the water crystal clear and is pretty cheap...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply, seems like no one has been to interested in it one way or another. As for the heaters thanks for the warning. I'll try to make a bracket of sorts to hold them so they wont be in contact with any of the tubs plastic. Shouldnt be too hard to do. If I am not mistaken filter floss is the same thing as what you get at wallmart, just that the wallmart stuff is loose fill and floss in made flat into thick sheets. And I did state I already had it, a 24"x120" roll to be precise. Since its flattened into a sheet its easy to cut and use as a 'pad'. And that should be enough to last a long while, so not to worried about the couple extra dollars it costs over wallmart.

One of my concerns now that I have started to gather material is that the media bags I am using as pre-filter 'socks' over the drains outflow might be too fine, 250 micron didnt sound to fine but looking at it now that I have it... well their huge though it would take a lot to clog them significantly I suppose, or a I can later always get a less fine mesh bag instead, they are only a few bucks.
 

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I have built something similiar, but got a scare when the heater touched and almost burn the tub. It did burn the QuietOne pump though. My design wasn't as complicated as I basically have a Giant Sponge (bio) in the tub attached to pump and have 13" x 20" of prefilter (mechanical) on top on the sponge. I used 2 tubs both had same footprint, a shallow on sat on top of the deep one. Pre filter was housed in the shallow tub which was had drilled bottom so water drained to the deep tub. Pump sucked water via the giant sponge (8"x12"x10"). Check valve was used too. It worked great for years until the scare and now I have something similiar but in an el cheapo 20g glass tank.
 

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So, before I put hand to wrench is there any flaws anyone sees or perhaps improvment suggestions? I didnt show heaters but they will be placed in the sump as well, along with any other equipment or probes I might include like additional pump to drain the tank for auto water changing, etc.
I think I would be very reluctant to put the socks on the overflow pipes as they could potentially clog and cause a flood. Although if you were to use something very coarse with a large surface area that was cleaned regularly, it should work without a problem.

The safest method would be to design in a bypass incase of a clog. you might be better off to divide your sump with something that extends above the water level in the sump, but not above the sides of the sump, so that if your large debris screen clogs water can flow over your screen.

Or maybe have your overflows from the main tank dump into a open top container like a bucket with a filter floss and holes in the bottom located in the sump with the top rim above the water level in your sump but yet still below the sides of the sump. This way if the bucket overfills it just pours into the sump. This might also help reduce the sounds made by the water running into the sump because the sides of the bucket might dampen the surface disturbance at the waters surface. But then again it might also make more noise depending on the type of bucket used ie how hard and rigid the sides are.

Oh, or maybe have your filter socks held open at the top above the water level instead of being sealed around overflow pipe.
 

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I am very interested in this setup, as the automation for my 180g tank was not cheap even though it's quite similar. However I like it so much I'd like to automate the rest of my tanks, but would have to do it much cheaper than the last one. Please post pics as you put it together, and mention anything you try that doesn't work as planned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
vidiots - don’t worry every aspect of the project will be well documented (on my website) and also will make a 'journal' with a new thread. I don’t even have the stand built yet though – will be a few months away from actually running. The automation might not necessarily be cheap, as I am thinking of including an X10 system to control it all. But actually the X10 really isn’t any more expensive than using digital timers with battery backup and also several advantages I see so far. I also plan on doing the worlds cheapest auto water changer as well. I don’t however say everything will work perfectly, I'll do a good month or so experimental run w/o fish until everything seems reliable or until I've upgraded to get it reliable.

As for the socks, they are easily removable if they clog to quickly. No big deal, but I really want to prolong doing major cleaning and a sock like prefilter would be a snap to take out, dump, rinse inside out, and put back in, and extend the interval between having to disassemble the main filter and take out the floss and replace, etc. As stated, the socks are each 12"x18" (flat) and 250 micron. There are coarser ones too. But that makes a total of 432 square inches of prefilter that would have to clog, that’s a lot! I have ideas for bypass on them too, but depending on how they perform, may not be needed. Another thing, they would provide an easy way to put any fish back in the tank that might make it down the overflow, they're already bagged!

I have built something similiar, but got a scare when the heater touched and almost burn the tub. It did burn the QuietOne pump though. My design wasn't as complicated as I basically have a Giant Sponge (bio) in the tub attached to pump and have 13" x 20" of prefilter (mechanical) on top on the sponge. I used 2 tubs both had same footprint, a shallow on sat on top of the deep one. Pre filter was housed in the shallow tub which was had drilled bottom so water drained to the deep tub. Pump sucked water via the giant sponge (8"x12"x10"). Check valve was used too. It worked great for years until the scare and now I have something similiar but in an el cheapo 20g glass tank.
Thanks for the post, J40F. But my design isn’t really complicated at all, just cause I drew it all out and put details on it looks kind of complicated but really not. I think it will be much easier than cutting acrylic dividers and such. I used the second smaller tote in the design just because I thought it would be the easiest way to contain the filter materials which is just a pad (floss) and pot scrubbers (bio) separated with eggcrate grid material. nothing fancy. I was going to use my 75G tank as the housing, but wont be able to empty it until this is up and running so that’s out. I don’t really need a lot more water volume either, so a smaller tank would be fine, but figure the cheapest option that should suffice would be the tub. I'd still like to get around 40-55 gallons though, so I have sufficient volume to do daily water changes without draining it completely (think I will end up doing something around a 15% daily water change). I might yet include a tank instead, but would like to try the cheaper option and see. I was even thinking of maybe getting the largest cooler they have at wallymart, since it should be designed to hold the force of that much water plus I would have to mess with insulating it (which I do plan on insulating as much as possible like the sump and back of main tank, since the room is a cooler one plus also in the case of a power outage will help).
 

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It is a good design, however you may have better luck using somthing with more rigid sides than a tote. My reasoning is the sides of the tote will flex and not put the water where you want it to go. I would suggest a large bucket, old cracked aquarium that you can pick up for free potentially and repair, or a more rigid type plastic that is also thicker for the long term.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah I know regular totes will deform and bulge, I have used them as make shift fish tanks before. But all you really need to do is make a 2x4 frame and they wont bulge at all. And as stated I may use a large cooler instead, or an actual plastic tub designed to hold water instead of just a regular tote. Lots of options. And it doesn’t matter filter-wise, as the tub isn’t directing water anywhere specifically - no baffles or anything that need a flat surface to mount to like a regular sump. Water will just dump in, and will eventually make its way to the return pumps. Where normal sumps use rigid tanks with dividers that route water and house the various aspects of filtration, this fw sump design is more just a holding tank of sorts. We dont really need chambers or anything, I just sort of made one to easily house my filter pad and bio media to insure that all the water circulating through will have to go through all of the filtration (pre filter socks, floss, and potscrubber) before it gets pumped back into the tank. Will probably do UV as well but with as much flow as I am dealing with it wont be inline, will probably put a powerhead in the sump near the entrance that pumps through the UV and returns to the sump nearer the return pumps.
 

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I really like the large cooler idea. Should be easy enough to drill without special tools, it's insulated, comes with a rigid lid, and also comes with a built in drain. Although they may cost more than a tote, I'll bet they are cheaper than an aquarium.

When I put mine together I wanted a clear container so I could see inside, which is kinda silly considering I keep it hidden out of sight and rarely look inside. If I needed to look inside I could just as easily do it thru the top like I do now, cause the glass is usually too dirty to see clearly thru and what's the point of cleaning glass nobody sees or looks thru.

One thing I wish I had done with mine is install some easy quick disconnects on the hoses for those occasions where maintenance becomes necessary or I want to make further modifications.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I have the largest cooler I could find at walmart (not for this project) I'll have to check how many gallons it is, I am thinking maybe only 35-40 if I had to guess and was $40 if memory serves. But even a cheap large tote will run $10 then I am going to insulate it with some sheet insulation as well as build a simple frame for it, so its not much more just to go the cooler route I suppose. But I am actually building two separate sumps with similar design and the other tank will be unheated coolwater so I will probably use a tote/tub for that sump and not worry about insulation. Yeah, you do loose some visibility by not using an aquarium, but it takes just a second to lift the lid. I may include some quick disconnects for the flexible hose parts, and some pvc unions for the pvc parts (didnt think to show any of those in the pic).
 
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