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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some of you may know that I’m currently building a paludarium using an enclosure roughly measuring 48” L x 18” H x 24” W. It will hold water that will be about 4” high totaling about 25 gallons of water. Water will be drained from an overflow placed at 4” high to drain into a sump using a 1” bulkhead. Water will be returned to the display via a jebao dcs 2000 560gph pump that will be placed in the sump. I plan on scaling back the rate of return to create a waterfall. That being said, the return will be placed above the water line.

The sump will be built using a 20 gallon “tall” aquarium. The sump will have the water line at roughly 11” and hold about 15gallons or so. I plan on installing two 1” bulkheads and three 1/4 glass baffles. One bulkhead will be for sump intake and one to return water back to the display. The first chamber will hold the intake bulkhead and mechanical filtration, the second will hold scrubbies, the third will hold lava rocks and the fourth will house my heater and return pump.

questions: I’m confused on the position in which to place my sump intake bulkhead. I’m also stumped on where/how to place/space my baffles. Namely; the baffle immediately after the intake bulkhead.

Questions:

If place my intake bulkhead in the sump at 11” as I planned, water would flow down. If I did this, how should I place that first baffle? Should the first baffle be on the floor of the sump so that water flows over it? Or should I place it elevated so that water flows under it?

Would it be better if I placed the intake bulkhead at 3-4” so that water flows up? If so, how would I place that first baffle? Installed to the bottom of the sump to force water over it?

which method is preferred??

Any criticism and comments are welcome! I’d love feedback on media, baffle spacing, etc.

please check out the attached low tech rendering of the sump! Water will flow left to right in the drawing. Left is intake side and right is return side.
 

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Are you planning to run CO2 for the water portion of the paludarium? If so, you will want to minimize splashing in the sump to prevent off gassing. I'm also currently working on a build with a sump and it was suggested that I go with a baffle-less design that prevents splashing in the sump and is much more simple over all. Instead of baffles I am going to be using 2" sheets of poret foam placed vertical in the sump which the water flows through as moves from one side of the sump to the other. I have not had a chance to test out this design yet (cracked my tank) so I can't comment on its effectiveness or not.

If you do go with baffles there is some trade offs for a top or bottom entrance into you pump chamber. With a top entrance to the pump chamber the volume of water pumped to the tank in the event of your drain clogging is much smaller so it means the chance of overflowing the display tank is less. However, with a paludarium this might not be a concern since the tank isn't full. With a bottom entrance, there is a larger volume of water for the pump draw from which means its less likely to suck your pump chamber dry (or at least it would happen a bit slower if the drain clogged).
 

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Some of you may know that I’m currently building a paludarium using an enclosure roughly measuring 48” L x 18” H x 24” W. It will hold water that will be about 4” high totaling about 25 gallons of water. Water will be drained from an overflow placed at 4” high to drain into a sump using a 1” bulkhead. Water will be returned to the display via a jebao dcs 2000 560gph pump that will be placed in the sump. I plan on scaling back the rate of return to create a waterfall. That being said, the return will be placed above the water line.

The sump will be built using a 20 gallon “tall” aquarium. The sump will have the water line at roughly 11” and hold about 15gallons or so. I plan on installing two 1” bulkheads and three 1/4 glass baffles. One bulkhead will be for sump intake and one to return water back to the display. The first chamber will hold the intake bulkhead and mechanical filtration, the second will hold scrubbies, the third will hold lava rocks and the fourth will house my heater and return pump.

questions: I’m confused on the position in which to place my sump intake bulkhead. I’m also stumped on where/how to place/space my baffles. Namely; the baffle immediately after the intake bulkhead.

Questions:

If place my intake bulkhead in the sump at 11” as I planned, water would flow down. If I did this, how should I place that first baffle? Should the first baffle be on the floor of the sump so that water flows over it? Or should I place it elevated so that water flows under it?

Would it be better if I placed the intake bulkhead at 3-4” so that water flows up? If so, how would I place that first baffle? Installed to the bottom of the sump to force water over it?

which method is preferred??

Any criticism and comments are welcome! I’d love feedback on media, baffle spacing, etc.

please check out the attached low tech rendering of the sump! Water will flow left to right in the drawing. Left is intake side and right is return side.
To answer your question it really doesn't matter if you make the first baffle go over or under. Water will flow either way.

That said, I'm going to second what @Thenoob is saying. Dump the baffles all together. Sumps are more common in the saltwater world where they need/care more about baffles then we do. We are fortunate that we do not have the same concerns in a freshwater tank as the saltwater people have. As such we do not need or want baffles if we can help it. For one thing they are noisy. For another they complicate your sump build and increase your expense. All the filtration you need is accomplished with 2 or 3 sheets of 1.5-2" foam in your sump. Seems weird I know but really this is a much much much better design for a freshwater sump.

In regards to depth of your intake in the display tank. Due to gravity feeding wherever you put that intake is the depth of your water. I would thus be VERY VERY VERY careful about where you put it. If for instance you measured 4 inches from the bottom of the tank then your water would be 4" deep from the bottom of the tank. BUT this does not equate to 4" of water in a paludarium. Presumably you are going to have some substrate in there, and of course there will be raised section in the back. So if your intake is 4" above the glass bottom, and you have 1.5" of substrate then you have 2.5" of water in your tank in the front, in the back you have a raised section further limiting your water volume. During the winter you can easily lose 1" of water due to evaporation in a week leaving 1.5" of water between water changes. Basically you can't have fish in such a tank which presumably you would want to have.

I highly recommend putting your intake hole at least 7 inches above the glass bottom. This leaves you enough room to have substrate, rocks, wood, a raised back, deal with evaporation, and still have enough room to have some small fish. Normally I would be saying you need an emergency drain as well for when your drain inevitably gets clogged but in this case its probably not as big as a disaster since you will have plenty of room for the extra water volume, just make sure your above ground portion can be submerged without killing everything (don't use dirt use aquasoil and fine gravel etc). Basically you are building a herbie overflow so you need a ball valve (or better yet a gate valve) on the intake line to precisely adjust the water volume leaving the tank to match the water volume coming in from the return line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the prompt replies! I do have all of the provisions to run CO2 if needed. I’m still not convinced that I need to use it just yet. I only plan on growing some low light plants. However, I really should set up the sump to run CO2 just in case.

I should’ve been a little more clear on my 4” water depth. I measured from the black “rim” at the base of the tank…not necessarily from the true bottom of the tank. So, in all reality I’ll probably have more water than 4”. Also, I plan to place a few shims under the back of the tank lifting up the rear so that there will be more water displaced to the front. For fish inhabitants, I planned on only having a few killifish or perhaps some neons.

I’m interested in seeing some baffle-less sump designs. I’ll start searching. Does anyone know where to find more info on this? I’m sure there are others who would find this info useful as well.

y’all are amazing!

…. Regarding the gate valve. I have never used one of these before.

My overflow is a 1” Lifeguard bulkhead kit with a barbed end that will accommodate a hose that’ll lead to the sump. So, I’d just place the gate valve in the hose leading to the sump, right? Any recommendations on what gate valve to pick up?
 

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…. Regarding the gate valve. I have never used one of these before.

My overflow is a 1” Lifeguard bulkhead kit with a barbed end that will accommodate a hose that’ll lead to the sump. So, I’d just place the gate valve in the hose leading to the sump, right? Any recommendations on what gate valve to pick up?
Correct, you just put the gate valve anywhere that's easily assessible between the tank and the sump. Doesn't matter if this is 2 inches above the sump or in the middle somewhere. Gate valves like ball valves are just plumbing parts. You probably won't find them at your local hardware store though requiring you to buy them online. If you are using barbed fittings you will also need to convert your gate valve to handle barbed fittings or find one that has barbed fittings already attached if they make such things. Alternatively you can just buy a ball valve. The downside of a ball valve is that you need a lot of precision to get the exact right size opening to match your return water and that's really finicky on a ball valve, but it does work.

Regardless of which you choose you will need to adjust it over time. As bacterial film grows on the inside of the tubes your precisely calibrated opening will get smaller and require some adjustment on your part. Using a gate valve will make that easier.

Here is some random person's sump I found online. Its more elaborate then it needs to be with a spot for plant growout and pot scrubbers. It really only needs the foam.

 

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Here's the layout I will be using for my sump once I get the display tank replaced. Like I said I haven't had a chance to test it yet but I'm hopeful it will work well. I might push all the foam sheets up agains the pump and use the left side as refugium for a secondary population of shrimp.

The gate valve is used is from bulk reed supply since I couldn't find any locally.


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One note about baffles...

if your drains ever become compromised, the amount of water accessible to your pump is how much will end up on your floor (minus the amount it takes to fill the top inch or so of the tank). Baffles can be used to create an isolated pump chamber in your sump that can protect from that particular flavor of failure. I.e., you'll get a burned out pump but not a flood.

That may or may not be something that seems worth worrying about, but baffles aren't just for bubble traps and maintaining consistent salinity.
 

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One note about baffles...

if your drains ever become compromised, the amount of water accessible to your pump is how much will end up on your floor (minus the amount it takes to fill the top inch or so of the tank). Baffles can be used to create an isolated pump chamber in your sump that can protect from that particular flavor of failure. I.e., you'll get a burned out pump but not a flood.

That may or may not be something that seems worth worrying about, but baffles aren't just for bubble traps and maintaining consistent salinity.
The OP won't have an issue with overfilling the tank since they plan to have less then half the 120 gallon tank full of water for this paludarium. They will flood part of their 'land' section but that's it for mess.

How do baffles stop the pump from burning out? If the pump is evacuating water faster then it comes in won't it still be in danger of damage regardless of whether there are baffles in place?
 

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The OP won't have an issue with overfilling the tank since they plan to have less then half the 120 gallon tank full of water for this paludarium. They will flood part of their 'land' section but that's it for mess.

How do baffles stop the pump from burning out? If the pump is evacuating water faster then it comes in won't it still be in danger of damage regardless of whether there are baffles in place?
I'm saying with an isolated pump chamber created with baffles your pump will burn out if the drains are clogged, but all of the water in the sump that isn't in the pump chamber will stay in the sump.

Really, you'll get a burned out pump either way, but with no isolated pump chamber you'll also get a flood (not in OP's case because - as you point out- it's a paludarium) because all of the sump's water volume will get pumped up to the tank and onto the floor first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow. You all really helped me out. I’m going to skip the idea of baffles. I was literally planning on getting glass cut tomorrow. I’m glad I didn’t. I think the baffle-less sump is the way to go for my particular set up.

What type of filter/foam pads are being used to form the “chambers” within the sumps? Where do you get it?

thanks again, everyone. Excellent advice as always
 

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Wow. You all really helped me out. I’m going to skip the idea of baffles. I was literally planning on getting glass cut tomorrow. I’m glad I didn’t. I think the baffle-less sump is the way to go for my particular set up.

What type of filter/foam pads are being used to form the “chambers” within the sumps? Where do you get it?

thanks again, everyone. Excellent advice as always
In mine I'm using 2" thick sheets of poret foam. Two of the sheets are the 20 ppi type and the third is 30 ppi. Haven't experienced it first hand yet but from what I've read poret is supposed to be about the best foam you can get. A bit pricey (not horrible) but is supposed to last a very long time.

As far as I know Swiss tropicals is the only US importer of poret. If you head to their site you should be able to find some similar sump designs. When I bought mine I emailed them to ask for advice on the type and amount to use and heard back the next day. They were also able to pre cut my sheets to fit my sump straight out of the box which was great.


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