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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a 29 gallon tank that I broke down recently and am planning on setting it up as a planted tank. The current plan is to use black diamond blasting media as a substrate. I'm still learning about aquatic plants, but the plan is to start with easier palnts (if such a thing exists) and move up as I get experience. I'll be building a sump for the tank as that is also a new experience for me. Since that isn't difficult enough :icon_roll I'd also like to include an aquaponic grow bed in the system. the goal is to minimize the maintenance to the system. I know. Adding to the complexity of the system is likely to increase the maintenance requirements for said system. Based on the set ups I've seen during my research, a properly configured system can allow for more/larger fish and reduce the need for water changes and other maintenance.

The questions I have for you are:

Should I drill the tank or just use a HOB overflow?

If you drill, would you drill the back of the tank or the bottom? Why?

I understand some tanks have tempered glass on the bottom and you shouldn't drill that. I'm not asking about that. Assuming that my tank can be drilled in either location, which would you pick and why?
 

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I've got a 29 gallon tank that I broke down recently and am planning on setting it up as a planted tank. The current plan is to use black diamond blasting media as a substrate. I'm still learning about aquatic plants, but the plan is to start with easier palnts (if such a thing exists) and move up as I get experience. I'll be building a sump for the tank as that is also a new experience for me. Since that isn't difficult enough :icon_roll I'd also like to include an aquaponic grow bed in the system. the goal is to minimize the maintenance to the system. I know. Adding to the complexity of the system is likely to increase the maintenance requirements for said system. Based on the set ups I've seen during my research, a properly configured system can allow for more/larger fish and reduce the need for water changes and other maintenance.

The questions I have for you are:

Should I drill the tank or just use a HOB overflow?

If you drill, would you drill the back of the tank or the bottom? Why?

I understand some tanks have tempered glass on the bottom and you shouldn't drill that. I'm not asking about that. Assuming that my tank can be drilled in either location, which would you pick and why?
3 points I would like to touch on.

1) Unless you are growing crops or don't want to include very many plants in the aquarium itself there is no reason to have a hydroponic system in your sump. Even a moderately planted tank will use up so much nitrate you will need to add more into your tank each week.

2) Never drill the bottom of a tank if you can help it. They are more prone to leaking and if you ever do get a leak your tank will empty itself completely before it stops.

3) For sumps you need to drill the tank, relying on other systems is a good way to either get a flood or a failed system when the power goes offline.
 

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It's going to be hard to make aquaponics system that actually reduces work, so if that's your only reason to have it I think you'll be better off growing a pothos out of your display tank if you need more nitrate usage than your submerged plants can provide. Using floating plants is also a good option and even less complicated.
 

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Reading over my previous post I think I sounded like a jerk (at least to my 'ears'). Sorry I was in a bit of a rush when I wrote it.

What I wanted to add is Welcome OP! I think a sump is the right way to go if you have the ability and space. I also suggest drilling the back if that wasn't clear from the earlier post. Planted tanks are both a lot of fun and can be fairly low maintenance if setup correctly. There are lots of good 'easy' plants you can use. Which ones depends on your lights, water parameters and what fertilizer scheme you decide to go with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
3 points I would like to touch on.

1) Unless you are growing crops or don't want to include very many plants in the aquarium itself there is no reason to have a hydroponic system in your sump. Even a moderately planted tank will use up so much nitrate you will need to add more into your tank each week.

2) Never drill the bottom of a tank if you can help it. They are more prone to leaking and if you ever do get a leak your tank will empty itself completely before it stops.

3) For sumps you need to drill the tank, relying on other systems is a good way to either get a flood or a failed system when the power goes offline.
1 - I've watched so many videos and read so much about planted tanks that it is all starting to run together. I went back and reviewed the system I based this on and realize that the main tank was hardscaped only. The person who set it up was using the grow bed to reduce nitrates.

2 - I think this depends on how you set up the tank. If I drill in the corners and use a weir like those used on saltwater tanks then only the volume contained in the weir would leak out plus what ever water poured in until the water level dropped enough to stop flowing. Either way, not the whole tank. Still, I understand the concern with drilling the bottom of the tank. It is attractive from the standpoint that you don't need a lot of plumbing between the tank and the wall. I don't have a preference. I was asking to get opinions from others here.

3 - I've seen set ups with HOB overflows and sumps so I'm curious as to why you say I have to drill the tank if I'm using a sump. If the power goes out and I've used properly designed weir style overflows, the water that continues to drain out of the tank will be limited. I can properly design the sump with enough head space to accommodate this water and shouldn't have a flood. The real concern would be if I used a HOB overflow and somehow lost the siphon while the power was out. When the power come back on, I would have a mess since my overflow would not be working. Is this why you say that you should drill the tank? I haven't found it yet (maybe because it doesn't exist) but I wonder if there is a design for a HOB overflow that is self priming similar to how a bell siphon works?


All interesting points. Thanks for the feedback. I'm thinking that I'll ditch the grow bed and just set up a planted tank with a sump. If I ever want to do a hardscaped tank I'll consider the grow bed or an algae scrubber in the sump (or both).
 

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I have a sump on my 75 . It is drilled in the bottom with an overflow and I love it . It is a factory tank that came drilled and I have never drilled one , but if I put a sump on my 30 I will drill it because there seems to be too many things that can go wrong with a HOB overflow setup . Just my over cautious opinion .
 

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2 - I think this depends on how you set up the tank. If I drill in the corners and use a weir like those used on saltwater tanks then only the volume contained in the weir would leak out plus what ever water poured in until the water level dropped enough to stop flowing. Either way, not the whole tank. Still, I understand the concern with drilling the bottom of the tank. It is attractive from the standpoint that you don't need a lot of plumbing between the tank and the wall. I don't have a preference. I was asking to get opinions from others here.

3 - I've seen set ups with HOB overflows and sumps so I'm curious as to why you say I have to drill the tank if I'm using a sump. If the power goes out and I've used properly designed weir style overflows, the water that continues to drain out of the tank will be limited. I can properly design the sump with enough head space to accommodate this water and shouldn't have a flood. The real concern would be if I used a HOB overflow and somehow lost the siphon while the power was out. When the power come back on, I would have a mess since my overflow would not be working. Is this why you say that you should drill the tank? I haven't found it yet (maybe because it doesn't exist) but I wonder if there is a design for a HOB overflow that is self priming similar to how a bell siphon works?
2) If you install a weir then clearly you are right your tank would not empty itself in case of a leak but, then you lose the space the weir is taking up. Also you have a weir in your tank which is not as attractive as less obtrusive options. An overflow is much preferred to this and better still if you can get away without an overflow at all and direct drain out of the tank.

3) I haven't heard of a self priming overflow not requiring a hole in the tank that isn't a ticking time bomb. The best you can hope for is that your filtration fails when the power goes out and comes back. The worst is that they suck up water till they empty your tank. Somewhere in the mix there either has to be a pump going to the sump, or there has to be a siphon you manually start. If someone has invented a clever way around this I have never heard of it (which is entirely possible, I am definitely not all knowing). If such a thing does exist I would need to re-evaluate this advice but I go on vacation and like my house so I neither want my tanks to die when the power goes out when I am away and nor do I want all the water of a tank on the floor when I get back.

There are external overflows that are extremely common, BUT they all use holes in the side wall of the tank. These are good options if you don't want to give up the real estate an overflow would take up in a tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Reading over my previous post I think I sounded like a jerk (at least to my 'ears'). Sorry I was in a bit of a rush when I wrote it.

What I wanted to add is Welcome OP! I think a sump is the right way to go if you have the ability and space. I also suggest drilling the back if that wasn't clear from the earlier post. Planted tanks are both a lot of fun and can be fairly low maintenance if setup correctly. There are lots of good 'easy' plants you can use. Which ones depends on your lights, water parameters and what fertilizer scheme you decide to go with.
You posted this while I was formulating my response to your first post and I didn't see it.

First off, thanks for the welcome.

I have to admit, when I first read your post I did sort of take it that way. But then I took a step back and read it again just for content. The information you provide is sound. I'm just learning and it is in my nature to question everything when doing so.

That being said, I guess I have some research to do on drilling the back of a tank and the various set ups there are for that type of drain. Seems like drilling the tank high on the back wall and directly draining through that would be a little loud. I'm sure there is something I am missing. But then again, that is why I am here. To learn. Hopefully I'll be able to get a tank set up and cycling soon.

Thanks again for all the input. I really do appreciate it.
 

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You posted this while I was formulating my response to your first post and I didn't see it.

First off, thanks for the welcome.

I have to admit, when I first read your post I did sort of take it that way. But then I took a step back and read it again just for content. The information you provide is sound. I'm just learning and it is in my nature to question everything when doing so.

That being said, I guess I have some research to do on drilling the back of a tank and the various set ups there are for that type of drain. Seems like drilling the tank high on the back wall and directly draining through that would be a little loud. I'm sure there is something I am missing. But then again, that is why I am here. To learn. Hopefully I'll be able to get a tank set up and cycling soon.

Thanks again for all the input. I really do appreciate it.
Sumps can be definitely be loud, just the water going through filter socks can be loud. But there are ways to make them quieter, you can look up a Herbie drains where the water leaving the tank is the exact amount that returns (tricky to maintain long term) and Durso drains where the water leaving is muffled through the power of physics so its not very loud, and Bean Animal where you use both herbie and durso drains. All of these can be used in an overflow or by themselves.
 

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... I've seen set ups with HOB overflows and sumps so I'm curious as to why you say I have to drill the tank if I'm using a sump. If the power goes out and I've used properly designed weir style overflows, the water that continues to drain out of the tank will be limited. I can properly design the sump with enough head space to accommodate this water and shouldn't have a flood. The real concern would be if I used a HOB overflow and somehow lost the siphon while the power was out. When the power come back on, I would have a mess since my overflow would not be working. Is this why you say that you should drill the tank? I haven't found it yet (maybe because it doesn't exist) but I wonder if there is a design for a HOB overflow that is self priming similar to how a bell siphon works?
I had a 75 gallon planted tank running for 5 years with a sump and HOB overflow. It was a simple overflow with just one "U" shaped siphon tube and one outlet. I used a piece of airline tubing to suck the air out of the tube. For my two inlet/return tubes I drilled a smallish hole just below the waterline. In the event of a power outage this would break the siphon very quickly, allowing minimal back-flow. I planned the sump to accommodate the amount of water that could potentially come back into it in the event of an outage and I tested it many times. This was simple, inexpensive and I never had a flood.

I see that many newer HOB overflows are made with an integrated siphon, not a simple tube. They use a small air pump to evacuate the siphon "space". While this probably works great when power is on I cannot figure out how it works in an outage. When power is returned the pump would have been off and would now need to evacuate any air again. It seems like there could be a lag during which time the return pump could overflow the tank?

I have been thinking of moving up to a 60-80g tank and am considering going to a sump again. Since I am now addicted to rimless low iron glass I would probably use another HOB overflow...
 

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2) The best you can hope for is that your filtration fails when the power goes out and comes back. The worst is that they suck up water till they empty your tank. Somewhere in the mix there either has to be a pump going to the sump, or there has to be a siphon you manually start..
Below are some links on a overflow which can work just fine in case of a power failure. Use these to understand the principal (both ends of the siphon tube is alway submersed) as much better system can be built.

But I do understand your point, a hole in your tank is a much better option. I have remodeled my entire house but I have never drilled into glass and would be a bit nervous drilling into my new 75 gallon tank. As a general rule, my first attempt at doing something new always gets screw up, the second time is perfect.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgcyuXm0QRM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZytENJZtJw

My plans for an overflow system.

Home Depot sells a 2'x4'x 1/2" cellular PVC sheet for $28 or you can get a full 4'x8' sheet for $78. I need to cap some exterior wood windows and should have enough left over for a sump and overflow boxes. This material has little structural strength, the sump will be reinforced with plywood on the sides.

For my 75 gallon tank, I may put two overflow boxes with a weir in each corner. I believe you can paint them with Krylon fusion spray paint which is safe for fish when it dries. You can also stain PVC but no clue if that safe for fish.

I plan on using multiple siphon tubes for a safety factor, if one tube fails the tank will not overflow. One issue, how can you tell if a siphon is working? I may have to use clear tubing (FYI, they do sell clear PVC pipe but it is expensive).

My tank will be flush to the wall, I plan on removing the drywall from behind the tank and running the pipes to the sump inside the wall. If I breakdown the tank, the wall will have to be repainted anyways and patching drywall is soo easy. Just save the piece of drywall for when you remove your tank. Note: I will cut the hole in the wall when my wife is not home :)

I have plumbing in this wall so my sump will have hot&cold water connection and I will have waste line connection for water changes, no more 5 gallon buckets for me.

Or I may just say frack it and drill a hole in my new tank :)

Edit: Below is a link for clear PVC pipe, $4.37/foot for 1" pipe. All you would need is a small piece between the 90 degree elbows on your siphon tubes.

https://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=24353&catid=592
 

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Below are some links on a overflow which can work just fine in case of a power failure. Use these to understand the principal (both ends of the siphon tube is alway submersed) as much better system can be built.

But I do understand your point, a hole in your tank is a much better option. I have remodeled my entire house but I have never drilled into glass and would be a bit nervous drilling into my new 75 gallon tank. As a general rule, my first attempt at doing something new always gets screw up, the second time is perfect.
Ok this is pretty cool!
 
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