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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey Guys,

Not sure if this is the correct spot to be posting this in, but I thought I would show you guys what I am working on. I have been trying to design a filter system to tie multiple tanks together, safely. I am frequently away from my house, so I do not have the luxury of lengthy water changes and maintenance. I still want to enjoy my fish though. I have designed a plan to circulate water between two tanks, a 30 G barrel, and a wet/dry filter. Please pick this to pieces, chew it up and spit it out. I would love to hear your thoughts on this design. I will say, most of this is a repeat design from various other tanks. I have yet to see a system like this though. Not saying there isn't one. Tell me if you see any catastrophic flaws or holes in my design. I will explain as best as I can. For those of you who know the technologies I am using, the diagram should be pretty good. I would really appreciate this forums insight. You guys rock!

About the Diagram:
This is not an automated system. Only a few of the pumps run 24x7. The RO/DI water does not auto feed into the Live Water barrel. The live water barrel does not auto drain into the toilet. I will have some switches that will turn the pumps on and off. Only "Real" purpose for the barrels is quick water changes, not really for over stock per say. Although, this much water would allow me to do that. The one part of this that is auto is the RO/DI barrel. This barrel will stay filled 24x7 using a toilet float valve on the high pressure line. By doing this, I alleviate pressure build up within the RO/DI system. The RO/DI pump is to "Dump" water into the Live Water barrel after the live barrel has been emptied. I will does ferts and supplements into the live water and run the filters and heater prior to turning back on the tank pumps. Let me know if there is anything else I didn't explain, or explain very well.
 

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I'm by all means no expert but the biggest flaw I see is bypass. With your tanks emptying into the live water barrel, there's a good chance that your pump will just direct that water back to your tank. I think it would be a better idea to have the incoming water from your tank go into your wet/dry filter. I probably would get rid of your live water tank and canister. Just build a bigger wet/dry and still use your ro/di tank for top offs. Your wet/dry will have all your filtering media. The hardest part is going to be balancing all your waterflow so that output is the same as the incoming water. This will become worse whenever your filter media gets clogged from gunk thus decreasing water flow.
 

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Wow.. I spent a while staring at that. :)

I'm not an expert either, but it seems that dropping the high flow pumps to the bottom of the "live water" tank would help with bypass. Also, this reduces the chance of those pumps getting airlocked if the water level in the "live water" tank drops, due to evaporation or failure to fully refill the system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
nokturnalkid, the reason for not connecting the sump inline is overflow potential in the barrel. A pump leading to another pump is a very bad idea with a high chance of overflow. The issue with bypass shouldn't really be an issue though. The barrel is always going to have churning water, with churning water it will always spread out nutrients and contaminants. The water will naturally find equilibrium. Plus, so much water will be moving through there, I don't really see an issue. The barrel must be there for the quick water change to happen. That is an integral component to rapidly flush a large amount of water. The canister is for recycling, literally, I already have it, might as well move some water with it. Also, it fixes my problem of how to integrate my inline water heater. This way I can keep water temps equal across the board. Does that make since? I'm not sure how well I explained that. Let me know if you have any more questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dark, good to hear from you again. The reason for the pumps being at the top and not at the bottom is an overflow concern. If syphon was lost at the tanks, then water would not return to the bucket. The water would continue to pump out back into the tanks, which would then overflow. By having the pumps at the top of the barrel, only a small amount of water can be pumped back into the tanks. This would not be enough water to overflow either tank. I would much rather have a pump burn out, not likely, then have a flood across an apartment floor. Know what I mean? Pumps are cheap, but flooding can cost countless amounts of money. Same reason the pump is not at the bottom of the wet/dry filter. Let me know if that does/doesn't make since.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That is a pretty good idea. I like the though of simplicity. Unfortunately, being in an apartment, having a constant drain is not possible. Now, I could do a constant drain to a bucket, then throw out the bucket. But, that is so close to what I have now, I might as well reuse the water for as long as possible. If I end up dosing ferts into the water, I would not have a good fert drip system. The only way to have a fert drip system would be to have a premixed bucket of ferts dripping in. Then we come back to the same setup again. Hopefully that made some since.
 

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Like nokturnalkid said, I'd look into putting the live water barrel and the sump inline. You said you're worried about overflow potential, but you could leave the sump siphon point up high, like you currently have it, and then go tanks--->live water brl--->sump--->tanks

It would be more efficient. It would work as is described in your original design, but it would be constantly sending contaminates back to the tank, albeit in a smaller quantity....well, so, that's oversimplying it. The tank and 30g live water brl would be in equilibrium, but you wouldn't be using your sump to it's full potential. If you sent all water through a filter before going back to the tank, you would make better use of your filters.

One question I had, but, why the chiller and heater? I'm guessing heater in the winter, chiller in the summer?
 

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nokturnalkid, the reason for not connecting the sump inline is overflow potential in the barrel. A pump leading to another pump is a very bad idea with a high chance of overflow. The issue with bypass shouldn't really be an issue though. The barrel is always going to have churning water, with churning water it will always spread out nutrients and contaminants. The water will naturally find equilibrium. Plus, so much water will be moving through there, I don't really see an issue. The barrel must be there for the quick water change to happen. That is an integral component to rapidly flush a large amount of water. The canister is for recycling, literally, I already have it, might as well move some water with it. Also, it fixes my problem of how to integrate my inline water heater. This way I can keep water temps equal across the board. Does that make since? I'm not sure how well I explained that. Let me know if you have any more questions.
I was thinking of letting the barrel "overflow" into your sump. Then you would have the return pumps after your filter. That would eliminate one pump. Just have the waterlevel in your barrel low enough that in case you lose a siphon from one of the tanks, the barrel will still have enough room to catch water before the overflow in your tank kicks in. You would have to make a continuous siphon overflow in your tank since there would be nothing to shut off your return. If you go with a continuous overflow, then you still give your tank to regain the siphon once the pump puts a certain amount of water back in.

Since you already have the cannister, then you can leave it as is. I would just pack it with mehanical media since the wet/dry and plants will take care of your bio.

For your dosing, probably the easiest is to do a drip system, think i.v. drip. Are you going to suppliment co2? If you are, then the wet/dry will outgass quite a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
jmhart, I see what your saying. This system is complicated, so it's hard for me to understand sometimes. :) So I would have syphons on each tank gravity feeding the live water barrel, live water barrel syphoning and gravity feeding the sump, the the sump having two independent return pumps to each tank. Sorry nokturnalkid if that was what you were trying to describe. This system would absolutely work, and yes it would be more efficient use of the sump. I will have to think about it. Part of the reason I had the sump on a separate loop was to be able to run it without the tanks connected, after adding new water. This way I could heat/cool the RO/DI and dose it, prior to being added back to the tank system. I am ok with loosing some efficiency since most of the filtering is overkill for my setup (which I am aware of).

The reason for the chiller/heater is exactly what you said. My room that the tanks are in fluctuate wildly during the year. Unfortunately it is also my bedroom. :( Right now it is 80+ degrees in my room, so the water is the same. I wanted my water to be closer to 70-75 degrees. More control really. If yall are worried about cost, that isn't an issue. I am just worrying about safety and design.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
nokturnalkid, I understand what you mean about overflowing, but what you are describing is a recipe for water flood. Correct me if I am misunderstanding you. You are essentially relying on the pumps to prevent flooding. If a single pump dies, there will definitely be flooding. Also, once a syphon looses its....syphon....lol...it does not regain it back without your help. The water level would just rise over the tank line and spill. As far as the canister goes, I am just filling it with some bio rings, and bio stars, it will be pretty much completely empty. It's really only there for the free pump to move water from barrel, across heating/cooling, then back to the barrel. As far as dosing, I want as little automated as possible. Gives me more control. It also prevents a dump or a lack of supply and I would have to keep a 3rd barrel to have premixed ferts in it.

All good ideas though. I am not trying to bash anyone at all. Some of this I have thought about, others I have not. I do understand the way the physics of water works though. The reason my diagram is, the way it is, right now, is because it can survive a single or complete pump failure and not overflow a single point. I could also loose all syphons and not flood anywhere.

xmas_one please expain, that is not very constructive or helpful.
 

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The reason for the pumps being at the top and not at the bottom is an overflow concern. If syphon was lost at the tanks, then water would not return to the bucket. The water would continue to pump out back into the tanks, which would then overflow. By having the pumps at the top of the barrel, only a small amount of water can be pumped back into the tanks. This would not be enough water to overflow either tank.
That leaves a small margin between the amount of water in the system that would allow an overflow, and the amount that would cause an unnecessary shutdown. Going through all this trouble to build a system that ultimately proves overly sensitive would be disappointing.

I'd rather allow the pumps access to a greater portion of water in the "live water" tank, and rely on mechanical float valves, or electrical float switches controlling the pumps, to prevent a pump overflowing a tank if the siphon failed. It would still be able to overflow a tank, but only if two failures simultaneously occurred - a float valve/switch and a siphon.
 

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nokturnalkid, I understand what you mean about overflowing, but what you are describing is a recipe for water flood. Correct me if I am misunderstanding you. You are essentially relying on the pumps to prevent flooding. If a single pump dies, there will definitely be flooding. Also, once a syphon looses its....syphon....lol...it does not regain it back without your help. The water level would just rise over the tank line and spill. As far as the canister goes, I am just filling it with some bio rings, and bio stars, it will be pretty much completely empty. It's really only there for the free pump to move water from barrel, across heating/cooling, then back to the barrel. As far as dosing, I want as little automated as possible. Gives me more control. It also prevents a dump or a lack of supply and I would have to keep a 3rd barrel to have premixed ferts in it.

All good ideas though. I am not trying to bash anyone at all. Some of this I have thought about, others I have not. I do understand the way the physics of water works though. The reason my diagram is, the way it is, right now, is because it can survive a single or complete pump failure and not overflow a single point. I could also loose all syphons and not flood anywhere.

xmas_one please expain, that is not very constructive or helpful.

Check this link out.
http://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/forumapc/diy-aquarium-projects/63801-easy-diy-automatic-water-change-system.html

A siphon like this will work. In case your water level drops and breaks the siphon, there should be enough water in your live barrel for the return pump to get the water level back up to the point where the siphon can restart itself. A siphon like this does work but it takes alot of tweaking.

If my thinking is wrong, please let me know. When I first seen this post, it just looked like something I would do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Dark, I agree with you, it leaves a very small margin for water to fluctuate. I have been toying with a float kill switch system also. Of course, you already know about my electricity kill switch that I am working on. :) I also agree about going through all of this trouble for a super sensitive system. I think what I need to do is build my diagram in real life. The see just how sensitive it is. Luckily if I do need to add an electronic float switch to stop pumps, then I don't need to change any of the setup, just add a float switch. I definitely am considering going down that route.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
nokturnalkid, That siphon is a very good idea. I was considering that one too. Maybe even using acrylic pipes to make it look transparent under water. However, it relies on the exact same physics the overflow box uses. The swoop inside the tank maintains the tank water level and prevents the siphon from draining if the water level drops. The swoop at the other end evactuates the water and also holds onto the siphon that is formed by the loop that goes over the glass wall. However, over time (with many other variables) air bubbles can/will form in the siphon. If too much air forms a large bubble, it will drop the siphon. That siphon cannot be reformed without manual intervention. Some say by making the tube smaller you can increase velocity of water and have air constantly pushed out of the tube. This does work, but is the same technique as the overflow box too. The other idea is to prevent air build up within the syphon by having a pump at the peak. This is a good idea in the since that it will never allow air build up. If the pump fails though, it will allow air into the peak and drop the siphon. Part of the reason my build is so complex is to prevent single points of failure. Short of having a tube leak or glass break. The system cannot put water onto the floor. Unless physics are defied.
 

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nokturnalkid, That siphon is a very good idea. I was considering that one too. Maybe even using acrylic pipes to make it look transparent under water. However, it relies on the exact same physics the overflow box uses. The swoop inside the tank maintains the tank water level and prevents the siphon from draining if the water level drops. The swoop at the other end evactuates the water and also holds onto the siphon that is formed by the loop that goes over the glass wall. However, over time (with many other variables) air bubbles can/will form in the siphon. If too much air forms a large bubble, it will drop the siphon. That siphon cannot be reformed without manual intervention. Some say by making the tube smaller you can increase velocity of water and have air constantly pushed out of the tube. This does work, but is the same technique as the overflow box too. The other idea is to prevent air build up within the syphon by having a pump at the peak. This is a good idea in the since that it will never allow air build up. If the pump fails though, it will allow air into the peak and drop the siphon. Part of the reason my build is so complex is to prevent single points of failure. Short of having a tube leak or glass break. The system cannot put water onto the floor. Unless physics are defied.


Yeah that's just one example of something that would work. I actually made a siphon based on some that you can find on the net. These claimed to regain it's siphon once the water level in thetank reaches a certain point. I must say, they worked like a charm. Worked better than overflow box that I had tried. We had an island wide black out a few years back that lasted almost a whole day. As soon as power went back on, system was running like a champ. With a system that uses that sort of syphon, with properly set water levels in your live tank and wet/dry, I don't see where there would be a leak. I would have the water level in the live tank about half way or so. Just below the water level of the live tank is where I would place the feed to the wet/dry. Your wet/dry level would have to be able to handle the extra water in the live tank in case of some kind of failure. As long as the outflow from your return pumps are pretty high in the tank, then there should be know problems. Just add a check valve on the outflow for safety if you want. You can still have the cannister/chiller/heater loop just circulating the water in your live tank. You can also use a product like tom's aqualifter on a timer to purge some of the air buildup, if any, in your overflow tube.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So I thought I would provide an update for you guys. I am not trying to take your ideas and slap them down by the way. Sometimes you can come off sounding harsh in a forum. I am very open to all of your suggestions. Some of them I am considering to implement in a new design.

Some changes are taking place with the design. I can't easily acquire inexpensive 30 gal barrels, but I can get 55 gal barrels for pretty cheap. That will be the first change to my design. I didn't really want 55 gal barrels in my closet, but when I found out how they are not much bigger than 30, I decided to go for it.

jargonchipmunk, I am reallllly considering that idea. I didn't even think glass drilling was possible till I researched it after your post. Looks pretty common around here. I do have a few questions about drilling though. What are the risks involved? Do holes weaken the structure? How many holes are safe to have in the same wall? If anyone can answer these, that would be much appreciated.

After my tank finishes cycling and settles down, I may drain it and remove it off my stand. I have been wanting to change my background away from a cheap plastic back to window tinting. I have seen this in person and it looks much better. At this time, I could also drill holes and put bulk heads in the tank. Let me know what you guys think. I really like the idea of not even worrying about syphons. With my design, I really wouldn't have to worry much about sucking things down the hole either. The only thing I would have to worry about is plants getting it clogged at the top; this is why I was wondering if I could have a few holes in the top.

Thanks in advance!

Matt
 
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