200 G Display 130 G Sump Aquaponics Dwc


Hello everyone, I'm new here so bear with me for the first few posts. I tore down my main display several months back after a slow strain columnaris outbreak that coincided with a month-long stretch of out of town work. I moved all the livestock from a 200/75 system into a 75 gallon to lighten the costs of the antibiotics. Most of the fish made it through the gruesome treatment "Silver Dollars and Marbled Hoplos are tough" and have since found new tanks here or new homes elsewhere. Since it was down already I decided to rethink and rebuild the big display.
I'm in no hurry to get it all back together as the fish going back in will be fine where they are for a few months. I am wanting to have it back up essentially how it was by then but with all of the improvements and bulkheads to attach the second sump and grow bed anytime I get around to it.
The tank itself is by All Glass .5 thick with only the bottom being tempered. Outside dimensions are 72X24X29.5 Making it 205 at the verge of overflow but I keep it an inch or so below the obstruction of trim so that I can watch the fish feed from both angles, reduce the risk of flood and reduce the wasted space in the return chamber of the sump. Some people hate a water line but I enjoy watching big fish hit the surface hard. That puts it at about 190. The rear pane has 2 centered 3/4" bulkheads for returns and my current problem, a 1-1/2" bulkhead at each end for drains. The tank was drilled long before we knew what we know today about keeping drains silent.

I custom fabbed the sump from a standard 75 gallon it has been drilled with a 2" bulkhead for an external pump. The return chamber is in the rear. It's 5" wide and runs nearly the full length of the tank minus a 12" polishing chamber that has given me some flow issues that will be corrected in this build.

The front of the sump 12x48 had a 17" refugium as the first and highest chamber. It got used so little I may reduce or omit it completely with the redesign, Through an under over baffle into a 5" chamber I had planned on using as either an algae scrubber or micro K1 reactor. Neither ever happened, but rather than waste the space I dropped in a big air stone and filled it with bio balls.
The final and largest area housed 25 pounds of lava rock and a 26" tall trickle tower I built out of 5-gallon buckets with the top couple inches containing a drip tray medium sponge and filter floss. That chamber should have stayed roughly the same height as the return but when I upgraded to a 2100gph pump it raised that chamber 2-3" higher depending on how fresh the polishing pads in the next chamber were.

I needed a way to get the sump under the display so I reinforced the stand and cut an oval out of the side. I ripped the 1X4 oak trim and reattached the bottom section to keep the now legs of the stand from bowing and the removed section sits back in place to act as a door but I pretty much never close it.
The refugium was gravity fed by gated water off one of the main drain lines. If I keep the fuge at all it will be pump fed. You can also see min and max fill lines on the return chamber. I have always used internal pumps on this set up that bulkhead is plugged for now. Technically the pump would stay wet all the way down to the top of that bulkhead but there it could create a vortex above the inlet of the pump and blow bubbles into the display.
I don't have any pics of the tank when it was running at the moment may be able to recover them from google. "edit they were never backed up" So what you can't see is the tank also had a custom reverse undergravel running 4 pre-filtered MJ1200 pumps but they weren't enough to power 12 square feet of plate and the new stocking will dig so that's out. There was an internal 36" weir that was reverse flowed by the return. It was a Deep Water Culture grow bed and it held enough pothos to completely cover the back glass I did not need a background. Heating and cooling were done with an ink bird 2way, 2 300w Eheim Jagers and a manual control window ac set to full and blasting right on the back of the tank. The ink bird has an optional 3 min delay for repeated cool cycles so it doesn't fry your chiller. Best $115 dollar chiller ever if your tank happens to be against a window.
The Plan.
The new build will widen the return chamber and raise the baffle from the polishing chamber. How much on either is undecided and I'm open to suggestions? So please give me your input. I know that a lot of premade filter media "ie marine pure" comes in 8" blocks but I don't think I want to go that wide on the return or that narrow on the rest of the filter section. I may also do away with the long bubble trap return but I'd need to purchase wider glass and redo everything not really in the budget. Not to mention its hard to design a chamber for a 48X18" tank that can house Eheim Jager 300w heaters.
The 2" bulkhead will be used to connect the additional 55 gallon I will be placing on the right side of the tank at a 90 and nearly flush with the front of the display. That 2" will tee off to mount the pump inline on its way to the other sump. That should help keep the tank cooler in the summer since I'll be adding nearly a hundred more gallons of water to the system. I will be adding another 1.5" bulkhead in the polishing chamber that will serve as a failsafe sump to sump connection. I still need to build a stand but above the 55 I have a 48X18X13 grow bed that will most likely be DWC and grow leafy greens. The 55 sump will most likely only have 3 chambers: drain input, mechanical filtration and return.
The main display needs a modern drain system as the previous, especially with the manifolds, was loud. They both ran as air mix to prevent siphon because one had an SLO pipe on the inside of the tank. I won't be using that again or the internal grow bed. They both just stood out way too much in the tank and the weir gave skittish fish something to slam into when startled. I lost a red spot severum to a swim bladder injury she received smashing into the thing. I will be adding 2 6X6X34 beds over the tank to give the same green carpet effect to the back of the tank and hide all the plumbing
I have a problem though as there are several holes already in the glass. I think I will be using a bean animal style system on the left side of the tank. The only real modifications will be that I won't be using a weir and the main siphon and emergency drains will be on the upper left draining nearly straight down into the original sump and the relief will be on the upper right draining nearly straight down into the new sump. You don't need to skI'm a high flow freshwater tank. Having the relief creates at least some flow in the secondary sump that didn't pass through the media in the original sump fist. That should allow for higher flow rates through the sump for more mechanical filtration without passing too quickly over the biofilter. Hopefully, that also means I won't need any more than 1 powerhead in the main display they are hard to hide.

I know I'm leaving things out but I've been on here too long typing this up need to go change some water. Please let me know your suggestions or if there are any real problems you see with my plans. I'll try and get some more pictures of the tank the way it was and I will be taking pics as this build progresses. Thanks for looking


Welcome Aboard!

First off you make me happy that you use sumps. LOVE sumps! So your overflows, are you looking at not having anything in the tank at all or would an internal overflow box be out of the question? I say this because you can build your over flow pipe into a durso style and put an airline flow valve in the top which makes it SILENT. Works like a champ on my 125's, 75's and my 350. I am doing the same on my new 500.

Refugiums are great but that more power to drain as far as a grow light. You could get the same kinda effect with an algae scrubber....of course you are still using light. A timer works wonders in this case. If you do an internal wet return pump as long as the return chamber has sufficent head height you shouldnt have a bubble draw.


Internal box is pretty much out. I had one but it flowed into the tank not out. I ran pvc from the bulkhead all the way through it. They had holes in them that fed it and had the loclines on the outside of the box suppling the vast majority of return to the tank. It was a giant eye sore to me but made it look like a reef tank if you happen to like the look. The tank as a whole the first time was kind of an eye sore as I tossed in what ever I had to solve problems, you can tell by the multiple layers of glass in the sump. I put it together in 2 weeks because I was leaving the country for a couple months and needed a much larger tank than a 75 for the stability lowering the chances someone else would kill my fish while I was away.


Well, you can do a 3" pip inside to the bottom with a cap on one end and then a weir cut in the top with a downpipe for your durso overflow. You can hide that with rocks or a 3d background. Or you do an elbow with a shortie pipe with a slit weir in it with a capped end. Either way you will have surface skimming and a quiet overflow. Plus loss of power you only have so much water return to the sump before you lose suction. With the pvc pipe in tank and weir at the top with a down pipe your overflow never loses prime and will stop if your pump loses power.


The problem I see with a Durso is that I would need two independant boxes and would to drill 2 more emergency overflows. Unless its at full siphon 1 1.5 couldnt handle my current pump. I can close them individually and when I would shut one down to clean I only had about 5 mins before it would flood.


Most of the research and planning of the rebuild has happened in the last 2 weeks since I've been unable to get around after minor surgery on both feet. I've been back on my feet a couple days now and decided to get some work done on the tank today since I go back to work tomorrow. After that regular tank maintenance on all the QT tanks will take up most of my free time. I moved the tank away from the back wall out to 26" from 14". I thought 14 would be enough to get in behind for maintenance and it just wasn't. I was always terrified I was going to break something back there. That also gives me almost enough room for the grow bed to sit flush beside it. Moving the tank away from the other wall was impossible by myself so I used the scissor jack from my car to shove it out. I was then able to actually get behind it and take pics of the old plumbing.

The manifolds worked great but they were LOUD! and my fish room is getting converted back into a living room so its got to quiet down considerably.


I also drilled the hole for the siphon line and tried to make ABS bulkheads as natural looking as I could.


I'm not worried about the scratches on the back but there are a few on the side and some coraline etching I am considering buffing while the tank is empty. The seal is in great shape for being 10 years old other than a tiny razor nick or two. Would any of you risk damaging that to get the tank only a little bit more clear?

I have also decided to try to reuse the original ABS drains and bulkheads saving me time and money. I just need to re-route the drain on the right side. They are muffled free air and can handle almost all 2000gph each. I'm hoping using the Herbie method with an additional oh @$%! overflow cuts out the noise.


I have another Question for anyone with long term experience with back drilled tanks. Other than the plastic trim this tank is unbraced. It has had plumbing through the back for 10 years and now will have even more. Would you take the time and spend the money to remove the trim and top brace it 360 and put the trim back? Leave the trim and just add a couple front to backs where the lid supports are, easy but will make taking the trim off without breaking it later near impossible? Or not even worry about it since in all likelihood Ill be moving in a couple years and it will all be taken back down then anyway?


I won't be building the second sump now. I traded a 2.5" gold nugget pleco and 4 2.5" red spot gold severum to a friend for a couple scratched acrylic tanks. 45 gallon roughly 47.75X13X16 1/4 thick. Just need to cut and weld baffles I'll put the second one under the 75 you can see in the upper left background


So some progress, I'll take pictures soon. Much more work needed ASAP as my EBA are trying to breed in their grow out and aggressions are high. They are healthy again and laying on the heater but I had to separate and medicate the mated female for 14 days because of a bacterial infection she got from wrestling around with the dom male.
I have the sump out and nearly cut apart. wd40 is doing most of the work for me since I don't have much free time to spend on the build. I'm also in the middle of immigration and hoping my 11-year battle is finally won and my wife and son can come home so I'm not throwing any money at this at the moment so it's slow going. That being said my living room has to not be a fish room soon so getting all this squared away is on the priority list. I am building and carving out the internal plumbing pieces now because it takes so long for the paint to cure. I should have pics of that next week if only in the prep stage. I also picked up a 120 that I am going to be tearing apart and rebuilding as soon as this tank can hold fish with a canister. I already built the stand so I could footprint the room and keep 2 tanks as well as couches but I'll do a full pic step by step on its build. It will be my first external over flow build.


Beginner Parent Fail. All eggs are gone maybe the aggression will die down some and afford me more time to finish the big tank. I got a couple more pieces of PVC filled today I should be able to carve them tomorrow. I also now have all of the baffles and top and bottom trim removed from the sump so I should be able to at least have it as clean glass by the weekend. I'm not sure if I have enough glass to rebuild it yet so I'll dig through my pile tomorrow and hopefully find enough without wasting long sheets on short baffles. If I need to order glass that will have to wait until next week and I won't be ready for the build until then anyway. I have enlarged one of the overflow holes from 1.5 to a 2 "still need to polish out all the micro starts" it will be the emergency overflow now instead of the secondary because I don't see a good way to flow the tank with drains on each side. The siphon and secondary will now be on the left and flow will be to the right with a powerhead at the bottom right blowing back to the left to complete the cycle. The first return on the left will be a spray bar at the surface that I will carve out like roots and paint as I did the overflows and the second and possibly third will be my old lockline pointed right and down with RFG heads


Not ready for paint yet. My first attempt at building the plumbing from standard parts then covering them with a cap layer of carved elbows and couplers proved too heavy to use. I scrapped that idea and decided to try and at least closely form the pipe and grind it shallow enough to use it. A leak here and there is a bonus siphon stop on the interior even though it's more visible I started there. I'll have to be way less artistic and much more engineer on the external pipes.

20180724_222851.jpg I also learned that bending 2" is harder than I thought. The skimmer weir overflow will take as much time as everything else combined. I still have a ton of bending before I drill and add limbs to the long overflow weir. Once it's built I'll run it through multiple passes on the table saw to create teeth at the correct depth.


20180825_122725[1].jpg I found some potable safe epoxy so I had to add some branches. Is it safe? yes Is it tolerable to breathe before it cures, NO! Easy to work with? NO! It's a 2 part epoxy designed for PVC saddles part # 10813 made by weld-on. If your options become this or a totally new idea I suggest the latter. I can't say for sure how strong it is yet because I haven't gotten it wet, but the description says it's "nearly" max strength at 24 hours and it's just as weak of a joint after 2 coats as it was with none. I should have just planned a way to use PVC cement but I had to get the .5 pipe inside the other and once you put that stuff on its there.
I spent 20 bucks more on something just for filling gaps and bonding PVC but it comes with its own problems. First and foremost it's thick and tacky so it gets everywhere and ruins otherwise good surfaces. Second, it can only be used and cured outside because the chemical odor is powerful. It's difficult to work with, it sticks to everything other than where you want it so be prepared for lots of waste and tons or work removing the epoxy from unwanted places. Finally, it swells with gas as it cures forcing you to keep a constant eye on it to pop bubbles and retain what little strength it claims to have.



I have a couple pieces painted just have to let them cure a week before I polyurethane them. I'm not a hundred percent happy yet so I might lighten up the offshoot on the branched piece.



Just got offered a bunch of free glass to rebuild my 75 gallons sumps. That makes things so much less stressful. I can build it the way it should be for the system and it won't interfere with the strict budget.

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