DIY Sump/Refugium ideas

chevyguy8893

Based on the ideas I was given yesterday I have been coming up with different ideas. This will be a 29 gallon freshwater tank with a 20 gallon long sump/refugium. It may be overkill and some may think it is pointless on freshwater, but after going through the benefits of it and future expansion I will be going through with it.

The overflow will be a DIY overflow box with the u-tube from the eshopps overflow. The box will be divided on the outside of the tank so the siphon won't be lost. The water will run into a 3/4" slip/slip bulkhead which will have a 3/4" I.D. pvc pipe running to the lower tank.

Now for the outlet off of the pump. This will be the same 3/4" pvc with two 45 degree angles, one ball valve, and two 90 degree angles fed into the top tank. The measurements will have to be decided upon later based on the stand to calculate head loss. I don't see more than four feet of pvc being used. The prime candidate for a pump is the maxi-jet 1800. This pump would be a little overkill at 475 gph, but it has adjustable flow and room for larger tanks possibly.

The rest of this is in my drawings. Basically 3-4 eggcrate media trays housed between two panels, a 7 gallon refugium (to be used for plants, invertebrates, and a quiet place for fish acclimating), and a 2 gallon pump housing. The water line will stay well below the top in case of power outages. Let me know how the initial thoughts look and criticize away if needed, it will be the only way to learn . No making fun of the drawings though.



 

scotty b

sounds great perhaps you can even add a wet/dry filter in between the tank and the Refugium
 

aylad

Overkill? Probably. Awesome? Definitely. ;D keep us posted!
 

ryanr

Looks pretty good.

3/4" PVC is capable of handling about 660GPH, so it's a good size for your application.

I'm not a fan of rigid tubing on the return line, instead preferring to use normal flexible tubing. I can't remember what the reasoning is, but when I was researching my sump, flexible tubing on the return was recommended.

You may also want to investigate/consider a Durso standpipe or Stockman standpipe to help quiet the gurgle sound from the overflow.

When positioning your return line, also consider drilling a couple of siphon break holes, about 1" below the water surface. This will help regulate how much water can drain from the display when the return pump is turned off (power outage or maintenance).
 

scotty b

you could do something like this
but with plants
 

chevyguy8893

Overkill? Probably. Awesome? Definitely. ;D keep us posted!
Haha, can do. It will take a while to do, but it will be nice to have.

Looks pretty good.

3/4" PVC is capable of handling about 660GPH, so it's a good size for your application.

I'm not a fan of rigid tubing on the return line, instead preferring to use normal flexible tubing. I can't remember what the reasoning is, but when I was researching my sump, flexible tubing on the return was recommended.

You may also want to investigate/consider a Durso standpipe or Stockman standpipe to help quiet the gurgle sound from the overflow.

When positioning your return line, also consider drilling a couple of siphon break holes, about 1" below the water surface. This will help regulate how much water can drain from the display when the return pump is turned off (power outage or maintenance).

Thanks for the help, flexible tubing on the return would be a lot easier to work with, and there would probably be less resistance in the line. Would running a silicone line on the overflow work too if I find a different fitting? I will look into the standpipe to see what it takes to make since I don't want to hear gurgling all the time.

Since I am using an overflow box with a small box and the tank and a large one on the outside would I still need a siphon break? From the way I understand the design the water will flow, but only so much till the level drops below the box holes. That way the siphon would still remain, I think.

you could do something like this
but with plats

Thanks for the video, I really like the wet/dry filter setup. It sounds like a much better route to go than the design I have. Now I'm starting to think I may need to do an automatic top-off like he had so I don't need to worry.
 

scotty b

I haven't had a issue with evaporation in my wet dry filter but I may just be lucky ,. I like the idea of a Refugium , people underestimate the effects plats have on good water quality
 

ryanr

Would running a silicone line on the overflow work too if I find a different fitting? I will look into the standpipe to see what it takes to make since I don't want to hear gurgling all the time.
You can run flexible tubing on the feed line (same as a canister filter), although rigid is probably better for a feed line.
Standpipes are fairly simple, just a few pieces of PVC

Since I am using an overflow box with a small box and the tank and a large one on the outside would I still need a siphon break? From the way I understand the design the water will flow, but only so much till the level drops below the box holes. That way the siphon would still remain, I think.
The siphon break on the return line is to stop the water siphoning back down into the sump. When your return pump turns off, the water will drain back down the return line, you need to break this siphon.
 

chevyguy8893

I haven't had a issue with evaporation in my wet dry filter but I may just be lucky ,. I like the idea of a Refugium , people underestimate the effects plats have on good water quality

I guess I will have to set everything up and see how quickly the evaporation occurs. My 20 gallon barely loses water over a week with an open top, so maybe I will get lucky. The DIY float switch doesn't seem hard to make if it is needed.

The water quality is the top reason I'm doing this, right there with the added bio filtration . I consider this practice for the future when I decide to set up a discus tank or go to salt water. I think with this design it will give some wiggle room for a larger tank with only larger lines and pump.

You can run flexible tubing on the feed line (same as a canister filter), although rigid is probably better for a feed line.
Standpipes are fairly simple, just a few pieces of PVC


The siphon break on the return line is to stop the water siphoning back down into the sump. When your return pump turns off, the water will drain back down the return line, you need to break this siphon.

Sorry, I missed the return line part, too much staring at the computer and designing but not enough sleep . I did not think about there being a siphon on that part, but adding a couple holes isn't a big deal compared to a flood.

I'll probably stick with rigid on the feed line then since I have some PVC, and don't have to spend more money for longer tubing.

I meant to ask, do you think the pump I listed is too much? I just wasn't sure if I could get away with one model lower at 294 gph with a max head of 5.7 ft without the pressure being cut down too much. I think I may have to build the overflow and measure how much it flows before ordering a pump.
 

ryanr

Assuming your not pushing water higher than the 5.7ft, then the lower pump would be ok (10x flow).

I would do some research into U overflow boxes, and see how they go about maintaining the siphon. You don't want the overflow to break it's siphon in a power failure, otherwise you end up with the water overflowing the tank.

The overflow needs to be self-priming so to speak so that filtration resumes when power comes back on.
 

chevyguy8893

Assuming your not pushing water higher than the 5.7ft, then the lower pump would be ok (10x flow).

I would do some research into U overflow boxes, and see how they go about maintaining the siphon. You don't want the overflow to break it's siphon in a power failure, otherwise you end up with the water overflowing the tank.

The overflow needs to be self-priming so to speak so that filtration resumes when power comes back on.

Ok, that is good since the other pump is a fair difference in price lower. I don't want to rush water through the refugium and defeat its point.

So far my idea is using two betta boxes, one 0.33 gallons and the other 0.75 gallons. I am thinking of either using a divider or pvc to set the water level in the outside tank. Then when the two levels equalize between in inside box and outside box the flow stops, but the siphon is maintained. There will probably be a lot of trial and error, but that is the fun part of building something.

Thank you for all your help!
 

matsungit

Since you're still building this, here's some more ideas.
Cheap ebay ATO.


If you still want to DIY it then you'll be needing a DC to AC Solid State Relay (separates high voltage from the float switch to the pump) and a small AC-DC adapter for the switch side. I think you're smart enough to come up with the other parts. It's wise to purchase the heat sink along with the relay for longevity. Also some thermal grease for better contact.
Also, have you considered a deep sand bed for your refugium? It helps a lot with nitrates.

Also, you might be interested in making a Hofer Gurgle Buster for your overflow box. Works well for me and extremely quiet. The bubbles in the sump are actually louder.
 

chevyguy8893

Thanks again for the help. I was starting to consider using sand just because I find it a lot easier to work with. Plus, sand looks nicer since I want the sump visible. I did not know that a deep sand bed helps with nitrates though. That is a much nicer DIY for the gurgle buster than I found. It is a lot easier to follow through the steps.

Thanks for the links to the level controllers. I have not gone too far into looking to build an ATO yet for parts, so that is helpful. I came across a float switch ATO on craigslist that I am thinking about getting. It seems like it is worth it to save the cost of parts and build time. Not sure if I am crazy about the idea of only having one switch that can fail.
 

matsungit

Nice float switch since it has a built in snail cover. Snails or debris can accidentally trigger the switches. I've seen on a website that they used a bottle with holes to enclose the switch.
For a deep sand bed you need the sand to be 4 to 6 inches in height for optimal anaerobic bacteria growth. Some even employ the Jaubert method. Named after Professor Jean Jaubert who employed the technique at the Monaco Public Aquarium. The Jaubert method employs a plenum or void underneath the deep sand bed for anaerobic bacteria and plankton. The sand is suspended by eggcrate with a net, then coarse sand then fine sand. You can raise the eggcrate by sections of PVC piping. It takes about a month or more for the DSB to mature. It is very important not to disturb the DSB. If you have to you can vacuum the DSB only to about half an inch deep. Going deeper will disturb the anaerobic bacteria and kill them releasing hydrogen sulfide and other organics than can mess up your water parameters. Don't worry though, a mature DSB self cleans. You can skip the Jaubert method and just employ a simple DSB if you want. There's constant debate about plenum's effectiveness anyway.
 

chevyguy8893

I am probably going to contact the seller and get it from him if it is still available. Maybe I can get it cheaper since it has been for sale for a couple months now. That may mean there is something wrong with it though.

I am really liking the deep sand bed idea now. I am going to read into the Jaubert method to learn more about it. From the way it sounds, and correct me if I am wrong, that the very slow moving water under the sand bed would be why it would grow bacteria and plankton better. By the time the water passes through the filtration media I don't think there would be much debris to settle in the refugium, so I wouldn't think there would be much cleaning needed. Plus, I am planning on having RCS in the refugium part with najas grass or java moss (using egg crate at the top of each glass panel with a mesh to keep things contained). Now I wish I could set this up on a 75 gallon display tank instead of a 29 gallon. Oh well, someday I will have my own discus tank .
 

matsungit

With a 20 gallon long refugium serving a 29 gallon display tank, it would be like a large filter. I'm excited to see your project plans succeed! You're understanding things the way I do now and I like your approach. I guess great minds think alike. LOL. The slow moving water deep under the sand and in the plenum creates an oxygen depleted environment for special bacteria and plankton to grow. Most of them converting nitrate into nitrogen and hydrogen sulfide. When mature, you would see occasional bubbles pop out of the sand and float to the surface. I'm not sure if they are CO2, nitrogen, or hydrogen sulfide but it's good evidence that your nitrates are being consumed. Youtube has great videos on deep sand beds. Most are for salt water but the same concept applies to freshwater. Newyorksteelo's deep sand bed video is a popular one. The brown patches you will see in between the glass and sand bed is not dirt but algae that feeds on light reflected from the glass. It's only on the side of the glass and no where else within the sand. If you can see through the bottom of the tank it would be clean. If you disturb the deep sand bed, that part would turn black (meaning the bacteria died) and would form hydrogen sulfide gas pockets. Oh, it would be a good idea to aerate the refugium to quickly dissipate these gasses.
 

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