DIY Sump

Sorg67

Member
I have an empty 20 long at the moment. I also have a 40 breeder that has a canister that is too tall to fit in the cabinet under the fish tank. I am wondering how difficult it would be to convert the 20 long into a sump.

I do not understand the principles of how a sump works. In some cases, I believe they involve cutting a hole in the aquarium. I do not want to do that.

I think it is also possible to feed the sump with a siphon and then use a pump to return the water to the tank. I believe it is possible to engineer some water level monitoring systems so that you do not empty the tank if the sump pump fails or clogs. I think as simple as a small hole in the intake siphon at the minimum water level works to terminate the siphon if the water level falls too much.

Then, I suppose the speed of the siphon would govern the flow of the system. Does the pump back into the tank have to exactly match the siphon speed? Or does it have an on off switch controlled by water level? Seems that would be odd to have the pump go on and off all the time.

Or is they a way to have the siphon seed automatically moderated to match the flow rate of the pump.

Must be some spiffy way to engineer this.

Is there a document that explains the principles of sumps? I have done a few searches and I have found some plans for how to build a sump. But I am not really interested in plans. I am more interested in understanding the principles so I can design my own.

Seems it would not be too difficult to design a system of flowing the water through the 20 long to provide the desired sequence of filtration stages once I understand the water flow control mechanisms.

John58ford - Bet you could write a book on this.
 

FinalFins

Member
Ok from what I understand you have an overflow or a pump pumping water to the sump below- which has different parts/sections, such as a refugium, wet dry system, putting heaters in there, various media, chemical filtration methods and what I hear about in the saltwater hobby referred to as "algae filters", then is pumped back up to the main tank.
 

Wrench

Member
You have to remember why the holes are drilled in the main tank though...it is over your concern of water level and overflow, if you were to eliminate the holes and do what you are stating I would use 2 powerheads of the same make and flow rate.
I have thought about this before.
Tanks have to be the same size as well main and sumped.
One power head in the main tank at the bottom,one in the sump tank at the bottom on the opposing side of the other power head, equal length hose and see what you get.
 

Rcslade124

Member
Ok your flow rate is backwards. The flow has nothing to do with the syphon. Flow is determined by your return pump flow. Your overflow or syphon has to be able to handle the flow of the return pump. So if your return is pushing 400gph then your overflow needs to be able to handle atleast 400gph.

Drilling a tank is scary but it is the safest way to avoid floods. That being said I know your 40g has fish and to move fish and empty the tank would be alot of work. But personally that's what I would do. They make hob overflow like this one here is top of the line.

others have good reviews on eshoops pf-300.
Yes a hole in the drain and return lines at minimum water level will break syphon and help with floods. But if your drain breaks syphon and return pump is still pumping then you will flood.

Like final fins said a sump is pretty much an open top canister. You will drain into one section. Better to have drains 1/2-1 inch into the sump. That then flows into mechanical filtration ex. Filter socks. After that it flows into a refugium. Then to a return. For saltwater atleast. I'll attach my salty sump. You can put heaters down there to hide the equipment.

For freshwater I would try to put biopellets into where the drain lines go. To make a type of fluidized reactor. Then I would flow into a filter sock. After the filter sock I would do a refugium that's just a bunch of plants and maybe some shrimp. This would help with nutrients. That would flow into the return section. Pics of saltwater sump and overflow that's deilled
Hose in front is return. The box is overflow.

this drains here and flows into socks

then into skimmer section not needed for freshwater

then refugium

then return
 
  • Thread Starter

Sorg67

Member
It seems it would be difficult to get power heads that had precisely the same flow rate. I was under the impression that weirs and other such level driven flow control mechanisms were used to keep flow rates in balance.
 

Rcslade124

Member
Weirs are to skim water line clear of oils and films. The overflow is just a drain. The overflow must be able to handle the flow of return pump.

I would desing sump like this with biopellets instead of balls


See the drain into pellets will keep them moving. Then looks like it drains from the bottom through egg crates. I would then do a heavily planted refugium to remove some nitrates the a return section.

I have thought about putting a 10g sump on my 29 gallon

I'll honestly wait until I upgrade my freshwater tank to a 40g breeder. Then I will drill it and add overflow and add sump. But that won't be anytime soon.
 

John58ford

Member
I'll get you started on the easy track: first watch king of diy's overflow videos. There's one where he makes a double horseshoe and puts it into a pipe weir, that's the easiest one without drilling holes (I believe he calls it the improved version or something). Next you will need 2 drain pipes for redundancy, I'd recommend you replicate the ones I used in my 20 long, but put one on each rear corner, also instead of the fancy smancy steel screen I foolishly used, just use a piece of sponge if you want it "fry safe". That will keep the water level at the height you want it to be. Finally, a 40 gallon tank will need a 170-240 gph pump to run the water back up to the tank at 4-6x turnover. After head loss you would probably be looking at a 350-450gph pump.

To avoid overflowing, put the pumps in the final, and importantly, downhill chamber of the sump. If for any reason both overflows fail, the pump will run only the last chamber of the sump dry and it will not be enough water to flood the display.

I'll try to come up with some clickable links for you if I remember to come back to this one but only had a couple minutes this morning.
 

Flyfisha

Member
Having seen a few sumps with fish living in them I feel it changes my perspective on them.
Seems like a really good way to complicate something simple.

You write of a 20 gallon and a 40 gallon . That two sponge filters and two tanks. Why go out of your way to complicate it any more than that?

If you want to have all the water together in one tank you could mess around with a bridge that allows fish to swim up over and down into the other tank.
If you want something really weird have you seen upside down tanks? The smaller tank sits upside down in the other and fish swim up into it.

Often done in ponds as a gimmick.

But seriously a sump is more suited to a large tank or number of small tanks connected together.

kiss = keep it simple mate.

40 seconds into this video there is a good example of the benefits of one sump to filter 40 odd small tanks .

 

LightBrownPillow

Member
Lots of good info here. You can also browse through this channel for some good info & maybe products. (No affiliation)

 
  • Thread Starter

Sorg67

Member
Flyfisha said:
kiss = keep it simple mate.
Agree, a sump for a 40 breeder is an unnecessary complexity. But it is an intriguing project. Especially if I can do it and un-do it if I do not like it. I would like to understand how it works better.
 

Johnez

Member
Sorg67 said:
Agree, a sump for a 40 breeder is an unnecessary complexity. But it is an intriguing project. Especially if I can do it and un-do it if I do not like it. I would like to understand how it works better.
Flyfisha said:
Having seen a few sumps with fish living in them I feel it changes my perspective on them.
Seems like a really good way to complicate something simple.

You write of a 20 gallon and a 40 gallon . That two sponge filters and two tanks. Why go out of your way to complicate it any more than that?

If you want to have all the water together in one tank you could mess around with a bridge that allows fish to swim up over and down into the other tank.
If you want something really weird have you seen upside down tanks? The smaller tank sits upside down in the other and fish swim up into it.

Often done in ponds as a gimmick.

But seriously a sump is more suited to a large tank or number of small tanks connected together.

kiss = keep it simple mate.
Wanna see something REALLY weird?

This little "system" ran for over a year with zero issues. Unbelievably difficult to tune correctly, but ran just fine. PVC overflow connecting to a TINY sump filled with pot scrubbies (note "prefilter" lol), which is also fed with "new" water (8 gallon dog food container, food safe plastic) pumped in by Tom's aqualift, which causes the overflow of dirty water into the waste container (another 8 gallon dog food container). I was never able to tune this for weekly water changes, always slightly off and had to check every day lol. Anyway, meanwhile a quiet little eheim pumping from the sump back up to my grand *drum roll please*....36 gallon bow front. Lol!


 

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