First Time, 37 gal FOWLR with sump refuge

Discussion in 'Saltwater Beginners' started by SteierFoam, Apr 4, 2010.

  1. SteierFoamNew MemberMember

    First of all, first post ever! I have been reading this site non stop for about 2 weeks now. This site rocks! I have learned more here then my last 2 weeks of upper level college courses! Thank you!..

    I have recently received a 37 gallon tank and stand as gift! I have grown up with fresh water tanks since I can remember and managed a 55 gallon until about 4 years ago. I have always dreamed of a salt water tank and nows my opportunity!

    Plans: FOWLR for about a year until I am educated enough, with an established tank, to add enenomies and coral. Like I said, 37 gallon tank, I have been researching like no other and have convinced myself that an overflow sump/refug system is the way to go. I only have room for a 10 gallon tank in my stand, I want to keep my skimmer, heater and a refug in my sump, as well as a natural/biological filter suck as LR crumble. I am planning on buying my skimmer and return pump, and build my sump around it, problem is I only have room for about a 10 gal sump under my stand, and realize that is a small space to fit a protein skimmer and refug, with and higher risk of the sump overflowing during a power out.

    For the Display Tank: I want to use about 45 lbs. of live sand and 50lbs. of live rock. I plan to cure the LR and sand after my sump system is set up. After I have cured rocks and sand in my DT I plan to slowly add fish. my first fish is going to be 2 clowns, i know cliche... but im a sucker for them, a couple shrimp or snails on clean up crew, and add a few more coral friendly fish... remember I want to set this up to someday be reef!

    Here are a few questions i need help with, remember i'm a rooky, so sorry if you have all answered this stuff already, THANKS!

    1. Am I biting off more than I can chew?
    2. I really want a sump! and want it hidden in my stand! is a 10 gallon sump not worth it, is it gunna be possible to fit room for a LR filter system, decent quality protein skimmer, allege refugium,and a pump large enough to circulate my tank?
    3. My tank is glass, I don't want to drill it, is an overflow system the way to go?
    4. Where should I start on picking out a protein skimmer?
    5. How big return pump would I need to run the 37 gal w/ 10gal sump? How big plumbing tubes? does overflow syphon size matter?
    6. I want quality LR, how much more base rock should you have compared to, say figi LR?
    7. Is ordering LR online worth the savings? Can you really just throw it in, add cured rock from the LFS and poof, cycle!
    8. What would you do different if you were me?
  2. ATPWell Known MemberMember

    What I would do is get a HOB skimmer like a CPR bakpak is really nice quality, and good skimmer-  
    Than I would put two baffles on the 10 gallon tank just to fit the return pump. The first Baffle before the return pump goes all the way up starting an inch above the tank bottom. The 2nd baffle will start an inch after the first one. The first baffle starts all the way to the top. An inch from the top starts the 2nd baffle and goes all the way down. So two chambers. Overflow frains to refugim and pumps back and skimmer is HOB. You will need a few powerheads :)[/QUOTE]

    Yes, you could also do smethings with PVC, but I say overflow is a less complicated way. (HOB)

    Browse marine depot and aquacave and just find one with good reviews. That browse the internet about it and see how it goes. :) The CPR bakpak is nice as stated

    Depends on what overflow you buy, the fittings should show you what size and if they don't give you the GPH, just post the size of the fittings.

    I only use baserock as the first layer. Everything else is normal LR
    RED=Baserock seen
    BLUE=Baserock unseen

    buying onlie does save you. Cured LR does make things a lot faster though. I've never bought LR from a store or online before actually. All my LR is purchased from Craigslist and a local reef club for much cheaper price-meaning like fiji is atmost 3-4 bucks a pound. (I wouldn't buy anything above 3 bucks)

    Try and fit a bigger sump

    Hope this helps!,

  3. SteierFoamNew MemberMember

    Thank you very much for the feedback, still alittle confused,

    so you want me to use a HOB skimmer: my sump separated into 2 chambers? so drain into refug, baffle, then the second chamber with hang on skimmer and pump back in....
    would I still be able to use Bioballs or LR crumbles right after the drain before the refuge? anywhere i can get some sort of 10 gallon blueprint?

    so buying an overflow is the way to go, or can I just make an overflow box myself, seems like basic physics...
  4. ATPWell Known MemberMember

    HOB skimmer is on your display. There won't be any chambers of the overflow pipe. It just drops in into the fuge. The way the two baffles is to prevent ubbles. When water flows down the first one, there will be bubbles so the 2nd on thats raised will prevent the bubbles from coming through because air goes up and water passes through at the bottom.

    You could make one, but make sure to check for leaks :)
  5. zeeterWell Known MemberMember


    As the previous poster said, if you can fit a larger sump in there then try. Not sure of your dimensions, but perhaps a 20gl tall or 20 gl long. Maybe even try a rubbermaid container. I have a 25 gallon rubbermaid in mine. The biggest benefit is that you can squeeze it in there if it doesn't quite fit - though I managed to make a crack in the top of mine. Benefit, though - imagine if that crack had been on the sump tank!! I also run a separate refugium that sits in the sump. The way it works is that it sits higher than the sump water line and is fed by my skimmer return. It's a little bit too much volume, but I will be fixing that by drilling a couple of holes in the return tube. I read once that a fuge should have 1-2 turnovers per hour. HOB is probably the best way to go if you simply must use that 10 gallon tank. They also make HOB refugiums, though that might be pricey for what you're doing.

    Also of note is that using a sump, and filling it with around 6-8 gallons (to account for overflow) you're increasing your tank's water volume by 6-8 gallons. This helps in that the larger the tank, the easier it is to maintain proper water chemistry.

    If you mean a HOB overflow, then yes. I am always reluctant to use them as I'd sit at work all day just praying that it didn't lose suction and pour 20 gallons of water all over the floor. You'd be alright, though, since you'd probably only have about 8 gallons of water to clean up should disaster strike.

    Rule of thumb is always get 2X the protein skimmer rating than your tank size. I have a 75gl and use a skimmer rated at 150gl. As for picking one out, you'd have to search the web for that. Try Dr Fosters and Smith.

    Generally you want to turn the tank water over 10x per hour. Get a pump that will do that. People take into account the distance to push from under the tank to the display, but unless you're going more than five feet or so I wouldn't worry about it.

    As for the tubing, when you get your overflow it will either include the tubes or indicate what size to get.

    For syphon size, they usually come with the overflow. Watch for bubbles in both your siphon and your return. The siphon and return should both have enough pressure to push the bubbles through. If they don't then try downsizing them a quarter inch.

    For 50 lbs of live rock I would simply get it at the LFS. They charge around $4.50 lb or $5.50 for premium. It is generally fully cured at the store. Plus you can pick the rock. I've bought live rock that had mushrooms and other things on it. You can't do that if....

    Buying LR online you don't know what you're getting. It requires full curing and to me, it's not worth the hassle.

    I'd bear in mind that while I'm saying FOWLR now, within a few months I'll have a couple of corals in there. That's just the way it works, unless you have a specialty tank.

    Also, if you're using 50 lbs of live rock you won't need bioballs or any biological filtration in your sump. The live rock in the tank will be a very efficient biological filter and will also give you more room in your sump. Furthermore, depending on the type, you might not need to put the skimmer directly into the sump. You could put the skimmer pump into the sump and just make sure your return leads back in there.

    There is a lot of debate over whether or not use mechanical filtration within a tank. Some are completely against it while others swear by it. Me? I use filter fiber and activated charcoal. I found that after using it overnight the water was crystal clear. With your system you could probably use a sock filter for this, thus providing more room in the sump.
  6. SteierFoamNew MemberMember

    lol, yea i plan on adding corals, thats why i want the whole sump set up and fuge, but I have read to wait atleast 6 months of stable water conditions before even thinking about it... and im still a broke college student, corral is expensive, not to mention the LIGHTS, fans, chillers, powerheads...

    I just really want to put a sump and fuge under my small as ****, 27 gal tall stand. Anyone know the dimensions of a 20 gallon tall, and how hard is it to add baffles to a plastic tube?

    P.S. thank you both for the suggestions, very helpful!
  7. zeeterWell Known MemberMember

    go to They should have the dimmensions. Keep in mind that once you have it set up it is extremely difficult to change it out. I started with a 20 gallon tall tank which I put in through the top before I put the display tank on. I had to crack the glass to get it out, which is why I'm sticking with rubbermaids from here on out.
  8. ATPWell Known MemberMember

    Its not always hard to get the sump depends on your stand. I custom built mine for this purpose. Every vertical beam (not including the 4 at the end) can be easily taken out to remove the sump.
  9. zeeterWell Known MemberMember

    Wish I had that luxury, ATP. I checked both sides and the center support. Nothing came out without cutting and I was very reluctant to do that with a 75 gl tank on top of it. Lesson learned is to get a stand with a side door in the future.

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