Freshwater Sump

Discussion in 'Freshwater Aquarium Builds' started by Qwickwitz, Aug 23, 2019.

  1. Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    I'm building a custom DIY sump for my 180 freshwater tropical tank. Ill be using a 40g breeder. I have most of the build figured out, I just need some advice on mechanical filtration, I would like to get my water as clear as I can, down to 50 microns or less if possible, I'm starting with a 300 micron filter sock then i want to step down to 200 micron then 100 then 50. I know that a 50 micron pad would clog almost immediately but what if i stepped down to that size? Could i still keep my cleanings to once a week? Or Could i accomplish my goal with filter floss? Just the cheap polyester quilt batting? I just want something thats going to pollish my water to god like levels of clarity that I don't have to clean everyday! Is that too much to ask? Also I'm shooting for 6X turn over, should i go for more or less when using a sump on freshwater?
     
  2. coralbandit

    coralbanditFishlore VIPMember

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    IME with my sump on my 180g anything under 100micron needs to be last and by passed if clogged easily .
    I have drawers with mechanicals [3 levels on my marineland model 4] ] then sponge for my bio then 100micron pad in water supported by 2inch thick poret sponge ..
    The 100 micron pad needs cleaning every couple days .I used 40b for sumps but found the width too much trouble if not divided for flow path ..I like water bridging 12 inch tanks for my sumps..
     
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    Thanks. Got any pics?
     
  4. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

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    I've never used a sump but I did do a lot of investigation a while back and spent time planning on how I would do it. This was for a tank that has since been moved to the back burner.

    300 micron seems incredibly fine as a starting point. My plan was to do some kind of vortex settlement area as the first stage of the sump. I never did work out exactly how I'd do that. Maybe put the inlet hose in the side of a funnel. The spout of the funnel would lead to some containment that could be easily cleaned. The vortex should move the heaviest stuff to the center and out the bottom of the funnel. Everything else would flow over the top of the funnel.

    Then there were a series of filter foams -- 10 PPI, 20 PPI, 30 PPI, 45 PPI. 2-3 inches of each arranged vertically so they'd start clogging at the bottom while still being able to pass sufficient water further up. This would delay cleaning as long as possible. I figured if I did it right I'd only have to clean the 10 PPI foam once every couple months and the others would probably go a year or more.

    I don't know exactly how you'd work filter mesh into the system after that. The material for those filter socks has to come from some place. If you could find sheets of it you could stretch it over frames that would fit in the sump. I do see 100 micron polishing pads on Amazon. You'd need a frame of some kind to support it but something like that should be able to slot in after the foam pads.

    I think this needs to be done somewhat like sanding wood -- start with the coarsest grit and slowly work your way down to very fine. If you start too fine you'll spend all day on it. If you skip too many grits you'll be left with sanding marks that will be very difficult to remove.

    Same with filtration. Start with very coarse and slowly work your way to finer filtration. If you start too fine you're going to be spending all your time cleaning that filter media. If you skip too many porosities, the finer media will clog too fast.
     
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    That's almost exactly like the idea for my first build, less the the vortex of heavy debris removal, which is a cool idea but i think too complicated for me. I haven't actually built anything yet so I'm open to ideas. I like the idea of a series of foam filters from coarse to fine. Do u think having a single 2" chamber/baffle with the foam stacked in the chamber starting with the 10ppi going up to 40ppi 2-3 inches of each? And would you have the water travel down or up through the chamber? Then from there i could send it into my filter sock chamber? I'm making a dual side by side 7" square filter sock chamber out of a 1/4" thick sheet of PVC. Again nothing is built yet im just looking for someone to bounce ideas off of.
     
  6. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

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    I would arrange the pieces of filter foam vertically, with the water flowing through it horizontally. I got the idea from one of the Aquarium Co-op videos on YouTube. IIRC, he didn't specifically address it, but you could see the sump for his huge tank in the background and he had multiple pieces of foam standing on end with the water flowing horizontally. Basically, it was one large chamber with four or five pieces of foam acting as Matten filters.

    My thinking on this is that if you arrange it horizontally like you suggested (and which I was leaning toward originally), the foam with get clogged at a uniform rate across its entire surface. This means the flow will continually slow as the foam clogs. It won't matter how big the foam is, the flow will start to slow as soon as you get any build up of muck at all.

    If you arrange it vertically, the foam will tend to clog much more from the bottom up. The bottom may be completely clogged but the water will still flow mostly unrestricted because the part of the foam that's higher in the water column won't have nearly as much muck. If you size the foam such that half or more of it can be clogged and it will still allow water to pass without the pump chamber getting low, then you'll have much longer between cleanings. (One of my goals with the sump design was to avoid as much maintenance work as possible. I didn't want to do any filter cleaning at all more often than once every couple months, and then I wanted it to be quick and easy.)

    I also gave some thought to using two pieces of coarse foam so I could clean one while the other continued to do the job. I wanted to come up with some way to swap positions without stirring up a lot of muck but never found a good approach to that. The idea was to clean the first piece, slide the second one up to first position, then put the cleaned one back in second position.

    With a 40G breeder as the sump, I'd think about putting a divider down the middle, splitting it into two runs of about 30" each, with a 6" chamber at one end for the flow to change direction. Each run would be about 9" wide and 16" tall. You could use the space at the end for heaters, plants you don't want in the tank, invertebrates, whatever. The 9" wide pieces of foam also seem a bit more manageable while still being more than large enough to do the job. With that much horizontal space you have loads of room for filter foam and also for media to remove nitrates, be it Biohome, Matrix, biocenesis baskets of cat litter, Poret-aqua foam cubes, etc.

    My plan was to use a 20 long as my sump. Running a divider down the middle gave me room for the vortex settlement area, eight layers of 2" foam (two of each porosity), a polishing pad, the 6" turn-around, a pump/heater chamber, and then a 19"x6"x8" space for denitrification media. You'd have 6" more of length and 3" more width on each side of the divider, not to mention 4" more height. You'll have way more room than really needed for media.

    I was afraid the vortex might be overthinking things just a bit, particularly since I'm not going to be filtering a muddy pond or anything like that. My thought was to just get a funnel and cut a hole in the side to fit a hose adapter so it would inject the water horizontally around the side of the funnel. This would create the vortex. The whole thing would sit in a chamber with several inches of Mech (or marbles) at the bottom to break up any currents and allow the heaviest muck to settle out. That water would flow over the top of the divider into the next chamber. The problem with this is I never did figure out a good way to clean it out. I'd have to remove all the Mech and siphon out the muck. Not exactly the easy maintenance that was my goal. In the end it's probably a lot easier to put more coarse foam in the first chamber so it can be easily removed and cleaned.

    My other thought was to use very coarse filter socks in the first chamber. They make coarse plastic mesh socks to fit on washing machine outlet hoses to trap a lot of the lint that would otherwise go down the drain and possibly clog the sewer line. I was thinking a couple of those, one inside the other, would make a decent first stage filter. They're about a foot long so I don't think they'd clog up right away. And they're cheap enough in quantity that you could just throw them away when they do clog.
     
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    That sounds way too complicated. I don't think its possible to make a sump that only needs maintenance once every few months, with that many sponges i think that nitrates would start to rise despite water changes after 2 weeks tops. I have a sump now, i just don't like it, its for saltwater, and I was having to clean filters socks every 3 days or so, but I've made a few adjustments and I'm down to once a week, sumps need maintenance more often, its just part of the gig. I don't really mind cleaning my filters. But after running this sump for 6 months ive exploited a lot of its pitfalls and I think i could make a more straightforward sump specifically for freshwater. I think 1 course sponge a 300 micron filter sock and a polishing stage made of filter floss should do the trick. my main goal is not less maintenance but super clear water. I'm going to add a canister just for extra mechanical.
     
  8. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

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    Sponges don't make nitrates, bacteria do. Bacteria don't just spontaneously generate nitrates, they convert ammonia to nitrites and then to nitrates. You could have a hundred 2" foam sponges in your filter system and you wouldn't get any more nitrates than if you had just one of adequate size to properly filter the system. Nitrates depend on the amount of ammonia introduced to the system by fish waste and rotting food and vegetation, not on the number of sponges.

    I suspect part of the maintenance issue is the use of filter socks. They don't have all that much surface area so they clog quickly. Combine that with a mesh that's rather fine and you have a recipe for near constant maintenance.

    If instead you use a series of filter foams of decreasing porosity, the muck gets spread out among the different pieces of foam. The coarse ones catch the big muck and pass through the smaller stuff, which gets caught in one of the foams with smaller passages. Use foam with a sufficiently large face surface area and it won't clog for a very long time.

    This arrangement is essentially a series of Matten filters. People using those report time between foam cleanings of a year or longer. Rachel O'Leary has a video where she cleans a corner Mattern filter in a large tank for the first time in 15 months, and she said it probably could have gone longer.

    With the Matten filters in the sump, you have the opportunity for pre-filtering that will extend the maintenance period even longer. Sure, you have to clean the pre-filter more often, but that should be a simple and quick.

    The only reason I was planning to run a divider down the middle was to get a longer linear run. A 40 breeder is 36" long, right? That's long enough as is. So just put large pieces of foam all the way across the aquarium. That gives you over 200 sq. in. of face surface area for each foam. In about 10" of linear tank length you could have 800 sq. in. of foam face surface area. It would take a very long time for that to clog to the point where you'd have to clean it. And the biologically active surface area inside the sponge would be enormous. If I did the math right, four pieces of 2" Poret foam 18"x12", one of each porosity, would give you almost 400 sq. ft. of biologically active surface area.

    What you chose to do with further mechanical filtration after that would almost certainly be gilding the lily, but you could most certainly add more layers of micron-level filter media. All that filtering in front by the foam should keep it from clogging so quickly.

    And you'd still have at least another foot of linear tank space for denitrifying media if you chose to use it. That's enough room for 36kg of Biohome, which is enough for a heavily stocked 450 gallon tank.
     
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    I see, i thought that all the muck and food and fish waste would get trapped in the foam and start to break down and cause nitrates to spike. So water comes in to the sump (I'm using a double Herbie drain) and then just goes straight through the 8" of foam? No baffle or anything first? Then straight into the bio chamber? Then return chamber? Should there be baffles in between these chambers im having a hard time picturing it.
     
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    Ok so thanks to your advice, I spent the morning doing research watching videos and talking to the owner of Swiss tropicals, I've decided to run a foam only sump that will cover both my mechanical and biological filtration needs, and like you said it will cut my maintenance way way down. I'll be using the Poret brand of foam. I will have 1x10ppi 2x20s and 1x30 all 3in thick with fluidized media in the middle, no baffles or chambers just friction fit foam. I may add an air pump in the fluidized chamber for aeration and possibly a pvc grate right before the return chamber. The heater can go in the return chamber as well, very simple and straightforward. Screenshot_20190827-104305_Chrome.
     
  11. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

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    My design has an initial an over baffle prior to the foam pads. That gave me the option for some pre-filtering or just a settlement area filled with Mech or something like that. Then came the foam pads. My intent was to stop at the 45 PPI foam pad, but you could put filter floss or micron filter material after that. Then another baffle just to keep things separate. A light diffuser grating might suffice there. Then the denitrifying media. My original thought was Biohome but the Dr. Novak biocenosis baskets filled with cat litter and laterite seed a much cheaper way to go, so I might experiment with that. Then another pair of baffles. Not sure a pair is really needed, but you only get one chance to get the physical arrangement right without tearing it all apart again, so it seemed prudent. The pump and heaters go in the last chamber.

    I planned to put light diffuser grating between the foam pads to keep them separate and provide some support in case the foam sagged or bent in the middle. It should also make it a bit easier to pull one out without disrupting the whole thing. If the foam pads are sized so they are an inch above the normal water line but still a few inches below the top of the sump, this will provide for overflow in case one of the pads completely clogs. That seems unlikely if you're paying any attention at all, but plan for the worst.

    Here's a top down diagram of my initial plan using the full width of a 20 long tank.
    full?d=1566929309.
    The green lines represent baffles that water flows over, red lines baffles that water flows under, and purple are diffuser gratings. Water enters on the left and flows to the right.

    I rather quickly abandoned this idea for the one with the divider running down the middle of the sump so I didn't get this one fully developed.
     
  12. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

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    Swiss Tropicals is an excellent choice. My only concern would be that 18" of foam might be a bit wiggly in the middle with only the ends secured, but you can always add diffuser grating later if needed. Perhaps the 3" foam is sufficiently rigid that this won't be a problem. The fact that nothing is siliconed in place also makes it very easy to rearrange if you decide to shift things later on.

    I'm very curious how the Poret-aqua cubes will work out. By just dumping them in, with gaps around the edges of the cubes, the water should mostly flow over the surface of the cubes, allowing anoxic zones to form inside the cubes and harbor bacteria that will devour nitrates. Did you discuss this with Stephan? I've been curious if he has a recommendation for quantity to deal with nitrates.
     
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    I was also thinking about adding the baffels and grates much like your arrangement, possibly holding the grates in place with a piece of 1/4 glass on either side silliconed into place for support adding to the ease of removal and cleaning. Or maybe just the grates with no support.
     
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    i haven't discussed the nitrate removal of the cubes with him yet, iv asked so many qustion already, but he did say that i would have enough of my foam leftover after i cut to fit to make 4gallons of media witch I'm assuming will be enough but i will ask.
     
  15. JayH

    JayHValued MemberMember

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    I've just been curious about the nitrate processing. I've seen it mentioned but haven't seen anything about how much media would be needed or how exactly it works. I've surmised that the inner portions of the cubes become anoxic zones, but that's just deduction on my part with no confirmation. The moving bed idea seems somewhat contrary to that notion since having the cubes moving and heavily aerated water flowing past them should force oxygenated water deeper into the cubes, reducing the size of the anoxic zone.

    Since you'll obviously have more than enough aerobic filtration with the foam pads, it would appear prudent to maximize the anoxic zones within the cubes.

    I think one benefit of having at least an initial landing area with a baffle separating it from the foam pads is trying to isolate as much of the heaviest muck as possible. Filling that initial area with ceramic rings and having an overflow baffle should keep the heaviest stuff in that first chamber. You'd have to vacuum it out, but that's probably easier than taking one of those large foam pads to the sink for cleaning.

    If you get any info about nitrate processing, be sure to share it here.
     
  16. coralbandit

    coralbanditFishlore VIPMember

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    I like the sponge design .
    I might want some poly fiber/cut to fit in front of all for an easier to clean mechanical, but you will be fine with your plans ..
    I use 2" poret as the last stage in my sump and even with 100 micron pad in front of sponge it stays in place ..The pad needs almost daily cleaning but if I mis the water easily goes over and just through the sponge ..I run my Jeboa 15,000LPH full speed...
    Poret is good stuff and Dr.Steve and Swiss Tropicals are good stuff also ..
    Nice !
     
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    this is what he sent me when i asked him about the aqua cubes and nitrates
    Aquarium Biofiltration - SWISSTROPICALS
     
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    Thanks! I appreciate the input!
     
  19. Islandvic

    IslandvicWell Known MemberMember

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    Can you use a 55g instead of a 40g ?

    Although a foot longer, it's 6" narrower and slightly taller.

    That may open up some possibilities for the design.
     
  20. OP
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    Qwickwitz

    QwickwitzNew MemberMember

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    Not really, i got the 40b on sale from Petco for $50 it was a good deal and it fits well under my tank, i really wouldn't want it any taller.
     
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