Idea for Combination Emersed Hydroonic Planter and Sump…will it work?

Chalupacabra

So I started setting up trays for growing non-aquarium plants hydroponically in my aquariums using these trays. I caught this video


and really like the idea, but I keep smaller tanks (20 long, 29 gallon) and the planter box would work best if it covered the entire back, which would come at the expense of the hang on back filter and other devices that rest on the back of the tank.

I’ve been toying with the idea of building a sump for one tank (followed by more for others if I like the first build) and I realized that this would help to clear the back of the tank…except it would require the addition of an overflow.

Then along came the four most dangerous words in the English language:

I have an idea.

The purpose of an overflow is to prevent flooding in case of a power outage. This planter model utilizes a pump to get water from the tank to the planter basket. In her build, the drain on the basket is set up so that, from there, it drains back into the tank.

What if it drained into a sump instead? This could then be used to house the filter, heaters and, for lack of a better word, play with other ideas. Since there would be pumps sending water both outside and back into the tank, with a couple check valves in place, in case of a power outage, the whole system just stops. No risk of flooding.

Also, with the plants in the tank and the planter adding additional filtration, the tank should be quite clean!

I do have some concerns, however.

If the planter is sitting directly on the tank, that’s an additional 50+ pounds of weight on the glass. These are basic, rimmed tanks, but having that much weight applied to only one side of the tank seems risky. This could be offset by using shelves over the tanks, which I had also considered.

There’s also just the general rule of increasing the complexity of a system: the more points of failure a system has, the more likely it is to break down.

That said, it struck me as a potentially fun experiment and I’m curious if anyone had set up something similar and had any thoughts, experience, or advice they could offer me. Any input would be greatly appreciated!
 

SouthAmericanCichlids

If the planter is sitting directly on the tank, that’s an additional 50+ pounds of weight on the glass. These are basic, rimmed tanks, but having that much weight applied to only one side of the tank seems risky. This could be offset by using shelves over the tanks, which I had also considered.
I have been thinking about doing something like this with my mom for a while, as she loves making decorative plant pots and other plant stuffs. And I've thought about the weight thing, but I have seen people who fill half of the their tank with sand. And they are perfectly fine. And though the sand is displacing the water, it still weighed (About, if my shaky math is right) 30 lbs more. And could you just put it in the middle instead? And even on the side, maybe just put a weight on the other side.
 

Chalupacabra

Moving it to the middle is an interesting idea. I wouldn’t do this on something rimless, but on a rimmed tank, it should evenly distribute the weight across the rim, right?

it would make opening the lid and placing the light a pain, though.
 

MoshJosh

Check out FishMan on youtube as well as some of King of DIY stuff. The former in particular has many builds that incorporate plants both aquatic and terrestrial.

My first though/concern is running 2 pumps to run the one system (if I am understanding correctly). Think you are almost always better off with 1 point of failure vs 2.
 

SouthAmericanCichlids

And depending on which fish you have you may not need a sump, you could just use the plants and put some media in with them. For heating, as I have been learning recently a lot of fish don't need heaters, I saw a video saying this, then I looked at wild temps and it was accurate.
 

Chalupacabra

My first though/concern is running 2 pumps to run the one system (if I am understanding correctly). Think you are almost always better off with 1 point of failure vs 2.
I agree, one pump would be much better, but I’m not sure if a single pump is enough to keep it all running? Maybe I’m underestimating the pull of a single strong pump?

I’m all about simplifying and streamlining, and it’s likely that just having one easily-accessible pump in a sump would be enough to produce a current that runs the system easily.
Check out FishMan on youtube as well as some of King of DIY stuff. The former in particular has many builds that incorporate plants both aquatic and terrestrial.
Will do, thank you!
And depending on which fish you have you may not need a sump, you could just use the plants and put some media in with them.
I agree that the sump is likely unnecessary.

Part of me just really wants to tinker with it as I have never set one up before. At this point I have media baskets set up inside the HOB filters that host materials and heaters alike. The only things in the tank other than fish are rocks, plants, driftwood, and substrate. The two stream tanks I have also contain powerheads.

Between plants inside and outside the tank, I’m sure the nitrate and other waste products will be managed. I like the idea of adding water volume to thin nitrates and having room to tinker with media and configuration, but it does seem like overkill for the size of the tanks.
For heating, as I have been learning recently a lot of fish don't need heaters, I saw a video saying this, then I looked at wild temps and it was accurate.
About half my display tanks have no heater. I have one that needs to run at about 82°F and 2 that need to sit at 75°-79°F. While the latter is usually not an issue in the summer, it gets pretty cold here in the winter and my place can get a bit chilly.

The more I read/watch, the more it seems like, if a sump is employed, it would be better to have the water go there first, then up to the planter box and back to the tank.

Depending on the strength of the pump, this may eliminate the need for powerheads In the stream tanks as I could just feed back into a bar to produce current. I’ve been considering switching to sumps in these tanks for awhile just for this reason. These are the tanks that currently have passive hydroponic terrestrial plant systems.

I’m still leaned toward separating the planter from the tank. This simplifies maintenance and removes the issue of added strain to the tank. Since I’d like to have the option of adding fruit/vegetable plants to the planter, I’ll need to add lights to the trays, so a separate shelf makes it easier to do so.

That said, I’ve also considered adding the planter under the tank, with lights built onto the stand and a sump beneath as this may be easier to set up. It would lose a lot of visual impact, however.

On an unrelated note, is there any way to fix the thread title? I’d like to get the “p” in hydroponic. I’ve been kicking myself for not catching that before posting!
 

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