Sump On Multiple Tanks?

Discussion in 'Filters and Filtration' started by Fishlover832, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Fishlover832Valued MemberMember

    Hello. Had quite a lot of questions about sumps and I've researched a good amount just can't find some answers. I have a 29 gallon and a 20 gallon long. The 20 will be for African dwarf frogs and the 29 will be for various small tetras and such. Both will be planted. I've heard combined filtration is risky, but in your opinion do you think 1 sump would be okay? This next one may sound stupid, but no one's been able to answer this question: would a sump suffice for a tank, or do you also need another type of filtration such as a HOB? Would a section with plants in the sump be a good idea? How many levels and with what media would I need for the sump? Anything else I should know about sumps for planted tanks? Thank you!
  2. ounderfla69Valued MemberMember

    yes but it wouldn't be advisable. You would only need a sump since they are planted tanks you only need mechanical and some biomedia, since they are planted tanks. You don't need a refugium but you can have a spot where you can grow out some plants or keep them temporarily.

  3. bigdreamsWell Known MemberMember

    How are you arranging the tanks? If sump returns in to the 29 then that overflows into the 20 gallon tank, then that overflows into the sump, it could work. It's basically how Petco and other fish stores have their filtration set up. A sump using two pumps, one into each tank would be be tricker to get the correct amount of water without overflowing sump I believe.

    A sump would be overkill for the fish you plan to keep, HOBs would be fine.. you could add a DIY filter for additional mechanical filtration if you really wanted to. Keep it simple!

    Remember, disease will easily spread through all your tanks if using a central filtration system.

  4. Fishlover832Valued MemberMember

    The 20 is set above the 29. I guess it would probably be easiest to drain 20 to 29 then to sump and back up again. The only tank that truly needs pristine water to be successful would be the 20 gallon tank for the frogs, so that would work out. Will the water that flows into the 29 still be somewhat filtered water, so would it still be efficient to set it up like that? Doesn't have to be top quality. I'm not worried about diseases being spread, and if worse comes to worse I always have a 5 gallon and 10 gallon tank ready. I know a HOB would be easier, but I want the setups to be clear without filters and heaters showing.
  5. Fishlover832Valued MemberMember

    I've been thinking about the sump I'm going to setup and having thought about the comments I've gotten, would some other type of filtration just be easier? I bought a 20 and 29 gallon tank together with a vertical stand for them (one on top of the other). If I were to choose another way of filtration, what would it look like? Two separate HOBs, canister filters, powerhead? My point is that I really would like to simplify this all with one sump but you guys have expressed otherwise so I was wondering what exactly you were thinking. Thanks!
  6. bigdreamsWell Known MemberMember

    Summary: So, 20 long with mattenfilter corner filter plus powerhead DIY filter for mechanical. Similar set up for 29 gallon tank. In other words, all internal filtration.

    I got carried away writing this:

    Here's my very subjective personal opinion given my two year journey with planted tanks, betta tank, African clawed frogs so far (currently running three tanks). Not a fan of canisters because I hear they can leak and that's an absolute no go in my apartment. Wife and neighbors would kill me. Also not a fan of their price point. Not a fan of their anaerobic nature (once power goes out it goes anaerobic quickly or so I have read). Sump give me alot of options, ridiculous amount of volume for bio media etc. And it is complete overkill for my tank, I think. (I have large schools of fish but no poop machines and not heavy bioload fish like African cichlids. My pH is nearing 6, so it's not like I can even grow beneficial bacteria, and ammonia isn't all that toxic at that pH level. Anyway I digress. The sump was fun but definitely a luxury item for my tank. It can also leak but designed correctly it is safer than canister filters IMO.

    HOBs, used them, like them but don't love them. The new Seachem Tidal is pretty cool, I like the surface skimmer feature, but the flow rates are to high for my smaller tanks. I hate how HOBs get stagnant water surface when the water level drops. I currently have HOBs on my ten gallon tanks.

    As much as I like sump it doesn't do mechanical filtration well, partly because of my purposely low flow rate but also because debris must make it to the surface to get filtered out. I think that's why people like canisters, the filter intake is near substrate usually. However if canister leaks catastrophically, you could empty out a lot of your tank volume via siphoning action.

    So all that to say, what has worked very well for me is treating mechanical and biological filtration separately, not trying to combine them in one filter. By doing both in one filter you make compromises, but don't achieve optimal solution. So I tuned my sump to do 3x biological filtration. Yes 3x. Not 10x, which won't do much for biological. I added circulation pumps for increasing flow in the tank (which is needed by the plants to get nutrients around the tank etc. For mechanism filtration I polish my water with a DIY filter consisting of a powerhead with an inverted Solo plastic cup stuffed with polyester fiber, same stuff sold at craft stores for stuffing pillows).

    So for next planted tank (if I ever do another one) I would heavily plant, avoid the need of a biological filter, or if I really wanted to, I would do a mattenfilter corner filter for biological. Also add in DIY filter for polishing water. Dump the filter floss weekly.

    So this is all internal filtration. No leaks etc, can hide the heater etc behind the corner filter, very easy to maintain. mattenfilter is cleaned once a year, yes, once a year unless clogged earlier). Filter floss changed weekly or biweekly. No leaks, perfectly silent filtration. Yes!

    I tend to consider this to be "intermediate" to "advanced" filtration because of the DIY element and because you need to think about the bioload of the tank, do more research, and set up an easy but unconventional filtration system.

    So, 20 long with mattenfilter plus powerhead DIY filter for mechanical. Similar set up for 29 gallon tank (maybe just Poret foam block with powerhead (i.e. a high end sponge filter) because I hate the noise air pumps make)
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
  7. Fishlover832Valued MemberMember

    Wow. Lots of amazing information. I'll try something like that and start researching the ideas you gave and try to do each filtration separately. I just have a few questions. When you said 3x biological filtration in your sump, did you mean 3x the gallons of your tank for the flow rate or 3x of actual biological filtration the water went through in there? I'm assuming I would run separate sumps for each tank. Lastly, for the 20 gallon tank, I am stocking African dwarf frogs. I have been under the impression, and have known from personal experience, that they do not like a lot of water flow. Should I do anything to accommodate their needs, or will that interfere with plant growth too much? Would taking out the powerhead on the 20 gallon be too harmful to the plants? And just to make sure I'm adding up costs correctly, this isn't going to be very cheap, correct? Assuming I have the tanks for sumps but nothing else. Thanks for the help!
  8. bigdreamsWell Known MemberMember

    I was suggesting internal filtration for your tanks. I.e. no sumps at all. No HOBs, just sponges and powerheads. An AquaClear Powerhead 20 is about 120 gph, so that's going to give you 6x turnover on your 20 gallon (120 gph / 20 gallons = 6 / hour).

    When I say I have 3x turn over for biological filtration in my tank I am saying, I have a 55 gallon tank, only 40 gallons of actual water volume (substrate takes up a lot of space in the tank) plus the 20 gallons in the sump = 60 gallons total water volume. The return pump is flowing into the tank (at 4 feet head height) at 180 gallons per hour. So 180 gph / 60 gallons = 3x per hour. This works because there is no "bypass" in my sump. All the water flows through the filter media. Canisters also have no bypass. hOBs on the other hand have a lot of bypass .. not all the water actually goes through the media, therefore you need higher flow rate for biological filtration. In other words it isn't efficient.

    Hope that helps.

    For the frog tank, consider a HOB with a Hydor II sponge as a prefilter. They sell them on or American aquarium products website. It attaches to the AquaClear intake tube. So great biofiltration, and you get a AquaClear 30 so the flow isn't too out of control on your tank.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2017
  9. Fishlover832Valued MemberMember

    Now I see. Didn't notice you noted that you would just heavily plant to help with that part of filtration. So in summary, the 20 gallon frog tank would have something like an AquaClear 30 with a Hydor II sponge for prefilter. Then the 29 gallon community tank would have something like an AquaClear powerhead 20 and a filter (probably a DIY) for polishing water with filter floss. Should I think about a mattenfilter for any of the tanks? Would doing all of this internal filtration take up a lot of space in the tank, meaning less fish? Thanks for this. I'll keep researching filtration possibilities based on what you gave.
  10. bigdreamsWell Known MemberMember

    Do some Google research on the various ideas I shared with you, to see if they are something that interests you. Part of the fun is the journey itself, which means trying different things and probably spending a fair amount of cash along the way, LOL.

    My sump build thread has some useful links on mattenfilters in the first post or two: How to setup mattenfilter sump for superior filtration

    Water polisher DIY with some bio media for fun:

    Another Joey, King of DIY video, this time on corner HMF or corner sponge filter:.
  11. Fishlover832Valued MemberMember

    Thanks for the information and videos. Trust me, I've spent so many hours, probably over a day's worth of time, watching those King of DIY videos (THEY'RE AWESOME!). It's just so addicting. I'm actually trying to stay on a budget plan so I don't end up throwing money away for anything that doesn't end up working out, which is why I'm asking questions before I buy. Another thing is that I haven't really delved deep enough into filtration on tanks besides your normal HOB filter for 10 gallon tanks, so this is all new stuff. And this is my first time making a planted tank. But I'll definitely explore and look at all these filtration types. I think the most confusing part about this is what I actually need and what everything's purpose is. Thanks again!

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