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Sump Design



I don't have the tank I want to use as a sump yet, but that doesn't stop me from thinking about how I am going to put it together once I get it. I've spent a lot of time looking at other people's sumps, but as with everything (it seems), I feel the need to tinker and make my own design.

In this particular case, what I want is the ability to install my Aquaclear 50 hang-on-back filter on the sump itself. This will give me this ability to keep it cycled, in case I need to use a cycled filter in a QT tank. It also will assure me that the filter is still working; I have found that pumps have a tendency to stop pumping if left dry and unused for too long. Putting it on the sump and not on the main tank will keep it out of sight.

This means I need an area of the sump where the water is close to the top of the tank. This is not a feature of most sumps, as you generally want a lot of extra room for the water that flows back down into the sump after you turn your pump off. So my area of high water, ideally, needs to be fairly small. This is what I came up with:


(The design has a grid that's meant to be roughly 2-inch squares, but they are not exact. For instance, I probably won't have the water level a whole 4 inches down in the high-water bit; it will probably be more like 1.5-2 inches.)

The water will flow down from the tank into a filter sock, which is made out of a fine material to catch all of the solid waste. Ideally, these are changed out very frequently (some people do it daily) to take the waste out of the tank before it turns into high nitrates. From here, the newly un-gunked water will flow through some ceramic filter media (I wrote biomax here because it's shorter; I haven't bought it yet and may well end up with a different brand), which functions better when it's fully submerged. After it does that, it will go back up and over a ledge into a drip tray, which will spread the water out and sprinkle it through a series of small holes over a basket filled with bio-balls, which are plastic spheres with ridges that give a lot of surface area. They work best when they are wet but not submerged (which is what the wet-dry in wet-dry filter refers to). I plan to have about 5 gallons of these. After the water makes it through the bioballs, it'll fall down into the bottom of the sump, where it will be pumped back into the tank by the pump I wrote about here.

Here is a side view of the sump design, which shows where I will put my Aquaclear.


I'm not sure how close to this my sump will actually end up being. My projects have a way of changing while I am making them. But this is what I'm shooting for.


Recommended Comments

  • Regular Member

I like the design overall, Courtney.

Fede, I think your system needs these filter socks. Remember we were discussing the issue of accumulated gunk?

Courtney, question for you: why both ceramic media and bio-balls?

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  • Regular Member

very nice, courtney! you are good at this :) i would never be able to figure this out!

Thanks Mandie. I didn't start out good at this. It's just a lot of research!

I like the design overall, Courtney. Fede, I think your system needs these filter socks. Remember we were discussing the issue of accumulated gunk? Courtney, question for you: why both ceramic media and bio-balls?

Fede, if you want to get a filter sock, this is what I'm getting. I'd look for something similar. I ordered two so I could clean one out while the other was in place.

As for the ceramic media AND bio-balls, it's probably not necessary, especially given the fact that I'm historically a chronic understocker. And I know that the beneficial bacteria will only grow a big enough colony to deal with the waste I give it. But I overbuild things, and I have all this room for media... there's this empty space there, you see. :) I just like having backups.

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  • Regular Member

LOL. Me, too. I think it's a great plan overall. There will be bacteria on all the surfaces, although you still might need to expand them out for QT, given that you understock.

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  • Regular Member

You put it over the exit end of the pipe that dumps water into your sump. The ones I bought can be purchased with a holder that will attach to 1" PVC pipe. My PVC into the sump is larger than that, though, so I'll be rigging up some kind of a holder for it myself.

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  • Regular Member

Hm. I went and found that one video you made a while ago about your filtration and I am not sure where you would put something like this. It might help some if you figured out some way to attach it on the inner side of your lower filter intake, but I don't know how you would strain the water flowing into the overflow box. You would have to do something else, but I don't know what the something else would be.

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