Bio-balls are kind of like eggs, right?
So, continuing on with the work on my sump, I made a whole bunch of stuff out of egg crate. Egg crate is a plastic grid that's actually meant to be installed under a fluorescent light to diffuse the light around the room, but which is actually beloved the world over by DIY aquarium enthusiasts.
The first things I made are a couple of media baskets to hold my bio-balls. Two, in fact. Why two? Well, bio-balls have a bad reputation for being "nitrate factories." This is kind of misleading, because you and I know that a plastic bio-ball could not generate anywhere near as much poo as even a baby goldfish, even if it tried. But the reason the bio-balls have this reputation is that without precautions, the large surface area can attract and hold a lot of decaying matter, which eventually does end up as nitrates. I am primarily preventing this through the use of a micron filter sock as the first thing through which my water passes as it enters the sump, but I overbuild things and like backups. So I am dividing up my bio-balls into two baskets, so if I need to, I can take one out and clean the bejeesus out of it without disrupting the cycle too much.
So on to the construction! I used the plastic picture frame that I made into a drip tray as a guide, and cut my pieces up.
I put the pieces together with zip ties. One of the finished products looks something like this:
Two finished products with a drip tray on top look something like this!
You may notice that I need more bio-balls. I carefully calculated the volume I would have available for media, and ordered 4 gallons of bio-balls to fit. Well, here is a crappy picture of my 4 gallons of bio-balls, in a 5 gallon bucket.
It's probably more like 2.5 gallons. I have ordered more, from a different retailer. They should be here soon, and then I should be set.
While I was working with egg crate (which is a pain to cut, by the way), I made a few more things for the inside of my sump. The first is a holder for the micron filter sock I mentioned above. Basically, I cut enough egg crate to rest across the top of the tank on the inner rim like a glass canopy or hood would, then cut a hole in the egg crate just big enough for the filter sock to sit inside with the rim resting on top of the egg crate. As I was making this, I realized I needed to modify my drain plumbing a bit to make everything fit together correctly, so I cut some of it off. After that, it all looked good! (I should point out, in case it's not obvious, that a good glass of iced tea is completely necessary for an endeavor like this. A husband is a reasonable idea, too, if you have one lying around.)
The last thing I made is a little platform to rest MORE bio-media on, this time in the form of ceramic cylinders. They will just be plopped on top in media bags. Here's what everything I made looks like in my sump tank!
The media baskets will be several inches off the floor of the sump, but I need to install the acrylic baffles before I can install their supports. So for now they are on the bottom of the sump. But you can get a good general idea.
Basically all I need to do to finish this is to get those baffles installed. That's my next project, which should be done in the next week or so. It's lookin' like a real sump now!