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Tank Test #1: Quite a fail. For now.


kortniee

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So... it's been a while since I posted anything to this blog. Because it's been a while since I did anything with my giant tank. But it was moved to my new house this past Tuesday, so I figured it was definitely time to get moving on putting it all together.

I carefully assembled all the pieces. Then we measured for and installed some plant hooks, which I will use to suspend the light fixture. Oh, it looked so good. Like this:

2013e225b5e75870ea29ef1af85bab6c.jpg

Then I filled it with water! That was exciting, and nerve-wracking.

A picture of my nail-biting anticipation:

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That part went fine. And then the water reached the overflow level, and began pouring down into the sump. And that was fine. So I waited till the sump was fairly full, then stopped filling. And then I turned on the pump that returns water back to the tank...

And it worked fine! Hooray!

But, since none of the whole system was tested, I needed to make some adjustments. And here is where I found the heartbreaker of the night. We were draining some water out of the sump to give ourselves a little water-wiggle-room, so I could take one of my standpipes out and drain the overflow chamber. Well, when I did that, the water flowed down into the sump... and the whole thing fell apart on the inside!

This is what it looks like right now:

63dcae911b346845ea36e7d8f5369a03.jpg

As a reminder, here is what it used to look like:

finishedsump1.jpg

For some reason, the sump was fine while I was filling the tank with water, and while the pump was running, but when I stopped the pump, and then drained more water into it, 2 of the 3 baffles failed. I siliconed the bejeesus out of those suckers, too!

So... I gotta fix this somehow. I basically have two options.

1. Completely rebuild the sump. I am not positive this would work, since I did everything I know how to do the first time around already. I don't know how to do it better. I am sure I could do it better; I am just not sure how to go about that.

2. Abandon the sump and get a couple of canister filters. The overflow system would work fine with these, and I could keep all of the plumbing parts actually in the tank already, but replace what's under the tank in the stand with canister parts. I could repurpose my pump for draining my aquarium during water changes.

Right now, I am leaning toward option 2. This is kind of sad, as I've put a lot of time and money and thought into the sump, and I really like the idea of designing my filtration exactly how I want it. But, I am a little worried that I will rebuild it, only to have it fail again. I know that a canister would work fine in this situation--many people use them with built-in-overflow aquariums with lots of success. In some ways, they are better, because they cannot overflow like a sump can under certain circumstances (though there are tons of things you can do to prevent this; I don't want to scare anyone), and they tend to be loads quieter than the rushing waters of a sump.

I think if I were to get canisters, two Fluval 306s would probably be good. That would put me at about 6.7x turnover with the pumps. This would be expensive, but more or less guaranteed to be alright.

Anyone have any thoughts on the matter?

18 Comments


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  • Regular Member

Oh, I'm sorry, Courtney, that's really heartbreaking! :(

I think canisters would be good options, if that's what you decide to do.

The other thing that might be worth exploring is to set up a thread to discuss the sump. I know that Sakura built hers, and that worked pretty well. I think David (ichthius) did also, so perhaps you guys can troubleshoot?

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  • Regular Member

That's too bad, Courtney! How disappointing to be so close to being set up only to have it fail.

However, I still admire that you designed and built the sump yourself.

good luck! I look forward to seeing what you decide.

MJ

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  • Regular Member

I have realized that I have a third option, which is to buy a sump. However, those are stupidly expensive, so I probably will not be doing that.

Oh, man, that stinks. You did such a good job on it!!

Thanks Shawn. It is sad, but the whole thing was an experiment so... no guarantees I guess.

Oh, I'm sorry, Courtney, that's really heartbreaking! :(I think canisters would be good options, if that's what you decide to do.The other thing that might be worth exploring is to set up a thread to discuss the sump. I know that Sakura built hers, and that worked pretty well. I think David (ichthius) did also, so perhaps you guys can troubleshoot?

Going into this, I looked a lot of sumps, including Sakura's; I even asked her about the design of hers and what she liked and didn't like. But in addition, I looked at dozens of marine tank sumps, and as many sumps set up for freshwater as I could find (they're not as common here on the non-salty side of things). It probably comes down to silicone technique or something like that (which I did research on also!), and I don't particularly trust my ability to get better at that aspect of this. I feel like I prepared well and failed anyway. At this point, I think I'd rather get something more reliable just so I can finally stop waiting to use this tank.

Maybe someday I will revisit the sump. I am just not sure I'm up to it right now.

That's too bad, Courtney! How disappointing to be so close to being set up only to have it fail. However, I still admire that you designed and built the sump yourself.good luck! I look forward to seeing what you decide.MJ

Thanks MJ. :) I will definitely continue the saga of this tank as soon as I do something else with it.

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  • Regular Member

I'm sorry that happened. :( I think you need to use thicker acrylic for the separators in the sump though. When I first built my sump, I used thin acrylic like that from the hardware store and did it all myself just like you did. I brought it to the fish store to show the employees my idea, and they all said it would fall apart in a second if I used that thin plastic in my sump. So I took their word for it and had them make me one out of nice thick acrylic instead and it works great! It did cost a little more having them custom-make something for me, but still not nearly as much as buying a prefab sump- those are stupid expensive! I'm sure yours will work fine as long as you rebuild it (or get a fish store to build it for you) using thicker acrylic.

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  • Regular Member

Sorry Courtney, but with all the activity with your new house, I would just go buy the canisters and revisit the sump further down the line.

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  • Regular Member

:( ugh that sucks. I can't wait to see this tank up and running!

I can't wait either! Minor setback... I will get this done! :D

I'm sorry that happened. :( I think you need to use thicker acrylic for the separators in the sump though. When I first built my sump, I used thin acrylic like that from the hardware store and did it all myself just like you did. I brought it to the fish store to show the employees my idea, and they all said it would fall apart in a second if I used that thin plastic in my sump. So I took their word for it and had them make me one out of nice thick acrylic instead and it works great! It did cost a little more having them custom-make something for me, but still not nearly as much as buying a prefab sump- those are stupid expensive! I'm sure yours will work fine as long as you rebuild it (or get a fish store to build it for you) using thicker acrylic.

I did use the thick acrylic for the one "water-bearing" wall in the sump--and that was the one that failed (and took down the one after it). I think it was the silicone, and my lack of skill applying it, that did me in here. :( I know it's tricky to silicone acrylic to glass, as they both have totally different ideal bonding methods. As I was researching this, I did definitely entertain the idea of having one made for me, but I was more excited to try making one myself, because that's half the fun, you know? Unfortunately it didn't work out. Thanks for all your help through the process, though! I really appreciate it. :)

Sorry Courtney, but with all the activity with your new house, I would just go buy the canisters and revisit the sump further down the line.

This is actually what I have done. I ordered two canisters online because it was significantly less expensive that way. So now I just wait a little longer and I should be good to go! I will have to figure out the plumbing connections, as I'm sure the tubes I have right now are much larger than the ones that come with the canisters. But they make all kinds of plumbing adapters, so I'm sure that'll work out.

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  • Regular Member

If it helps at all, I have a Fluval 206 it works great. The new 06 models have a better priming system and they strengthened parts as well, so don't be too discouraged! I'm really sorry the sump didn't work out for you though, I've been watching your blog and you did a wonderful job putting everything together.

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  • Regular Member

I don't know Courtney... the pieces of acrylic you used all look a little too thin to me. All the pieces need to be made of thick, high quality acrylic for it to work well. And even if you buy the acrylic from a fish store, you can still put it together by yourself- that's what I did! I showed them my design and they cut the acrylic pieces to size for me. Then I took it home and siliconed it together by myself. Both my sumps are holding up really well with this method! And I didn't do anything too special or crazy when applying the silicone either, I just used a lot of it, that's all. Well, I'm sure you'll have better luck with your canisters at least!

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  • Regular Member

If it helps at all, I have a Fluval 206 it works great. The new 06 models have a better priming system and they strengthened parts as well, so don't be too discouraged! I'm really sorry the sump didn't work out for you though, I've been watching your blog and you did a wonderful job putting everything together.

I think the canisters will work well; I'm pretty excited for them to get here. I would have liked to have a filter system I made and could be proud of, but this is certainly not a bad situation either! :D

I don't know Courtney... the pieces of acrylic you used all look a little too thin to me. All the pieces need to be made of thick, high quality acrylic for it to work well. And even if you buy the acrylic from a fish store, you can still put it together by yourself- that's what I did! I showed them my design and they cut the acrylic pieces to size for me. Then I took it home and siliconed it together by myself. Both my sumps are holding up really well with this method! And I didn't do anything too special or crazy when applying the silicone either, I just used a lot of it, that's all. Well, I'm sure you'll have better luck with your canisters at least!

Hm. How thick is your acrylic? The fish stores around here all just want to tell me I'd be better off buying a premade sump (I think it's just a local culture thing; there are waaaay more saltwater dudes--yes, definitely dudes, not just men--than freshwater enthusiasts and they all want to spend a ton of money on their tanks for some reason) but I talked to some guys who claimed to know acrylic at a local shop and they thought mine would be fine. Mayhaps you just have better acrylic dealers. :)

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  • Regular Member

I know exactly what you're talking about and... I think they are compensating for something! LOL

I just went to look at my sump and all the acrylic parts are 1/4" and they are really strong! They're really rigid, I can't even bend them if I try. But it doesn't look like any of your acrylic broke, it just came apart at the seams, right? What a huge bummer. :( The drip tray is the only part the aquarium shop people put together for me, and the guy used some kind of special method to actually fuse the parts together. Everything else was siliconed together by me.

I feel bad that this happened after you put so much work into everything! At least you have some nice canisters on the way to look forward to now.

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  • Regular Member

I know exactly what you're talking about and... I think they are compensating for something! LOLI just went to look at my sump and all the acrylic parts are 1/4" and they are really strong! They're really rigid, I can't even bend them if I try. But it doesn't look like any of your acrylic broke, it just came apart at the seams, right? What a huge bummer. :( The drip tray is the only part the aquarium shop people put together for me, and the guy used some kind of special method to actually fuse the parts together. Everything else was siliconed together by me.I feel bad that this happened after you put so much work into everything! At least you have some nice canisters on the way to look forward to now.

My middle baffle was also 1/4", and it felt super beefy. But, like you said, the silicone seam was where it failed; the acrylic itself is fine.

aa9113ac.jpg

Helen, I probably would do that if I were to remake the sump again. However, the poor media baskets were just collateral damage in this particular accident. :) Actually, when the sump is running, they float! Just a little, but I didn't think that was going to happen...

After looking at the forensic evidence, I think I know more or less what happened. You guys see that little bubble in the silicone, just below the bottom left-corner of the media basket? I didn't notice it before. The silicone is now extra destroyed right about where that is. That's the side that came loose on that piece of acrylic; the back side (from the perspective of this picture) is still attached to the glass. If I had to guess, I'd say the baffle developed a leak right there, which weakened that side. Eventually, the water separated that entire side from the wall, which then swung to the right away from the water pressure. This pushed my media baskets to the right also, which pushed the smaller rightmost baffle loose from the glass as well. With both of their support baffles now loose, the media baskets then fell down.

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  • Regular Member

This tank is gorgeous, and I'm so sorry it's giving you trouble. :(

Could you tell me exactly what you had to buy to mount your light? I found the plant brackets at lowes today, but what is the metal wire that the light is hanging from?

Would this kind of setup work to mount a dual t5 ho fixture?

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  • Regular Member

This tank is gorgeous, and I'm so sorry it's giving you trouble. :(Could you tell me exactly what you had to buy to mount your light? I found the plant brackets at lowes today, but what is the metal wire that the light is hanging from?Would this kind of setup work to mount a dual t5 ho fixture?

The actual wires are the hanging kit that goes with the light fixture. Here is a link to both the light fixture I bought as well as the hanging kit. The light I have is the 48" freshwater and the hanging kit is down at the bottom there under "Suspension Hardware."

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