Questions about Sumps [retitled]

Discussion in 'Tank Talk' started by superwaterguy52, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. superwaterguy52

    superwaterguy52 Blue Ring Registered

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    Ok, the whole idea of a sump is something I understand. But what I need to know is what all do I need for a sump? Like, what parts are there to a sump, what makes the sump what it is and what do you need to make it effective and useful?
     
  2. dutchcourage

    dutchcourage GPO Registered

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  3. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    A sump is simply a smaller tank set below your main tank, with water flowing between the two. The sump is a place equipment that might be unsightly or dangerous to the inhabitants of the display tank.

    Installing a sump requires three things:

    1) The sump itself: Usually a smaller aquarium that sits in the stand.

    2) A pump: sends water from the sump up to the main tank through a vinyl hose or PVC pipe.

    3) An overflow: this is installed on the display tank and returns water to the sump via gravity. This typically includes a box inside the display tank who's top edge defines what the water level will be in the display tank. Water "overflows" that edge and is sent down to the sump via a hose or pipe. In this way the flow back down to the sump is always balanced with the flow through the pump.

    There are two basic kinds of overflows. The first, and best, involves having holes in the glass of your aquarium and the box installed around them. The other way is a hang-on-back overflow that uses a siphon to transport the water in the box to a second, external box. From there it flows into the sump.

    Dan
     
  4. superwaterguy52

    superwaterguy52 Blue Ring Registered

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    I know those things, but I need to know what you have to keep inside the sump to keep it running, like, what does the actual filtration. What I'm actually looking for is a list of parts like the protein skimmer and stuff.
     
  5. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    I'm not sure what you're looking for here. Obviously you know about protein skimmers. Are you looking for information on biofilters? Most commercial wet/dry filters "replace" the sump in that the water drains directly into it and is pumped directly out of it back to the tank. I personally wanted the best of both worlds so I built a wet/dry inline before the sump.
     
  6. superwaterguy52

    superwaterguy52 Blue Ring Registered

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    To be specific, I know that there is the case made of acrylic or glass. But what I need to know is what goes into the plain old glass (or acrylic) box that makes it a filter. What does the filtration? I know that you don't just have a clear box with water running through it and back to the tank. So what makes a sump a sump?
     
  7. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Architeuthis Supporter

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    You can use baffles to seperate the sump tank into sections. You could make one section into a wet/dry filter with bio-balls, another into a refugium with live sand, maybe some rock, and macroalgae. This is a great way to maintain a constant pod population in your tank and the macroalgae feeds off of the bad stuff in the water, helping filter the water and oxygenate it.

    Check out this link: http://www.melevsreef.com/links.html There are some good examples.
     
  8. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    By definition, this is all a sump is. A sump doesn't need to do any filtration or anything to be a sump. Its just a box with water going through it.

    Some things can be added to the sump for filtration. A skimmer and a refugium are the obvious choices, and a wet/dry filter is a good idea but makes it a bit more complex to design because the filter media need to be above the water line. That's why I put mine inline and not in the sump itself. If you do a Google image search for wet/dry filter you'll see most sumps designed for this have the water level low and the media raised up a bit. For this reason its difficult to design a sump that has both a wet/dry filter and a refugium or skimmer.

    Dan
     
  9. superwaterguy52

    superwaterguy52 Blue Ring Registered

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    Well, I guess what I really need to know is what the stuff does. Here is what I'd actually like to know:

    :confused: What is a refugium and what does it do?

    :confused: What is a wet/dry filter and what does it do?

    :confused: What are these 'bioballs' that I keep hearing about?

    :confused: What is the sump actually? Is it the whole filter setup or just the little box?
     
  10. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    The word sump has a broad definition. Any tank attached to your main tank can be called a sump. Technically "just the little box." Often the filter is in the sump, more often the refugium is; but neither has to be for it to be called a sump.

    A refugium is usually inside a sump. Imagine the sump aquarium with one section partioned off (usually with baffles) with a sandy bottom and some macroalgae. This is a breeding ground for some of the influential little organisms in the tank like amphipods etc. Ideally the pump is in or near the refugium so some of these guys get 'exported' up into the main tank. The pH of your tank water drops a bit at night because photosynthetic bacteria aren't taking up CO2 when the lights are off. If you put a light on the refugium that only comes on at night it will keep the pH more even.

    A bioball is part of a wet/dry filter, which I will explain below. It is a little tiny ball that is made up of a bunch of plastic folds or needles so that it has a lot of surface area to it.

    A wet/dry filter (also known as a trickle filter) is the queen mother of biological filtration. The bacteria that turn fish pee into more benign substances like oxygen. If you want a whole lot of these bacteria you want to create a lot of surface area for them to grow and make it exposed to air. The best home for them is to have a box full of bioballs and have your tank water trickle through them.

    Power filters and canister filters are much less effective because the beneficial bacteria are always underwater and don't get as much oxygen. Some power filters have a "bio-wheel" that gets wet and spins to get some wet/dry action. The downsides of a wet/dry are they take up space and you have to make sure the water that goes into them has a good prefilter because there's a lot of space for particulates to get caught and decompose.

    Dan
     
  11. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    This is what a bioball looks like. If you can imagine a box full of these things, you can see all the area there is for bacteria to grow.

    [​IMG]

    Here are two pictures of commercially available sump with an integrated trickle filter. These are the same piece, but one picture shows the bioballs in it and the other doesn't.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The water flows from the aquarium onto the drip plate with all the holes in it. From here the water trickles through all the bioballs, which rest on the black grid (which is called eggcrate). The middle compartment holds a sponge filter, and then the pump sits on the right.

    This is a decent design. The water level is around the top of the sponge, which means only the bottom layers of bioballs are underwater (remember they work better when they're not submerged). Its generally difficult to integrate a wet/dry filter into a sump because you need to have a low water level. Its hard to run a skimmer or do anything else (like a refugium) with a really low water level.

    The other alternative for a wet/dry is to put it before the sump, as I have done.

    Here are two very good threads (Of course they're good, I started them :lol:). The first is my education in filtration as I was asking questions as I planned my tank:

    Tank renovation - Filtration

    The next thread is photos of my finished setup.

    Tank photos - Finally!

    You'll learn a lot from these threads. They should be required reading for ceph-keeping; if I do say so myself :)

    Dan
     
  12. magikceph

    magikceph O. vulgaris Registered

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    is a sump neccassary for a bandensis cuttleifsh???
     
  13. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    ...along with the disaster that can occur during a power failure !
     
  14. Michael Blue

    Michael Blue Wonderpus Registered

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    Having read all the linked material, I can honestly say "my head hurts!".

    Some incredible info there!

    The book I bought relegates the use of a sump to "more advanced" aquarists, so I've been searching for this info.

    Thanks!!!!!!
     
  15. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    That's fair. Especially given that we relegate the keeping of cephalopods to more advanced aquarists :)

    I hope my threads are valuable to newbies. The level of experience I have--paltry by comparison to a storied reefkeeper like Thales--was earned slowly through multiple iterations of equipment and costly mistakes. And hundreds of hours pouring through old threads on sites like Reef Central. Many people come to this site looking for a how-to on setting up a complex system and to some degree I see the lack of discipline or interest in finding the details on their own as a proxy for a lack of the requisite attention to keep these animals properly.

    Above all, I think the threads linked above provide a logical narrative of sumps and filtration that are more conducive to learning than any syllabus or article I could ever write.

    Dan
     
  16. Thales

    Thales Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    Aww, shucks Dan! :grin: Your threads are great!

    I tend to avoid system questions on TONMO because there are tons of sites out there dedicated to such questions - I like using TONMO for ceph talk. :grin:

    FWIW, I don't care all that much for RC - its too big to be focused on any issue. I like Reefs.org. But, any of the reefing sites have 'New Reefkeepers' forums that are great for browsing to pick up general info. But nothing is going to be better than a couple of good books - I really recommend the complete idiots guide to saltwater aquariums for a general overview, and The Reef Aquarium vol 1 for a more detailed overview. I even more highly recommend seeing if there is a local reef club in your area, joining it, and going around to visit some peoples set ups. Seeing what is going on under the hood is easier than reading it.

    I don't think sumps are for more advanced aquarists, but I guess I think saltwater setups themselves require understanding of a whole lot of issues. Without an overall understanding of the systems in general, an aquarist is asking for trouble. There are a bunch of concepts to grok, but once you get a handle on them, its really pretty straightforward - there are just a lot of things to pay attention to. Oh yeah, everyone has their own opinion and there are a billion ways to skin a tank. People with a good understanding of a saltwater system 'get away' with stuff because they know what any omission leads to, and they know what to be on the lookout for and how to compensate. A lot of stuff recommended to newbies is recommended to compensate for the general lack of understanding. Ha! Weird. Smaller tanks aren't really any easier or harder than larger tanks because they all have their own issues based on the same basic principals. Once you understand the idea of a sump, it seems so obvious, and in fact, I don't think you would want to run a tank without one.
    The thing that I think gets in most peoples way is they want to set up the tank right now, so they get an unsound understanding of the basics, then, after they get frustrated and kill a bunch of stuff, either quit the hobby, or spend even more money on stuff they should have bought in the first place. A learning system is a good thing, and will even help you out in the long term, but almost no one wants to do it - even though most end up upgrading everything within a year.

    Wow. Late night rambly wall of text. Cool.
     
  17. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    All excellent points.

    I've also started avoiding equipment questions for the same reasons--they've all been answered before on this site, and almost certainly in better detail on others. When I start typing an answer to one of those questions, I invariably end up searching through other sites to find relevant threads. At that point I realize I'm just searching for info for those who are for whatever reason unwilling to do it themselves and I abandon the post.

    I have a love-hate relationship with RC. The depth of knowledge that's been posted there--even in a single week--is amazing. Albeit most of the content is from the 'peanut gallery,' its instantly recognizable when someone knows what they're talking about. The problem is there is no organization at all. You can have a half dozen fascinating threads posted every day, but each is buried under hundreds of worthless others never to be seen again. Search isn't effective because there's a hundred go-nowhere threads on a topic, say, drilling a tank, for every one important treatise. You can only find the thing you're looking for if you remember a particular phrase or username.
     
  18. Michael Blue

    Michael Blue Wonderpus Registered

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    Thanks guys. Your points, particularly regarding newbies, is exactly what I haven't started a "is there a step-by-step guide to setting up a reef tank" thread. I know all the pieces are here, or linked here from other sites, I've just got to ask the magic 8 ball that is TONMO the right questions and all will be revealed.

    I know I want to setup a complete and correct system from day 1, and not short-step anything, I know I want to properly cycle my system for as long as necessary, even though I also know that can mean a relatively non-rewarding period of time...The reward will come when I put in my first few "test" species and have great success with them because I was willing to do my homework and be patient and do it right the first time.

    I've been wanting to keep Cephs for many, many years now, and have had tremendous success with tropicals in the meantime, waiting to find a site like this where people like Rich and Jen, etc. were having luck with Cephs. I've bought a few books regarding new marine reef setup and have been reading them non-stop, when not researching points the book skips over online...

    I still have a lot to learn regarding the external filtration systems available and their benefits and detriments to our specific application here. Things like what makes a good protein skimmer, how to properly setup the sump, whether to use a trickle filter or a canister (likely both), and how to make that work properly with a large refugium, as well as having space for hatching babies, staging them before release into the (likely 90G bow) main tank, quarantine, as well as extra space for last minute visitors.

    Just a while longer, just a few more weeks' researching, and I'll be ready to start my build. Hopefully by next year's crop of babies I'll have a ground-up custom (and cycled) system ready and waiting to fulfill what now seems almost like a lifelong dream.
     
  19. Phuntoon

    Phuntoon O. bimaculoides Registered

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    I've never wanted a sump because all the horror stories I've read about when a power failure occurs like the main tank water being siphoned down to the sump and overflowing it all over the floor. I'm not extremely knowledgable on sumps but how do you avoid the power failure overflow nightmare when the return pump has no power?
     
  20. DHyslop

    DHyslop Architeuthis Supporter

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    A correctly setup sump will never overflow. People who report horror stories almost always have done something incorrectly.

    Remember that a sump typically isn't running with the water level near the top. More often its about halfway full. To set up a sump correctly you need to calculate the volume of water above your overflow and return outlet in the display tank (ie, all of the water that will go into the sump when the pump is off), and then just make sure you keep the water level in the sump low enough so it can hold all that. That's all it takes.

    People who don't do that simple planning step will flood. People who install check valves in their return plumbing to try and stop the problem will flood.

    Dan
     

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