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Ultimate sump design for planted freshwater aquariums.

Discussion in 'Aquascaping' started by Aquariumtherapy, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. Aquariumtherapy

    Aquariumtherapy Lifetime Members
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    I'd like to come up with an 'ultimate sump design' for freshwater planted aquariums that incorporates minimal CO2 degassing, excellent mechanical and biological filtration, the best possible oxygenation without degassing CO2, easy access for cleaning/ replacing mechanical filters and siphoning the sump bottom if necessary AND finally, pleasing aesthetics.

    Tom, I know you use the trusty old duct tape around your sump inlets to minimise CO2 degassing, but I can't help but think this is messy and unprofessional (no offense meant there), and that the right design can eliminate the need for this. I would like to learn from your extensive knowledge and experience to come up with something neater and more efficient.

    I'll see if I can get a drawing of ideas I have up in the next week or so.

    Also, I have one other question: Is the 'bean animal' overflow better (in terms of minimising degassing) than a 'durso' style overflow feed to the sump?

    Cheers,

    Neville.
     
  2. shoggoth43

    shoggoth43 Lifetime Charter Member
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    Bean and Herbie will outgas less than Durso types. If you inject air into the line you have to get it out at the other end. Minimize splashing where possible. Keep your levels in the sump near each other or provide for smooth water flow. Having water drop more than a couple of inches will cause splashing.

    I was thinking of a five gallon bucket and lid to have a sealed bio tower. That still ends up pretty DIY looking but I can get a black bucket and lid so that avoids the tape, which didn't really stick very well anyway after a bit.

    Definitely work in mechanical filtration you can get to. Or at least a settling chamber. It sucks to have to clean out your biomedia because you skipped this. Luckily I didn't have thick pasty sludge but better design would have avoided this from the beginning.
     
  3. Aquariumtherapy

    Aquariumtherapy Lifetime Members
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    Here's a pic of what I'm envisaging so far. The glass slots to hold fine filters on the design below - I envisage some kind of foldable plastic frame (similar to what you find in some hang on filters) that a sheet of dacron can be sandwiched in and then closed, and slid into the glass slots to provide a fine filter.

    [​IMG]

    Re overflow feeding to the sump, I'd like something that is hard plumbed into the tank. I don't particularly like the look of hang on overflow boxes. I looked up herbie overflow, which it appears can be hard plumbed. My question is: Why is less air sucked into an open topped pipe (so I imagine the water would to some extent 'vortex' down it, a bit like a bath plug hole) than a durso style?
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Bean animal is the way to go, quieter, and less loss of CO2, actually about as low as we can go with CO2 loss.
     
  5. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I think for the ultimate design:

    1. Bean animal over flow, with a wide long but narrow weir box.
    The longer the weir, the less bubbles will head down and break the siphon.
    Basically handles more flow. A sponge prefilter, 10 ppi or perhaps 20 ppi and a 3/4" stand pipe 6" strainer for each of the 2 main bean animal over flows.

    2. You would need a sealed inflow section where the water can over flow into a bag sock filter(and handle say 2 sock/bag filters, 7" dia.
    Bag filters are superb for mech filtration. You need a sealed latched mechanism to get the bags in/out easily.
    The prefilter sponge is easier access and will catch most of the larger stuff, so you could likely use 50 micron felt bags and bleach them clean every so often with a set of say 8 , and always have 2 on hand.

    3. Then head down to a sealed wet/dry section.
    Access is not really needed, but could come from the bag filter sides to filling media etc.

    4. Some folks are into automated tops offs, but you might as well have a float switch for that from the tap, since the amounts are small and chlorine/tamp will not matter on such smaller amounts.
    I prefilter tap with a large Carbon block anyway for any float switch stuff and simply use a small powerhead to send water to the drain/irrigation, then the float switch doe the rest for automated water changes.

    Automation is the way to go but you need to ensure redundancy so if anything clogs, stops etc, there's a back up so the tank and the filter do not over flow.

    Like the bean animal design, there's an "Oh shit" overflow 3 pipe if the other 2 pipes get clogged for any reason.
    Likewise, the weir box also needs a similar design(larger/longer weird are better if this cannot be done). I use a standard built in over flow in some tanks that has a pair of over flows like the bean animal, one is higher than the other, and the top does nt have any teeth, so it'll over flow there into the box and not onto the floor.
    In the sump, I also have a 3/4" pipe that feeds by gravity to the drain if the sump is overfilled.
    And the float switch fills the sump.

    So I have safety at each section.
    There is no canister filter set up like that.
     
  6. Aquariumtherapy

    Aquariumtherapy Lifetime Members
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    Did you look over the drawing above, Tom? Aside from not using filter socks, & therefore not needing a latched, sealed section AND not having an overfill safety overflow, I think it covers most of what you've laid out. I think the mech filtration I've incorporated into the design will be easier access than a sock inside latched/ sealed section (as well as being easier to build), and pretty much as effective. So I just need to add a safety overflow pipe.

    What do you think?
     
  7. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Bag filters are much more effective than the sponge for mech filtration, and the prefilter sponge really removes the need for smaller floc removal, then it's mostly just micron level stuff.

    You do not have an overflow section once the fine filter is clogged, which will happen.
    So you will have back up unless to put a by pass in there.

    I'd run a 20ppi sponge, then a 50-100 micron , then a 50 micron at the end.
    These will clog and you'll end up with 5-20 micron after awhile.

    Just make sure those filter sections all have by passes after they clog.

    And they will clog........
     
  8. Aquariumtherapy

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    I've got two sections for fine filtration. One before the biological section and one following it. Sponges are primarily there to prevent bubbles flowing through to the next sections, and to act as coarse pre-filters for larger sediment.

    In terms of clogging... so long as the top of the fine filter slide-in apparatus is an inch or so below the top of the sump, water can flow over it if it is clogged... so that's a good enough bypass. If it does clog to that level within a fortnight (which I doubt it would), then I could add a design with an overlow pipe leading to the low side of the sump (under water level) to prevent any turbulence/ de-gassing of CO2 from water flowing over top of the fine filter slide-in apperatus. Personally I service these types of filters once fortnightly for customers, and once weekly to once fortnightly for myself. I remove the dacron pad (when I say dacron, that's the polyfibre sheet wadding used in upholstery - I don't know how many micron it is, but it's pretty fine) and throw it away. That's why I prefer it to bag filters... cheaper (can be bought in large sheets and cut to size), still fine enough (IMO) and easier to access than a bag in a sealed section.
     
  9. Aquariumtherapy

    Aquariumtherapy Lifetime Members
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    I also have a question about sealing the bio section of the filter.

    I know that you (Tom) say that sumps always give you higher O2 levels than other filtration types. However, I can't see any reason for this occurring in the bio section if it's completely sealed, as even though the water may be highly broken up/ agitated within that section, if no other O2 is in that section aside from what the water is already carrying, then O2 levels cannot be increased through this agitation.

    My theory is that the greater O2 saturation has to come from the water flowing down the overflow system, and possibly having some minimal turbulence as it flows over sump dividers... which is still more surface agitation than you will get from most canister returns.

    At the end of the day, O2 levels increasing in water MUST mean some CO2 degassing, unless you actually add O2 into the bio section of the filter similar to how you are adding CO2 to use it as a reactor as well... which I've never tried, but I wonder if it would work (bubbling pure O2 into a reactor section of a filter)?
     
  10. Tom Barr

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    Overflows/weirs etc, they remove the surface scum, and they cause some ripping of the water surface, this is not enough to degas much CO2, but it increases O2 significantly.
    Keep in mind that gases are independent. Adding more O2 or CO2 does not displace the other. We dose one, and we provide good exchange for the other.
    I suppose you could add O2 gas, but having done that, I find there's little need.
     
  11. Aquariumtherapy

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    I realize that the two gases are independent of each other... However aside from adding them to the water via an interventionary method that doesn't break surface tension in the open atmosphere (ie a sealed reactor), or via plants 'pearling', the method of O2 addition means that CO2 is degassed - which you acknowledged above in your statement relating to overflows & weirs.

    Does this imply that it's not the sump that increases O2 levels, but the method by which water gets to it?
     
  12. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    The wet/dry section is sealed, so there's little exchange there. It's a good place for bacteria however and any decline in O2 in the main tank, will have the O2 added back there, since like CO2, as it degasses some on the way down to the sump, hopefully it'll redissolve back in the wet/dry section.

    In a typical sump with a wet/dry section, sealing the wet/dry since that is where the water typically comes crashing in 1st........tends to be the main method folks do, but if you can reduce/remove the wet/dry section, I do not think that would be "bad". Seems it would do little to O2 one way or another in your case.
    But for most wet/dry sumps etc, then it's just a decent way to go.
     
  13. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Tom,

    I like this idea a lot. I have no local/proximate drain however. I was thinking of running a 3/4 bulkhead from the TOP of the sump (when it overflows) that would simply dump via gravity into another one of my big 70 gal sterilite container. I could use the at least when I am away to provide a bit more safety. I was thinking like a big 10 gal bucket but the gravity feed must be able to fill the container easily so as not to cause pushback to the sump :)

    At least if the sump overflows when I am away, it will catch more water if the pump stops for some reason....

    Ugly, but until I get my own house/condo and automated fill/drain I have to make do in an apt....I would cap the bh when not in use as the sump now sits inside a big sterilite so will catch some gallons at least.

    Thoughts? Is there a more elegant/perm solution for apt dwellers?
    Thanks.
     
  14. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    You can buy electronic float switches that will activate a drain pump to send the water where ever you wish.

    I use a water switch that activates when water forms an electric current between two probes, that activates a drain pump/sump pump.

    Gerry, you should move out of the Apt, interest rates and home prices are dirt right now.
    In 20 years, you'll thank yourself.
     
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