Tank/Sump help for beginner - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-21-2013, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
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Tank/Sump help for beginner

About a year ago I became interested in aquariums and bought a 30 gallon tank where I kept a bass. I just started construction on a house and want to incorporate a 125 gallon tank underneath my staircase. The reason for this is so that the front of the tank will be like a window into the living room while allowing me to hide the back/sides behind a styrofoam and quickcrete background underneath the staircase 'closet'. The tank I am thinking of buying from my lfs has 2 drilled holes in the back, one near the top of each corner. My question is: can I run the outflow directly from the tank without using a syphon or overflow box? I was thinking of putting the pvc directly into the tank with an elbow pointing up then placing a drilled cap on it near the waterline. I figured if the power cuts off then it will drain to the top of the outflow then stop draining to my sump. It seems like that would take less space than an overflow box and basically accomplish the same thing. I have never had a tank anywhere near this large but I am very interested in getting a tiger oscar and a jack dempsey. From what I've gathered about cichlids it seems that the sump would be the most efficient/cost effective filter and the added water capacity would definitely help keep them happy. ANY pointers/advice/criticism about this is extremely welcome! I included a picture of the basic plumbing idea.
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-21-2013, 07:56 AM
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Sounds like a good plan, please post some pics as you build it!
The short answer is certainly you can run it without using an overflow, since the pipe you plan to use is an overflow BUT....

There are two points that, just in case you haven't considered yet, you should think about:
1) Make absolutely certain that the sump is large enough to take the "power-off drain down volume" and don't forget the watch where the return flow pipe is located. Make it higher than the outflow to prevent a back-siphon that way during a power failure.
2) You probably want to leave the top of the PVC open. Why? Those holes could get clogged over time or from debris. While it's not a visually perfect solution, might I suggest drilling some good-size holes in the PVC overflow tube, leave the top uncapped in case of clogs, and then wrap the "holey" portion of the overflow PVC pipe with the coarse foam (called "reticulated" foam by sponge filter makers). The foam should reduce clogging, be easy to remove and clean weekly, and the open top pipe gives you an emergency overflow should the holes or foam clog up.

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*560 gallons (2120 liters) in 5 tanks -> you do the math.
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post #3 of 12 Old 05-21-2013, 08:19 AM Thread Starter
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I was planning on using a 50 gallon for the sump. It would be underneath the tank which I want to sit 4 feet off of the ground. So I'd say roughly 6 foot of head using 1.25 inch pvc pipe. That would be about 88 cubic inches of water which would be roughly 4/10 of a gallon. So, If I run the sump a about 3/4 full that should be more than enough room to handle any water from the outflow and intake should the power stop. God I love the internet, cuz I suck at math... And I like the idea of leaving the top of the pvc open just in case. I'm going to build one of those melted styrofoam backgrounds coated in quickcrete, I'm sure I can figure out some way to allow waterflow to it without it being seen. Any ideas on that?

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post #4 of 12 Old 05-30-2013, 10:26 PM
Definitely leave the sump drain side open. Using 1.25" pvc you shouldn't get many clogs but you never know. I considered an sump setup like what you describe once to to less piping being seen. Looks better than the diy overflow tube that allow you to escape from drilling your tank.

As far as the return you have three options.
1) (only if you have the return hung over the tank rim) just above the water line, drill a small hole in the back of the elbow that is in the tank. This hole breaks the siphon.
2) out outside the tank drill a hole in the top of the elbow and silicone a 1/4" or whatever size you use, tube into the hole and drape the tube over into the tank. Attach it to the tank somehow and have the open end at the height in which you want the siphon to break.
3) install a check valve inline for the tank return. Check the pressure needed to open it though. With the other two options you won't have to rely on a part failing or effecting the flow rate of the return.

Last edited by flight50; 05-30-2013 at 10:30 PM.
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-31-2013, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I've actually changed my plans quite alot from my original plans, but the anti-siphon ideas are definitely helpful! I've got a decent amount of carpentry experience from previous DIY projects and decided to build an "L" shaped plywood and acrylic tank that will be just about 350 gallons O.o' Probably getting in over my head but I have all the measurements, "blueprints", and plans for the tank, overflows/returns, stand, and sump drawn up. I won't be starting construction on it until after my house is finished, but I hope that both of you keep an eye on it when I start my "DIY or flood my house in the process" thread in a few months. DEFINITELY doing your idea with the hole drilled in the pvc to break the siphon if necessary!

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post #6 of 12 Old 05-31-2013, 06:52 AM
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Possibly a stupid question, but is vibration from stairway foot traffic something to take into account ?

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post #7 of 12 Old 05-31-2013, 07:43 AM
Just curious....what's you plan for the sump....mechanical, biological? Deep sand or bio-media? Refugium with lights? Will you have heaters in there?

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post #8 of 12 Old 05-31-2013, 10:03 AM
350g! I am jealous, lol. Cool that you have done diy tanks before. Are you on diyfishkeepers. I have learned a thing or two there for diy projects. It really inspired me to build everything from scratch nowadays. My build later this year is only going to be a 180g acrylic but I sure would love to have that 350g your building. I wish you luck on it.
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-31-2013, 04:52 PM Thread Starter
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I hadn't thought about the vibration, but we really won't be using the upstairs for anything except for guests that would stay the night (rare), but it's definitely something I need to look into. For the sump I plan on the initial area being mechanical, the second (about 30 gallons worth) being bio balls, and the last area being for the heaters and pumps. Do you think I should have a refugium? And flight50, I haven't ever built a tank before, but I have used fiberglass on diy boat projects. I've also got a decent amount of experience putting up small buildings (4-6 stall horse barns, tree houses, and decks) so I HOPE they will serve me well!

EDIT: My only shortfall in this is that I'm planning to use Pond Armor to seal the 3/4 ply and I've never used it before. Joey's 7 part video on Youtube made it look like a simple enough process though. Just...follow the directions, lol.

Let not my last thought be If only I had my gun ; and if today is truly my last, let me die in a pile of hot, empty, brass.

Last edited by Turxiat; 05-31-2013 at 04:54 PM. Reason: Added PS
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-02-2013, 10:02 PM
Joey makes alot of the DIY stuff look easy. I would have never considered building any aquarium, stand or equipment before visiting his youtube channel and website.

As far as a refugium, they are primarily for nitrate removal in saltwater tanks since they lack plants. In your case if your going to have a planted tank, I would skip it unless you wanted an extra planted area in the sump.
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