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conger 03-10-2008 05:28 PM

New Sump Design
hey all, I've been reading around about sump designs, wanting to make one of my own, and I've finally arrived at a design which I think it pretty close to what I want. I've attached a diagram below, which gives a detailed plan for the sump itself. I'll make some comments below the image.

Before I jump into buying the parts and building this bad-boy, I wanted to put the plans up here, and let people comment on it, hopefully helping me find some things to improve. Any suggestions are welcome, this is my first attempt at designing a sump.

- do I have sufficient baffling, especially between skimmer and return pump chambers? I've seen a lot of 3-baffle setups, but the final baffle in the 3-way setup seems redundant... maybe thats my naivety talking though. Also, I copied the pipe-overflow from the refugium to return pump chamber from other designs... any advantage over that compared to a 2- or 3-baffle setup? I wanted to minimize the amount of space used up by baffles which could be better used as more space for the three chambers

- the return pump chamber is designed for either internal or external pumps... if internal, simply close the main output valve and don't use that external piping, and if external, then connect the pump to the external piping and open the valve; same with the auto-topoff input... if you don't have/want that, then just close the valve.

- there is a single input line connection, which splits and goes to both the skimmer and refugium chambers... I have the valve on the skimmer input on purpose; the way I see it, is that way I have complete control over how much water goes to each chamber. If I completely open the valve, all water will go straight to the skimmer and the refugium will be starved. If I completely close the valve, all water will be directed to the refugium. By partially-opening the valve, I can fine-tune how much water goes in to each... I'm planning on having most of the flow going through the skimmer, with a little bit through the refugium for a slow flow.

- keeping this guy quiet is very important to me... if anything about the design screams *noisy*, please point it out to me :)

Any advice, change suggestions, or other comments are absolutely welcomed, I'm curious to hear what others with much more experience than me have to say about my design!

blueblue48 03-10-2008 05:38 PM

I really like that idea there, and im not the master of sumps or anything but i think it looks awesome. what are the advantages to a deep sand bed?

conger 03-10-2008 05:45 PM

well, to be honest my thinking was that a DSB would help with reducing nitrates, but I copied the idea from other designs I had seen. This whole design above is really just a frankenstein of other people's sump designs, I tried learning as much as I could then combining stuff for an ideal design (for my purposes, anyways).

So my answer to the question is that *I think* it helps reduce nitrates, but I don't really know :) If there are annoying problems associated with keeping a DSB (which in the back of my mind I think there might be), then I can always scrap that and just have more room for live rock and macro algae.

SKAustin 03-11-2008 07:58 PM

OK, I'll do my best to answer all of your questions.

While your baffle system will be sufficient, there are benefits to the 3rd baffle. as an example, in cases of a skim/fuge/return set-up, the third baffle allows the water to enter the fuge from the top, which both slows the flow through the lower regions of the Fuge, and keeps the sand bed from being disturbed. In a center return design, the third baffle also adds the ability to add chemical filtration bags to the return section where the water can cascade over the bags. And Finally, in your design, the lack of a 3rd baffle causes the water level in the bubble trap to lower to the same level as the return section, this reduces the effectiveness of your bubble trap. If anything, reverse the positions of your baffles.

Your design is common, and is a good design to go with in my opinion. A lot of people use this exact design. The controlled flow to the Fuge is a great asset to this design. It also allows food in the water collum to enter the fuge without risk of being skimmed away, though there is some debate as to just how much effect the skimmer has on the food supply in the skim/fuge/return designs in comparison to the center return design.

Quiet is a luxury not too often attained in a reef system. Best of luck on that. there will be little things here and there that, over time you will find and may be able to quiet, but in all you'll likely grow accustomed to any remaining noise in short time. Besides, the visual appeal will drown out alot of the audible distraction.

If I might make one suggestion, you may want to consider adding a place to hang a filter sock to help weed out some of the larger particulate matter.

And finally, yes, DSB aids in nutrient export. Bactieria that colonize in the anaerobic (void of oxygen) zones convert nitrates into nitrogen which is released into the atmosphere. Herein lies the one downfall to the DSB. If the DSB is disturbed, this can cause serious problems in the tank. Gasses released into the water collum by the diruption of the DSB can paralize and/or kill your livestock. Special care is needed when harvesting macro-algae that may have rooted itself in the substrate. This is where the skim/fuge/return design prevails as the return can be also be routed with full flow back to the skimmer section so that these gasses, if released, can be skimmed out before they have the chance to reach the display.

Hope that helped.

conger 03-30-2008 04:08 PM

thanks for the reply, and I'm really sorry about the delayed response :). I've decided to stick with the baffle setup that I showed before: if the main downfall of my setup right now is potentially reducing the effectiveness of my bubble trap between the skimmer and return chambers, then I'll take that over giving up another couple of inches to make room for another baffle. I may add carbon or mechanical sponge between those two baffles, which should help keep bubbles on the skimmer side.

A question about the DSB... I really like the idea of having extra nitrate removal, however I am nervous about having a DSB if the nitrogen bubbles are going to kill my tank inhabitants! Its not like I'll be stirring the sandbed all the time, but if its a case where if it EVER gets stirred, I'm sunk, then that sucks and I'll omit the DSB. I guess what I'm asking, is based on personal experience, is a DSB worth the potential trouble? If the nitrate removal with a DSB is minimal, then I won't bother... but if its very effective at keeping nitrates low, then I think I may go for it (and just keep macro that doesn't root in sand... if that exists).

Thanks again for the response, once I get this guy put together and have it running for a bit, I'll post again and let everyone know how it works and what I wish I had done differently :)

DJOstrichHead 03-30-2008 08:01 PM

its not the nitrogen bubbles that will kill your fish. That is the good part of a dsb its just another way to take nitrate out of the system and put it back in the air. What will cause problems is if the sand is disturbed it releases sulfuric acid or some other acid of some sort. This obviously is not good for fishies

conger 03-30-2008 08:56 PM

oh very cool, good to know. Do you have any sense of how effective a DSB in a refugium is compared to macro algae? I plan to have macro regardless, but just for my own education, I'm trying to get a sense of the effectiveness of a DSB for nitrate reduction. Would there be any noticeable difference in nitrate reduction between a macro-only refug, and a DSB+macro refug?

So, best I can tell a DSB is great as long as it never gets disturbed... but if it gets disturbed, it is catastrophic. If this is the case, is it really feasible to have a tank running for multiple years, without ever disturbing the sand bed? Otherwise, how do you handle the suspected release of toxins should the bed gets disturbed?

I guess in the back of my mind, it seems very risky to have a DSB... but if its a fairly common thing, then it can't be as bad as I think.

SKAustin 03-31-2008 06:36 AM

Here is an article by Anthony Calfo (one or the top names in the hobby) about the DSB. This article not only covers the benefits of the DSB, but also the pitfalls of improper set-up and mismanagement.

conger 04-09-2008 08:28 PM

hey guys, time for an update... I finished building the sump and just installed it this evening. It all came together really well, though there are a couple of minor things I will do differently next time.

#1, I have two 3/4" pipes carrying water from the refugium to the return chamber... it turns out that these pipes cannot support the full flow (if I have all water being directed through the refugium). I won't ever actually have the full flow going through the refugium, so its not *really* a problem, but just for thorough-ness' sake next time I'll probably use two 1" pipes.

#2, I won't use the T-piece on the incoming water (to split between the refugium and skimmer chambers) as shown in my figure, with water coming in one of the two "side" connections. I should have the water coming in the single perpendicular connection (sorry, there's probably a correct name for it, but I don't know), which would be oriented upwards, and have water flow outwards to either side (out the two "side" connections). That would require two valves instead of one on the incoming water, but it will allow much easier control over how much water goes to each chamber.

I'll upload some pictures once I take them, I'll have to borrow my friend's camera again sometime soon :)

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