Some very basic sump questions
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Some very basic sump questions

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Some very basic sump questions
Old 12-16-2010, 10:56 AM   #1
 
Question Some very basic sump questions

Hi all,

First, I'm finding this site really useful as I study up on the hobby. It's a great community with some really good resources.

I'm trying to work out what basic equipment I'd like to have in my first tank and I think I'm sold on housing what I can in a sump. There are a couple of things that I'm having some difficulty understanding and I'm hoping you may be able to help.
  1. I don't get the automatic top off feature. Doesn't the sump dictate the level of the water in the main tank by design? The way I understand it, the height of the skimmer cup determines the low water point and as long as the return pump has water to pump, it will reach that point. What am I missing? How does adding a top off section change anything?
  2. What, if anything, needs to be done to balance the amount of water entering your sump from the tank and the amount the pump is returning to the tank. Seems to me that there is only so much flow you are going to get into the sump based on the width of the pipe - and the pump needs to either match that or be a little slower. How do you know how powerful of a pump you need or do they have an adjustment?
That's it for now - I'm sure there will be a lot more to come

Last edited by rdwj; 12-16-2010 at 11:01 AM..
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Old 12-16-2010, 12:25 PM   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdwj View Post

I don't get the automatic top off feature. Doesn't the sump dictate the level of the water in the main tank by design? The way I understand it, the height of the skimmer cup determines the low water point and as long as the return pump has water to pump, it will reach that point. What am I missing? How does adding a top off section change anything?
An auto top-off is not necessary. You will need to add water because there will be evaporation from the tank and it will show up in the sump. So just keep an eye on your water level (I marked my optimum water level on the side of the sump), and top-off when necessary. All the auto-top off does is keep that level the same without you having to check it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rdwj View Post
What, if anything, needs to be done to balance the amount of water entering your sump from the tank and the amount the pump is returning to the tank. Seems to me that there is only so much flow you are going to get into the sump based on the width of the pipe - and the pump needs to either match that or be a little slower. How do you know how powerful of a pump you need or do they have an adjustment?
I like to make sure that my return pump will turn my tank over at least ten times an hour. I have a 150 gallon tank and my pump does 1450 gph (i know it's a little lite, but you get the picture). I would make the return plumbing 3/4" and the overflow plumbing 1" so that the water leaving the tank has an easier route than the water coming in (which will help prevent overflow).

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-16-2010, 01:29 PM   #3
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdwj View Post
Hi all,

First, I'm finding this site really useful as I study up on the hobby. It's a great community with some really good resources.

I'm trying to work out what basic equipment I'd like to have in my first tank and I think I'm sold on housing what I can in a sump. There are a couple of things that I'm having some difficulty understanding and I'm hoping you may be able to help.
  1. I don't get the automatic top off feature. Doesn't the sump dictate the level of the water in the main tank by design? The way I understand it, the height of the skimmer cup determines the low water point and as long as the return pump has water to pump, it will reach that point. What am I missing? How does adding a top off section change anything?
  2. What, if anything, needs to be done to balance the amount of water entering your sump from the tank and the amount the pump is returning to the tank. Seems to me that there is only so much flow you are going to get into the sump based on the width of the pipe - and the pump needs to either match that or be a little slower. How do you know how powerful of a pump you need or do they have an adjustment?
That's it for now - I'm sure there will be a lot more to come

here's my opinion on the matter.
1. ATO is not required for sure, however you will have to check on a regular basis on your water level and add as evaporation take place in your tank. this may not sound like a big deal and it isn't to some, but remember this is every single day. the water level in the sump will get lower and eventually the return pump will suck air and send it to the display tank. keep in mind that if you go on vacation, holiday you will have to get someone to check for water level as evaporation is 24/7/365 everyday! so if you choose to not use a ATO get a relative big sump so you won't have to check as often.

2. as far as flow thru the sump i personally i don't like a fast flow because it can cause uncontrollable micro bubbles to return into your display especially if your sump is on the smaller size. i have a 100 gallon tank and i'm using a 700 gallon pump which after you consider head pressure and such it's probably around 500 gals/hr. to me it's best to get a smaller return that is efficient power wise (to keep electricity cost down) and have a decent skimmer in the sump. the balancing will take care of itself. if you put a pump in the sump and pump water into the display the water level will rise and return to the sump simply by overflowing into the prefilter. unless you are using some ridiclous size pump you should be alright. most overflows are rated for like 700 gals/hr. so if you have 2 overfolw prefilters you can expect it to handle 1400 gals/hr.
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Old 12-16-2010, 03:28 PM   #4
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wake49 View Post
An auto top-off is not necessary. You will need to add water because there will be evaporation from the tank and it will show up in the sump. So just keep an eye on your water level (I marked my optimum water level on the side of the sump), and top-off when necessary. All the auto-top off does is keep that level the same without you having to check it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by reefsahoy View Post
here's my opinion on the matter.
1. ATO is not required for sure, however you will have to check on a regular basis on your water level and add as evaporation take place in your tank. this may not sound like a big deal and it isn't to some, but remember this is every single day. the water level in the sump will get lower and eventually the return pump will suck air and send it to the display tank. keep in mind that if you go on vacation, holiday you will have to get someone to check for water level as evaporation is 24/7/365 everyday! so if you choose to not use a ATO get a relative big sump so you won't have to check as often.
Ok - so the top off feature is basically a reservoir of water that feeds the sump and keeps it at the optimum level. Right? That seems pretty valuable and easy enough to add later.

So, one follow-up question. Some sump designs I've seen have the return pump placed high enough so that if the input from the tank gets clogged, it will run out of water to pump before the display tank overflows. If you have a top off tank, you can't avoid the flood with this set up. I'm sure there is a slick way to manage, but can't really think of one off the top of my head. Is there a better way to make sure the system is clog-proofed?
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Old 12-16-2010, 04:33 PM   #5
 
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Is the tank reef ready? Does it have standpipes attached to bulkheads that are sent through holes cut into the bottom or back of the tank? Does the tank have baffles that seperate the overflows from the display?

If you answered yes to these questions, than I cannot see the overflows getting clogged. Would you be using an external overflow, also known as a prefilter?

I think that putting the return pump higher in the sump might create a problem of drying the pump out if too much water evaporated.
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Old 12-16-2010, 05:57 PM   #6
 
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Is the tank reef ready? Does it have standpipes attached to bulkheads that are sent through holes cut into the bottom or back of the tank? Does the tank have baffles that seperate the overflows from the display?

If you answered yes to these questions, than I cannot see the overflows getting clogged. Would you be using an external overflow, also known as a prefilter?

I think that putting the return pump higher in the sump might create a problem of drying the pump out if too much water evaporated.
I don't have a tank yet - just in the planning stages. I plan on buying a reef ready tank with the bulkheads at the bottom of the tank. By baffles that separate the overflows from the display, I assume you mean the box that surrounds the drain like you see in this pic?

Sorry about the basic questions - this is all still quite new to me.

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Old 12-21-2010, 12:16 AM   #7
 
here's a basic sump design.




the baffles are the glass inserts that seperates each compartments. they are there to trap bubbles and preventing the bubbles from being sucked up by the return pump and sending them back into the display tank.
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