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Thread: WetLeaf's 120g Mid-High Tech Tank with Sump

  1. #1
    DIYFK member WetLeaf's Avatar


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    WetLeaf's 120g Mid-High Tech Tank with Sump

    Hey Guys,

    I was on this site a few years ago but forgot all my log in details! Either way I am building a 120g planted tank set-up. I have a journal going over on another website but wanted some feedback on this from the DIY experts!

    Unfortunately the only real DIY aspect of this build is the sump, the stand was commissioned to a local welder and the tank will just be purchased.

    The sump will be a 35g tank.

    I have already built it so I'm going to post the pics here in hopes of some feedback, the folks at another forum feel its going to be clogged daily and wont work. I feel it will be weekly maintenance at worst but we'll soon find out.

    Ok so the plan is to use all 4 different levels of Matala Mat as mechanical filtration or 3 levels of Matala and 45PPI Poret Foam. I will use baffles to force the water vertically through each 1.5" thick sheet giving 12" of filtration per sheet. The Matala will be placed in increasing coarseness levels.

    Click here to enlarge

    That photo shows how I had it planned out. I got the glass cut and unfortunately made them slightly thinner then what I thought I needed. Rather then use excess amounts of silicon I wandered around Home Depot and came across shower door attachments that I thought would work.

    Click here to enlarge

    Click here to enlarge

    So now that the panels were made and ready to be installed I encountered the first issue with having baffles 1.5" apart. They can not be siliconed from both sides and the shower door trim is quite long preventing me from siliconing all the way through so some of the silicon work is shaddy at best but it will still work I think.

    Click here to enlarge

    Water enters on the right side and is forced vertically through all 4 pieces of Matala Mat, it enters the middle chamber which is dedicated Bio Filtration. I know the Matala will absolutely do Bio as well but felt like I might as well have additional so think I will put either ceramic noodles in here or if I can find a way to silence a moving bed I'll go K1.

    The last chamber is a 4" thick section that I have 30PPI Poret Foam for as a polishing section. I felt the black was a bit more coarse then I wanted so I doubled up on grey sections, the last grey piece is the one I'm debating replacing for the 45PPI Poret Foam.

    Click here to enlarge

    I have yet to decide if I should cut down the Poret Foam to allow a piece of quilt batting on top but I think the 30PPI should be enough for polishing.

    Here is a close up of the Matala Mat showing different coarseness. Unfortunately I forgot to move them to the correct order. It should be black, green, blue, grey

    Click here to enlarge

    Lastly, I purchased a sheet of 1.5" thick 45PPI Poret Foam, I was going to use this in the last chamber before the Bio Media rather then Matala but the feedback im getting is that I'm already going to have daily clogging so putting an even finer foam there would be a problem.

    Anyways, it's built and ready so I don't think I'll be making adjustments until the tank has water in it and I can run it.

    Let me know what you think of having vertically flowing Matala Mat, cutting down the 30PPI foam to add quilt batting and whether the 45PPI Poret Foam should be added rather then the Grey Matala.

    The tank will be heavily planted and will likely have rainbows in it if that information helps anybody Click here to enlarge

  2. #2
    DIYFK member HillbillyHomer's Avatar


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    i would go with the design and foam/filters you have. its vary simple to replace the filters and switch them up if needed.

    Click here to enlarge...With the name "WetLeaf" i do hope you have a planted tank...Click here to enlarge

  3. #3
    DIYFK member WetLeaf's Avatar


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    aha it will be awkward if I ever transition to salt and the Leaf is meaningless then :P

    Thanks for the feedback, I was worried I would have to tear down the baffles and just use the Matala with horizontal flow. Makes sense that I could just find coarser media to put in if the clogging is that big of an issue.

    The next build is a Rex Griggs CO2 reactor, I'll post that as it goes. Still acquiring some parts for it

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    DIYFK member Nil13's Avatar


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    I see a few issues. The first is that silicone doesn't bond to plastics very well. So you are probably going to end up with adhesion issues on the plastic shims for the glass baffles. The second is that by running the water vertically through the edge of the matala, you are cutting your filtration area to a small fraction of what it could be. I think the people telling you it's going to clog quickly are right. Lastly, sumps like this are essentially gas strippers. All the CO2 that you inject will be stripped off quickly and you'll blow through CO2 like a sailor on shore leave. I would just dose gluteraldahyde daily.


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  5. #5
    DIYFK member WetLeaf's Avatar


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    The silicon to plastic adhesion issue is a good point, I had not considered that!

    Sorry, what do you mean through the edge of the Matala? I cut them so they are extremely snug and require a fair bit of force to place and remove so water shouldn't just sneak between the mat and glass.

    The water has a longer distance to travel through the filter media if flowing vertically. If water flows horizontally through the Matala there is only 1.5" of filtration (the thickness of the sheet) but if it flows vertically through the mat then there is 12" of filtration (the height of the sheet). So wouldn't a horizontal flow be a fraction of what it could be?

    Sorry, I don't understand what you mean sumps like this? This is my first sump so I don't understand how its more of a gas stripper then any other sump, I would've thought a wet/dry sump would be more of an issue due to all the agitation and gas exchange. Isn't this just a standard sump setup with a few more baffles then normal?

    I'm running a 20lb CO2 tank and can get it filled for $24 so if that becomes an every other month thing that's still not so bad
    Last edited by WetLeaf; 01-08-2019 at 01:50 PM. Reason: attempting to explain myself more clearly :P

  6. #6
    DIYFK member Nil13's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by WetLeaf Click here to enlarge
    Sorry, what do you mean through the edge of the Matala? I cut them so they are extremely snug and require a fair bit of force to place and remove so water shouldn't just sneak between the mat and glass.

    The water has a longer distance to travel through the filter media if flowing vertically. If water flows horizontally through the Matala there is only 1.5" of filtration (the thickness of the sheet) but if it flows vertically through the mat then there is 12" of filtration (the height of the sheet). So wouldn't a horizontal flow be a fraction of what it could be?
    The most of the mechanical filtration happens on the surface of the mat. The smaller that surface is the faster it will clog. So you can't trade surface area for volume and think it will function similarly.

    Sorry, I don't understand what you mean sumps like this? This is my first sump so I don't understand how its more of a gas stripper then any other sump, I would've thought a wet/dry sump would be more of an issue due to all the agitation and gas exchange. Isn't this just a standard sump setup with a few more baffles then normal?
    I mean a sump that has baffles over which water flows. The sheet of water flowing over the baffle blows off gas. And also a sump that is not on the same level as the tank. The water falling down the pipe is very turbulent and blows off gas.

    I'm running a 20lb CO2 tank and can get it filled for $24 so if that becomes an every other month thing that's still not so bad
    I did it for years and I found dialing in the dosing to be a hassle. It is easier with a canister. But it's definitely doable.



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  7. #7
    DIYFK member WetLeaf's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Nil13 Click here to enlarge
    The most of the mechanical filtration happens on the surface of the mat. The smaller that surface is the faster it will clog. So you can't trade surface area for volume and think it will function similarly.
    I thought the surface of the mat is where most of the biological filtration occured but mechanical filtration would happen consistently through the media. I guess the debris would be caught early so anything after the first 2 inches or so is just overkill. I'm fine with that


    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Nil13 Click here to enlarge
    I mean a sump that has baffles over which water flows. The sheet of water flowing over the baffle blows off gas. And also a sump that is not on the same level as the tank. The water falling down the pipe is very turbulent and blows off gas.


    I did it for years and I found dialing in the dosing to be a hassle. It is easier with a canister. But it's definitely doable.

    Doable is definitely what I like to hear! Tons of people are running CO2 with a baffled sump under the aquarium with great success so the possibility for success is inspiring Click here to enlarge

  8. #8
    DIYFK member Meep's Avatar


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    What kind of bio-load is going to be in your tank? I ask because that is IMO a lot and I mean a lot of filtering for a planted tank where the plants are already going to be bio filtering in the main tank...

    You could probably get away with half the amount of foam/mechanical media you have in there and be perfectly fine, especially if you use and easy to change/clean filter floss in the incoming first baffle or even a women's knee high on the input line just to catch big particulates before they hit the regular mechanical media... With those 4 baffles of mechanical foam, they are going to also be the primary bio media at the end of the day, you could reduce the foam and turn some of that biofiltration to the bio chamber in the middle and you probably won't see any difference in performance but lower maintaince.

    Same with 4" of polishing foam, seems like a lot to me...

    I'm not saying it won't work, but I could see a few tweaks and the reduction of chambers simplifying the design and extending the needed maintenance intervals...

  9. #9
    DIYFK member Nil13's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by WetLeaf Click here to enlarge
    I thought the surface of the mat is where most of the biological filtration occured but mechanical filtration would happen consistently through the media. I guess the debris would be caught early so anything after the first 2 inches or so is just overkill. I'm fine with that
    Surface area refers to different qualities wrt mechanical and biological filtration. With mechanical it's basically the exposed area of the screen that is important. Matala is just a 'thick' screen in this context. With biological it's the total surface area of all the media.
    It's not overkill. It's waste. You bought a pad of matala and you might as well have just bought a 1.5 strip of it. You could have taken those strips and stacked them up in one baffle. Now you have a whole bunch of unnecessary static head. And on top of that, hardly any mechanical capacity compared to what you could have if you rearranged the mats to flow properly. Overkill would be having too much mechanical filtration capacity. You have too much filter pad and reduced mechanical filtration capacity. But give it a shot. It will be easier to take it apart when the silicone let's go of the plastic.

    ETA:I agree with Meep that the matala is going to become your bio and it's a lot of bio for a planted tank.

    You want to keep your mechanical and bio separate because cleaning the mechanical is harmful to the bio. You want to keep your bio as clean as possible.




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  10. #10
    DIYFK member WetLeaf's Avatar


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    Well @Nil13 seems very confident that I built this sump to be inefficient, I'm not sure I fully agree with them but am starting to be swayed.

    If I am using the Matala Mat inefficiently and would see a greater benefit having water flow through it horizontally then I have no problem removing the baffles.

    I'd greatly appreciate additional opinions or thoughts before I undue my work as bad as my craftmanship was Click here to enlarge

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