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Thread: Building my first sump, looking for advice

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    DIYFK member Minorhero's Avatar


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    Question Building my first sump, looking for advice

    Hello folks!


    I am pretty excited to be building my first aquarium and also making my first sump for it. My plan right now is to have a 120 gallon aquarium with 3 bulkheads. One bulkhead will be a direct siphon to my sump, another will be my return, and the third will be my emergency overflow.

    I should mention one very important goal for me is to have as absolutely silent an aquarium as possible. Another important goal is to reduce maintenance.

    In the sump I plan my incoming water outlet to be below the waters surface to minimize noise. There will be a small intake chamber in the sump and then my first wall will be a floating wall an inch or so from the bottom. Then a couple of sponges for mechanical filtration. The next wall will basically just be there to hold the sponges in place and will rest on the bottom of the sump but only be 3 or 4 inches high. Then will be a gap where water can pass through, and then higher up will be a floating wall in the same plane as the bottom wall. (basically just making a way to snugly hold the sponges for mechanical filtration)

    The rest of the sump will be completely open with no other walls.

    In this open space I plan to have an acrylic cylinder of approximately 3 gallons in volume holding approximately 1.5 gallons of K1 Micro. This cylinder will be completely sealed on top, on the bottom it will have some kind of acrylic or mesh with a lot of holes in it. Going into the cylinder will be a water line with a directional nozzle on the end.

    Also in this large open area of the sump will be a heater, a pump, and a float switch (to turn the pump off if the sump goes dry). The pump will have a T on it with at least half the power of the pump going back to the aquarium and the other end of the T going back to the K1 cylinder for my fluidized bed. I will probably put a ball valve on this T so I can control the amount of flow into the K1 cylinder.

    Thus I will skip using an air pump and move my bed just through the use of the pump. Having the moving bed inside a cylinder should make it much easier to move as well. Again the goal is to reduce noise and maintenance.

    On the return I plan to have inline CO2 since this will be a heavily planted aquarium. I am thinking about having inline UV as well but I have never tinkered with UV before and do not know if it is something I should pursue.

    One of the questions I have is whether I can use Acrylic walls in my glass aquarium sump? I was planning to do exactly that and then I heard somewhere that acrylic does not bond well to glass?

    Another question I have is whether I should bother with UV? Its easy enough to put in if doing it inline, but I have never had it before and do not know if its a gimmick or something that can really make the difference between having a nice tank and one overrun with algae or other things?

    I was thinking of using a 40 gallon aquarium for my sump but am unsure if I should go bigger or smaller?

    And finally since this is my first sump I am interested in anyone's ideas for things I should do or avoid.

    Thank you all for any information.

  2. #2
    DIYFK member Nil13's Avatar


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    Sponges for mechanical require a lot of maintenance. I would think about using a static bed that you can clean by blowing air through it to fluidize the media and then draining off the dirty water. Another option would be filter socks in an upflow configuration, since you are feeding the sump below the water level. Then you just swap the socks out for clean ones, wash them out, and burn off any residual organics by tossing them in a bucket with potassium permanganate.

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    DIYFK member Minorhero's Avatar


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    Thank you for the response!

    I admit I am not even sure what you mean with either of the options you described. I looked online for references of filter socks and "upflow" and couldn't find anything. I found some people using what looked like filter floss and a bubbler in a box to create water movement. I am hoping to avoid using air altogether due to the noise of the air pump. Is there another way to use a filter sock in an upflow? Do you have any pictures by any chance?

    Using a static bed and then draining dirty water is interesting though again I don't know how that is setup. I looked online and mostly found pond stuff which is not entirely applicable since they use giant barrels for everything. Do you have any pictures or videos? Both options are very intriguing. I thought sponges would be the easiest lowest maintenance route but I am very willing to be proven wrong Click here to enlarge

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    DIYFK member Nil13's Avatar


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    A filter sock in an upflow configuration just uses a felt sock with a ring. Then you make a little plastic cross brace for the inside that will keep it from collapsing. The ring pressure fits into a hole in some acrylic.

    The static filters that you found reference to wrt ponds is exactly what I'm talking about. Instead of a barrel you just use a sump chamber. The principle is exactly the same the only difference is scale. The air is only turned on when you clean the bed.Click here to enlarge

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    DIYFK member Minorhero's Avatar


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    That is a great idea! Do you think I could adapt it a bit and turn it on its side? Instead of having the sock being vertical, mount it horizontal so the water flows from chamber 1 into chamber 2 with the sock completely below the waterline. The reason being that 1) I wouldn't need to hold the sock open, the force of the water flowing through it should open it to whatever degree necessary, and 2) It would reduce noise by not having a waterfall effect in the sump. This would mean I would just need a single wall separating my two chambers of my sump with holes drilled in it for filter socks. So long as the water can't get around the socks it should work?

    This whole thing would be a lot easier if I could use acrylic walls in a glass tank. Is that possible? I read somewhere that acrylic does not bond well to glass?

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    DIYFK member Nil13's Avatar


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    Yeah you could make a panel with sock filters mounted in it and put that in with the socks oriented horizontally. Just silicone glass strips to make a channel on each side of the sump. Then slide the acrylic in the channel. If you are careful, you could even make it so you can slide it in and out and still have a pretty good seal. But that would depend on the top bracing

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    DIYFK member Meep's Avatar


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    Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Minorhero Click here to enlarge
    This whole thing would be a lot easier if I could use acrylic walls in a glass tank. Is that possible? I read somewhere that acrylic does not bond well to glass?
    You can... Since it's not mandatory for the walls in a sump to be water tight and a little leaking isn't going to be a concern acrylic will work in this applications with two quailifiers, one the acrylic is thick enought that if the silicone fails it won't simply flex out of the silicone channels that will remain stuck to the glass even after they fail on the acrylic, this brings us to qualifier number two, you need to as best you can create nice silicone fillets on both sides of the acrylic that will create a channel that will hold the acrylic even if the silicone releases from the acrylic...

    FYI, look into PVC sheet vs acrylic, it's significanly cheaper when you get into 3/16" or 1/4" thicknesses that would be best for this application to reduce flex...

    https://www.grainger.com/search/raw-...ts_optout=true

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    DIYFK member Minorhero's Avatar


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    thank you guys for the ideas and confirmation! Can I cut pvc sheets on my table saw? Looks like a good way to go if so.

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    DIYFK member Nil13's Avatar


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    PVC is easy to cut on a table saw. Definitely cuts cleaner than acrylic.

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    DIYFK member Meep's Avatar


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    In regards to cutting PVC on a tablesaw, it's easy to cut on a table saw, but you sould use a high tooth count DISPOSIBLE or USED blade because it will dull the hell out of the blade destroying it, if you can't find a use high tooth count blade or you notice it chipping, melting and/or creating too much fuzzies instead of a clean cut, mount the blade BACKWARDS so it's spinning in reverse and try it again... We used to mount used dull blades backwards this all the time in our chop/slide saws when doing vinyl siding, it leaves a real clean edge and no chipping... Do a few test cuts to see if you get better results running the blade backwards or forwards...

    Beyond that, it stinks but with some ventalation you will be fine, no chlorine is released until it actually burns...

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