Tips for setting up the perfect sump

Wolf6

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Being a proud new owner of a red sea reefer 350 with sump & refugium, now comes the part where I realise I know little to nothing about sumps. I've always used canisters, so delving into unknown territory here. I looked at some threads here and did get some inspiration, but I'd like some feedback on the way I have interpreted it all. I've added a drawing of the chambers this sump has, its not quite to scale but its mostly the purpose of each chamber I'd like some advice about. I'll add what I think I should do to each chamber, but I'm really hoping for some folks with sumps here to advise :)
1 - The overflow comes here into a closed off room, which will fill up and overflow into
2 - where the water comes down 2 holes, one with a micron sock, and the other just a plastic grate, I could replace that with another sock if needed. I think most water will go down hole nr1 (sock), but will have to see if that is the case. Room 2 is open on the side of 3 - The refugium room. It is possible to make this larger by removing the wall to 4, but for now I decided to leave this wall with overflow. My thought would be to place a coarse spunge between 2 and 3, not too thick, but sort of sealing it off, but allowing overflow if the spunge gets too clogged. Then add some simple coarse grit to the bottom and fill this part with moss and hornworth and maybe some floaters, and have this be shrimp palace 1. The water overflows over the removable divider into
4 - The largest chamber, this would be filled with a layer of bio media, and on top of that I want to try and grow some emersed plants like I've seen someone else on this forum do in their sump. The water trickles over a glass divider into
5 - which is a fine spunge, and then goes underneath a glass divider into
6 - which is the return chamber where the pump, heater and co2 bazooka will be. Auto doser will also be dosing into this chamber.

I would be using a floodlight to light it, 6 hours a day. Questions I have:
- Would this work as an effective filter?
- Which plants to use in 4, and should I add a spunge for them to root on?
- Should I get 2 micron bags or does that defeat the purpose of all later spunges (exact for bacterial use)?
- Is the sponge between 2 and 3 a good idea?
- Which media should I use in 4?

The sump also has a auto-top off tank on top, which I would similarly fill with moss and floaters, nothing on the bottom, and make that shrimp palace 2.

I'm open to any advice on any and all of this :)
 

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Zeus.

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Hi Wolf,

Much depends on what you plan to have in your tank, lots of fish with sparse planting then a decent filtration system is needed. However if you aim is a well planted tank the biochemical filtration is well taken care of by the plants, the plants surface area of their root system will far exceed any filter once established. All that's left for the filter to do is remove the detritus, in a planted tank detritus control is the key to success and maintaining the tank, detritus needs regular removal sp forward planning will make it easier if the cleaning of any filter system is easy esp for high tach tank as with fast grow the detritus is increased many fold over a low tech tank, I normally clean my filter weekly and plenty of detritus comes out of the sponges.
As to what filter media I may mainly sponges, course and medium and a little ceramic, only reason I have ceramic is that I have some already.
Filter output- doesnt need to be high if the tank flow is being done by other means, however is the filter output is the only mechanism that's creating flow in the tank then for low tech x5 and high tech x10 filter output in litres per litre tank size is the general guidelines for planted tanks- so 100l tank filter output 500litres per hour and 1,000 litres per hour for low and high tech respectively. Lots can be do to improve flow in tank and filter output isnt everything.
The quote 'Flow is King in the planted high tech tank' is often quoted, I and many others agree.

I do like canister filters as you can easily disconnect them and take them in garden for cleaning, plus having a spare one in garage makes life easy too as you can have the second one pre cleaned when filter is in need of deep clean.

Hope it helps,

Zeus.
 

Wolf6

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Thanks for the tips! It will be fairly heavily planted high tech with a lot of mostly smaller fish. The pump is a jebao 4000, capable of 10x the tank volume, which I can adjust in 10 steps or so, so I'll try out which setting is appropriate once I get there :) I do want it to provide a significant part of the flow, but I may/will probably also add one or two powerheads for flow inside the tank if what the jebao can do isnt enough or if hardscape creates flow issues. But flow wise, I might open another thread at some stage.
If detritus is the main thing I need to be concerned about in the sump, I could add a few more sponges at the dividers into 3 (coarse) and 4 (medium), ensuring those are easy to remove and clean.

I was hoping the sump would allow me to do more regular smaller cleans instead, easy to access, so I can do that during a water change. And most importantly, I can hide all my gear inside the sump (except powerheads). Tbh I'd rather clean a weekly spunge or 2 I can just pull out and rinse, then clean cannisters. I hate the decoupling and cleaning tubes and I always spill water somewhere along the line and afterwards there is always some noise from the cannister for a while :p I will be hanging on to my cannisters from my current tank (that will be taken down once this tank is up and running) so I can always fall back on that if the need arrises.
 

Wolf6

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Yeah, I heard off gassing can cause more CO2 to be used, but I've also read of someone else using the red sea reefer on this forum and not noticing it much, possibly because the reefers piping is designed to have very little noise etc. I also hope the more efficient distribution will help (having a bazooka or diffuser near the returnpump so CO2 bubles are sucked in and blown into both sides of the tank). I'm hoping its not too bad :p And I was planning on getting a 5kg bottle, next to my 2kg one.

Perhaps I should do away with the sock, and instead fill that part with stacked spunges coarse - med - fine. That would mean almost all detritus is caught in those spunges, and then after that refugium with filtering plants, then the section with bio media and more plants, then one more spunge. If the water isnt clean by then :p
 

Wookii

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You shouldn’t need to add any sponges to trap detritus - that’s what your filter socks are for. They pre-filter the water, and should be the only mechanical filtration you really need. They’ll also be easy access for simple weekly maintenance - swapping them out and washing the dirty ones.

What is the purpose of the refugium section? In a reef tank these are used to try and soak up excess nutrients, but of course that is counter productive in a planted tank since we intentionally add nutrients. The only possible benefit I could see is if you used highly oxygenating plants, and ran the refugium light cycle counter to the main tank cycle helping to soak up CO2 and add DO during the main tank lights out.

You would be better combining this and the biological filter section together if the design enables you to, and have it as a compete trickle filter. This is one of the main benefits of using a sump in a planted tank, as it can provide a permanent increase in dissolved oxygen. Tom Barr goes into this in some length on his site.

Also I wouldn’t have thought you’d want to put anything in the auto-top of tank, unless you aren’t actually using it for auto-top offs.
 

Wolf6

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Also I wouldn’t have thought you’d want to put anything in the auto-top of tank, unless you aren’t actually using it for auto-top offs.
Thanks for the tips, socks are staying! And I had the idea about the top off tank before reading the manual saying its only enough for a few days worth of topping off :) so no stock in there. Must have been my stupidest idea to date. Please forget it was ever mentioned 😢
My refugium plan was partly to have a safe haven for a colony of shrimp as the main tank will hold a few fish that might eat a few (apisto or rams). And I did consider (and still do) the idea of running it counter to the main tank to provide oxygen after lights out using hornwort or other fast growers that don't need soil. I can turn it into a large trickle filter too, I will read up on that some more.
 

Zeus.

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As you are probably aware trickle filters will drive off more CO2 as well. I don't worry too much about O2 levels as during photoperiod the water is saturated as my plants pearl when I turn my Maxspect gyres off. To help increase the aerobic bacteria activity in the canister which by their sealed nature tend to be mainly anaerobic, I have the intake of my canister filter (a fluval FX6) intake with a twinstar reactor between the glass and the intake, so when it forms its nano bubbles they all get sucked direst into the filter - which I believe helps the aerobic bacteria, plus rids the tank of the nano bubble mist
 
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mine has or at the moment had a fine sock on the down pipe and the over flow was also into it, though did not need to be

Not got round to adding anything in the main chambers, so it has become a settling area and debris falls out of suspension there, plus has the heater and then in final chamber the return pump.

im low tech, but high tech, are more like the same way high tech marine is and are using an area to house and then add dosing salts into the system etc
 

Kezzab

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I would avoid over complicating the sump and also avoid having planted plants that cannot easily be removed.

You want to be able to crash about doing stuff in the sump, rather than attempting not to disturb things.

I have previously tried a sock and the water just overflowed the top and it made loads of noise. I may try again sometime in case I was doing something wrong.
 

Wolf6

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Having read a bit about the tricklefilter I think I'll keep it simple for now, I'll just do socks (room2) - 5cm thick course spunge as divider and backup filtration should I neglect to clean the sock in time - small refugium with mosses and shrimp (no real function except housing my shrimp, room 3) - divider with medium 5cm thick spunge - bio filtration with some bags of bio materials (no plants, room 4)- fine spunge - return with heater, CO2 and dosing in it (room 5). I have an acrylic plate I could cut to size and cover a big part of the sump with (the sump tank has a ledge on both sides inside the tank so it would close it off nicely except for the return chamber), it wont be airtight but maybe help the offgassing and evaporation, and I'll use a smaller nano light for the shrimptank so it doesnt affect the rest rather then a floodlight. Any tips on which bio media to use? Is it worth getting some seachem I keep reading about?
 

Aquarius

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Hi Wolf,
I didn't have have an aquarium for 15 years but now I have a Reefer 525XL for a few months. Not a big expert but with some experiences to share regarding the sump:

  • I have 4 filter socks containing a little bit of filter wool at the top and covered with a coarse filter mat to hold the biggest leafs. After that I have my refugium where I kept some Pseudomugils there that were still too small to go in the tank with the Apistogrammas. Now it contains some Neocaridina shrimp. We will see how that goes. After my refugium I have big compartment half filled with siporax and some Sera Crystal clear. I left in place the coarse filter mat before the return pump segment.
  • when you clean or mess around in the sump, a lot of fine dirt (from the soil) gets blown through the aquarium, A few hours later it is all clean again.
  • shrimps (even medium-sized Amanos) get through the grid of the overflow box and like to hide there. However the get sucked to the sump and stuck into the valve, significantly reducing the outflow. If not solve immediately, the shrimps die.
  • the same holds for the grid of the refugium, the holes are large. So I removed all the grids and replaced them by a much finer stainless steel mesh.
  • plant leaves and snails in front of the mesh tend to disturb the equilibrium of in and outflow, leading me to adjust the flow valve a few times a week. This means that I can not keep it noiseless and will loose more CO2 than optimal.
  • my first 2kg CO2 bottle was empty in 3 weeks, which I consider too fast. Not sure if I had a leak somewhere, but will retry once I have a my bottle refilled. I was surprised how costly and not very available this can be. (Any good tips for CO2 refilling around Leuven in Belgium are welcome.)
  • If you refilled your aquarium a bit too much and happen to shut down the pump, the water level will rise above the refugium wall and your shrimp and fish in the refugium can end up in your pump.
  • I had some problems with killifish jumping out of the acquarium even with a Red Sea screen and a plexiglass cover over it. I don't know how the do it, but 4-5mm is enough to find back dried out fish at the other side of the room in the morning. The holes of the screen are 7-8mm.

So for the moment I am running it without CO2 and it is going quite well. The foreground plants are however very recent additions. I would be glad to hear how you optimize your CO2 usage.


20201117_125858.jpg
 

Wolf6

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Joined
18 Dec 2014
Messages
265
Location
Netherlands
Hi Wolf,
I didn't have have an aquarium for 15 years but now I have a Reefer 525XL for a few months. Not a big expert but with some experiences to share regarding the sump:

  • I have 4 filter socks containing a little bit of filter wool at the top and covered with a coarse filter mat to hold the biggest leafs. After that I have my refugium where I kept some Pseudomugils there that were still too small to go in the tank with the Apistogrammas. Now it contains some Neocaridina shrimp. We will see how that goes. After my refugium I have big compartment half filled with siporax and some Sera Crystal clear. I left in place the coarse filter mat before the return pump segment.
  • when you clean or mess around in the sump, a lot of fine dirt (from the soil) gets blown through the aquarium, A few hours later it is all clean again.
  • shrimps (even medium-sized Amanos) get through the grid of the overflow box and like to hide there. However the get sucked to the sump and stuck into the valve, significantly reducing the outflow. If not solve immediately, the shrimps die.
  • the same holds for the grid of the refugium, the holes are large. So I removed all the grids and replaced them by a much finer stainless steel mesh.
  • plant leaves and snails in front of the mesh tend to disturb the equilibrium of in and outflow, leading me to adjust the flow valve a few times a week. This means that I can not keep it noiseless and will loose more CO2 than optimal.
  • my first 2kg CO2 bottle was empty in 3 weeks, which I consider too fast. Not sure if I had a leak somewhere, but will retry once I have a my bottle refilled. I was surprised how costly and not very available this can be. (Any good tips for CO2 refilling around Leuven in Belgium are welcome.)
  • If you refilled your aquarium a bit too much and happen to shut down the pump, the water level will rise above the refugium wall and your shrimp and fish in the refugium can end up in your pump.
  • I had some problems with killifish jumping out of the acquarium even with a Red Sea screen and a plexiglass cover over it. I don't know how the do it, but 4-5mm is enough to find back dried out fish at the other side of the room in the morning. The holes of the screen are 7-8mm.

So for the moment I am running it without CO2 and it is going quite well. The foreground plants are however very recent additions. I would be glad to hear how you optimize your CO2 usage.
Thanks a lot!! And great tank :D
Do you have a pic of the meshes you are using, and maybe of the sump itself the way you did it? I was already planning on putting some mesh or wiring right against the back of the main tank overflows, keeping the clean look but making it so that the adult shrimp or small fish dont go through. Hopefully I can find something that does allow leaves to pass often enough. On the other hand, I have to constantly readjust my skimmer as well so its not something I cant live with.
In the sump, my plan was to cut a large coarse thick spunge to size and jam it right behind the divider with the same effect, so shrimp mostly stay on the correct side + additional filtering of the fine dirt. Thanks for the warning about overfilling, I will have to see how I can prevent that from happening!
2KG in 3 weeks time is a lot, but my current heavily planted tank goes through 2kg in 2 months, at only 150 liters running an inline diffusor, so I was expecting about double the use of CO2 for this tank. So +-1 month for 2kg, meaning you arent too far off for your fantastically huge tank :) Cant tell you if thats normal or if my tank just uses far too much already ;) I want to get a 5kg tank because of this, and use my current 2kg as backup.
 

Wolf6

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If you didn't want to use stainless mesh, this plastic mesh is very good (its available from the same seller in different sizes if you wanted a larger piece). I've used it on all my skimmers, and various other areas where I don't want larger shrimp to get into. It'll stop all but the babies.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/20x20cm-PLASTIC-NET-STRONG-BLACK-FLEXIBLE-HDPE-INSECT-FISH-MESH-SCREEN-FINE-2mm/290848465436?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649
Thanks, I'll check it out! My initial idea was using my 3D pen and just dividing each opening into 2 (vertical split) leaving openings comparable to the size most filter inlets have, which is safe enough for the stock I intend while still letting bits of plant pass normally. But alas, the fillings for 3D pens are biodegradable, so that idea is not viable. But these meshes look good, though I'd go for a bit bigger openings so not every plant bit gets stuck in it.
 

zozo

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I find my canister has more and more shrimp in it each time I clean it. If they can live in a canister a sump would no issues for them at all

Yup i have them always in my sump,once i even found fish fry in it... In the later case it was a goldfish in my outdoor sump... It must ended up as a free floating egg or fry and wiggled itself through the trickle media down into the water bellow it. There simply is no other way to get to it...
:)

And regarding sumps :) my 5 cents on it, the ones i've seen for planted tanks are about all over complicated and have to much bells and wissles. Keep them as simple as possible is my own approach... But as long as they work and filter then there is nothing wrong not even with an over complication. :thumbup: It's always fun to build them and make them work.
 
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Wolf6

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I find my canister has more and more shrimp in it each time I clean it. If they can live in a canister a sump would no issues for them at all
Its not the sump that is the problem, its them getting stuck on their way to the sump, halfway the piping. I had a friend who had a fan shrimp get stuck in it. He had no way to get it out and had to resort to drastic measures to get it out... in parts :( Now those are bigger then amano, but I'd still hate for one of them to get stuck in the tube only to die there. The small shrimp I'm not too worried about, they will end up in the sump somewhere and be just fine like you said :) I've pulled half adult shrimp from my cannisters more then once, including new colours that didnt exist in the main tank :)
 

zozo

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Its not the sump that is the problem, its them getting stuck on their way to the sump, halfway the piping. I had a friend who had a fan shrimp get stuck in it. He had no way to get it out and had to resort to drastic measures to get it out... in parts :( Now those are bigger then amano, but I'd still hate for one of them to get stuck in the tube only to die there. The small shrimp I'm not too worried about, they will end up in the sump somewhere and be just fine like you said :) I've pulled half adult shrimp from my cannisters more then once, including new colours that didnt exist in the main tank :)

Big shrimp shouldn't get through or in the overflow in the first place... :) But i have to admit, shrimp are adventures climbers i've also found them in my HOB filters traveling emersed over the media into the pump compartiment playing in the eddy munching on the sponge. Shrimps are definitively mad.
 
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