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How does my sump design look? NOW WITH WATER!


20 members have voted

  1. 1. Is the sump as it's designed a go or a no go?

    • Go
    • No go
  2. 2. How about the baffles? (multiple choices allowed)

    • Doesn't matter
    • They'll work as you have them planned 1/8" glass spaced 1/4" apart
    • You should increase only the baffle spacing
    • You should increase only the baffle thickness
    • They won't work as you have them planned

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So in my quest to get this contest tank up & running I figure I should start on the sump pretty quick so I can finish the stand while the silicone dries.


If you're not familiar with my build there's a simple illustration at the top of my contest thread (link in my sig).


Here's my design for a sump. Sorry it's small, but photobucket seems to have resized it and won't let me enlarge it. So you might have to Ctrl+mouse wheel up a few times to enlarge it.


Quick stats: 30br tank 36x18x12

Planned water volume ~23 gallons

Baffle material 1/8" glass spaced 1/4" apart

Drain pipe 1"

Return pipe 1/2"

Return pump Quiet one 1200 (350gph)

Pump head 39"





I have a few questions for you sump builders out there as this is my first:


My Bubble magus NAC6 is 7" wide, thus the skimmer section width. I also wanted to keep the refugium/grow out area around 24" so that I could put a standard 24" T5 light on it. I made it 23 to accommodate the baffle spacing. This leaves a 5" wide return area which I calculate should hold around 3 gallons. I plan to have this hooked up to an ATO pretty quick, but still 3 gallons isn't much wiggle room. Do you think that's an okay volume for the return area?


Finally, I'm having difficulty planning my baffles. First off, from my research it seems that 1/4" glass or acrylic is standard, as is 1" spacing between the baffles. What I couldn't find was a reason why. Technically my tank will only have 300-400gph going through it, so I was thinking that using 1/8" window glass with 1/4" spacing should save me a bit of room. I think that such a small piece of 1/8" glass should be plenty strong (it's not like it has to deal with much force!) and I think that with an 18" wide tank even a 1/4" slot would provide for plenty of flow. I am planning on using a dowel or something to clean between the panes.


So does anyone have any experience with using baffles spaced so closely together? Does anyone know why I definitely should NOT go ahead with this plan?


Thanks for your vote!

Edited by ajmckay

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i spaced my baffles the width of a yard stick, just over 1 inch x 5 inches wide. You can figure out the area for the flow, but the smaller the distance, the more velocity the water is going to see and greater chance of bubbles IMO.


Also the tee in the return is nice to regulate fuge flow, but it will really cut down on DT flow. so if you want 300 going through the DT, better get a pump that does 500, ya know?


fuge pic

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you will also be faced with bubbles from the fuge pouring back down into the return area. double bubble traps will take up a lot of room

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Thanks for your feedback Cruize! I see you're in Whitmore Lake eh? I'm going there on Saturday to play paintball at futureball for a friends bachelor party... I think we're still just doing the 2nd open play session though.


Anyways, I like those points you brought up... the velocity of the water hadn't crossed my mind before, that alone would probably make the bubble trap ineffective since the bubbles will be flowing through faster than they can rise! So I think I will be increasing the baffle spacing. I'm still not sure about 1" though... Maybe 1/2 or 3/4 would be a good compromise.


Also, I will be getting a larger return pump (I was thinking a 600gph maxi-jet utility pump) once the funds are there.


Finally, I noticed on your sump you have only 2 pieces of glass per baffle... How does that work out? I would be willing to do 2 pieces of glass spaced 1" apart if it's just as effective (actually that was my original plan, but I thought I was being safer with 3). I haven't heard that the bubble magus skimmer produces a lot of bubbles anyways.

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hey aj this is some of my favorite designs.










in the first design the baffle thickness only matters on the last one due to equal pressure on both sides for the others.


some thing else is put foam across the top of the last baffle coming from the skimmer.




make sure to find the volume that will back siphon with the power cut. the pump chamber will need to hold this (which I'm sure you know) plus have room for evap.



what is the footprint of the skimmer.

Edited by bitts

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Thanks for the feedback bitts... I keep thinking that I should have PM'd you while I was in Boulder last month...


Thanks to you I spent an hour at work goofing off trying to re-think my sump! Hahaha. :D At first I was like "Why did he post a pic of someone's DIY AIO". But then I realized that it's a popular design for what I'm trying to do. Honestly I hadn't thought of doing it that way and it is a good idea except I sort of designed my stand to accommodate the design I have above. Take a quick look in my contest thread and you'll see that my plan is to make doors that will enclose the skimmer and return area to reduce noise and hide the monstrous (but beautiful) skimmer...


The skimmer is a Bubble Magus NAC6 and has a 6.7 x 10.4 footprint.

So assuming I stay with the current design the drain/skimmer section is a fixed width. Also, I wanted to keep the refugium/frag grow out area as close to 24" as possible so I can put a standard 24" T5 fixture on it with minimal light overflow into the skimmer/return chambers. So below are some quick sump designs I thought up which might work with my stand. I'm sort of leaning toward #2 honestly... Which do you think is the best design? Also, should I go for the 3 baffle design or the 2 baffle design?



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5 main areas on mine. FLOSS area (top left)>> under baffle>>SKIMMER area>> through drilled hole into FUGE Area (baffles on both sides to keep chaeto in the fuge)>> through drilled hole into CHEMIPURE area>> under/over/under>> to RETURN area. hopefully that makes some sense.


I drilled the baffles for flow from area to area, something i have not seen yet, but works great !


Then I have a traditional under/over/under bubble trap going from the chemipure area to the return pump area. I found that it operates much better with the water levels being an inch over the "over" baffle. way too much turbulence otherwise. Even water falling one inch created bubbles for me.





another thing about drainback... the higher your return flow, the more drainback you will have. Now with a RIO1100 the DT is running about 5/8" up the teeth = 1.75gallons. Once I step up to a more powerful return pump it will be higher up the teeth, thus more drainback. Every inch of drainback from a 40b DT is about 2.7 gallons.


You see my marks on the end of the fuge? From "max on" to "max off" is how much drains back from the DT above the teeth+ DT through return until anti-siphon holes+ the other fuge areas draining down. its about 6 gallons.


cool! not many ppl know where Whitmore Lake is ! Futureball is fun :D

Edited by cruiZe

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Sorry for thread hyjack, but I am trying to get my sump planned. I was gonna go with an eheim 1260, but I looked at those quiet ones and they look nice. Do you guys think a quiet one 2200 would work on my 40B with a 700gph overflow kit from glass-holes?

I kinda want to do a design like ajmckay with the turn going into the fuge. The water will have to travel about 45" (3'9") to the tank with about 6 90* turns.

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dude i so would have bought you a beer. lol


give me a little bit to play with sketch up. I'll see what i can do with number 3.

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i like the #3 idea. nice work bitts

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AJ im throwing it up on the web soyou can download it.

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Bitts.. you've got mad skillz... It looks better the way you did it !


I really like the idea of #3... It's something I haven't thought of before really... The only problem is that I would need to come up with some sort of enclosure for it. If you've seen my stand, the middle shelf where this sump/fuge/frag tank will be is basically open. Before, I was going to create 2 "doors" to enclose the skimmer and return pump areas. If I do those chambers on the back I'll have to think of a way to hide them and keep the sound down. The only other issue I can think of is that my skimmer is huge... about 20" tall and it'll have to fit in a 22" high area, so I would need to do a test to be sure I could remove the skimmer completely. Below is the stand:



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Okay, so I went ahead and did a dry test run... I'm running this 30b rimless, and I rigged up a simple cardboard setup to see if I could get the skimmer in and out with these dimensions suggested in #3. Since the glass is 1/4", the inside measurement is actually 17.5". I would probably use 1/4" glass for this design, so that makes the inside 17.25". The skimmer is difficult to get in and out of the tank, but I was able to do it based on the mock up... It might work better to make the skimmer chamber 14 or 16 inches long instead of 12 though. The skimmer BARELY fits into the space (as designed)! actually it doesn't fit with the blue tube attached... Does anyone know if that tube needs to be as tall as it is?






I could make the sump section 7.25" and the fuge/frag tank 10" wide. My primary concern with this style was making it quiet and hiding the equipment from view. So I thought of using a track mounted to the underside of the top shelf with a bracket that hangs a piece of material down (sort of like the tracks in bars that hold wine glasses by the base) which I can slide in and out through the side. I can use acrylic painted black and stick a piece of insulating foam on the back! I think this would result in relative quiet.




Oh, and Dasani, I think a QO 2200 would work pretty good with that head (and be a whole lot cheaper than the eheim), but do you have to have 6 90* angles? That's a lot IMO.

Edited by ajmckay

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it not me it's sketchup that makes it look good.


couple things.

to help with sound.

doors on the sides & doors on the front. enclosing the fuge will help. while maintaining access. what drain setup will there be. i assume it will be silent. the fuge should be for the most part. which means it comes down to the skimmer.






this was the basic plan for that stand i've been working up.






adapted to yours.

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Hey Bitts~!


Sorry for the delayed response... I was busy a lot this weekend, ya know? :naughtydance:


anyways, you are a sketch up king... I on the other hand... a sketch up peon (at best). I tried to design my stand & stuff a while back but I'm really bad with figuring out how to make stuff exactly the length I want... I also have issues skinning the right sides of objects. Oh well I need more practice.


I like your stand drawing though. What do you think about my paint rendition? The reason I ask is that I really want the fuge/grow out portion of the tank to be open. This is sort of how I've designed the stand. The only issue still is how to fully enclose the equipment sections of the sump and make them "silent".


So going back to using the t-track hanging system, I think that I can pull it off the way it's designed. the question is whether it will accomplish my objectives (keep it quiet and hide the equipment) as well as id I were to fully enclose the stand, which I could still do, I would just prefer to leave it open.. Hmmm...


Hopefully tonight I'll start cutting up the 1/4" oak plywood and skinning the stand.

Edited by ajmckay

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You should be able to make the sump silent in the first place with a little work, really. Think your skimmer even came with a silencer. :) well relativly silent.


Biggest thing is allways the drain. Then skimmer & pumps. Then vibrations.


It dosnt show well in the sketch but the front door would only come down to the top of the tank. Alowing the lights to be inclosed while not shinning into the room. I like the diveder but seemed harder to build into the design. Closed cell foam would be great as a way to insulate the sound. But would do the same for heat. I like your solution for hanging the divider. That's very simplistic while being completly effective.


Is there a reason for keeping the fuge open to the outside of the stand comparied to inclosed.



As to the blue pipe impreety sure its the riser pipe used to control the skimmers water line. If its not high enough the water will just overflow out the top.


What size was the skimmer chamber in the mockup. With the foot print I'd say you'll need some thing around 8x12 to fit the skimmer at minimum. Agree that bumping it 14 or 16 would be better. But having clearence on all sides is a must. So as not to have it vibrating aganst a wall. With the return pump chamber being 8x18 let's say for a footprint you could still comfortably handle 3.5 gallons (6x8x18) of back flow. With A water line of 5inches leaving an inch spare. So maybe try a mock up of 8x16 & see if things fit.

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My drain is going to be a herbie out the back glass. It should be pretty quiet.


I see now, if I look at the sketch harder it shows the cover only coming down to the top of the tank... I suppose I don't have a specific requirement that the display part of the sump be covered, however my initial "daydreams" of this project included the possibilities of a mangrove plant ;) so that might be a reason to keep it open. Also it might help to offset some of the heat being produced in the closed off sections. On the other hand it will definitely increase my evaporation potential. But I plan to hook up an ATO pretty quick to keep up with that (since my return area is relatively small).


So for the stand I think I will stick with the upside down T-track system as the insulation should work well for sound and temp, and the weight of the acrylic pulling down should eliminate any vibrations. That is unless I discover any major flaws... But I'm pretty sure I have the execution planned out for it to work.


Tonight I'll do another mock-up. The first one I did was 12x7 and the skimmer fit, but the blue water level pipe didn't. So I think that if I extend it to 16x7.5" or so I can achieve a steeper angle and it will fit better. Granted that extra space sort of becomes useless, but even so I think that the efficiency of this sump (given my criteria) is pretty good.


So unless there are any other great ideas I (we) haven't thought up yet, I think this will be my sump design! Yay I can finally start applying the silicone! Well... except I'll need to find another hole saw to cut the hole for the transition between the display area and the return area because your tube idea really rocks.


Wait... 1 last question!

The 30br tank is 12" tall. Right now I have the glass baffles set at 9" tall. This would give me 3" of overflow space or about 8 gallons. I'm considering increasing the height of the baffles to 10" or even 10.5" which would drop me to 5.4 or 4 gallons of overflow volume should the power go out. What do you guys think? What height should I maintain the baffles? My overflow in the display tank will be really small (like 8x3x6 or .5 gallons), and my return is only like 1" below the surface (I'm going to use loc-line to adjust it, but there will be an anti-siphon hole.

Edited by ajmckay

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the one i sketched up had to water line in the skimmer chamber & fuge set be the height of the tube entering the return chamber. also make sure to put a filter sponge on it to prevent bubbles.


the divider you came up with is great wish i had.

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Wait... 1 last question!

The 30br tank is 12" tall. Right now I have the glass baffles set at 9" tall. This would give me 3" of overflow space or about 8 gallons. I'm considering increasing the height of the baffles to 10" or even 10.5" which would drop me to 5.4 or 4 gallons of overflow volume should the power go out. What do you guys think? What height should I maintain the baffles? My overflow in the display tank will be really small (like 8x3x6 or .5 gallons), and my return is only like 1" below the surface (I'm going to use loc-line to adjust it, but there will be an anti-siphon hole.


there will be water above the overflow teeth, prob 5/8 to 3/4" plus what drains back through the return. Even with an anti-siphon hole, it will drain to the bottom of the return so your looking at least 2 inches of drain back across the 40b, right? thats like 6 gallons, i'd leave it with extra room !

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Thanks for the comments Cruize!


Okay... So I've been thinking about this a lot. I really want the water level in the display sump as high as possible. I'll probably have like a 4-5" sand bed, so that doesn't leave much space to utilize. So I would really like the water level around 10.5 to 11"....


First I was thinking to stash a small 5g overflow tank in the bottom of the stand, but then I realized that if the power did go out and the water from the display siphoned down to the sump that the water would be lost when power came back on unless I rigged up some sophisticated pump system ($$!).


So here's my thought...

Instead of having the return line come straight up to the bulkhead with just a simple 90 elbow, I'll have a larger "u-tube" mounted upside down such that a portion of it is above the water line. Additionally I'll have an anti-siphon hole (probably with an extender tube facing up so the siphon break is higher). I'm thinking that this method, illustrated below, will result in less water back flowing down the return from the display tank. If I can keep it down to only 1", I think a 10.5" high water level for the sump is doable.


In the illustration, the green part is behind the back glass pane outside of the tank.



So what do you think, should this work?

Edited by ajmckay

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Bump I'm cutting my glass baffles tonight!

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Thanks! B)


But do you think that the idea shown in the above illustration (post #22) will work as I'm thinking it will?

Edited by ajmckay

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