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Old 03-19-2006, 03:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default sump journal

Was asked on another site to make this up, will share it here also. Posting pics of the 30 gallon sump on my 110 gallon planted discus tank. I started out with an oversize wet/dry system which outgassed the CO2 more than I wanted. This sump has evolved with me spending a lot of time and money experimenting. I now have the sump tweaked where I want it. I will try to add why I used and did what I did with the various changes I made. A wet/dry filter came with my acrylic 110 tank, the tank/stand/canopy/sump was made by Ostrom Manufacturing in Ohio. I specified an oversize wet/dry filter and you will see it leaves very little room for hardware. The first thing I did was pitch the bio balls, drip tray and egg crate.

A disclaimer, everything that follows is my opinion and I do not wish to debate my opinion. If you like something you see below, try it, that is how I got my sump where it is. It may work for you, it may not.

Here is the pipe that sits in the sump and connects to the overflow. I installed the ball valves to assist me with water changes. I also extended the pipe so it goes all the way to the bottom of the sump and put a 90 degree fitting, this cuts down on the surface turbulence which can cause CO2 outgassing.

Here is another pic on the overflow pipe showing better detail of the ball valves used for water changes.

This is how I do water changes, hook a garden hose to the fitting, turn the ball valves and the sump drains. How does this happen? The ball valve on the left allows the water to go from the overflow to the sump, when it is closed no water enters the sump. When the ball valve on the right is opened, it allows the water to go from the overflow out the garden hose to a drain. The pump in the sump keeps pumping the water out of the sump, into the main tank, into the overflow, down the standpipe and out the garden hose. Piece of cake water changes, all I have to do is turn the pump off when the sump is empty. Notice in the pictures that contain plumbing that all plumbing is located over the sump, get a plumbing leak, water falls into the sump.

This is the return pipe, the piece closet to you hooks to the pump. Notice the flex tubing. I used this to ensure pump vibrations are not transfered to the main tank through the hard plumbing. This will happen with hard plumbing, you may not see the results, but the fish do.

The side closest to you is where the return connects to the main tank. Notice the check valve which keeps water from back siphoning through the return line during pump failure or power loss. The result? Allows me to keep the water level in the sump higher, more water is considered a bonus by me. The next 2 photos illustrate my sump water level.

Water level with pump running.

Water level with pump off, sump can hold 30 gallons, I keep 25 gallons in it, when pump is off about 3 gallons drain from the main tank.

Ever looked into an overflow? Looks pretty nasty doesn't it? It is full of beneficial bacteria.

Durso standpipe. This was made for me by Richard Durso. Notice it is oversized (bigger than the overflow opening). Richard has done many tests and knows what will work best for different size tanks. Using a Durso standpipe eliminates the toilet flushing sound that overflows create. Ever heard it? Can be very annoying and will draw quick negative comments from family/viewers.

Next I will show some pics of the equipment in the sump and try to explain why I use what I use:

Mag Drive 7 pump. I tried to use a Mag 5 pump to lower the flow, lowered it too much for me. I get close to 600 gph with the Mag 7. I have about 8 feet of plumbing on the return and a lot of turns which takes a lot of power away from the pump.

Powered CO2 reactor. I have found it is very effective if kept vertical and very ineffective if kept horizontal. I had this horizontal at first to keep the pump under the water line. When I raised the water level I was able to set this vertical and was amazed with the difference, very noticeable.

Milwaukee SMS122 PH monitor/controller. I highly recommend using a ph monitor/controller. Why? It will protect your fish. Ever heard of end of tank dump? A CO2 cylinder will dump its contents when all the liquid CO2 turns gaseous, typically this happens at around 700 psi cylinder pressure. Folks that much CO2 dumped in your tank is sure to stress your fish if it does not kill them which is more likely. How does the PH monitor/controller prevent this? The monitor is set to the PH you wish to maintain. When plants use up the CO2 the PH rises, the monitor senses this and actuates the solenoid on the CO2 regulator allowing CO2 into the tank. When the PH lowers to the desired level, the monitor senses this and closes the solenoid. So even if the CO2 cylinder tries to dump, the solenoid will be closed and not allow CO2 into the tank. CO2 monitor/controllers are around $100. How much did you pay for your discus? Some people hook their solenoid to a timer turning the CO2 on & off with the lights. They set the CO2 regulator to release CO2 by counting the bubbles in the bubble counter. It does not matter what the PH is in the tank, the CO2 is constantly injected when the lights are on. Plants do not need a constant source of steady CO2 they can use more or less depending on where they are in the photosynthesis cycle. Injecting CO2 like this will lead to CO2 swings in your tank throughout the day. Some people run their CO2 24/7. This can be very dangerous to your fish. Do you monitor the health of your fish when you are sleeping. When the lights are on and plants are photosynthesizing, they produce oxygen and use CO2. When the lights go out photosynthesis stops and plants produce CO2 and use oxygen. So here are the poor fish competing with the plants for oxygen in the dark and having the PH drop because the plants are producing CO2. Do you think this is good for the fish? How much did you pay for your discus again? And as a review, how much does a PH monitor/controller cost? Enough said!

My 5 pound CO2 cylinder and regulator. Only size that will fit, you will see later. I use a Milwaukee regulator with a JBJ bubble counter (has a built in check valve, the Milwaukee bubble counter does not). I bought 4 CO2 cylinders at once and got kinda a price break for doing so online. At first I was going to use 2 cylinders on 2 tanks and keep 2 filled spares. Well this evolved into me using all the cylinders on different tanks with no spares. No spares, no worry. I was driving about 30 minutes and paying close to $30 for cylinder refills. On day I discovered a gas company right down the street from my house. They swap out your cylinder for one of theirs that is filled. Well I just purchased brand new aluminum cylinders and was not about to swap one of my brand new shiny cylinders for a steel one that had been beat around for years and probably had a hydrostat inspection due soon. Well I learned from this guy that all 5 pound cylinders are aluminum and he had new ones too. He would take my cylinder and give me a new one filled for $10. Guess what I did? BTW, a 5 pound cylinder lasts me at least 6 months, so why the need for a spare?

Eheim liquidoser. I use it to dose my micro/macro trace elements. I use the PMDD formula that can be purchased online from Greg Watson. I highly recommend anyone serious about planted tanks take some time and look into the PMDD method and explore Greg's site. Why do I use the liquidoser? Because if I do not have to manually put ferts in my tank, guess what I'm doing? I bet you guessed watching my discus instead!

Powered dual sponge filter. This sits in my sump and provides biological filtration. If you would like one call John at JEHMCO. You may need to show him this pic, he custom made it for me after spending a lot of time discussing my setup with me (hopefully he will say, Oh yea, I remember that). If he sells it, he gets my business, John was very helpful and spent a lot of time on the phone helping me with this sponge filter which cost me less than $50. How many places do you find customer service like that over the phone anymore? I love this sponge filter!

Temp alarm. Put this in the sump for obvious reasons. Oh yea, did I mention that one day I woke up and found my tank temp close to 98 degrees?

Two 400 watt Theo heaters. I used to have two 250 watt jager heaters but they just would not cut the mustard during water changes. I no longer have problems getting the water heated during water changes now that I have 800 watts available.

Heater controller. No way to synchronize two heaters without a heater controller. Again, I purchased this from JEHMCO. And yes John spent a lot of time on the phone with me discussing my needs to make sure he sold me the best product for my needs. The heater controller provides power to a GFCI outlet that both heaters are plugged into. The heaters turn on and off together, neither one works harder than the other. Note: set the heater thermostats to 4 degrees over your desired temps. This is a precaution in case the heater controller sticks on, your fish will not be cooked if the heater thermostats are set. Most people just crank the heater thermostats to the limit and let the heater controller turn them on and off. As a review, what happens if the heater controller sticks on and your heaters are set to the max? And how much did you invest in those discus? I'm not going to tell you what this setup costs, go look on JEHMCOs website or better yet call John, I bet you get one!

Two Magnum HOT filters. I use these for chemical filtration and they hang on the sump. They are charged with Seachem Renew. Know why I do not use charcoal? Charcoal does more harm than good on a planted tank, it will absorb the stuff the plants need. Only use charcoal to remove meds in a planted tank? Why did I chose Magnum HOT? Easy, they were the only thing that would fit and believe me they just barely do.

This would be my UPS and once again I picked this kind because it was the only one that would fit. This will keep your pump going if a power failure hits you. Do not plug heaters in these. They will last up to 8 hours running a pump and will be drained in about an hour if connected to heaters. If you have a power failure you need the pump way more than the heaters for your fish's welfare.

My GFCI bank. I decided to do this one day after getting frustrated with the wire nest I had under my tank. Starting from the left:

Bank one: Top is the digital timer for my moon lights. Only one way to describe moon lights, Bitchin! If you haven't seen a tank lit by moonlights at night, you do not know what you are missing. Ever watch your nocturnal fish? I sit in front of this tank just as much with the moon lights on as I do with the day lights on. Bottom is the power adapter for my Milwaukee PH monitor controller.

Bank two: Top is for the pump on the powered sponge filter. Bottom is to provide power to the CO2 solenoid and the powered reactor. The black plug underneath the beige plug goes to the ph monitor/controller, it acts as a switch and is turned on/off by the ph monitor/controller as described earlier.

Bank three: This is the GFCI that is powered by the heater controller. Each receptacle has one Theo 400 watt heater plugged into it.

Bank four: Top is the digital timer for my Icecap ballast that powers the 4x95 watt T-12 bulbs. Bottom is connected to a power strip that powers the Magnum HOTs.

Banks one, two, and four are plugged into the always on receptacles of the UPS. The heater controller and UPS are plugged into the wall. The Mag Drive pump is the only thing plugged into the battery side of the UPS. So during water changes, I trip banks one and two. No need to trip 4, doesn't matter if the lights are on during water changes and I turn the Magnum HOTs off at their power strip. Bank three is left on to power the heaters, heaters are placed in the bottom of the sump and are never dry unless I am vacuuming the sump, then I turn Bank three off also. I turn the pump off at the front panel of the UPS when the sump is drained.

The right side of my stand, look a little crowded? Believe me there is no room to spare in my stand!

Picture of the sump put all together minus the Magnum HOTs that hang on the front of the sump.

Pic of my wilds munching, pigs with fins!

Cruisin around in their younger days.

Recent rescape of the tank, has grown out a lot since this photo was taken (my discus are pouting behind the forest on the right, got mad at me for changing the scenery!).

Hope you enjoyed, I'm ready for questions......DC
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