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Why don't we use sumps?

Epiphyte

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15 Dec 2020
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Hemel Hempstead
As the title says really.

I'm planning my new tank and whilst thinking about filtration I was wondering why we don't use sumps like our marine friends do? Lots of space for filter media, big pumps pushing that 10x turnover easily, CO2 and any dosing equipment hidden out of the way.

Aside of an "uglier" inlet setup, what am I missing, why does nobody do it?
 

seedoubleyou

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29 Mar 2022
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Windsor
As the title says really.

I'm planning my new tank and whilst thinking about filtration I was wondering why we don't use sumps like our marine friends do? Lots of space for filter media, big pumps pushing that 10x turnover easily, CO2 and any dosing equipment hidden out of the way.

Aside of an "uglier" inlet setup, what am I missing, why does nobody do it?
Many people do use sumps. Although more common with Marine converts, or large fish keepers.

As for hiding all the equipment, there’s no reason that can’t be achieved in a clean an minimal looking setup commonly found in modern aquascaping.
Canister filters are just so effective and easy to use that there’s really no need for anything else in our side of the hobby.
 

Simon Cole

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25 Dec 2018
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Buckingham
The standpipe (out flow) is the tricky part. Either you accept that you are drilling holes in your tank (and cabinet) or you use suction to pipe it down the side, which means that it could stop if an air pocket formed, and that the flow needs to be initiated. Many cabinets aren't quite right, and sumps do cost a little bit to buy or time to make. A fully sealed sump is possibly harder to service. They are still quite common, and these are only the reasons why I haven't used them yet.
 
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ElleDee

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12 Mar 2022
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Southeastern US
I looked very hard at going with a sump and ultimately that idea fell victim to plumbing ambivalence. I was ok with the idea of drilling a tank per se, but that locks you into a particular configuration and I wasn't confident I would get that right on the first try given all the considerations I had in mind (needs to fit the predrilled holes in my cabinet, optimal flow pattern while still having a clean look, safe for nanofish). I held back the whole project while I tried to sort it out, and finally threw in the towel because I just wanted to move forward. I would love to do a sump one day, but not anytime soon.
 

seedoubleyou

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29 Mar 2022
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There’s plenty of options out there to buy an aquarium that’s already sumped.
There’s also plenty of options for drilling and adding an overflow, and many manufactured overflows come with a drilling guide.

As alluded to above, I wouldn’t recommend a HOB overflow as a poorly made one will flood your home.
 

Garuf

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30 Oct 2007
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Copenhagen
Overflows are ugly, loc line is ugly and drilling tanks is a hassle.
Many of us can’t have tanks of sufficient volume to make them worth the effort.
 

mrtank50

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6 Jan 2021
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Türkiye
Hello, I have never used the big sump, but I have been using the side sump for years in the aquarium. Very useful. Fast cleaning, easy fiber change, cheap cost.
You will only be separating 10 cm from your aquarium.

The only downside is visual pollution.
I get very good yields even on very demanding plants.
 

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Shuster

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14 Apr 2020
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Israel
Hello, I have never used the big sump, but I have been using the side sump for years in the aquarium. Very useful. Fast cleaning, easy fiber change, cheap cost.
You will only be separating 10 cm from your aquarium.

The only downside is visual pollution.
I get very good yields even on very demanding plants.
Hi mate,

It's not the same working scheme...
On external sump the water is dropping down ,

Sent from my GM1913 using Tapatalk
 

Epiphyte

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15 Dec 2020
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Hemel Hempstead
Lots of valid points, interesting to hear them from others far more experienced than me in this hobby.

I have to admit, drilling a tank would be nerve wracking, but looking around at some marine yank cabinet setups does give me envy how cool that side of the hobby can be done (with sufficient money of course!)

I will be sticking with my Biomaster 600 for my next tank, but perhaps I'll look into it in the future for more permanent setups.
 

mort

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15 Nov 2015
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2,102
I would suggest there is less benefit having a sump in a planted tank as the real reason we don't see more. If you have massive fish, tons of equipment or need the stability of a larger water volume then they are great but sensibly stocked planted tanks don't need it filtration wise. They are great if you need to really polish the water or are clinical about maintanence but unless you go really large I don't think they are massively useful to the average hobbyist.
 

Wookii

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13 Nov 2019
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Nottingham
Lots of valid points, interesting to hear them from others far more experienced than me in this hobby.

I have to admit, drilling a tank would be nerve wracking, but looking around at some marine yank cabinet setups does give me envy how cool that side of the hobby can be done (with sufficient money of course!)

I will be sticking with my Biomaster 600 for my next tank, but perhaps I'll look into it in the future for more permanent setups.

There are a few sumps in use on this forum:

@Geoffrey Rea has one on his Aquascaper 600, and uses a hang on overflow box (so no drilling):


@DeepMetropolis has one on his 1300 tank (as linked to above):


@zozo has one on his tank I believe:


There are others too, I just can't seem to find the links. Also Tom Barr famously had one and advocated the use of the trickle (wet/dry) filter for maximising dissolved oxygen.

I'll be having one on my forthcoming 1500 tank, and I suspect sumps are more likely to be used with larger tanks from a sheer practicality perspective (having a large enough cabinet underneath it to house a sump being one). I think despite the initial cost and set-up complexity, a sump offers greater flexibility and easier maintenance in the longer run - especially if you're willing to invest in automatic fleece rollers and the like from the salty side of the hobby.

Drilling a tank is nerve-racking - I've done it 4 times now and it's always nerve-racking, but I've never had a problem - as long as you use the right technique, and take your time.
 
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zozo

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16 Apr 2015
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I have a few... :) And I guess why we (or the majority) don't use them is that it's a Custom DIY thing or a pricy custom made order. In both cases and most cases, the people building them also tend to overcomplicate them and then it runs into unforeseen and unnecessary issues that take some fiddling and or redesigning.

Since no 2 tanks are the same, no 2 sumps systems are entirely the same which makes it rather difficult to learn from each other's (personal) experiences.

If you don't get lucky and don't mind trial and error and fiddling about till you got it running ok and this might need weeks or months and or a partial or even complete redesign of the sump. I guess this is what draws people back from trying it in the first place or leaving it at one disaster...

But once you get a hang of it, then I can guarantee, that sumps are very versatile and can run like a charm for many years with a minimum of maintenance.

The last one I did build was an in-tank experimental one, not my idea regarding design, I nicked the design from something existing in the trade but pimped it a little, simplified it and planted it.
In tank planted sump filter.. It's finaly happening..

I did build it for a friend, and afaik it still runs without issues today. Even tho it was an experiment it seems it was a success, it's still op and running 4 years later.

If you would ask me, I would keep building and using sumps for any aquarium from 100 litres and up... :thumbup:

Sumps are even more KISS than the aquarium hobby itself. I'm not saying it's easy... :)
 
Joined
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Netherlands
Well I use a sump and I love it. The thing is as said before you will benefit more from it when your tank is larger.

Some pros are: you can make it how you like, put in a return pump with larger flow capacity then most closed filters have, having all you equipment hidden like heaters, dosingpumps en co2 and it's easier to maintain.

Some cons are: althou there are some premade sumps you will likely make your own and think about it thoroughly before you start drilling and building, co2 is a bit more prone to degassing but you have the benifit from extra oxygenating your water you have to have an overflow and this is hard to hide but there are some nice options nowadays.

I don't think that the inflow has to be ugly you can use lily pipes. I modified stainless steel jet pipes that looks pretty good to me.

Anyway if I would ever get a larger or other tank I definitely get a sump again.
 

Garuf

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Copenhagen
Well I use a sump and I love it. The thing is as said before you will benefit more from it when your tank is larger.

Some pros are: you can make it how you like, put in a return pump with larger flow capacity then most closed filters have, having all you equipment hidden like heaters, dosingpumps en co2 and it's easier to maintain.

Some cons are: althou there are some premade sumps you will likely make your own and think about it thoroughly before you start drilling and building, co2 is a bit more prone to degassing but you have the benifit from extra oxygenating your water you have to have an overflow and this is hard to hide but there are some nice options nowadays.

I don't think that the inflow has to be ugly you can use lily pipes. I modified stainless steel jet pipes that looks pretty good to me.

Anyway if I would ever get a larger or other tank I definitely get a sump again.
Is it a mame type or just “standard” lily’s?
 

zozo

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16 Apr 2015
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Netherlands
Regarding overflow syphon similar to the readily available overflow boxes are awfully easy and cheap to DIY. :)

The acrylic boxes available in the trade, usually Made in the USA are pretty pricy inclusive of P&P up to a £ 100 and +

They all work following the principle of communicating vessels and gravity... You can make them from accordingly sized PVC pipe and fittings. Depending on how you like the flow pattern in the tank you can place a few in a smaller size than just one big chunky fellow.

Overflow.jpg

2 x PVC T
1 x filter basket
1 x PVC Knee
1 X PVC Socket
2 x PVC Cap
2 x Reducer or rubber Union seal.
1 x U pipe made from tube and 2 knees.

It's the U pipe that makes the flow trough capacity, I made a few of these with 16 mm U pipe and it fits in 25mm T with a 16x25 reducer. The U pipe can be made in any size 19mm, 25mm whatever suits you best. Take a T size 1 x sized bigger thus if U is 25 take a 32 T (Or 40).

You need t sand out the inner bumper from the reducer so the U pipe can go all the way through with a snug fit. Don't glue it so it can be adjusted and taken out for cleaning.

Since the T's bottom ends are capped there will always be a water puddle in them when the U pipe is vacuumed it's will be a water lock and the U pipe stays filled and always autostart when water starts flowing.

The entire overflow can be taken out since the socket on the pipe to the sump isn't glued. Then take the complete assembled overflow and dip it underwater in the tank, turn it around a few times to get all air out then it will be completely filled with water and ready to run. Lift it out gently, keep it level to keep the water in, hang it over the glass panel stick it into the socket from the pipe to the sump. :) As soon as the filter basket is below the water level in the tank it will start to syphon. You decide how deep you put it below the desired water level. Depending on the length of the U pipe legs it can be adjusted a little.

This is exactly the same as any other £100 overflow box, no difference. If the pump stops the water stop running when it gets below the basket, the water lock keeps it vacuumed and it will restart syphoning when the pump starts again.

This is the one I made from 16mm U pipe and 25mm T... I made 2 each back corner has 1...
IMG_20220511_122346675.jpg

Sorry for the algae it needs a clean... :oops:

Always running, already for years and years to come... Never any issues... Forgot the cost... A few bucks no more...
IMG_20220511_122354240.jpg
 
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