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Clearance between aquarium and sump below it

IndianaSam

CCA Members
A little background: I have 6' 135g "reef ready" tank for which I'm going to set up a sump. To keep it simple, I'm going to go with 4 - 3" poret sheets (10ppi -> 20ppi -> 20ppi -> 30ppi -> pump). This is my first time doing such a thing so I'm doing as much homework as I can on the subject.

My original plan was to have a 55g gallon tank underneath for the sump. I took a little time to measure the cabinet yesterday and it seems that it will fit, but that there won't be much clearance between the bottom of the 135g and the top of the sump. Maybe 6" or so.

As an alternative, I was thinking of special ordering a 33g or 40g long aquarium. Same footprint as the 55g, but obviously shorter. I'm thinking that having the extra clearance will make maintenance a lot easier. The downsides of the 33g or 40g long being that they're more expensive and that they hold less water volume than the 55g.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the subject of clearance between the tank and sump? Using a sump is attractive to me because it expands my aquarium knowledge/experience and because of simpler maintenance. Frankly, I don't want the maintenance to be a huge hassle because of a lack of clearance.

Sam
 

Becca

CCA Members
Staff member
A little background: I have 6' 135g "reef ready" tank for which I'm going to set up a sump. To keep it simple, I'm going to go with 4 - 3" poret sheets (10ppi -> 20ppi -> 20ppi -> 30ppi -> pump). This is my first time doing such a thing so I'm doing as much homework as I can on the subject.

My original plan was to have a 55g gallon tank underneath for the sump. I took a little time to measure the cabinet yesterday and it seems that it will fit, but that there won't be much clearance between the bottom of the 135g and the top of the sump. Maybe 6" or so.

As an alternative, I was thinking of special ordering a 33g or 40g long aquarium. Same footprint as the 55g, but obviously shorter. I'm thinking that having the extra clearance will make maintenance a lot easier. The downsides of the 33g or 40g long being that they're more expensive and that they hold less water volume than the 55g.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the subject of clearance between the tank and sump? Using a sump is attractive to me because it expands my aquarium knowledge/experience and because of simpler maintenance. Frankly, I don't want the maintenance to be a huge hassle because of a lack of clearance.

Sam
I find my sump maintenance to be a huge hassle because of lack of clearance. That said, my stand is a wedge shape and there's not much room in it to begin with. I would go with a 40 long or a 40 breeder (I think the latter is still shorter than a 55). With a 33, you have less room if you screw up and overfill, which would make flooding more likely. In a 33, to cover your pump, you'll probably have to have the tank more than 50% filled.
 

littlen

CCA Members
Hey Sam,

I was in a little bit of a similar position as you almost a couple years ago with a 150g tank and sump build. I originally wanted to use a 55g for the sump to get the more total gallons in the system. The difference between our situations was not the height of the sump in relationship to the tank bottom, but length of the tank being used as a sump [which I ended up using a 30g......see the 1st pic below]. This game me ample room to plumb in my pump. The rest of the story isn't super relevant other than to say that I will always and forever optimize clearance above a sump. I've have to deal with miserable conditions in a professional setting with having very little clearance above a sump. This sounds like a home project that is 100% custom. There is no reason to leave yourself inconvenienced when plumbing or servicing your sump down the road. Furthermore, depending on your sump set up, you can utilize more of the total volume of the sump, especially if you don't intend to have a wet/dry/trickle setup. For example, check out pics 2 and 3.

1570035746518.png

The 2" [blue] return line dumps the water from the tank over a plate containing the 3 felt socks. The large holes at the top are for emergency overflow if the socks get clogged. The smaller holes at the bottom is the direction of normal flow.
1570035845493.png


Below, the middle chamber contains the bioballs and is where my biological filtration occurs. Within this chamber I have heavy aeration/flow as well as an FX6 canister filter. Thus eliminating the need for more vertical space and a trickle of water over the balls. With that in mind, look back again at pic 1. The top of blue tape on the right side of the sump is my max water level and also where I keep it [within an in or so most days]. I'd estimate I have just over 25 of the available 30 gallons being used.
1570035964667.png

So back to your situation, if you were to use a 55g and also want it set up as a wet/dry, you may not end up with much more than 30-35 or so gallons anyway--again needing to utilize that vertical space in the sump. My sump is just a suggestion on how to use a smaller sump, [or shorter sump in my case,] and not lose out on total volume. I do not feel that missing out on up to 20 more gallons of water is going to make-or-break your system being that you already have a large tank to start with.

Let us know how it goes, and I'd personally like to see the build as it progresses, if you wouldn't mind updating. Good luck.

Nick
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
I find my sump maintenance to be a huge hassle because of lack of clearance. That said, my stand is a wedge shape and there's not much room in it to begin with. I would go with a 40 long or a 40 breeder (I think the latter is still shorter than a 55). With a 33, you have less room if you screw up and overfill, which would make flooding more likely. In a 33, to cover your pump, you'll probably have to have the tank more than 50% filled.
Thank you for confirming that low clearance will be a hassle. What's the point in easier maintenance vs a canister filter if I dread doing it?
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
littlen littlen , thank you for weighing in. I don't plan on doing wet/dry/trickle filtration. The water is just going to flow in on the left side, pass through 4 -3" sheets of poret of increasing ppi (spaced out a bit) and then exit via the pump.

Posting the build as I do it sounds like fun! You've convinced me to do it.
 

FishEggs

CCA Members
Staff member
I may have a drilled 40 long I'd be willing to part with. I can check the dimensions on it when I get home.
 

littlen

CCA Members
Sam, although it looks like you’re heading in the direction of a sump (which I agree with) I’ll give you my 2 cents on sump vs canister filter.

They both can provide all 3 forms of filtration; mechanical, biological, and chemical.

They both have their pros and cons of maintenance. Sumps tend to be easier—especially when you have lots of room to work, hint hint. But in your case to quickly pull out a pad and rinse it when needed. A canister you’ll have to shut down, open up, close back up, get it flowing etc.

Sumps have the major advantage in adding additional volume to your system which helps keep various water parameters more stable over longer periods.

I will always plumb a sump if time, space, and financial requirements are met—over adding a canister filter. Besides, I enjoy designing and building them myself. Not to say that I haven’t loved all that my FX6 has done for me over the years. I’m using mine as primarily a vessel for extra chemical filtration. The advantages here are that I have lots of tray space to hold extra bags of carbon and phosban. And with the canister under positive pressure by means of the pump built in, I’m always getting good flow through that media. Finally it is all hidden under the stand and running in the sump so there are no unsightly tubes and hoses in my display.

IMO, a 135-150g would still be a good candidate for a single, large canister filter If you aren’t interested in building a sump. Just plug and go. Any larger than that and I’d go for a sump.

The choice is yours and I/we are happy to give you our opinions. This is certainly one of the “difficult decisions” that makes this hobby so fun.
 

FishEggs

CCA Members
Staff member
It is indeed a 40 long. 48x12x17. It is drilled on the back pane on the right near the top and on the left side pane in the center near the bottom.
It does not hold water though. There are 2 big holes in it. 😄
I dont know if you can use the holes where they are but if not I have glass you can put over the hole.
 

Becca

CCA Members
Staff member
Check with Aquatic Creations. I think they have a 40 long in stock and, if they don't, they'll be happy to get one for you.
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
Sam, although it looks like you’re heading in the direction of a sump (which I agree with) I’ll give you my 2 cents on sump vs canister filter.

They both can provide all 3 forms of filtration; mechanical, biological, and chemical.

They both have their pros and cons of maintenance. Sumps tend to be easier—especially when you have lots of room to work, hint hint. But in your case to quickly pull out a pad and rinse it when needed. A canister you’ll have to shut down, open up, close back up, get it flowing etc.

Sumps have the major advantage in adding additional volume to your system which helps keep various water parameters more stable over longer periods.

I will always plumb a sump if time, space, and financial requirements are met—over adding a canister filter. Besides, I enjoy designing and building them myself. Not to say that I haven’t loved all that my FX6 has done for me over the years. I’m using mine as primarily a vessel for extra chemical filtration. The advantages here are that I have lots of tray space to hold extra bags of carbon and phosban. And with the canister under positive pressure by means of the pump built in, I’m always getting good flow through that media. Finally it is all hidden under the stand and running in the sump so there are no unsightly tubes and hoses in my display.

IMO, a 135-150g would still be a good candidate for a single, large canister filter If you aren’t interested in building a sump. Just plug and go. Any larger than that and I’d go for a sump.

The choice is yours and I/we are happy to give you our opinions. This is certainly one of the “difficult decisions” that makes this hobby so fun.
I’m definitely going sump at this point! I really appreciate all the advice too.
 

IndianaSam

CCA Members
Check with Aquatic Creations. I think they have a 40 long in stock and, if they don't, they'll be happy to get one for you.
It’s only 30 minutes away from me and I’m teleworking tomorrow so I’m thinking that I’ll check it out on my lunch break.
 

Becca

CCA Members
Staff member
Makes me wish I could telework.
My one day a week is the only reason I get to do water changes on a fairly regular basis. That said, I do frequently flood things in failed efforts at multi-tasking, but the fish don't seem to mind and I've yet to drop my laptop in a puddle.
 
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