Questions about how to orient your sump/fuge

Discussion in 'DIY' started by denzil, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    Author: zeroinverse

    So often solutions are given without any reasoning behind it. There are drawbacks to every method, you just have to decide which draw back you want to deal with.

    Skimmer first: The whole point of a good skimmer is to remove dissolved solids and some solids before they are broke down into base components of nitrates and phosphates. This reduces load on biological filter and removes N and P before they are present. The overflow takes surface water and feeds this dirtiest water to the skimmer.CON: A fuge needs to be fed raw water from the tank for the micro fauna and macro algae to feed off of. The skimmer removes most of this and the fuge gets under fed.

    Fuge first: Fuge is fed tank water where it feeds the micro fauna and macro algae. Worms and pods feed off the water and break down the waste to base components of N and P. Macro algae takes up the N and P and is removed from the sytem when harvested. CON: The whole point od a fuge is to provide habitat for a strong population of pods to grow with out predation. This populations eggs will eventually overflow and feed the coral and fish in the display tank. With the skimmer after the fuge a lot of the eggs are skimmed out and never make it to the tank. What is the point of having a fuge when you kill most of what it produces?

    Return last: Regardless of what is first, everything flows through the sump to the return and cycled back to the tank. A fuge is best served by low flow for the pods to grow without holding on for dear life and the time for macro to take up the N and P. The CON is that sump flow is too much for the fuge and you reduce it's effectiveness. Why not have the best fuge you can?

    Return in the middle: The best of both worlds. Skimmer is fed raw water as is the fuge. The flow is controlled for how much the skimmer processes and how much the fuge requires. Both get what they want. CON: You have to split the drain coming from the tank. This requires probably $10 in extra parts and 30 more minutes at most to plumb. Hard to call that a con when that is all it takes and you get a much better system.

    Feel free to reduce or improve the effectiveness of your system based on the limits of your individual situation.
    tr1gger likes this.
  2. mediumrare

    mediumrare Guest

    overflow > skimmer/biopellet chaimber > fuge > return

    never had any problems of my fuge not running because skimmer was first. Only once i started running biopellets did my fuge slow down. I am running less biopellets than my system is rated for because i don't wan to kill off my fuge, but cant maintain low nutrients with just a fuge. I like the extra filtration and copepod environment provided by the fuge.

    and because micro bubbles....
  3. Apon

    Apon Volunteer

    overflow->sump->more rock/bag of carbon->return-> clams

    Seems to work well in my experience.
    tr1gger likes this.
  4. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I would be really surprised if it makes much difference unless your return pump is really under-sized.
    In which case, you would have other issues.

    Basically, I disagree with the premise that a skimmer can remove that much in one pass.
    So fuge should really be fine, regardless of position.
    That said - I have never directly measured it, only looked at crud in fuge after skimmer.

    Note that filter socks are a different matter. They do remove particles instantly.

    Note: If you really want to optimize pods, you want a different flow.
    DT => Fuge pump => Fuge => gravity fed back to DT
    So pods do not get chewed up by return pump. And it would be separate from sump system.
    But that means a fuge way up in the air...:confused:
    wpeterson likes this.
  5. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    I'm doing a new tank soon and decided on a custom sump, I believe the best plan I've come up with so far for running a fuge is to run the skimmer outside the sump and lay it out in the following order; Overflow -> First chamber with LR & pump to skimmer -> fuge -> last chamber with skimmer output -> return pump. My skimmer pump will pull out more than half the water coming from the overflow & redirect it to the skimmer outside the sump, this leaves a low flow feeding the fuge, fuge & skimmer then dump water into the last chamber then to pump. Beats split overflow piping and lets the fuge & skimmer both do their jobs independently.
  6. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    My current set up;

    drain area + skimmer area
    Baffle (single baffle, not triple). No teeth on this baffle
    fug-ish area...used to have a chaeto ball here. Has some rocks
    Slightly shorter baffle, with teeth to strain out chaeto
    return pump area

    My only regret with it is not having a larger return pump area because that is the area that is affected by evaporation and it's smaller size means the pump sucks air during a 5 gallon water change.

    I'd actually consider just punching a hole in the second baffle as I realized the level in the middle chaeto chamber doesn't need a consistent level at all. In fact only the skimmer section does. The chaeto/return baffle could have been a simple moveable partition with holes in it ... it's just to keep chaeto away from the return pump.

    Also, I think the drain/skimmer area could be just a skimmer area and maybe have a bulkhead to an enclosed area that the drain can drain to that would be less gurgly/noisy and then flow into the skimmer area.

  7. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    So what happens when the return pump is turned off (or jambs up), and skimmer is still on?
    Seems like skimmer could pump first chamber empty, and run dry.
  8. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    I probably won't build this into the sump right away (granted it's not difficult at all) but I have always thought about an auto shut off system that can detect water spills and monitor levels that triggers a complete shut down (all of the electrical in the sump, not DT) in case of emergencies, not too difficult to do with a controller or if you're handy with electronics it can be achieved with relays.

    Ever since I found optical water level sensors I sorta went nuts thinking of cool ways to use them...
  9. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    WHERE ?????
    I have been really looking for something better.
    (That is reasonably priced, and ok in salt water)
  10. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

  11. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

  12. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    everything needs maintenance of course, except it would be much easier to give this thing a quick brush than dealing with a float switch that got stuck no?
  13. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Remember also to picture and test every scenario where one or many pieces of equipment fails.

    Return pump off

    Skimmer off

    Drain plugged (do you have a backup overflow so your sump is not pumped entirely into the display tank?) - if you have dual overflows, will it work with just one? If you have one overflow ... what happens if a stupid snail gets stuck in it?

    Does the sump have the (excess) capacity to hold all the water if your return pump stops?

    What happens when you do a water change and remove 5-10 gallons from the system? (From personal experience, my return pump area was just a touch over 5 gallons so when I did a water change, my return pump would be pumping air and frothing .... lesson learned! Turn off the return or have proper capacity!)

    What happens if your return pipes turn into siphons? Can your sump handle the water level when the main tank is siphoned down to the lower point of your return nozzle? (ie if the anti-siphon on your in tank return fails, the tank will siphon from the return pipe)

    You shouldn't RELY on electronics. Rely on physics and worst case scenarios.
  14. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    Herbie overflow is my preference, with the emergency pipe being at least 1/2" bigger than primary full siphon pipe, that addresses most all emergency scenarios and runs very quiet. So if all electronics fail, granted the Herbie overflow is built properly and in the right sizes there shouldn't be anymore than 1 or 2 gallons of extra water going into the sump.

    I guess I should point out that my plans are all for a 50 gal DT, I haven't spent too much time with big tanks so things may work differently on large volume tanks!
    5-10 gallons of extra capacity in a 20 gal sump is quite unrealistic for a 50 gal setup like what I'm building (even a 30 gal sump can't accommodate that), may be far more practical on a 120+ DT with a 40 or 50 gal sump.
  15. SunshineBear

    SunshineBear Guest

    DIY Sump Tank flow rate?

    Just set up my DIY sump tank to main show tank, but not sure what the rate of flow should be. The return pump is pretty strong to go against gravity 4ft so it's controlled by a valve...the main tank is 75gallons and the sump is roughly 40gallons with refugium.

    Does anyone have advice or guidance?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  16. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Looking good.
    Opinions on flow will vary a lot.
    About 5X for sump flow. Which in your case is about 375 GPH.
    That is real flow, so then add in your 4 feet of head.
    Suggest one of the new DC pumps, turned down a ways. Ditch the valve.
    Perhaps Diablo DC-3500.
    But Gen-2 JAEBO or WAVELINE DC-6000 is really nice.

    Also, those powerheads look a bit small, but hard to tell from picture.
  17. Jeff Rehling

    Jeff Rehling Supporting Member

    First, you have the coolest avatar every. Second, you've set me back another week as I ponder this option. I was looking at the traditional return/skimmer area, fug, and return. If i split my single do i control the flow into the fug without disturbing all the media? valve it?
  18. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    If you use a slower return pump, you can increase dwell time of the skimmer regardless of where it is, and also not overwhelm your fuge with flow, regardless of where it is.
  19. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    My current sump has two areas. It's a 30 gallon tall tank, with a plastic storage bin in it. The skimmer sits in the storage bin, where the tank drains too. The bin overflows on all sides. A clump of chaeto sits outside the bin, as does the return pump, which is a "cheap" Via Aqua 2600 that has been running almost continuously for 15 years, except for a year and a half where a fancy DC pump took it's place until that pump failed and killed off some fish, after which the reliable 2600 was swapped back in.

    My OLD sump, which was awesome, but I gave away because my wife wanted me to "get rid of junk" had three chambers that were traditionally skimmer, fuge and return.

    Both do the job. My fuge is moslty just full of brittlestars and chaeto.

  20. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    Ah ... necro thread, arisen from the dead. But still good talking points.

    Whoever's pic that is, I'd recommend ditching the spongy foam.


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