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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a 36 gallon tank, and I really wanted to get my HOB skimmer and heater out of the display tank. I also really don't like pouring RO water straight into the display tank as my critters don't really seem to like it. So I figured a sump would solve a lot of those issues. The problem is, I can't find a sump anywhere that fits in my stand. I don't have the $$$ to have a sump custom made, so I figured my next best option would be a pair of 5 gallon buckets. I've never set up a sump before, so a lot of this so far has been trial and error, but I think I have a good foundation to start with.

The biggest challenge I've faced so far is bubbles. My first idea was to try and do a standard bubble trap with flat pieces of acrylic glued to the side of the bucket. After reading another thread about the same idea, I decided to try a "tubular" baffle with PVC pipes. It takes the majority of the bubbles out, but I'm still having some issues with micro bubbles, I think I may try lining the top with a strip of foam pre-filter material and see if that helps, any suggestions there?

The buckets are linked by a 1" threaded bulkhead with two elbows, and 1" pipe that reaches towards the bottoms of the buckets. It's essentially an overflow siphon, when the pump is off the water levels equalize.

My plan is to keep the skimmer hung on the back of the bucket (as shown), put live rock in the bottom of the 1st bucket, and I found an "in tank" fuge that I (think) can fit in bucket 1 to house my macro algae. All in all, I think it's coming together well, I've cut the power to the tank to ensure no flooding, and everything is working as planned.

Here is the bottom of the PVC bubble trap:


It does a great job on bigger bubbles, as well as calming the currents in bucket 1:
Bubble Trap in action


Open Cabinet


whole tank



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i have a 36 bow too. i had a heck of a time finding a sump to fit in that stupid stand. i never thought about buckets tho. ingenious idea. +1 to you sir.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here is the finished product. This was my first time working with sheets of plastic. Luckily it didn't have to be watertight ;) The flow in the refugium is provided by the mag 5 pump that returns water to the DT. You can see where the water pours in in the picture. Here are some pictures:

Initial piecing together of all cut pieces
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/3/5/8/6/3/2011_09_19_22_06_44_421.jpg" alt="Refugium" />

All major joints and supports glued on
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/3/5/8/6/3/2011_09_19_23_13_19_626.jpg" alt="Sump And Refugium" />

Ready to be put in the sump
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/3/5/8/6/3/2011_09_23_12_11_05_735.jpg" alt="Sump And Refugium" />

Bucket 1 fully set up w/ live rock rubble and bubble traps
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/3/5/8/6/3/2011_09_24_17_25_08_419.jpg" alt="Sump W/ Skimmer, Heater, And Live Rock" />

Fuge in bucket 2 w/ sand, rock, and macroalgae
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/3/5/8/6/3/2011_09_24_17_25_17_719.jpg" alt="Sump And Refugium" />

Whole cabinet
<img src="http://www.thereeftank.com/gallery/files/3/5/8/6/3/611.jpeg" alt="Whole Cabinet" />
 

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Is that smart water bottle an Ato?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Bdial; the drain line from my skimmer cup runs into the smart water bottle, I can empty it without cutting power to the skimmer. Haven't tackled the ATO yet, but I've been brainstorming. Need to come up something though, wife is due in March and I need to automate as much as possible as I don't anticipate having as much spare time after that.

JErrod; I'm pretty satisfied with how this bubble trap works, although since my water level ended up being lower than I originally planned, I'm going to shorten the inner pipe to allow the water to pool up a little over it. I noticed when the inner pipe is above the water line, the downward flow along the pipe carries a bunch of bubbles with it. When the water level is above the inner pipe, I see hardly any micro-bubbles escaping back into the DT. Food for thought in case you try a similar design.

Good luck if you decide to go for it.
 

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When I read 5 gallon buckets as sump, I thought it would like sketchy and very unaesthetic but they seem to be very operational and don't even look that bad. Great job, great idea.
 

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This could be a really dumb question but Im new to sumps but needing one for my 55 gal, how is the water being pushed back up to the tank?
 

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This could be a really dumb question but Im new to sumps but needing one for my 55 gal, how is the water being pushed back up to the tank?
There is a pump somewhere in there that pushes the water back to the top of the display tank. Similar to that which is in a fountain
 

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gotcha and I figured cause thats how most sumps are but I couldnt see it burried in there :) and Im looking for a cheap return pump any good ones out there for cheap?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
gotcha and I figured cause thats how most sumps are but I couldnt see it burried in there :) and Im looking for a cheap return pump any good ones out there for cheap?
I've got a Mag 7 under the fuge which pumps the water back up to the display tank. Mag drive pumps are relatively inexpensive and very popular. Just make sure you get the right size pump for your system.

This was the first time I ever set up a sump, and this website helped a lot. He lays the basics out in a very easy to understand way.

Good Luck!
 

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Wow... I guess it's true what they say that whatever cool idea you are thinking about 5 other guys have already done it and then some lol.

So... i've been mauling the idea of building up a sump "system" from various tanks and containers (5 G buckets are natural candidates along w/cheap 20 G tanks from Petco or Petsmart) for some time now - I am in the process of building a 90g w/basement filtration/sump setup. I don't have space restrictions, since the sump "system" is going to go in the basement into a 96 (w) x 24 (d) x 36 (h) rack I built out of 2x4s. Reasoning behind using 5 G buckets and other various tanks is not because of space considerations really but I think it may be a more usable/better designed system in the end that a conventional setup (say 50 g tank w/baffles). And I like to tinker and design stuff of course (which is probably really the main reason). Also, it really annoys me to have to pay $20/baffle (from my research locally) to get the glass cut and using Acrylic is less than ideal.

And I too have been contemplating a PVC based bubble trap - lol - the wide assortment of sizes and material here just begs to be used for this IMO.

And then it "struck me" lol to see what happens when I google "5 Gallon Sump" Ha!

Looks really good... I have some questions on the bubble trap though as I think I may want to have 2 of them (not sure yet but it's possible) - one for the return piping entering the symp system and one for the return from external skimmer.

Where in NoVa are you BTW, I am in Haymarket/Manassas area?

Best,

Spacey :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Wow... I guess it's true what they say that whatever cool idea you are thinking about 5 other guys have already done it and then some lol.

So... i've been mauling the idea of building up a sump "system" from various tanks and containers (5 G buckets are natural candidates along w/cheap 20 G tanks from Petco or Petsmart) for some time now - I am in the process of building a 90g w/basement filtration/sump setup. I don't have space restrictions, since the sump "system" is going to go in the basement into a 96 (w) x 24 (d) x 36 (h) rack I built out of 2x4s. Reasoning behind using 5 G buckets and other various tanks is not because of space considerations really but I think it may be a more usable/better designed system in the end that a conventional setup (say 50 g tank w/baffles). And I like to tinker and design stuff of course (which is probably really the main reason). Also, it really annoys me to have to pay $20/baffle (from my research locally) to get the glass cut and using Acrylic is less than ideal.

And I too have been contemplating a PVC based bubble trap - lol - the wide assortment of sizes and material here just begs to be used for this IMO.

And then it "struck me" lol to see what happens when I google "5 Gallon Sump" Ha!

Looks really good... I have some questions on the bubble trap though as I think I may want to have 2 of them (not sure yet but it's possible) - one for the return piping entering the symp system and one for the return from external skimmer.

Where in NoVa are you BTW, I am in Haymarket/Manassas area?

Best,

Spacey :)
For the skimmer return, I use the bubble trap that came with the coralife skimmer. It's not as good as the pvc trap but it serves its purpose. You definitely need something though, and when I tried running both into the single trap, it was too much. So I think having two separate traps is a good idea unless build one big trap.

Your proposed setup sounds a lot like another one I've seen on this forum, you should check out this thread for some more ideas.

You live pretty close to me, if you haven't check out the Marine Scene they're a good LFS. :thumbup:
 
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