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Old 03/04/2019, 08:06 AM   #1
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"Cascading sumps"... What am I missing?

Sorry for the wonky picture... I can't save this file out right now from this computer so I took a picture of the screen. If you zoom in it is better.

I have been enamored with the idea of cascading sumps for many months now. We are in the process of acquiring a 250g tank that has an abnormally tall stand under it, with almost 4 feet of room between the bottom of the tank, and the floor.

I am trying to figure out if I could create this cascade of sumps and whether or not it would work. I'm trying to build in redundancy for all flows along the path, as well as divert at LEAST 60% of the water straight to the mechanical filtration at the bottom using ball valves.

The slower flow path would have two refugium - type tanks in its path to the return pumps.

The first would house rocks, crabs (big ones) and be smaller and water would move fairly quickly after landing in a baffled section. Imagine something like a 10 gallon.

The second refugium would be shaped like a 20g tall tank and flow at the bottom of that tank would be rather slow, as most water just moves across the top and out to the return. Thinking pods, macro algae, etc.

Each refugium would have a main plus an emergancy drain.

What am I forgetting?

Does Anyone know of an example of this being done that I could look at?

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

Build Thread: "A new reefer... a new tank. What could go wrong?"

Current Tank Info: Red Sea Reefer 425 XL Deluxe, Nano Max, 55g Observation, 20g QT
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Old 03/06/2019, 03:00 PM   #2
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i should at least just point out the obvious so you have it on the record. Certainly a WAY more complicated way in having a sump....

however it goes look good.
Am i right in saying that the return sections of the sumps will be where the evaporated water will fluctuate? Certainly take that into consideration and make them larger.

Lastly, i think the only real issue would be balancing out the flow but cant imagine that being too hard.

I'm trying to think of a situation where one side would fail or clog and work out the water path. So far looks good. im assuming your overflow is just simplified here. I wouldnt suggest just one single drain on each side with a restricting valve to create a (silent) siphon.

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Old 03/07/2019, 01:24 PM   #3
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I've thought about doing this for my sump for a while as well as a way of adding a refugium. Could likft the fuge up and have an overflow which would simply drain into the main sump. Either fill it with a portion of the drain from the display, or a small pump in the sump. I havne't tried it yet though as it's not really a fully planned out thing for me. too many other projects. I'd love to see how this works out though!

What stage are you in with this? do you already have a running tank, or designing for new? If designing for new, I think it would make more sense to simply get a bigger sump. but if upgrading an existing sump, I think it would be useful.

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Old 03/08/2019, 12:05 AM   #4
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I know someone who did this. He was forcefully removed from the hobby by an angry wife 10 years ago after it overflowed and caused about 25k in damage to their home.

IME KISS is king here. It's fine to have multiple tanks share a sump but not ok to cascade. Not only is it completely unnecessary, it increases potential for failure.

Hobby Experience: 9200ish gallons, 26 skimmers, and a handful of Kent Scrapers.
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Vortech Powered 600G SPS Tank w/ 100gal frag tank & 100g Sump. RK2-RK10 Skimmer. ReefAngel. Radium 20k.
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Old 03/08/2019, 05:13 AM   #5
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IMO. Your tank is going to be loud. Lots of water flowing allover the place. Also your asking for a flood. Unless you have a beananimal drain on each tank into the sump 3 drains not 2. Do not rely on any siphons. It doesnt look like your return section is large enough, account for feeding three tanks in each. you'll be stopping and starting return pumps, so one tank may fill faster than another and the drains may not catch up quiet fast enough. A possibility of sucking air in your return lines. And with that much surface area you'll have a lot of evaporation. Got plans a for a top off tank?

360g DT w/fishroom 75g Fuge ???g Custom plywood sump build in progress.
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Old 03/10/2019, 03:06 AM   #6
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There is no reason you can not do as your thinking. It really is no different the running multiple tanks eith one sump. You do need to make sure your sump can handle the additional eater volume of the extra tanks when the retun pump is off. With 4 additional tanks it could be a substancial amount more. I am considering doing the same, but with just one long narrow shallow tank. There is no need for the complication of banimal overflow. Just put screens on both drains so snails or something can not get in them and cause a blockage. You could just have each tank have an overflow like a HOB filter with no drains to get blocked. Keep the elevation difference to a minimum to reduce noise.

240G mixed reef, 29G SPS/LPS clam tank, 50G mixed reef

Current Tank Info: 300g mixed reef, 50g cube
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Old 03/10/2019, 01:05 PM   #7
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Although possible, I’d think the “ending” sump would have to be way bigger than necessary to accommodate all the extra drainage with a power outage/shutdown.

60x36x24 mixed reef. 40b sump. Regal 250int Varios. 3xHydraHDs+t5s. 4xMp40wes. Apex2016.
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Old 03/10/2019, 01:30 PM   #8
Michael Hoaster
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That looks cool! The symmetry of the cascading sumps is nice. Also, way more complicated than anything I would consider. But I'm a simpleton. If your inner Rube Goldberg is starved for attention, that ought to do it. Consider editing it down to the essential elements. For starters, you could replace one half of it with straight plumbing. On the other hand, wouldn't it be great to have all that refugium space? But it's a lot of tanks and a lot of plumbing what-ifs.

I like simple. After all, I'm the guy with an all in one, 180 gallon, display refugium.

You seem to be really enjoying your journey in the hobby! I'm very impressed with the knowledge you've assimilated in what, a year now? You've jumped in with gusto! I've enjoyed following your progress, and learned from it.

If you're using the refugium to house pods to feed your tank, the best place to put it is OVER the display, so it can gravity feed, keeping the pods alive. In this design, pods have to go through pumps to get to the display.

Some thoughts. Best of luck with it!

As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey

Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 03/11/2019, 11:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tkeracer619 View Post
I know someone who did this. He was forcefully removed from the hobby by an angry wife 10 years ago after it overflowed and caused about 25k in damage to their home.

IME KISS is king here. It's fine to have multiple tanks share a sump but not ok to cascade. Not only is it completely unnecessary, it increases potential for failure.
As someone who has overflowed a tank using the cascading method due to a clogged drain AND backup drain (crab uprooted some mangroves), I would agree with the above sentiment and just go with one big sump/refugium and divide it up. More components = more potential failures.


Current Tank Info: 60 gallon cube mixed reef
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Old 03/14/2019, 05:13 PM   #10
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I would put the all of the inputs to the sump that contains the return pumps into the same chamber, and put both return pumps into the same chamber to simplify the setup.

Keep the portion where the topoff sensor is located in a different chamber from where the drains go into the sump.

Each of the sumps should have a backup drain.


Do a good turn daily.

Current Tank Info: 58g Oceanic (Est. 2007)
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Old 03/14/2019, 05:58 PM   #11
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I have 3 tanks sharing a sump. On the left side of my system, I pump from the sump up to a 30 gallon cryptic tank. The cryptic then overflows into my display and my display then overflows back to the sump.
On the right side I pump from the same sump up to another display and it overflows back to the sump.
Cheers! Mark

Dual 65g display reefs sharing a 30g cryptic refugium and 30g sump
55g reef - 30g Bio-cube - Nuvo Fusion 30g "L" reef - 45g goldfish tank -
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