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Alright! Now we're talking! I'm guessing this tank has a corner overflow, with a drilled bottom? Does it have both intake and discharge holes located on the bottom of the overflow box?
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- First Picture: Yes, that is the intake for the external pump to the canister filter.
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Second Picture: That looks like something a Saltwater Protein Skimmer would use. Did a Protein Skimmer come with the tank set up? It will look similar to this,



These don't work for freshwater aquariums (That's too bad...). Discard and simplify!
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Third Picture: You will need the cover for those bio-balls to slow down water evaporation. How does the water from the aquarium get down to the bio-balls? is there a difuser plate (Plexi or plastic sheet with a lot of holes drilled in it) that sits down on top of the bio-balls? The diffuser plate helps to spread the water evenly over all of the bio-balls, and sometimes has a sheet(s) of filtration foam placed on top of it.
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Fourth Picture: Hopefully you can find that type of flex hose to replace the piece with the tear in it. If not, can you adapt vinyl tubing to that fitting?
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It's looking good Andy! And your sump looks a little 'seasoned', but is not near as bad as some others I've seen pulled out of saltwater setups (WHEW, GRODIE! BLEHHHHHHH......)
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Second picture- no, that line actually went into the sump intake... looks useless, but maybe they had a skimmer before (did not come with one)

Third picture- yes it has the cover and a diffuser plate. I've cleaned the top and the diffuser plate.

I'm sure I'll be able to rig something up, even if I can't find the exact one.

The intake and return do both go into the bottom of the tank, inside the overflow box.
 

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The above pic looks like the waste foam from the protein skimmer, yucky stuff!

What will you be using for mechanical filtration prior to the bio balls?
 

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Oh yeah.... the new picture you posted up is this stuff called 'filter floss'. Some people swear by the stuff and love it. I'm not much of a fan...
Here is what I placed on top of my sump diffuser plates,
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Made by 'Pondmaster', for pond filtration systems. It's fairly cheap (There may be others recommending the same kind of stuff in bigger sheets at even cheaper prices.).
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So.... choices. Already?!!! Why, yes! You have what appears to be a single discharge sump system. This is good, and if you are going to ultimately rely on that as your primary (only) filtration for this tank, you will need to pipe the discharge stream towards the surface. Surface agitation will break up a bio-slime layer that can tend to build up on top of the aquarium water.
Or.....
If you are going to use a HOB filter for this tank in tandem with the sump? Then you will have the surface agitation thing pretty much covered. So, pipe down the discharge stream from the sump to a spray bar set near the bottom of the tank. Place the spray bar on the opposite wall from the corner overflow box. Discharge flow situated low like that will help to blow out detritis and prevent dead spots from forming around any structure items you site on the bottom of this aquarium. That's good. Alternatively, you could just go with a strong air pump and install a linear bubble wand to create a bubble curtain/wall near the back wall of the tank. Those things will break up bio-slime on the aquarium surface water really good also. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
The stuff on that plate seemed to be mold, but I have no idea truthfully.

I'm hoping that using just the sump will be sufficient... I do plan on using aeration bars in the back of the tank. I also plan on using a powerhead to increase surface agitation.

The previous owner had rigged up a pipe to run along the back of the tank (at the top) for the return water to trickle into the tank. You're saying I should pipe that to the bottom of the tank instead?

I also plan on using something very similar to what you recommended. I figured I was going to ask at a later time, but isn't that foam type media more effective than the bioballs? They also had the entire overflow box filled with them...

There is also what seems to be a big foam- sponge type media under the bioballs in the sump.
 

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Hmmmm.... okay.
They probably had a 'wavemaker' or something set up with power heads to push some current in this reef tank. And, I'm not surprised about all of the foam and bio-balls, etc.... More surface area for bacteria colonization - better filtration!
One of my sumps had bio-balls in it. They work best when used as true 'wet-dry' media. This is also called a 'trickle filter'. Submerged, or fully wet bio-balls well, just don't work so well, unfortunately....
But regardless, I'm not sure that changing things too radically at this point with your filtration media would be a very good idea. If it cleans up okay and is serviceable? Then I would just say it's 'Good-To-Go'! And, don't bother with the details on this too much.
But.....
I'm not really that much of a fan of that trickle bar discharge system. That really is 'old school', and isn't gonna give you what you need in filtration for your Riverine Cichlid type, Apex Predators. Guapote's! You need current in this tank. Water flow! Conditions that promote oxygenation and will help to eliminate dead spots, remove detritus and any 'funk' from the water.
So, since this is kind of a 'rush job' to set up this tank, you could temporarily go with the trickle discharge bar thing for a bit. Replace it with a low-mounted spray bar discharge system opposite the corner overflow box.
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How-To Make your own DIY, low mounted discharge spray bar:
- Go to Home Depot or Lowes and purchase lengths of Black PVC garden/yard irrigation piping. For your 24" wide tank (??), I would go with a spray bar about 22+ inches long. Drill some small diameter (1/8" inch) holes approximately 2 inches apart on the horizontal spray bar. Measure out and set up your black irrigation piping to mountr opposite the wall of the corner overflow box.
- IMPORTANT!!!! Do not forget to drill a very small (1/16th inch or smaller) anti-siphon hole near the top of the black PVC garden/yard irrigation discharge piping or your low mounted spray bar. You can elect to place the anti-siphon hole on the back of the discharge piping (facing the back wall of the aquarium), or facing into the tank. I strongly recommend drilling the hole in a downward angle, so the discharge flow won't squirt you in the face or get launched across your living room when turning the sump back on..... :eek:
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Sounds like you're on a roll here in the battle with this old reef tank Andy. Keep pulling the sled, man! :D
 

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Hello Andy88,

If you have not yet done so try searching the Net for both images and set up instructions for freshwater sumps. They are much simpler than salt sumps. You Tube has plenty of interesting vids on the topic. Frankly, I'd clean up the tank and sump, ditch that filter and use those bioballs as media in a center chamber. I wouldn't worry about the drip plate as that's for a wet/dry application.

Last major choice is a return pump of suitable flow rate for the head height and drain rate you're dealing with. Submersibles are my preference but if the sump return chamber is drilled for an external one already they are good too.

Hope some of these pics help with a better understanding of what I'm thinking.

Regards,
Stu
sump 1.jpg

sump 2.jpg

sump 3.jpg
 

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Oh man..... DIY sumps! And yes, those do look pretty righteous 'Stu W2'.
Hopefully this will give our Andy in the fight here, some good ideas in going forward with this (hint hint....).
But for now? Git'er dun, Andy!!! :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
In reply to the trickle filter aspect... So would the bioballs in the overflow chamber work well then?

The sump is drilled for external return pump. I'm not sure how many gph that pump is moving yet... haven't gotten to it.

With this ice storm here in Texas, I'm kinda locked down lol. So plenty of time, but no access to stores for supplies. But working on it anyways! I'll have the tank ready to install the hose (once I can get it) and fill up in the next day or two...
 

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Submerged bio-balls in the overflow box? Ummmm ..... No.
Dooooood, replace those things with filter foam!
- You'll keep particulate funk from getting into your prime biological filtration area.
- It will be very easy and quick to pull out the pre-filter foam from the overflow, and rinse that stuff out with a bucket in some tank water.

Yep. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
I've never used a tank with overflow... I thought the water would trickle down lol. This is why I'm asking questions!

I like the diagram that Stu posted, I might try to set mine up like that. I'm still debating everything since I have a few extra days I can't avoid with this storm.
 

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"In reply to the trickle filter aspect... So would the bioballs in the overflow chamber work well then?"

No, they go in the middle biological section(s) of the sump unless you are using them as a wet/dry (tickle) filter. Filter socks or pads go in the first chamber to decrease solid matter.

As to the water flow rate, the faster your pump returns the water the faster your main tank drains.

All questions are good. Each of us has different strengths. It just happens that I'm familiar with set-ups with steady water turnover and large capacity sumps. That allows for frequent water changes done out of the sump without disturbing the fish and provides a home for heaters.

There are numerous ways to set up your sump. Here is another image that might prove helpful. Don't overthink it. A freshwater sump is basically a twin brother from a different mother to a cannister filter. Water goes in one end, is mechanically filtered then passes into the biological media section, then filtered again and out to the return chamber where it is pumped into the tank. Some sumps will have more than one biological media chamber. Some folks fill them with pot scrubbers. Some with fancy store bought media. Some are set up to move the media around as water passes through. That's a fluidized bed filter. It too as options. It's actually fun to set up if you're that way inclined.

Regards,
Stu
bio balls.jpg

fluidized bed.jpeg
 

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Be careful when reading overflow/overflow box/overflow chamber. They are not the same.

Overflow generally refers to the weir and pipe out on a drilled tank.
Overflow box hangs on a tank that is not drilled.
Overflow chamber, or just plain inlet chamber, is where the water first enters the sump.

Never put anything into the hang on the tank overflow box.

All configurations of sump systems are safe to use if you've set them up properly. That includes determining the safe water levels in both the main tank and the sump so that neither exceeds it's maximum volume in case of a power failure or a plug of the overflow from the main tank.

Regards,
Stu
 

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Tight!
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That is awesome info, 'Stu W2'. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
So it turns out that it seems as though this was setup as a wet dry filter. I'm not 100% positive though. Now that the ice apocalypse is over, I can return to this project!

I finally took everything apart to begin the full cleaning process- which I decided to do after further examination and a good whiff of the sump/wet-dry filter.

All the PVC is good. Bought some hose today to replace the piece that was broken as well as a couple other small lines that were flexible hose.

I have attached a very rough (I'm no artist!) sketch of how I think it will work and pictures of how it was setup while there was still water in it.

I'm slightly concerned that the pump will be moving too much water, but as long as I put enough water in the tank total, that is going to adjust the level of water in the wet dry filter or sump or whatever, correct? Basically I just need the entire intake for the motor to always be completely submerged, so I have to make sure there's enough water to do so?
 

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The diagram works for me Andy. And oh man.... actually seeing the picture show what you were saying regarding the condition of that sump. Whew! :oops:
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So, I'm going with Stu on this, and believe you need to simplify this system. In that, I'm just not a fan of that canister filter. Your sump will provide more than enough particulate and biological filtration - you don't need the canister.
Now, I WOULD definitely save the canister filter! I think you could rig something up in a recirculating kind of system using that canister filter, that would be pretty amazing. But, that could be a project done later for a different tank? I mean you've got that 6 foot long tank coming up sooner than later, right? Setting up a Under Gravel Jet discharge system using that canister and a big inline pump could be pretty tight. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Yea, it was a mess!!!

As far as the canister goes, I was thinking of using it for now to build up a bacteria colony. In the hopes that when I get my next, 6' long, 180g+ tank, I'll be able to pull that canister over for quicker cycling.

I'll be getting it cleaned and up and running tomorrow- of course I'll share more pics then!
 

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Sounds good Andy. I like that you're thinking a couple steps ahead on this!
So, what filtration media did you decide to fill the canister filter with? I definitely believe you will need some foam to trap particulate matter. But outside of that, you've got some choices to consider.
- ALL foam media.
- Combination of foam & matrix rock
The porous matrix rock is recommended because it will grow a larger colony of bacteria than just about anything else (outside of a fluidized bed system). You would almost certainly need to place the matrix rock inside a net/mesh bag to make it useful in that canister filter. :)
 

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I'm fairly certain that Andy's canister filter takes a pleated cartridge type filter so I don't think he has the option to do what you suggested above.

Which model filter is it Andy?
 
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