Sump and reconnect

Pump out at the top, wall drain at the bottom. The sump sits in the corner under the plumbing.
Plant wall draining back into aquarium. The drain is supported by a hanger on the wall. It just looks like it's sitting on the

The black at the top is the wall drain.  The clothes pin is pinching shut the primer line.
The black at the top is the wall drain. The clothes pin is pinching shut the primer line.

Wadly and I got the wall connected to the aquarium last week.  The first picture is the plumbing to and from the wall.  When we move into our *real* house I won’t be able to drill holes with impunity . . . darn it.

Yesterday I got the sump connected.  I still have to paint the . . . I’m not quite sure what to call it.  It’s a collection of elbows and short pieces of pipe that takes the place of u-pipe and overflow box for controlling the level of water in the aquarium.  The portion in the aquarium will be green, the part out of the aquarium and inside the sump container will be black.  The next hot day we have I’ll pull it and paint it using Krylon Fusion.

I have the pump to push the water into the wall in the sump.  The wall drains directly into the aquarium.   I also have a very small fountain pump in the sump to keep the water circulating between the sump and the aquarium when the pump for the wall isn’t running.  I still need to clean up all the water and electric lines, running them so they won’t clutter the landscape and I still need to provide a cover for the sump to keep out debris AND I need to moderate the sound of running water in the sump.

After I manage all that I need to build a custom cover and light array for the aquarium.  And then I need to find and install the gutter for the wall for when the plant wall comes back in.  And install an overhead light for the wall.  Got the light, just don’t have enough electrical current available to run it but that should be fixed soon.

4 thoughts on “Sump and reconnect

  1. I’ve read your posts on this wall from its inception, and I have to first thank you for your detail and for posting your continued inspirations from other websites throughout. Your blog is the soul of my inspiration in my endeavor to have my own wall.
    I do have some questions. I was hoping to run about the same size as your current setup and was researching water circulation. I found most sites recommending a turnover rate of 2-5 times/hour! So, I’m wondering, as you have quite a different philosophy that works beautifully, about how much water does your wall take during each run cycle? Does this (presumably lowered turnover rate) pose any problems towards your aquarium’s cleanliness? Also, what is the reason for having circulation between your sump and aquarium while the wall isn’t taking water?
    Just want to thank you again for such an inspiring project and blog.

    1. You know, I read the same stuff but I can’t say it played a very large part in my deliberations. My focus was on having a pump strong enough to get the water to the top of the wall. The higher the wall, the bigger the pump. If the pump’s too big, you’re going to have water going everywhere so you need to be mindful of that. I can’t tell you how many times the water’s turned over an hour. If you don’t have the wall run often enough, the wall dries out and the water ends up coming out of the wall and running down the front of the felt and (occasionally) onto the floor. Okay, <wince> more than occasionally. If you run it too often, the roots don’t get enough air.

      Okay, with that said, I’ve got my timer set to run for 15 minutes (it’s programmable in blocks of 15 minutes), then it shuts off for an hour and 15 minutes. The pump is a Pondmaster 950 which means at mean level (no rise), it pumps 950 gallons an hour. I have about a five foot rise so it pumps about 750-760 gallons per hour. It’s running for 1/4 hour so that’s ~187-190 gallons in that 15 minutes. My tank’s just under 50 gallons so if I divide the 187 by the volume of my tank I get just over 7 changes per run. It runs once every hour and a half so in three hours, it changes the water 14 times, just under your five water changes per hour figure. Does that help?

      The reason for the sump is part function, part aesthetics. When the wall runs it sucks the water out of the aquarium and the level drops . . . a lot, between 4 and 6 inches. With evaporation, the tank has to be topped up with fresh water every couple days. With a sump (aquarium overflows into the sump, pump in the sump goes to the wall, wall gutter returns the flow to the aquarium), the aquarium water level remains the same and the level of the sump rises and falls. Having a sump makes dosing the tank easier because you don’t have to worry about diluting. Just dump it in the sump and the wall and trough do the mixing for you. Having a sump also means you need additional heaters to keep the sump temp the same as the tank or the cold water will shock the tank. The wall cools the water quite a bit. I have two 50 gallon heaters in the aquarium (no sump) just to handle the cooling caused by the water running through the wall. I thought I could manage the sump heat by continually circulating the water and I think that would work with my current setup if I could insulate the sump (including a cover for the sump). Until I get a “real” gutter I’m not going to work on that part. One thing at a time.

      One more thing about the overflow plumbing in this post. The 1″ pipe is too big. The water doesn’t flow fast enough and air accumulates and the siphon fails. It’s better to use two smaller (1/2″ or 3/4″) setups ganged together.

      Does that answer all your questions?

  2. It sure does, thanks so much! One last question. In my setup I’ve been struggling with what sort of fish I would want to keep. For most fish, the heating issue would be as you said. However, to keep native Vermont fish, I would want a much colder tank (50-60?). To keep the tank so cold, most people recommend a chiller, which are hugely expensive and quite the deterrent. Do you think the walls radiator effect would keep the tank cold enough all by itself? I would probably still want a heater in the sump so that the plants would get toasty water, but maybe the wall would keep me from needing a chiller in the tank.

    1. I think that’s something you’re going to have to test. I haven’t measured the temp of the returning water, I just know it takes two heaters to maintain the temp between cycles. I think fish who prefer cooler temps and a wall that needed warmer temps would be a temp balancing problem but you would have to try it to see if it would work.

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