Dual return pumps for redundancy! Good idea or just a waste of money?

Do you run TWO return pumps for redundancy and to be safe? (check all that apply)

  • Yes I run two return pumps..

    Votes: 161 21.4%
  • No it's a waste..

    Votes: 96 12.7%
  • No but I would like to..

    Votes: 185 24.6%
  • No but I have a spare return pump...

    Votes: 356 47.3%

  • Total voters
    753

revhtree

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It's been said that your return pump is the heart of your system. I believe and agree with that statement! My reef tank can survive quite a while without lights, dosing, skimmers, reactors, etc. but it won't stay alive long without the return pump providing flow and circulation of the water.

So why do most of us only have one? Maybe you have a back up, maybe you don't but today let's talk about actually having TWO return pumps running at one time.

Do you think it's a good idea to have a dual return pump set up for your reef tank? Why or why not?

image via @Mark Gray
20180511_190011.jpg
 

JCOLE

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If you can swing it and have the room then I agree that dual pumps are good for redundancy. I have one pump feeding a manifold for my fuge, frag tank, etc. This helps to distribute the flow evenly to the tank without putting to much strain on one pump.
 

Brew12

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This is the only thing I regret with my current tank design. I only had one return hole drilled. If I had 2 holes drilled I would run two separate return pumps, each on separate GFCI's.
I do keep an identical pump as a spare that is always ready to go, but that doesn't help if it fails while I'm travelling.
 

trido

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I have two return pumps. One for the display tank and one for the grow system. There is a spare for each. Personally, I think that having dual return pumps in use is a waste of electricity and usable sump space. A quality pump should last many years and should be replaced before it reaches the end of its usable life time. Proper cleaning and maintenance allows for monitoring of when it’s a less than stellar piece of equipment anymore. Having said that, I have had Neptune monitoring for 13 years and keep a close eye on my system.
 

Montiman

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I have not personally felt the need to have 2 running return pumps mainly because I do not travel for more than a week at a time and I feel everything would be just fine for a week with no return pump. I do have a spare in case my return goes bad but I am ok just swapping it in when I need to.
 
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SPR1968

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I don’t think it can be considered a waste of money as such, but it depends on how it’s set up.

If your main pump fails while your away for a week or so, if you can’t switch the spare on, then there’s not much point having it. If your at home then you can just swap it out.

However, I have this very dilemma with my new 530 gallon build. I’m running an Abyzz A200 which are supposed to be very reliable. But if it failed while away I would be stuck because I can’t physically change it.

So in my case, I have Apex and I’m thinking get the COR20 ready and plumbed in on a secondly return pipe. Then if the Abyzz failed I would be notified (flow sensor) and I could remotely switch on the COR 20 and select its power level from anywhere in the world.

I was actually thinking the same as your question, so I sort of decided to leave it a few weeks as the tanks not wet yet, but now you’ve got me thinking again! Lol
 

wtac

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For one DT or frag system, single is fine as long as you are getting the desired GPH and system turnover rate.

That said, the higher GPH AC pumps do have a bit of hum and can resonate to an annoying sound level. This is where you can use two smaller GPH pumps where combined, you get the desired GPH. Ie 2x Sicce 3.0 (one for each return line vs 1x Sicce 5.0 split to 2)

This will easily work for systems where the sump is in the cabinet under the DT.

"Remote" sumps, whether in the basement or across the room filtration room, not an issue as you can insulate the walls to attenuate the noise.

The problem is that generally "we" don't usually have a back-up pump. It's a good idea and $ well spent to have one/two on hand should that event occur.

With an APEX, you can have a high level sensor in the sump, float switch in the skimmer cup that will send an alert as well as shut down various components that will attribute to such conditions. Get an IP TPZ (Tilt-Pan-Zoom) camera and you can log in and check on the system.
 

Crabs McJones

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I don't run both pumps simultaneously, but I do have an extra as a backup if my primary should ever fail.
 

stanleo

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The vote should be "No, I like to live dangerously." I only run one but I see the value in having two but I just haven't had the urgent need to go out and spend the money for it. There are other things I would like to buy first.
 

don_chuwish

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I love the idea - if you can afford it and make it work in your system then go for it. But I don't think it's critical. Water movement can be maintained with powerheads while you swap in your spare or source one in a hurry.
 

nickkohrn

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I have a COR-15 that serves as my primary return pump. I have a secondary COR-15 that I use for water-changes and serves as a replacement when I maintenance my primary pump. I mix saltwater bi-weekly, so I’m always ensuring that the current spare is in a working condition.
 

kalare

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Don't we all have powerheads or wave makers or closed loops anyways? Returns are not vital to the system in my opinion. The only thing that is vital in the sump would be the heater. If you noticed your return is out while on vacation (assuming a person that has money for two returns would first buy a controller of some sort as a better use of cash) it's super easy to have a calibrated spare heater that a neighbor can drop in the display while you're out of town.

In my opinion the added complexity of the additional return and the plumbing and programming for it is just adding unnecessary complexity to systems that are already become increasingly complex for an issue I've never had I'm my 25 years of reefing.
 

Dream54ing

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We're currently installing a new sump and consider adding two returns for redundancy. We do have the space in the new sump and two identical vectra pump. Kicker is, we have 3 ecotech battery backup, do we run them to both pumps or just one? common sense says run on 1 pump for longer duration of battery backup... but what if the power goes out and that 1 pump fails? We have had 2 return pump fail after power outage in the past, so a bit hesitant.

edit... our return serves to our manifold that feeds the main, refuge, temporary fish holding tank and frag tank, so our return is the heart of our system. battery back up to our powerheads is not an option.
 
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jokerman826

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I run two "return" pumps. But one is actually for my manifold and fuge recirculating system. I have a dedicated pump that sends water back to the tank. I do have backups. Even though they dont make one of my return pumps anymore (waveline dc) I have others that can be put into the exact same spot.
 

Montiman

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I just wanted to emphasis the drawbacks of two return pumps to play devils advocate. Two return pumps means.

1. Twice as many parts to clean and maintain
2. Almost always greater energy consumption
3. Almost always requires a larger footprint in the sump or stand
4. Almost always more heat in the water
5. Plumbing is more complicated and therefore more likely to leak.
6. Almost always more costly
 

Shooter6

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One thing that i feel is overlooked is the system will keep going, at least for a while without the return pump.
If theres wave makers there should be gas exchange.
The main issues it the disconnect from the heaters/chillers
Dosing
And to a lesser extent skimmer. Placing heaters in overflow boxes, dosing lines directly to the display and a closed loop connected to a lower level inside the overflow box will eliminate most of the issues. Most houses are heated and cooled in the 72-80 degree range so the heaters are not a real necessity.
 
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