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
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nlipner

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- It's trivial to put a smaller spare pump in the sump (hopefully DC).
- The only additional cost is a one way valve, some hose and a connector at the top (I use a U pipe with a hole in the side as an additional safety siphon break).
- there is little wasted energy per se, the total flow of both pumps is a function of the combined energy consumed.
- It can save your tank from one of the most devastating mechanical failures one can experience. Who would want to come back from a week-long vacation to a swampy sump and a nutrient spike?

It's a total no-brainer to me. Would rather have that old pump in use as an insurance policy than degrading on the shelf.
 
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Big Boy

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I never used to run 2 pumps because I had a few back ups that were easy to swap in with a pvc union. But as you are aware everything breaks when you are way not home. I was in St John USVI and my father in law was watching our house/tank. He called to tell me the water level was low In the tank. I was running an ecotech m1 and it apparently had the internal melting issue and was barely pumping water. I attempted to turn off the power to the pump with my apex. The switch said it was off but it was still pumping some water. So when my father in law attempted to loosen the union it started spraying water. The stress at the other end of the phone was not helping. So I told him to just pull the plug and I went a week without a return pump running So if you think for a second everything is under control when you are not there you are wrong. I was fortunate that everything was fine for a week because I have plenty of power heads and one heater in the tank
 

Taylor t

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I’m practical, and lazy... I think it depends, not a one answer fits all. For me, I have a spare sitting on the shelf. I only use 1 return pump. MP 40 (2) with BB provides circulation for my tank, more critical IMO than a return. My systems only 125 DT. IF I had 1500 gallons in a system, sure I’d run 2. In my silly little 125, I’d be fine a week no return. I use an Eheim 1260 and have run them 5+ years with not cleaning or shutting them off that whole time.
 

saf1

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I voted yes. In fact I'll go a step further and say if you have a skimmer it would be a good idea to match the pump to returns if possible. This way you have the trifecta in being covered not only by redundancy but by hot swap taking the skimmers pump offline and adding it to the return pool. Or the other way around should you deem your skimmer critical...

Here is what I do with my return and skimmer pumps. All can be swapped out if any issues since they all use the same union. I have 1" Sea Swirls on either side of the tank. I wanted to simulate tides between them - in and out going. The main issue I ran into was the auto top off and sump water level.

First attempt was to use the built in return pumps schedule. This actually worked very well but gave me the biggest challenge to the sumps water level. I may go back to this because I so some really good polyp extension. Basically one Cor starts at 15% the other at 80%. Next time slot one is at 70% the other 25%. Next time slot they again switch, repeat. Image below. The main difference is one of the returns is a Cor 20 and the other a Cor 15. So the 20 was run a bit lower.

After a while I said OK I'm sure there is a different way but would leave the sump water level more consistent. I asked on the Neptune web forum and someone suggested using a virtual outlet with the OSC function. This worked again well and did what I wanted - same code below.

tideTiming
OSC 000:00/360:00/360:00 Then ON

COR20
Fallback ON
Set 80
If Output tideTiming = ON Then 20

COR15
Fallback OFF
Set 35
If Output tideTiming = ON Then 80

Sort of cool. I get redundancy and hot swap so it checked my boxes. Probably be a good idea if I swap the Cor 20 to the skimmer and that way both returns are the same :) And yes, I like the Cor pumps :) I'm not going to lie.


1573322721725.png
 
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SkiCatTX

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Two external pumps, sized so that either one of them can run the tank alone for some time if required, but normally run half power or so. External to reduce heat introduced into the water, and keep them reasonably clean. Valves so that either can be removed for cleaning or service.
 

BZOFIQ

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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.
You can always throw a small one in that will pump over the edge, better that then nothing if main fails while away.
 

Key-tie

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I have dual filters...
Dual heaters...
And dual pumps...
As someone mentioned before, it can be done easily and efficiently by having 2 smaller ones (as opposed to 1 high powered one)
Electric is about the same, and if 1 fails i am never in trouble tank wise.
Need a 300 watt heater...got two 150watt and put one at each end of the tank.
More even heating and they dont work as hard.
If one fails, the other can maintain temp until a replacement.
Same with my filters...two smaller ones, one at each end of tank.
More flow options...and if one fails, the other does the job until a replacement.
Same basic prices, maybe a hair more to get 2 smaller ones, but i feel the benefit is well worth it.
 

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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.
This is essentially my thought as well. I've got a spare, and I keep close monitoring of my system via Apex and Mindstream. Also, most of my flow is handled by my in-tank circulation pumps. I think my system would last for a bit in its current state if the return happened to fail.
 
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Key-tie

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I also have a power strip with a battery backup that can run the tank for 20 minutes to a half hour if power goes out.
Can save you a lot of stress if it is a short outage.
Well worth the money extra for that backup on a power strip.
 

drwerner

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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
I run (2) Jebao DCP-20000 at 60%, each through 1" food grade silicone tubing. Should 1 fail I can turn the other up to 100% with minimal loss of flow. Should both fail, I have a backup water change pump that would provide circulation until I could replace the primary pumps. The pumps run off a UPS that provides power for the minute or 2 between a power outage and the whole home generator kicking in. System is a piano wave 295G in my livingroom. Filter system is directly below it in the basement.

20190728_195413.jpg
 

drwerner

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This is essentially my thought as well. I've got a spare, and I keep close monitoring of my system via Apex and Mindstream. Also, most of my flow is handled by my in-tank circulation pumps. I think my system would last for a bit in its current state if the return happened to fail.
The risk you have if the sump is not circulated is that the biologic dies in the sump - then you have another problem (and you certainly wouldn't want to pump that water back into your aquarium!
 

TheOne

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I ran a saltwater tank for years without a sump so no I do not run a second pump. I can use my SW mixing pump for a backup if ever needed.

I do however have 4 powerheads in my DT that will provide plenty of oxygen exchange until I can replace the return pump if it were to fail. I also have my powerheads split between circuit breakers so if one trips I'm ok and I also run one powerhead on a deep cycle battery for backup power in case of a power outage.

I would also recommend everyone to at least once shut the power off to their tank for 8+ hours and run it only on your backup plan. If you can't do that then your not prepared for an emergency situation and a second pump would be about as useful as a third and fourth pump.
 
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BZOFIQ

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I’m practical, and lazy... I think it depends, not a one answer fits all. For me, I have a spare sitting on the shelf. I only use 1 return pump. MP 40 (2) with BB provides circulation for my tank, more critical IMO than a return. My systems only 125 DT. IF I had 1500 gallons in a system, sure I’d run 2. In my silly little 125, I’d be fine a week no return. I use an Eheim 1260 and have run them 5+ years with not cleaning or shutting them off that whole time.
Problem is when your main pump dies and you come home after 12 hours, you cant just swap the pump.

Your biological filtration down below is all dead and your reactors foul.
 

Brew12

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You can always throw a small one in that will pump over the edge, better that then nothing if main fails while away.
Yup, I keep telling myself I should but I'm hung up on the look. I know... no one but me will notice anyway..... :rolleyes:
 

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The risk you have if the sump is not circulated is that the biologic dies in the sump - then you have another problem (and you certainly wouldn't want to pump that water back into your aquarium!
There's still a working skimmer in my sump that will provide movement in that chamber, but honestly there really isn't much issue to worry about. The only thing living in my sump is bacteria, so even if there were no circulation, it would take a long time for an issue to set in. Besides, I'm not thinking of leaving the sump offline for long... that's why I have a spare return pump. ;)
 

BZOFIQ

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I have everything in doubles - I'm so into redundancies I even have 2 accounts at R2R :)
 

Brew12

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There's still a working skimmer in my sump that will provide movement in that chamber, but honestly there really isn't much issue to worry about. The only thing living in my sump is bacteria, so even if there were no circulation, it would take a long time for an issue to set in. Besides, I'm not thinking of leaving the sump offline for long... that's why I have a spare return pump. ;)
Isn't that the only thing living in your DT, too? :p;Troll
 
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