QUESTION OF THE DAY 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: 154 20.8%
  • No it's a waste..

    Votes: 96 13.0%
  • No but I would like to..

    Votes: 185 25.0%
  • No but I have a spare return pump...

    Votes: 351 47.4%

  • Total voters
    741

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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.
Biological filtration wouldn't be dead after just 12 hours without circulation. Bacteria can last a lot longer than that.

@brandon429 this discussion may interest you.
 
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kalare

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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.
Not true. Too much bad information. I just ran my 7 tanks through 2 PGE outages of 18 hours and 40 hours. Sump had circulation intermittently since I turned generator off at nights and ran battery pumps in the displays. Most likey 10 hours no circulation. No issues. I've had power outages years ago that lasted over 24 hours with only battery pumps in the display and no issues once power restarted. Life in the sump will be fine for a day or so with no power or heat, even more so if you have rubble or refugium down there.
 

Katrina71

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I'd do it in a big tank for sure.
 

ReefBum

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I used to use two pumps with my 225 gallon tank and I am doing it today with my 187 gallon tank. At the very least I would recommend having a second pump on hand in case one fails. A power surge could take out a pump with a controller, which did happen to me a number of months ago, so it is also a good idea to have the pump connected to a surge suppressor. A surge suppressor is different versus a surge protector.

A suppressor regulates the voltage and makes the power constant when a power spike or surge occurs. A protector simply detects a surge and shuts down a device. For a controllable pump it is advisable to use a suppressor since you will not want the pump to shut down every time the power spikes.
 

captainsmitty

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"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. "


I somewhat agree with this and even if it's not dead it has been hurt. So I run 2 return pumps (1 to each side of the tank). and with my apex if need be after notification i can increase the power to the one still operating. Both pumps are on separate 20 A circuits.
I also run 2 heaters as well.
And with the new problem here in Cal. with power shut offs i even have a battery backup air stone that will switch on till i can get home to turn on my generator.
 
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madweazl

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I have a spare return pump but just dont see any value in running two simultaneously. The powerheads in the display are much more valuable in terms of keeping everything alive. If need be, I could drop a heater in the display and it could go indefinitely just like that.
 

120reefkeeper

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I run dual return pumps and I have 2 spares.

What’s more cool than that is the fact that the way my plumbing is constructed I can run both pumps at the same time. I can also have either pump run the tank by itself.

All this is done with piping and valves.
 

AZMSGT

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On my Red Sea 625 I have 2 EcoTech M2 Vectra pumps in my return section. One pump feeds the tank Main return.
The second pump feeds a manifold that splits the water. Half the water flows through an Algae scrubber, the other half of the water flows through a 40w UV. The water is returned to the tank from the UV via an overhanging U shaped return.
The UV return pumps 300gph and the regular return line pumps 440gph. Giving me a nice 740gph return flow On the Red Sea. I can’t pump more because the overflow can’t keep up. Which is on average 90-100gph more than most people can achieve on a larger Red Sea tank. Most folks are lucky to get 625-650 out of the Red Sea stock plumbing.
 
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Magellan

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If you think it is a waste then you have not had your one pump stop when you are out of town.
my tank is a 28g JBJ all in one. It’s designed with 2 small (260gph) return pumps in the back corners of the “sump”. I didn’t understand why until one of them broke. While I was out of town. It wasn’t something that I could walk into a store and buy, so I had to figure out what was going on after I got home from a 3 day long weekend, then order one and wait for it to arrive. my tank operated on 1 return just fine for over a week, but I’m not sure what I would have done otherwise. The built in redundancy kept all my hard work, $$, and efforts from being wasted...I will always have a backup in the future, on this and any other tank I own.
 

BryanJ

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I voted for I would like to but not in the way the picture shows. I am thinking of a couple of ball valves linking the in and the out and you could run the back up for a day out of the month to keep the parts wet. that way when the inevitable my pump died day comes you flip the ball valves run the back up and order your replacement pump.
 
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ca1ore

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A quality pump should last many years and should be replaced before it reaches the end of its usable lifetime.
I have made the point elsewhere that I think this whole notion of dual return pumps is mostly an accommodation to equipment of dubious reliability. While I agree that a quality pump should last for many years, I'm unconvinced that the current crop of popular pumps meet that kind of a standard. I do keep a drop in replacement for my main return pump - and it's been collecting dust up on a shelf for almost a decade (I suppose I ought to test run it LOL). I may well rue this comment, but I've literally never had a return pump fail on me in 30 years of reefing. I replace them proactively either based on age or behavior. Being able to monitor wattage draw via apex is quite useful as a form of predictive maintenance. It would be cool if somebody came up with a vibration sensor that you could stick to the pump to detect unusual vibrations. Sounds like a job for Bill Wann.
 

P-Dub

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I have two plumbed. The primary is running and is dry plumbed, the backup is in the sump plumbed and ready to go. The only issue is if the primary fails while on vacation I can turn on the back-up via Neptune Apex remotely however both pumps are plumbed to the same single return pipe. The majority of the flow will be directed back into the sump due to head pressure. I physically would have to have a tank sitter/friend go over and turn the ball-valve off that is at the main return pump. If I had thought it out better I would have placed an anti-siphon valve just in front of the main pump instead of the ball-valve. Unfortunately, short of replumbing the entire return piping, I cannot change the setup now. Still a good idea and better than no back-up plumbed and ready.
 

ca1ore

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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.
Yes, that is probably true. A well designed system should function fine for a few days without a connection to the sump. Inconvenient certainly, but shouldn't be fatal.
 

Scott (Mack) McIntosh

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I don't run two, but have a backup pump. Don't know where it is as have never needed it. Spent the money on a good pump in the first place and it is still going strong. In fact I have to split the flow it produces back into my sump so that I don't have excess water pressure. Pump is, I'm not sure, but must be thirty years old and going strong. Only time it has been off is power outages which will no longer occur thanks to battery backup.
 
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vanpire

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I have two plumbed. The primary is running and is dry plumbed, the backup is in the sump plumbed and ready to go. The only issue is if the primary fails while on vacation I can turn on the back-up via Neptune Apex remotely however both pumps are plumbed to the same single return pipe. The majority of the flow will be directed back into the sump due to head pressure. I physically would have to have a tank sitter/friend go over and turn the ball-valve off that is at the main return pump. If I had thought it out better I would have placed an anti-siphon valve just in front of the main pump instead of the ball-valve. Unfortunately, short of replumbing the entire return piping, I cannot change the setup now. Still a good idea and better than no back-up plumbed and ready.
Dude, I do the exact same thing but I use check valves. No need for anyone to turn a valve. Trust me, much easier and worry free.
 
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vanpire

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I have two pumps hooked but only one is running at a time. Never needed it, and I run tests on it occasionally. They key is to buy a reliable return pump. My guess is that a reliable pump like an Eheim is less likely to fail than two newer controllable DC pumps failing at the same time. No data, just guess from all the newer pump failures I am hearing. My eheim has never failed after more than 10 years of use.

From my personal experiences, a sump can last for days without issues. I have disconnected my sump for days redo plumbing and when I turned it back on, zero problems. Powerheads are a different story.
 

Doctorgori

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I’ve done dual returns for a while as it simplifies pluming for reactors, dual overflow tanks et et,,,,also a lil cheaper sometimes... I like quiet one pumps as long as you don’t try to jack around with that ceramic shaft arghhhh
 

Chris Shelton

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Yes ours is set up with twin matching return pumps. Both running under 50% so should 1 pump go out then I can crank up percentage and carry the same flow until the other is switched out. Plumbed seperate on 2 return lines with matching fittings and unions so easy to switch out. I also feel that running them lower flow and power should help increase pump life.
 

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