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: 155 20.9%
  • No it's a waste..

    Votes: 96 12.9%
  • No but I would like to..

    Votes: 185 24.9%
  • No but I have a spare return pump...

    Votes: 351 47.3%

  • Total voters
    742

Dr. Dendrostein

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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
If I'm running DC pumps, heck yea, I'm gonna run dual pumps. That's why I run a 20+ year old Eheim pump. They're the working mules of our hobby. Also if power goes out, what then, single or dual, they both have same conclusion. Bummer
 
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Magellan

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If I'm running DC pumps, heck yea, I'm gonna run dual pumps. That's why I run a 20+ year old Eheim pump. They're the working mules of our hobby. Also if power goes out, what then, single or dual, they both have same conclusion. Bummer
Battery backup or generator? The real Boy Scout has a backup generator too ;)
 

saf1

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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.
I do not believe this. [Edit: I mean to say that I do not believe it "IS" this reason]. There are a couple reasons to run them be it true redundancy, flow simulations, or stand by spare plumbed instead of on the shelf.

I guess I could see this if someone was buying the industry leader Abyzz return pumps. Even then it is like I said to my buddy the other day who was contemplating his GT500 order and optional carbon track package. I looked with blinking eyes and said you are already over $75,000 - what is another $18,000??? Similar to what I see when people run a single Abyzz. You already bought one, and anything can fail, what is another $1,000 for peace of mind?

I don't know - to me it seems redundancy is a good thing and worth the money and not a quality thing. You can still run two of lower quality pumps just as much as two so-called high quality.
 

SteadyC

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I travel regularly for work, and as often as possible for pleasure, i wont run on a single pump. My wife is awesome, but I won’t ask her to check for flowing water and swap out a failed pump, if that happened it would be the day I am forced out of the hobby.
 

Friday24

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I run dual COR-20s and dual Eb832s, one pump attached to each on my 300g. I’m EXTREMELY glad I do since in the last 6 months I’ve had to send in my Eb832s 3 times for failure to power outlets and I’ve had to replace both COR-20 power supplies. Neptune covered everything under warranty but if I was only running one of either I could have been screwed, especially if I was out of town. I also think there is an advantage on larger tanks running dual pumps as you can run both at a lower power settings and put less stress on the pump.
 

MnFish1

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I guess I see so many scenarios that could affect both pumps at the same time - thus not making it that helpful (in my situation). If one needed more flow, etc -perhaps it would then make sense - or for sure if it was a huge tank. That said - I've considered buying another pump and having on standby -in case of a pump failure.
 

saf1

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I run dual COR-20s and dual Eb832s, one pump attached to each on my 300g. I’m EXTREMELY glad I do since in the last 6 months I’ve had to send in my Eb832s 3 times for failure to power outlets and I’ve had to replace both COR-20 power supplies. Neptune covered everything under warranty but if I was only running one of either I could have been screwed, especially if I was out of town. I also think there is an advantage on larger tanks running dual pumps as you can run both at a lower power settings and put less stress on the pump.
Do you have your Cor 20 plugged into the energy bar? If so, I'd recommend placing it onto another circuit. This way if something happens and trips up the bar and the other circuits come on after reset you save time trouble shooting.

We had a power outage that sent 3x the normal power into our neighborhood. Tripped up the energy bar but the circuits in the room came on when I reset the breaker. Anyway the Cor 20 was in one of those and worked fine. However, everything else was off line until I was able to reset the apex unit. I also did it this way since I have 2 Cor 15's powered already by the Apex it felt right to have the Cor 20 on its own.
 

K7BMG

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Well I did it this way.
Still in the set up stage so plumbing is not completed.
I have two DT one 147G reef, and one 110G for fish that are not reef friendly, and one 150G sump. So combined water volume will be around 250 to 270G.

I have two Reef Octo Varios 8 DC pumps.

I have plumbed in an H Valve using two back flow preventers and three valves.
In normal operation both vertical valves will be open, the horizontal valve closed. (See pic below)
If a pump fails then all that is needed will be to open the horizontal valve, the check valve on the faulty side will prevent sump backflow. The flow to both tanks will drop but still be in operation, as will the sump. This also makes it much easier for pump maintenance replacement.
So if I am in the middle of pump maintenance and something calls me away, no problem, there is no urgency imposed on me. I can come back to it days later without concern.
Yes if a pump fails and I am away from home then a human will have to turn the valve for me. But even a 5 year old could do it.

I am currently (Sort of) looking for a normally closed electrically (Opened) operated valve that will work with the system. The ones I have found so far are brass, bronze, or other composit that will leach metals. This way if or when my Apex tells me hey ding bat there's a problem I can remotely open the valve and wont need a human to bail me out.

I curently have one flow meter that is installed on the reef DT,
I plan to order a second for the fish only tank.
Once they are both in operation I can set up the apex to open the valve without human intervention at all automatically. That's my theory and I am sticking to it for now.
We will see the outcome when I get it all plumbed and tested fully.

This will also work even better without possible side effects on a single tank with two returns.

I can see the potential to overflow one of the DT, and probably have overlooked something else as well. But I will thoroughly test everything, power failures, pump failures, all valves open, ETC, before I cycle and add livestock.

H Valve.jpg


By the way reef tank is plumbed and has been tested currently getting 1420GPH, using the Varios 8 and 1-1/4 inch return line plumbing.
 
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ylreefer

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This is a very good question. Why. Because I Was recently away for 7 days and came back to a return pump failier. Thankfully I do have a secondary return pump running on the system so everything was fine. The system isn't monitored by apex or such so I had no way to tell how long it had been down.

With all the money invested in the corals and livestock we keep I do believe that cost of the extra electricity is well justified in having that second pump running, as well as giving me peace of mind while away from home. You can't really put a price on that .
 

ca1ore

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I do not believe this. [Edit: I mean to say that I do not believe it "IS" this reason]. There are a couple reasons to run them be it true redundancy, flow simulations, or stand by spare plumbed instead of on the shelf.
So then why do you think it’s ‘all the rage now’? Hardly a stroke of genius; I and others experimented with dual return pumps 20 years ago .... I think if you worry about frequent main return pump failures you run a double; if you don’t you don’t.
 

trido

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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.
It's the same as when the power goes out while you're out of town. Every reefer should be prepared for every situation at all times.
I have a network of reefers that can and will replace a pump or take care of issues if they arise. Every reef keeper should have reef keeper friends near by. If not, a LFS to call that can make an emergency visit. Equipment fails. Knowing this, I still feel like a second return pump for safety is overly cautious.
 

Shooter6

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I run 2 return pumps, along with wavemakers both in the display and in the sump. That way detritus cannot collect in the sump, and it protects any biological filtration i have there.
 

afuel

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Two return pumps on separate electrical supplies, backup batteries and a generator waiting in the garage if needed. Lost all coral and most fish to a 5 day power outage in the dead of winter 12 yrs ago it’s a painful thing I don’t want to go through that again
 
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AlexG

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I stick to having a spare return pump on hand that can be swapped out. While I think that having two pumps in line is a good idea I feel there are some draw backs potentially. If a spare pump is plumbed into the system and its plumbing is open to the system where a controller turns it on it the primary pump fails I can see marine buildup on the pump being an issue for the inside of the pump and impeller housing. Pump rotation or testing might alleviate this issue. Since I use a reeflo pump for my system the issue for me would be that a second pump in line would mean that the secondary pump seal can be exposed to saltwater which will cause it to deteriorate over time. If a secondary pump was plumbed into the system but the pump impeller housing stays dry with closed valves it might be a better solution for a backup but would still require valves to be opened before the pump could be turned on.
 

saf1

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So then why do you think it’s ‘all the rage now’? Hardly a stroke of genius; I and others experimented with dual return pumps 20 years ago .... I think if you worry about frequent main return pump failures you run a double; if you don’t you don’t.
Because there is no downtime if one goes out due to mechanical failure. Sort of like why airplanes making oceanic flights requiring to have a certain number of engines (used to be 3 or 4 in the 80's for example).

Sure, you can get by if you have other means of water movement in your tank but if not it is a reasonable priced option in most cases. If you don't have a sump then I would have redundant flow in there also.

I'm not saying your wrong by any means or someone had a stroke of genius as you say all of a sudden. I just do not see it as a quality thing. I ran a similar setup in 2000 using Japanese Iwaki pumps. Two returns and one on my skimmer.

Having said that it isn't going to do much for me in a power outage if I'm not home because I don't have any battery backup on an alternate flow inside the tank....that needs to be addressed.
 

jahnje

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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.
This reminds me of the 8 story test from back in the day. Can you throw your server out an 8 story window and have everything back up and running in 8 minutes. Disaster recovery drills every once in a while are a good thing. If you're willing to spend all of the money redundancy; you should see if it actually works.
 

TheOne

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This reminds me of the 8 story test from back in the day. Can you throw your server out an 8 story window and have everything back up and running in 8 minutes. Disaster recovery drills every once in a while are a good thing. If you're willing to spend all of the money redundancy; you should see if it actually works.
I haven't had a power outage for 4 years and a few weeks ago we had the remnants of a hurricane come thru and knock out our power for 9 hours. Some were without power for several days. I never even touched the tank other than to turn one mp40 up to 40% flow because I didn't know the default was so low.

After 12 hours it would have went on the generator. Why not sooner? Because it didn't need a generator at that point.

I also have an apex to alert me if their is a problem that needs addressed such as a power outage or no flow in the tank.
 

Laith

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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.
That's what I've done as well with my new build. Two Red Dragons running at 50% each on separate power circuits. ;Happy
 

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