Remote Sump Question (NO GRAVITY)

coreytrv

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Looking for guidance on plumbing a remote sump into a 500 gallon reef tank that will be filtered via the fish room in the garage, some 30'+ away. All single story, gravity feed not an option.

Filtration is a bead filter, closed loop.

Initially I had planned a sump in the attic, above the DT which would fill by pulling supply off the return manifold at the tank, then gravity draining back into the top.

However, since the attic is unconditioned, and it's pretty tight up there- plus the volume of my DT. Thinking a larger, remote sump would be better.

My stab at this would be to pull supply from the filter, through a ball valve, and behind a motorized ball valve / solenoid.
Use water level sensor that would close the supply valve, if water level got too high (ie overflow).
Would need a way to keep return pump from running dry- do the DC pumps automatically shut off when dry? or maybe a controllable one that would be shut down if high alarm detected?



Looking for any tips! Thanks.
 

CoralNewb

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New to the site and saltwater tanks in general, but I have a lot of experience in process control. To handle something like this, I would advise you to implement a feedback control loop with proportional control on the ball valve rather than an on/off solution for control. You have one of two choices for control:

1.) Flowmeter at the output end of the pump, and flowmeter after the ball valve. You would be modulating the ball valve to constrict or relax the flow at the input to match the output flow.

The downside: you are not modulating the control based on the water level in the sump so if there is any mismatch in the flowmeters, you have potential issues with the sump water levels. plus, good, non-corrosive flowmeters are expensive...

2.) Use a level sensor in the sump to modulate the ball valve. For the level sensor, I'm talking about one that will give you a readout of the exact water level from the sensor.

I think this is the preferable method.

These control methods assume an important thing:
Inflow to the sump is capable of exceeding the pump outflow

Of course, you would need redundancies:
1. Normally Closed Solenoid valve on Sump Inflow that is tripped by a secondary level sensor or the main level sensor

Optional: I would also monitor the flow in and out of the system.

For this control method, you would need a controller to provide the closed-loop feedback. In process controls, we use a PLC, but honestly, you can use a cheap temperature PID controller such as this one:


You would just need to get a level sensor that outputs from 0-5VDC or 0-10VDC. And a ball valve that accepts a 0-10VDC control signal.

Anyway, that is the basic gist of how I would attempt something like this.
 

TangerineSpeedo

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Can you explain further why your system can not be gravity fed to the sump. Is your sump in the garage going to be higher than your DT? Being 30 linear ft away should be the same as if the sump is right next to your DT. I might include a slope in the drain line to prevent sediments building up. I mean I understand you may not want a drain line running through the kitchen on the way to the garage, but is the house on a slab or do you have room underneath to run a line?
 
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coreytrv

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Can you explain further why your system can not be gravity fed to the sump. Is your sump in the garage going to be higher than your DT? Being 30 linear ft away should be the same as if the sump is right next to your DT. I might include a slope in the drain line to prevent sediments building up. I mean I understand you may not want a drain line running through the kitchen on the way to the garage, but is the house on a slab or do you have room underneath to run a line?
The tank is almost floor to ceiling, and the run is very long. Additionally, 5 sides of the tank (sides and bottom) are inaccessible, since it's a room divider tank, butted up against a fireplace.

Because of the above, I elected not to drill the tank, as there's almost no access to service bulkheads that would be used in an overflow.

Up and over the tank and over 30' horizontal run, plus there is a concrete footing that would have to be drilled to penetrate the garage wall, all add to concerns over gravity fed central filtration. Using closed loop bead filter instead.

Here's the tank, and the floorplan for reference:



 
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coreytrv

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New to the site and saltwater tanks in general, but I have a lot of experience in process control. To handle something like this, I would advise you to implement a feedback control loop with proportional control on the ball valve rather than an on/off solution for control. You have one of two choices for control:

1.) Flowmeter at the output end of the pump, and flowmeter after the ball valve. You would be modulating the ball valve to constrict or relax the flow at the input to match the output flow.

The downside: you are not modulating the control based on the water level in the sump so if there is any mismatch in the flowmeters, you have potential issues with the sump water levels. plus, good, non-corrosive flowmeters are expensive...

2.) Use a level sensor in the sump to modulate the ball valve. For the level sensor, I'm talking about one that will give you a readout of the exact water level from the sensor.

I think this is the preferable method.

These control methods assume an important thing:
Inflow to the sump is capable of exceeding the pump outflow

Of course, you would need redundancies:
1. Normally Closed Solenoid valve on Sump Inflow that is tripped by a secondary level sensor or the main level sensor

Optional: I would also monitor the flow in and out of the system.

For this control method, you would need a controller to provide the closed-loop feedback. In process controls, we use a PLC, but honestly, you can use a cheap temperature PID controller such as this one:


You would just need to get a level sensor that outputs from 0-5VDC or 0-10VDC. And a ball valve that accepts a 0-10VDC control signal.

Anyway, that is the basic gist of how I would attempt something like this.

Love this approach. I started looking at arduino devices that had similar concepts, but on a much smaller scale- very cool, thanks for the detail on this!!
 

TangerineSpeedo

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The tank is almost floor to ceiling, and the run is very long. Additionally, 5 sides of the tank (sides and bottom) are inaccessible, since it's a room divider tank, butted up against a fireplace.

Because of the above, I elected not to drill the tank, as there's almost no access to services bulkheads that would be used in overflow.

Up and over the tank and over 30' horizontal run, plus there is a concrete footing that would have to be drilled to penetrate the garage wall, all add to concerns over gravity fed central filtration. Using closed loop bead filter instead.

Here's the tank, and the floorplan for reference:



I can see your issues now, thanks for that. Using a closed loop one of the issues I see is you might need to have some electronic ball valves for the skimmer, because of all the equipment you will need to have that above the waterline which is pretty high. Then just a thought you will need some way to backflush your filter during water changes to flush the detritus out.
GLWT
 

Serpentman2024

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No to be a nah sayer but unfortunately, there is a heap load of risk in this setup. If things ever get out of balance, you're looking at an overflow on either end. Although it means chopping up your floor, what about a recessed sump (in ground) that would sit flush with the floor? This could always be filled back in if/when you need to sell the house.
 
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coreytrv

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I can see your issues now, thanks for that. Using a closed loop one of the issues I see is you might need to have some electronic ball valves for the skimmer, because of all the equipment you will need to have that above the waterline which is pretty high. Then just a thought you will need some way to backflush your filter during water changes to flush the detritus out.
GLWT

Bead filter plumbed to waste line- with backwash blower part of setup for quick blowout / water change.

Right now- there’s a sump in the attic for protein skimmer- it gravity drains into tank- that’s the piece I was hoping to relocate.
 
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coreytrv

coreytrv

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No to be a nah sayer but unfortunately, there is a heap load of risk in this setup. If things ever get out of balance, you're looking at an overflow on either end. Although it means chopping up your floor, what about a recessed sump (in ground) that would sit flush with the floor? This could always be filled back in if/when you need to sell the house.

What would be out of balance- a remote sump? Because the main filter is closed loop.

Thinking auto shutoff on ball valve would help prevent overflow through sump.
 

TangerineSpeedo

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Bead filter plumbed to waste line- with backwash blower part of setup for quick blowout / water change.

Right now- there’s a sump in the attic for protein skimmer- it gravity drains into tank- that’s the piece I was hoping to relocate.
To be honest I think it might be cheaper to wall off a room in the attic and put a small AC up there. with a vent.
That aside. How in the heck are you going to maintain the actual tank? Are you going to Mission Impossible from the attic? I love the placement of it, but the logistics of it seem to encourage a short lived and expensive project.
That being said, I don’t like to poo-poo on others dreams or ideas.
On another note: PH may be an issue on a closed loop system because of your water volume vs. surface area. You are definitely are going to have to add a Skimmer with outside air or other type of air exchange system.
 

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You could build a kind of Trickle filter above the aquarium with a pump in the tank. You could use the same approach with a media filter since it would be very compact due to surface area of the media. Pump to the filter and gravity to the tank. This looks like a fish only system, correct? I would discourage an attempt to balance pumps between two locations as it never works. By the way fish swim side to side not up and down so this is not the best design for the larger fish.
 
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coreytrv

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Great points. I agree with sheetrocking around the tank equipment up there, and like the idea of a mini AC as well. Smart.

PH / oxygenation has been on my mind. Will definitely have the skimmer. Was thinking a remote sump might be needed for oxygenation. Outside of that, there will be a spray bar at the top of the DT. Thinking about micro bubble scrubbing too...not sure if all that will be enough?

Surface area relative to water volume, absolutely needs attention.

2 attic stairs enter at each side of the tank, and a valence that will open to allow quick feeding. Plus an exhibit grade magnet for glass cleaning...but yes, this is a mission impossible :face-with-tears-of-joy: from above type situation lol, telescoping poles in attic, along with a ridiculously long gravel vac.



Even looking at putting the lights on a pulley system, so that you can pull them up and out of the way, so you can crouch down and access the top of the tank.
 
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coreytrv

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You could build a kind of Trickle filter above the aquarium with a pump in the tank. You could use the same approach with a media filter since it would be very compact due to surface area of the media. Pump to the filter and gravity to the tank. This looks like a fish only system, correct? I would discourage an attempt to balance pumps between two locations as it never works. By the way fish swim side to side not up and down so this is not the best design for the larger fish.
That's exactly the approach here, I think @TangerineSpeedo 's suggestion to condition the small space above the DT where the equipment is located, is probably the best course of action here.

I originally envisioned fish only, but due to the vertical v. horizontal swimming you mentioned, am pivoting to reef for smaller fish that would be more comfortable in this size...now I'm attempting to ensure I can get all the reef filtration systems to support a robust ecosystem for LPS/SPS.
 

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This might give you some ideas. It was a Nano project I did with a Surge filter. Water was pumped up to the filter, went through the chambers and entered two chambers that used a Bell siphon in each. Each chamber was filled with Bio Balls. As each chamber filled up the Bell siphon would drain the chamber in a matter of seconds, dumping water into the tank with a surge. Because the rapid action of the filling and emptying of the chambers the Bio balls stayed clean and the air exchange was at it's optimal value.
IMG_9376.jpeg
IMG_8450.jpeg
IMG_8451.jpeg
IMG_8449.jpeg
 

Serpentman2024

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What would be out of balance- a remote sump? Because the main filter is closed loop.

Thinking auto shutoff on ball valve would help prevent overflow through sump.
I guess I'm not understanding how a closed loop would work over that distance. Is the sump somehow sealed? For it to be truly closed loop, both the inlet and outlet of the pump would have to be plumbed so I'm not understanding where/how the filter plays in. I guess, I'd like to better understand what you mean by filter. Is this a mechanical inline filter or the sump in general?
 
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coreytrv

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I guess I'm not understanding how a closed loop would work over that distance. Is the sump somehow sealed? For it to be truly closed loop, both the inlet and outlet of the pump would have to be plumbed so I'm not understanding where/how the filter plays in. I guess, I'd like to better understand what you mean by filter. Is this a mechanical inline filter or the sump in general?

It's a pond filter, inlets and outlets are all plumbed. Here's the filter itself, bio beads- like a large cannister basically.

Currently the sump sits in the attic, and gravity drains from above the tank. I was looking for a way to put it in the garage, remotely, but that requires a balancing act that may prove difficult.

@TangerineSpeedo 's surge filter above the tank, looks like a pretty awesome setup. Link below:
1713129138955.png
 

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You can check out this thread. They overcame a tough and similar situation and maybe they would have some insight for you.


@jorge-Thalia
 
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coreytrv

coreytrv

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You can check out this thread. They overcame a tough and similar situation and maybe they would have some insight for you.


@jorge-Thalia
Wow, that's almost exactly what I'm looking to do, thank you for finding that!
 

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