View Full Version : Rebuilding hardware set up

05-13-2009, 05:54 AM
Hi all.

I would like to rearrange my set up, for several reasons.

I would like to move the wiring to a safer place (currently hanging precariously next to the sump)
I would like to make the plumbing a little neater
I have a protein skimmer to install (currently sitting on my floor)
I have a second in line heater to install

Ideally, to accomodate all these changes, I would like to simply disconnect everything, make the changes, and then reconnect. But I'm scared to disconnect things in case it floods! Logically, I think they would not design a system that would flood should the power happen to go out. On the other hand, there are 135 gallons in the upper tank and only 40 in the lower, and it sure looks like gravity would take it all down to the lower tank! I've never had a sump before (or a sw set up), so any reassurances you have would be most appreciated. I turned everything off for a few seconds, but when the sump started to fill I panicked and turned it back on again.


05-13-2009, 06:12 AM
Do you have an overflow? Turn off return pump. Remove your return line from the tank and it will only drain to the top of the overflow. Hopefully you have some room in your sump. If not, take enough water out of the tank until the overflow is no longer draining first.

05-13-2009, 06:27 AM
if you have a overflow and the return line won't siphon out more than your sump can handle (not to deep in the display or have a siphon break) you'll have no problems.

Either way you need to have a simulated power failure to see what would happen if you not home.

05-13-2009, 07:22 AM
You mention "they" in designing your system. Who is THEY? Have you had power outages before? I can;t think of anyone(buisness wise) who would make a system that couldnt handle a power outage. thats the same as shutting off equip.

05-14-2009, 12:28 AM
Thanks all.

By 'they' I meant people that design aquariums. As you said, they have to be able to handle the situation of a power outage with out flooding 100+ gallons all over the floor. On the other hand, when I tried it and the sump was filling fast, I panicked and turned the pump back on.

pterfloth, when you say remove the return line from the tank, are you referring only to the one that leads from the overflow box? What about the one that leads to the Fluval filter?

05-14-2009, 12:37 AM
What type of overflow do you have? On a properly designed system, the water level in your display tank should only drop an inch or two max when you have a power outage. As mentioned your sump needs to be able to handle this to prevent flooding. Your sump should be fine for your size tank. A fluval filter losing power shouldn't really effect your water level as it is self contained.

05-14-2009, 04:40 AM
The return line I mean is the return line from your sump via your return pump from the sump to your tank. Water can drain from your tank into your sump during a power outage in two ways: through the overflow until the water level in the tank drops below the top of the overflow and secondly, it can siphon via the return line from your sump return pump back into the sump. One should set your maximum sump water level so that when both the overflow and the return pump drain to the sump there is enough room to handle it. The overflow may not be the problem but return line back to your tank may be submerged too low. You can fix this my raising the return line and not submerging it so much. You should check this and adjust it in any case.

What I suggested was that shut off your return pump, immediately raise the return line out of the tank and then allow the tank to drain via the overflow until the overflow stops. If this is already enough to overfill your sump then you need to lower the level of water in your sump.

I know the scary feeling you get when the sump starts to fill. This is a solvable problem.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ask for more specific advise.

05-14-2009, 05:15 AM
The item at the back of this picture is attached to the line coming out of the sump pump. So that is how the water is returning to the tank, correct? If I disconnect power, does water flow back the other way?

The item at the front of this picture (the U shaped thing) goes back to the Fluval filter. Is this what you mean needs to be adjusted higher so less water drains back?

I can't see how it can be the first item (at the back of the tank) as it is submerged into the tank several feet.:confused:

05-14-2009, 05:21 AM
What type of overflow do you have?

I don't know how to answer that, except to post a picture...

Amazingly, I just found a webpage with my overflow, it even has that exact aqualifter, though I had no idea why that was there (it's not sitting near the overflow box, but rather underneath).


05-14-2009, 05:33 AM
Hi. Well if the line at the back is connected to the sump pump and the water returns to the tank through this line and it runs down to the bottom of your tank then you have got a problem. The return pump fills this line with water. When the power goes off, the water is going to siphon back through this line into your sump and will continue to do so until the level in your tank is low enough for this line to lose suction. By that time you going to have a big puddle somewhere you don't want it and your fish will not be happy. Most people's return line outlet ends just below the normal water surface to prevent siphoning out their tank. I'd shorten the line a lot so that you don't have this happen. You may also be able to find a check valve to put in the return line, but I don't know of any. One of these days the power will go out.

05-14-2009, 05:52 AM
Do you think the lines are probably reversed? To me, the line at the back looks like the water-out lines on my FW tank. It has a cover over the end so the fish don't get sucked up in to it. The line at the front looks like it should be adjustable for height, hence, maybe it is supposed to be the line in to the tank, and the siphon out line when the power is off.

But the line at the back is definitely the line in at the moment, because if I pour water into the sump, or if it gets air in it for a second, it's definitely coming out the back line.

05-14-2009, 06:41 AM
That could be the solution. The lines in and out of the Fluval don't matter since it is enclosed. Connect the front tube to your return. It actually looks upside down. On mine, the "U" sits over the tank lip with the flared end just below the water surface.

I suggest turning off your return pump and quickly disconnecting the return hose from long line at the back. Loosen any hose clamps first so you can do it quickly. Once the line is disconnected your chance of massive draining should eliminated. Turn off the Fluval and swap the lines. Try inverting the "U" so it sits over the tank lip.

I think this should work. The overflow will still drain some so you do need some room in your sump for that.

Let me know how it goes. Good luck!

05-17-2009, 02:22 AM
Well, mostly. :lol:

I figured out the plumbing (and it wasn't the way I thought). I am satisfied now I could survive a power outage with dry feet. :biggrin: More importantly, I'm not so intimidated by it any more.

I got the wiring tacked up nicely. I changed out 10% of the water and vaccumed the gravol. I moved the live rocks from the sump in to the tank (tried to create interesting caves etc for the gang... they seem to like it), and most importantly, I got the protein skimmer installed! It seems to work great, but it is frothing out the top which I figure it shouldn't do. I tried adjusting the water level with the pipe at the side, as I was instructed, but it's still frothing. I think I might have too much water in the sump, but taking some water out won't work as the skimmer isn't in the lowest point. I have to change the partition wall, I think. But does it matter if it foams out the top?

I didn't get the second heater installed, but we'd all had enough for one day. :wink:

Thanks everyone for your help!

05-17-2009, 05:53 AM
Hmm by foaming out the top, do you mean overflowing the collection cup with wet foam? Or are you missing the collection cup on your skimmer?

05-17-2009, 06:10 AM
Well, the collection cup is full of water, so I guess that means I'm overflowing it, not missing it? I'll try and get a picture in the morning.

In the meantime, I wrapped some media floss around the lip.

05-17-2009, 06:29 AM
Glad to hear your keeping dry feet! :biggrin: