Saturday, December 26, 2009

DIY Sump

Purchased a 20x10x16 (labeled as 15 tall) glass tank at a local fish store for $30.  Designed and planned my tank using Google's Sketchup CAD program.  I was able to draw up some sketches on the exact dimensions of my sump, including the 4 glass baffles I would have to get custom cut, and the equipment I was planning to run in the sump.  During this time, I wiped the tank down with just water and paper towels.

The cylinder tube with the red top is my 150W heater, the black rectangular box with the cup is my Tunze 9002 skimmer, and my Maxi-Jet Utility 1800 return pump to the far right.

A few days later, after I was satisfied with my sketch up (went through 6 revisions with different baffle configurations), I purchased (4) 1/4" glass panels to be used as my baffles. Cut in about an hour. Approximate cost $25 True Value Glass Store + $6 GE Silicone I Window & Doors (Silicone I and not II, Silicone II contains Mildew and Mold protectant!) + $2 Tube Gun.

Glass Panels I ordered were (left to right): All 9.75" wide x 13" tall, 13.75" tall and the last (2) panels 12" tall.

I used several empty CD cases to position and hold my glass panels, as I used masking tape to secure them into place.  I first stacked several CD cases as spacers so first compartment would be 4" wide, then I inserted the 13" tall panel and secured that down with masking tape.

Being that this is my first time ever using silicone or even attempting to build a sump, I was a bit worried, but it wasn't that tough after all.  I prepped the silicone corners, wiped them down pretty good to remove any oil, fingerprints or dust.  I then had 2 options, to tape up the silicone areas for clean edges or just to try to cleanup the edges afterwards with a razor blade.  I went with the latter option.

I proceeded to run a consistent bead about a quarter inch thick of silicone on one side of the glass panel, then used my finger starting from the bottom pressing the silicone into the edge and running my finger in a consistent and firm motion up to the top of the panel.  To my amazement, it actually looked professionally done and the silicone filled the complete thickness of the glass.  I then used a razor blade to clean up the excess silicone.  I repeated the process to the bottom edge and then the other side.  I let the silicone dry and sit for 24 hours before I attempted to install the second panel.

The next day, I stacked up 2 CD cases wide and 2 CD cases high from the first baffle and secured the 13.75" tall glass panel with masking tape.  I siliconed that in, waited another 24 hours and did the exact same thing to the last two glass panels.

After about a week, it was time to do a leak test!  I filled one compartment at a time with water, waiting several minutes between each section of the sump, and how bout that, no leaks!  The project was a complete success from an inexperienced builder!

Estimated Time:
2 week build
Lots and lots of reading on DIY sumps until I felt comfortable enough to attempt it myself.

Estimated Costs:
$30 Tank
$25 Glass Panels
$6 Silicone
$2 Silicone Tube Gun
Razor Blades (Already had)
Masking Tape (Already had)
Lots of Empty CD Cases (Already had)
+ taxes

(Left to Right): 1" Flexible Drain Hose, 3 Glass Baffle Bubble Trap, Refugium, Maxi-Jet 1800 Return Pump