View Full Version : 20g Long with 10g Sump

03/03/2017, 11:50 AM

Trying to fit within my self imposed limit of 2 aquarium systems, I am going to revamp my QT set up from a 20 gallon long sitting on a rough 2x4 and plywood stand to the same 20L with a 10 gallon sump on a nice stand. This is not to say this system will only be a QT, but currently this is my plan for it. I've already started kicking around ideas for it when I no longer need to qt new livestock.

To Done List:

Start RC Thread
Buy Protein Skimmer
Buy Return Pump
Buy Aquariums
Buy Baffles and Silicone for Sump
Find MP-10

To Do List:

Finish Building Stand
Paint Stand
Paint Aquariums
Drill 20L
Install Baffles in 10g
Build Overflow Box
Order Bulkheads and Valve
Plumb Aquariums
Possibly Paint Plumbing
Hang Lights
Build Filter Sock Holder
Organize Wires
Biological Filter


Finish Building Stand:

Currently the Structure of the stand is built and I'm almost finished skinning it with plywood. I made a slight measurement error so the plywood isn't flush with the bottom of the stand, but I should be able to cover it with trim. I've never installed trim on anything I've built so I'm looking in to it.

Paint Stand:

This is on hold until I finish building the stand. I am planning to paint the outside of the stand black. I haven't decided how I will paint the inside, right now I'm going to see how I like having the inside white with the primer.

Paint Aquariums:

I've been waiting for a warmer day when it isn't windy to spray paint the 10g. For the 20g I want to drill it first. The 20L will have a blue back and white bottom. The 10g I'm planning a blue back with white sides and bottom.

Drill 20L:

I'm waiting on designing the overflow box to figure out where to drill the holes. I have hole saws for 1.5", 1" and .75" bulkheads. I've drilled a few aquariums now so I've got the process down. I do need to go buy more play-dough or plumbers putty.

Install Baffles in 10g:

The sump is going to have 2 chambers, one for equipment and one for the return. I have all of the materials. I haven't fully decided on how large I want the return chamber of the sump to be. I'm waiting on painting the 10g to avoid painting the 10g while the silicone is curing.

Build Overflow Box:

I'm excited to work on this one. I recently found out you can laser cut acrylic. I should have access to a laser cutter by the end of next week. I'm planning on a bean animal overflow with 1.5" pipes. I know the pipes are oversized but I'm hoping they will run quieter and be more resistant to backing up than the current 1" lines I have on my 40g. I also have some cool ideas for allowing myself to control the water level and what size grating is on the overflow using different lids.

Order Bulkheads:

I don't currently have 1.5" bulkheads. I also need to purchase a valve for the full siphon line. I've used gate valves and ball valves. I'd have to say I currently like the higher quality ball valve than the old gate valve that I used.

Plumb Aquariums:

This is likely the last step before the system is finished. I want to experiment with attaching the plumbing to the stand to prevent it from moving because the 20L glass isn't super thick. I also want to have the plumbing be neat and easy to work with.

Possibly Paint Plumbing:

I've seen it done and I'll look in to it. Hoping it might give a more finished look by avoiding the bare white PVC.

Hang Lights:

I have not so new Chinese LED box that I'll be using to start with. I would like to get a 2 bulb T5 Fixture. I have a conduit bender and will be using it to suspend the lights.

Build Filter Sock Holder:

I was planning on using a large diameter PVC pipe to hold my filter socks but now that I should be able to laser cut acrylic....

Organize Wires:

Self explanatory, I don't want I giant mess of wires randomly strung through the stand. I'm looking into getting a type of wire guide.

Biological Filter:

Since I will be using this as a QT I would like to build/buy a sponge filter of sorts to help the biological filtration and neutralize ammonia.


I'm hoping I will finish this system build in a few months. I want to go slow and be happy with each step. I rushed a few steps on my current display and I'm now wishing a took a few days to fix the problems before I set it up and now have to take it all apart to fix. I should have a drawing of the overflow box in the next few days.

03/09/2017, 08:06 AM
sounds like a good plan. I like the 20L for a smaller size tank love there foot print.

here is a thought. you could skip drilling and adding the sump and just go with HOB filter and skimmer of needed. there are lots of smaller tanks that run this way. not trying to take you out of a sump just saying, its very possible.

for lighting I suggest ( when its time to get new lights ) the aquamax nemo LED lights there slim and sexy and perfect for a 20L. there priced right too.

good luck!

03/09/2017, 11:03 AM
Sounds well thought out and an interesting build.

A couple of thoughts:
1. I tend to like a sump on this size system for keeping the display clean, and it also helps with the critical water volume issues that can cause trouble in the smaller sizes. While drilling a small system can be painful, I think its a better way to go than a HOB approach.
2. One way to do a protein skimmer would be to do it as a HOB except hang it off the chamber in your sump - I did this with a Deltech on a nano I used to run and found it a very efficient configuration that gave me more sump space.

03/13/2017, 09:54 AM
Thank you for the input!

I'm pretty set on drilling the aquarium. I ran the 20L as a qt with out a sump and I found it was cluttered. I also think with a sump I should be able to keep it cleaner by removing more waste with the filter socks.

I've already bought the Tunze skimmer. But I did consider a HOB on the sump.

I have been working on it. Progress so far:

Painted 10g Sump
Designed First Overflow for 1.5" Bulkheads
Sanded About Half of the Stand
Design a Filter Sock Holder

After I received the bulk heads I'm now realizing the scale difference between .75" and 1.5" plumbing. I understood it would be about 4x the size, but until I had the pieces it didn't dawn on me. So I'm going to build an overflow for .75" bulkheads and compare the assembled boxes and decide. I'll post the preliminary overflow and sock holder designs tonight.

03/13/2017, 10:32 PM
As promised here are some drawing of the overflow boxes and the sock holder. The overflow boxes are "mounted" in the approximate dimensions of the 20L.

Overflow for 1.5" bulkheads:

<a href="http://s612.photobucket.com/user/sword_fish_j/media/1.5%20Overflow_zpsosijzl67.png.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i612.photobucket.com/albums/tt203/sword_fish_j/1.5%20Overflow_zpsosijzl67.png" border="0" alt="1.5 Box 2 photo 1.5 Overflow_zpsosijzl67.png"/></a>

Overflow for .75" bulkheads:

<a href="http://s612.photobucket.com/user/sword_fish_j/media/.75%20OverFlow_zpsmjwsjnzu.png.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i612.photobucket.com/albums/tt203/sword_fish_j/.75%20OverFlow_zpsmjwsjnzu.png" border="0" alt=".75 Box photo .75 OverFlow_zpsmjwsjnzu.png"/></a>

Here is the lid and the box separated:

<a href="http://s612.photobucket.com/user/sword_fish_j/media/V2%20OF%20Box_zps8yqrbhcj.png.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i612.photobucket.com/albums/tt203/sword_fish_j/V2%20OF%20Box_zps8yqrbhcj.png" border="0" alt="Lid Demo photo V2 OF Box_zps8yqrbhcj.png"/></a>

Here is the preliminary sock holder:

<a href="http://s612.photobucket.com/user/sword_fish_j/media/Sock%20Holder_zpsonalowhp.png.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i612.photobucket.com/albums/tt203/sword_fish_j/Sock%20Holder_zpsonalowhp.png" border="0" alt=" photo Sock Holder_zpsonalowhp.png"/></a>

I'm leaning towards the .75" bulkheads because the overflow box will be smaller. I'm not happy with the sock holder, so I'll redo it.

03/14/2017, 01:17 PM
What I did in my 33L was an external glass overflow box with the plumbing inside, and an acrylic internal box that's only one inch front to back.

It cuts down on shading and saves a ton of space compared to the internal box.