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Help Choosing A Return Pump

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Hello Everyone,
I need help choosing a return pump for my upcoming aquarium project. It is 8' x 3' x 3'. It will have a 20" synergy reef overflow. The information on their website says it will has a 2,500 gph flow rate. There will be two 1 1/2" returns (one on each end of the aquarium on the back.) I have been looking at various pumps but I'm just not sure which way to go or even what GPH range to look at. I plan on having a number of vortechs and/or maybe maxspect gyres for additional flow.

I've been looking at various builds of similar sizes but still can't quite figure out what I should do. I've looked at the Reeflo pumps and see lots of positive reviews and experiences with those. I've looked at the Ecotech L1 pump but don't know if it is big enough for my aquarium. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!!

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  1. brotherd's Avatar
    You could do two L1 pumps and control them through a Reeflink. Will the sump be under the tank or remotely located? And that tank size! Wow!
  2. AudraMurphy's Avatar
    Thank you, brotherd!! So just to make sure I'm following, would each pump go to a return?

    Yes, I'm planning on the sump being below the tank. I'm currently looking at a sump that is 71" x 30" 16" tall. I will attach a picture of my future fish room to help visualize my setup as soon as I figure out how to do that. I would really like the return pump(s) to be on the right out of the way. The overflow will be coming down to the left side of the sump. The protein skimmer I'm looking at is the Super Reef Octopus SRO-6000EXT 12" External Skimmer. The sump will have a refugium on the right-front end and I'll have some of the overflow going in there (I can't remember the percentage at the moment).

    I'm very excited about this project. I've been caring for the 100 gallon I currently have for 6 1/2 years (can't believe it's been that long) and thought 100 gallons was so big. When I got to researching fish I realized it was big but not big enough for all the fish I wanted. When we were in the pre-planning stage our Preschool Director said she wanted big and so I ran with that

    Thanks for the help!!
  3. AudraMurphy's Avatar
    Here is my fish room as I currently have it arranged.

  4. brotherd's Avatar
    Hi Audra. As the sump will be under the tank I would suggest running just one l1 pump so you don't overwhelm the Synergy. The output size of the pump is one inch so you may need to install reducers at the 1.5 inch bulkheads on the back of the tank. Perhaps contact Synergy to see if they can make a larger overflow for you. Regarding the skimmer,It is rated at 550 gallons. If you plan on a light bioload this may be ok but if you are planning for large fish or many fish( a heavier bioload) then you may need to look for something rated twice that.Hth
  5. AudraMurphy's Avatar
    So I've contacted Synergy about a larger overflow and I'm waiting to hear back from them. If the 20" is the largest they will go should I look at a different type of overflow? Should I have more water flowing through my sump that the 20" overflow would be able to provide? I've done some reading on various forums on flow through the sump and get so many opinions I'm not sure what's what.

    I've been looking at different skimmers and came across Marcs review of the NYOS 300 and noticed that it was an in-sump skimmer which brought up a question for me in regards to an in-sump skimmer vs. an external skimmer. Is one better than the other or is it just a matter of personal preference. The tank will be starting out with 11 fish and several coral that will be transferred from the current tank and then I will slowly but surely add fish and corals. So eventually the bio-load will be on the heavy side. It seems that when I get to a tank this size I'm having a harder time finding a skimmer that will handle the bio-load I am planning on having. I would appreciate any suggestions on where to look.

    Thanks so much!!
  6. melev's Avatar
    Hi Audra, What's the latest on this project? Sorry I've been beyond distracted. I've spent the past two months installing a new workshop with a full table CNC for acrylic work, and am only now catching up on blogs again.

    Regarding the 20" long overflow box, it's connected with two 1.5" bulkheads right? Should handle quite a bit of flow, but it is merely 20" wide of surface skimming on a tank that is 36" wide and 96" long. My own reef is 84" long and 36" wide, and my external overflow box has teeth spanning the 36" width.

    Regarding the skimmer, what space do you have to work with in your sump? Or do you prefer an external model? The issue with external is *when* it overflows, the area around it gets wet. And if it overflow continuously, your ATO may add too much freshwater to the tank which would affect salinity until you or someone else notices.