Cleaning Detritus out of my sump

Cmartin97

New member
I have what I thought was going to be a simple and easy question but after a significant amount of time searching forums I still haven't found something that works so I decided to start my own thread.

I have a Trigger Systems Ruby Elite 36 Sump and ran a single filter sock for awhile but I've now switched to filter socks in both overflows (Herbie w/"wet" emer). I have a significant buildup of detritus in the sump. I'd like to clean it out (let the debate begin on if that's a good idea) and I'm looking for the most efficient way to do this.

Here's what options I've thought about so far:
  • Use a brush to stir up the detritus and circulate it back through the DT where it will get picked back up with water changes or filter socks. I worry this is going to stir up too much stuff in the display tank and end up fouling the DT tank.
  • I tried to use a small pump (Sicce Nano) to vacuum up the detritus and basically pump it back into the filter sock. once I got the pump primed properly this worked for a very short while until the detritus clogged up the impeller making this not a practical option. I guess I could try a bigger pump that had a lower change to get clogged but I don't have something on hand at the moment.
  • Siphon it out during a water change. This doesn't work b/c my sump is on the ground.
  • I've read a few threads about a DIY vacuum that uses an air pump to basically create vertical flow to a elbow that has some sort of collection cup with a filter. This device looked interesting but it seems the water level had to be just right to get the material to flow over the elbow into the collection cup. I haven't tried this type of device so if anyone has any experience I'd appreciate it.
  • Of course there's the ever popular "just leave it" option. My tank's parameters are good. 0 ppm Nitrate (Red Sea) Phosphate < 10 ppb (Hanna ULR). 0 Ammonia (Read Sea). I do about 15% water changes every 2 weeks and try to clean the sand bed as well as possible with each change. I recently watched the Joe Yaiullo video from MACNA and it's inspired me to be more proactive in my long term tank maintenance specifically focusing on the sump area and not just my display tank. I'm trying to keep salt creep at bay and make the overall sump area as clean and neat as possible.

A little about me and my tank, I've been reefing for about a year now. I have a 90 ga rimless display with a ruby 36 sump. The tank is a mixed reef with a combination of LPS, softies, and some SPS. Lights are 2x Ecotech Radion XR30 gen 3. Fuge has a 8x8x4 Marine Pure block and a clump of chaeto that's growing well. No miracle mud or sand in the fuge.

Thanks in advance for your advice and discussion.
Chris
 

calhoun.22

New member
I bought a pump at a local hydroponics store that has the intake underneath the pump rather than on the side near the bottom. I got the pump to be able to do what you are trying to do. I place the pump in the chamber I want to clean and am able to pump out all but about 1/4" to 1/2" of the water, leaving less than a gallon in the chamber. I then use a shop vac for the last little bit of water.

I do this occasionally as a water change, which would usually be done by siphoning directly from the tank.
 

Cmartin97

New member
I bought a pump at a local hydroponics store that has the intake underneath the pump rather than on the side near the bottom. I got the pump to be able to do what you are trying to do. I place the pump in the chamber I want to clean and am able to pump out all but about 1/4" to 1/2" of the water, leaving less than a gallon in the chamber. I then use a shop vac for the last little bit of water.

I do this occasionally as a water change, which would usually be done by siphoning directly from the tank.

Thanks. Do you have a model number or manufacturer? I'll do some searching to see what I can find.
 

CStrickland

New member
I have a powerhead in my sump to keep it clean, but I did make a very stupid mistake once that required cleaning the sump. It was the last bucket of a big water change and I got mixed up and added back all the dirty water I had just vacuumed from the sand bed, instead of new saltwater. Doh! I was able to tie a filter sock over the input to the tank, and stir up the detritus so the return sent it through the sock in the DT. It worked well, but two different fish tried to sneak into the sock, so do check it when you remove it, and I suppose it's a flood risk so I wouldn't leave it unattended.

If it's going to be a regular project I heard the homedepot shopvac that pops onto a 5g bucket works well. It has a funny cute name like "buckethead." Edit: the one tisbe linked is what I'm thinking of
 

Cmartin97

New member

devimik

Member
Yep, I use the Home Depot buckethead shop vac too - it fits on a 5 gallon bucket, so easier to determine how many gallons too.
 

FirstContact

Active member
Maybe take all the equipment out to be cleaned on a Saturday and dump the sump in the backyard, hose it out, wipe clean and replace. Plus you just did half your WC and everything is clean.
 

FullBoreReefer

New member
I teed off my return and have it enter back at the start of my sump. I shut off the main display. Open the valve to recirculation my sump back through the socks before sending water back to the display.
 

jacksonpt

New member
I have a powerhead in my sump on a timer... kicks on every night for about 15 minutes stirring stuff up and getting it back into the water column. I have it timed to just after lights out when my of my corals are feeding. Not sure how much difference that makes, but if nothing else it gets things back into the water column where they can be better filtered out.
 
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