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Modified multi-tank system

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I have a bunch of these cheep canisters that pump around 100gph, they aren’t super effective on their own but they are plentiful and easy to clean. I am thinking about using them to run racks of small tanks together. The thought is each tank could have one could have the intake for one of these little guys and the tank below it could have the return. The bottom level would be a reserve tank running a single large canister on it, pumping like 700gph turning the water over like 30 times per hour. There could be a return pump or another one of these tiny filters pumping water from the reserve tank back to the top. 
I would just need to figure out a failsafe for if some part of the system goes to prevent a flood. I have been wanting to start automating my tanks a bit anyway, I am thinking water level sensor on a smart outlet that can cut the power if need be.


Edited by Phoenixfishroom
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I assume your tanks aren't drilled?

If you can look up a local glass cutter, you maybe could drill the tanks to avoid an issue. I have never use canister, so I really cannot say.

If I understand correctly, your idea is basically to make them all into one continuous system of water, with the last (or bottom) pumping back to the first (or top) -- right???

In a sense, it's a bit like the refugium idea only you have layers of . . . "refugia" . . . that are actually functional tanks.

My LFS was explaining a failsafe for this sort of system to me once. He drew a rough sketch on a napkin. Seriously! But I admit that it didn't quite lock in my head. There was something about a divided hang-on-back overflow that would automatically stop working if water level reached a certain point.

If you get this to really work, you need to make some cool how-to videos!

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This is a relevant video to your setup I think.  🙂


On 4/3/2023 at 11:04 PM, Phoenixfishroom said:


The safety is almost always going to be a drain of some kind.  Let's say you overflow to something, that has a float switch.  If the main sump overflows (bottom tank fills too full) then that would drain off.  All of the tanks wouldn't be able to siphon themselves dry, by design, because everything overflows top to bottom. 

This is also similar to what they use in the big box stores for each "rack" of tanks.

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@Fish Folk I definitely think it will work. There are small details to work out but that would all have to be done in real time. Like making sure that the filter can pump from the bottom tank to top one at the same speed as the ones coming down. I think having a drilled spot to catch overflow might not be a bad idea.

I also wonder if I could split the return on a large filter for the return. Like if there are two lines from 100gph canisters going into the bottom tank and one 200gph filter running off it, split the return on the 200gph to feed both top tanks. 

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