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FAQs About Sump/Filters Components

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Related Articles: Pressure Locking Sump Baffles; Welcome to the World of Versatility! By Joshua McMillen, Refugiums, Marine Filtration, Reef FiltrationMechanical, Physical, Marine System Plumbing Fish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Refugiums

 Jaubert Plenum What is your opinion of the use of a plenum in a small 29 gallon tank and on a 75 gallon tank with a 24hr protein skimmer in operation? <Can be made to work in both... I prefer to remote these purposeful denitrators (and more) in separate sump systems... Bob Fenner>

Drilling glass sump in back; placement of skimmer /RMF      3/14/20
Hi crew!
<Hey Charles>
I’m making a sump out of a 135 gallon oceanic aquarium. I’ve drilled one of the short sides for 2, 1.5” bulkheads. I need to drill another hole for a 1.5” bulkhead, but there isn’t enough room on the end for one. I was planning to drill the back pane of the aquarium, near the bottom corner, for this bulkhead. Is that ok to do?
<Should be... take your time, low pressure...>
This bulkhead will be for the skimmer pump for my external skimmer. I was planning to put it in the pump return section of the sump. Should I instead move it to one of the other constant water height sections?
<I might well do this; even consider buying an in-sump model>
So it would still be in the back pane near the bottom, but farther from the edge of the pane. Would this still be ok for the aquarium?
<Yes; there is only a small difference in "cleanliness" (skimmability?) of the water depending on which end of a sump system the skimmer is located>
Thanks for your help,
<Cheers! Bob Fenner>
Drilling glass sump in back /Wil      3/14/20

Hi crew!
<Hi Charles>
I’m making a sump out of a 135-gallon oceanic aquarium. I’ve drilled one of the short sides for 2, 1.5” bulkheads. I need to drill another hole for a 1.5” bulkhead, but there isn’t enough room on the end for one. I was planning to drill the back pane of the aquarium, near the bottom corner,
for this bulkhead. Is that ok to do?
<Yes, I don’t see a problem as long as you leave enough space from the edge of the glass>
This bulkhead will be for the skimmer pump for my external skimmer.
<My first thought is; get an internal skimmer instead, but since you already have the external unit…>
I was planning to put it in the pump return section of the sump. Should I instead move it to one of the other constant water height sections? So it would still be in the back pane near the bottom, but farther from the edge of the pane. Would this still be ok for the aquarium?
<Personally, I prefer to place the skimmer in the first or second section, just after the sump inlet/drain discharge, but it should be ok on either section.>
Thanks for your help,
<You’re welcome- Wil.>

Bio bricks Brightwell aquatics turning gray     8/5/17
Dear crew:
I come to you to ask about Brightwell biobricks photos. What is that growing on the surface?. Are they bacteria?,
<Mmm; could be; or other organisms; even just chemical changes... the added/doped aragonite (http://brightwellaquatics.com/products/xport_bio_brick.php)  leaving...>
should I worry?.
<Nah; I wouldn't be concerned. I would follow their directions for pre-screening and just blast w/ pressurized water occasionally>
Please let me know, I appreciate some advice.
Luis Prado
Santiago de Chile
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
*Biólogo Marino*
*Acuarios Chile*
web: http://www.aquamania.cl

Sump... rdg.       1/26/14
What is better for saltwater filtration , live mud or bio-balls ,
<... different functions? Sort of like asking what's better, a bike or walking>
I’m setting up a 35 gal. sump for my 90 gal. mixed ( fish & corals ) tank. I will also be using a protein skimmer in sump.  Thank You      Ken
<Try searching WWM. Bob Fenner>

DSB covering the bottom of the sump...?  2/4/11
Good Morning,
I am in the process of a 150 gallon display tank with a 150 gallon Rubbermaid sump. I want to put a DSB (4"-6") in the sump. There will be a ASM G-4 Skimmer, live rock, Chaeto and light, carbon, a MAG 18 and a MAG 12 for the return pumps.
Is it ok to make the whole sump a DSB and put the skimmer on a milk crate and lift the return pumps off the sand?
I have been told this will cause a problem down the road.
<? What sort of problem/s?>
Others have said I should use a secondary container with in the sump and put the DSB in that. It would be about 1/3 of the sump, then it would be easily removable and replaceable and contained. Would that be enough to be beneficial?
<Any helps>
Or would you suggest using the whole sump? Is there a problem covering the whole bottom of the sump?
<... already answered>
Thank you all
God Bless,
Sean Obergfell...upstate very cold NY....Go Steelers!.. when you marry a Pittsburgh girl, you marry the Steelers
<Ok. BobF, unmarried>

Improving Nano tank sump/DSB   2/26/10
Hello Crew,
<Hi Stan>
I have a question about "fixing" the shallow sand bed in my sump, but first a brief system description...
I have a 29g display with around 40lbs of live rock and base rock, with an overflow into a 20g (long) sump. The sump has an Aqua Remora skimmer in the first chamber, then a refugium area that is about 18 inches long, with a 5-6 inch layer of (very) live rock rubble suspended on an egg crate rack over a shallow (1-2 inches) bed of live sand. Water flows over this area, and the live rock rubble is covered with tunicates <Nice!> and small feather duster-like worms. This spills over into a pump chamber housing a Marineland 3000 pump, which goes to a SCWD that I have estimated to be flowing around 450gph. Display is lit by a set of 65w PC bulbs for 11 hours a day. The sump is not lit.
<Really? Your system might benefit from this.. have you read WWM re?>
Primary inhabitants are a single purple Condy (which is large and beautiful), a few Mushrooms, one Gorgonian, a single Rock Anemone, a Green Brittle Starfish, a few Hermits and Snails, and a huge bristle worm. <No fish? Unusual>. I will not add any more livestock other than either some Peppermint Shrimp or a pair of Coral Banded Shrimp.
My question is what is the best course to take regarding the sand in the sump? I don't want to compromise the fauna on the rock there, or risk an event with the sand that's already there. I feel like the shallow depth is a time bomb of sorts, and I am leaning toward adding sand (1mm or smaller) an inch at a time, covering 50% of the bed at a time, until I get it to an acceptable depth (is 3" enough, or should I go deeper?).
<I would either remove an inch, or, better, add several inches, one inch at a time, a month at a time. To a total of not less than 4 inches, preferably 5-8>
If removing the sand altogether from the sump is best, I will go that route.
<I would not. This is a habitat for a multitude of animals>
My display is 1" or less.
Thanks for all your efforts at putting together and maintaining such a super website!
<No problem, although most of the work has been compiled by 'older' crewmembers than me!>
On a personal note, you were very helpful a while back in setting up what has been my favourite tank in my past 20 years of aquarium keeping, and it is looking very much like the Caribbean biotope I was going for.
<That's marvelous news!>
I did cave when I saw the Anemone, but have been resolute in not adding a fish to the aquarium as I feel it would be irresponsible.
<Could indeed be. I am not an expert here, but I don't think this Anemone is easily paired with Clowns, and is definitely a danger to other fishes>
I committed myself to waiting for the tank to mature, and this has made all the difference!
<Patience pays!>
The fun my family and I have watching all the tiny creatures in and around the rock has more than compensated for the lack of fish and heavy coral stocking I see in similar tanks.
<Outstanding Stan! There certainly are several different ways to 'skin a cat'>

Live Rock In Sump/Fuge, EricR's resp. -- 06/30/09
Looks like this got lost... Trying again.
<<Does happen sometimes'¦ Thanks for resending>>
Hello again,
This is Sunny from NJ.
<<Eric from SC on this end>>
I have setup the 150 gallon tank with a 42x16x16 sump and fuge combo. I have 125lb live rock in the main tank. I want to put some live rock in the sump as well.
<<Okay'¦shouldn't be a problem>>
I have Miracle Mud in the fuge. Can I place live rock in the fuge?
<<On the assumption that you are just utilizing the mud in the refugium and that this is not a true Miracle Mud system as described by the manufacturer of the mud (in which case you should follow their instructions suggestions re) then yes, you can place live rock in the refugium>>
The area in sump is occupied by the PS and there is not enough room.
Will putting live rock in fuge make sense? More so since there is light in fuge ~12 hrs a day.
<<Sure'¦ I have some live rock in my RDP lighted 55g refugium'¦along with a 9' DSB of sugar-fine Aragonite, and Chaetomorpha macroalgae as too>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Live rock in sump/fuge, ScottV's go  6/30/09
Hello again
This is Sunny from NJ. I have setup the 150 gallon tank with a 42x16x16 sump and fuge combo. I have 125lb live rock in the main tank. I want to put some live rock in the sump as well. I have miracle mud in the fuge. Can I place live rock in the fuge?
<Oh yes, no problem.>
The area in sump is occupied by the PS and there is not enough room.
Will putting live rock in fuge make sense?
<It does, there are many benefits.>
More so since there is light in fuge ~12 hrs a day.
<No problem.>
<Welcome, Scott V.>
Re: Live Rock In Sump/Fuge -- 06/30/09

I heard about the live rocks in sump collect waste?
<<The sump itself will 'collect waste' just by the nature of the design/water flow through it. I wouldn't worry about such 'collection' in the refugium as any attempt at removal will likely also remove a good bit of the beneficial biota (which by the way, will be feeding on this detritus accumulation)'¦but the detritus can be siphoned/vacuumed from the mechanical side of the sump to reduce it some, if you are concerned re>>
There are opinions NOT to use live rock in sump/fuge at all and just let the LR in the main tank handle all filtration.
<<Indeed there are'¦is up to you to research and decide which way you want to go>>
I have 124 LB total in 150 gallon tank. Will that be enough?
<< (Hmm'¦now where did I leave that Magic 8-Ball'¦} There's more than mere 'weight' to deciding if you have enough rock in your system (quality of the rock itself, existence of and type/quality of ancillary filtration, stocking densities, etc.), and 'any' quantity of rock can serve as long as a system is 'stocked accordingly.' But, in the interest of keeping enough open space for fishes to swim and corals to grow (if present)'¦yes, this is likely enough rock (maybe more than enough) for this tank size. EricR>>

Sump And Skimmer Problem 6/30/09
Hello and thank you for taking time to address my questions.
<Hello Roxanne>
I have several questions:
1) I purchased a used aquarium set up. It is a 90 gal corner aquarium that is drilled for a sump. This is my first sump set up but I have been in the hobby for 10 plus years. My problem is that the sump drains faster than it fills. Now I am sure I am missing something obvious here, but for the life of my I can't get it to work properly. I have searched your site and found an article that seemed related, it talked about sump noise and that I should remove the bulb float valve. I did and had no reduction in noise (it got worse) and no impact on water movement. The drain hose is 1" and the return is ¾ .
<Typical, but are we talking about noise now or the sump problem?>
I am using a Rio3100 pump. It takes several hours for the chamber that houses the pump to drop significantly.
<How long is your return line? I'm guessing that the Rio is pumping water out to the tank slightly faster than the drain hose can supply. A one inch drain line is typically good for about 550gph provided no restrictions, bends/elbows, and gate/ball valves are used.
The chart below will give you an idea of what your pump will put out at a given head height. Again, this
is with no restrictions in the return line to the tank.
0" 1` 2` 3` 4` 6` (head height)
900 870 782 700 690 500 (gph)
As far as the gurgling/sump noise, using a Durso Stand Pipe generally takes care of this problem.
See here. http://www.dursostandpipes.com/>
2) My second question is, I need a new skimmer. Ideally I would like it to go under the tank either on or in the sump.
<You will sleep better at night if it's in the sump.>
My issue is that the initial chamber of my sump has a lid on it. The sump is acrylic and has 4 chambers. The initial chamber has a cover that allows for the drain hose to go right thru the lid, but this of course will impede my ability to put a skimmer in that chamber. I read your articles recommending raw water for
the sump, but I can't see a way to attach a sump <you do mean skimmer, correct?>
into this chamber, what is my next best alternative?
<Why not remove the lid if otherwise there is room for a skimmer.>
What skimmer would you recommend for this application?
<I would need to know how much room you have in the sump for a skimmer first, providing you're willing to remove the lid.>
3) Lastly, do I need a light in my sump? What are the advantages & disadvantages to keeping this area in the dark?
<Lighting is only used if the sump is configured as a refugium. Otherwise, no need to light.>
Thanks again for all your work on this site, it has become a site that I visit daily!!
<You're welcome. Sending a couple of pics along of your sump and overflow from the tank will help much here. James (Salty Dog)>

Here we go again.
Re: sump & skimmer problem..... 6/30/09

<How long is your return line? I'm guessing that the Rio is pumping water out to the tank slightly faster than the drain hose can supply. A one inch drain line is typically good for about 550gph provided no restrictions, bends/elbows, and gate/ball valves are used.
<<Hmmm, no, 300 gph max. safely, reliably and without noise. Please read http://wetwebmedia.com/SystemPIX/PlumbingPix/Oneinchart.htm
James, we have been over this time and time again. Please do take the time to actually measure this, you will be amazed!>>
As far as the gurgling/sump noise, using a Durso Stand Pipe generally takes care of this problem.
<<Not if the overflow capacity is being exceeded. Scott V.>>
See here. http://www.dursostandpipes.com/>
And for the actual quantified tests do see:
y-2009/aquarium-bulkhead.aspx too! Scott V.
Sorry about that, too accustomed to seeing false advertising on flow rates of overflows, etc.
I do appreciate the link, just the chart I've been looking for.
Hi Scott,
<Do you have any useful plumbing links you would like to share?
James (Salty)>
Re: Plumbing
I love the email format! Yes, I do: http://www.fishchannel.com/fish-magazines/freshwater-and-marine-aquarium/jul
, though it does look like you have seen it by now! Do realize these are the "best scenario" flows, hence the 300 per recommendation.
Scott V.

Re: Marine/Set-Up/Disease... lava rock   2/27/09 Dear James, <Devesh> Thank you for your valuable advice. You were the only one to understand & recommend me. <You're welcome.> I send inquiries to many experts but failed to receive any feedback. <We respond to all queries.> As you referred to swap I have changed the setting to the below. Please advise if this is OK. 1st chamber Red Lava rocks (where the water overflows the tank & falls in this chamber). <Lava rock, depending on origin, can contain levels of iron and other heavy metals. It can also leach phosphorous and sulphur, as lava rock is volcanic in origin. Without being sure of the make up, I would remove.> 2nd chamber Bio-balls 3rd chamber layer of Seal shells & layer of ceramic rings 4th chamber Zeolite (small pack) & carbon 5th chamber only Protein Skimmer (3200 power - from Jebo 520) & pump the water back in tank. <I suggest you put the protein skimmer in the first chamber as I mentioned in the previous email, and as I mentioned above, remove the lava rock.> Best Regards, <Cheers. James (Salty Dog)> Devesh Dubai, UAE
Re: Marine/Set-Up/Disease... sump comp.s    2/28/09 
Dear James, <Devesh> Thanks a lot for your Advice. <You're welcome.> As suggested I have removed Lava Rocks & Zeolite & will put back the skimmer in the 1st chamber where the water first drops in. Just want to clarify about a pet shop who recently told me to put the skimmer in the last chamber before the water is being pumped back. He says that when the water flows through the filtration media such as bio balls & ceramic rings there are bacteria which help breakdown the waste & complete the nitrogen process. He says if we put the skimmer in 1st or second chamber then we are removing the waste which the bacteria's feed on hence straining the filter so he advised to put in the last chamber so after the filter is done we can filter the remaining unwanted waste. I really don't know if this is right. Can you please advise? <Bio balls are not going to remove dissolved nutrients, they will convert ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate. The ceramic rings may help some in this regard, but they are certainly not going to remove all the organic waste before it gets to the skimmer. Most U.S. filter manufacturers will put the skimmer into the first chamber of the wet/dry filter. Do read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm> Best Regards, <Cheers. James (Salty Dog)> Devesh Dubai, UAE

Sump question, media  11/17/08 Last question. If I want to culture pods, what do I replace the sponge with, and won't that restrict the flow to the rest of the sump? <Nothing, is the point. You do not want to filter zooplankters out of the water column in route to the return.> Brian <Scott V.>
Re: Sump question... needs referral to read  11/17/08
So basically you are telling me I can not use the sump to culture pods? <Not at all.> I should just submerge the live rock and be done with it? <Tis part of the culture, along with any macroalgae and substrate you may add.> Thanks <Welcome, Scott V.>

Bio balls and rubble? - 09/25/08 Hello there. <Hi Adam.> Would it benefit to have bio balls and live rock rubble in the sump together? Thanks, Adam <Bioballs can only do nitrification (proteins->ammonia->nitrites->nitrates). Live rock can do both, nitrification and natural nitrate reduction (nitrates -> gaseous nitrogen that leaves the tank). Therefore, I'd prefer live rock. If you want more natural nitrate reduction, also called de-nitrification consider a DSB. Please see here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/marineFiltr.htm and the linked FAQs for more information and opinions. Cheers, Marco.>

Light in Sump? 7/4/08 This may be your silliest question of the day, but I have a Megaflow 1 sump with live rock rubble, etc. <There are questions that come through here sillier than all belief!> I have this aquarium in the wall and the sump is in a totally enclosed cabinet with absolute no lighting. It is pitch black. Someone told me that the filter media needs light to properly grow the good bacteria. Is this true? <Nope, think of a canister filter, no light there! Fact is lighting such areas only promotes algae growth.> If so, I guess that means installing another light. How much light? Sounds crazy, but just thought I would ask. <Never hurts to check, Scott V.>

Best Use Of Space On A 30g Marine System'¦Sump Or Automated Top-Off? -- 04/06/08 Dear Crew, <<Greetings, Esther>> Thanks for sharing your experience to provide us with such a great resource! <<Is our pleasure>> I am in the starting stages of my next new system (I am currently building the stand). <<Neat>> The display tank will be a 30 gallon (36 x 12 x 16) and be a biotope (most likely shrimp/goby display) but I am still researching my options. <<Ahh! Very nice'¦such displays (biotopic) are ultimately more successful, in my opinion>> This system will include my first ever sump. <<Oh? New frontiers'¦>> In the sump, I plan on having a skimmer/heater chamber, and then the remaining as a refugium. <<Sounds good>> The footprint area for inside the cabinet is roughly the same as the display. So my question is, would this system be better served with a 30 gallon sump, or a smaller sump and a dedicated area for a Tunze ATO unit to keep more stability in the salinity? <<The top-off feature would be nice'¦but in your case, I feel the bigger sump/refugium to be the better choice>> I know that with smaller systems, evaporation plays bigger role than with larger tanks, <<It's not so much he size of the system as it is the 'rate' of evaporation. A large tank with a high rate of evaporation can have large 'swings' as well. I think the size of your system makes keeping up with top-off much less problematic as a manual process, as opposed to a much larger system (hundreds of gallons)>> but am unsure if it outweighs the value of more having more system water with a bigger sump? <<I say'¦proceed with the 30g sump and refugium!>> Thanks much! Esther <<Happy to share. EricR>>
Re: Best Use Of Space On A 30g Marine System'¦Sump Or Automated Top-Off? -- 04/07/08
Thanks Eric, <<Quite welcome, Esther>> I wondered because my 75 gallon has evaporation of a little over a gallon a day, which I thought was a lot, but when you do the math it is only 1.3% which doesn't sound as bad I guess. <<Indeed'¦>> So I was concerned that if the 30 gallon evaporated a gallon a day, then it would be more drastic to the system, but 1.3% of 30 gallons is less than half a gallon. <<Assuming the same conditions/rate of evaporation exists, yes. But even if the 30g system does evaporate at a higher rate, many-many hobbyists do not employ automated top-off systems yet their tanks do quite well. As long as you service/top-off the system on a regular (daily) basis it will be fine. The sump/refugium is the much better choice here over the automated top-off system>> Two more questions if I could? <Certainly>> My aquarium heater has been unstable recently; it seems to not want to turn off, even when it reaches the set temperature. So can you recommend (from your experiences) a reliable heater? <<Mmm, will try'¦luckily, improved products/choices/designs do seem to be coming forth yet. Though a bit pricier than 'standard' heaters, my first-choice at the moment is Titanium heaters with separate 'circuit-board' controllers (digital or analog). I had a couple Won-Brothers heaters that served very well for about three years before the controllers stopped functioning, and at that time made the switch to Finnex brand heaters of the same design with which I have been happy thus far. For something a bit less costly, the Visi-Therm line of heaters have served me well of late'¦I use these in my water storage containers>> Lastly, and this may not be able to be answered, but my other hobby aside from my marine system is stained glass. In the new stand that I am building I want the cabinet door panels to be a stained glass scene of a coral reef! <<Ah! Very nice>> My plan is to separate the panels from the sump area by a thin sheet of acrylic. <<For what reason?>> Do you think this is enough protection between the sump and the stained glass? My concern is the lead solder exposure. <<Oh, I see'¦ I think there is little danger to the system re this application'¦but if you just want to try to stop/slow corrosion (which the acrylic panel would do little for), you can try to protect the solder joints with a few coats of a marine-grade varnish>> But I love the idea that at night when the refugium light turns on and the display turns off, that the cabinet doors would glow with a reef as well. <<Indeed! Sounds very nice>> Thanks again! Esther <<Always welcome. EricR>>

Sump plant confusion. What's the best macroalgae for a sump -- 09/02/07 Hello crew, <Hi Dan.> I have been doing a ton of reading up on what plants to keep in a refugium/sump. I am looking to really use it for de-nitrification. From reading Chemo <You mean Chaeto? Like in Chaetomorpha.> seems to be a good choice, but I have read that is not that great for reducing nitrates as some would say. I have also read that Calupera <Probably Caulerpa> is good for de-nitrification, but it goes sexual monthly <Not necessarily monthly...it strongly depends on growth, size of the algae and the time since it was cut.> and releases caluperin <Caulerpenyne> into the system, which is not a good thing either, also if it is broken or turn it will do the same thing. What is the best bet to put in there to reduce nitrates, without messing with my chemistry? Thanks Dan. <Short answer: Chaetomorpha. Long answer: Chaetomorpha grows slow in some systems, but still provides sufficient nitrate export. It may double its size in about one or two months in general and does not cause any problems in a sump I am aware of. In a display, however, it can be hard to control and grow between corals like a weed. Caulerpa species can grow much faster and therefore export the same amount of nitrate in a shorter time. However, as you noted, they may release substances (one of them being Caulerpenyne) slightly toxic (and poorly understood) or go sexual and release all the nitrate they have taken up into the water again. To prevent that, Caulerpa needs to be cut on a regular basis (about 4-8 weeks). One careful cut usually is enough to divide the algae and take half of it out of the system. If you are careful (versus acting like a lawn mower) not much fluids from Caulerpa will get into the tank. I have many different macro algae, but Chaetomorpha is the most easy going among the somewhat faster growers. Think about a DSB in the sump, too. See also http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i6/Algae.htm and the linked files at the bottom. Cheers, Marco.>

Sump tank, Filter Placement 7/3/07 This might be a dumb question but I'm thinking of doing a sump tank for my 29 gallon saltwater aquarium and I was wondering if I have to keep the power filter in the main tank or put it in the sump. Thanks <It can be placed in the sump, and most people do so it is out of sight, but does not have to be there.> <Chris>

Need Help Choosing A Suitable Detritivore For My Sump Sand Bed -- 05/31/07 Hi guys! <<Paul>> Love the website and have spent hours reading it, thanks. <<Welcome>> I'll start with a description of my tanks: I currently have a 70-gal tank, a 30-gal dedicated refugium and a refugium that acts as a sump. Now on to the question, I'm looking for a detritivore/garbage eater that would stir up the sand bed in the sump. <<Mmm, several come to mind...what are the 'conditions for employment' here?>> It doesn't have a lot of water flow going through it, and I would consider it low flow. <<Not a problem>> Being that it's the lowest flow in all of my setup, I've found that it collects all the organics that the prefilters on the overflow boxes do not. <<Indeed...is a 'settling chamber' for solids. You say you have an attached refugium already...this being the case, your system would be better served if there were no sand in this 'settling chamber' portion of your sump thus allowing you to periodically (weekly/bi-weekly) siphon the settled material from the system...in my opinion>> Being that the pump is only blocked by a plastic barrier that's approximately 10" high before water falls down to the pump, I'm looking for something that can't get over the gate. Here's a rough picture of my sump: <<Mmm, yes...is this an accurate representation? I see you have a plenum system...you do realize the live rock hinders its function...and that large bioturbators are not desirable as they can mix/destroy the different bacterial zones>> I was thinking a starfish of either the Brittle Star family or something in the Fromia family. <<Both will server as detritivores, and both can scale that partition you mentioned as well...in fact...pretty much anything you place in this 'sand' chamber will eventually find its way to the 'pump' chamber>> My main concern is that they will survive in a low flow environment. <<As long as there is sufficient oxygen/gas exchange...yes>> I have a Sand-Sifting Star, and a Chocolate Chip Star and both have been alive and well for over a year and a half. <<I see...so this chamber is only for de-nitrification then, as these two stars will voraciously consume the benthic and sessile biota within>> The Sand Star even lost one of his legs (I accidentally crushed him under a piece of live rock) but over the course of the last 6 months has completely regrown! <<Well fed indeed...and testament to the quality and care of your system>> That being said I'm sure my water quality will support another, I'm just trying to choose the right species for my purpose. <<More than good water quality is needed...you must be able to provide adequate nutrition/environment/et al>> I hope you can lead me in the right direction of a good species for this purpose. <<I would choose an Ophiuroid species...is the least likely to 'scale the wall' if kept well fed, in my opinion, and will consume detritus without disturbing/digging as deeply as the Astropecten>> My LFS suggested a Blue Linckia, <<Ack!...no!>> which I didn't buy because I've read about their diet needs. <<Ahh...Goodonya mate!>> So any help here would be much appreciated! <<Hope I have provided some. EricR>>

Deep Sea Bed...Or Deep Sand Bed adding to Sump   5/19/07 <Hello fellow fishy friend, Mich here.> I don't like the look of DSB in my tank. <OK, you're entitled not to.> But what I want to know since I took out all my bio balls in my wet/dry filter can I put a 3" DBS where it is submerged on the "dry" side and the water run through the sand to the other side where my return pump is, or will this be useless? <Oh!  To quote Martha:  "It's a good thing!"  Not at all useless, though you should start with more than 3 inches of fine sand.  Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm and related links in blue.> The objective is to get 0 nitrate. I have 20ppm steady now and .1 nitrite <Too high!> and 0 ammonia.  The tank has 47 lbs of LR and it is a 54 gallon corner. It's overstocked (I won't tell you with what you might come over and take some away) <Heeehee!  Where do you live?  I'll be right there!  Mich>

Can Bricks or Concrete Blocks be Submerged in the Sump. Better Options.     - 02/21/07 Hi, <Hi there! Mich here.> I need to raise the pan in my sump that I keep my skimmer in.  Do you think it would cause a problem with my water quality if I use a couple of either clay or concrete bricks that I have lying around?   <Yes, would be problematic and would avoid.  It is possible to use concrete block in marine systems, but it must be treated with a series of vinegar and water soaks, a process that takes nearly a month.  There are better options.  Try using measures of PVC piping instead.> Thanks for the help. <You're welcome!  -Mich>

Cell Pore vs. Live Rock In Sump 2/13/07 Hello, Bob and Crew <Hi Al> Thanks for being here for everyone.  I've been visiting your website for almost two years.   My system is a 180 gallon reef with an underneath 40 gallon sump.  I have 150 lbs. live rock in the main tank with a shallow sand bed and a 5-inch DSB in the sump.  The sump includes a large chamber for Chaetomorpha farming/nitrate removal.  I'm always searching for another way to reduce those last few nitrates.   I have a question regarding Cell-Pore from Drs. Foster & Smith.  I've searched your website and found many positive references to it.  I've used it before in different applications, but I'm considering using up to four Cell-Pore  9" x 9" x 4" slabs in place of live rock in my sump.  Total overall weight of my system  and available sump space are also some of my considerations.  Am I going to get more bangs for my buck (nitrate removal) by packing Cell-Pore into my sump rather than the use of  live rock?   <I read a report on a long-term test on this product some time ago and wished I would have saved it.  I was favorably impressed with the results.  In my opinion, I would go with the Cell Pore.  Not so sure I'd go with the slabs though.  Do contact www.cellpore.com and ask for their suggestion.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Al

Sump problem - 02/09/2007 Dear Bob hi, I Have a little disunderstanding, <Interesting... dis- not mis-> I have a 200gal reef aquarium, the filtration is sump that has : 1)wet&dry filter bioballs 2)ceramics and Siporax and Bioglass 3)sand coral 40kg 4)substrat EHEIM 3kg & Substratpro EHEIM 9kg    <Nine Kilos, wow> 5)P.skimmer   CORALIFE  400 6)pad and pump Question:  I want to know that is this filtration ok for reef keeping or It doesn't have some materials or if I have to replace some of them with something else that you Recommend? <Is fine... should work out for most types/mixes of livestock. Bob Fenner>

- Cluttered tank 7/24/06 - Hi guys, I am in the process of setting up my salt water tank. I have a matrix filtration system, is it ok for the empty section of the tank were the skimmer and return pumps are to be very cluttered? <Not dangerous per se, but perhaps a pain to maintain...> Also if it is cluttered is it dangerous to put the heater in there as well? <Likely won't matter so much but again, will likely make maintenance a larger chore than necessary.> regards Adam <Cheers, J -- >

Water Depth for In-Sump Skimmer - 05/02/06 I can't find what depth is optimal for this skimmer to work best.  The skimmer is the ASM G4.  Is there a standard depth that all skimmers work best at? <<This particular skimmer is similar to the Euro Reef skimmers..."optimum" water depth for the chamber in which the skimmers sits is about 8-inches>> Or maybe does the depth of the water that it is in, in the sump not matter much? <<Can make a difference in backpressure/skimmer performance>> Thank so much <<Welcome, Eric Russell>>

Filtration In Sump Before Or After Skimmer? - 03/24/2006 Hi, <Hello Brian.> I've been reading your site for the past couple years and have found it to be an incredible source of info. <Glad to hear it.> I have a 75 gallon pentagon reef and my question regards filtration. I believe I have read certain opinions which suggest that filter pads are not necessary. I already got rid of my bioballs and have lots of live rock. Am I correct that there is a school of thought that suggests that live rock and a skimmer is all that is necessary? <You are.> I have always used a foam filter pad or PolyFilter, but am wondering if I can get away with bypassing that altogether and simply let the raw water be processed by my Euroreef skimmer. <Yes. If it's only a filter pad (physical filtration), then you're still processing raw water. Just don't place a Polyfilter (or other chemical filtrant) before the skimmer.> I am concerned that the skimmer would be clogged by food particles. <Not much of an issue, but you would probably have to clean it more often.> I have read on your site that the filter pads can be nitrate factories, but my impression is that there are varying opinions. <Can be if not cleaned regularly.> I'd like to run it without a pad, but wonder if I'd be putting my skimmer at risk. <No, but if you keep the pad clean then you'll be fine and won't have to worry about clogging your skimmer. It's up to you.>   Thank you so much for this wonderful resource.   Brian <You're welcome. - Josh>

Sump and Refugium Hello Guys, <Gary>             I have a 200 RR aquarium and I am using a 75-gallon tank as the sump and refugium, under the 200-gallon aquarium. The aquarium will be FOWLR, mostly angels and triggerfish. The protein skimmer I am using is the Euro-Reef's CS 12-1, with the two Sedra pumps. I will be using two Mag-drive "18" pumps to return the water from the refugium to the aquarium. My concerns are the heat associated if all of the components are housed in the 75-gallon aquarium and the space that will be devoted for the DSB and live rock, which is about 20" and 17.5" wide. Is this enough space for the sand bed? <You'll see... depends a good deal on the amount of livestock, foods/feeding...> Should I set the skimmer in a Rubbermaid container outside of the 75-gallon aquarium? <If you have room, I would... if not... in the 75> If so, how do I get the water from the container to the refugium? <Best to cut a good sized "equalizer" line, with through hulls twixt the two sumps... allow gravity to move it over to the 75> If I am to use the Rubbermaid container, should it also have a sand bed? Thanks, for you help. Gary <I wouldn't place sand there, no... best to keep sand/substrate away from, out of the Sedra. Bob Fenner>

Adapting a HOT skimmer for in sump use I have a CPR Bak Pak 2 which has been operating in my 55 gallon reef with a recently added 20 gallon sump.  First question is the water in the sump is too low to just hang the CPR skimmer on the back and have it operate? Is there a way I can adapt this skimmer to work in my sump? <Yes... most easily by building a baffled area of stead water depth... hanging it over the side of this part...> Second question is right now I am using a siphon setup to feed the water into the sump covered with a pre-filter sponge to keep the fish and snails from getting sucked in. I was wondering how bad this is and if it's essential to get an overflow instead (I'm on a tight budget that would limit me from getting a coral or fish). Thanks in advance for the advice. - Ryan <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/index.htm See the area labeled "Set Up?"... go there, scroll down to "Filtration".... read the parts on plumbing, overflows... Much you need to know... BTW, please have someone proof your writing... companies product names are proper nouns (capitalize)... i's are capitalized... your spelling will improve with the use of a spell checker. Study my friend. Bob Fenner> 

Sump Dynamics Hello <Hi! Scott F. with you!> I have a 90 gal set up with about a 25 gal compartmented sump. In the first compartment, I have an EV-120 skimmer and some carbon/Chemipure. In the second (largest) compartment, I have about 4" of sand , 10# live rock and some macroalgae. In the 3rd (smallest) compartment, I have the return to the tank and some more carbon. My question is, will it be more beneficial in the long run to load up the live rock in the first compartment and use the larger compartment for my skimmer and more live rock and a calc reactor ( in the future)? <Personally, I think that you have it right. The skimmer functions best in the first compartment, where it will receive the most "raw", unprocessed water from the display.> Because now, the skimmer barely squeezes in there and the refugium section is about 15 gallons which may be too small to be truly beneficial. <Personally, I feel that any sized refugium is a good thing> I can't squeeze a larger refugium under the tank because I have a cabinet with 2 doors and a center brace ( can I cut that out? ) <No...Don't do that!> I want to do a reef tank <I think that you're on the right track here. I'd be inclined to keep things as they are. If you're not satisfied with the results, you can always re-work sections 2 and 3. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Sump Questions - Good day crew, I am wondering if you guys could give me some pointers on my new tank and sump. <I can try.> I am going to have a reef tank (size 46" x 25" x 28" wide) which will be drilled and my sump will be in the cabinet underneath, I am going to install a Deltec TS1060 skimmer in the first compartment and then in my biological compartment I would like to put in some live rock with higher algae on and have it lit. <Sounds good.> I will also be putting live rock in my tank as well, as I want to concentrate on SPS and not so much LPSs and softies (as I have at the moment), I will have plenty of movement in the tank but my quandary is the sump, I was initially looking at putting a remote DSB in the sump but after reading up on your site and others I am slowly going off the DSB idea, what do you guys think, <I think a deep sand bed is useful, but would be better served in the tank and not the sump.> also what about the lighting period in the sump should I have them on 24/7 or reverse lighting or same time as the main tank. <I like reverse lighting... helps keep pH stable and most algae, with the exception of Caulerpa, don't do well under constant light.> All the best Paul, Manchester, England P.S. I am coming over to Florida in may for my hols, do you fellas know of any good aquarium shops in or around Orlando. <Hmm... do know there are a couple of large scale types, like Sea World and the Living Seas exhibit at EPCOT. Would grab the yellow pages upon arrival. Cheers, J -- >

Sump and bioballs Once again I would like to thank all the great people at WetWebMedia for the great advice and wonderful website. I have been reading a lot on your site about Bio-Ball and have come to the conclusion that I would like to get rid of mine. I have a 55G tank that has about 60 lbs. of LR and a 3" live sand bed. My water levels look great but as the standard bio-ball role my nitrates are rising and making my anemones and polyps look very bad. I have been using Reef Vital DNA and that has seemed to turn my anemones around to where they are getting their color back and opening up a bit more. I have a medium sized Maroon Clown, 2 Percula Clowns, and a Royal Gramma in my tank. I have a lot of hermits and snails in the tank also with a lot of brittle stars living in the LR with a really huge Red Brittle that roams around my tank. I want to add a few more fish to me and more coral but not until I remove the Nitrate factory from my setup. I was wondering if I could put crushed coral into my sump to replace the bio-balls. << Sure.  This is how many sumps and refugia started, was by people converting over their bio-balls.  I like this idea and would fill it about 4 inches deep with crushed coral. >> The crushed coral would be totally submerged in the sump. Please advice on what would be a good think to replace the balls with. The full listing of my tank are as follows: Custom made stand and canopy PC retrofit in the canopy with 2 65W 10K and 2 65W actinic Pentair Quiet One 6000 (return pump) AquaClear 125 Sump AquaC EV-120 skimmer with Mag 5 pump 60lbs Live Rock 3" Live sand bed 55G glass tank SCWD tied into return to custom made return tubes in tank I have attached a picture so that you can see what my sump basically looks like. The only difference between the sumps is the marked area is not present in mine. Though that separator could be added into mine. << I think seeing other sumps of friends may help.  Always best to know what you want before you start making it.  That can save some future headaches.  Good Luck. Blundell  >> 

How much light do I need to grow algae in my sump? Hello.     I currently have an eclipse 3 gallon tank that I was interested in turning into a mini refugium that I could simply grow macro-algae and let various critters naturally flourish.  I have no desire to put any fish in this tank.  The Eclipse 3 has a 6 watt fluorescent light, and I was curious if you thought if this was enough light to support macro-algae growth? << Hmmm, I'll say no.  It may, but I love light and I don't think you can ever have too much light.  Also, for like $30 you can get a Lights of America light at Home Depot and then you're set.  So I would recommend something like that, before struggling with something else. >> Thanks, Bob L. <<  Blundell  >>

Laterite addition to marine substrate for Caulerpa sump (07/25/03) Dear Reefers, <Hi! Ananda here today....> Can someone please tell me if it is safe to add aquarium grade laterite to the substrate in a marine sump? <You are considering adding this for the iron content of the laterite, I presume....> Why would one want to? - Well, the Miracle Mud substrate, which appears to work so well in a 24 hour illuminated sump with Caulerpa growth, when analyzed shows the same mineral composition as a mixture of silica sand and laterite. <When I helped a friend tear down her tank prior to a move, we took a look at the Miracle Mud from her refugium. It seemed to have flecks of gold in it -- or iron pyrite.> I am setting up an experimental reef system sump with a mixture of aragonite sand and laterite instead. However, there is evidence of adverse effects from an increased concentration of aluminum in reef systems, and laterite of course contains aluminum bound up in the clay particles. <Yup, definitely something to be concerned about. Another item you might try instead of the laterite is Seachem's planted tank substrate, called Fluorite. If you write to Seachem, they should be able to tell you if there is any aluminum in it. I believe it is primarily clay-based, but it does contain quantities of iron. If you have a friend with a planted tank, ask to get the dust that comes off of the stuff when it is sifted. You can get several cups of the dust from a single bag of the stuff, especially if you rinse it.> Hence the appeal to see if anyone else has tried this before I subject living creatures to the test. <I have not. I would suggest two things: first, post on the WetWeb chat boards at http://wetwebfotos.com/talk to see if anyone has thought about this. Second, if you decide to try it, set up a small, isolated system for it. I would try a system with only your substrate and Caulerpa initially. You might consider adding some live rock later. When you have enough algae, add a snail. Another good test critter would be ghost shrimp. They are sold as freshwater feeders, but can be acclimated (slowly!) to full saltwater. Assuming those fare well, the next creature I would try is a mushroom coral. Do keep us posted on the progress of your experiment!> Thanks and best regards, Eric Brightwell FZSL <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Live Rock in Sump I have a question to ask:  Do I have to have Live Rock in my Sump and does it matter if the return sprays or can I just lay the overflow tube into the water? <With live rock in your tank, it isn't necessary in the sump, also, the overflow feeding the sump can be placed into the water without worry.> I would also like to cut down on salt creep caused by the spraying or dripping of water into the Sump. (I do have a cover over the main spay, but I not over the entire sump). I have plenty of rock in the tank and could really use the extra room I would have if I removed the rock. I know that Bio Balls will eventually build up the Nitrate level within the tank, but if you replace the Bio Balls with Live Rock and the water is spraying over the rock would 't you be doing the same thing? <if the rock is exposed to air like the bioballs would be, yes, you would still produce nitrates disproportionately. If you want to relocate the rock to the sump, examine the feasibility of placing it in the bulk water of the sump, rather then the spray/drip chambers where the bioballs are held. Best, Chris>

Sump dilemma Hello everyone, <Hi Derek, Don today> For the last two years I've struggled with a 60g FOWLR tank and it drove me insane.  Recently I had to move and due to my frustration I decided that I would shut the tank down until I could figure out what all of my errors were.  Since then, I've been reading as much as I can to try and figure out the best way to do everything.  I now seem to have a secure grasp on what to do about everything with the exception of what to put in the center chamber of my 30g sump.  See, I want to place as much fish as I can into the tank without overloading.  From what I've read, it seems that most people recommend not placing bio balls in the sump and instead using LR/DSB/refugium etc.  I'm concerned that if I do this the LR will not be sufficient at breaking down the ammonia and nitrite.  However, if I use bio balls then it will become a nitrate factory.  What is your suggestion on this matter (keep in mind that the rest of my setup is as follows:  60g tank with 75lbs of LR, 1/2 to 1 inch Southdown, corner overflow boxes leading to 30g sump, 1st chamber contains EuroReef skimmer, 2nd unknown, third return with mag9.5,  overall water circulation in tank about 18x). <You could simply leave it empty (additional volume adds stability), You could put some live rock in to help with filtration, add 4-6" Southdown for NNR. Or you could put a phosphate remover/carbon/foam/PolyBio). This area would not be ideal for a refuge as the water flow is pretty strong. A separate, upstream refuge is recommended. Good luck getting things going again. Don> Thanks for the help, Derek    

Plenum construction in sump 09/04/03 Dear WWM crew, I recently constructed a plenum hastily in my sump to battle the persistent high nitrates. the problem is I didn't do it the right way by adding another screen layer on top of the 1st layer and top it off with sugar fine sand. I merely added about 3 inches of coral sand over the egg crate and screen. Is the setup workable to cultivate denitrifying bacteria considering the fact that there's no burrowing critters in my sump as it's empty? Cheers, <Well, I think lighting it and grow Chaetomorpha would be a better way to remove nitrates. You can use a Lights of America Security Light as your light source. They're fairly inexpensive, and the right spectrum, not to mention wattage. Mine was $30, for 64watts  of 6500K light. You don't really need the plenum, but the sandbed would be better in your tank. www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm Have a nice evening, PF>

-What to fill the sump with...- Hello Fish Gurus <Howdy, no idea why it took this long to get you a response, but here it is nonetheless!> I have a short question here. I have a 180gl tank with two over flows. I was wondering what you would consider a better choice for a fish only tank. A sump filled with bio-balls, live rock or mud. <Well, you don't exactly "fill" the sump with any of these. If you wanted to use bio-balls, you'd need to have it set-up in a wet/dry filter. If you wanted to do a refugium, you could use either mud or sand in a compartment of the sump, but not just spread out across the bottom (you need somewhere with no substrate to keep your return pump). I would suggest using ample live rock in the 180, and sectioning out part of the sump for a deep live sand bed refugium.> I have read a lot about all three but can't decide. Kinda leaning towards mud but I figure I would leave it up to you to make my decision. <Well, you can use a mud refugium instead of sand if you prefer, do plenty of research on both methods.> I hope I gave you enough info about the tank. Thanks for you input. <Good luck! -Kevin> Marty

Macroalgae for sump question 9/13/03 Hi all, <cheers> I have decided to put a couple of T5s in my sump and turn it into a 'fuge. <excellent> Albeit there are some people that rave about the properties of Caulerpa, I am inclined to side with a few friends who reckon it is the 'devil incarnate' of macroalgae due to its bleaching/wiping out tank/going sexual properties. <both are true <G>... it has great potential, but requires due diligence... more than many other macros> Unfortunately Thalassia sp., which I am informed is one of the best alternatives, is not available in the UK -someone quoted CITES, but I don't know- <not protected as such to my knowledge... at the very least, I expect that you can get seeds like mangrove propagules. Thalassia has gone to seed right now in Florida and will be available for some weeks... do seek a local supplier that imports product from Florida and see if they can procure them for you> and Caulerpa is the mass available choice. Now for the question. I found what looks some brown  kelp in a LFS (attached to rocks, small spherical bodies near the stem of the lanceolate 'leaves' brown/reddish in color) and some other shorter green algae. <perhaps a Sargassum species> Will they be better that the poisonous Caulerpa? <likely yes... but if Sargassum, still somewhat noxious> What length of lighting do you suggest to prevent it going sexual or in other way polluting the tank? <sexual events are not common with Sargassum... no worries. A normal photoperiod of around 10-12 hours will be fine> Any supplements apart from iodine and the gunk from the thank? <weekly water changes are your best form of supplementation> I must say that the misinformation (shops wanting to sell Caulerpa, the only mass available macroalgae here)/lack of information on the issue is rife. Can you shed some light? <Hmmm... if you'd be interested, our UK distributor may have our new Reef Invertebrates book in stock. In it we have extensive coverage of plants, algae and refugiums... the most complete to date in any reference. See Tim Hayes at MidlandReefs.co.uk (West Midlands/Hammerwich)> By the way my regal angel and majestic are better than ever. Thanks a lot, Massimo UK <very good to hear... best regards, Anthony>

- DSB, Plenum, and Lighting - Hello! <Hello to you.> I want to "redo" my sump (2/3 full 29g) to better promote denitrification. I have non CaCO3 gravel and want to replace it with a DSB & plenum (Jaubert method). <Your sump isn't big enough for both of these. You would lose space by building the plenum. Much better to just go with a deep sand bed here.> My sump is not lighted and I prefer not to have it lighted because of the algae growth (increased cleaning of the protein skimmer). My display tank (65g) uses 3" of sand and 1.25 lbs of live rock/gallon. I have a 3rd tank that is connected that grows the macro algae (29g). My question is: will I still see the benefits of the DSB/plenum with the lighting? <Not sure I follow - I thought you weren't going to light it. In any case, a deep sand bed will benefit your system with or without the light, although the amount of benefit is debatable... you simply don't have very much space in a 29g sump. Much better to build a deep sand bed in your tank.> Will I see a nitrate spike after I redo the sump because the anaerobic bacteria will not be present for some time? <I wouldn't think so... you've got plenty of live rock to fill this need.> Instead of this can I just fill my sump with Fiji rock/rubble with out lighting it and still get the denitrification benefits of the Berlin method? <You can do that too.> I currently have nitrates at 10 ppm (20% water changes per month) and would like to achieve a more normal <1 ppm using the natural means. My LFS suggested the Kent Nitrate sponge, but I thought it sounded like a band aid and not a solution. <I agree.> I do appreciate your expert help! <Cheers, J -- >

Skimmer/sump ponderings 11/11/03 Ok Anthony here is my email or something close to it.  I am setting up a 100gal. acrylic tank that will eventually have the reef environment to it.  I want to take it slow and do things right from the beginning.  Your site recommends either the Aqua C or Euro Reef skimmers for their high performance.   <yes... both very good skimmers and good values> The Euro reef line is very large, and for a 100gal. tank which one would be good for the task at hand.  They also have a new series out called the "ES line"  which are supposedly cheaper for a good product.   <both brands are so reliable, I would simply install the biggest skimmer that you can fit/afford rated for 200 gallons or greater to serve your 180 gal tank> Under my stand I have only a maximum 20inches of height so that is a limiting factor.  Which Euro reef would you recommend and what do you know about the "ES series"? <you can trust the manufacturers recommendations here. If you expect a bigger tank in the 5 year pictures, or intend to have large or messy fishes... then scale your purchase higher than a unit rated for the appropriate 200 gall tank or so> Next question (thanks so much!!), under my stand there are two vertical support pieces in the middle of the stand and the distance between them is only 12inches.  This has limited me using a one piece sump/refuge, so I need to go with two separate containers.   <this is very challenging to water plumbing. Do consider if you can move this brace or replace it (with a steel header bar)> One will be where the water flows out of the tank, onto a piece of filter into the sump where the skimmer will be  as well as the return pump.  This sump will connect to a container for algae growth and a sand bed.  The water will be returned by a small powerhead into the main sump.  How does this setup look to you?   <two part sumps are typically problematic. It's hard for me to diagnose off-site too. Do see if you can simply use one sump... even if it is smaller> Any suggestions or recommendations?  I have one bulkhead at each end of the main tank with a flow through diameter of 1inch.  One for return water and one for "draining" to the sump.  Do I need to add more "holes" for better circulation?    <again.. I cannot say without any specs of measurements. The number of bulkheads is determined by the flow you intend to run through t. Once you have figured out your water flow/pump needs... then simply drill enough holes (over bulkhead mfg specs for flow-through rates) and it will be short work> Thanks so much!!  Your website has been a terrific help for me and many others!!       Mike in Salem Oregon <best regards, Anthony>

- Shut-off Switch - Hi Crew, I am trying to add a sump to be 75 gal reef. It is not drilled, so I need to use a hang on siphon box. As I fear floods if the siphon breaks, is there a type of float switch I can install in the sump which will shut off the return pump if the water level falls below a certain level? <I'm sure there is, but I can't recall any product names. I'd scan the online retailer - there are a number of variations on the electric float-switch out there.> I imagine it would be always "on" and it would have to be mounted up at the correct water level. I guess I am thinking a switch like a boat bilge pump switch only 110 volts. Is this a feasible idea or am I missing something? <It's out there...> Where would one get such a switch? <Check with your local fish store first. If they can't help, go online, perhaps Marine Depot or Fosters and Smith... each of these has extensive catalogs. I'm sure they'd have something that would fit the bill.> Thanks for any assistance. <Cheers, J -- >
- Shut-off Switch, Follow-up -
Hi again Crew, I was able to locate a few vendors who sell such a switch, but I guess my real question is: Is this something I should spend the $$ on? <Too me, peace of mine is often worth paying for.> Does this offer me some protection against overflow or is it prone to sticking and causing more problems then not having it? <Depends on the nature of the float switch. May pay to give it a rinse from time to time.> Have any of the Crew used this or know about them? <You left out the important information - what is 'this'? You didn't name the actual product.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >
Re: sump shut off switch 12/7/03 (2)
Crew, Sorry, One that I found is the UltraLife float switch at MarineDepot and premium aquatics. Thanks. > - Shut-off Switch, Follow-up - > Hi again Crew, > I was able to locate a few vendors who sell such a switch, but I guess my real > question is: Is this something I should spend the $$ on? <Too me, peace of mine > is often worth paying for.> Does this offer me some protection against overflow > or is it prone to sticking and causing more problems then not having it? > <Depends on the nature of the float switch. May pay to give it a rinse from time > to time.> Have any of the Crew used this or know about them? <You left out the > important information - what is 'this'? You didn't name the actual product.> > Thanks > <Cheers, J -- >

Working On His System Hi guys killer site... <Glad you like it! Scott F. with you today!> Just got a 180 gal tank with 2 overflows a custom aquatic wet dry a ts-8 Euro reef skimmer and 1/8 horse sequence pump. <Excellent skimmer!> 1st question: Its a FO, might convert to a reef later. Is live rock in the sump better than bio balls and if I use live rock in the sump does it need lighting above the filter? <I like live rock in the sump...it certainly adds some more natural filtration in your system. Lighting certainly does not hurt, but if you leave the sump unlit, different animals will 'pop up" on the rock than if it is lit.> Does it need the same trickle action the bio balls need? Or should it be under the water? <I've seen it done both ways...I'm partial to keeping it under water> If I use live rock instead of bio balls will it cut down on algae in the aquarium? <Well, bioballs are incredibly efficient at converting ammonia and nitrite to nitrate...and letting it accumulate! I'd avoid bioballs, if possible, and incorporate more natural materials, such as...live rock and a deep sand bed!> Or is there something else you would put in the sump? <Frankly...I like the live rock and sand in the main display, nothing in the sump but carbon and/or PolyFilter. I think of the sump as the "processing center" for the system water. You can also grow some "purposeful" macroalgae, such as Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha, or Halimeda, which can be harvested regularly to help remove nutrients from your system!> 2nd question want to get ozone looking at the Aqua Zone Plus 200 mg-hr ozonizer with controller and ORP probe also has air dryer...is there a better one you would recommend? I would like an ozonizer that's complete do you know if the aqua zone plus is complete? <The unit that you are describing sounds fine...Just make sure that it's properly sized for your system.> Thank you for your help...Scott... <A pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

What's In The Sump? Whatever He Wants! Hi Crew!  I am looking forward to receiving your new book that I just pre-ordered! <That's gonna be a cool read, my friend! Scott F. with you tonight> I have a sump setup question(s) I hope you can answer. <Sure, I'll try!> My tank setup is a 37 gal, 70lbs of live rock, 25lbs live sand + 10lbs crushed coal substrate, 2 Ocellaris Clowns, Coral Beauty, Six line Wrasse, Yellow-tail Blue Damsel, Neon Goby, various mushrooms, Brain Coral, Plate Coral, Star plops, Bubble Tip Anemone, 2 serpent stars, snails, and crabs. I also use an Aqua-C hang on protein skimmer.  All residents are doing well and I am not considering any more additions. <Good- I think your tank has a nice bioload at this point...I would enjoy the animals present> I have a 10 gallon tank for use as a sump that will fit in the display tank cabinet.  Other additions are a Lifereef Prefilter/Siphon Box, Aqua-C Urchin Pro to replace the hang on skimmer, and a Mag 5 pump to return water from the sump. I will add the heater to the sump for cosmetic purposes. <That's where I like to put them, myself> Now to my question(s)...  Should I attempt to section the sump at all?  I have thought about creating a section for another sand bed and some macro algae.  If I did this, I should place the water input from the tank coming into the sand bed (left), then put the Urchin Pro on the second side (right) with the pump hanging into the input side (left) of the sump to draw the water over correct)? <I'd let the incoming water go into the side where the skimmer is located-you want the most nutrient rich water to go right to the skimmer for maximum efficiency. As far as compartments are concerned, it's purely subjective. Sure, you can partition off for some sand and maybe some macroalgae (please- NO Caulerpa! Use Chaetomorpha, Ulva, or one of the less "noxious" macroalgae. Of course, you will need a light in there if you're gonna try to grow some macroalgae...> Then the Mag pump would return water from the right side to the display tank. I would also place the heater on the right side of the sump. Suggestions?  To much for a ten gallon tank / sump? <A sump can be as simple or complex as you like/need. I prefer the simple approach- no compartments, unless you need to hold some carbon or baffle out excess bubbles from the skimmer, etc. Keep in mind that a sump is really supposed to be a "processing center" for your tank water, so it can hold as little or as much equipment and partitions as you want...It's your call! My original plan was just to use the sump for the skimmer and heater. Thanks for any advice! Bryan White <Have fun with this! Read up more on sump configurations and setups on the wetwebmedia.com site. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Lighting up my sump? Growing more bugs? Anthony: attached is a picture of my 3 chambered sump (20g aquarium with glass partitions).  As you can see (I hope) there is sand and LR in the 2nd chamber, along with the EV-120 skimmer (pump is in 1st chamber, outflow into 2nd), which is elevated above the sand on PVC legs you can't see in the photo. <OK> The sump has been colonized by many tiny snails and various bugs, but I am wondering if the situation would be better (more food) if I lit the sump with a 32w PC I have just sitting in a closet.  What do you think?   <no help at all. If your goal is to cultivate plankters like amphipods and copepods, etc... then what they need is a dense matrix to colonize and a good food supply (likely plenty flowing through the sump). Just hanging a strand of spun polyester fiber pads in the sump (like clothes on a clothes line except stacked together) will accomplish this very well. You other option would be to cultivate a dense living matrix like Chaetomorpha spaghetti algae which then of course would need light. But the light itself will do you no good here> Would this just make a mess - algae and all?   <neither with good skimming and nutrient control> Would it be a positive?  Or would I just be rolling the dice? FYI, 72g: 78 degrees, pH 8.30, Alk 3.42 meq/l, Ca 440 ppm, Iodine 0.06 mg/l, NO3 1.0 mg/l, PO4 0.03 mg/l, Mg 1350 mg/l, Sr 10 mg/l.  2x175w MH + 130w PC actinic. <all good> Thanks! Ed Marshall, Austin, TX <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

What's In The Sump? Everything!   Hello and good morning. My question today is about my sump. I have 500-600 gph recirculating between my 65g tank's Durso overflow and my 29g sump (only 85% full). <Nice flow....> I have 5 sections (bare with me and I'll try to explain): (1) Water enters the first chamber (3" wide) of the sump from the Durso overflow and flows under the first partition (1" clearance from the bottom) to the second chamber. (2) The water from the this second chamber (1" wide) then flows over the second partition (~8" high) to the third chamber. (3) The third chamber (~11" wide) housed my EuroReef skimmer, ~5" of sand and about 5 pounds of live rock rubble. This was meant to be a refugium. The water from this third chamber flows over the fourth partition (also ~8" high) into the fourth chamber. (4) The fourth chamber (1" wide) flows under the fifth partition (1" clearance from the bottom) to the fifth chamber. (5) This fifth chamber (4" wide) houses my return pump. I have a 20 watt light that operates opposite my main aquarium lighting. <Wow- that's a very sophisticated system! A thought here...an ideal setup for the skimmer would be to locate it in the chamber that receives the most "raw" water from your system, to maximize its skimmate production. Is it possible to relocate the skimmer?> I want to grow macro algae in the refugium portion to aid in algae control and to feed my tang. I can lower my water level in the sump so that the refugium's partitions is the highest water level, but the high flow through the system will still pull the macro algae over the wall (I think). I also don't want to reduce the total volume in this system by lowering the level if I don't have to. The more water in the system the happier the fish/corals are. How can I keep the macro algae in the refugium. 1) Egg crate? But how? 2) Restrict the pumps return to the main tank? Not a good idea IMO. 3) Bypass the refugium? Put a tee in the overflow line and send equal water flow to the first and 5th chamber? Again, not a good idea IMO. 4) Bypass the refugium? Install a siphon from the first chamber to the second. Initial priming would be difficult, but it would never beak siphon after that. 5) Bypass the refugium? Buy a pump to move half the water from the first chamber to the fifth chamber. More energy = more heat. Tank is already at 80F at the end of the VHO on cycle. I don't think my design for a sump is very good, and I can take it "off line" for a day to redo the partitions. Help? Please? <Frankly, some of the best sumps that I've seen only have 3 compartments...one for the skimmer, a center "baffle" to hold bags of carbon, and a this compartment that can hold some rubble and/or macroalgae. Simple is best, IMO! If you are reluctant to rework the whole thing, my idea to contain the macroalgae is embarrassingly unsophisticated, but we did it in a friend of mine's sump who had the same problem: Use a small plastic kitchen strainer to hold the macroalgae in the compartment. It's easy to access for harvest, won't overflow into the other compartments, and won't take up too much room. You'll have to check out the kitchen gadget department of your favorite Wal Mart, K-Mart, Target, etc. for a strainer of the right size...but it will work. BTW- as an aside for fellow fish geeks- these discount stores are DIY heaven! You can find all sorts of plastic containers and stuff that can be adapted to fish-keeping needs. You may even want to haunt the local Tupperware parties once in a while....Ok- well, maybe not- but with creative thinking, you could find lots of stuff that can get the job done! > Thanks, Jeff <Glad to help, Jeff! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sumps Hello all you Wonderful WetWebMedia Warriors. <Hello, just finished up an attack on a Corallimorph.  Next stop the LFS for battle royal.> Er, OK. Why would you attack a Corallimorph? I can understand why you'd want to do battle on the LFS ;-) <Because I am greedy and want more. "Radial cuts on corallimorphs from or near the mouth outward with a sharp scalpel or razor blade forces fission and produces a second, fully formed polyp within weeks" -Anthony Calfo's Book of Coral Propagation.> Thanks for the response on the UGF. There is only one riser pipe, and I knew enough to keep the depth consistent so as not to allow short-cuts and dead-spots (all those years in engineering school finally useful for something ;-) <Ha, good to hear> I really want to reserve new floor (and tank) space assignments for my new love of the past five years - salt water - so as long as nothing is really wrong, I'll continue making sure the environment is as congenial as possible for the unusual mix of fish. Which brings me to a salt water question, if I may .... <please do> I have a 4 yr-old 37g FOWLR, also under an Eclipse 3 hood (1 Power-Glo, 1 Marine-Glo actinic), and 1/2 inch black sand. It's getting a little over-populated now, with the phenomenal growth of a huge green brittle star (now over 13" dia). The white (with coralline coloring) long tentacle anemone has been around for three years with his tomato clown buddy. The tang and the Koran angel weren't wise choices, I'm sorry, but I'm wiser now. <As long as we learn from our mistakes.  These fellas need a much larger tank.> The humbug damsel is also growing, and a bit of a pest, occasionally. The coral banded shrimp is huge too. There's about 25lbs of healthy looking LR, and stats are good and stable. I can't afford a bigger tank yet, but want to do something good in the mean time, like a sump in the bottom part of the stand. I've been reading a lot on the site, but I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the options. I know I should put in a protein skimmer, and will need the sump for that, because it won't fit under the Eclipse hood. <Not without cutting the hood.> Could you advice on the contents of a sump (or direct me to articles and/or FAQs) ? I was thinking of partitioning a spare 10 gal tank I have, if that makes any sense. <A 10gal may be a little cramped.  Rubbermaid makes some good sumps ;-) , maybe they have one that will fit under your stand and allow for a larger sump.  A sump can contain many things, or nothing. It Could just be a way increase your volume of water and hide your heater.  You could incorporate a deep sand bed, refugium, or more LR.  Definitely aim to keep the skimmer in the first chamber so that it receives raw surface water.   Here is some good reading http://wetwebmedia.com/diytksfaqs.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaq2.htm http://www.ozreef.org/diy/sump.html > I always thought I should keep the LR away from the glass for water flow reasons, but I don't dare stack any more in, lest it fall on somebody in the tank, but I've learned from reading here that I really should have at least 1lb per gal. Is it OK to stack it against the back wall? <Water flow can be achieved in other ways (power heads or a manifold of some sort from the return pump in the sump), I would add more rock and lean it against the tank.> Would it be good to replace the black sand with aragonite for its buffering qualities? <Yes> Should I pull out the bio-wheel with the addition of more LR? <Yes, with all the LR the bio-wheel is not needed.> Any other recommendations? <A larger tank, or possibly using the big boys for trade in value.> Many thanks again, and thank you on behalf of us ignorant beginners for protecting us from ourselves !!! <We're here to help, thanks for giving us the opportunity. -Gage> Julian.

What's In The Sump? Thanks for the advice but need some more please..... <Sure...> I also forgot to mention that I'm adding a 20g sump to my new tank. Should I add bio balls or just use my existing crushed coral with some carbon? Should I add lighting to my sump? Thanks guys. Werner Schoeman <Well, Werner, I like to think of the sump as sort of the "water treatment center" for the system...As such, I'd personally omit the bioballs, and let the sump work as sort of a settling basin for particulates, which can be either captured in filter pads (which I don't like, because we tend to neglect their regular maintenance- by "regular", I mean "daily"(!)...) or simply siphoned out during regular maintenance. If you are interested in using the sump as a sort of "mini-refugium", you could put in a thin (like 1/2") layer of crushed coral to encourage amphipod propagation (they seem to like coarse substrates), float some macroalgae, like Chaetomorpha or Gracilaria (my two favorites!), and throw on an inexpensive power compact light...Easy and effective. As far as carbon- I won't personally run a system without it! You can keep it in small filter media bags in a section of the sump that gets some flow, for passive application. Be sure to change carbon on a regular basis (I like to do this once or twice a month). You should also consider using a Poly Filter pad in there. It's a great product, and has an affinity for removing lots of the undesired substances that make us hobbyists cringe (phosphates, nitrates, etc.). With a little though, and some creative application, you can create a great addition to your system with this sump. Good luck, and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

Sump Skimmer Box To Whom Is On Tonight: <Craig today> If I am redundant, I apologize. You previously answered my question concerning placing my Aqua-C EV180 into my sump. You indicated that preferred is "raw" water so skimmer works best, and I indicated I would section off  into two sections. Siliconing Plexiglas to separate. Plexiglas siliconed so first section is water tight. First section with skimmer, second with heater and return sump pump.  My question is if the Aqua-C is utilizing a Mag 7 to run, and I am currently running a Mag 9 for my return sump pump, would I not run out of water in the second section due to the first section pump with skimmer could not keep up with GPH of water compared to the return pump? Thanks for the response. Regards, Mendy <The main overflow flows into your first compartment (containing the skimmer) at the same rate as the return pump....a Mag 9. The skimmer runs separately from the overflow and return pump, it isn't in-line with the return pump, so has no effect. You will likely need a spillway, holes in the divider, or raise the skimmer to keep the first compartment water level at the proper predetermined level for the skimmer. If it isn't at WetWebMedia.com under skimmer boxes, then it's in Anthony's book which I highly recommend.  Craig>

Sump Baffles Hi All, <Hello> I have a sump question.  I read an old FAQ about an acrylic sump a guy was making and he wanted to attach a few acrylic baffles in it.  Bob mentioned that as long as they are not structural, you can avoid using the Weld-on product and just use silicone rubber, the type you find at the hardware store.  I got some stuff from Home Depot, 100% aquarium use silicone, I assume this is what he meant? <Yes> Also, since I will be adding two baffles, one for the divider of the first chamber to the second which will go from the bottom up about 9 inches or so with water overflowing over the top, and another smaller one a few inches high in just in front of the bulkhead to the return pump to prevent bubbles or whatever else, I assume these are not going to be structural in any way.  They should be able to hold back the weight of the water without any problems, using only the silicone.  Is this correct? <Correct. Give the Silicone a day to cure before filling the sump. Bob Fenner> Thank you Paul

Sump <plenum> Hi there, my first question is what is a plenum when referring to a sump? I hear the word but don't know what it is. Next I'm planning a 120g f/o tank and my sump is a 65g tank I have laying around. I was going to make 3 separate compartments, first for skimmer second was for live sand and live rock and third for return pump and heater. Now the question is if I want to keep macro alga in sump can I just buy some and put in the compartment with live rock or do I need another section for it? Last question, will a 65wt power compact be sufficient for sump or should I go higher.<depends on how close the bulb is to the sump.> Ok, one more do you favor 24hr sump lighting or 12hr after main tank is out? Thanks again, love your site. Josh <A plenum is a dead space below your substrate used for nitrate reduction. Many a man/woman have failed due to improper set up of their plenum. If you want to go with the plenum I would search out some instructions from Dr. Jaubert. I would go with a Deep sand bed instead of the plenum. You could put the sand rock and algae all in the same compartment. If the flow rate is too fast the algae may not be effective and it would be a better idea to put the algae in a separate compartment with less flow. Both 24hr and 12hr lighting have their benefits depending upon what types of life you are keeping. Check out our info on Algal filtration. -Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/algfiltf.htm>

Large Tank Equipment Setting up a used 250 gallon tank, with overflow, has two down leads to a sump that was for a reef tank. I want to use the tank for only fish, triggers. The sump has two returns to the tank powered by two Mak 4 pumps. The sump also has one Mak 4 on the intake side which goes to an ETS protein skimmer. No bio balls are in the sump and the sump is 34x12x18, I guess they had live rock/sand in the sump. My question is do I use the sump or buy another wet/dry system like a CPR or Skylab or the new Kent Biorocker? I do not want a reef tank, but just fish only, what are your thoughts on this? <Since you wish to house messy fish, you may need the nitrifying potential of a Wet/Dry filter and have to deal with nitrate accumulation with water changes. I would keep the pumps and skimmer, though. -Steven Pro>

In Sump vs. External Euro-Reef Response Steven Pro, There is a big benefit to using a external model of a Euro-Reef skimmer. A Euro-Reef in the sump can raise the water temperature 4 degrees in a 180 gallon reef tank. RGibson <Thanks for the information. -Steven Pro>

Sump Room Hi again, I had a new thought on the sump. How about just placing the skimmer pump in the sump and have tubing run to the skimmer which then overflows partly into the return sump and partly into the sump where the live rock will be? <Ok...> Are there any major disadvantages to having the pump in the water and the skimmer outside of the sump? <If you make an error in adjusting the skimmer and the cup overflows you can have a flood in your house. With the skimmer inside the sump, any overflow merely returns to the sump.> Thanks, Mike <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Filtration (LR amount in sumps) O.K. I have going over your site but I have not found my answer, so here we go. Is there a certain ratio of liverock per gallon of water in a sump for filtration, <Not really, the more the better.> (for a fish-only tank that I don't want liverock in, just synthetic corals and such) <Perhaps use some base rock and place/attach the synthetic corals to this rockwork. It will look more realistic and serve as additional biological filtration.> and is it best to have livesand and liverock in sump and if so should I keep them separated for sand siphoning or just throw the rock on top of the sand? <I would use both and keep them together.> Thanks again, josh <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Best Substrates for a Sump <<JasonC here, Bob has jaunted to the tropics to dive>> I'm a bit weary of products such as these, but since there is a link from the WWM site, I thought I would inquire about this. <<keep in mind that the "link" is a paid advertisement, and so I can't really just lambaste them now, can I? We like people who help finance WetWebForrays. But in any case, they are certainly not infallible.>>  Does this work? <<I'm sure this product does some of what is advertised. The question perhaps should be, "Is it really the best choice for you?".>> I was thinking of seeding the floor of my sump with this product if you could recommend it. My tank is a 100G FOWLR with a Turboflotor 1000, 30Gallon sump and 100lbs of live rock. <<in this case, you would do so much better with a deep sand bed and more live rock in the sump. Would go a long way to remove nitrate a more natural way, keeping alkalinity and pH consistent. Give the following URLs a read:  Bob's thoughts on Marine Substrates http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsubstr.htm Bob's thoughts on dealing with NO3 [Nitrate] http://www.wetwebmedia.com/no3probfaqs.htm FAQs on Deep Sand Beds http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm You'll see some common themes. Cheers, J -- >>

Everything into the sump? Hello my friends at WWM, <cheers> I spent the last 2 hours rearranging my power heads (AGAIN!) so they don't show. Very tedious job to say the least. After cleaning up my mess and getting the rock back into place, I went to WWW.WWM.COM . <hmmm... this is a site for world wide media (?!?)... you should have come to www.wetwebmedia.com> I was at this link about sumps etc, when one of you guys said you don't like powerheads in the main tank at all. Really? What about the importance of water flow? <Pam... I have said that many times here on WWM and in my book... and almost always with an explanation why. Please note that I do not say that I do not like/recommend "water flow" (?) but merely powerheads in the tank... hence, find an alternative like a larger return pump to provide flow in the main display. Having multiple powerheads rather than one large return pump generates too much head, provides that many more places to clog/trap/kill fish an invertebrates, they add so many ungrounded plugs, they are generally poorly made and have been known to fail (read shock/electrocute aquarists), create unnatural and perhaps stressful noise in aquaria, can impart stray voltage, may influence HLLE and the list goes on.> Back to the drawing board for me I guess. Talk about taking one step forward and three back! You know, I have had a box sitting on my porch now for about 2 weeks with a Kent Nautilus skimmer and pump inside. I have been recommended by more than one of you at WWM to invest wisely in this very important part of my reef tank. So, I haven't opened it yet, because if I decide to return it, policy says, "it must be unopened".  <I personally think that is a wise move... have you got feedback yet on the message boards for this brand/product?> I wanted to go for the real "beast of a skimmer" , EUROREEF , but it seems you need a sump for that model,.... I don't have one.  <then consider an Aqua C hang on model or a Tunze rail or clip-mount model> Which brings me back to powerheads. You guys say that you put your powerheads in the sump. <I'm not sure what that statement means/who said it. Instead of say 4 powerheads... one might use a single dedicated return pump like an Iwaki 40, Little Giant, Gen X, Oase, Mag Drive, etc> Well now, I guess I'm buying a sump.  <and you plan to have your tank drilled for an overflow? I hope because a siphon overflow is generally a bad idea (check archives on this topic)> I wonder if I will ever get this right!  <is there a local aquarium society near you my friend? Such fellowship puts many such questions to rest with visuals and visits to local aquarists> This is what I have now: 1) Tank 55g. ( I have this) 2) LR 70lbs. (and this) 3) Sand 4 inches deep (this too) 4) Kent skimmer (so far, I still have this) <sorry> 5) 6 powerheads <sorry again> 6) Heater <two small heaters are safer than one large. Titanium instead of glass) with a remote thermostat is the best IMO> 7) Sump (don't have, yet) a) powerheads>>>>> into sump? <no idea why?> b) skimmer>>>>>into sump? <depends on model and path of raw water. If in sump, make a skimmer box with a standing water level to improve performance. Threads in the past week have covered this with diagrams> c) heater>>>>>into sump? <usually a great idea> Is a sump very necessary for a healthy system,  <not necessary... just convenient> or can I cut this expense from my budget? I am willing to upgrade to the Euroreef, but if it needs a sump, Hmmmm, where do I go from there? My head is spinning! Thank you to all of you for sharing your educations! <do keep reading/learning and know that no one person's advice is gospel. Take all in and make an informed decision based on an intelligent consensus> Pamela <best regards, Anthony>
Re: everything into the sump? 
Okay I admit it, I haven't been studying like most people that go to your site.  <no worries, dear.. my apologies for messages that come across abrupt. Some days mail traffic is much heavier than others and in an attempt to answer all... message can be brief and appear curt. We have the very best intentions for our aquarium friends. Just a little business and human factor on our part.> I have never read the message board, I never even knew you had one. <if you have the time... such boards are great laces to meet aquarists from all skill levels and get an intelligent consensus from a wider selection of people. Not just the opinion of an expert or LFS> Maybe I am not your average "reef keeper". I'm starting to think that by what I read from people that write you, very knowledgeable bunch.  <rest assured my friend that we have mostly beginners, and without even categorizing... we all indeed are learning or beginners in some fashion... likely most <smile>> I, have 3 kids, a grandchild and a very busy life. I don't know about the latest or best products in reef keeping.  <that honestly sounds like an advantage <G>!> I know very basics, that's it. I NEVER knew how involved this undertaking was/is!  <and a beautiful journey of education... biology, physics and appreciation for life at large> I saw many beautiful pictures of mini reefs, and being a keeper of fresh water aquaria for about 30 years, I decided to go for it. And to tell you the truth, I haven't got a clue of how to get this thing all together. Not a clue.  <not a crime at all not knowing... but indeed we owe it to are selves if not our charges to be confidently armed with information before taking live animals into our care.> When I set my tank up I was taking the advise of my LPS, now I know it wasn't worth the salt I put in my system. <it certainly is at least good to read some books/literature by people who are not trying to sell you something... if only to concur/reassure you about your LFS> I realize that you guys at WWM are bombarded with question after question every day and I'll bet that some of these questions are a bit annoying, and I can just hear you saying, ("I wish these people would do their homework"!! ) So, to conclude this letter, I will say, I'm sorry. I'm not the sharpest tack out there, and at times I don't even know the questions to ask. But please be patient, okay? Sincerely, Pamela <very well stated, my friend. We should all aspire to know great patience. Thank you. Anthony>

Wet dry filter (as) with sump Hello, <<and hello to you,>> I am taking your suggestions and using a 24x10x18 sump instead of a wet dry filter. <<ok>> I am going to add live rock, but should I also add live sand? <<Your choice, if you run without, it would be much easier to vacuum out accumulated detritus.>> With the live rock in the tank do I need to feed that sump any or just have lights? <<Some people just leave out the prefilters, and that would 'feed' the sump. Also your call on the lights. If you leave them out, the sump and live rock will grow more cryptic items, not always seen - would be interesting.>> If you suggest to add live sand, should I put sand sifters (Nassarius snails, etc) in the tank and again should I feed it? <<If you decide to run sand in the sump then by all means, some Nassarius snails would work well.>> Thanks, Daniel <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sump Hi Bob, I am about to build a sump for my new 125 FOWLR tank, and have more questions. I want to have a sand bed, live rock and macro-algae growth for biological filtration in the sump. My question regards the placement of these filters. I will probably be using a used 40 long aquarium for the sump.  <Good choice, size, shape wise> I was thinking of having the sand bed (4-5")at the beginning of the sump, having the water from the overflows (pre-filtered) empty here. Is it okay to have the live rock and macro-algae sitting on top of the sand, or should they be in their own "compartment" in the sump?  <Okay on top... and do build "barriers" (glass or acrylic, silicone sealer...) for keeping all sand where you want it...> I will have the water returning to the display tank right after the carbon filtering area. Where in this line should I put the skimmer?  <Most anywhere in this scheme... I would fit toward "end" to cut down on varying water height, bubbles from incoming water from the main system> I will be using a Turboflotor 1000 in-sump. Would it be best at the beginning, before the DSB? At the end? Thanks again for you help! Jason <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sumps Good morning, I've had my sump on my 80 gal. reef for about a month now and after watching the operation, I'd like to make some changes. Would it be alright to add live rock to the sump without putting any light on it, except for daylight?  <Yes, certainly. A good improvement> Can the critters that live in the LR survive with just the minimal amount of light that would be provided by the daylight? <Again, yes> Again thanks for your input, Ce <Bob Fenner>

Moving Substrate to sump, and what kind of Carib-Sea to get? Bob, Thanks for your help recently. <You're welcome> I'm adding a 20 gallon or so sump to my 38 gallon FOWLR. It will have a plenum and macro-algae. I currently have Carib-sea Geomarine crushed coral in my main tank, about 1" deep. I want to change to sand in the main tank. <Good idea> Three things: I want to use the crushed coral from the main tank as the bottom layer in the new plenum for the sump. Is this the right size crushed coral for the bottom layer, and is it o.k. to use the current crushed coral? Or is there a better bottom layer material. <Should be okay... use a plastic screen mesh (like material available for screen door replacement) on top of this layer and finer material (likely coral sand) on top...> I want to change to sand in the display tank. I'm hoping you are familiar with the different Carib-sea kinds of sand. <Yes> What is the best choice for the main tank. It won't be a deep sand bed. The choices are Carib-sea pure Caribbean Aragonite(0.18-1.2mm), Carib-sea Aragamax(0.5-1.02mm), or Carib-sea Special Grade(1-1.7mm) I would like to have a blenny or starfish in the main tank. <Myself... would go with the last (Special Grade)> Of the three Carib-Sea choices above, what is the best choice for the top layer of the plenum? <As stated> Thanks a million, you're an excellent resource, and your book should be arriving on my doorstep today courtesy of UPS. Dan <Be chatting, and taking up your time... pleasurably, my friend. Bob Fenner>

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