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FAQs About Sump/Filters Design/Engineering 1

Related FAQs: Sump Design 2, Sump Design 3, Sump Design 4Sump Design 5 Sump Design 6 Sump Design 7, Sump Design 8, & Sumps/Filters 1, Sumps/Filters 2, Sumps 3, Sumps 4, Sumps 5, Sumps 6, Sumps 7, Sumps 8, Sumps 9, Sumps 10, Rationale, Construction, Sump Components, Pumps/Circulation, Maintenance, Refugiums, Plenums in Reef Filtration, Marine System Plumbing Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing NoiseMake Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

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Adding a Sump to an Established Saltwater Setup 7/29/11
Hello and good afternoon,
<Hello Jennie>
yes I'm sorry it's me again but you have been amazing, I've learnt more from you all at wet web media and Bob Fenner's book the Conscientious Marine Aquarist than any other website, forum or book combined, and thank you also to James (salty dog).
<You're welcome.>
So hear we go again, can I add a sump to an already exciting saltwater setup without having to break it down and start drilling?
<Yes, but you would need to purchase an overflow and return lines from the pump used in the sump. You also need to ensure you have the room between the back of the tank and the wall to accommodate the hang on overflow. If you decided to do this, I'd go with a CPR overflow and also purchase an Aqua Lifter Vacuum Pump, model AW-20, which keeps air bubbles out of the siphon ensuring a good flow rate. Take a look here. http://premiumaquatics.com/aquatic-supplies/CS90.html.
The gallon per hour rate of the return pump should be matched closely to what the chosen overflow is rated for in gph. You can use a higher gph pump but you would need to install a gate valve at the pump's output to control the flow to avoid running the overflow dry which would result in a loss of siphon. >
I have searched the web but I'm a little confused please help me as I have a spare tank that would be perfect but just not sure which way to go. I have an external filter that is just amazing and I still want to run it that way, and I'd like to move the skimmer in to the sump if that's possible, and put in those pesky unknown crabs I keep finding in my setup even though I hadn't spotted them for a year since setting up.
I do hope it is possible and look forward to some advice on what I would need for setting up.
<May want to read through our overflow box FAQs to familiarize yourself with the device. See here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/overfloboxfaqs.htm
Thank you once again, I'll leave you in peace soon, I promise.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Love Jennie, England

Overflow & Sump, Part 1 I have been reading over the FAQ's which have answered many questions but many more were created. I am setting up a 20x20x10x24 All Glass aquarium. <Hmm... We have ventured into the fourth dimension.> I want to drill a 1.5" hole near the top to fit a 1" bulkhead that will go to a 10 gallon aquarium for a sump. The sump will house my heater, Prizm skimmer, <The Skimmer needs to be kept in a special chamber so it receives surface overflow water and a constant water level.> carbon, floss, and return pump. 1. Can I purchase a diamond bit at Home Depot and drill the hole myself? <I don't know if Home Depot sells these, but you have to use a lubricant with the drill bit and keep the drill perfectly perpendicular to the glass surface. I have always use drills made for this purpose that come with a tripod for stability.> I have read it can be done. If so is 1.5" a good size? <I believe a 1" bulkhead needs a 1 3/4" hole.> How far from the top should the hole be drilled? <About 4" from the top to the center of the hole.> I am going to build a internal overflow box with notches at the top. What should the dimensions of the box be? <Whatever is comfortable for you to work with.> I am thinking of 3"x6"x3". Is this a good design? <That seems fine.> I have seen many. 2. What kind of flow rate am I going to get with a 1" bulkhead from the overflow? <300-400 gph> What rate should the pump be going back to the tank? <Same> If I put a valve on the line going back to the tank to regulate the flow to the tank will this help stop the bubbles that so many people have problems with? <No> This is all I will ask for now. Thanks for your help and website. Shaun Nelson <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Sump Configuration Question II Anthony, <Steven Pro here with the follow up. Anthony is getting a bit behind.> This has gotten me thinking that I need to reconfigure my sump. So, I have a few more questions if you don't mind.  :-)) Currently have a AquaFlow protein skimmer, Marineland commercial BioWheel, and a Custom Sealife UV sterilizer. You've already indicated that the skimmer should be before the BioWheel. What about the sterilizer? <This likely makes no difference.> I was thinking putting the sterilizer before the skimmer so that the skimmer would catch all the dead material. Should all water in the overflow go through the skimmer? <This is unlikely to occur every pass. Total tank circulation is usually around ten to twenty times the tank volume per hour, while skimmers operate to process the tank's volume three to five times per hour. But with brisk water movement most all debris will remain in solution and not settle out and eventually the skimmer will get it.> The current flow in the overflow is about 800 gph, and the skimmer is running about 500 gph (manufacturer's recommendation). Is it OK to allow some water to bypass the skimmer? <Yes> I greatly appreciate all the assistance. Thanks, Craig <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Sump Configuration Question III Steven, Sorry, but I have another question. I have attached a BMP of the new sump that I'll be setting up this weekend. The flow through the sump is ~750 gph (Little Giant pump), the protein skimmer does ~500 gph and will empty into the BioWheel. Will I be hurting the BioWheel/system balance by having the extra 250 GPH bypass the BioWheel? <No you should be fine.> Wishing you and your crew the very best this holiday season! <Thank you! Are you done shopping? I am. :)> <Best wishes! -Steven Pro>

Micro-Bubble and Sump Setup Hi everyone, <Hello> I have a 65 gal fish-reef aquarium with over 100 lbs of live rock and 6' of Southdown DSB.  My problem is with the HOB PM Hot-1 skimmer, it introduces quite bit amount of micro-bubble back into the main display. The pump Rio 800)for the skimmer is currently set in a DIY surface skim box.  I am thinking to setup a 10 gal sump with baffles underneath the main display so that the skimmer returns can be redirected to the sump then pump back to the main display and hope to eliminate the bubble problem. <A 10 gallon sump or do you mean a 10 gallon skimmer box? Skimmer box yes...10 gallon sump standing alone will be way too small. Almost impossible not to flood a 10 gallon. A 20 would do just fine> I know this kind setup can cause a flood during a power outage if the water level in the sump is not set correctly at beginning. <Right!> Do you see any other potential problems with this proposal such as the water level in the main display will keep constant or not? (like an overflow design) <Yes. The evaporation will occur in your sump. Another reason why you need more than 10 gallons> As always appreciate your expertise.  Thanks. <Hope I've helped. David Dowless> Wayne

Re: sump filtration Hi Again! <Hi!> After further research, here are my plans. I am ordering the 92 gallon bowfront corner tank with a built in overflow box..  This is going to be only a freshwater tank. For filtration, I am going to plumb through a wall to a storage room where I will house my sump and filter. For the filter I plan to make my own using two Rubbermaid containers which are 12 inches tall, 12 inches long and 8 inches wide.  When I stack these there is a 5X12X8 inch area in the second container.  I am going to drill holes in the bottom of each creating a two stage filter.  In the first layer will be mechanical filter.  And in the second one with the area described above will be carbon held in reusable bags. The water will flow through these two filters and into a 40 gallon container used as a sump.  I would also like to have rock and live plants in one area of the sump. My questions are as follows: Do I need bio balls ? <No, but some form of bio-filtration would be a good idea.> What is a good brand of pump for approx 500-600 gph? <There are many of these available retail. Please shop our WetWebMedia.com sponsors. Most are inexpensive and reliable.> What is a good heater for this size tank? <For 92 gallons and a sump I would probably use two heaters sized to the total volume and local weather. I like to slightly oversize my heaters as I'm in a northern tier state.  Brrrrr.> Any ideas and /or criticisms are appreciated. Thank-you again, Jesse <Do consider some of the commercially available filtration systems, you may save less than you think doing it yourself.  Craig>

- Installing a Sump - Hello, oh helpful ones: <Greetings, JasonC here...> I currently have a 55gal FOWLR setup with hang-on filter, hang-on skimmer, in-tank powerhead and in-tank heater.  I want to get/do a sump to get all the stuff out of my tank and to reap the other benefits.  My problem/challenge is that the only space I have for the sump is inside the stand.  This space is only 10" wide, which leaves me with very little sump capacity for any pre-made.  Even for a custom made sump, I have calculated approximately 15-20gal in order to have any wiggle room.  My questions:  1) isn't it true that you can only have the sump half filled with water? <To an extent. The sump needs to be able to accommodate some quantity of the system water in the plumbing and overflow if the power failed. If the sump were more than 60% full at any given time and the power failed, you might end up with a portion of the tank water on the floor instead. This will vary with design, planning.> 2) isn't that way too small? <I think you will find the biggest challenge - how exactly do you get the sump into the stand without taking the tank out.> 3) should I bother, given my limited space? <How industrious are you?> 4) is ANY size sump an advantage over none? <I think so... you increase the total water volume in the system which is always helpful.> 5) am I inviting more problems than I am solving? <Only if you throw it together. Take your time in the design/planning phase.> Thank you very much in helping me, again!  Rich <Cheers, J -- >

New Setup Hi Bob, I'm in the planning/dreaming phase of setting up either a 120 gallon or 180 gallon setup. Is there any benefit to buying a wet/dry filter and removing the bio-balls versus buying an empty aquarium to act as a sump?  <Yes... generally a bit more expensive than just making a sump out a tank, rigging your own overflow... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm> If you buy a reef-ready tank, submersible return pump, and in-sump protein skimmer I don't see the need for an expensive wet/dry filter. Do these units help control water flow or reduce bubbles? <Some do... with baffles, overflows, intake filters/pads of various sorts... you can arrange all this yourself as well> Also, have you had any experience with E.T.S.S. or Precision Marine for protein skimming? Are they similar in quality/performance? <Have had exposure to both lines. Our opinions on skimmers are posted on WetWebMedia.com> On a side note... I would like to thank you for your advice and quick responses to my questions. Your advice has definitely made my fish/inverts happier animals. It's also nice being able to see them thanks to your advice on algae control. I used to have a SEVERE algae problem, but was able to reduce phosphates and raise calcium/alk. Now my tank is being overwhelmed with coralline algae. <Great to hear of your successes> Thanks for your time and excellent advice, Jeremy G. <Bob Fenner>

Sump Bryan here. Craig thanks for fast great information. <Steven Pro here with the reply.> Do have a few quick questions today. Using a Rubbermaid container for the sump. I am wanting to add some baffles. Reading thru F&Q's and found where Bob mentions he has put in acrylic sheets in Rubbermaid containers, but doesn't explain how. How would you silicone an acrylic sheet onto to a Rubbermaid container to get it to stay? <It is far easier to merely use several tubs of various sizes to create a baffled effect. One flowing into the next. Rubbermaid tubs are nice and cheap but bow considerably making siliconing baffles difficult.> Last thing, about the valves again. A check valve helps to prevent backflow/siphon. A gate valve acts to even out unequal pressure. What does a ball valve do and is it different than a shut off valve? <Similar> Thanks for all your help. Bryan <You are welcome. -Steven Pro> Sump/frag tank setup for dummies ? Bob, Anthony, and Steven, <cheers, Jeff... Anthony here> 1st, Melinda and I enjoyed meeting all of you guys at MACNA....We were very impressed with all of you (yes, even you Bob !) and greatly appreciate the time you spent with us discussing some of our ideas, and all of your work....Your openness to discuss these things is very helpful and we thank you. <our business and pleasure. Especially when you bring your charming wife <G>> Anyway, while we still play with potential ideas for a biz startup, we wanted to setup a mini op in our basement.... <a very good idea to start with a small model. Easier to extrapolate expenses from there. Go for it bubba> We have 3 100g Rubbermaid stock tanks available...I was thinking of just setting up 2 right now, with the ability to later add the 3rd.... <OK> Tank 1 would be the "grow out" tank, with about 5-6" sand, then raised acrylic racking above that (similar to the harbor tanks at MACNA)....lighting it, I think, will be a 36" MH/pc combo with 2x175w MH 10000k and 2x55w pc 6700k or 7100k...oh yeah, 2 sea swirls too <all very nice but it would be better to use equipment that will ultimately be used on the larger scale too... to work out the "bugs" so to speak. SeaSwirls are way too expensive to buy and operate in a commercial endeavor. Instead, use airlifts as much as possible and support with cheap recirculating pumps. Power heads are almost never to be recommended in commercial applications. The halides are very fine. The pc's are entirely unnecessary unless you just want them here for aesthetics. All halides have more than enough blue in their spectrum> Tank 2 would be the sump, or maybe, sump/refugium....here's where I need help..... <its not the only place you need help...heehee> I am thinking about an in sump bullet 1 skimmer, driven by the sen900 pump...a Gen x Mak 4 pump for the actual system flow...I'm planning on maybe 100lbs or so of LR in there as well, at the very least, and perhaps additional sand... <OK...cool> My problem is that I really have no idea on how do actually do all of this...I've never done anything like this before and want to do it right.... <no worries... the journey to enlightenment will be great fun here> ?'s are (other than "how do I do this ?!?!? ") can it all be plumbed with 1" line, or do the sump-tank and tank-sump lines need to be sized differently? <all one inch is likely fine... do check skimmer specs> 1 or 2 sump to tank pumps and lines, 1 or 2 returns ? <one pump and one return feeding a teed closed loop manifold. Did we discuss this at MACNA or do you need a crash course? If so... call by phone (number in my book) and we'll chat at length about this> what's the best/easiest way to return water from the sump to main tank (overflow) ? < a single dedicated pump to a manifold as per above. Simplest and most economical> how do I separate the skimmer area in the sump from the LR area....the problem is that the tank is not of uniform dimensions from top to bottom (the bottom footprint is smaller than the top footprint).... < a bucket or small inner vessel for the skimmer to catch raw water first is recommended> Does a refugium in the sump tank make any sense ? if so, how do I incorporate it ? <yes... its fine. Although I like an upstream refugium much better> Obviously, I am completely new to this, so be gentle with me please !!!!! <way too many jokes for that last comment... we'll let that one slide <G>> Again, it was great meeting all of you... Thanks for your time, Jeff Yonover Flossmoor, IL <our pleasure... be chatting soon. Do call if you need to. Anthony>

Refugium and Pond question Dear Bob, <<I'm not Bob, but I play one on TV... JasonC here.>> I am working on the addition of a refugium to my 300 gallon (96x30x24) reef tank. I have obtained a 250 gallon container and plan to locate it and all my other hardware in an adjoining "fish room". I have researched your website and read your book (both excellent!) and have a couple of questions: 1. Is it ok to have the new "refugium" act as my only sump as well? <<Sure.>> If yes, do I need a separate area for the water to crash into from the tank overflow? <<In a container that large, probably not... but it wouldn't hurt, it would just need engineering and construction in advance.>> 2. My tank is currently turning over at about 8 times per hour, and I am planning on increasing the flow as part of the new plumbing (larger pump). Will a flow of about 10-12 times per hour be too much for the refugium to function properly (nitrate removal, oxygenation, transfer of pods and other critters to feed main display)? <<In this case, you may want to baffle the water coming into the sump/refugium just so things don't get completely swept away.>> My other question is regarding ponds. I live in southern California (near the foothills in San Bernardino County). My wife has always wanted to have a saltwater outdoor pond. <<I would think this is do-able, but not without many issues - right off the top of my head would be constant top-off to deal with evaporation.>> Is these do-able with local animals (maybe leopard sharks, or rock wrasse, etc) or is it possible to do something with tropical livestock. <<Not with local livestock unless you also invest in a LARGE chiller... tropicals would be easier, but you'd still need a pretty large heater to make sure the temperature didn't drop too low on that one day a year when it gets chilly.>> Any insight you have on either subject would be appreciated. <<I say do as much research as you can... this isn't impossible, but will probably test the limits of your financing.>> Thanks, Bob McCook <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sump materials & cleaning Good morning! A couple of sump building questions. I recently purchased a 70 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank to use as a sump for my 135 gallon reef. I have cut some acrylic sheet which will serve as a baffle. What can I use to glue the acrylic sheet to the plastic stock tank?  <very little will actually make a chemical bond. The Rubbermaid has some nylon or polymers in it that don't receive glue well or at all> Could I use POXY MARINE (a waterproof epoxy)?  <that seems like a good choice> I tested some silicone sealant to see how well it would adhere to the stock tank but it peeled right off after it cured so I'm afraid it may not hold the baffles in place.  <exactly... silicone adheres to neither> Also, will acetone bond the acrylic to itself or do I have to use Weld-on?  <no idea... some experimentation here in a small spot> And lastly, the stock tank and water storage tank (plastic also) are new and seem to have slippery almost oily feel to them. I assume this is the mold release used during manufacturing.  <likely> Can I take both to the carwash and use soap and water to clean them, as long as they are well rinsed? <well rinsed... ya, but still makes me uncomfortable. A good scouring with cooking salt will do the trick nicely> Regards, Gerardo Gomez <best regards, Anthony>

Sump I am suffering from information overload! Please tell me the best setup for a fish and coral sump. <Your confusion is in trying to determine "The Best" sump for any given setup. There really is no such thing. There are many, many, many different sump configurations. It all depends on what in particular you wish it to do.> I already have about # 150 live rock and a DSB with about #100 OF LIVE SAND over #200 of aragonite. I need something to act as a sump to return water back to my 160 gallon tank. <If that is all, a simple Rubbermaid tub would work just fine.> Yes I am using a good skimmer (precision marine # 626). I don't know what to put in the refugium that will be beneficial and keep my nitrates at 0. <Ok, if you are having nitrate problems, we can address that particular need. First off, I would begin to use purified water (RO or DI) if you are not already. Also, double check your salt mix for nitrate. If your source water and salt mix are nitrate free, check your feeding and dosing. Make sure that everything you add is being consumed (both fish and invert foods). Make sure your skimmer is functioning properly, operating in a stable water level, receiving raw (un-prefiltered) surface skimmed water, and producing a cup full of dark skimmate daily. If you are currently doing all of this and still have a problem, then you are probably overstocked, but you can employ a refugium to help. If your focus is nutrient export, use Caulerpa, but know that your corals may suffer in the long-run. You can use many other macroalgae or seagrasses. They all have their pluses and minuses. I did want to point out that too many hobbyists associate refugiums with Caulerpa or really any plant life. A refugium is merely a place of refuge for certain plants and animals away from the predators in your tank (fish and corals). A refugium could be a dark area with liverock and sponges, ala Steve Tyree and his cryptic zones. Or it could merely be a live rock rubble area that is focused on copepod, amphipod, and Mysis shrimp production. There are of course the Caulerpa and Miracle Mud refugiums or the seagrass beds with deep fine aragonite substrate or mini forests of Mangroves or any other design you can imagine. Merely identify what you want out of your refugium/sump and think of a way to deal with your particular needs.> Thanks, Lance Roark <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: sump My objective is to remove all the nitrates, and provide a good environment for corals. I am doing all the things you hit on already, but I believe my trickle with bioballs is a nitrate factory !! <agreed> What would you suggest to add to a refugium to get me to this point ? I am thinking maybe a live sand bed with some mangrove, or reef rubble. How about either one of these ideas? <the mangrove is very cool, but does little for nutrient export. The rubble will help generate plankton. A very deep fine sand bed is the key to nitrate reduction. 4+ inches at least. 5-6" would be nice> Can I use a sump and just use the live rock and live sand bed to get there? <you could... but that would reduce the safety reservoir in the sump (power outages, etc). I'd advice a DSB (deep sand bed) inline refugium between the display and the sump, or above the display (to prevent the need for an extra pump)> Thanks for responding Lance Roark <best regards, Anthony>

DIY SUMP Setup Bob, I have been perusing WWM for a week now. I can not fathom the amount of time and energy that you and the crew put into maintenance, and then to answer all of our email, I am rather awestruck. <Thank goodness for good (knowledgeable, friendly, outreaching...) friends... and the accumulated technology which is the internet> I apologize for asking yet another sump question, but after reading all of the FAQs I was and am still left somewhat unsure of how to proceed. I tried to connect to OZ Reef but it appears to be down for maintenance currently, so I'll just dive into my questions following a little background. I currently have a 55g Marine setup. I have a Wet/Dry HOT, a Sea Clone 100 Skimmer, and a Powerhead (805). I have since learned that the HOT Wet/Dry was a mistake and doesn't work worth a darn.  <You might benefit from converting this to a refugium...> I have about 3" of mixed substrate to include Crushed Puka Shell, Crushed Coral, and a mix of a few others that were left over at the LFS. I have about 30lbs. of Live Rock, and my chemicals stay quite perfect to my surprise. Fish in the tank include a Yellow Tang (4"), a Koran (4"), a Paddlefin (6"), a Volitans Lion (4") and a Snowflake Moray (12-14"). <A lot of life...> I know that my tank is overstocked and I want to do something about it. I went and looked at tanks this weekend, and I think I have chosen a 135g that is 72Lx24Hx18D. I was going to order it predrilled with Qty. 3 of 1" Overflows Spread across the back. I was going to use 2 for the Overflow, and 1 as a return from a 2g Sump. <Would like to see larger holes for the discharges from the tank... and I'll assume you meant a "20" gal. sump> Does this sound ok?  <Mmm, okay... but a larger sump will be more useful by far... the transit volume alone (practice, imagine turning the pump/s off, or the power going off... about ten gallons of water will drain into the sump... so you'll have to operate it about half full... to avoid overfilling accidents.> I plan on moving the Lion, Koran, Paddlefin and Moray into the new tank, and use the 55 as a small reef setup. Does this sound ok or am I mental?  <Sounds good to me> I get these ideas and the LFS tells me otherwise so I tend to do them anyhow. <An important lesson: One must think, and in final syntheses decide for themselves> I also have a 10g tank with 2 Green Chromis, 2 Damsels and a Coral Banded Shrimp, only because I was told that it couldn't be done. These tank have all been established about 6 months. My reason behind all this is also somewhat double edged in that first off I know my fish are over crowded, and secondly I want some corals and other types of aquatic life as well as some Clowns and Jelly Fish and what not. <Not Jellyfish> If my plan sounds feasible, then great I can continue, otherwise what do you suggest? Should I add or change the holes that I plan on having drilled?  <Yes... make the overflows 1 1/2" diameter... and add another discharge or two... one at either back end, one in the middle...> Where else can I find more DIY Sump Information.  <Do you have Anthony's Coral Propagation book? Many good ideas there> I same your 1 diagram here on WWM but I was and am unclear on what is what and how the trays and what not work. I think I some what under stand the idea behind a bulk head in it's use for eliminating bubbles from eh system, but what else is there too it? What do I do for actual filtration, and what do I use to pump the water back up? <Many things... keep studying, drawing all out, gathering information until you understand what your options are> Thanks for all of your help and keep up the good work, if not for us hobbyists, for the well being of our innocent fish! ;-) <Indeed... our principal goals exactly. Bob Fenner> --Phillip

Happy sump day Bob! Happy birthday Bob!!! (where is the cake??) <no cake in San Diego... they celebrate by sticking some candles in a chalupa...or a carnita... or any one of myriad of tasty Mexican dishes> Anthony: <Si...> I'm planning to modify my sump, because I design it without the proper knowledge and experience. My actual sump is fed from the main tank with a siphon (I know you don't like it, just apologize me, maybe in the future I'll modify it)  <agreed... do drill the tank for a gravity overflow when the opportunity is available> it does not have a special chamber to receive the raw water to feed the skimmer. So my new tank will have a special chamber for the skimmer, feeding directly from the main tank, also, reading your FAQs and now, your book, I will put a DSB in the sump to achieve the nitrate elimination. Please see my raw plan, and give me some advice... my tank is 200 liter.  <the design looks very nicely simple and effective: raw water enters the skimmer section first, then passes over DSB then returned to display. You may want to add some chemical filtration down here too (submersible carbon filter or even just a bag of passive carbon)> another question, the sump area does not have illumination, and if I can avoid it, I rather stay without light in there... there is any problem with that? <no problem at all... there is no need for light when this refugium is meant to denitrify and to produce plankton. Arguably, it may even work a little bit better without light for these purposes> <kindly, Anthony>

Sump questions Hello WWM crew, <Hello> I was just wanting to know What is the biggest tank you can run with a 125 gallon sump ?<perty darn big> I was just wanting to know because I got one for 50 bucks at a sale but they had 2 left and they gave me the other one for free also <score!>? Could 1-2 125 gallons run a 800 -1000 gallon fish only? <Should be fine>I see on the guys website with the 4000 gallon reef uses only 2 200 gallon sumps so is it like a 100 gallons of sump for every 1000 gallons of tank or is this not right? <It is not necessarily the size of the sump that is important, but how you use it. However, bigger is better. The components of your sump (built in refugium, protein skimmer, biomedia, pump, etc) will be what determines the efficiency of the entire system and the size of the tank you should go with. Check out the "Gear/Components" and "Filtration/Circulation/Aeration" section of the link below for a plethora of information on this topic> thanks for all your help, Harry <Thanks for making me feel that my sump is inadequate, Gage (-_-)>

Sump/Filter Design Hi Bob, <Steve Pro here right now.> I'm in the process of setting up a 50 gal. reef. It has a built in over flow. I'm trying to decide how I want to set-up the sump. Here are my two ideas. 1. Have a partitioned sump, with floss, and a protein skimmer. Similar design to my other reefs in the past with good results. <Berlin style, what I use myself most often.> 2. Also a partitioned sump, but the return water going to a larger compartment via a spray bar/diffuser that has a DSB, live rock, and multiple types of Caulerpa, and 24hr light cycle. On this version there would be no protein skimmer. There would also be another compartment to separate Caulerpa filter from my return pump. <You lost me a little here. The return pump runs to a larger compartment. Is this compartment above the main display and the water from there gravity drains into the main tank? If so, this is the best design for a refugium to maximize planktonic life making into the display. I would also keep the skimmer.> These are my 2 ideas for this tank. I think idea 2 will work pretty well, but I have never tried it. Will the Caulerpa remove enough unused nutrient? <Yes, will remove nutrients but can add other noxious compounds, why I like to use in combination with skimmers and activated carbon.> I've heard with Caulerpa you can use NO cool white fluorescents, is that possible. <Yes> I plan on using a Iwaki 30 on this system, will the flow through the Caulerpa filter be too fast for it to work properly. <The RLT model does 500 gph @ 4 ft. The RLXT 950 gph @ 4 ft. Either would be good for your overall setup. The higher flow if housing stony corals, the lower for fish-only, soft corals. As far as flow to the refugium, probably best to T it off and allow a slower flow to be diverted there while the rest goes straight into the display. Please try to get gate valves for their finer control.> Thanks in advance for the help. Mike <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Sump/Filter Design Hi Guys, I'll clarify my previous post. If I use the Caulerpa/refugium set-up, I would use this as my sump. It would be located underneath the main tank. The compartment I was talking about for my return pump, is actually the last part of the sump separated from the compartment holding the Caulerpa. This is the reason why I question my idea. Would this be too much flow for the Caulerpa to be effective. <Maybe... it would be better to either place the Macrophyte/s in a separate "refugium" type sump with much more limited flow, or to build in a "bypass" or separate low-flow area for the Caulerpa in the present sump design> The reason I was thinking of not using a skimmer was the benefit of not skimming (coralline algae spores, less heat, plankton, etc), and the skimmer would out compete the Caulerpa. As far as the noxious compounds go, I thought that the 24hr light cycle is supposed to keep those compounds from forming. Thanks again for the help. Mike <The 24 light regimen does indeed do this. I am a fan of using at least "partial skimming"... either alternating time (like one day on, next day off) or a much-undersized unit for the application... rather than no skimming at all. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sump/Filter Design Hey Guys, I will implement this design. I will have a sump made to the specs described in my posts(36LX24HX18W). You can have custom made glass sumps done in Canada quite inexpensively($60 USD). I'm curing my rock and DSB right now, nitrogen cycle almost complete. Ammonia is .1ppm, and nitrite is 1ppm. I will not add snails or hermits till both ammonia or nitrite are 0ppm, although I have a hitchhiker pistol shrimp and small limpet that seem to be doing okay. I just got a digital camera so I will send some pics of my rockwork and set-up once I get my lighting set-up. Thanks again for the advice, Mike <All sounds good. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sump/Filter Design Hi Guys, <cheers, my friend> I really don't have enough room for a dedicated refugium, would the set-up I'm talking about (24hr light, Caulerpa, DSB, undersized skimmer). Would there be any benefit to this design with the flow being the return from my tank, or should I just go with the standard sump (floss, protein skimmer) set-up I've used in the past. Thanks in advance, <the skimmer less/light versus aggressive skimmer dynamic of the question cannot be fairly posed without knowing what animals would be kept. Animals that are highly dependant on feeding by absorption may benefit by light skimming... but these animals are less common. In agreement with Bob, speaking to the masses and likely livestock/setup... my strong vote is for a traditional sump and aggressive protein skimming. Do consider the in tank refugiums though and many other forms of alternate aquarium concepts (in-tank mangroves, raceways above sump, seagrasses... all outlined in my Book of Coral Propagation if you like). Kindly, Anthony Calfo> Mike

DIY Sump Robert I don't mean to bug you but I want to make sure I am following you. The rubber maid container is the sump...right?  <Yes... these can make great sumps/refugiums, storage containers> If your pumps are external then does the rubber maid container have to be drilled?  <Yes... some of the "trough-size" ones come with a through hull fitting in them, otherwise there is a flush area on the lower sides for this purpose> Can you send me a drawn diagram of what this should look like if I don't get this? Thanks again!!!! <Mmm, maybe I can find a photograph... take a look at the container... and the "marine plumbing" areas on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Sump Plumbing Questions Hi Bob- <<Actually, not Bob but JasonC... >> I am hoping you can send me in the right direction again. If you folks were not here I think I would have just sold off a few of the fish instead of upgrading. You guys/gals can instill confidence (in me, anyway) with your words of wisdom. As you suggested several months ago, I am moving up from a 55 salt to a 125 AGA with two 1" overflows and two 3/4" returns in bottom and 135 lbs of live rock. I have tank and some equipment but am still in planning stage. My Tangs have grown like weeds over the past 4 years (especially "Clyde" the Naso) and they are getting a little cranky/cramped. <<Can't say that I blame them... >> I am planning on staying mostly fish only (can I still say that now that I am planning on having live rock?). Do you think the tangs will eat everything off of the live rock? <<I feel like the magic 8-ball - signs point to yes.>> I also have quite a few small red and blue leg hermits. Will they eat everything off of the rock? <<The hermits? Not with the tangs competing with them, though they will eat some.>> The main area of confusion (among several) is... We have a crawlspace under the house and I have a good size closet that is in another room about 10 feet away, that I would like to use as an equipment room. I was thinking I could run some pvc pipe down thru the floor, over and up into the closet. keep all the skimmer, pump noise isolated (happy wife). Is this a sound idea? <<Until it leaks under the floor, I think so, yes.>> Any drawbacks you can see? <<Well, where I live, those pipes would surely freeze without any other precautions. Well, OK, it's salt water so it might not freeze, but the low temperature would wreak havoc on a tropical reef. Do you live in a four-season location?>> I was thinking I would place the sump at the same height as the main tank and the refugium above the sump. Then splitting off of one of the overflow lines from tank (T and valve ) before it gets to the sump and running it up into the refugium. <<You mean with a pump?>> Then just let gravity bring it back to the 1st chamber of the sump. <<I'm not sure gravity would get any water into the refugium with this design.>> Would this be a good design? I thought I may have to have a valve on inlet to sump so I can create a little back pressure and push water up into refugium above. <<Ahh ok... this will never work.>> Or should I just drop a little pump in 1st chamber of sump and pump it up? <<This is a better scenario, although the refugium will in essence be a separate system which shares the sump with the tank.>> Should I just have sump and refugium on the same level and run in parallel? <<Why not combine the two, so that your refugium is also your sump?>> I bought a 20gal long glass tank for the refugium and drilled a few 1 1/2in holes for bulkheads in it. I was planning on sand and Caulerpa of some kind. I also bought a 20gal regular? for making a sump. I am still learning about how to design that. If the sump is at same level as main tank , the water level will not rise when power is out, correct? Running the pipes down under house and back up again 10 feet away will not effect things in some odd unforeseen way will it? <<Well check again... there is no way without pumps to make water go up having already spilled out of the overflows on your tank.>> I picked up two Magdrive12 pumps thinking that the extra bends in the pipes will slow the flow down and I may need some extra push. <<This is true, but not a significant amount. Two Mag12's will be a lot of circulation for this tank.>> I have read that circulation should be at least 10x in the tank and 2ish for a refugium. Is this accurate? <<This is a good rule of thumb, sure, but it is also possible through design to combine a sump with a refugium and still maintain a good turnover rate.>> If so, will all of that run through the sump or is some tapped off and just makes a loop? <<You could make a separate circulation loop for the refugium, fed from the sump, and flowing back into the sump.>> The tank has two 1" bulkheads for overflow and two 3/4" for return. I have read that a 1" bulkhead will handle approx 300 gph. <<I think it's actually closer to 600 GPH.>> If this is true, how is one supposed to have a 10x turnover(1250gph)? <<Drill more holes.>> Use all four for overflow and run new returns? <<Or that... >> Sometimes I just think I am not getting the big picture with the whole plumbing thing. <<I think you are sweating the details a little too much. You are on the right track, and only a little of course with the planned placement of the sump and refugium.>> Thank you again for your guidance and help. If I lived closer I would take you all out for dinner. <<Well... you may live close to me!>> Bob- I am diggin' your book!!!! <<He'll be pleased to read this.>> Confused in Atlanta-Dennis <<Oh... not that close. Oh well. Cheers, J -- >>

DIY sump question Greetings! A big thank you for the knowledge you guys pass on every day! Much appreciated... I've read through the material on sumps and visited OzReef (another great site...thanks for pointing it out) and decided to try to save a few bucks and make my own. The sump was purchased at a local home hardware store and is made of an opaque polypro material...fairly rigid but not difficult to work with. My question revolves around using silicone to attach a couple of baffles. The inside of this box is very slick and the baffles don't seem to secure very well w/ silicone. After curing, they either fall out on their own or w/ very little coaxing (much less coaxing than the water pressure would deliver). The silicone is attached very securely to the baffles themselves (acrylic) but peels very easily off the sump. I'm becoming convinced that I'm going to have to select something else...unless you have suggestions? <Two suggestions. For a completely different sump that you can silicone baffles in use a glass aquarium. They are very easy to work with. If you want to try to work around the plastic storage tote, use another tote. You could use several totes of various sizes to create the same effect as baffles.> Thanks for your time. Andy McClure <Don't mention it. -Steven Pro>

Sump Building Hi, I have some limited space in my stand underneath my 75 gallon tank. I want to have a sump of 20 gallons for the reef tank--is that an adequate size? <A little small for my tastes, but definitely workable especially if you already have a spare 20 laying around.> I figured a 10 gallon might be a little small. <Agreed> Are in-sump skimmers capable of skimming water fast enough to feed the main return sump (I have a mag drive rated at 920 GPH)? <Skimmers are designed to be able to hold the water they are currently processing in the body of the skimmer until it is adequately cleaned.> I'm concerned that the skimmer will not be able to keep up with the water being siphoned from the main tank and then feed it to the return pump (basically slowing everything down). <The skimmer should not feed water to the return pump. Take a look here for some clarification of layout and design, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm> My second question concerns putting live rock in the main sump area. If the tank is a reef tank isn't the water being "filtered" in the main tank by all the live rock, thereby negating the need to have live rock in the sump? <Yes and no. There is no need in most reef tanks for additional live rock for nitrification, but there are other benefits; refugiums for plankton production, reverse daylight photoperiod for pH stabilization, cryptic zones for sponge and feather duster growth, and many other applications.> Is there an advantage to having live rock in the sump? <See above and further reading on www.WetWebMedia.com.> I'm sure I'd have room for some, and I have my leftover 10 gallon fluorescent light I could use. Just curious. Thanks, Mike <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Sump Building Hi, So the best way to do this would probably be to have the skimmer "sump" section of the sump have a lower piece of glass to separate it so the water not caught by the skimmer will just overflow into the refugium/main area? <I think I get what you are describing and your answer is yes.> Or should that piece have a bulkhead drilled into it? <Either or. The bulkhead gives you more adjustment.> And could you do the same thing to separate the refugium from the pump (my pump will be submersed). <Yes exactly.> Thanks, Mike <In summary, a section for your skimmer, that overflows into another compartment for your refugium (if you want to refugium in the stand instead of above the tank), that overflows into the last part where the return pump is located. -Steven Pro>

Liverock & Large Predators IV (sumps, removing bioballs, nitrate) Greetings Steven Pro, I hope all is well. A quick follow-up. As I am about to add a 2nd sump, change pump, etc., I am faced with a space challenge in my 72" stand. My tank is in my living room so all the plumbing must be hidden in the stand. My sump #1 (a converted wet/dry) is 24 inches long, followed will be followed in series by approximately 8 inches of connections to sump #2 which is 24 inches also. This leaves only about 16" for connections to my pump and the pump itself. I can fit it all in, but this limits my potential to add another item in series (I'm contemplating a small refugium someday). <Before you add on yet another vessel, I would urge you to buy one big tank/sump and use it for all your needs; sump, refugium, protein skimmer box, etc. Much safer than all these connections/potential spaces for leaks.> I believe I have read somewhere that you cannot place an elbow before the inlet to a pump such as the 1200 gph Iwaki I just purchased. Can you confirm that this would be a bad move? <It will restrict the flow.> If I could use an elbow it would allow me to place my pump sideways and free up some extra room. <You are going to be using some additional powerheads or something else too anyway, as your 180 will need more circulation than the Iwaki can supply alone. If the elbow helps you, go for it and just compensate with the additional added flow.> Thank you for your advice. BTW, you guys have been giving me great tips. I am preparing for the addition of a lot of live rock in the next month or so, and have been slowly testing the biological capability of my "dead rock" that I've had for years in the meantime. I'm now down to 1/4 of the bioballs I originally had in my wet-dry, and my nitrates have steadily dropped from 40 to now 5 this week. The only thing that dropped further was my jaw when I re-checked the latest test. I've never had such low readings before. And all this before adding the live rock and a Euro Reef skimmer I just ordered. Pass on my thanks to all -- more good news to come I'm sure! Steve. <Glad to hear it! -Steven Pro>

DIY Sump Hi everyone- I was hoping someone could help me figure a few things out. I have a 125 gallon AGA with 2 corner overflows, FOWLR tank. I made a sump out of a 20 gallon tank. I drilled it for four 1" bulkheads. Two in and two out (to the pumps) and placed a few baffles in between. It is a glass tank and it was recommended that I use a drill press with the diamond edged hole saw. But then I could only drill the holes about halfway down the side because if interference with the press support beam. So I drilled them about halfway down the side of the tank. It seems now, that I have to keep the water level fairly high in the sump so that the pumps will not cavitate. <By cavitate you mean run dry/suck in air?> Should the pump inputs be positioned at the bottom edge of the tank instead of the middle? <That is generally where I place them and most commercially manufactured W/D's and sumps are made.> The water level in the last compartment gets too low and the pumps cavitate before there is enough time for the overflows from the main tank to start working unless I keep the water level higher. The water level in the main tank is also a bit above the row of slots in the overflows. This seems a bit high. The scum on the top does not drain into the overflow because it is a bit above the slots. It seems like it should be a bit lower. Is this because I have to keep the sump level high? <No, more likely your return pump is too large for your overflows.> Or put another way, if I can lower the level in the sump (by lowering the pump inputs), should the level in the tank drop a bit? <No, that seems like two unrelated problems if I am envisioning your setup correctly.> I have recently successfully drilled holes for a 1" bulkhead in a practice tank (already broken) with a hand drill, and I am considering plugging up the two current pump supply holes and drilling new ones along the bottom edge. <That should fix one problem, but maybe not both.> I shut everything off after running for a few hours and the sump level stopped a few inches from the top. So I think I am ok size wise. Any help would be appreciated. Have a great day. Dennis <Thank you. -Steven Pro>

Sump Set-Up Hello all, and good day! I was just wondering, my display tank is only 55 gallons, <Only 55 gallons? That is all I have for the time being.> but I would like to have a large refugium, as I think they are beautiful, as well as doing a lot of good. <Agreed> Plus, I would like to set up a little plumbed mangrove vase, is this possible? <anything is possible.> Pumped with a powerhead or something perhaps? <Sure> Anyhow, I was hoping to use a 33 gallon for my refugium, and then on top (in addition to, not physically on top) of this have my sump. <Ok> I was/am thinking of using a large chest freezer that I can get my hands on, it is 25 cubic feet, but I highly doubt I will have it filled to the brim! <Rather large and unsightly.> My thinking was, it can't be too terrible to have huge water volume, <True> but then I remembered how much extra it would cost me, liverock, substrate, salt, bigger skimmer etc... <And true> Okay, this email is getting a bit random, as I am just blurting out thoughts I have had, sorry. <I was beginning to wonder where we were going myself.> Would it be conceivable to use the large area of the freezer to create some kind of tidal areas? <Sure, just be sure to take the door off for safety.> I could have low and high tides with some kind of pump on a timer that fills a garbage can and then siphons back in when full (hopefully a 12 hour cycle) I could even have a beach area with some type of surge device, so it would be like a shore...maybe this would increase the variety of critters I could keep happy. <Anything is possible with the right equipment, money, etc.> Anyhow, just to simplify everything down, other than monetary, are there problems with having a total system volume of 200 gallon and only having a 54 gallon display tank. <None what so ever.> And on the flip-side are there any major benefits? <Greater dilution, more stable environment.> Thanks, Chris <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

System Hardware Hi Anthony, <cheers, Chris> I am attaching a rough drawing of the sump configuration that I originally spoke of with you. This was conceived when we were told the turnover in the refugium should be no less then 2x's. Taking that into consideration we thought to raise the refugium up slightly off the sump floor to allow the excess filtered water flow unrestricted to the return pumps. If the refugium could handle the full flow of the water coming into the sump then we would have all of the filtered water flow into it and over the other side to the return pumps. The skimmer in the picture is installed this way to have a way of supplying water to the refugium without an additional pump. Looking at your drawing I believe we have the theory down but a different configuration.  <agreed... although I noticed the comment that water coming into the skimmer from above is pre-filtered. As with the earlier explanation.. we do not want any kind of filtering of raw tank water en route to skimmer (or refugium for that matter). A skimmer can export raw waste... a refugium can consumer raw waste... but a pre-filter is only going to trap and nitrify raw waste which contributes to nitrates and robs the refugium> Pre filtering media will be placed at the entrance area of the water coming in from the tank as well as a sponge media at the bottom of the LR chamber to assist in filtering any debris that may be present. <hmmm... it may be easier to simply have a large course foam block on the pump intake that is regularly (weekly) rinsed and reused. It will help reduce fouling of pump and help to maintain long-term delivery of consistent high flow. Else, mulm and slime allowed to buildup in a running pump over months time increase the chance of a pump not restarting in the event of a power surge or failure> Your explanation of the "why" the skimmer should be first explains the reasoning. When you talk to people they are all in agreement that LR should replace the bio balls because of the increase of nitrate buildup over time but the "cause" of the build up has not been discussed and of course replacing the bio balls with LR will solve the problem. The fact that the debris will still be entering the LR and then skimmed, you still have the situation of the "cause" still existing. I guess this is where you go to all of us "duh!":-)Here again I show my novice mode--your suggestion of drilling a hole in the box of the sump slightly above the mfg suggest water level makes sense too. Having the proper level in the skimmer will keep the skimmer at maximum performance while having excess water overflowing out. (Can you see the starting of the light bulb in my head getting brighter?)  <heehee... yes my friend :)> I think here is where I will inject a double thanking you for communicating with us and helping up improve and becoming (to paraphrasing Bob's book title) a conscientious aquarist! <quite welcome! pass along a good word about WWM to a friend too:)> You are correct in being frustrated with Caulerpa being used in refugiums. I myself was going to have it in my refugium because whenever a discussion of a refugium starts Caulerpa is the first macroalgae mentioned.  <ughhh... Eric Borneman and I were just discussing this (he dislikes Caulerpa for most applications as much as I do!) In a phrase... we would say, "ANYTHING but Caulerpa!!!" I'll be writing a detailed article for aquarists detailing and citing the many "whys" very soon> Reading through the Q&A's I came upon your disagreement of having it available. If my memory serves me correct I believe you did not believe there was a benefit but in fact it robs the coral of necessary nutrients. After reading your response is when I thought I better get your book and read up more. <yes... there is a staggering list of "why nots" for Caulerpa. Nutrient robbing is one of the least. Noxious shed compounds, risk of vegetative wipeout (inevitable in time), growth inhibitors, etc> The Hidden Reef located in North East PA is where I purchased my LR. They have a nice setup on salt water fish and corals.  <ahh... yes. I haven't been there yet but will likely see them soon> In NJ there is a place called Aquarium Discount Pet Center. I mention them because their prices on tanks are the cheapest in the area. Not only that the sales person we spoke to seemed knowledgeable and when I mentioned your site and the mass of information on it he asked for the URL.  <very reassuring to hear! Kudos to them for not fearing information as alas too many shops do> They have a small selection of corals and fish. I will say both places when I mentioned my "wish List" either said wait until I have my 180 and the tank matures (regarding fish) or wait until I have the proper lighting (regarding coral). To me that showed responsibility to their livestock and not the sale. <Very much agreed... this thanks and due recognition will be posted on the daily FAQ page... 6,000 unique ISPS daily :)> Once again thank you for your time and input. If you would be so kind as to review our drawing and make any suggestions/alterations on how to improve it would be greatly appreciated. <it looks very fine overall... just omit the prefiltered water to the skimmer and we are in agreement. Best regards, Anthony> Chris

Sump Design I have a 120gal tank, which will be set up fish-only for now. I want to add a 20 gal sump. This is my plan: Water from overflow 1" pvc into the sump tank. Then a skimmer.  <stop right there my friend... all sump model skimmers need a VERY stable sump level and essentially a skimmer box that catches all raw water from the display before overflowing on to the variable sump well/portion. This may be a sealed baffle on one end of the sump or a proper box with a drilled overflow hole. Necessary by any measure> Then over a baffle through carbon into the return pump area which will pump through 3/4" pvc through a UV sterilizer back into the tank.  <save your money on the UV sterilizer. You don't need it for disease control when you have a proper QT tank (which is better and much less expensive than a UV), and UV's operate within a VERY strict range of parameters (heavily chemically filtered water/ultra clear water, killer prefiltration, bulbs changed every 4-6 months, chambers cleaned 4-6 times yearly (bacterial slime impeding UV, etc)). The list goes on. Hobbyists don't need UV... commercial aquarists do where new fish without quarantine go in and out weekly. Even then, UV is hardly foolproof. Really, my friend... you (and all of us) simply must quarantine all new livestock before putting them in our display tanks. No UV necessary> The overflow box is rated for 800 gph and the return pump is rated for 529 gph at 4' head. I figure I will have little over 4' head loss so my pump will pump aprox. 500 gph. Is this enough? I also have another 500 gph flow in tank with power heads.  <1000 total gph in a 120 is modest... perhaps reasonable. Add more flow if it looks like you are accumulating detritus and getting nuisance algae in the tank. More flow is generally better. Necessary if the tank goes reef> Does this design seem ok?  <looks simply and effective, yes> should my return water from the skimmer be pumped back in with the water coming from the tank or should I pump it directly over the baffle right on to the carbon? <it can simply continue on a downstream path in the sump as you have it> Should I use a bigger pump?  <that would be preferable to having powerheads in the main display... powerheads have many disadvantages> If you have a better design suggestion please advise.  <the following illustration has many ancillary options for consideration. Really most all are for reef keepers but shows skimmer placement and gives food for thought: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm> Thanks in advance for the help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mike <best regards, Anthony>

Sump design Hi Bob! I'm working on setting up a 75gal. reef tank and would like to design an effective sump/refugium combo. I was considering a 20L to go under the display tank hidden in the cabinet w/the first third walled off (tank water enters here gravity fed, particulate settles out to be siphoned off regularly) with a spill over to the remaining 2/3 in which I'd have some live rock and live sand (no light). Tank return would be pumped from this latter section. How's that sound to you? <Okay, but would add the light (continuously on), another "spill over" barrier (to prevent the..) Caulerpa to the live rock middle area (from getting washed over>  I'm thinking of a Sea Life PC w/4 96W bulbs for 384W total. This should be sufficient for both soft and hard corals, right?  <Most all... SPS would have to be placed "high" in the water column... no more than about 4" below the surface.> I'm hoping the fan that comes with the rig will do the job, cause I can't afford a chiller at this point. Your thoughts? Greg. >> <No worries, the CF's won't produce much waste heat... you'll be pleasantly surprised... And if you do want to install a "muffin fan" (inline) due to other sources of high temperature.... hot room), this is very easily done. Bob Fenner>

Sump/wet dry??? I was reading one of your q's/a's, I saw a question about turning a wet/dry into a sump. I was just wondering, what exactly is the difference between a wet/dry filter and a sump? >> Hmm, sort of like the story of all salamanders being newts but not vice versa... Wet-dry filters all incorporate a sump... but not all sumps are wet-dries, or make up their basins... Sumps can be refugiums... places for Berlin type filtration... even just for accommodating transit volume (the water in play in a systems circulation)... Bob Fenner

100 gallon tank/lighting/sump Bob. . .I have recently purchased a 100 gallon acrylic tank and now I'm starting to look into the more complicated aspects of the aquarium. The dimensions of the tank are 20 tall, 18 wide and 60 long (those are about right. . hmmm).<Yes> My goal is to keep some butterflies, a lush growth of Macroalgae including various strains of Caulerpa and others, live rock and some hardy corals. I'm using an Eheim filter 2050 (300 gph), a Turboflotor, and WWM has convinced me that I will need a sump. <Okay> Question: 1) Can I mature the Eheim filter (6-8 weeks) and the sump by running it on my 40 gallon tank then exchange it over to the 100 gallon along with the fish? <Yes, a good plan> 2) I'm going to use compact fluorescents with actinics and I'm shooting for about 440 watts of compacts and 110 watts of actinics. Is this about right to achieve my goals? I'm worried that this many watts might make all sorts of unwanted things grow in the tank. <Yes, good choices... and of course a need to balance "light" input with other inputs, nutrient/availability (alkalinity, biomineral, CO2...), competitive photosynthates, algae-eating predators...> 3) I am leaning toward the idea of mounting the fluorescents on the bottom of the canopy so the canopy lid may be raised and the lights will be out of the way like an Eclipse system light. Is it problematic that the lights will be 3, 4, or maybe even 5 inches above the top of the tank? <No, no problem... have seen even motorized mechanisms for lifting these sorts of hood/canopies... over-engineer here> 4) How big of a sump will I need? I've been looking for specific information about building a sump. . .any suggestions of where to go for info? <The bigger the better... forty or more gallons if you can fit it in... Take a look at the DIY site parts of "Oz Reef", URL on the Links pages of www.WetWebMedia.com> 5) In my 40 gallon, micro algae has always been a problem (Cyanobacteria mostly) and I want to avoid this as much as possible. Will this setup help keep the micro down? <Yes, if set-up, run properly... do investigate calcium reactors at this point (and maybe revisit later...), the single best investment you might make> 6) I'm going to be visiting San Diego in a few weeks. Can you suggest a great fish store that has interesting livestock and all sorts of equipment (lights, filters, reactors etc.) up and running? Do you ever give seminars in the San Diego or Las Vegas area? <Do visit Octopus' Garden, Aquatic Warehouse and Clairemont Tropical (all near each other), Fountain's, Vet's Pets, A Fish Haven... SD is really spread out... so do use the Net, maybe local phone books to plot your itinerary... And do try to take in the new Birch/SIO Public Aquarium... and, there are quite a few manufacturer's here... Custom Sea Life, Aquanetics, Aqua-Dyne, Ocean Nutrition... Do attend the local (SD, Orange County, L.A. marine club get-togethers to give pitches, the SD Trop Fish Society when in town> On a more personal note Bob. . . thanks for all your efforts at promoting this wonderful hobby!! I always recommend your website to pet shop owners and fellow aquarists. <Ah, deeply gratifying, thank you> David Dowless <Be seeing you, Bob Fenner>

D.A.S aquarium mod.s Thanks for the e-mail Bob, <You're welcome my friend> Just let me explain what I want to do with this 55 gallon D.A.S. tank of mine. Your suggestions of adding a sump & protein skimmer to my D.A.S. tank to improve water quality has sparked my ambitions to proceed. <Ahh, outstanding> 1st: Getting water from tank to sump: I could use a overflow box or I could convert the pump of my enclosed D.A.S. filter system that pumps the water back to the tank; pump the water to the sump instead.  <Yes... would rely on gravity (has never/always let me down...) and have the sump higher, overflow back into tank...> Then use a sump pump to move the water from the sump back to the tank with a control valve to control water level in sump. Could I control water level in sump this way Bob??? Or is involving two pumps in the system an o.k./bad thing to do??? Is a 15 gallon sump an o.k. size for my 55 gallon reef??? <I would not rely on valves, float switches... either pump the water back up from down below, OR let the water flow back from pumping up... a fifteen is about the minimum size I would use... the bigger, the better...> 2nd: install a good powerful skimmer @ my return line to tank. <Yes... or use an in-sump model, or hang-on... see the Skimmer Selection materials on the www.WetWebMedia.com site> 3rd: Install a calcium reactor <Excellent idea> 4th: I currently have crushed coral for the bottom of my reef...Would it be beneficial to add live sand to my tank or leave the sand for the sump with live rock... <The live rock will inoculate your sand... no need to spend money here> Always, thanks for the help. <A pleasure. Bob Fenner> Lee Harris

New Reef Tank Bob, I am planning on setting up a reef tank with live rock/sand, soft corals, and a few fish. I am getting a Tenneco 50G flatback hex with a corner overflow & built-in return. (I am limited to a 36" wide space). My problem is, being new at this, I'm not sure if I'm making the right equipment choices. Each of my LFS give me a different answer as do other reefers. <There are "many answers" often in this interest... The Tenecor product is a good one... a good start> Here is what I am considering: CPR Cyclone Bio filter with skimmer (some say this is not powerful enough?) <Yes> , Rio 2100 pump, 36" Hamilton 2x96w retrofit, 2 maxi jet 900's, and a red sea wavemaker. <All good choices... with the exception of the TAAM/Rio product... I encourage you to invest a bit more here... the best? An Eheim pump for the job... the Rio's have a recent history of failure... some catastrophic> I have been told to skip the CPR and make a sump but I am not comfortable making my own. Any suggestions would be a great help as reading your Q&A I respect your opinions. Thanks again, Paul <Of course you could build your own sump outfit, or the folks at Tenecor could/would make you one (for sure), or CPR, other outfits for that matter (see the Links pages on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com for many fine companies)... but the Hang On unit will do fine... will take a bit more time (perhaps a week or two) to cycle your live rock (even if "pre-cycled"), and you would have more "efficiency" with a dedicated hang on skimmer, or an in-sump model... but all these "ways" are just that... you will do fine proceeding cautiously from the good start and apparent good sense you have. I'll be here to help as well. Bob Fenner>

New Reef Tank Sump/Unit sizing Bob, Last questions for now. If I go with the CPR unit, should I get the smaller unit (CY192, sump area 4 gal)) which is supposed to handle up to 110 g tank mine will be 50g) go with the next size unit(CY194, sump area 12 gal)? Someone suggested I should remove the bio-bale medium as it is not necessary but it seems like it would be better to leave it in? Paul <Would definitely get the larger unit... well worth the money, flexibility, margin of error... And do take the plastic media out... after the system has cycled with your new live rock. Bob Fenner>

Re: New Reef Tank Bob, Well just when I thought I had decided on all my equipment, I see another product and wonder if I am making the right choice. I am going to stick to the choices I made that you seemed to agree with but am still wondering about the CPR sump/skimmer?  <Okay....> I saw that AE Tech makes the Jumbo Reef Devil sump(22g) and super Reef Devil skimmer. These would cost quite a bit more than the CPR but seems like there would be more room. Are you familiar with these products and do you think they are worth the upgrade? <Yes familiar, and yes, worth the extra money... if you can use it...> Thanks again for your assistance, you have been a great help. Paul <Bob Fenner>

Sump Question... Mr. Fenner, let me preface by thanking you again for taking the time to help out those looking to improve their aquariums. Your advice is greatly appreciated.  <You're welcome... a great chance to help... on the Net...> I'm a seasoned computer/IT guy, so if you ever have a question relating to computers/technology, please feel free to ask. :-)  <Have them... continuously... and have met with great friends who just as fluidly consort, straighten me out... thank you.> If I could, I'd buy you a cool beverage to drink as you read through this semi-lengthy email. <I'd be accepting> I emailed you earlier regarding setting up a sump/refugium for my 55 gallon FOWLR+LS. But, as luck would have it, I just found out that my brother in law is giving me his 100 gallon tank with full setup because he realized he just doesn't have the time for this hobby. Lucky me! <I'll say!> So, rather than setup a 20 gallon sump/refugium for the 55 gallon tank, I was thinking of setting up the 55 gallon tank as the sump/refugium for the 100 gallon. Kinda huge, I know, but why buy another tank (for example a 40 gallon glass aquarium for $100). My wife would never let me keep two aquariums and the 55 gallon is kinda scratched up anyways. <A great idea... and be assured, there is no such thing as a "too large" sump... we're mulling over turning the 30k gallon pool here into one for our 4k gallon culture facility...> Since the total water volume will be around 120-130 gallons or so, this changes everything. <By scale only> I have a few questions, so I will separate them for easy reading/response. My main 100G tank is basically going to be a fish only tank with triggers/puffers... "messy" fish. <Yes, well put> My main concern is reducing nitrates to reduce the number of water changes. Along with the new tank, I'm moving from a house I'm renting into an apartment complex that makes lugging 30 gallons of salt water around very difficult. <Don't lug> I want to minimize water change frequency... hopefully once a month or so. Although a fish only aquarium could have up to 40 ppm nitrates (or higher), I really don't like to see it go over 20 ppm... hate that orange color from my test kits!!! :-) <Hmm, not as much as some of your livestock does.> My CPR BakPak 2R skimmer will have to be sold and replaced with a larger in-sump Turboflotor right?  <A good idea> Your FAQs speak highly of the Turboflotor 1000, so this is what I will purchase unless you've come across something better recently. <Hmm, this is an excellent choice still> A local LFS, not my main LFS who doesn't sell Caulerpa, is trying to talk me out of using Caulerpa (which they sell) as a means of reducing nitrates. They said it would be a slow and rather ineffective method of reducing nitrates from my "messy fish" fish tank. They said it's "cool" because lots of stuff grows in the refugium, but as a method of nitrate removal, it's not too effective. <By itself... yes... with the added live rock in the sump, possibly addition of a deep sand bed, maybe even a plenum (you can have all these in the same container/refugium) not ineffective at all...> They just say to get a BIG protein skimmer You seem to disagree with this from your earlier emails.  <Yes, I do... not so much an issue of "over-skimming", though more that you want to "keep" is removed by such... but a situation of "appropriate technology" overall... the "motorboat vs. sailboat" philosophical approach... both modes will "get you where" you want to go... one with more energy use, pollution... the other more "naturally"... I choose the latter in general...> I'm really not looking for a refugium for any other purpose than reducing nitrates... raising copepods and other creatures in there is not my goal. Do you still suggest a refugium section in my sump?  <Yes, for sure... for many valid reasons... this will be the easiest, simplest to maintain mechanism for maintaining/optimizing water quality... and will absolutely surely lead you to the greatest enjoyment and self-discovery in our hobby.> I value your advice more than a LFS salesman's, but just wanted to triple-check. <Listen to all..., in the final synthesis you must decide for yourself...> Also, where can I find Caulerpa taxifolia? Any mail-order places? or other places in the LA area? <Not likely in Southern California... currently outlawed... Do check with the livestock etailers listed on the www.WetWebMedia.com Links Pages here... they will know> If so live rock with Caulerpa or should I get the Miracle Mud?  I know you think Miracle Mud is too expensive from reading your FAQs, but do you think it's a "great" product despite the price, or no noticeable difference between live rock? If so, I may consider it. <I use, and encourage you to at this point to just use the live rock... there is enough "mud" on it to do what you/we have in mind... as principally a catalyst in various effects, these minerals don't get "used up"... Just go with the rock for now, and Caulerpa sertularoides next in choice... or any hardy (growing locally sourced) species in a pinch...> I've read all the articles/FAQs on plenums, and it seems simple enough, but I get scared off by non-plenum supporting LFSs saying "it works if you do it right, but most people don't do it right". Does the upside heavily outweigh the possible negatives of a plenum system?  <IMO yes... remoted in your sump, passively arranged... no worries... if you don't like "it" later... easy to re-arrange> In short, can I screw things up by not setting it up "right". I plan to follow instructions from your WetWebMedia site.  <Hard to "do wrong"... again, not to worry> Do you suggest I drill in a drain on the bottom of the plenum to "bleed" water through periodically? <Not worthwhile in most cases... I would not, do not do so> Once again, just trying to reduce nitrates to reduce the frequency of water changes. <I understand> Given your previous answers, what is the order of the "items" in my sump? Main items are protein skimmer, refugium with Caulerpa, plenum. <Okay> Will ozone help with a fish only tank or with reducing nitrates? <Yes, assuredly> Does the flow rate through the plenum make a huge difference? Does the plenum or refugium require a slow flow rate? or just enough not to mow down the Caulerpa? <Well put... the latter... a huge range of flow rate will do...> Thanks a million for taking the time to read my (and everyone else's emails). Truly appreciated. - Eugene <An honor and privilege my friend. Bob Fenner>

Adding system volume. Hi Bob! I have a 90 gal. reef tank connected through the floor to a 75 gal. refugia/sump in the basement. I added the refugia about 1 month ago and already I noticed a change for the better. I have just received (as a gift) a 72 gallon tank with a CPR overflow.  <Very nice> What I would like to do is tie in this additional tank to add more system water. <Good idea> According to your website, it seems the more the better. I plan to have my overflow from my display tank empty into the 72 gallon, then use the CPR overflow to empty into my refugia sump. So I would just have a 72 gallon tank full of water, nothing else.  <I'll bet you're adding livestock to this very soon...> The water level in the 72 gallon will be about 12 inches higher than the sump water level. My question is, is this a good idea? Or will it create dead spots, detritus build up, etc. Currently: 200 lbs LR (between the refugia and display tank) 17 corals: SPS, LPS, soft corals. 6 fish Thank you so much for your continued support through your book, website and emails! My inhabitants are smiling much bigger since I have found your book, and WetWebMedia.com Brad Stefanko <I would go ahead with your plan of cutting in the 72 gallon... and likely add live rock (maybe with no substrate/sand), lighting, and macro-algae... Bob Fenner>

Sump designs Dear Rob, I am planning to buy a 100g tank in four months and move my FOWLR setup. I want to convert my 50g acrylic tank, collecting dust and thinking of building it into a sump. <Hmm, sounds good> I read that bigger is better. I have seen sumps at the LFS and it looks easier to maintain and is hidden from viewers. <All valid reasons> Before I purchase the tank I want to build the sump first. my question is could you suggest a good design? good sites for ideas? <See "Oz Reef": http://www.ozreef.org/, and the various FAQs areas on the WWM site re sumps, refugiums, DSB's...: starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm> equipment? I have been searching on the web and found many different designs. I want a cheap, reliable, and effective design. can you please help? <Yes... we will continue this conversation with specifics as you come to more specific questions. Bob Fenner> Thanks

Sump for a very large system Thanks for the info...I have purchased Iodine and will administer it today. Quick Question: The way my trickle filter is set up and custom arrangement of my aquarium, it would be REALLY difficult to remove the bio-ball. We are talking total re-plumbing and system take down. Could I leave the bioballs and set -up a refugium near the sump? <Yes, certainly... and the water going from the bio-ball area into the refugium will go a long way to supply AND remove metabolites> This way I would have water pumping into the refugium (filled with mud and appropriate medium/live rock) and have it overflow back into the sump)? <Okay> I know this may not be the ideal set-up, but would it help with the situation described below. Finally, what size refugium and gallon per hour flow rate would I require for a 580 gallon tank? <As big as possible... perhaps a large Rubber Maid (tm) "trough" or an agricultural "tote" (wish you lived nearby... have eight to get rid of)... something of size that is chemically inert, easy to drill/fit with fittings... A couple of hundred gallons would be very nice. Flow rates of 2-3 volumes per hour are about right for these relative tank/sump arrangements. Bob Fenner> Thanks KEN H

Baffled. . .this is a long one! (Marine Refugium/Sump Arrangement) Bob,  I would like to begin by telling you that I have noticed a pattern of praise before questions when visiting your website. When I first noticed this I thought it was a tactic for people to get on your good side before burdening you with questions.  <Interesting point... but would, do try to respond to all in any case...> However, as the months have gone by I must admit I am absolutely in awe of how quickly and thoroughly you help others to ensure they stay in the hobby and their livestock are well-cared for. <Yes my friend... entirely self-serving... Would be lonely w/o other peoples involvement... no one to tell my stories to...> The number of similar questions you get asked by people repeatedly would surely frustrate even the most patient teacher and I therefore applaud you for your endurance with novices (like me) struggling with basics. . . .you are essentially a kindergarten teacher and graduate professor in one entity! <Ahh, great praise.> Ahem, now on to my woes. I am in the never-ending process of setting up a 75 gallon Oceanic aquarium as a reef/clam tank. I have a DIY stand, a 175 watt Reefsun halide, a 150 watt HQI (I plan to change this out for a 400 watt hydroponics halide) <How nice!> , a Euro-reef CS6-1 skimmer, <A great product... but do you want such efficient skimming with your Clams?> a 25 watt Emperor Aquatics UV sterilizer and a wholelotta problems. The most basic is this: I need a plumbing configuration and circulation pump. <Hmm> I have an Amiracle SL-something wet dry running on a tank and was planning on incorporating it into the setup-- but it is too small to house the skimmer and too small to serve as a refugium. <I see> I bought a 29-gallon All Glass to house the skimmer and was thinking of a 40-gallon Rubbermaid tub as the refugium with a JBJ Formosa 36" light on top (I already ordered this for better or worse).  <Good choices all the way around> The problem is connecting the two and incorporating a pump-- I was planning on buying a 1200GPH pump b/c the stand is tall and I want tremendous turnover-- but how will this affect the setup? <Hmm, you might want to "engineer" some redundancy into the return/s... to ensure the present one (I suspect) is not overwhelmed...> I have the overflow box that came with the trickle filter but I'm wondering if a strong pump will out-compete it and wind up running dry etc. <Ah, my misgiving exactly. I would "double up" this overflow device... as the main tank is not easily modified at this junction> I want the overflow to drain into some sort of prefilter (micron sock?) <Good idea... look to the ones made by Emperor Aquatics here (excellent, we use them in collecting stations... with good success and plenty of messy situations)> then to the skimmer and then through some bulkheads to the refugium then back to the tanks. How big should the bulkheads be and where should baffles be placed? <Hmm, a few possibilities here... the bulkheads/through holes should be a good 1 1/2" diameter (1 1/4" nominal inside), and more than one... The baffles about evenly divided... and held in place (likely) with silicone sealant (100%) and made of Plexiglas (though glass can serve as well as PVC sheet) with some corner molding or strips of these to help hold the baffle panels in place...> Also, how do I get the water to the UV without killing those wonderful little creatures that should thrive in the utopian refugium?  <No worries... the big-enough ones will pass through unharmed> For that matter, how do I keep the water tranquil in the refugium while keeping a high turnover rate? <Ah, best to use an alternate conduit to bypass the refugium with a bulk of the recirculated water... Can you envision this? A set of plumbing that doesn't go to/through the refugium, but either joins in the last baffle area or goes directly to the pump from the main tank... > As to the refugium itself-- I have visited 4-5 big aquarium stores here in Chicago and no one has actually dealt with 'em. I want a plenum, but what's this about EHFI-MECH-- do you just throw it in the mix? <Hmm, best to place this ceramic bio-media after particulate filtration, before chemical... and not disturb... it can/could simply go on the bottom in your refugium (along with live rock, macro-algae)...> Also, I plan to hop on the bandwagon with Caulerpa and live rock but what's this mud filter business? I haven't seen any explicit instructions or "Bob Fenner--Approved" designs on the web. . . <Part of my obstinate nature... not endorsing (or seeming to) definite products unless otherwise unavoidable... The technology is sound... but in your case you can "add it later" and start with the rock, algae for now...> I would appreciate any help and man, do I wish you made house  calls!  <Hmm, actually do when I'm "in the area"... visit when I'm out giving pitches... Was in Chicago a couple years back doing just this during a trip for the Mid-West Marine Conference. Do be careful what you wish for!> greatly indebted, Farooq Khan <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock-Sump Conversion I am currently running a 240 gallon (200 net) fish only with protein skimmer, ozone, fluidized bed and wet dry sump. The fluidized bed by itself is sized to handle the tank volume. <In some ways biological...> The inside of the tank is currently filled with a pricey custom made insert which looks great but precludes the addition of a significant amount of live rock.  <Well put> The tank is also 48" high and 44 wide (a double bow front) built into a dividing wall which looks great but also compounds trying to add a significant amount of live rock to the tank since the footprint is small compared to the height. <Aesthetics rated over function... I understand> I am debating removing the bio balls in the sump and adding live rock in order to reduce Nitrates (currently runs 40-120 ppm) with 50 % water changes monthly.  <I would make this change out> I would like to add a few inverts but the Nitrate levels probably preclude this. <In a manner of speaking yes. What the high nitrates indicate would be problematical... and the live rock addition, bio-ball removal would reduce both> I believe the sump would hold from 75 to 150 lbs of rock. Maybe more. Not a huge amount by reef tank standards. <For this size, shape system, considerable... likely fine> The question is would this have an appreciable effect on Nitrate levels. The sump has no lighting so basically the live rock would become the filter bed.  <Mmm, I would find a way to add some lighting. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the FAQs beyond> Also, if I used cured rock would your guess be that I could make the change with no Ammonia spike since the fluidized bed is full operational and had been working for over a year? <Yes... with decent live rock (so-called pre-cured), perhaps adding it "by the box" (nominally 40-45 pounds at a go, with a week or two between), and using the present filtration (I'd remove the fluidized bed in a month or so...), you are unlikely to suffer a nitrogen-cycling anomaly> Thanks for you sage advice. Randy Carothers-Las Vegas <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Re: Live Rock-Sump Conversion Many thanks to for your helpful information on the change out of a bio ball show tank sump to a live rock sump/refugium. You recommended lighting the sump once the change out to live rock had been made. Unfortunately, this is near impossible due to space limitations. <Read where I suggested... there are lighting units that will fit, do a great deal of good... for little money.> I suppose a small amount like a couple of 15" power compacts could be added but by the time it went through the top and then the drip plate of the system I don't think much would get through.  <Mmm... I would get rid of the drip plate...> Given that lighting cannot be added or would be minimal is it still advantageous to change out the bio balls to live rock? <Yes, what I would do for sure. Bob Fenner>

Re: Live Rock-Sump Conversion The sump is roughly 20"L by 20"W by 25H". Would you stack it to the top with life rock or just use a layer at the bottom.  <More stacked... not much space/water above> If only using a layer could probably only add 10-15lbs of rock vs. 75-100 lbs if stacked to the top. If I stack to the top the light obviously is only going to cover the top layer of rock or so. Also, there is room to add a 3-4" sand bed at the bottom which I assume from reading your FAQ's would also be a great idea. <Not necessarily... In your case, it would be better to use more rock. The bulk of rock on top will greatly slow down water circulation over, through the substrate, and make its manipulation difficult. I would just use the LR here. Bob Fenner> Thanks

Sump/Live Rock Change out Thanks for your help this am on the decision to change out the bio balls for live rock on a tall narrow show type aquarium with the fiberglass insert. The place the bio balls took up held 125 lbs of live rock (for a 200 net gallon tank). While not probably absolutely enough by reef tank standards it was at the high end of what I had hoped for.  <Yes, should be more than sufficient> I had mixed emotions as the LFS (the only place I could get fully cured rock) weighed it out based on the approximate volume I needed. One part of me was going yea it will hold more poundage while my pocket book was saying I can't believe it will take that much. A final question, even though the sump is now filled pretty much to the top would you still add a light on top of the sump to encourage critter growth realizing that obviously it will only be lighting the top portions of rock? <Again... yes to adding the light... very beneficial... please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium1.htm and beyond... will save you money, time... Bob Fenner> Thanks

Sump/refugium question Bob, I often look to your website for help and have found a great deal of useful information that has helped me considerably in establishing my reef tank.  <Great to read> I currently have a 55g LPS tank with ~70 lb live rock & ~2.5" live sand bed with a vast proliferation of life (so much so I plan on adding a mandarin dragonet to help keep things in check). The only other filtration is via a CPR bakpak2R and water circulation via powerheads. My water quality is also very good, especially no nitrate problems which is where my question is directed. I am planning on setting up a 125g (to replace the 55g), and of course adding more LR and LS, and in the process modifying the 55 gallon to a sump and probably using a T1000 protein skimmer.  <Sounds nice> If I am not having nitrate (or any other water quality) problems and have a huge amount of life in the sand, is it worth the extra headache and money to add lighting, LR, refugium to the sump or will I be fine using the sump primarily to hide the heaters, skimmer, etc. and make an easy place to dose vitamins/calcium/etc.? <I would definitely add these items to the sump... you will want the space, gear to help with "culture experiments"... I more than predict> Of course, I would be able to handle a higher biological load with a refugium and/or LR in the sump, but I plan on maintaining primarily corals with only a small amount of fish and should hence have a reduced biological load to begin with. Your input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Mike <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sumps and refugiums, human behavior, WWM Hello- Sorry to bother you again but I was wondering about sumps and wet dry filters.  I have decided against a wet/dry, and wanted to get a sump/refugium.  If it is going to be a 55 gallon tank with as many fish as I can get while keeping the bio-load reasonable compared to my filtration.  How much live rock should I keep in the sump and how much should I keep in the display tank keeping in mind that I want a total of 55lbs of Live rock? <Ten or so in the sump/refugium, the rest in your tank> Is a sump better than a hang-on-back refugium? <Either can be superior to the other> also how much live sand should I keep in the sump? <This is posted on WWM> I am planning on keeping 60lbs of live sand in the display tank.  Finally I was wondering if you could recommend a good sump for a refugium for the 55 gallon tank. Thanks So much for your time, your advice is greatly appreciated. Will <Keep studying Will, and looking about for your possibilities, store-bought and DIY. Bob Fenner>

Sump Schemes!  9/5/05 Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I am just about to replace my current tank and have decided to buy a drilled tank with a weir. <Excellent. This is the best way to provide water to a sump, iMO!> I am trying to understand about setting up a sump system and wondered if you could point me in the direction of a good book with maybe a few clear diagrams. <Well, there are a number of places that I've seen good diagrams of sumps and their setups. You might want to try to get a copy of John Tullock's classic "Natural Reef Aquariums', which has an excellent "reef tank plumbing scheme" diagram that pretty much sums up exactly how you plumb a sump. Also, the brilliant Australian do-it-yourself hobby site, ozreef.org has numerous articles and resources on sumps and sump-setups.> Also can you suggest any good out of the box sump systems for a 150 gallon tank. Any help would be much appreciated Kind Regards Darren Adams <Well, Darren, I'd start by checking a number of the better known e-tailers, to see what they offer. I've seen outstanding "off the shelf" sumps manufactured by companies like CPR, ETS, and many others. Do a little searching on the 'net and you'll find a number of suppliers. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Re: sump and beast II hi ill try to explain it again to u yes the fluidized bed is required as I've added it to system now which has a smaller sump on and its taken nitrates down from 50ppm to 10-20 ppm. <if the nitrates have come down, it has nothing to do with the fluidized bed filter. It, like most aerobic filters will contribute to nitrates accumulating and inherently (oxygen rich environment) cannot lower nitrates. Could you be referring to a deep bed of sand in the display (like gravel) on the tank bottom, or do you really mean a dedicated filter unit commonly called a fluidized bed filter?> Right the sump ill try to explain again I've a overflow box from the display tank which flow into the first chamber in the sump in here is a 1060 pump and a beast protein skimmer this chamber is fully sealed so only way water can get out is overflow or through the beast, the beast outflow pipe I was putting into the trickle tower to feed this then the next chamber was a coral gravel bed,  <Ahhh... yes, now I understand your dilemma. This will not work. You cannot trust two of the same pumps plumbed inline together to always match each other in performance (due to differences in construction, clogging, etc). It would be best to just let the skimmer box water overflow by gravity into each successive chamber in the sump before a single return pump sends the water back upstream> and the next chamber was a bed containing Polyfilter and clean water, in the last chamber had heaters and 1060 pump returning back to display. I was worried that the 1060 pump returning would run too fast and run the sump dry, so if this was the case I was going to slow down the return pump and wanted to know how best to do this sorry to be a pest but I want what's best for my fish and I do eventually intend to have a high fish load. <please do try to resist the high fish load... very stressful on the lives of the precious reef fish that we all admire so much> also why will nitrates increase if I run outflow from fluidized bed through trickle tower and this also runs of a Maxi Jet power head. <basic principles of nitrification in an aerobic environment... do read up some more about aquarium filtration and water chemistry> thanks again for your help btw good luck with dive loll. Craig brown <kindly, Anthony>

Sump Stuff 6/31/05 Hi guys, <Scott F. here today!> I've got my order in for my new tank and now I am in the process of designing my sump. I have attached a word document with my design on it. The sump will be going under a 95 gallon wave tank, so I am thinking like a 25-30 gallon tank. The plan is to use a Turboflotor as the in sump protein skimmer, and a submersible pump to return the water. <The TurboFlotor is a fine skimmer with a good reputation!> Do you see any issues that I have not taken into consideration? Will the heaters be ok in the sump as I have designed? Thanks, Cory <Well, Cory- the only thing I can think of off hand is that you want to make certain the that the sump offers enough capacity to handle the water from the display in the event of a power failure and "drain down". Also, be sure to consider the heat given off by the submersible pump. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

- Redesigning Sump... Plastic OK?? - Hello! <Hello.> I'm trying to redesign a wet/dry sump with easy/easier accessibility and maintenance in mind, but to work as efficiently as the one I have now. Inspiration came while browsing through Wal-mart when I noted the broad assortment of shapes and sizes of clear plastic storage containers, particularly one with pull-out plastic drawers. Drilling holes in the drawers, and filling the top one with foam, the next with filter floss material, and the next with carbon, Phos-ban, etc... seems like it might be a really efficient part of the filter. The rest of the setup (heater, pump, bio-balls) would be contained in separate containers, placed at a lower level. The problem: (generally) will plastic such as this be harmful the livestock or fall apart in saltwater, as long as it thoroughly cleaned prior to use? <Should be fine - typically plastics are relatively inert - again, provided you clean off all the mold release and similar stuff before you use it. Likewise, I'd give this set-up a good test outside with a garden hose before committing it to your living room.> The type/number of plastic wasn't indicated on the container. <Well... there is such a thing as plastic specific for food storage, but I've been using Rubbermaid garbage cans for years for mixing saltwater, and these are certainly NOT made from food-grade plastic.> My reason for fussing, aside from just more room in the sump, comes from micro algae that doesn't seem to want to go away, despite consistent water changes (well water, no R/O unit though...that's my last stop on the troubleshooting train) The lack of accessibility to the current sump makes it difficult to remove detritus from the bottom of the sump tank. And believe me, there is quite a bit of it. (Possibly a source of excess phosphate, etc?) <Yes... are you over-feeding?> The tank is against a wall, with a relatively small access door on the front, not quite big enough to take the sump out to clean. Besides, I don't want to completely stop the filter just to clean it. <With this drawer set-up, you would most certainly have to stop the filter to clean it. Again, try it outside with a garden hose - you will see.> I'm currently running a fish-only 75 gal with a trickle filter in the corner, going into a home-made 10 gal glass sump (made by the guy I bought the tank from.)  Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates are all 0.0. The water is passed through a perforated plastic tray with foam pads on top. Below this is are about 2 gallons of bio-balls, usually fully submerged (unless the water level in the sump lowers due to evaporation)  A few inches from the bottom, there's a plastic grate with room for the heater and an air stone below it. (hopefully to get some good air exchange and provide a better aerobic environment for the bacteria.)  I'm running an H.O.T Prizm deluxe skimmer, which removes a reasonable amount of junk from the water when tuned correctly. Another reason for the multiple-container sump: with proper bulkhead placement and design, the only container where the water is variable should be the last one. If the skimmer is included in one of the constant-water-level ones, it should perform more efficiently (less variation in water lever means less messing with water flow knob on the darn thing) Apologies if it seems to be a lengthy email, I've just tried to include all answers to questions you might have about the setup and its purpose   :) I've included a quick diagram of what I'm talking about, perhaps it'll help. <Largest problem I can see is the flow from one "unit" to the next. In order to have this work correctly, each successive level will need to be below or lower than the one preceding it, to allow a gravity flow to work. Does your tank stand allow for such? I can't state it enough - if you go this direction, test it first and perfect it before you put it indoors. You may have serious problems if you don't test. Cheers, J -- >

Sump/Refugium - 06/10/05 I am wondering if I can use two ten gallon tanks one for the sump and the other for the refugium. <<Bigger is always better, but yes you can.>> Can you please let me know if I can do this and how I would plumb it.  My ST is drilled with a 1" bulkhead for going to the sump and 3/4" return to the ST. <<Most all will be found here and at the related links in blue: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm>> Thanks for all your help. <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Sump Stuff 7/24/05 Dear Mr. Fenner (or other great crew members) I was reading through some articles on sumps and being new to this particular subject I was thinking about something. Currently I have a 30g reef (about 2 months old) and am using a spare ten gallon tank as an outside plenum filter.  I was going to also use this to house my equipment.  But I noticed that all of the sump plans on WWM  have separate compartments for every thing. <Yes... easier to maintain constant water flow, compartmentalize functions...> Rather than ruin my plenum, I thought I might as well just get another tank/tub for another separate sump for the equipment and other filtration means.  I would put this one before the plenum to keep it clean.  Would this work better than ripping the plenum out and decreasing it's area by cramping it into a baffle system? <IMO, yes> Also what would you recommend, to buy a sump or put one together? <Either>     One other question that's slightly related...  A while back you gave me (potentially) life saving advice on installing a double pump sump return system.  (Thanks for that!)  I have decided that if I want to become more serious about my hobby I should move out of my very old 30 gallon and buy a new tank that has a built in drain system.  I might go bigger but right now I just want a good aquarium.  Any suggestions?  Personal favorites?  Brand preferences?  Any and all help will be appreciated.     Thanks for everything, Andrew <Most all mainstream manufacturers products are fine... just make sure you get the size, number of plumbing holes/lines you want for now and potential upgrading later. Bob Fenner> Wet-dry to sump change 11/3/05 Hi WWM Crew. I have been looking through your site regarding the use of bioballs, and I have subsequently decided to get rid of mine due to super high nitrate levels that are not being controlled by water changes, but I have a few questions. I have a 110 gallon tall tank that is drilled with an overflow and wet-dry. There are 100 lbs of live sand in the tank as well as what has to be close to 100 or more lbs of live rock (but I am not completely sure, as I have accumulated it over the years). The live sand was put in approximately 1 month ago when I switched from a 75 gallon tank to the 110 (I think it is between 3-4 inches in depth, as it is a 110 tall).  The wet-dry contains bio-balls in the left compartment (intake from the tank), and the right compartment contains a CRAPPY JEBO skimmer that came with the tank as well as the return pump to the tank. I am getting a new, better skimmer--either an Aqua C EV 120 or a Euro-Reef CS6-2. I was told that the Euro-Reef is a better, easier to work with skimmer, but this will not fit in the right compartment of the sump with the return pump; the Aqua C would fit in this space (but is supposedly not as good of a skimmer and harder to adjust).  My question is this: Should I remove the bio-balls from the left sump compartment and replace them with the Euro-Reef skimmer, and then either add some live rock to this compartment or the right compartment with the return pump (or add no more live-rock, as there would likely not be a light on this)? or put the Aqua C skimmer in the right compartment with the return pump and replace the bio-balls with live rock in the left compartment (again, there would probably not be any light on the rock). <Either will work. Am partial to using whichever compartment is easier to maintain a more or less constant water level in> If it is a better idea to get the better skimmer and put it in the left compartment where the bio-balls currently are, will there be a problem if I add some live rock to this compartment around the skimmer? <Likely not> or would it be a problem to add the live rock to the compartment with the return pump (not sure if there will be a lot of crud from the live rock that would get sucked into the pump and returned into the tank, as it is an open compartment with no other barriers?)  Of note, the tank currently holds a snowflake eel (he's medium size and has grown VERY slowly over the past 7 years--gets fed once per week), ~4 in yellow tang, ~3 in blue tang, ~4-5 in maroon clown, ~3 in flame angel, a bubble tip anemone and some snails. I also plan to add 1-2 short spine urchins, a bunch of small hermits and Nassarius snails for clean-up, and maybe 1-2 cleaner shrimp (from what I have read on your site and seen from my eel, I don't think he will eat these). <Likely will in time> Some of the snails have been dying, presumably from the high nitrates, and I don't want to lose the anemone, which is currently looking great. Given that you have much more experience than I do, please let me know what you would likely do. Thank you so much for your time and the great website. ~Jocelyn Blake  <Welcome. Bob Fenner> 

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