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FAQs About Sump/Filters Rationale

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

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

 The sump is simply a reservoir like an empty aquarium that sits below the main aquarium which has an overflow that drains into it. This lower pool/sump/aquarium catches the drained water and a "sump pump" like a large power head returns the water back up to the main tank in a big continuous loop. Some sumps are empty, some sumps have filters in them and some even have live plants or animals in them. There are many benefits to a sump

Sump or Canister filter or both? 8/24/08 Hello again guys, I've been doing a lot of research lately and I'm feeling really stupid right now. When I started into the saltwater hobby I was evidently told all the wrong things. Ok, here we go. I have a 46g bow front with no sump, a BakPak 2 protein skimmer and a canister filter plus about 45 to 50 pounds of live rock and live sand for the substrate. I was told this is basically all I needed. DUH!!!. <This setup can be quite successful, not that bad.> I'm currently in the process of getting my newly acquired calcium reactor up and running but have decided to hold off until other problems are solved. First, I would like to know what I need exactly to get this thing right. Sump, canister filter or a wet/dry filter, or a combination? <If you wish to upgrade, a simple sump will do. This can house your reactor, skimmer, heater, etc. While you are at it, do consider incorporating a fishless macroalgae refugium, these can work wonders. No wet/dry needed, you rock takes care of that, the canister can be used for mechanical filtration and running carbon if you wish, but will need to be cleaned very frequently as to not allow detritus to accumulate, leading to nitrate production. Do also keep in mind that a sump/refugium can be something as simple as a $5 plastic bin or cheap 20 gallon aquarium, no need to spend several hundreds of dollars on acrylic unless you want to.> I eventually want to put corals in this system so I want the setup to be right. My canister filter is on its last legs and I've been pricing the Eheim pro's but if this type of filter is not good then I could easily spend the money on a sump or wet/dry and overflow box plus pumps and plumbing. <I would rather see you invest in a sump and overflow setup with this rather than another canister. Also, do consider drilling this tank for an overflow before you stock a bunch of corals in it!.> Please help this poor misguided fool! Craig <It sounds like you are on the right track, Scott V.>

Re: Sump or Canister filter or both? 8/24/08 Thank you for the quick response. <Welcome.> I have a few more questions though. I've read that the live rock shouldn't be placed directly on the LS due to trapping dangerous gases. This is how my current setup is. I would have to change it I know, but do I save the sand by vacuuming it very well or should I just replace it? Should I replace the LR as well or remove it and scrub it down and hope for the best? The rock should be raised up above the LS correct? Then just arrange the LS around the LR or leave the LS out all together and place the rock on the glass? <Hmmm, the only real danger comes if you wish to have digging critters in the tank. They can dig beneath a rock, leading to a rockslide in your tank. You may put the rock in your tank and then add the sand if you wish for your aquascaping to be more stable. Use the same rock and sand, no need to change.> As far as a sump goes, what needs to be in it besides a return pump? I know I can place the skimmer in it and the return line from the reactor but I've read that bio bale or balls are not good. <Nope, your live rock will provide biofiltration.> My protein skimmer has bale, should I remove it? <I would. This stuff is in there just as much to prevent microbubbles as anything. With the skimmer in your sump this should not be an issue. Also, do pay attention to the water level relative to the skimmer, this can make a huge difference.> Should carbon go into the sump or some kind of phosphate remover? <Carbon if you run it. Phosphate removers should be used with caution and water testing. It is easy to strip the water of phosphate, it is a required compound.> I've been searching around some sites looking for a sump and overflow boxes, what is your opinion on these? CPR CS50 300gph and the CPR CS90 600gph for the overflow and a Eshopps RS-75 10gal sump. <They will all work, use double what you will need incase one fails, likely in time one will. Also, plan on an actual flow of 300 gph per 1 bulkhead, this is the size these boxes typically use. Do consider the drilling I mentioned before, check out my site: Glass-Holes.com for more info.> I'm not sure what my flow rate should be for the sump so thats why I'm looking at two different overflow boxes. I've honestly thought about emptying the tank completely and take the fish to my LFS for safe keeping until I can get all this stuff cleared up, good idea or bad? <No, not really much to clear up.> This tank has been running for about 6 yrs. now as is. <If the status quo is working, maybe you dont want to touch it!> I'm in SC and there aren't any really good LFS's in this area where the info can be trusted. I have some books but they all approach a marine setup differently. The sump info and LR,LS info would really help me out in trying to figure out what to do. I love the site you all have and have found the information eye-opening, thank you again. Craig <All this is just a matter of reading through the WWM FAQs re overflows and plumbing. Doing so will shed much more light on the whole process. Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Sump or Canister filter or both? 8/26/08 Hi again, o.k. you've sold me on the drilling idea because my airline to my skimmer gets clogged all the time. But how do I drill the tank with the fish still in it? <You dont, it will need to be emptied. Very much worth doing before you take the leap of adding corals.> Also, I'm not clear on the comment about the water level in relation to the skimmer in the sump. How do I get the water level right in the sump to prevent a flood if the power goes out? <There are many, many pages covering this. Start here: http://wetwebmedia.com/sumpdesfaq.htm and it will become clear.> As far as the LR and LS, I plan on removing both and place the rock on top of 2" dia. pvc cut to a 1" or 1-1/2" height to raise it off the floor of the tank and then adding the LS. Just not sure on the depth the LS should be. Sounds like a good idea? <Yes, this will be fine. As for the sand: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dsbfaqs.htm .> This is a 46g. bow front tank so which overflow would I need? <An overflow that will handle the flow we discussed previously will do. Get one that will handle twice to flow (more drains) to have some redundancy; ideally two 1.5 drains.> Thanks again. The information here is golden. Craig <Welcome, keep reading, Scott V.>

Quick Question...Sump vs. Refugium,  - 02/15/07 Hi Guys, <Hi there!  Mich here.> A little history: I had a 55g FO tank about 10 years ago when I was in college.  I read nothing on the web or in print and just took the LFS guy's advice.  Well I now realize I did just about everything wrong and it's no surprise that I eventually killed everything I bought and gave up.  I had no live rock, did no water testing other than specific gravity, had too many fish, fish that would get too big (at various times I had a shark, yellow tang, clown trigger, dogface puffer, panther grouper, snowflake eel, and lionfish), fed a steady diet of goldfish to the predators, and had terrible filtration.   <Dang!> So I'm now starting over and ready to do things right.  I read "Saltwater for Dummies" cover to cover, I'm half way through Paletta's "New Marine Aquarium" book and I have Mr. Fenner's book "Conscientious Marine Aquarist" at home ready to go through next. <I think you'll find the latter quite helpful.  I would recommend reading it cover to cover if possible before embarking on your salty adventure.> I also made a trip to a good LFS that specializes in salt water fish and took a look around with my new knowledge in tow.  I still have the old 55g tank and stand so I'm planning to use that for a FOWLR (although I can see getting the reef urge down the road) <Happens.> - assuming it will clean up ok.  I'm considering going a bit bigger on the tank, but my hesitation is that my family is likely to move at some point in about 5 yrs or so and I don't want to get too big until the next house where I like to do a huge 300g built in.   <Oh!  Very nice!  I saw a most beautiful 300+ gallon in the wall room divider system this past weekend at fellow crew member Eric Russell's place.  An amazing system!> The bigger I go now the more trouble I'll have moving it eventually.   <Yep, I'm sitting in that boat next to ya!> My plans for this tank are to put it in the basement which we're about to have finished in the next month or so.  I'm having the contractor run a pvc pipe hidden in the wall from the spot where the tank will be, past the bathroom behind it and into the "utility room." <Sweet!> This will allow me to run plumbing and electric from the show tank to the utility room where I would have unlimited space for my sump/refugium.   <I'm turning green with envy right now my friend.> The LFS I stopped in showed me a nice wet/dry trickle filter which I though looked nice, but I read on the site that most seem to favor ditching the bio balls.  Here are my two questions: 1) Should you start with a trickle filter <No.> with bio balls and then ditch the balls or is ok to go straight to the sump/refugium set up? and <I would go straight to the sump/refugium set up.> 2) what's the difference between a sump and a refugium?   <A sump is a vessel that typically holds equipment i.e pump, skimmer, carbon or PolyFilter often located under the tank in the stand.  It can also be modified to house a refugium which is typically a refuge for microfauna and often has macroalgae, and possibly live rock, rubble rock, live sand or mud.  Does that make sense?  You can read more here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the many, many, many related FAQs highlighted in blue at the top of the page.> I don't have unlimited funds, but I have a pretty wide budget for this project.  I'd like to do as much of it by myself as I can though just for fun - should I build my own sump/refugium or am I better off buying one?   <Definitely build it yourself.> If buying or copying a design what is one I should look at?   <See the link above and the FAQs.  There are many options.> Finally, how big?   <As big as possible.> I was thinking I'd like to go pretty big since I have the space and really want to increase my chances for success - 40 or more gallons.   <Just as an FYI.  Rubbermaid makes huge grey troughs of various sizes ranging between 70 and 300 gallon that are really useful for such applications.  Please see here as an example, http://www.stockyardsupply.com/page11/index2.html   if you have plenty of space this can be a very good option.  Please note I know nothing about this vender. > Lastly as to the size of the show tank - should I stick with the 55g or use that as the sump/refugium and go for a slightly bigger tank - say about 75/90g?   <Either is possible.  Depends on what you want to keep.> I have a 2 yr old who will want most of the fish in "Nemo" - I'm going to skip on the puffer so the only one that would pose a problem size wise in the 55g would be the Hippo Tang (although I heard and read different things about them being trouble makers generally).   <Yes, a 55 gallon tank is way too small for a Hippo Tang (Paracanthurus hepatus) which should be housed in at least a tank of 100 gallon or more.> I've developed a rough stocking plan that should work with the 55g that would include: clowns, a yellowtail damsel, flame angel, bi-color blenny, cleaner shrimp, maybe hippo tang or Foxface.   <A 55 gallon is too small for the last two.> That's not set in stone, but it is the basics.  When I eventually upgrade to big reef tank I'd like to use the 55g or whatever I use as my show tank now to house a clown trigger or something else that won't work with other fish. <Think about something else.  A Clown Trigger (Balistoides conspicillum) can reach nearly 20 inches in length and should be housed in a tank larger than 135 gallons.> Sorry for the lengthy history.   <It's OK.> I'm sure most of this info is somewhere on your great site, but I can't find it exactly and need to establish some of these answers before construction begins in our basement.  The sump vs. refugium question has been driving me nuts for days now!!  Thanks very much for any response or direction you can provide. <Hope this helps.  -Mich> Best, Kevin <PS hate to see a long question...hehehe!>

Re: Quick Question...Sump vs. Refugium, Set-up  - 02/15/07 Mich, <Hello again Kevin!> Thanks for the quick response. <You're welcome.> I couldn't quite settle the sump refugium question for myself. <It can be confusing, hopefully make more sense now.> I'll read up some more where you suggested and continue reading my books.   <Very good!  Reef Invertebrates by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner has quite a bit of information on refugiums if you would like to do even more reading... The Conscientious Marine Aquarist is still the top book in my opinion.> I have about a month until basement construction begins and then another month or so until I can start setting up the tank. Only follow up question for now is this: is it appreciably harder to move residences with a 90g tank vs. a 55g?   <Honestly, I think either will be a pain, but both are doable with planning.  I presume you're familiar by now with the fish tank mantra "bigger is better". Also, given my set-up with the 10ft distance from show tank to sump would a drilled show tank be a big asset or just a different way to same result. <Most people prefer the drilled tanks.  Though it is possible to drill the 55-gallon even if it has a tempered bottom.  Many local reef clubs offer this service.  It will void all guarantees on the tank and there is a risk it will crack.  But most drilling projects I've seen were successful.   I hate to waste my 55g, but after all this effort I want a set-up I'll love. <Understandable.  By the way, most empty tanks don't stay empty for long.>   Thanks again. <You're welcome!  -Mich>   Kevin P.S. It's amazing how quickly a "quick" question turns into a novella!!! <Heeeheeeee!!!  Yes!> Sumps?? What's that?? Hi guys and gals, <Clare> I was wondering if you have any links on how to set up a sump.<Aside from the ones here? There are thousands.> I have a 75 gallon tank with a wet dry filter which is where I plan to put the sump. <Is/can be the sump.>  I have the skimmer in the wet dry, and I was just wondering where to place the sump, <..?>  where the bio balls are, or where the skimmer is? Also do you need lights above a sump, and what are the best things to put in there? <The best thing to put into any tank is research. Think of it like this, a sump is really just an external reservoir adding to total system volume. Your wet/dry can be converted to full "sump" but essentially is already a sump with funny ball thingies. Please do search the site as directed before "throwing in the towel" on your own understanding. - Josh> Thanks, Clare  Answers, or links are greatly appreciated <Clare, I do apologize for my attitude just now. My bad few hours should not be yours and I can't forget that I've been where you are too. This site is actually a great resource. Check out our system set-up section under the marine aquarium articles. Links would be to many to include so I'll forget those. Again I am sorry for the poor first response. - Josh>  Basic sump set up Hi Bob, << Blundell. >> Boy am I fortunate to have found your site!  It is really a big help for me.  I'm just getting back into keeping marine aquariums after about a 30 year break to go to school, get married, have kids, etc...and I must say times have indeed changed!  Back then the only filter I had to worry about was an undergravel filter and maybe a diatom filter.  Now there are so many new terms to learn!  I was looking at some of my old books and they are so thin compared to your book which I recently ordered from Amazon. Anyway to my questions.  Hope you don't mind if they don't deal with any specific topic.  I'm just trying to fill in the blanks from what I thought I used to know. I'm presently building a 120 gallon glass tank which I plan to turn into a reef tank and am planning to use my 30 gallon tank as either a sump, a refugium or both. << Both. >> 1a.    What is a sump and what is a refugium?       b.    Are these the same thing?   c.    Can I make my 30 gallon tank into one or both? << A sump is the separate tank below the main display tank.  Most people make this into a tank filled with macro algae and live rock.  That is a refugium.  So, the best kind of sump (if you ask me) is the sump that is being used as a refugium.  I would say using a 30 gal tank is a great idea. >>   d.    How would I do that?  Would appreciate a "cookbook" approach if you would be so kind as to give me one. << Too tough to explain here.  I'm sure you can find pics and online help.  Try searching at www.utahrees.com/forum and also just reading around.  Basically, you have the tank overflow into the sump, and then have a pump push the water back up to the main tank.  It gets complicated with internal vs. external pumps and whether or not the tank is pre-drilled.  I'll be visiting a local store can also help to see one in action. >>   e.    What equipment would I need to buy to get this set-up. << Tank, pump, overflow. >>   f.    I saw the article dealing with reef set-up but I am having trouble tailoring it for the equipment that I have.  For example I don't know what a "Bell Valve", "Union" and "Sponge filter" is? << Ball valve and union are used so that you can take the pump out and clean it.  Otherwise once you set up your sump, your pump is hooked to the plumbing and is stuck there.  The ball valve stops the water from running out of the pipe, while the union allows you to remove that piece of pipe to get the pump out. >>  Please help me figure out what these are and how, if any, I can use them given the existing components that I have. 2a.    What other equipment aside from the ones I need to set up a sump/refugium would I need to get?  I have a Remora skimmer on order and a Fluval 304 canister filter which I am using on my 30 gallon tank. << Those are fine. >> Your site is a great help and I hope you can help get me started again in this wonderful and tremendous hobby. << I highly advise you to see some other tanks in your area (local aquarium club?) and to visit some local pet stores. >> Thank you in advance! Martin Wong <<  Blundell  >> To Sump or not to Sump (12/19/2003) Hello, WWM crew. <Steve Allen at your service tonight.> I love the site.  Bob should put the Amazon Honor System link in a more prominent place.  I bet there are lots of us lurkers who hadn't noticed it. <I'll pass this on.> Anyway, I've been thinking of doing a saltwater tank for about 15 years now. <It took me ten to get up the nerve.>  Now that I'm in a place I plan to stay for the next 25 or so years <hopefully>, I think the time is right.  That, plus my three year old has been urging me to "bring the fishies home".  I had a fair bit of freshwater experience as a teenager (science nerd type that I am), but haven't had an aquarium in 20 years, and never have had a saltwater tank. <It's about time for an adventure!> I've read Michael Paletta's book, and have asked for CMA for Christmas, along with other fishy things.  (My wife is a lot reluctant to buy any of this.  "You want $200 worth of wet rocks for Christmas??") <They just don't understand, do they? I told my wife that every middle-aged man needs an expensive hobby. Offered the choice between at $25K Harley faux-diamond studded leathers like the neighbor or a $4K reef, she chose the fishies. Of course, now Bob is trying to talk me into taking up scuba. :)> I was planning to get a 48 inch long tank, probably a 75 gallon <Good starter size, that's what I started with>, and do a FOWLR setup, probably with 110 watts of PC lighting. As time goes on, I'll probability want some Corallimorphs, then possibly move on to soft corals or LPS corals  I'd like to do things right from the beginning, but I will still have to keep the expense under control, so I will economize where I can, but not at the expense of the fishes health.   <Standard fluorescent strip lights are fine for FOWLR--spend the $ on a good skimmer instead. Upgrade lights later when the coral bug bites.> So, I'll be DIYing it where I can, but will still spring for the good skimmer. Anyway, everything I read on your site (and I suspect in CMA, when I get my hands on it) suggests that I should include a sump & refugium in my setup.  However, "The New Marine Aquarium" and my LFS suggested that a sump is too complex for beginners. <PHOOEY! You're a science nerd, right? Believe me, you can handle it. It's plumbing, not nuclear physics.> While I don't have any experience in maintaining a saltwater ecosystem, I do have a good bit of DIY home renovation experience, and a sump is just plumbing, isn't it? <Yup> I realize that it's going to be a certain amount of work to construct and troubleshoot, but once it's done, it should just be routine maintenance from there, shouldn't it? <If you build it right.> If I don't get the factory drilled tank and go ahead and set up a sump, I'm afraid that I'll regret it, <Absolutely. Every time I've taken a short cut or bought second best to save money, I've been sorry and had to go out and buy the best later. Better to save up the money and get the best from the start.> maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of my life.  (Sorry, I just had to use that line.) <forgiven ;)> Also, the LFS guy suggested that I should get a wet/dry <not if you want corals--he just wants to sell you a nitrate factory>, and should get the 90 gallon tank <well, bigger is always better>, though I'm not sure I want to trust a guy that has a nurse shark in one of his sale tanks. <Don't> I was originally planning to do a DSB in the refugium, but not in the tank.  Would I be better to get a 90 rather than a 75 and put four more inches of sand in it?  It certainly increases the cost, if just for more sand and base rock. <Matt, you're a scientist (perhaps part engineer, too?). You can do this yourself. I had my sump custom made by a local aquarium service guy because I didn't have time. (Too many patients, not to mention my own kids.) If you want to see what people are capable of, check out WetWebFotos and take a look at the awesome DIY skimmer that "Roseman" in Wyoming made. Also, go to ozreef.org for DIY plans for all sorts of things, including sumps. If it's not too much more, you will never regret getting the bigger tank. Pre-drilled is easier, but custom drilling often yields better flow> <To save money on sand, see if your local Home Depot carries Southdown Caribbean Play Sand. This is aragonite and you can use it for your entire DSB. then seed it with LS from the LFS or someone else's tank. Check out Bio-Spira Marine as another way to quickly get the bacteria you need.> <Do the sump. You won't regret it. You can put your heaters and your skimmer down there. Check out skimmers from Euro-Reef and AquaC. Put a refugium in the sump or consider an upstream refugium. (learn about this on WWM) I suggest you ask Santa for Bob and Anthony's "Reef Invertebrates" book. The first 100 pages are an excellent discussion of algae, DSBs and refugia. Much research and planning yet to be done. Enjoy it--as the cliché goes--getting there is half the fun. Just remember that patience is a richly-rewarded virtue. Take the time to do it right the first time.> Thanks again for a great resource. <A pleasure>

Jumping Into A Sump? (Benefits of Using A Sump) Hey crew, <Scott F. your Crew Member today!> Thank you so much for the help so far, I feel bad for asking some of these questions.  I have a 90 gallon tank with a Sea Clone 150 skimmer plus ~40 pounds of live rock....which I'm slowly adding to (I was told to have 1 lb of live rock per gallon of water, but as you add rock the volume of water decreases....just curious if the "rule" is 1 lb per gallon of tank volume or volume of water in the tank?). <Well, adding rock certainly does decrease the water volume in the tank, but it does provide some good benefits, such as increased biodiversity, biological filtration, and hiding spaces for fishes! On the other hand, less live rock does provide more open space in the tank (creating some intriguing aquascaping possibilities), and gives corals more room to grow...It's a worthwhile experiment, IMO> I was just curious as to what a sump does and if it is needed.  I was told by my local aquarium store that I don't need one...all it is useful for is to reduce the number of water changes and remove nitrates etc. <And beer is just good with pretzels! LOL. Seriously, a sump provides numerous benefits, such as increased system water volume, room to place your heaters, skimmers, and other unsightly equipment. It also gives you a place to function as the "nerve center" of your water filtration/processing efforts. You can place various chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon or Poly Filter in high flow areas of the sump. Other ideas include using the sump as a place to grow macroalgae, place additional live rock, or even live sand. The other possible ideas and uses for a sump are endless!> I also read this in Barron's: Clownfishes and Sea Anemones.  My levels are all good and was just curious what benefits a sump would provide. <As above...Also, check out the WWM FAQs and articles and do a key word search using the word "sump" with the Google search feature we have on WWM. You'll find more than enough information to keep you busy for some time!> Also I was wondering if there was an inexpensive way to make a sump as the stores around here are charging about $400 for a 33 gallon sump...little pricey. <Tons of ideas out there on the net. Check out the excellent Australian DIY site, ozreef.org for many of them!> Secondly I know that water flow is essential.  I don't mind having powerheads in the tank, but if I have a sump will this create enough water flow in the tank? <Depends on the overflows that you are using, and the capacity of the pump that pushes the water through...The sump itself does not provide flow, but it does help make the process of moving more water through the system a bit easier> Enough to support the corals and anemones that require random flow? <Again, there are lots of techniques to increase flow in aquariums...> I don't have any corals or anemones yet...I was told that you have to make sure the corals aren't stung  by the anemones, but I'm mostly doing a fish tank so don't want to many corals. <Well, anemones don't generally "sting" corals, but there is a certain amount of "chemical warfare" that occurs in this type of unnatural animal mix. Choose one or the other..> I would like to have one anemone for my clowns...maybe a couple of corals and that's it. <Nothing wrong with that!> Thank you so much for the help and sorry for all the questions, Todd Hawman <Hope I was helpful, Todd. No need to apologize for the questions! That's why we're here! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Jumping Into A Sump! Hello. <Hi! Scott F. at your service today!> Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. You guys have helped me tremendously so far. Your FAQ section is tremendous. And Bob's book is a must-have for all aquarists. <Glad that you find all of the WWM resources useful! I'm very lucky to work with some very talented aquarists here every day on WWM!> I currently have a 44 gallon pentagon tank. I would like to add a sump eventually, so changing water would be easier. I'm not looking to have any type of sand bed in the sump as I have a nice HOT fuge. Just something to add more volume to my tank, increase circulation, and allow myself to make easier water changes. Could you recommend a pump of some sort? Sumps are foreign to me and I don't know what sort of pump I should be looking for. Thanks in advance. Bill Paterno <Well, Bill- an effective sump can be something as simple as a 10-20 gallon aquarium with a submersible pump or powerhead for the return. Of course, you'll need to have some sort of overflow to feed water in to the sump. Do look on the WWM FAQs using a keyword search "sump" with the Google search feature. Also, you may want to check out the terrific DIY site, ozreef.org, for tons of good ideas on how to design and construct sumps. There's lots of good information out there for the taking! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sumps I am planning my first marine tank, a 72 gallon bow-front.  I understand most every aspect of keeping such an aquarium.   As you can tell by the email, I don't fully understand it-- <Well, we're all still learning so much everyday!> Is a sump supplemental filtration (and water volume) to an existing filter system (I'm thinking about a Life Guard system), or can the sump be the total filtration? <A sump is a remarkably flexible "tool" for your system. Sumps provide everything from increased system water capacity to primary filtration, and everything else in between. The potential uses for a well thought-out sump are almost unlimited! Most important, a sump can be the nexus of your water "treatment" system. Do a key word search using "sumps" on the WWM Google search feature, and you'll find tons of information on our site to keep you busy!> How does the water get to the sump without the risk of siphoning if there was power failure? <Well, ideally, you'd use a drilled overflow/standpipe combination, but there are many other possibilities> Is a 72 gallon, with a moderate amount of equipment( an adequate filter, 260 watts fluorescent, a skimmer, a UV, and other understood equip) a good way to try doing a reef? <It certainly is, but I'd consider trying a sump-based setup from the start for its simplicity and versatility.> As usual, your site is very informative, I only ask these questions because I couldn't find an answer.   Thank You, James Pruefer, Providence Rhode Island <No problem, James. Do use the aforementioned search feature for a lot of good information on sumps. I think that you'll find that using a sump really is the easiest way to go! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Sump or not? 4/20/04 In reply to your message about the sump in my 100 gal Rubbermaid fuge should I divide it and make half a sump or can I just use the whole thing as a settling tank? <without a well, partition or somehow separated vessel for your skimmer, skimmer performance with any brand will be worse/poor if left in an open sump. A bad habit> Do you think that I should get a bigger skimmer, my CPR BakPak is only rated for like 65 gallons? <I would agree... another or a larger skimmer would be ideal. Do look at Euro-reef and Aqua-C brands for best values> Also, I cant drill my display tank and have to get an overflow box that can have a pipe put into it and run over the side due to lack of budget/tight a$$. Chad <I would not use or recommend a siphon overflow box under almost any circumstance. They are patently unreliable. Do read through our archives on the reasons why. I'd sooner see you work without a sump than use one with a siphon overflow. Anthony>

Don't Dump The Sump! (The Benefits Of A Sump Setup) Hey all, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> Thanks again for having a GREAT website. <We're glad that you enjoy it! We sure have fun bringing it to you!> Unfortunately, my question is both so simple, yet too complicated to spend many hours scouring your website.  My dad, an avid saltwater enthusiast, is getting a 220 gallon dream aquarium (after much bargaining/arguing with mom). <All right, Dad!> The problem is, he wants to get an UGF for simplicity reasons only. I know that they are functional, but I was hoping that you could recommend a different kind of filtration system that is both EASY to do maintenance on AND reduces the messes caused by salt creep. I've tried to talk him into something else, but sometimes he is as stubborn as Aiptasia! Best Regards, Eric Rayman <Hmm.. Well, Eric, I am very partial to a simple sump setup for a variety of reasons. First, in a tank of this size, a sump offers a tremendous amount of flexibility. Sumps are really an easy place to put chemical filtration media (such as bags of carbon, Poly Filter pads, etc.), heaters, protein skimmers, and other essential, but unattractive items. The plumbing scheme for a sump could not be easier. Additionally, sumps also give you a place for macroalgae and other beneficial life forms that may not do well in the display. Sumps also have the added advantage of providing increased water volume for your system, which leads to greater stability. Maintenance is a snap, because all that you will normally need to do is replace chemical filtration media, clean your protein skimmer, and remove accumulations of detritus from the sump. Salt creep is generally not to much of a problem, if you don't have a lot of splashing of water down there. In the long run, the added expense and slightly increased complexity required to set up a sump system will pay dividends with stability, flexibility, and utility. Do a little reading about sump setups on the WWM site, and I'm sure that you'll be able to convince your dad of their benefits. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

To Sump or Not to Sump Hello. <Hi, Don here today> the question I have is that I a lot lost on the type of filtration I should use. I love sand because of the species of gobies that need it and the beauty that it  has in a saltwater aquarium .But any way what would be a good filtration in a tank for a person who loves live rock and sand? I currently have a 75gl with 125lbs of live rck,75lbs of sand and 1 huge maroon clown, various mushrooms, fox face coral, cabbage leather, 2small damsels, 2 Chromis, various snails, reef safe hermits and 2 Tigertails. In the next month I will be setting up a 135gl,and I really need help on a better filter. The canster(fluval404)is a drag when it comes to maintenance .I heard a sump is good, and a then a wet dry but I am afraid of releasing nitrates back into the water, and I know a ecosystem is out the question because I like  sand .I plan on doing fish and live rock and just mushrooms. I look all over the site and cannot get a strait answer on sump or wet/dry. Please steer me in the right place, and are there any good book on building a sump the few diagrams that I have saw are not to good on the internet. Thanks..... <Personally, I would use a simple sump with 3 chambers in it. The first would house a skimmer and the drain from the tank would empty here. Next a chamber to help remove bubbles and a place to put sponge, carbon, etc. The last chamber would provide water for the pump to return back to the tank. See here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm, Don>

To Sump or Not To Sump Hello sir,  <Just Scott will do- Scott F. here tonight> I am in the planning stages of my first marine aquarium. It is not an endeavor I have undertaken lightly. I have been researching for the last couple of months-first the livestock I hope to provide a healthy home for, and then the tank size that would require. I am working my way through the filtration requirements. Here are my thoughts, any advice on filtration and if this is an appropriate stocking level would be immeasurably helpful. The one maddening part about this process is the number of ways to accomplish the same goal-without any of my own experience to draw on. I am hoping to set up a fish only with live-rock tank for large/aggressive species. The fish I hope to keep are as follows: 1 Volitans Lion-this is my one must have fish 1 Harlequin Tusk 1 Hippo Tang 1 angel, Majestic or Imperator 1 Naso Tang 1 Trigger-Blue Jaw or Clown-I know the clown could cause some aggression problems And possibly either a purple tang or sunset wrasse I have decided to go with a 72x24x24 180 gal and wanted to know if the above stocking list would be too much? <I'm afraid that it is too much for a 180 gal. You have a mix of some fish that are very large, very aggressive, and very messy feeders! The Volitans lion is your "must have" fish, so plan his tank mates around him. That means that everyone else needs to be compatible with this fish (BTW- the lion can reach 18"). Lions are fish that need large volumes of water and lots of oxygen, not to mention impeccable husbandry. I'm afraid the Clown Trigger is a "no-go"- too big, too mean; a bad companion for the Lion. The Blue Jaw is a better choice, but is also a pretty large fish. The Naso Tang is also a very large fish, requiring lots of room. The Hippo would be a better choice, IMO. As far as the Angel is concerned- the majestic is the smaller of the two, but can be a bit shy, albeit beautiful. The Emperor (my favorite fish!) also needs a very large tank, and can reach over 15" in length. Really needs a very large tank to live out a normal life span. Here is my thought: You HAVE put a lot of research into your inhabitants, which is good, but the fish that you are interested simply require enormous amounts of space, particularly when housed together. What about getting "smaller versions" of the fish you like, such as a dwarf lion fish , the hippo tang (which does get big, but usually is a manageable size), maybe a dwarf angelfish of some sort, a Coris wrasse (one of the smaller species), and maybe, just maybe- the Harlequin Tuskfish.?> I plan to use a shallow 2" aragonite sand bed for my substrate and appropriate amount of live rock. My filtration plans outside of the live rock were for a protein skimmer, canister filter for large debris and occasional chemical filtration, and a UV sterilizer. I was under the impression that I could plumb the skimmer, filter, and sterilizer in-line under the cabinet. People are now telling me I need a sump-do I for a tank this size, and why or why not given my intentions and planned filtration? <A sump is a convenient place to house the skimmer and other accessories. You could (and should still use mechanical filtration as well with the types of fish you are considering. A very good, well tuned skimmer is absolutely imperative. get the best one you can afford.> For lighting since I don't intend to keep corals I am considering 1 daylight and 1 actinic blue though I'm pretty much in the dark on this matter if you'll pardon the pun. <You may want a little more light-maybe PC's> Thanks for your generosity, sharing your vast experience with those of us looking to get our feet wet. Keith Mullins <Keith- Thank YOU for your passion and interest. Please don't think that I am trying to throw a wrench into your plan- it's just that, even though your tank is large, the specimens that you desire each have special requirements for very large volumes of water to do well. I really think the "downsized" version of your stocking plan will be better for your fishes (and your happiness as a hobbyist) in the long run. Your passion and desire to learn are awesome. Keep reading and learning- use the resources on wetwebmedia.com- you'll be fine!>

Re: To Sump or Not To Sump Scott, Thanks for your reply, my thought process in choosing the larger tang and angel species in addition to their beauty was in the interest of them being large enough to live with the lion-though I want to keep fish happy throughout their life span barring aggression issues forcing removal-rather than buying them thinking I'll just exchange it when it gets too big.  <And that's a very good line of thinking! Just take into account the eventual size of the fish...That's my "pet peeve, can't you tell? :) > I was most worried about the clown trigger nipping the lions fins-and saw some frighteningly aggressive ones at a LFS today so the clown is out.  <A wise move!> I don't like the dwarf lions but have considered the radiata to help with the potential size issue.  (The radiata is a great fish. Better choice, IMO!> The hippo and the tusk are probably the only other two fish I'd love to have, could I get away with a purple tang as well? I could go as large as 240 on the tank but from there size would be prohibitive. Any other species advice that could avoid becoming lion food would be great. <In the 240, you could probably mix a Zebrasoma tang and the hippo without too much problem. Just make sure that they are introduced at the same time> Maybe I'm not clear on exactly how a sump is set up or what it accomplishes-I will research it further tonight. Could I conceivably plumb the skimmer, canister filter, and UV sterilizer inline as I mentioned? <Certainly, but you'll find that a sump setup gives you good flexibility, and also adds to the overall water volume of the tank (never a bad thing, IMO! Do check the resources on set ups at wetwebmedia.com. There is a huge amount of information here on all sorts of setups. Keep contacting us with questions!> Thanks again for your input-Keith <Any time!>

What is (a) the sump? Hi I'm Brendan  <Hello Brendan!> I wanna know where the sump is....  <Cleveland if you are a Pittsburgh Steelers fan... HA! Awww... lots of love to my friends in Cleveland... really a nice place now that Art Modell moved to Baltimore :)> don't think I'm dumb but I'm a beginner.  <not a dumb question at all my friend. An honest question. The sump is simply a reservoir like an empty aquarium that sits below the main aquarium which has an overflow that drains into it. This lower pool/sump/aquarium catches the drained water and a "sump pump" like a large power head returns the water back up to the main tank in a big continuous loop. Some sumps are empty, some sumps have filters in them and some even have live plants or animals in them. There are many benefits to a sump> I have canister filters and is the container part of the filter where the bioballs, carbon and sponges go the sump???? <I'm not sure if I understand that part of your question. A canister filter does not perform in any way like a sump. It is a separate component> thanks Brendan <best regards, Anthony>

Sumps Robert, I have a simple question for you. I am looking for a sump to use on my 46 gallon bow front aquarium. My problem is that I am trying to do two things, 1. Clean up clutter from my hang on skimmer, heater, 3 power heads (plus wave maker) for water movement, and magnum bio wheel filter. 2. My other problem is limited space in my cabinet under the tank. The length and width is limited to about 20" L x 10" W. My initial solution is to not use my hang on U.S. Aquarium skimmer (model 30) and the Penguin bio wheel pro filter. I am thinking of purchasing a CPR Combo Sump and Skimmer model CMB 192 which comes with an overflow. I know it is not very large, but the dimensions will fit my cabinet.  <Let me interject, before this gets too complex to follow... the above is definitely an option... if moving the gear en toto to another area (not under the cabinet/stand isn't possible/practical... like to the basement, over to another larger area for a bigger sump> I can also put my heater in the sump and possibly replace the power heads with PVC water outlets to clean the clutter in my tank.  <Okay, but do check the flow rates... and keep the water moving> Finally I guess my question is what have you heard on this model and will it be adequate or will I be wasting another $300. Maybe there is a better solution? I thought of using a 10 gallon tank, but the dimensions are too big for the cabinet. I am looking for any good suggestions to not waste any more money!!! <This is a more than adequate size/model for your 46 gallon (rated for up to 100 gallons). Bob Fenner> Thanks Again, Jason

Re: Sumps Sorry another question about this. I here you talk a lot about the T1000, would you suggest a setup with this skimmer over the one built-in to the CPR system?  <Depends on the size, type of set-up... If "larger" than say sixty gallons, yes...> I am sure as you said this will be adequate for my small system, just trying to look at all the angles. Also, you mention in the FAQ's you do not "suggest" the wet dry system with the bio media out of the water. Should I remove it and if so can I still get rid of the Penguin filter?  <I would remove the wet-dry media... but retain the Penguin outside power filter for mechanical filtration, water movement...> I know you have to plan for what type of system you want to have before you make too many decisions. All we want is a scenic system to keep mainly fish with maybe a few corals. We live in an apartment so we can not excavate the building to make the ideal setup (large tank & large filtration).  <Yikes... I hope not> I think I have gone blind reading over the FAQ's <How'd you like to write them...?> and am pulling my hair out trying to sort out everything!!! All I want to be is a happy hobbyist!  <Relax my friend... remember this is a tranquil hobby(!)> Whoops one other thing, is there room to place anything like heaters in the sump area of the CMB 192, I can not tell by the pictures. <Yes, plenty of room to lay down a submersible heater... with suction cups. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Jason

Good Morning. (sumps) Sumps? Tell me about them I am not too familiar with this type of set up. Is it superior?  <Very useful, please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm> The way I look at it this will be my final tank for a while so I might as well explore all the options. How do the sump filters work, is it worth going this route. How exactly does this filter work, I have read in a couple of ads that they do everything from mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. What is the normal price range for one of these systems for a 65 gallon tank. Thanks <Please read through (there is a Google search feature there) our site re marine set-up... www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

Quick Question - 08/11/2005 Would it be worth my time to convert my sump to a Jaubert system? <Depends. How much is your time worth?  (grin)  Personally, I am not a fan of the Jaubert-plenum system.  I prefer to recommend a deep sand bed method.  See here for more:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm  and here for more on plenums:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Plenums.htm .  Be sure to make use of the links, in blue, at the tops of those pages.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Are Refugiums and Sumps Mandatory? 11/3/05 Greetings, <Hi Brad!> Brad B. here. I've been reading a lot on your web site to try an educate myself, answer questions and get ideas. I'm trying to be a good steward and have a basic question. First, here's my scoop: 46 g bow front marine aquarium / 60 lbs of live reef sand / mix of rock and live rock - a good coverage of LR but not all that much weight as I chose specimens with good color and surface area but light (save $$) / two Emperor 280s (fiber media plus activated carbon cartridges) / AquaC Remora skimmer with MaxiJet 1200 / two AquaClear 50s and two AquaClear 30s for circulation / Coralife 36" with a 96W Actinic, 96W 10,000K white, and two lunar LEDs on a timer - Actinic = 12 hrs and White 10,000K 8 hrs... okay...  Can I expect good success (such as getting/keeping nitrates near zero) with a low fish load - inverts - corals given the above stated setup without adding a sump or refugium? <Brad of course it is possible to get away without a refugium or a sump. Though I will say a refugium is in my opinion a great asset to any marine tank, not only as a nutrient export device as a breeding ground for detritivores and micro-fauna. The sump is a great place to hide equipment and improve the aesthetics of the display. And both the refugium and the sump increase your water volume and thus your margin of error. Having said that yes, as I stated above these are not mandatory. However the heavier maintenance because of the lack of these devices will fall on you. You may need to perform extra water changes; and yes I would understock your tank as far as fish.> I want to/did invest in good stuff but want to keep it simple as possible. Many thanks! <Welcome Adam J.> 

Re: Refugium or Sump Mandatory? 11/4/05 Thanks for the reply.  <You are welcome.>  If I were to add one of these products which would you recommend and how?  <For your set-up a hang on variety could work, they are pretty much plug and play.>  I'm having a hard time finding setup instructions. I found hang-on type refugiums online but my tank's back rim real estate is pretty much maxed out between my two Emperor filters <I would rather remove one or both Emperor filters if I had to choose between them and the 'fuge. The 'fuge is of much more benefit in my opinion.> <<Not just your opinion, definitely would be of better utility here.  MH>> and AquaC Remora hang-on skimmer. Again, I'm looking for the best simple/effective installation that is appropriate for my setup. <The skimmer/refugium combo is about s simple and efficient s it gets.> Also, my 46 gal bow front tank stand does not provide a lot of floor space to put things.  <I thin the hang-on is the best option for you.> Thanks again for your help. <Welcome, Adam J.> 

Refugium/Sump Round III - 11/4/05 I just ran across an Aqua Clear Aquatics Mud 90 Sump Filter. Good unit? <AquaClear is a reputable company but I am not familiar with this product.> If so, any recommendation on the "mud" or substrate? I guess I'm not exactly sure how they work just yet but I've heard of using DSBs and then the website sells "mud". <The mud and the DSB are supposed to serve the same purpose (nitrification/micro-fauna breeding grounds) For more on what a refugium does and what a DSB/Mud filter does search WWM. Adam J.>  <<Or buy "The Natural Marine Aquarium - Reef Invertebrates".  MH>>

Are Refugiums and Sumps Mandatory? 11/3/05 Greetings, <Hi Brad!> Brad B. here. I've been reading a lot on your web site to try an educate myself, answer questions and get ideas. I'm trying to be a good steward and have a basic question. First, here's my scoop: 46 g bow front marine aquarium / 60 lbs of live reef sand / mix of rock and live rock - a good coverage of LR but not all that much weight as I chose specimens with good color and surface area but light (save $$) / two Emperor 280s (fiber media plus activated carbon cartridges) / AquaC Remora skimmer with MaxiJet 1200 / two AquaClear 50s and two AquaClear 30s for circulation / Coralife 36" with a 96W Actinic, 96W 10,000K white, and two lunar LEDs on a timer - Actinic = 12 hrs and White 10,000K 8 hrs... okay...  Can I expect good success (such as getting/keeping nitrates near zero) with a low fish load - inverts - corals given the above stated setup without adding a sump or refugium? <Brad of course it is possible to get away without a refugium or a sump. Though I will say a refugium is in my opinion a great asset to any marine tank, not only as a nutrient export device as a breeding ground for detritivores and micro-fauna. The sump is a great place to hide equipment and improve the aesthetics of the display. And both the refugium and the sump increase your water volume and thus your margin of error. Having said that yes, as I stated above these are not mandatory. However the heavier maintenance because of the lack of these devices will fall on you. You may need to perform extra water changes; and yes I would understock your tank as far as fish.> I want to/did invest in good stuff but want to keep it simple as possible. Many thanks! <Welcome Adam J.> 

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