Aquarium Sump Tips

by | Sep 15, 2004 | 0 comments

A selection of useful tidbits of information for the aquarist. Readers are encouraged to send their tips to [email protected] or to post them to our Hot Tips sticky in the General Reefkeeping Discussion forum for possible publication. Next month’s Hot Tip theme will be “Reef Food Recipes


Sump Tips

If you have a wet/dry sump combo such as a Tidepool biowheel (like me) or something of the like. You can do a number of cool things to it to maximize your filtering capablities. Most wet/drys come with only a 3/4″ – 1″ elbow for intake. I find that removing this fitting and replacing it with a larger Y split pvc fitting you can get a better flow rate when used in conjuction with a high rate pump, such as a magdrive 12, a gate valve for control, and overflow (be it custom or hang on.) You can divide the main sump area into baffles by siliconing a slice of acrylic or glass (thickness depending on water load) to either end of the sump. This gives you room to place pumps, skimmers, etc on one end of the sump and an area in the middle for live sand, live rock, and others. Add a large powercompact or halide light and voila! instant refugium. (small but effective for smaller tanks.) For larger tanks you can daisy chain multiple sumps. The most effective way that I have found to do this
(effective meaning less chance of flooding.) is to set your main wet dry up on a platform as close to the overflow that you can get it. Place a hangon overflow or custom drill one in your smaller sump, the one that we placed on a platform, and lead this overflow into a appropriatley sized aquarium, divided up into baffles as discussed earlier, placed below the smaller sump. Run the return line from the larger sump, place a powercompact or metal halide light and you have a larger refugium if the small sump is not enough.

— “Tackett”

If you can, move your sump in the basement or a special room. It’s easier than you think to drill the floor or the wall. This way you can have a decent sized sump, the topoff fresh water container, salt water container for water changes without having size constraints. At the same time this makes lots of space under the tank for ballasts, and other handy stuff.

— “Mihai”

Make your own! Rubbermaid type storage containers are cheap and easy to work with. Cutting holes for bulk heads, adding baffels, ect. Perfect for dark sump life (see Sept FAMA). With the variety of sizes, and strangths there is really no end to the applications.

— “Rob Top”

Mysids make excellent Sumpers, they are allways happy for any tid bits that fall down to the sump, and in return will produce children for sacrificial offerings in the main tank.

— “Mouse”

Right Now I’m running a 20gal aquarium with a glass divider. My heaters on the side for easy readings. Soon to become a refuge with LS and LR.

Running a QuietOne 3000 as return and supply for my PVC DIY Skimmer. There are no holes so no chance for leaks…something I found was much easy to do. Sits under the 55gal display. Simple & easy.

— “holry7778”

I heard a suggestion a while back to place plastic fish bags around the outlet of your sump drains. If you zip tie the bag around the PVC piping and cut several small holes in it, you will get less salt spray since most of the bubbles rise and pop inside the bag. It works, and it costs a couple of cents.

I usually buy acrylic aquariums as sumps for a couple reasons–unlike plastic storage containers, they do not bow out so much. This means you can still fit the cover that comes with them on top and drastically reduce salt spray. This also means you can install baffles to reduce bubbles. Second, acrylic aquariums are easy to drill holes in to place pumps, skimmers, Ca reactors, etc. externally. They are considerably more expensive but well worth it in my opinion.

— “Matt_Wandell”

I made a sump/refug from a 15g plastic storage container for my 55g. Had to do a diy bulkhead to feed the in line pump. Also made a filter box from 1/8″ acrylic cut to my specifications by home depot.

My observations:

  1. syphon HOB overflows can and will plug or fail. I suggest some kind of float switch to turn off pump when water rises in sump or display.
  2. Use 1/4″ acrylic for filter boxes. I am constantly regluing the 1/8″ and it chips too easily.
  3. Powerhead was not enough water flow. mag 5 was much better. pumps about a 4′ height.
  4. Bulkheads are easy to make for 1/2″ pvc.
  5. test test and then test again. Insure no floods when power goes out. And that normal operation return when power comes back on.
  6. Because of problems, I now have an in-tank refug and am doing a diy filter system.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have used the in tank refug and bought a larger tank to begin with. For less expense.

— “beaslbob”