Sumps and why are they the greatest thing ever for reef aquariums
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Alright guys what is up. Let’s talk about one thing I would never
go without in reef keeping… a sump. A sump is basically a secondary tank that
your main display tank drains down into. Why do I love these things so much? Let’s go through some of the advantages. First off, a sump is a great place to relocate
all of your equipment. In systems that are just a stand-alone tank,
the more technology that is added can start to clutter things up. Most reef keepers I know like to tinker a
bit and try out new technology so what starts as an elegant system starts to get more and
more cluttered. A sump gets that clutter out of the main display. The second big benefit to a sump is the surface
skimming that an overflow provides. A big problem with tanks without an overflow
is that scum tends to collect on the top surface. When the water in a main display drains down
into a sump, the surface is cleared up nicely. Since I brought up draining, I should probably
talk a bit about how sumps work. The draining part is passive. It’s not like there is one pump taking water
out of the display and another pump in the sump putting it back. The reason for this is because there is no
way to adjust both pumps to remove and return exactly the same amount of water and over
time one of these two tanks will overflow. Just for the sake of argument, what if you
get two of the exact same pump? Still won’t work. Pump power varies just a little bit from pump
to pump, and then there are different head pressures put on by plumbing, and then if
something like algae starts to grow more in one than the other… the list of potential
problems goes on and on. So, in short, there is only one pump and it
sends water into the main tank and then the water passively overflows back down into the
sump. When designing a sump system, make sure that
your drainage capacity is not exceeded by the return capacity of the pump. In all the systems I have here at Tidal Gardens,
I go overboard on the drains. I want to avoid overflows of the main display
tanks at all costs and that includes random stuff like a snail going down into an overflow
and blocking it. The drain lines here range from 1.5” to
2” in diameter just in case. The third advantage to having a sump is it
provides additional water volume. Water volume is nice because it makes the
overall system more consistent in terms of temperature and water chemistry because changes
happen more slowly in larger volumes of water. I believe in the saying that nothing good
happens quickly in a reef aquarium. Having that extra water is like a buffer for
disaster. The fourth advantage is flexibility. You can set up a sump in many different ways. Let’s take a look at a high end sump that
my friend Will is going to use for a new setup. It’s certainly easier to explain all the
different components when the sump is brand new. This sump can be described as four different
sections, a main filter compartment for a protein skimmer, a refugium, a media compartment,
and finally a filter stage for the return pump. The water first enters the sump through two
pipes, one located right by the protein skimmer and another in the opposite corner by where
the return pump will be situated. I don’t quite recall if the second drain
line is an emergency or not, but it is there. Here you can see the compartment that holds
the protein skimmer. When planning a spot for a protein skimmer,
one thing to keep in mind is you want to keep the water level consistent in that compartment. If the water rises or lowers, that affects
skimmer performance. You can see here there is a baffle that keeps
the water at a consistent level. Once the water pours over that baffle, it
goes through a sponge. This is helpful in keeping micro bubbles in
check more so than catching particulate waste. Regardless, it’s good practice to rinse
these out regularly. The next stage is the media compartment. The three media canisters are fed directly
off of the return pump at the end of the chain. Typically aquarists will use some combination
of activated carbon, GFO for phosphate removal or something of the sort. I think Will intends to have a zeovit reactor
in this compartment. Also, you can also see there are six threaded
holes and those can be used for external reactor hookups or just plugged when not in use. Once the water flows out of the media compartment,
it cascades over another baffle and sponge and to the return pump. Will has a Blue Line here. My personal favorite is a Japanese-made Iwaki
pump. They are not energy efficient, but they are
workhorse pumps that last forever and practically ignore head pressure. That return pump sends water back to the display
tank but also sends water to the media canisters and the refugium on the other end of the sump. You can see the input for the refugium here
which is a spray bar. There is also an emergency overflow on the
opposite end just in case the main drain fails. For those unfamiliar with refugiums, they
are areas where microfauna and decorative macro algae can proliferate without predation. All sorts of tiny inverts grow and eventually
make it back into the main aquarium which can be a continuous food source. This particular sump design actually routes
the water leaving the refugium past the protein skimmer stage and on to the filter media stage. The concern there is that the protein skimmer
would skim out the critters. Lastly, while not a part of the sump per se,
there is a large water mixing station that will provide fresh water for top off, and
a continuous water change system using dosing pumps. As I mentioned, the thing about sumps is they
provide a lot of flexibility and you can make them as simple or as complicated as you like. There are plenty of people that use a regular
glass aquarium as a sump. Also, don’t feel that you have to plan out
every detail as if it was a bespoke suit. One idea I got from Miss Saltwater Tank’s
sump is to have one compartment completely empty because it is hard to anticipate what
you might need in the future. In her setup, that blank space was used as
a hospital tank for corals that needed space, a nursery for breeding fish, and who knows
what else. Anyhow, that pretty much does it for sumps. Hopefully this video gave you some ideas for
your own setup. If you like this video, please give it a thumbs
up. If you have questions about sumps post them
in the comments below. I don’t have all the answers, but the internet
is a big place and I’m sure some of the other TG viewers have some ideas that might
help you out. Until next time, happy reefing.

73 thoughts on “Sumps and why are they the greatest thing ever for reef aquariums

  1. great video than, what setting are you using on your camera to get the actual colors of the corals and not the blue glow?

  2. My main display is in my living room I would like to run my sump from my basement will I have a c02 build up from that and what would be a good return pump thank you

  3. Than have you ever seen a sump that used xenia as a filtration method like macro algea? I have heard of these and have my doubts. Do you have any thoughts on using xenia or other coral, maybe even clams as a means of filtering out particulates in the water column?

  4. thanks for the info I'm planning on getting my first saltwater set up going in January and your videos have helped me a lot! I'm so excited to get to the next step in my tanks!

  5. Hi, nice video!. A question, asked a thousand times before….Flow rate thru' the sump..3x, 5x, 10x tank volume? Depends on skimmer? Water movement in main tank…10x, 20x, 30x? Your thoughts would be appreciated.

  6. ะŸะพะดะฟะธัั‹ะฒะฐัŽััŒ ะฝะฐ ะ’ะฐัˆ ะบะฐะฝะฐะป. ะกะบะฐะถะธั‚ะต,ัั‚ะพ ัะฐะผะพะดะตะปัŒะฝะพะต ะพะฑะพั€ัƒะดะพะฒะฐะฝะธะต?

  7. the most peaceful videos are from tidal thank you than
    i use a 40 gal as a refuge but can't find any macro that are colorful as yours here in canada.
    every time i ask a fish store for some i get a strange look.

  8. I understand the benefits of sumps…but it sure does make it complicated and scary considering water is leaving the tank. If the water keeps leaving the tank and the return pump is broken…I hope in the future there will be a more minimalist approach. I think the sump aspect is what intimidates most people from pursuing reef tanks.

  9. Im making a system out of 3 tanks a 70 and 65 gal and im hooking them both up too a 55 gal sump Im using a dcp 10000 jebao return pump Im looking for design suggestions!! Some thing like this possibly? sock skimmer // refug/frag rack display// then return section i have 4' to work with any help would be appreciated

  10. Hello do you suggest good filtration for 265 gallon freshwater tank..?
    Im eagerly waiting for someone 1 adivices..
    Where i can get cheaper sump systems for 265 gallon tank.?
    Or where i can get the perfect engineering art of sumps to build in my country..

  11. Hi, nice video, calm and instructive ๐Ÿ˜‰ For freshwater, what could be the best sump options / components / modules? Moreover, where can we order them online in Europa.. and even better, where can I find a dealer / good brand in Europa..?

  12. Than, as always an excellent, informative video… Now its my turn to offer you advice. Never let a woman get "under your skin", even if she is a reefer! ๐Ÿ˜‰ All the best to you…

  13. Overhead sumps work well also, for smaller tanks. My 80gal has a built-in overhead sump in the Canopy (freshwater). So I pump the water 'up' and the sump overflows back down into the tank using gravity.

  14. I'm looking at this on my iMac…next to it I have a 1 gallon glass-ball with a beta fish in it๐Ÿ˜‚ somehow I feel I made the right choice

  15. Took me years to learn without the internet, what you managed to explain in 7.27! Fantastic video, well made, narrated, backed up with imagery and some amazing specimens too. Great effort and love the video. Took me back to those amazing wonder years as a kid trying to figure out all the complexity of the marine environment.

  16. This is one of the best explanations of a sump tank and refugium I've ever heard. SHARED! On www.fishkeepingforever.com

  17. I had a very large tiger cowrie in a tank once until it grew fond of sitting on top of and plugging the drain to the sump. After the second time it flooded my carpet I donated it to a local pet store.

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