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Sump uses?


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Alright, the first of many questions I will have before I'm ready to start buying anything I'm sure...

After everything I have read and now know, I'm fairly positive that I will want a sump to go along with my first reef tank. Obviously the sump handles a lot of the filtration for the tank. I do have a few questions about how y'all have put yours to use though.

1) What size/brand/type of sump would you all recommend for a tank that is somewhere around 40-50 gallons?

2) I think I would want a protein skimmer that fits inside of the sump (in one of the compartments), first, what protein skimmers for this size tank and sump would you recommend as viable? Second, is there only one part of the sump that a protein skimmer could conceivably be put into? Or is there a logical position for the different types of filtration within a sump? I'm very confused about the order of things (or if there needs to be any particular order to begin with).

3) What do you all personally use as filter media in your sumps? And what filtration types would you recommend for my sump given the proposed tank size? I know there are several and that some are more critical than others.

Right now the only parts I'm sure of are that I DO want a sump, and I want a protein skimmer inside of it. Besides that I have no idea what else I should be doing within the sump.

Lastly, is there any advice or recommendations or knowledge that you wish you had had before you set up your first sump? I would love to know enough so that when I finally DO take the plunge, I do it right the first time!

Thanks everyone for any help and info!


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Well, the first thing you need to know is there are alot of opinions and alot of different ways to accomplish what you would like to acheive. The first thing you should do, (if you haven't already) is decide what you would like to keep in a marine aquarium. Literally hundreds (or more) options there. Then, after that you can build your set-up to accomodate what you would like to keep. To answer your question with my opinion, a sump can have different choices as far as media; some of the most popular choices are live rock and bioballs. since your still in the design phase, research refugiums and try to integrate one into your sump. With the tank size you posted, I would look into an Aqua C Urchin for your protein skimmer, they are really easy to get set up and very affordable. I applaud you for asking questions and researching this hobby before you jump in, that sort of patience will pay off for you in the long run.

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Is that you ACE?

As was pointed out it can be difficult to just state "here is how to do it". If it were that easy, you'd have already read that book and there would be no need to ask. If I were you I'd try to get in touch with your local "builder", that guy happens to be known as Prof here at ARC. The builder's username is Hobogato in San Antonio. What they do is build custom sumps based upon what you want as a customer, not necessarily some product thrust on the market that you need to make work for you. As far as pre-built sumps go Precision Marine (PM) and a hard to find company Trigger Fish systems make decent sumps. I've been generally happy with my Trigfish but there are a few things I might have changed had I built it myself. Not to mention I way over paid a retail price of $390 for it from a retailer that is no longer with us. The same sump could have been made locally for $200. In today's market I'd be looking for something that has a filter sock area, an area for your skimmer, a pump return and a refugium area. As far as size goes, I'd personally prefer to never use a sump smaller than 30g. It needs to be able to do what you want it to do plus it needs to also be able to handle some extra tank water in the event of a power failure as some will back siphon to the sump. A 20g might just do the trick on a 40g but it could also feel cramped and hard to service, not to mention the disappointment of a wet carpet should it ever fill all the way up.

You ask about what order most run their set ups. Mainly you'll see a first chamber with some sort of media or filter sock. This is where the tank water comes into the sump. By adding a sock, live rock rubble or a foam media you'll help soften the falling water sound. As of late most people are turning to the socks for this as they are very cheap and reusable. Washing and replacing once a week will keep your water crystal clear. Some will then add a pile of live rock rubble below that to increase the bio filter area and also create a great place for "pods" to grow on. After that comes an area for the skimmer. Onto the fuge if you have one or to the return pump. I prefer to run an external media chamber to house some carbon from time to time. I'm not real keen on keeping it in the sump because then you end up disturbing the sump to remove and replace the media. Now I shut off a valve, pull a hose off and walk the entire reactor to the sink. There are a million answers to what skimmer, I prefer Euroreef RS-80 for under 100g. The newer line of Octopus brand skimmers are doing a great job for a little less money as well.

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When you use the term filtration, be advised that there are many forms of filtration. Mechanical filtration, chemical filtration and biological filtration. In my opinion, mechanical filtration has no place in a reef system, but then you did not say what your goals were with this system. As Mike pointed out to you, you should pick a tank theme and then design your tank around the needs of that theme, wheather it is a pivitol species or a bio-theme.

The sump is the place to install hardware that is unsightly (heaters, protein skimmers, chemical media such as charcoal and phosphate removers). I lean toward more natural, simplictic systems and rely on refugiums as living filters to be integreted into the food web. You can do unlit refugiums with rubble for pods or you can lite it up and grow macro-algae as a nutriant export mechanism and a source of food.

In all cases, continue doing your research. Things are so much easier to change during the planning stage.


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