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FAQs About Sump/Filters 1

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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

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.> 

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> 

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>

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> Bulkhead - 07/01/05 actually transit volume in tank/sump... mis-matched Good day, <<Hello!>> Once again I have only one place to turn to for help. (Thanks again for all your support and advice). <<Our pleasure.>> I have been struggling with this for days, read a multitude of FAQ's and still can't figure out what I'm missing.  I'm busy setting up my new 150 gallon tank and I just can't figure out how to make the bulkhead overflows work properly. <<Okay?>> I have 2 x 1.5" (or 40mm) bulkhead fittings high up in the back wall of the tank.  On the inside of the tank nothing is connected (its just 2 holes with "tank connectors) <<Intake screens?>> and on the outside it's connected to 90-degree elbows which connect to the pipes going down to the sump. <<Sounds fine so far.>> The inside diameter of the bulkheads and all pipes is 40mm (or 1.5"). <<Good to hear...bigger the better.>> I was under the impression that these 2 simple holes in the tank will easily drain 1000gph, so for the return pump in my sump I bought something that pumps at 1000gph. <<Yes, I too would expect the pair to handle 1000gph.>> Now, when I switch on my pump in the sump, the following happens - as the water level rises, it starts flowing into the two drain holes an down into the sump. However, the draining starts slowly at first and only increases in tempo as the water level rises. <<Yes...takes some water pressure to overcome the air pressure in the lines.>> When the water level becomes high enough so that the overflow holes are about halfway submerged, the overflow starts matching the rate of the inflow from the pump.  The problem is, by this time the return chamber in my sump is empty and the pump starts sucking in air. <<Simple matter of your sump not being large enough my friend.  The sump should be big enough to hold a "working" level/quantity of water IN ADDITION TO the "drain-off" from the tank when the pump is off.>> Now unless I'm making a really stupid mistake somewhere it seems that with these bulkhead overflows you have to push quite a lot of water into the tank first before the overflow "kicks in". <<Laws of physics at work here.  You might ease/help things a bit by aspirating your return lines.>> Can you perhaps give some advice here ? How do you normally set up these bulkhead overflows?  I believe that the inside of the bulkhead is sometimes connected to an elbow that bends up, but unfortunately this is not an option for me (because the holes are quite high up on the tank wall).   <<A bottom drilled tank with overflow box "might" require less water volume to get things going due to rapid build up of water height (weight) in the overflow box...but you haven't done anything wrong here, you simply need a larger sump volume of water.>> Am I just missing some simple concept here or do I just need a much larger sump to cater for the initial "kick off" of the overflow (Really didn't think my sump was too small)? <<I think for this application your sump is too small.>> Your help will be very much appreciated. Thanks Chris <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Re: Bulkhead - 07/02/05 Thanks a lot Eric, I don't know where some of us would be without your help. <<Always a pleasure to assist <G>.>> Have a good weekend. <<And you too.>> Chris <<Eric R.>>

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.>>

Closed loop and sump questions Greeting & Salutations, < Good morning. > I just read a couple of articles Anthony has written about closed loop systems and water flow and would like to ask your opinion on a couple of items.< Go right ahead. > a) If I use a an external canister filter e.g. Rena Filstar XP2 (I will also use it for chemical filtration) and "extend" the return outlet across the perimeter of the tank using elbows would I have effectively created a manifold closed loop system. < Yep, you would have.  The only downside I can see is that it will be quite weak.  You would be better with a large pump. > b) After much deliberation I have decided to create a separate refugium which will have a gravity fed outlet into the sump. I have 2 options of getting water to the refugium a) have a small pump to feed it from the sump. b) Attach a Y piece to my hang on overflow box and a attach 2 flexible hoses, one the  sump and the other to the refugium. I am leaning towards option a due to flow rate. What is your preference? < Tough question.  First I would make sure they new refugium can handle a very large overflow.  If you "T" off your return line it is possible a lot of the water flow will go to the refugium. Okay as for the two options, they both seem fine to me.  I would probably prefer to not add another pump in the refugium system.  I would rather T off the return line.  If you do add a pump I would add another pump in the sump to the main tank. > c) One of my wet dry filters will be converted into a sump for my tank. Will I get extra denitrification capabilities if I place some live rock in the bio chamber area? < Absolutely.  This is a very good idea. > Can I grow macro-algae without a substrate - creating a second mini refugium (I know I can get algae on the rocks) < Without substrate?  Well with some Chaetomorpha you may be able to, but substrate would certainly help. > d) Do you know when Anthony & Bob's new book will be out and where I can order it? < I do not know.  I'm thinking October and I'll bet Amazon will have it. > e) I plan to incorporate an auto top-off system. Should my reservoir be filled with RO/DI water or saltwater? < RO/DI water!!! > f) I looked through the FAQs and even though there is much on addressing noise issues I could not find any advice for softening the noise in the sump after the a wet dry filter has been converted into a sump/refugium and the drip plate has been removed - I still would like use the filter covers. Any advice on this or please point me to the right link. < Hmmmm, not sure.  If you can extend your return line all the way down into the sump water (so it doesn't splash down) you shouldn't have any noise problems. > Finally, I have spent a lot of time reading the FAQs and it seems that - especially in regards to a FOWLR- weekly cleaning/maintenance, weekly water changes and patience e.g. using quarantine tanks, proper acclimation/cycling/curing etc. can get me around using most water additives/supplements and commercial substrates and avoid most of the issues being discussed. I believe in the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) methodology. Now, I know reef systems are a different animal- or  am I simply missing the boat i.e. the complexity of this wonderful hobby (and expense)? <To me, a reef tank is much easier to keep and far less trouble than a FOWLR tank.  The filtration issues and stress to the fish are just not as important in my opinion.  So I don't think I would ever set up another FOWLR tank. > Thanks with much admiration < Good luck. > <  Blundell  >

- Sump Problems - Greetings, I thought I would add a little further information in that in the pictures I first sent the water level is very high in the sump. If I run it at a level lower than the highest baffle, the output is very, very low -- 300-400gph maybe. I have attached further pictures showing operation at a lower water level in the sump. The first two pictures show the water behavior and level with the pump closed down about 3/4 and the last shot with the pump opened up most of the way. So if I run it at a low water level and the pump opened up I end up with bubbles occurring closer to the pump. If I run it with a high water level the bubbles are an issue from the input to the sump. AAARRRRRGGGHHHHHHH!!!! <Bubbles at the input side of the sump shouldn't be that big of a deal - that's what all those weirs in the sump are supposed to address.> What do I do? Help please WetWeb Superheroes! <Run the sump at the higher water level. Cheers, J -- >

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 mechanics I wanted to thank you for your help with my Aiptasia questions the other day. I'm still attempting to catch the elusive black crab!! <You are welcome.> Since that time, I have been investigating the possibility of adding a sump to my set up. I believe I could probably fit a 20 gallon sump, though not with a lot of extra room!! I have been investigating sump set ups through the web and believe I have an idea of how I wish to proceed. I am though still stuck on some of the mechanics surrounding the project. I have looked far and wide for an explanation of how the volume of flow from the tank is equalized with the return flow of the pump. I will have to use a siphon overflow since I do not have a 'reef ready' tank. What I can't quite fathom, perhaps I'm just thick, is if I get an overflow that is putting 800 gph in the sump, and a pump that is pumping out 1000 gph, won't the sump eventually run dry, or the main tank overflow? <In this hypothetical, both would happen.> Conversely, If I get a 600 gph pump with the same overflow, won't the system eventually shut down when the sump fills up and the level in the main tank dips below the overflow level? <All overflow systems operate up to a maximum level. If the overflow is rated to operate up to 800 gph, it is capable of siphoning water up to 800 gph, but will perform fine at 600, 400, or anything up to 800.> I'm sure there is an obvious answer I am overlooking so I wanted to thank you in advance for your patience! <No problem. The labeling can be misleading. -Steven Pro>

Re: Sump mechanics Thanks for the prompt reply! <You caught me at the right time.> Just to make sure I've got it right.....I take it that I need to make sure that the pump which I choose has a gph rating that is below that of the overflow. What changes the rate of flow from the overflow box to match the pump? I can't believe I manually adjust some valve to try and match the return flow. Therefore there must be another controlling factor. Still confused! <No, there is nothing to adjust with siphon overflow box systems other than the adjustments for leveling them and for the water level in the tank. The more water that is pumped up, the more water the siphon drains up to its maximum point.> Also, what determines the water level in the sump? <The water level in the sump is determined by how much you fill it and evaporation.> Is it the positioning of the inflow tube into the sump? <No, see above.> Regards <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Pump it up Hi Bob, I have a question regarding my sump/refugium. I would like to buy a Turbo floater T1000 which requires a pump and also I would need a second pump for the return to the main tank from the sump. Is this a correct assumption or can these be combined. <Better by far to have two separate pumps here... hard to adjust the flow, pressure for the skimmer...> Ideally, I would like the skimmer in the sump/refugium. I don't know of anyone with such equipment to view, and I would need to mail order the skimmer, so I'm not sure how the setup would be configured. Your input would be appreciated. <Configured? Mmm, maybe take a look through Oz' Reef, champion DIY site re our field: http://www.ozreef.org/ and elsewhere on manufacturers sites (Our links page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/links.htm) for ideas on layout. Bob Fenner> Thanks Roland

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>

Water crates Hello my name is Ryan and I was referred to you by Ron from octopus garden. he told me that you might have some water tubs or troughs for sale. I'm not sure what they are called but they look like crates that hold water. anyway I'm going be using them as holding tanks for my goldfish. please let me know if you still have them and the price as I'm very interested. thank you, Ryan <Rats! Thanks for contacting me/us. We did have eight totes (the polyethylene squarish tubs often used as stands, sumps for stores, culture systems, large tanks (about four foot L and W... two feet deep, another six inches under to get a forklift into...) but have sold these. Be chatting, Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia.com>

Moving Substrate to sump, and what kind of Carib-Sea to get? Bob, Thanks for your help recently. <You're welcome> I'm adding a 20 gallon or so sump to my 38 gallon FOWLR. It will have a plenum and macro-algae. I currently have Carib-sea Geomarine crushed coral in my main tank, about 1" deep. I want to change to sand in the main tank. <Good idea> Three things: I want to use the crushed coral from the main tank as the bottom layer in the new plenum for the sump. Is this the right size crushed coral for the bottom layer, and is it o.k. to use the current crushed coral? Or is there a better bottom layer material. <Should be okay... use a plastic screen mesh (like material available for screen door replacement) on top of this layer and finer material (likely coral sand) on top...> I want to change to sand in the display tank. I'm hoping you are familiar with the different Carib-sea kinds of sand. <Yes> What is the best choice for the main tank. It won't be a deep sand bed. The choices are Carib-sea pure Caribbean Aragonite(0.18-1.2mm), Carib-sea Aragamax(0.5-1.02mm), or Carib-sea Special Grade(1-1.7mm) I would like to have a blenny or starfish in the main tank. <Myself... would go with the last (Special Grade)> Of the three Carib-Sea choices above, what is the best choice for the top layer of the plenum? <As stated> Thanks a million, you're an excellent resource, and your book should be arriving on my doorstep today courtesy of UPS. Dan <Be chatting, and taking up your time... pleasurably, 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 Hello Mr. Fenner, I enjoy your website a great deal. It is my homepage and every time I sign on in the morning I look over the daily Q&A. I learn a lot and am very inspired by it. <Ahh...> I have a question that I'm not all that sure you can help me with. I have a 75 gallon glass reef tank. It is on a stand (50X20) that has a divider in the middle of the cabinet. I can't fit my 30 gallon sump underneath the aquarium because of the divider. I've called, e-mailed, and faxed the maker of the stand at least 30 times, NJ. I just want to know if that is (I'm thinking it is) for weight bearing.  <Yes, very, make that VERY likely. However... I bet with a bit of ingenuity, cutting, you might be able to "temporarily (with the upper tank drained, largely drained.) removed this brace place the sump, and replace it with a bracketing, screws... the real strength is compression...> I would like to cut away an insert so that I could fit the sump beneath. Do you think I should leave it be? If so, do you know of anyway to fit a sump (refugium, skimmer) Ummm.. I guess around the divider?  <Best might be to "build one in place" out of glass, acrylic... Maybe a sturdy container out of plastic can/could be found to compress, twist around the center support?> I hope I explained that well enough. It's hard to visualize I think. :) Thank you! Greg <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sumps Good morning, I've had my sump on my 80 gal. reef for about a month now and after watching the operation, I'd like to make some changes. Would it be alright to add live rock to the sump without putting any light on it, except for daylight?  <Yes, certainly. A good improvement> Can the critters that live in the LR survive with just the minimal amount of light that would be provided by the daylight? <Again, yes> Again thanks for your input, Ce <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>

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>

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>

Refugium Mr.. Fenner, I have thought about writing to you (snail-mail) for some time now. Just last month I found you web site after visiting www.waltsmith.com whom I ordered my LR & LS from.  <Ah, glad that we have found each other.> I am an every day, often twice or more, visitor of your web site. My husband and I can't thank you enough for sharing your knowledge and experience. <Thank you for relating this, and how we became acquainted> I am thrilled to be able to e-mail you and tell you that because of your books and web site we have (thus far) been able to make the correct choices and have the base setup for our dream reef aquarium. <Your success and pleasurable learning are exactly what I/we (others do definitely aid the process) hope for from our efforts.> Not only that but we have had our eyes opened to marine life, the value and wonder it holds. In the fall we will be attending a class at out local collage titled "Captive Marine Biology." Our next trip to HW (four weeks, three days, and seven hours away:) we will take our first diving lesson. I know that without your guidance we would not be in this most gratified place in our lives. <Ahh...> Our system; 80 gal. 85lbs LR and 2 1/2 inch LS bed. Del-Ray wet/dry filter. HOB Berlin skimmer. Maxi-Jet rotating powerhead. 4 96 watt PC lighting. 78 degrees Ph 8.3, SG 0.024, Amm.0, NO2 0, NO3 5. Our rocks have been curing in our tank for 5 months to reach this point. We have just added 1 Yellow Tang and 2 blue-green Chromis. 7 hermit crabs and 7 snails. All doing well. We are going to paint and lay new carpet throughout our house. Once that is over we and going to set the tank up in a new location. For us the skimmer is now an eyesore. We thought that if we remove the bio-balls from the sump and let the skimmer work from there that it could be fully effective. Does the HOB variety actually have to be placed in that fashion? <No, can be placed anywhere the water level will supply it properly... I see, you mention this below> A refugium is something we would both like to do to benefit the reef. Could we set the refugium in that same sump (I think 20 gallon, I am known to wrong:) our is that way too much going on in too little a space? <Should be okay, but let me make this suggested change: to build an "emergency" overflow to accommodate the transit volume (the water "in-play" from your main tank to the sump/refugium) should the power go off or your recirculating pump (to the main/display tank) fail... another overflow box arrangement for the sump/refugium connected to a line going...? Outside? To a fish box? Just somewhere other than your floor for the mentioned contingencies> A separate sump could be set up with the refugium, or with the skimmer? <The refugium... the skimmer likely has its own pump that you will still use> Any thoughts if that would be better? If so what where? <Do peruse "Oz's Reef" (link on WWM Links page) for a fabulous collection of DIY projects, ideas... on how to arrange all this> One last question and I have vented all major hang ups that have been running around in my mind since we purchased the aquarium. Could the heater be placed in the sump and heat the water effectively? <Yes... it's thermostatic, the properties of water are conducive... and if the electric failed... the pump and heater would both go out...> It's not a theory I would like to test. I guess there is no reason for doing so only that I fret over the thought of the heater becoming cracked by the rock or it damaging the rock with it's heat. I apologize for the long letter. I just hope that I was able even in a small way to express how much we appreciate all you have done for us. Thank you again and best wishes. Lisa <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

80 gal Update (sump revelation) Since our last correspondence, I have made a number of changes. The best being the scrapping of all hang on the back devices in favor of a 20 gallon sump with skimmer. What a difference. <Ah, yes... much more serviceable as well> In a few hours the tank was clearer than it had ever been, and within a few days all of the coral were noticeably healthier looking. I highly recommend this filtration method, as it is well worth the expense. But the main point of this note is something involving my Percula clown. It has, in the last week, taken up residence in my frogspawn. It is of the tank bred and raised variety, and this is a most interesting development. Have you heard of this behavior before? <Yes... pic of same relationship on our site somewhere... http://wetwebmedia.com/clownfis.htm Bob Fenner> Rick Farris

Sump glue Hi Bob, I need to separate my acrylic 55 ga sump into different compartments for filtering. I have all the acrylic baffles cut to fit, but what type of glue is safe (non-toxic to fish) to use to bond these pieces into the sump?  <Hmm, if the baffles don't/won't be structural, I would use silicone rubber (100%) from the hardware store (avoid the non-100% ones that have additives... like mildewcides for tub, window uses...). For structural/permanent elements I would seek out Weld-on (probably their #40) to solvent the acrylic panels together... The silicone is better/will do as it can be modified some time hence> By the way, someone put up a poll on one of the marine BB's about the best marine book to have, and it looks like yours (CMA) won hands down. I happen to have it, and I'd have to agree with the poll results! Thanks for your help and time. Jason <Thank you for your encouraging news and opinion. Bob Fenner>

Sump/refugium I am trying to build a sump/refugium (about 30 gallons) for a 100 gallon tank. <Okay> I am thinking of using a 15 gallon Rubbermaid container for the skimmer and heaters. Then using 2 x 1''  <Make these at least 1 1/2", I'd choose 2"...> bulkheads to plumb the 15 gallon to a 30 gallon container that will contain a plenum/refugium/liverock arrangement. From the 30 g. container the line will be plumbed back to the display tank. My crazy scheme is to plumb the 2 bulkheads from the smaller container higher than the bulkhead in the refugium. This will keep the water running "down hill". Right? As I think this through. . . <This "running downhill" doesn't generally go all that well unless you have very large diameter conduits, and/or a good slope/run of difference in height... use large thru-hulls, pipe> 1) How do I drill holes in the containers? I mean, if I cut it with a knife the bulkheads will never seal. <Use a hole-saw set like for cutting doors for handles... these come in a few varieties... and drill slowly... no need for speed here... and use the gasket that comes with the thru hulls on the inside of the tank AND in addition put a sufficient smear of silicone (100%, like the type made for putting glass aquariums together) on BOTH SIDES of the thru-hull and hand tight, LEAVE to set for a day...> 2) In order to achieve a flow of at least 1000gph from the display tank, how big does my built in overflow in the display tank need to be? Is 1'' enough?  <No... at least two inch... ideally two-two inch ones> ( I know. . .you really want me to have two overflows). If possible, I would like to get by on one overflow which will be shunted to the T-1000 skimmer. <Not worth the risk here... if the single overflow fails, you could pump out the tank in about six minutes... on to the floor...> 3) Is the 2x 1'' bulkheads between the sump and refugium enough?  <No> How about the return line from the sump. . .Is one inch enough combined with a high quality pump that rates 1200 gph or thereabouts?  <Likely yes... use whatever size the outlet/discharge from the pumps volute is... that is, don't downsize the diameter from the pump... if it's one inch, go with one inch> I am thinking this will be the only pump that I use except a small one to feed the skimmer. Do you think this will work? <Should> I'm quite nervous about this plumbing stuff. Lots of room for novice errors. While I'm thinking about it, thanks for listing thereefweb.com site in your links. It really has been lots of help to me. <Have someone with experience review your plan, help by looking over your shoulder while doing the work... ask at the local shops, a club if you have one in your area... even a plumbing company if need be> On a more personal note, since I discovered your website about a year ago, I actually (for quite a while) kept thinking, "Gosh. . .I wish Bob would find a way to make some REAL money. It's sad this guy works so hard answering questions and posting information on the internet for free! <Nah! There isn't much money per se in this field, but there are many important ways for folks to "get paid"... Not lost on me that there is a difference between what people "do for work", versus what they "do for a living"... this is a living, for sure> He must have a heart of pure gold!!" Well, all this traveling you've been doing this past year. . .checking out properties in Hawaii, diving all over Asia, etc., has changed my mind! Now I'm thinking," How DOES this guy make money? I want to do what he's doing!!!" You lucky dog. . . HAHAHAHHAHAHAAAHAAHAHAAHAHAAA. <Ah, my friend, come and join us. Really. What material wealth I have is from (relative to human life times of course) a long-term investment result... saving part of my income (Please do red Clayson's "The Richest Man in Babylon" here... s/b required at HS level or even sooner> In all seriousness, anybody that spends as much time helping others as you do, deserves any and everything you get. Your efforts are appreciated and I'm sure you have friends all over the world . . .at least one in Vegas. <Ah, thank you.> I play the piano in the casinos . . .lots of intrinsic reward (frequently), but the extrinsic. . . (sometimes)?  <The lyrics of "The Piano Man" are drifting through my mind> Although there is almost always a beautiful fish tank nearby. If you ever want to establish a business in the City of Lost Wages or just need a weekend host, the wife and I will oblige. . . Keep up the good work!!! David Dowless (Who wishes there was a good fish store in Vegas) <Perhaps you will build one. Bob Fenner>

Weld-on... where? Hi Bob, your book is like a bible to me. Thanks. The question I have is this. I am running a 30G reef and going into a 60G reef. <Great, wish my wallet thickness would double like this!> I am going to build my own sump. I went to my local Home Depot and asked them if they have Weld-on-line of solvents and they said no. Could you give me more info on where I could find it.  <A tough question in this age of litigiousness... the stuff is quite flammable, not good to get in/on you... I strongly encourage you to use your "Yellow Pages", go to a local acrylic fabrication or supply place... and buy a small quantity from them> Second, the sump is going to be an algae filter with it own light running 24/7. I figure that should take care of the yellow compound that will leach into the main tank. Do I need a protein skimmer? <Maybe at first...> Does the algae absorb organic matter that is in the water?  <Yes, some... and produces, releases some as well. Bob Fenner> Thanks. Jackie

Sump/Pump Size Greetings Bob I am setting up a 55 gal reef tank, following the Berlin Method of filtration. How large should my sump be - I am currently planning on a 10 gal aquarium. <As big as you can fit... really. A ten would be a minimum... as you can understand given the need for not filling it completely to accommodate transit volume (should power, the pump fail)... and the myriad of things you might want to "do there"... make it a twenty or more gallon if you can, believe me> Also, what should my pump size (gpm's) be? The sump will be directly beneath the tank, by about 24". <At least five times the tank by the rated volume per hour... better to be ten> Thanks Bob!! <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> David Hacker

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

Rubbermaid Sump Q's Hello again Bob... <Howdy> I really do love the idea of a $12 40G Rubbermaid container as a sump. I'm setting up my 100G tank with this as the sump this weekend. I had a thought today, and would like to run it by you. <Okay... and these are fabulously useful units> I noticed that many sumps (expensive acrylic ones) have many baffles and different chambers that would be useful for setting up a refugium in one and a plenum in the other. I know you advocate the placing of a plenum in the sump for easy maintenance and removal/replacement if needed. This is the one "hard" to do thing with the Rubbermaid... making baffles and compartments. <Not too hard... I've done it many times...> Here's my idea... What if I took a smaller 20G container (Tupperware or Rubbermaid), cut out some holes for water to pass through and placed this in the 40G sump.  <Great idea>  The top of the container would be over the sump waterline, causing all water to have to pass through the container's holes, rather than over it. I could have the one of the two overflows from the aquarium flow into the 20G container that would be filled with LR and Caulerpa over a plenum bed... the other overflow flows into my TF1000 protein skimmer. I think this is a good idea because if needed, I could just "pull" out the plenum bed very easily. <Yes. Excellent> A second smaller 10G container could be used to house the return pump that would minimize small bubbles from returning to the main system. <Yes> So basically, I'd be using partially submerged containers within the larger 40G container as my makeshift baffles/compartments. Your thoughts? <None that would improve on your plan... have siliconed in glass, acrylic, even cut PVC sheet in various ways in sumps before as well as in-placed other chemically inert features as you describe...> PS. The TF1000 requires that the overflow enter directly into the protein skimmer... it doesn't pull water from the sump. I am concerned that only one overflow would push more water than the protein skimmer could handle, or that the main tank won't drain fast enough to keep up with the return flow rate, causing a huge mess. I've seen some people use a tee connector right before the water enters the protein skimmer to allow water that isn't pulled in from the TF1000, to flow out an alternate route into the sump. Rather than use the tee, I was planning on drilling a second overflow on the main aquarium, that would be about 3/4" higher than the overflow to the TF1000, that would flow directly into the plenum/Caulerpa compartment I mentioned earlier. The reason for placing it 3/4" higher is that I was thinking it would force as much water down to the TF1000 as the protein skimmer could possible take FIRST, then secondarily it would flow out the higher overflow to the sump/refugium in the sump. Does this make sense? <Yes... and I would use a separate, dedicated pump for the skimmer. 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>

Re: Sump Question... From a previous conversation: Me: I'm moving from a house I'm renting into an apartment complex that makes lugging 30 gallons of salt water around very difficult. You: <Don't lug> So I assume you mean make my own seawater <yes), I don't know why I never did this...  <Ahh, you will soon my friend... much better, cheaper... and easier on your back, gas mileage...> I just always bought premixed... you state on your WetWebMedia site: The simplest, most assured way of making sure sanitizers, metals (that can be settled/complexed), excess gasses... are removed from solution ahead of using synthetic salt mixes is to pre-mix and store them for a week or so ahead of use. This is best accomplished by way of buying and dedicating "Fish Tank Only" gear to the purpose. A new (my favorite are the Rubbermaid (tm) Brute) trash can and lid (to keep little hands and stuff out) maybe with their spiffy dolly to roll around... a pump (like a powerhead, but with a nozzle for attaching a bit of flexible tubing to ease moving the water to your system(s)... and possibly a thermostatic heater (make sure and unplug this when doing additions)... and your trusty hydrometer... Does this mean get a trash can, fill it with tap water and salt. Test with a hydrometer, and after a week it's ready to go? Nothing else is needed? That easy? All the "bad stuff" will be gone? <Yes... that/this simple> If so, my aching back thanks you tremendously! <A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sumps Overflowing? Hi Bob, I might have to go oversea on business on the weekend, so I am trying to sort out some teething problems before I go. Things like noisy overflow, and small things like this. I also installed a 1060 Eheim pump to return the water. The 1250 just did not move enough water for my liking. <A good choice> It's a strange feeling to have a sump. I always have in the back of my mind that the tank or sump could overflow! <Could, but not likely if set-up properly> Hope you have had a good Easter break! Many thanks for your help and I will email you again (hopefully before the weekend) when I put some pictures up on the net. Warmest regards, Lucien <Bon voyage my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sump Hi Bob, I am about to build a sump for my new 125 FOWLR tank, and have more questions. I want to have a sand bed, live rock and macro-algae growth for biological filtration in the sump. My question regards the placement of these filters. I will probably be using a used 40 long aquarium for the sump.  <Good choice, size, shape wise> I was thinking of having the sand bed (4-5")at the beginning of the sump, having the water from the overflows (pre-filtered) empty here. Is it okay to have the live rock and macro-algae sitting on top of the sand, or should they be in their own "compartment" in the sump?  <Okay on top... and do build "barriers" (glass or acrylic, silicone sealer...) for keeping all sand where you want it...> I will have the water returning to the display tank right after the carbon filtering area. Where in this line should I put the skimmer?  <Most anywhere in this scheme... I would fit toward "end" to cut down on varying water height, bubbles from incoming water from the main system> I will be using a Turboflotor 1000 in-sump. Would it be best at the beginning, before the DSB? At the end? Thanks again for you help! Jason <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: sump Is there any amount of flow that would be 'too much' for this area with DSB/live rock/macro algae?  <Yes... to the extent that the algae would be pushed over, pulled off the rock...> I haven't decided on the return pump size yet. I assume most of the flow through the sump will depend on the turn-over rate of the return pumps. <And associated plumbing... you could use the same device to pull water from the system, to a surge bucket, other discharges...> Also, in the sand bed, I plan on having it lit 24/7 for the algae growth. Will this effect any sand-sifters (stars, etc) I put in there?  <Not too adversely> I have seen stars that burrow in main tanks, but the light was only on about 10 hrs/day. Thanks, Jason <Bob Fenner>

Jaubert Plenum What is your opinion of the use of a plenum in a small 29 gallon tank and on a 75 gallon tank with a 24hr protein skimmer in operation? <Can be made to work in both... I prefer to remote these purposeful denitrators (and more) in separate sump systems... Bob Fenner>

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>

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

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>

Lighting a refugium Bob, My refugium currently has two 24" VHO lamps. They are a Coralife 10,000K and an Actinic 03. Would you recommend changing one or both to the Trichromatic (5600K)? I currently have several species of Macroalgae (red, brown & green), live rock with coralline algae, many types of worms and crustaceans and some polyps. thanks, Sam <Yes, I would switch out the actinic... save up for later, other use. Bob Fenner>

Filtration Hey Bob, I need your opinion on filtration. I currently have a sea clone skimmer. I am looking at different options. My first option is to add a fluidized bed filter. My second option is to add a wet/dry and protein skimmer combo filter. The two I am looking into are the Amiracle SL-5 hand on and the CPR Bak Pak. Which one would you recommend? Thanks, Jonathan Pac <Both are okay units for established reef systems... up to about sixty actual gallons. Bob Fenner, who uses the CPR>

Reef Sump Questions Hello Bob: I have a new (3 month old) reef system with a US Aquarium Wet/Dry sump, it has a Venturi style skimmer built in to it, and is pretty small compared to what all the books and your web site suggest (I have a 60 gal tank). I am interested in building my own sump with a 15 or 20 gallon tank. I like your ideas regarding LR and macro-algae in the sump to act as filtration and reduce nitrites/nitrates. What I'm not sure of is how to organize it... I want some mechanical filtration where the water enters the sump and where the skimmer is output (I am going to buy your recommended needle wheel T1000 skimmer) to reduce bubbles getting pumped back into the main tank. Do I need to put in some partitions to separate the mechanical filtration, live rock/substrate, GAC/chemical filtration chamber, and return pump?  <IMO yes... the partitions (partway up on the bottom... the top is not a good place as it hampers cleaning, manipulation) are a good idea.> Should the water flow over the partitions, under it, or through it (drilled holes)?  <Mostly over... better to just avail yourself of periodic siphoning to remove much mulm... if it bothers you...> It seems it would be easier to manage with partitions at least, but making sure the water flows properly is important... and I want to make sure I build it right the first time and don't forget anything. Is there anywhere I can go to get specific detailed instructions/suggestions on constructing a sump?  <Don't know of any... but sure they exist... maybe try this question on reefs.org's listserv, reefkeepers@tropica.com.... and look at the business's listed as making such gear's websites in FAMA (Freshwater and Marine Aquarium Magazine). You'll soon know more (of use) than most anyone on the topic.> Or maybe you could give me some detailed instructions/suggestions? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.. your advise on web site is invaluable. Steve >> <You're certainly welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sumps, water on the Floor Hi Bob...I just set up my Knop calcium reactor, and I set up a home made sump to drip the reactor into...I'm using a Tidepool SOS prefilter draining into a 20 gallon tank, and using a pump to return the water...I put a valve on the return hose to regulate the flow from the pump back to the tank, so I could match up the exact flow between the overflow and the return pump (any other suggestions on this??, am I doing this right?)...my main concern is doing water changes...I finally got to a point where I don't want to mess with the pump or the overflow because I got the ratio between the 2 just right...if I shut the pump off and left the valve in the right spot and stopped the overflow siphon, when I start everything back up will it be the same? I'm just concerned that every time I do a water change now, I'll have to spend hour monitoring the overflow / return pump ratio...any suggestions??...thanks....Jeff <Can't be done Jeff... rely on gravity... BobF> Sump info. Hi bob, let me explain my sump situation more in detail...first of all, if I were to go and buy a wet/dry unit, it would come with an overflow, which, via a siphon and using gravity, would flow water into the wet/dry unit, the water being returned to the main tank from the wet/dry using a pump...I have the same set-up but I didn't buy a wet/dry, I just bought the overflow for a wet/dry (the Tidepool SOS), and a 20 gallon tank, instead of a wet/dry, the amount of water in the 20 gallon tank is about 8 gallons, one third of the tank filled), I am returning the water from the sump back to the main tank using a pump, as would be in a wet/dry unit...the pump was obviously slightly stronger than I thought so I have a valve on the tubing so I can regulate the flow, so it matches the amount being brought into the sump via the overflow unit, are you following so far?. is this wrong?...if it is tell me how and what I should be doing?....I thought that in all wet/dry situations, there is always the threat of flooding due to power outages, break in siphon, pump failure....is there something that could be done to avoid this? >> Ah, thanks for the illumination. What a relief (and I do know Bobby Sherman's product names... i.e. Tidepool.>, the valve on the discharge side should be fine... and the eight gallons in the sump sufficient to accommodate transit volume... still, do this old pet-fish ichthyologist a favor and turn the power off, allowing the sump to fill at wherever it does, top it off, turn the pump back on, and mark the absolute highest point the water should allow to be when the pump is going, the valve set at its maximum aperture you'll be using.... This is how to avoid floods... Bob Fenner I do hope I'm understanding you here, and that you've employed a "constant level" overflow mechanism that simply relies on gravity and water level in your main system to deliver water to a lower point, i.e. the sump, and not some "matched" flow drainage and return pumping mechanism... If you turn the pump off, does the transit volume sump overflow? Does the siphon break? I do trust you understand what I'm getting at... the answer must be no to all. Otherwise, disaster is predictable. Bob Fenner

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

Reef question I have a 55gallon show tank which I plan on making a reef/fish setup. I bought the 4x96 watts power compacts from FFExpress. They are great and extremely bright. I plan on keeping various anemones, clams, both soft and hard corals, and reef fishes. I was just wondering if they will be too bright for the other species that require less light?  <Not so much a problem for the vast majority of possible/probably sedentary invertebrates (ones that won't move around)... If the light is too bright, most have mechanisms for adaptation...> I also have a wet/dry which I want to use as a sump. Any recommendations on what I can put in there?  <Yes... the best, live rock, some Caulerpa macro-algae and a light above... If no go on this, then some sort of anaerobic filter media to be placed underwater... like Siporax beads or Ceramic media like Eheim's Ehfi Mech... one time purchases that will greatly improve water quality... most noticeably by reducing nitrates> Especially to help with the denitrating process. I have about 3 inches of pretty fine grade sand in my tank, do I need to set up a plenum in order for the Jaubert/NNR system to work or just the sand will be fine?  <The Sand substrate will get you ninety some percent of the function... but the plenum will/would provide orders of magnitude more safety in warding off anaerobic problems... like hydrogen sulfide production... I would put one in (a plenum)> My other filtration/equipments include 60 lbs. Fiji live rock, red sea Berlin classic protein skimmer, a magnum 350, and 3 powerheads for circulation. Also what can I put in my magnum to help?  <Just mechanical filter media and a unit of activated carbon once a month...leave the old one in for two months...> As you can see I want to avoid water changes as much as possible.  <Why? An inexpensive, simple, sure-fire way to avoid metabolite build up (other processes in the tank, filtration won't do this), "Dead Sea" effect of adding solutes, composition "drift" of salt mix... from differential leaving and solubility of seawater constituents... Do schedule at least monthly changes of ten percent...> Just to let you know the tank has only been cycling for about 2 weeks now and there are no livestock purchased yet.  <Good idea... wait another couple of months, IMO... until you see the need to place the first livestock... whatever sorts of cleaner uppers, macro-algae you intend to employ> I want to set up the most reliable, efficient, and least maintenance tank and filtration system. Do I need any other filters or upgrade what I have already. <For real? Look into a calcium reactor... now. Instead of the trials and tribulations of "additive madness"... for pH, alkalinity and biomineral purposes... Trust me here, and investigate this possibility thoroughly...> Don't get me wrong I will put in whatever work I have to do, but I do want to limit the unnecessary work though. What would you recommend? Your knowledge and experience would be much appreciated.  >> <I'm sure they are, and will be, Bob Fenner>

Live rock Hi Bob, I have a 55 gallon reef that has been set up and running successfully for 1 year. I cycled the tank with a 40 lb box of Fiji live rock. The tank has the following: VHO lighting, 2 blue, 2 white 40 gallon tank below w/wet-dry and protein skimmer <Wowzah, good sized sump!> 1 Yellow tang 1 Mandarin goby 2 perculas mushrooms 1 Amplexidiscus (it has split into 3) 1 bubble coral 1 flower pot sun coral 2 umbrellas I am planning on ordering another box of live rock from FFExpress (that would give me about 80 lbs total). I have been recently having minor blooms of green hair algae, just on the sides and bottom of the reef tank. I am wanting to get rid of the wet-dry, just not sure how. Do I simply remove it?  <Leave it in till the new rock is thoroughly settled in/cured...> Would I need anything else in the sump?  <IMO, yes, pull the media, supports and consider "culture" (your tanks, not you!) of live rock, pulsing corals, macro-algae, what have you.... If it were me, I'd place some live rock, the Macro-algae of choice and some not-so-algae eating fishes... and have a sort of alternate light cycle program with the lights below turning on, overlapping the main tank, but during parts of the evening when you'll enjoy viewing what's going on below> And how long should I wait after placing the new live rock in the tank?  I would also like to add more fish, but have always read the danger of fish waste on inverts. IYO, would it be okay for me to get a few more fish? <Yes, when the new rock et al. is in, cured, the wet-dry media pulled> Sorry for the lengthy read, but I value your opinion as you have helped me in the past. Thanks, Diane. >>
<No worries, be chatting.
Bob Fenner

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