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FAQs About Sump/Filters 10

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

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

Question on Best Strategy for New Sump     4/14/14
Hi WWM Crew!
First, a quick thanks for all of the sage advice you supply to the aquatic community. Next, my apologies in advance for taking up your valuable time, but hopefully this will be a fairly quick answer for you.
<What we're here for>
I recently bleached out my entire 185 gallon acrylic tank and all the equipment to try and start over (older and wiser this time with any luck).
I took this opportunity to upgrade to a larger sump (image attached) and finally install a protein skimmer (Reef Octopus Diablo in-sump in the middle area). In the past I've always had bioballs in my sump, but having also had high nitrates, I'd like to not use them this time.
<Easily omitted>
There seem to be so many FAQs and opinions on this topic on WWM that it's a bit overwhelming trying to decide the best route to go as an alternative.
<Each must ultimately decide for themselves>
The aquarium will be a FOWLR (kind of messy fish) with no DSB
<Could put in the sump>
and I'm not looking to add much live rock to the ~90 lbs I already have in the tank,
<Is plenty>
since I like to keep plenty of swimming room for the large fish. Looking at the sump image provided, am I best putting live rock rubble in place of  the bioballs, leaving it with only chemical filtration in that space, or trying
to make it into some sort of refugium?
<My vote is for the latter>
If a refugium, do you have any
recommendations on how that would be structured given this layout?
<Sure... gone over and over on WWM... Refugium Design FAQs>
Thanks in advance for your assistance with my second attempt to nail this whole aquarium thing!
<Do you require assistance in using the search tool, indices? Bob Fenner>

Sump design... what happened to folks reading, following directions, reading...?    2/27/13
What's best for a reef tank with in sump Skimmers, pu.p refugium an ato chamber? Looking at a size like 40 gallon breeder. My tank is 48 long.
<... read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
the second tray down... Bob Fenner>

Sump Setup   6/2/10
Hi there guys!!
<Hi Jordan!>
I've got quite a few sump questions sorry J.
<Go right ahead!>
My tank has been up and running for about 4 months now without a problem. Just added my first fish this weekend (7 blue Chromis) and I love them!!
So I keep reading about sumps and stuff and want to make sure what I have set up is ok or if there are any suggestions to improve it or make it less of a potential problem in the future.
<Ok, but be aware there are many different ways to set up sumps/ refugiums effectively. There is not one ‘definitive’ method that is better than all of the others>
So its 4' long by 12.5" wide with about 11" of water in it.
<This is a good size for your 125>
First chamber is 14.5" long housing Euro Reef RS-135 PS, 2 250w heaters, and I have a filter sock over my overflow drain tube. Skimmer is propped up about 2" to allow for proper functioning as per manufacturer. So first
question is do I need filter sock....I clean it regularly (like every 3 days) but I find that may prove annoying if it is not needed.
<Some people like them, some don’t. I don’t bother myself, it’s just one more thing to clean, but I have used them in the past>
A few pieces of live rock in 1st chamber as well mostly supporting the egg crate where PS sits.
Second chamber (most worry occurs here J ) Refugium set up. 17" long with 2" of live sand, some Chaeto, and some small pieces of LR.
<I would keep just two of these here personally… but to be honest, it’s really what ‘works’ best for you that’s the best thing>
I plan on adding more. Biggest question is whether to keep the sand in there or leave as is or add about another 3 inches to it.
<Either/ or. Have you read our sections on sand beds? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm . If you do add to it do it an inch at a time a few weeks at a time>
The water enters this chamber from the bottom of a baffle so I don't think sand can sit right up against the left
hand baffle. Is this much sand going to cause a problem??
<Not unless it blocks the baffle up>
If I add to it how much at once is safe and can I just add on top of what is there?? <Posted> Am I
worried for no reason? I keep reading about how you like DSB in refugiums.
<I do yes>.
Third chamber is 8" long and is currently bare. Empty space. Any suggestions if I should put something in here other than more LR? Maybe some sort of media bag??
<Personally, I would have a 5-6 inch DSB on it’s own in one section, and the live rock/ Chaeto in another. This exposes the DSB to flow over the whole bed, making it more efficient, but plenty of people have success combining these with live rock/ macroalgaes as well. This is a massive subject.. I implore you to purchase an excellent book that will help you greatly here.. ‘Reef Invertebrates’ – Fenner& Calfo.. this book does more than it says on the tin>
Last chamber is really an extension of the third with just a short 3" wall separating it for the return pump.
<Be careful that Chaeto does not get into the pump section – keep this well separated>
No problems/worries here! Flow seems great through whole system. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I take your guys thoughts and opinions very positively. You are such a great resource.
<Well thank you Jordan, but I really think that you don’t need much help here… you obviously have a good understanding of this already and whichever way you decide to arrange this your system will benefit from your efforts.>
If it matters, DT is 125g with about 170lbs LR, and the sump is lighted full time over the second chamber where sand and Chaeto are.
<I would instead reverse-light this during the night only, after the main systems lights have gone out. Research WWM re: this & balancing pH>
Thanks again!
<No worries!>

Sump Change Out  11/07/08
Hello Crew,
<<Hiya Carlos>>
Let me say first what a great asset you guys are.
<<And gals, yes?…thank you>>
There are so many questions (and differing answers) on our hobby and you are certainly the best resource I have found.
<<This is indeed true (differing answers/opinions)…we appreciate the kind words>>
I have a 75 g tank that has been established for a year and a half. One of the challenges (and enjoyment) of the initial setup was to DIY as much as I could (I'm an engineer so I could not help myself).
<<Ah yes! I too much enjoy DIY>>
I made my sump from an old 20g tank and added a wet-dry filter consisting of two Tupperware containers, a filter pad and some shotgun wadding. I also made my own skimmer using an old in-line pool leaf catcher, an airstone (wood), and a venturi that came with my pump. I've always had two concerns about this setup: 1. That my trickle would eventually become a nitrate factory
<<This type filter really has no capacity to further process/reduce NO3>>
and 2. That my skimmer had very poor bubble production and would eventually not keep up with demand.
I recently got a deal on a new skimmer from an aquarium shop that is (sadly) going out of business. I'm planning to revise my sump this way: The skimmer will sit in a container that will maintain a constant 10" of water level (fed directly from the overflow on the tank). This will overflow into a division that will contain live rock. On the other side of the division will be my pump and heater. I plan to start out by dumping all of my shotgun wadding into the live rock area, then slowly remove portions of it and replace it with equal or slightly more volume of live rock.
Does this sound like a good plan?
<<Sure sounds fine>>
How much live rock should I add at a time?
<<A few pounds at a time to replace the wadding over the course of a couple weeks>>
I really do not have a good way to cure the rock. Would I be better of adding "dead" rock and letting it seed from my wadding?
<<Mmm, not in my opinion. I would try to find cured/partially cured rock at your LFS and just monitor water quality closely. There's a good chance that the small amount of newly added live rock will have little/no impact and will be HUGELY more beneficial than adding dead rock>>
Thanks in advance for your patience and your response.
<<Is my pleasure to assist>>
Best Regards,
<<Cheers, EricR>>

sump placement 5/17/08
Greetings, I just learned about marine velvet, unfortunately the hard way. I qt but still lost allot,
<... no such word>
I took out the live stock and ill
<Are you sick?>
let the parasite cycle and hope for the best. I bought a uv sterilizer and was hooking it up. Its tight quarters in the stand, I wanted to move the sump about five feet away. 75 gallon reef tank, tidepool 2 sump, mag drive 9.5 and a cpr overflow with 2 1 inch bulk heads. Since ill lose some flow is it still enough? Thanks once again, you are all such a great addition to the hobby. Kevin
<Try it and see... the UV won't cure any given parasitic outbreak of/by itself... Bob Fenner>

Decisions: I'm sumped. 3/1/08
Dear crew,
I must admit I'm currently spending more time reading on your website than I spend studying for my classes.
<Hmmm, the addiction.>
I have a 60 gallon (maybe 55?) saltwater tank set up. I picked it up because my dad used to have it running and since all the equipment was free to start up I figured it would be a good idea. Though, I quickly found out how quickly free turned to a few hundred dollars. Well apparently my dad didn't know much about freshwater vs. saltwater because I have an undergravel filter with two powerheads and a canister filter (now devoid of media). I have 3 pieces of fake coral that he had and then I purchased live rock (not sure on exact amount, but more than 20 pounds). I use a 40 watt, 48 inch, 6500K Corallife full spectrum fluorescent to light the tank. A little on the weak side, but for FOWLR, I hope it's enough. Should I consider upgrading?
<It is not necessary. If the light looks good to you it is fine for a FOWLR tank. The lighting is for your viewing pleasure.>
I am on a tight budget. The tank has been up and running for a few years. I had a damsel, maroon clown, flame angel, and cleaner shrimp in it until I moved apartments and the shrimp died.
<This happens to the best of us at times.>
Regrettably, I was severely lacking aquarium maintenance and my heater malfunctioned and I noticed that my tank looked a lot less lively one day and saw my temperature at around 90 degrees.
I turned off the heater, but I was pretty busy with school and left it there, just topping off the water as it evaporated for a few months (I live in southern California so the temperature rarely changes). Finally I decided I wanted to get it back and running (they really are so beautiful) and I wanted to do it right so I found your website. I'm now doing 5 gallon water changes every Monday, along with cleaning up in various ways and running all the water tests.
<Good, keep it up.>
However, in the summer I will be moving again and I plan on using this opportunity to revamp my tank. I will remove the undergravel filter and canister filter and do a substrate change. I want to switch to sand because I like the look better.
<Me too.>
I also am going to buy a protein skimmer. The LFS has AquaC, which seem to be recommended. But before I buy the hang-on type, I want to know if it's recommended to build a sump.
<It is a better and easier way of doing things, although not a necessity.>
The reason I am hesitant is that there are no holes drilled in my tank and I don't know if I want to risk drilling because if it cracks, then that's the end for me until I graduate. I don't trust a siphon overflow because if it can go wrong, I know it will. It seems those are my only two choices.
<I understand your concerns with both types of overflows. If you are interested in having a sump I encourage you to check with some of the local fish stores or clubs. You may find someone in your area that is experienced at drilling tanks that can help you out. You could even decide to drill it yourself. If not, the siphon overflows are fine with vigilance and maintenance to keep them flowing. Running two of these is a good idea for redundancy’s sake.>
Should I just get the skimmer now and skip on a sump for simplicity?
<This really depends on what you want to do, but a skimmer is definitely recommended either way.>
I also am curious if my live rock will restore. The heat and my negligence killed off most of the life. In the last few weeks it has seen some growth of different types of green algae and a few spots of dark red/brown slimy spots. I plan to purchase some more love rock when I move.
<Your live rock will recolonize in time, additional rock to further seed it will be helpful.>
Any input is greatly appreciated. I want to do it right this time around and I continue to research, but sometimes the answers are vague.
<As some are here, there is just a lot of personal choice in matters like this. I will never own an undrilled tank again. However, I understand the concerns people have drilling a tank. It is a fairly straightforward process, but you do always take a chance of cracking the tank while drilling. I have personally seen many more tanks broken by careless excess weight/pressure put on the lines coming through the glass after the tank has been drilled than by the drilling process itself!>
Thank you for your time,
<Welcome Eric. It sounds like you are on the right track, regardless of sump or not. Good luck, Scott V.>

90 gallon AGA Sump Choices 2/3/08
Hi guys.
<Hello Jason.>
As usual, I love what you guys do for your fellow reefers. Thanks a ton.
<WWM is a pleasure to be a part of.>
To the task at hand. I've had a standard 90 gallon AGA tank sitting in my office for over a year now and I’m finally getting down to business with getting her started. I've been running a 37 gallon reef for a few years now and I’m glad to be going bigger.
<I bet you are, congratulations on the new setup.>
I would like your input as to sump/refugium idea's as this is the way I plan to go for filtration on the reef. I've thought of designing my own sump/fuge but I don't have the time to do so and I just plain don't trust myself to do a good enough job with it.
<I’m sure with some research you could do a fine job, but you do have to consider what your time is worth!!>
I was hoping you could suggest some Brands or places I could look to get one already ready to go.
<Premiumaquatics.com has some common units on their site. Glass-Holes.com (this is my own company) will build them on a custom basis, as well as MyReefCreations.com, they will build custom and have some nice prefabricated designs.>
I know that some believe it's best to have the refugium in addition to the sump and I’ve seen a few that I’ve liked but have no idea if they'd be proper enough for what I’m looking to do.
<You can definitely incorporate a refugium into a sump. Having an external refugium is generally easier if you are planning a larger refugium, space permitting.>
I'm going to attach a jpg and a link of one that I’ve been looking over online,
<<This graphic is commercial, someone else's work. Not posted therefore. RMF>>
<From the picture it appears to input to the refugium on the left, then under the intake to your return/skimmer chamber. The intake goes through whichever filter media you use in it straight to the return/skimmer chamber. You will need to either pump into the refugium or split your overflow line to feed it. The only problem I see is the refugium water will have to pass through the skimmer chamber before it returns to your tank. This poses a hazard to any microfauna produced in the refugium. If you set up a recirculating skimmer fed directly from the overflow this will not be an issue.>
as well as I thought I’d as if anything is known about ADHI brand refugium/sumps.
<These are fairly nice models for the money, they generally do have a relatively high water level in the skimmer chamber and a rather anemic refugium light for my taste. Depending on your skimmer you may have to set it on top of something to get it at an appropriate depth.>
Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you again!
<Welcome, have fun setting up, Scott V.>

Re: Nitrate, ECO 30 on EBay   2/25/07
Sorry, one more (series) of questions. My wife brought up a valid point. I can be useless when it comes to building and fixing things so maybe I will purchase a wet/dry refugium. What do you recommend (30 inch max) for short money? The ECO 30 on EBay, are they OK? I just upgraded to the Outer Orbit, which set me back a few $'s. Thanks again.
<Look like nice, service-able units: http://stores.ebay.com/usa-refugium
and a legitimate (though home-grown) player. Bob Fenner>

Adding a sump and overflow ... a new Beck song refrain?   2/22/07
Hi Crew
<Hi Mark, Mich here.>
Thanks for a great resource and all the hard work!
<Thanks for appreciating it!>
There is so much to learn to be a responsible hobbyist.
<A never-ending learning experience.>
I recently up graded from a 55 gallon to a 125 gallon aquarium my first mistake was not buying a pre drilled tank.
<Congratulations!  Yes drilled is definitely desirable.>
I'm currently using a canister filter and am finding  it unsatisfactory.
<Not surprising.>
I want to add a sump and need an overflow box. But, from what I am reading this seems like it will be another mistake.
<Any chance of getting the tank drilled?  Many local aquarium clubs have people who are proficient at drilling tempered glass.>
Is there an over flow  that is safe to use?
<Two is better than one is a good philosophy here!>
I am concerned about power outage and flooding.
<A wise concern.>
Also, for a  125-gallon aquarium what kind of flow rate should I be looking at.
<Depends, some say 10 to 20 times the tank volume per hour, but also depends on what kind of circulation you have within the tank.  
I have a 29-gallon aquarium that I want to use for a sump.
<Can also you large Rubbermaid type containers as well.>
Also, I need to buy a pump for return and I have about 5 and 1/2 feet from sump to aquarium what kind of  pump do I need?
<Look for a head height calculator tool, on bulletin boards such as www.reefcentral.com>
One last question, I am not planning to use bio balls or a pre  filter and don't need a pre filter box that the overflow hose would normally attach to is there a
way to secure the overflow hose to the 29-gallon aquarium  sump without buying a pre filter box so that I can have more available space?  
<Usually gravity is enough to do the trick.>
Sorry if my question is a little basic...this is a new area for me.
<No worries.  I'm glad to answer them!  -Mich>
Regards, Mark

Gaining Sump “Awareness”... and Other Stuff – 02/01/07
Wow Eric, your Latin is quite impressive.
<<Aw shucks, you’re just saying that! (don’t be impressed, the Internet is a wondrous tool...)>>
You are such a man of mystery.
<<Oh?… [cue theme music from ‘Mission Impossible’]>>
I have one for you, a quid pro quo, if you will:  Esse Quam Videri.  Don't be too impressed in return.  That is actually my college sorority's motto. It also happens to be North Carolina's state motto.
<<Ah yes!>>
I will let you look that one up, as I had to do a bit of translating on my own.
<<Hmm, not so difficult really…"To be, rather than to seem"…I like that>>
Okay history lesson over.  I could get so carried away with nonsense, which I am sure you and the crew could do without.  I already have taken up so much of your web space.  Everyone is probably thinking, or hoping, I just shut-up and get to the point.
<<Hee-hee!  More likely anxiously wondering what will come next>>
This is so much more fun though, isn't it?
<<Indeed…though folks are gonna start talking…[grin]>>
It must be much nicer to be in sunny S.C. then the coal region here in Pennsylvania.
<<Mmm, well…like I tell my in-laws who live in Western Nebraska…”If you choose to live there!…”>>
You are lucky.  I see that your fellow crewmember, Mich is in the Pocono’s here.
<<Yep!  In fact both she and Bob will be in town for a visit week from today>>
That is not too far from me.  Much more scenic/touristy than my town, that is for sure.  If you want to go on a tour of a coalmine, this is the county to visit.  Or, if you have ever heard of Yuengling beer, they literally brew it right here.
<<Oh yes!  I have a friend here that has transplanted from New Jersey that usually has a case or two on hand>>
I don't drink it if I can help it, but my husband is a die-hard fan.  I personally am a Miller-Lite girl.
<<I enjoy having a brew or three…especially when I’m drinking with Bob and friends at the ‘Kona Brewing Company’ during visits to the Big Island…but I’m really a “rum” kinda guy>>
Now that is really off topic and unsolicited.  Yuengling recently set up a brewery in Florida if I am not mistaken, so maybe you are familiar with it.  If my memory of geography serves me correctly, you are semi-close to FL??
<<Separated by Georgia, yes>>
And just to note, I am not totally against stalking.  I do have some experience, on the flipside that is.  My sister had a stalker.  Let's just say it involved face paint and fatigues.
Oh and the police...we don't want to leave them out.  Gosh, maybe I do need a pen pal.
First of all, holy big tank you have.
<<My pride and joy>>
It must be gorgeous, not to mention time consuming.
<<Actually no…no more than most any other tank.  I’ve rigged/automated the routine functions…heck, a 50 gallon water change involves opening a valve to drain and pushing a button to refill…entails about 15-minutes at most>>
Do you post pics of it anywhere?
<<Hmm, nothing current>>
I like to sit and watch mine all the time, I can't imagine what goes on in yours.
<<Indeed, much time spent gazing/observing every day…but then that’s why I have it!>>
I crack up when a Nassarius snail climbs up the glass too far and falls off.  What would I do if I had something bigger to amuse myself with?
<<I can’t imagine...>>
Did you think that was funny?
So, the skimmer.  I am thinking I will go ahead and purchase the AquaC Remora with the Maxi-Jet, but I think I will research the sump thing a bit first.
<<All good…you will be quite happy with the AquaC I’m sure.  The owner of the company (Jason Kim) is a fine lad and will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have…don’t hesitate to contact him or his mate Steve on the AquaC website.  And do feel free to let them know I sent you their way.  As for the sump...once you’ve digested some info on the use/application/installation, do come back for clarification if need be>>
I was so hoping you'd tell me the AquaC was less "intrusive."
<<Not when it comes to hanging the skimmer on the display tank I’m afraid>>
Thanks for the input on that.
<<Any time>>
I did a little research, and I mean little, today, and I am still so confused.  Maybe I am just dense.
<<I don’t think so...will become clear in time>>
I hope this isn't a dumb question, but are sump and refugium synonymous?
<<Mmm…different purposes/applications…though a sump can often “incorporate” a refugium…but my preference is to utilize separate purposeful vessels for each>>
I didn't do a whole lot of reading, but with a sump, does the skimmer get used on that, versus on the display tank?
<<Ah yes!  Aside from the extra “volume” a sump affords to a system it also provides a handy place for installing the ancillary equipment (skimmer, heaters, media reactors, etc.)>>
Feel free to just tell me to search your site here.
<<Search our site here [grin]:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm  And be sure to follow the many associated links at the top of the page>>
I am not looking for you to do the work for me.
<<Can’t really...you need to read/understand and then we can “fine tune” from there>>
I guess I just don't get it, and understandably so, as I have not yet put forth the time to
<<Well then...there ya go....>>
I honestly never looked into any hobbyist groups in my area.
<<These can be an excellent source of information/assistance...plus you get to meet/mingle with other pet-fish nerds>>
Before my set-up, I did go to a friend of a friend's house to see his set-up for
ideas/info.  The only thing that did was make me feel bad for his fishes and want to study up a heck of a lot more than he obviously did.
<<So it was not a “waste” then>>
I also tried to contact the son of a woman I know who had a beautiful 65-gallon reef tank, which sadly he allowed to deteriorate after a mishap with his lighting.
I actually tried to talk to him about lighting before I was lucky enough to find you to put up with me.  Now, I wish that would have worked out because I would love to find out if he has/had a sump and see if he could give me some direction.  I have already tried twice with no luck, but maybe the third time is a charm.  I promise not to ask you guys and gals about it again until I have some background in it.
<<Will definitely be helpful for you to have an idea of “what to ask”>>
I could try the store I make all of my purchases at too.  They have very friendly and knowledgeable staff who are eager to help.
<<Also an option, yes>>
As far as I can tell, anyone I have ever dealt with there seems to be in the hobby, plus they have somewhere around 7 Marine Biologists on staff.
<<Ah, one of the big stores eh?>>
I feel comfortable they'd help me out.  Are you now chanting..."Call them, go there...please!  I can't take it anymore."
<<Not at all...but I will stress it is best for you to gather information from several sources before taking action.  Research (there’s that word again) what you can and base a decision on your own good judgment>>
Just one more thing...if I am capable of that little self-control.  You mentioned in your first reply to this email about a small canister filter.
<<Yes I did...for chemical filtration>>
Do you mean in addition to the filter I already have?
<<Don’t recall you stating what you already had>>
I know I did not mention it, but I have a Fluval 304 canister filter currently.
<<Oh...perfect!  This will work fine...  And here’s a link to more reading re their use on marine systems: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marcanistfltfaqs.htm >>
I am going to miss you when this exchange is over.
<<Just an email away...>>
Many thanks again.
<<Quite welcome>>
I cannot say it enough.
<<Has truly been a pleasure>>
Triple-T (a.k.a. Tiffani, the hot mom, although I guess that is subject to one's own interpretation)
I am so ridiculous.  I am sorry.  I just can't stop.
<<From now on it’s “decafe” for you...>>
They probably do make medication for that, you know?
Well, "they" do.  I do know that for sure, not from personal experience, per se.
<<So you claim...[grin]>>
I worked in mental health for quite a few years.  Maybe I should phone some former co-workers.  LOL.  Have a great rest of the day.
<<And you>>
I will definitely put forth the effort in the future to use your site/the crew more appropriately.
<<And do get a copy of Bob’s book ‘The Conscientious Marine Aquarist’ as well as his and Anthony’s collaboration ‘Reef Invertebrates’. Both books should help with your sump/refugium education...and so much more>>
Feel free to ignore non-fish related statements.
<<We acknowledge all.  Be chatting my friend, Eric Russell>>


Re: Gaining Sump "Awareness"... and Other Stuff - 02/01/07
Hey Eric,
<<Hey T3>>
Brace yourself.  You won't know how to act.  I will keep this one short and sweet.
<<Oh yeah? [grin]>>
Thank you so much for your input/direction.
<<Is what we do>>
I will absolutely look over those links.
I also appreciate the additional references/resources you mentioned.  I do already have the C.M.A.  I have had it for over a year now and love it.  I will be sure to check back for Reef Invertebrates; since it was sold out last time I was able to hit That Fish Place in Lancaster, PA.
<<Ah yes, the place with the marine biologists on staff>>
It is a huge place.  I am so glad to have found it and have it be nearby.
<<Cool...would love to see that place some day>>
I do have Aquarium Corals to read too, so I am on my way.
<<Much wonderment/discovery ahead of you>>
Slow and steady wins the race, as someone famous once said.  Or maybe that someone only got famous from making that statement.
<<Now there's a thought...>>
Who knows?  Who cares, right?  Thank you to all of the crew, and especially to you for everything you've done.
<<It's been fun Tiffani>>
Wink, wink!  Do enjoy your visit with Mich and Bob.
<<Oh yes!  Fun times ahead!>>
Perhaps if anyone wants to adopt me, I would love to go to Hawaii.
<<I'm having withdrawals myself...ready for another trip, but I fear it may be a while yet>>
Next time I write in, I will be armed with more information.
<<Will help us both>>
You all are so great and have been so kind.
<<Thank you for the kind words>>
Keep up the good work.
<<Cheers Mate, EricR>>

R2: Gaining Sump "Awareness"... and Other Stuff (mostly) - 02/02/07
Alright Eric, I thought I would be done, but I just can't let go yet.  Seriously, just wanted to say thanks again and ask you one final question.
I actually had more, but I will leave well enough alone.
<<No worries Tiffani...I/we are here to help>>
You needn't reply back, so no worries, unless you start to enter into withdrawal without my daily harassing emails.
<<Ha!  No problem my dear...not feeling harassed at all>>
I was just wondering what sort of curse you put on me.
Did you send the angry skimmer god my way?
<<Hee-hee...not intentionally>>
Sick of the color of most everything in my tank, I thought I'd clean up my protein skimmer today and rinse off some algae.  I did nothing that I do not normally do, but, now it seems it doesn't want to work.
<<Not unusual...if you left the settings as they were previously it should resume before long>>
So, thanks.  It seems that AquaC Remora is just a click away now.
<<All for the best...>>
Your pen pal, T3 (that cracks me up).  I have a few nicknames, which I am so sure your readers do not want to hear or are not appropriate for this website, but this is a classic.  I think I will spread it around.
<<Glad you like it [grin].  Eric Russell>>  
Sump Design/Filter Socks - 03/08/06
Hi WWM Crew:
<<Hey there Tom!>>
Thank you very much for all the help so far, you've been huge.
<<Our pleasure>>
I have another question:  I'm just not understanding how best to provide raw water to the sump skimmer, because I also thought I needed (and would rinse at least weekly) a filter sock for incoming sump water to remove as much detritus as possible from our 120G mixed reef system.  Is the sock really needed?
<<Opinions vary...but I don't use them on my reef.>>
I've attached a top and front view of the new sump I'm planning.  It's as big as can fit under the tank, otherwise I'd have a larger refugium section.
<<Nice drawings...very helpful.>>
If I were to remove the filter sock, how could I then physically filter the water before it gets to the return pump?
<<Mmm, not always necessary, again, in my opinion...but even without the filter sock much will settle out in the baffles and can be vacuumed/siphoned out periodically.>>
Could you also review the diagrams and tell me what's good (and not so good)?
<<Happy to...  I would move the skimmer to the first chamber and let ALL the raw water from the tank enter here to be processed by the skimmer and overflowing to the refugium in the middle compartment.  This way plankton/epiphytic matter from the refugium doesn't get sucked in to (and wasted by) the skimmer, but rather, has a free ride to your return pump and up to the display tank.>>
<<Regards, EricR>>

Sump Design/Filter Socks II - 03/09/06
I guess now I have a couple of follow up questions, appreciate your patience.
<<No problem>>
I'm sure inclined to go the route you suggest, without a sock, but I would not have any physical filtration in the system other than the skimmer, is that right?
<<Correct.  Ideally you will have enough flow in your tank to keep detritus in suspension to be utilized by the tank inhabitants.>>
Just curious...about how often should the sump detritus need to be siphoned out of the baffles and skimmer compartment?
<<Depends, maybe 2-3 times a year...but you'll likely find this area densely populated by bristle worms, amphipods, other micro-crustaceans, and may not have to bother with it.>>
Also, with the refugium section in the middle, would the 1000 GPH going through it be too much?
<<Most any refugium methodology will do fine with the flow.>>
Thought of a new question, still related.  Would you say I'm better off going with an external sump return pump (like a GenX Mak4), or a similar capacity internal pump (like a Mag 12 or 18)?  I'd like to get an actual 1000GPH through the 1" SeaSwirl.  A submersible internal pump would allow me to make the sump a few inches longer, but I'd like to avoid the added heat of the submersible Mag.
<<If you were to use an Iwaki or GRI pump I would say go external.  But given the choices listed I would use the Mag-Drive pump.  Noise will be less and the difference in heat transfer negligible.>>
Thanks, in advance!
<<Always welcome, EricR>>

Combined Sump/Refugium Design - 03/11/06
Good Evening Crew,
<<Morning here>>
I have a follow-up question to a submission posted by another querier (Tom) titled "sump design/filter socks" from the WWM daily FAQs of 03/08/06.  The submitter of this initial query provided very nice drawings of a proposed refugium/sump design (side and top views).  Distinguished WWM responder, Eric R., provided an answer that suggested switching the position of the refugium & sump.  Eric's answer is perfectly clear/understood.  However, seeing the submitted drawings mentioned above, reading Eric's response and having read some of Mr. Fenner's (and other Crew member's) comments about sump/fuge design has me wondering about another element of sump/fuge layout.
<<Ah yes, I recall the exchange(s) well...EricR here...again.>>
I believe in one of Mr. Fenner's archived answers on the topic, he indicated that sump/fuge design might be optimized by incorporating some ability to implement carbon and/or Poly-Filter when/if necessary.
<<No might/when/if about it in my opinion <G>.  Virtually any/every system would/will benefit from the addition of these media.>>
I am wondering, referring to the design drawings mentioned above, where in this design would one place such (carbon/Poly-Filter) bags/pads, etc?
<<Anywhere along the filter flow-path.  In the sump mentioned, the media could be placed in amongst the baffles.  Some manufactured sumps incorporate a dedicated "media chamber" for this purpose.>>
Would one envelope the output pipe from the skimmer in a carbon-filled or Poly-Filter type bag?
<<Could, but I wouldn't.  Aside from being a pain to employ, it would likely wreak havoc with your drain's output/flow.>>
Or, would it be better to direct the skimmer output to a higher-level, drip-tray type device or compartment (similar to Marineland's filter-drawer-style sump) wherein carbon material and/or Poly-Filter pads are placed in "drizzle path" to achieve necessary chemical filtering if/as necessary?
<<Mmm...me thinks it would just be easier to place the media somewhere along the filter flow-path...>>
In addition, acknowledging the fact that there are greatly varied opinions in the hobby on this subject, my reading of the FAQs re sump/fuge design has led me to believe that "parallel" flow systems here (i.e. a specifically determined volume & turnover-rate-based % of tank output going separately but concurrently to both sump and fuge, with the two coming together again at the return) are better than a "series" method of sump-into-fuge-to-return design?
<<I absolutely agree!  Employing a separate sump and refugium is always better IMO/E.>>
If one is running, for example, an Aqua-C EV-240 using a Mag 1200, wouldn't the output of that into your average fuge cause total destruction in an average setup unless (even if) manifolded?
<<Mmm, no...many refugium methodologies benefit from high flow rates.  I have a 55 gallon vegetable refugium (6" sugar-fine DSB w/Chaetomorpha algae) with a flow through of more than 1,000 gph.  I'm not saying it has to be that high (though some authors might disagree), but it does tolerate the flow well and could easily stand more.  The high flow rate also assists with getting planktonic/epiphytic matter out of the refugium and in to the display tank.>>
It would seem much more logical to divert tank output to the sump and fuge compartments separately and have skimmer output going directly to main return, bypassing fuge.
<<More logical to have separate vessels/inputs/outputs, yes...though for "combined" vessels, focus should be on having the 'fuge output bypass the skimmer chamber else much of the benefit re (IMO) is wasted.>>
This is what I am planning in my design, anyway....am I mistaken?  
<<As long as you aren't flowing from your refugium to your skimmer I think you are on track.>>
Part of the reason I am trying to design/build my own sump and fuge is because I haven't yet found any manufacturers that produce (at least what I can tell is) a "parallel" system.
I am wondering why truly parallel-style systems aren't more widely commercially available?.
<<Good question, would appeal to me...perhaps folks/manufacturers are just "comfortable with/complacent about" current design.  Perhaps you could use your design to spark a change!>>
Or, are they, and I've just not looked in the right places?  
<<Don't think so.>>
Highly regarded (apparently) sump/fuge systems such as those offered by Ecosystems (those that I've seen) seem to be of a "series" nature...unless I don't fully understand their design/functional flow?
<<My experiences match yours.  Commonly available sump/refugium systems employ designs where water flows through a "series" of chambers from one end to the other.  I envision a parallel system employing a lengthwise center panel/plate allowing the formation of two longitudinal chambers, with both terminating at a single pump chamber.  As you stated each chamber could be fed individually, with flow tailored to suit, and each side customized /compartmentalized for its intended purpose.>>
Thank you very much for your time/advice here.
Best Regards,
<<Cheers, EricR>>

Sump Design/Filter Socks II  - 3/16/2006
Hi Eric,
<<Hey Tom!>>
I see the diagrams I included with my recent "Sump Design/Filter Socks - 03/08/06" inquiry resulted in more discussion on the topic, so I wanted to make sure the other WWM reader (Brian) knew about www.melevsreef.com/allmysumps.html. Some of Melev's sump designs looked similar to what I needed, plus there are several other examples that might help Brian with the "parallel" sump/refugium design.
<<Thank you for this.>>
Regarding placement of the skimmer in the center section, I thought very little of the refugium output would end up back in the skimmer because of the way the EV180 skimmer body will partition the center section.  On one side of the EV180, around 800-900 GPH will be coming into the skimmer pump area via the overflow, and the EV180 can only process around half that flow. So this "excess" flow into the skimmer pump area should keep most of the skimmer and refugium output, which is on the other side of the EV180, from getting back into the skimmer pump...the bulk of the skimmer and refugium output should just flow into the baffles.  At least that's the theory...
<<Mmm, I see your point...likely will be fine then.>>
These drawings were done in a hurry and are missing lots of details.  I'll be putting media bag(s) in the baffle area, and redundant float switches, for auto top-off, in the return pump area.  The divider between the refugium and skimmer section will be opaque, black acrylic to keep the algae growth in the refugium. One minor difference from some other refugium designs I've seen will be that the refugium output will not simply flow over a wall into the return area, rather it will come from near the bottom of the refugium where I figured most of the 'pods like to hang out.
<<Indeed they do.  And once the mysids start breeding (feed them well...are cannibalistic) you will see little "clouds" of tiny young swirling just above the substrate.>>
The main goals with this sump design are (1) a decent size refugium and (2) high, 1000+ GPH, bubble-free flow to a SeaSwirl return...but it all has to fit in a very limited space with a pre-determined overflow location.
<<A common tale.>>
Lots of other equipment (Ca reactor, CO2 bottle, freshwater reservoir, PhosBan reactor, closed-loop pump, chiller pump, power strips, timers, etc) needs to fit in the same cabinet, and I'll be using every square inch of space.
<<A very common tale <grin>.>>
One thing I've learned in my short time as a reef keeper is that it's the opportunity for individual planning, design, and methods that help make this hobby interesting.
<<Yes!  To bad so many overlook these steps.>>
Another thing I've learned is to read, and get advice from WWM...please let me know if I'm headed the right direction.
<<Keep reading/questioning/learning my friend.>>
Just to confirm your earlier answer to the sump return pump selection, would a 110 watt, external GenX Mak4 really add about as much heat to the water as a 145 watt, submersible Mag18?
<<Actually, I had a Mag12 in mind when I made that comment...but even so, I don't think you will find the temperature transfer from the Mag18 to be a problem, no.>>
I've been using a Mak4 for a closed loop, and it sure seems like the bulk of the heat is produced & dissipated away from the wet end of the pump.
<<Agreed...but I also think the GenX pump runs hotter than the Mag-Drive.  I think you will do fine whichever method you choose.  If heat is going to be an issue for you I really doubt which of these pumps you use will be a deciding factor.  Mounting fans (I use 4" 12v computer fans run on inexpensive outdoor lighting transformers) to blow across your tank AND your sump/refugium will go a long way towards mitigating any "overheating" issues.>>
As always, a big thanks,
<<And as always, very welcome.  Regards, EricR>>

Cold water system   03/07/06
Hello again,
Quick question resulting from a change in setup plans -- instead of installing a 20 gal fuge & 20 gal sump within the confines of the stand beneath the main 125 display tank, I have plumbed the system into the basement.  By doing this I have created more space for myself and have placed the fuge/sump in a much cooler place.
<I wish we had these basements in S. Cal.!>
I am running a chiller (1/3 hp) to maintain a constant water temp of 60-65 F (also located in the basement).  Here's the dilemma:  I have already drilled and put effort into setting up the (2) 20 gal tanks (for the in stand setup). Now that I am in the basement I have much more room for a larger fuge and sump.  My question is this:  should I go with the existing setup, resulting in 40 gallons total (fuge/sump) plus inline chiller, or, increase the size of the fuge/sump to increase total volume of filtration?  'Bigger is better'
in most cases I understand, but in my case I need to keep the water at constant low temperature.  by adding more water, I am increasing the demand on the chiller.  I will have live sand, live rock and algae in both the refugium, as well as, the display tank itself.  Will this be enough?
<Likely so>
(also, I failed to mention that I have installed an Aqua C 180 skimmer in the 20 gal sump).  Just wanted to make sure the volume is adequate as I have been amazed at some of the volumes I have seen for other tank setups (i.e..- 150 gallon display supported by 125 gallon refugium & 125 gal sump.).  Please advise and thank you for your help.
<I would "go with what you have" for now... the transit volume (water in play/circulation) is a chief concern... only experience will show you how much of your forty gallons will be left "unused" to accommodate this should power/pump fail. Bob Fenner>

Sump question    3/2/06
  Hello wonderful WWM Crew for it has been six months since my last question, <Far too long I should think! Tim answering your question today.>
  Thank all of you so much for the help on my SPS tank, it is everything I had hoped it to be. <Am very happy to hear!> I want to start up a second tank, a FOWLR. <Great idea!> Everything I know (albeit not that much) about filtration is for reef tanks, are FOWLR the same? <Any kind of FO system, whether with or without live rock will definitely benefit from having the same filtration system as a reef system, though in most instances you will find that a FO system is far less demanding in terms of water quality (though obviously this should still be as high as possible).> Someone suggested having two overflows <I would agree with this though more in terms of skimming area and to minimize the risks associated with one of the overflows becoming blocked.>, one that feeds an in sump skimmer, the other feeding a wet/dry with filter floss <If you are using a sump then I would not recommend using filter floss except where absolutely necessary as this will yield a potential nitrate problem; this is true particularly with aggressive fish that tend to be messy eaters. Ensure any floss that you do use is cleaned on a weekly basis.> and carbon that then goes into a sump with mangroves, then into a sump with mud, then into a sump with algae and then into a sump with live rock <To my knowledge should be able to combine all these into a single compartment - that is to say, have the mud together with some Chaetomorpha and a couple of chunks of live rock within a single compartment in your sump. Also if you are using macro algae such as Chaetomorpha then there really is no need to use mangroves (which are arguably slow at absorbing nutrients).> and the skimmer then back to the tank. Should I also have a refugium? <Your sump, as you outline it above already contains a refugium - namely the compartment with your algae, live rock and mud. A refugium is simply a part of the aquarium providing 'refuge' from predators, allowing smaller organisms such as amphipods and copepods to thrive.> I have room for all of these under my tank if each could be a 10 gallon tank. If this is perfect for an aggressive tank is the order of sumps correct? <I think your lighting of the sump would also be simplified through combination of these compartments.>
  Thank you for the continued help,

Re: sump question   3/3/06
Thank you Tim for such a prompt response, <I try my best...>
     If I understand you correctly; having two overflows, one feeding an in sump  skimmer (haven't purchased the skimmer yet, was thinking a LifeReef <I have no experience with this make, sorry.>. Is a stand  alone skimmer better to keep water temp down as I plan to have MH's <Your selection of skimmer should not have any significant effect on the water temperature in your system.> ( the MH's  are for the pretty shimmer effect on the sand... gotta have that) <I completely agree - plus the live rock will benefit from it as well.>) and the  other overflow go straight into a sump with mud, live rock and macro algae. No  wet/dry as a prefilter to the sump? <I would not consider it necessary, no. Instead use bioballs or similar media in the first compartment of your sump - this will have the same effect as a wet/dry and is easier to keep clean.> Last question... Is there a formula to  calculate what size sump (I know bigger is better but only so much space under the  tank.... I'm a renter, no holes in the wall yet) I will need for a 140  gallon. <As you said yourself, the bigger the better. Use as much space under your tank as you can whilst keeping things practical - consider that you may need space for other equipment in the future, and remember to leave enough headroom for a lighting fixture to illuminate your refugium.>
     Thanks again and tell everyone there including your self that I believe this  service is advancing the hobby by leaps and bounds. <Thank you very much!> It would take generations  of book publishing to get out the information WWM provides, and yet with most  books the technology and ideology has already surpassed it by the time they hit the store shelves <Except for Bobs brilliant books of course! :o) >.

Sumps ... pumps and Ferris wheels.  2/10/06
Dear Bob,
I have a 20 gallon mud sump setup with 2 mangrove pods and Caulerpa algae growing in it. I have read that leaving the light on for 24/7 is beneficial for
oxygen in the water and it can potentially stop certain bacteria from releasing  the wastes that create the yellowing of some water. <Have read myself.>
Anyways my problem is that I have red algae growing on my sump  walls. Can I add turbo snails or some kind of snails to the sump in order to  control
it? <If they will eat red algae.  May have problems with snails getting into intake of pump unless protected.>
I have a 700 gallon per hour cycle on my 55 gallon tank. I mention this because I read on your site that increased  flow should cut back on the red  algae. <Are we talking Cyano here or algae?> Can I add snails to the sump or what other ways are there to cut down on  the red algae. <Give the mud system a chance to develop, should control this algae.>
My second question I'm sure you get a lot. I have a gravity vacuum overflow box. My problem comes into play when the power goes out and the water drains
into  the sump. When the suction is broken and the power comes back my house will look  like the great flood. Is there anything to stop a return pump from
pumping when  the power is returned. I am considering wiring a float switch
backwards so if  the water raises it cuts off the pump, <How do you start the pump then?  Waters not going to go down till the pump starts.  Would have to force the float switch down.  I don't like that idea.>  but is there a better way? <Sounds to me like your sump isn't large enough for the tank.  A 55 gallon tank with a flow rate of 700 gph is going to require at least a 12 gallon sump.  What's yours?>
Thanks <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Overflow Configuration - 01/24/06
Please let me explain how my sump has been set up.
The sump consists of 3 compartments.  The first is where the water enters from the overflow consists of substrate on the bottom, looks like shells in appearance, then plastic balls.  Then white filter wool.
<<Cleaned/replaced weekly (or more often as needed) I hope.>>
The water exits through slots at the bottom and enters the second chamber, this is where the protein skimmer is situated.  The water then flows over a glass divider and is pumped back into the display tank.
<<If this is working for you that's fine, but my preference would be to remove the filter media (add a filter sock to the sump return if you wish to trap/remove particulates), and place the skimmer in the "first" chamber to process "raw" tank water.  The second chamber could then be used to hold chemical media (carbon/Chemi-Pure/Poly-Filter), or utilized as a refugium.  EricR>>

Sump Brands, Refugium VS Wet-Dry
Hi, great info on site!
<Hello Chris, thanks for the kind words.>
     My question deals with filtration for a 110 gallon predator tank that will have a sufficient bioload on it.
  I have been considering a wet dry filter because of their nitrifying capabilities, but since I need sump space for my aqua-c EV 180 protein skimmer, I am unsure whether the bio wheel tidepool 2 is better than bio ball filters, or if the bio balls are better.  
<They are about equal in my opinion both are plastic media which play as a breeding ground for nitrifying bacteria, great at breaking down ammonia and nitrate, not so great with nitrate.>
Can you recommend a sump?  
<Check out the sumps made by CPR aquatics and MyReefCreations.>
Also your site does not recommend wet/dries because refugiums are superior, but is this true for heavy bio load fish only tanks?
<Yes in my opinion the benefits of a fishless/macroalgae refugium easily outweigh that of a wet-dry.>
would this be the way to go rather than a wet dry for a heavy bio load?
<If you have room you could include both, have the refugium come after the wet-dry...though yes in my opinion if I have to choose either or I would definitely choose the refugium.>
thanks a lot!
<Welcome, Adam J.>

Sumps and Invertebrates  12/12/05
Hi <Hello Will>
I have a question to ask regarding sumps.  I have a 23 gallon reef tank that has been setup for about a year.  I had a Skilter 250 on it and an Aqua C skimmer, but the Skilter broke, and my Aqua c doesn't produce anything, <Skimmers must be cleaned weekly to be efficient.  Check out your manual.> so my filtration is lacking.  I was wondering if a sump would help my situation.  I was thinking a 20 gallon Rubbermaid container, with an overflow box (since my tank isn't drilled) for a sump.  Would this do anything to help even if it was not a refugium? <Yes, by increasing the total amount of water in the system.> Should I put live rock in it or is that not necessary? <You can.  It will increase the carrying capacity.> If I did put live rock in it should it just go in the bottom or should it be separated from the
pump. <It can be in the sump.> I'm having trouble finding a good DIY sump/refugium direction,
any ideas? <Here is a link to FAQ's on that subject.  Read what others have done.> My display tank has about 25 lbs of live rock and 40 lbs of live sand.  If I did have the 20 gallon sump with an overflow box that
can handle 600 gph, how many gph should my return pump be if the sump is 3-4ft below the display tank? <I'd go with a 400gph pump.> I also had a question about invertebrates.  I have a problem with micro hair algae, but it only grows on the sand. Is there a type of invertebrates that will help? My snails don't seem to go on the sand, and my crabs don't eat it.  I was looking at urchins, and was wondering if a black long spine urchin  (Diadema setosum) would help.  I read that
they were venomous and was wondering if they would poke and hurt my
corals. <I'd probably go with a lawnmower blenny and avoid the urchins for the reason you stated.>
My last question is about clams.  I read that they help filter the water
to keep it clean. <They do remove some nitrate from the water  but don't act as a filter.  Clams are photosynthetic (at least the ones we keep in our reef tanks) and produce most of their own food.>  Would this help my tank?  I have a 96 watt PC light
that is 50/50, is this enough for any clams? <Not nearly enough light.>
Sorry for asking so many questions.
Any advice is appreciated. <You're welcome, James (Salty Dog)>

Tank Setup/FAQs, Art, and Science - 12/04/05
I am a newbie who has been reading your site and everything else can find.
<<A good way to start.>>
My question is for a new FOWLR setup. I plan on using about 60lbs of live rock (should I use more?)
<<Probably plenty...for either tank size. The idea is to strike a balance between adding enough to provide hiding/resting places for the fish, not overcrowding the tank (allowing swimming room), supplementing the filtration system, and creating a display that is aesthetically pleasing.>>
and a wet dry (not sure which brand) on a pre- drilled tank. My question since I am confused by your site,
what makes a sump different from the wet dry?
<<Hmm...is all explained on the site...many times over...a simple Google search finds much info re. make a start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm and keep following/reading the indices in blue until you understand.>>
Is it the lack of bio-balls?
<<Not necessarily>>
Also does the sump have live rock, sand or something else in there?
<<It can>>
Can I make either one with a spare tank (I'm pretty handy)?
<<Certainly...have a look through our DIY FAQs for links to sites with ideas/plans: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/diytksfaqs.htm>>
I would appreciate if you could clear this up for me I read as much as I can but sometimes the more you read the more conflicting opinions you get and I want to start off right.
<<This hobby is much about opinions...the information you seek is available on the site...read and learn. EricR>>

Sump Brands and Protein Skimmer Selection  12/7/05
Once again, I'm in a quandary and could use some advice. No one at WWM has ever led me astray.
<Hi, glad we have helped you, I hope to do so again.>
I have a 120 gallon Oceanic with twin overflows. Currently it is plumbed to a 30 gal refugium and large Rubbermaid trough type sump, which holds a ETSS skimmer. The pump is an Iwaki MD40RLXT. 
<Sounds efficient.>
I have had good results with this system for the last 3 years, but need to simplify to save space (and my marriage). 
<Ahhh, I understand.>
I'm considering going to an under-tank refugium and am between 2 models: The large Aquafuge PRO (36x12x16) with skimmer and the Precision Marine R30 (30x14x18), no skimmer.
<I prefer the second model only because I’m not fond of the built in skimmer on the CPR model. I would much rather select my own.>
With the R30 I would possibly try to use my ETSS or add a hang-on Turboflotor.
<Well as you know in sump models are generally much more effective than the hang on varieties. However if you must use a hang on variety due to space constraints the Turbo floater. The Deltec model is at the top of my list with Aqua-C and Tunze coming in at second.>
I like the higher flow rate and layout of the Precision Marine model. In the Aquafuge, I like the longer refugium space and the built in skimmer.
<May I suggest another manufacture. I would look into the sumps/refugium combos available at MRC (My Reef Creations), these are very quality units as well.>
With either model, I fear I may be shrinking my refugium to a point where it is no longer effective.
<Any ‘fuge is better than no ‘fuge.>
Thanks for any insights you can provide. I have searched the forums and haven't seen much info on the Precision Marine refugium, hence this message.
<See above.>
<Adam J.> 

Upgrades to 240 fish only, or welcome to 2005!  11/18/05
<Hi there>
I would like to begin by saying "thank you" to all the volunteers who share their time and knowledge with us. It is a tremendous service you offer, and we are all very appreciative. With that I shall launch into my situation. Thanks to Bob's excellent book (CMA), your web site, your response to my previous email a few months back, and a desire to no longer be called an "old school" marine fish keeper,
<Heeee! Better than "no school!">
I have begun changing my 240 marine FO with coral skeletons, wet-dry and canister filtration to natural filtration. When I started setting up my dream aquarium 10 months ago, I decided to use a mixture of "old school" and natural methods. I believe now that this was a huge mistake, and should have chosen one method and stuck with it. I did add a refugium, but it doesn't seem to help very much with my nitrate producing wet-dry, pressure filter, and DLS material in the over-flows.
I also added a second Euro-reef skimmer. I am still battling nitrates, phosphates, brown algae, and red slime algae. The fish, however, are all doing great, having gone from a 125 to a 240.  And so I embark on a mission to modernize my tank. Here's the plan:
1) Remove all crushed coral and replaced with live sand. (Done) 
2) Modify refugium to accept a micron sleeve for mechanical filtration (it is a Redmond Reef model and does not include provisions for this) then remove the DLS from the overflow feeding the refugium.
3) Remove all coral skeletons and replace with live rock (I have 200 lbs on its 3rd week of curing, plan on putting in after 4 full weeks - the water has 0 ammonia or nitrites, and the rock has only a faint odor)
4) Add approx 50 Astrea snails and 50 blue legged hermit crabs to help keep things clean (my French Angel may find the hermits a tasty treat, we shall see) (is this enough?)
<As far as I'm concerned, yes>
5) Add additional lighting (I currently have 2 96 watt power compacts - I plan to double to 4 - is this necessary or advantageous?)
<More of the latter, but of good application for all the organisms it will encourage that are the live rock, and their consequent part of, impact on your system, yes>
6) Remove Ocean Clear canister filter after I am certain there will be no more die-off from the live rock (this thing works great, but is a real pain to clean, so I don't do it as often as I should)
<You are wise to understand yourself here>
7) Remove 50% of bio balls after 2 weeks, test water and if all goes well ...
8) Remove remaining bio balls 1-2 weeks later (is this good timing?)
<Oh yes>
9) With bio balls removed, modify wet/dry to make it a sump with room for a micron sleeve mechanical filter that can be easily changed out, then remove DLS material from it's overflow
<I would just use Emperor Aquatics catch bag/s here...>
How does this plan sound? I have a few additional questions, if you don't mind.
<Fine. Go right ahead>
I currently feed the wet-dry from one overflow and the refugium from the other. Should I combine the flow from both, then separate out to each device (making it easier to balance the input flow) or is this a waste of time and pvc?
<Mmm, somehow these are tied together I take it? To make sure there aren't overflow, underflow issues? If so, I would leave as is>
I currently use 2 separate pumps, one in the wet-dry and one in the refugium, for water returns. in the beginning, it was difficult to adjust the flow of each so everything stayed balanced. Even now I have to make minor adjustments every now and then.
<... I would plumb both these together... make them about the same height...>
The real problem would come from the failure of one of the pumps. This would cause the water to fill up the device with the failed pump (though it would not overflow - I tested that). But it would cause the other pump to run dry.
<Yes... not a good gamble>
So if one pump fails, essentially both fail. My thought is to combine the outputs of the wet-dry and refugium and use a single larger external pump (which I already have). Thoughts?
<I would definitely do this, yes>
Finally, by removing the Ocean Clear canister filter, I am removing a good source of water flow. I am not a big fan of powerheads in the tank. The tank was pre-drilled with 4 holes on top. One is used for the return from the wet-dry. One is used for the return from the refugium. The other two were used for the intake and output of the Ocean Clear. I would like to create a closed loop system with the external pump that was driving the Ocean Clear, but it is a very powerful pump, and without the pressure filter aspect of the Ocean Clear, would produce too strong a current. 
What I would like to do is split the output into two, but then I would no longer have a hole for the input. My plan is to drill a new hole in the back of the tank (it's acrylic), just below the water level should the pump driving the wet-dry and refugium ever fail. I am comfortable drilling holes in empty tanks, but I have never drilled a tank filled with water and livestock.
<Can be done... drain the water down, tape over the inside area where the hole will be... go S L O W... with the drill/bit>
My plan is to do this when I am doing a water change, so the hole would be above the water line. I would drill from the back into the tank, with a friend holding a cup over the drilled area to catch most if not all of the debris. Is this a good plan or should I take everything out before drilling (which I am certain I would never do, thereby scrapping my closed loop plan)?
<Can be done with some/most water in the systems>
Sorry for the length of this email. And thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.
Dana McKissick
<Thank you for writing so well, and sharing. Bob Fenner>

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