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Old 01-07-2011, 11:45 PM   #1
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Canister filter vs Sump

I've got a one week old 60 gallon aquarium sitting with live sand and live rock running right now. No live stock at all. For filtration, I have a 60 gallon Eheim canister filter that was $130ish and have been reading more about sumps. My LFS said that a sump isn't necessary, just more convenient so I didn't really research them and just went with the canister.

It's not too late for me to return the canister filter and get my money back and swap over to a sump. The problem is my aquarium stand. The cabinets underneath don't go all the way to the ground - the two doors, and an open space underneath. This isn't very accommodating for a sump setup.

I have an old 20 gallon aquarium that I would love to convert to a sump, but have no place under my main tank to put it. I could also go out and buy a 10 gallon aquarium from Wal-Mart or PetSmart that would fit in the stand, but would a 10 gallon sump be much better than a canister?

I'm confused and don't know what to do!
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:29 AM   #2
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I just read an article that said in a lightly stocked tank, all that's needed is your LR and a protein skimmer (with a sump). Is this accurate?
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:08 AM   #3
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I would definitely go with the sump. Even a 10 gallon sump can be very beneficial for natural filtration.

A sump is a hidden tank where you can place the mechanical filters you decide to use such as a protein skimmer, heater, calcium reactor, uv sterilizer etc.. This way you do not cluster your main tank with wires, pumps and tubes. The sump works as a filter itself by using a wet/dry style trickle filter with bioballs or as a natural refugium.

I can only speak of my own experiences and in my experience with bioballs. The detrius continues to build and nitrates will rise with it. For me, as you will see most will have, i used a filter pad as the first defense into the sump to collect the larger particles, in doing this i once had my sump overflow when the filter pad became too dirty after two weeks. With this method my nitrates never went below 10ppm even with all the help i received.

I then switched to the refugium method for a sump using chaeto algae and rock ruble. I myself have a 20gallon sump for my 50 gallon tank. Since switching to this method my nitrates have gone down to zero. Less maintenance and in my refugium i have an abundance of live creatures flourishing since they have no predators to fear. Amphipods, copepods can be seen at first glance and not hard to find at all. I also have noticed mini britle starfish in there as well as bristleworms.

Again that is what has worked for me.
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjm80
I just read an article that said in a lightly stocked tank, all that's needed is your LR and a protein skimmer (with a sump). Is this accurate?
A sump will replace a mechanical filter such as a canister or biowheel. You never want to overstock your tank. An overcrowded tank means stressed fish, and a higher bioload which means a higher nitrate level.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:04 AM   #5
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Since this is a 60 gallon I am assuming you are not doing the only exception to the normal saltwater tank. If you were doing a large predator only tank then you could do canisters if you cleaned them monthly.

In general, the 'modern' (for now) saltwater filtration is that live rock is about 80% of your filtration. The rest is made up of a protein skimmer and refugium. This is very natural filtration with little likelihood of problems (with proper weekly 10% water changes and proper stocking and feeding).

It is possible to do this with HOBs, there are hang-on skimmers and regufiums, including some that have both. However, Hang-ons are almost always smaller than what you could get with a sump. A sump also includes an overflow which will keep the water's surface clean, as well as a place to hide other equipment like heaters, and even add on other equipment like reactors, automatic top offs, etc. as needed (as you and your tank grow).

I tried to get away without a sump, but it does make enouh of a difference to get on there if in any way possible.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:16 AM   #6
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Also a sump adds a lot more water volume to your system which will help keep your water parameters good,take the filter back and get a sump!
is your tank against an outside or internal wall?,On my fist tank I put the sump in a workshop the otherside of the outside wall to my tank,so everthing was done in there,I only had to do very light maintenance inside the house.Can you have another cupboard the otherside of the wall or next to the tank?
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:27 AM   #7
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Another benefit is that adding top off water, new water, additives, etc. are all safer in the sump since they will be mor ediluted before being blasted all over the livestock.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:59 PM   #8
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Let's start with what you want your tank to look like?
Do you want FO, FOWLR, or a reef (corals).

A sump is NOT a wet/dry system, but some wet/dry systems can be converted to a sump.

To properly use LR and LS as your biological filter you need 1 - 2 pounds of porous rock per gallon of tank capacity. Pacific rock is very light and porous compared to Florida or Caribbean rock. You can use 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of Pacific rock or a higher amount of denser rock.

This is great if you want a reef tank, but is not a necessity. You could decide to use your cannister and remove the nitrates with good husbandry. That would include lightly stocked, lightly fed, highly skimmed and regular partial water changes.

That would also let you use a smaller sump for the added water volume and place for some macro algae (helps reduce nitrates) and possibly hiding some equipment.

Keep up the good work. Keep asking questions here where you can get some real world experiences and do some great research.

Also check out our articles section and the links below.

Stock list and tips for maintaining your SW tank

How to cycle your tank with out the use of fish

Quarantine article

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure: A Quarantine Tank for Everything by Steven Pro

Sumps Explained

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sumps, Part I

Refugiums

Reef Aquarium Water Parameters
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:40 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the tips guys. I have an old 20 gallon tank from college that I'd love to use, and I thought about getting some type of furniture to place beside the aquarium stand that could house the 20 gallon sump/refugium. If I were to go with the 10 gallon, I would probably only be able to go with sump only rather than having the refugium. And I would prefer the refugium to hold the macro algae.

As for what type of tank I'm wanting, I am planning on starting out with FOWLR and eventually adding some corals and trying out the reef look.
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:46 PM   #10
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Sounds like a plan. Good luck.
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