DIY Refugium/Sump Help and Build

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an interest in aquariums or fish keeping!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Aquarium Advice Freak
Jan 28, 2011
So I decided instead of spending money on more corals that I should build a refugium for my 55 gallon reef but don't really know where to start. I wanna build a 20 gallon long with a nice size refugium compartment. Also gonna need help with overflow box kind of a newb in refugium/sump area. So I guess my question is does anyone have any plans or advice to help on how I should go about this? Also I am a college student so I'm trying to do this so it's not super expensive if possible? Thanks guys in advance and any help is appreciated!
a simple and effective sump with refugium would have 3 sections, intake (which will hold your skimmer and heater(s), refugium, and then return.
You will want a bubble trap before the return section.
The partitions should be the height of the recommended water level for the skimmer to work most efficiently. I think about 10" is good.
I would purchase an overflow box instead of making my own from scratch, but that's just me.
Then you'll need a return pump. This must be sized with the overflow box, accounting for head loss. In other words, if you have a 700 gph overflow box, you would need a slightly stronger pump, because you have to figure you'll lose some pressure pushing the water up and through any turns, so I'd probably want something about 850-1000 gph.
What's a bubble trap? And what's its purpose?
it's just a series of partitions, usually 2 or 3, that force the water through a channel in the hopes that it loses the bulk of micro bubbles before it returns it to the display. Water draining into the sump crashes down inside a 3' drain pipe and then goes through the protein skimmer which really loads it up with tiny bubbles. If these are able to get back to the display the tank water will appear dirty, or cloudy.

something like this-
Ok that makes now in the first compartment where the water first enters it has the slits so the water can go in to the chamber should I have that or should I have it so it just flows over into the refugium?
Na...don't worry about that. Just make a solid partition for just after the intake. i don't know why he's got a dotted line there.
Ok thanks well I'm gonna try and get this project started tomorrow...I'll post some pics thanks for the help! Also do you know a good site and a good overflow I should get?
How do you feel about the water level in the return compartment? Should it try to be level with the rest of the water level to minimize water crashing microbubbles?
I think I'm gonna have the return area lower but the way it works that it just flows into the compartment instead of falling like a waterfall I believe? Someone please correct me if I'm wrong
The partition before the return dictates the height of the refugium water. You can't make it lower. The return are is where you will see your evaporation- no where else. You can keep the water level at a constant with an auto top off unit.
Ok so went to get my 20 gallon tank today for the sump but they didnt have any left so got some mushrooms instead lol besides low flow and low to medium light anything else I need to know?


  • image-3725171383.jpg
    61.6 KB · Views: 85
  • image-2637572036.jpg
    59.6 KB · Views: 92
Yep that's what I read! My lfs said they should get 20 gl on Wednesday so I'll pick one up then
Top Bottom