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 Apprentice
Apr 26, 2012
I have a 3 year old 55g reef tank. This last year I have been battling a algae problem and finally getting it under control and back to normal. I believe the problem started with my new light bar I purchased last summer that includes 2 Metal Halides and 2 T5 actinic bulbs. The high lighting seemed to have started my problem but my corals took off. I have almost doubled the flow in my tank which has seemed to help but I would also like to move away from my two canister filters and move up to a sump/refugium system. Would a 10 gallon be suitable for my 55g? My stand only gives me 10 1/2 inch depth for the tank and 10g is all I can really fit.
That is pretty much as small as i would go. I would just make it simple with a skimmer in section 1, ball of cheato in 2, and return pump in 3. Should be ok in terms of room that way.
Ya I wouldn't go lower than 10g. I really want a 20g down there but unless I custom make it nothing else is going to fit.
I had a simliar issue with my 60g cube stand, it's only 23 inches wide inside and a 20g tank is 24 inches. lol I found a Tetra aquarium kit with a 14 or 16g tank that has the same dimensions as a 10g but is a few inches higher which you'll need if you are going to get a skimmer in there.
Is building your own sump from acrylic sheets (home depot!) an option? You'd be able to control the exact dimensions that way.
Another option is to forget about hiding the sump. I had a 29 gallon tank I wanted to use, but there's no way it would fit under a 55. So, I compromised. It's lower than the DT and off to the side. To avoid it being a total eyesore, I've made the refugium very lively with almost a dozen types of macro and a rock rubble pile in the middle with some beautiful little feather dusters. It's almost as much fun to watch as the DT, crawling with pods, and definitely soaking up nutrients.
Ok, Update. In tanking with a buddy the manages a local pet store and also has build custom sumps for many people we have came up with a plan to put two 10 gallon tanks side by side and connect them together. I am going to get a picture of the design up in a bit. We tested it out at his store last night and it work. Now I need opinions on what is the best stuff to put in the refugium.
Design looks good, though I would make the refugium section a little deeper, if possible. Chaeto is a very simple, easy choice. It grows well, soaks up nitrates and phosphates, is easy to trim, and doesn't generally go sexual.
Gracilliara is another good choice, and when you trim it, you can toss a little into the DT as a tasty snack for any herbivores you might have. Caleurpa is popular, but you have to watch it to make sure it doesn't go sexual on you. I'm a big fan of decorative fuges, but since this will be tucked away, I'd keep the macro selection simple.
I would not rely on a J tube to connect these 2 tanks. This is a disaster waiting to happen. If anything, drill them and connect them together with some 1.5" pvc. I would also not use any bio balls in the system if you plan on having live rock in the display, and corals/clams/anemones in it.
What kinda off disaster are we talking about? I don't have the tools to drill them and I am on a strict budget because my hours just got cut at work.
The tools to drill them are only a few dollars. That design above will have to have a pump perfectly synchronized to that siphon tube, or it will lose siphon and the display will overflow all over the place until the sump with the return pump in it is empty.
In all fairness, that's a worst case scenario. U-tubes often work perfectly. BUT! Doug is right that it could lose siphon. If the flow is significantly lower than the tube is rated for, air bubbles will collect in the upper portion until it eventually loses siphon. Murphy states that this will happen 5 minutes after you leave for work and it'll have 8 hours to overflow and burn out pumps.
I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to the odds of this happening, but if the flow is strong enough, it will probably work just fine. I use an HOB overflow with a U-tube, and it took weeks of fiddling to get it working just right. I almost lost siphon daily for about a week. And because the tube is exposed to light, I am now getting algae growth inside it, which will need to be cleaned soon or (surprise!) it could lose siphon.
So, recap: It will probably work just fine. But the potential for disaster is there.
A glass bit is about 15 bucks and a bulkhead is another 5. 3 dollars in pvc and your done. Not even close to 100.
That design will definitely not work because one of the tanks will have to be lower than the other also. I would drill them and sleep well at night.
Well, no... The tanks can be at the same height. But the water levels in the two will always be slightly different (when pumps are running). The continuous siphon U-tube will always try to maintain equilibrium (water levels at the same height) but as the pump pulls water out of tank 2, the level drops, and water flows through.
I'm certainly not arguing that drilling is a far better idea, just whether or not this one will end in certain disaster.
Also, at OP, if you're really on a budget for this and don't want to shell out the $15 for a bit you'll use once or twice, see if there is a local aquarium club. Someone may have one you can borrow.
Top Bottom