wet/dry or sump?

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Aquarium Advice Newbie
Jan 30, 2008
im kind of a newb still so ill try my best. i started a saltwater tank at the end of october. its a 46g bowfront. i have 1 powerhead, and a marineland canister filter. i also stared with live sand, and currently have 50lbs. of liverock. i wanted to build a fuge to house my heater, and eventually protein skimmer. I also read of alot of benifits using a sump/fuge. anyways, i started purchasing stuff to build one, and now im lost and dont know what direction to go. i have both a 20g long, and a 20g high and i bought a complete wet-dry system with a maxijet 1200 pump for dirt cheap. my question is, should i just use the wet-dry filter or build a fuge with one of my 20gal. tanks using the maxijet pump? what do i do with the canister filter im using now? any help or advice would be appreciated. thank you
A sump with a fuge is one of the best things you can do for your tank. I have a 20g Tall as my fuge and it is packed to the gills with Macro and LR. A wet-dry just doesn't cut it with a reef tank. If you are going for a FOWLR then you can get by with it. You will need an overflow box to get the water out of the tank and down to the sump/fuge and then a return pump to get it back up to the tank. A Maxi 1200 isn't going to be pump enough to do that. A Mag5 would work well for your size tank.

I can post some pics of my setup and maybe that will help you out. Let me know.
My vote is for the fuge. Never had a wet/dry system, but I think they can become nitrate factories after a while. Go for the sump with rock rubble IMO. You going with fish only or reef and fish?

You got room for either the tall or wide tanks? The, I'd guess it's just a matter of preference. Not sure if a maxi-jet will give you the turnover you might want/need. I believe most (for reef tanks) shoot for about 10x the turnover. That is, considering head loss from the pump below having to travel upwards, the pump should be able to pump about 460 gph (46g x 10) into the main tank.

I think I got that right.

Welcome to AA by the way.
so if I wanted to do a reef tank in my 55g in a few years, my wet/dry system won't work for it?
I used the traditional wet/dry filter with Theil-Tech bio balls for about 15 yrs. I never had nitrate problems, but that being said, I did slowly remove them a few years ago. Not sure why...lol. I can only relate my personal experience with them, and I never had any problems, even tho you may read or hear otherwise.
Welcome To AA
I have been in a similar situation and studyed and researched for a while here is what I decided to do about it with my 46g bowfront reef

I threw around the idea of a DIY sump/refugium for a long time I finally decided(last week) to buy a custom built sump/refugium for my 46g bow reef since the cabinet space is extremely difficult to work around. I chose glass-holes.com and they are working on a custom project right now for me. here is the rough sketch View attachment CCE00000[1].pdfThe cost is 320.00 and will be designed to maximize the space under my 46g cabinet. The skimmer will hang on the backof the sump/refugium out the back of the cabinet not in the sump its an aquamedic turboflotor multi. The lighting they are selling me with the package is 65w 6500K refugium light I like it http://glass-holes.com/product.sc?categoryId=6&productId=16 the refugium section is about 12"x10"x14" I didn't trust myself to the DIY job. I also bought my overflow from aquacrylics http://www.aquacrylics.com/new_acrylic_overflow_box_and_ski.htm about 80 bucks and my mag7 pump I am using was like 50bucks. Total cost for the job about 450 dollars plus some misc plumbing and then I have to buy sand/Rubble/Chaeto I am looking at about 500 dollars total. I know it can be done way cheaper but I wanted some professional quality. Hope this helps
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thanks for all the replies. is it possible to keep live sand and live rock rubble in the wet-dry and keep a light on it to gain some of the benefits of a fuge? also, what keeps the amount of water syphoning down equal to the amount the pump can return? it seems if the pump was a tad weak the sump-filter-whatever would overflow, or a strong pump would pump it dry?
The overflow box is set at a certain height and only overflows what is filled into the tank thank goes over that height. So however fast the return pump pushes the water is how much drains down the overflow into the sump. You just have to get a overflow that has a rating that will match the return pump rating. From what I understand. Still haven't done it yet I will get a better feel for it when I take a stab at it and hopefully don't overflow my tank all over my diningroom.
Not to contradict you fijiwigi, but I have the wet/dry and you can add water to it and it will stay at the level you add. I don't know if this is because my return pump is completely opened or what. But my sump kept making a noise since the water level was lower than the intake so I added a couple cups of water and no more noise, and the level stayed the same.
I have the wet/dry and you can add water to it and it will stay at the level you add.
That's not exactly accurate. What happens when water evaporates? The level in the tank can't get lower since it's controlled by the overflow and return. So when evaporation occurs, the water level in your sump drops. You can partition off a section of your sump with baffles so that section always has the same water level, but as the water evaporates the level in the rest of the sump drops.

As was mentioned before, you must match your overflow with the pump. You do not want a pump doing 800 gph if your overflow can only handle 600 gph. You will end up with an empty sump and overflowing tank.
Well that is just the experience I have had from it. I added water to the tank and the level in the wet/dry rose... the same thing happened when I added water to the wet/dry. But like I said, I am still new and just giving advice from what I have experienced so far.
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