Discussion in 'Tenji Aquarium Design + Build' started by Tenji, Sep 3, 2018.

Equipment: Choosing Your Sump

Once you have chosen your display aquarium and paired it with an appropriate top, the next step is to pick out your sump. Sumps offer a space to...
By Tenji, Sep 3, 2018 | |
  1. Tenji

    Tenji Aquarium Design + Build R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Tenji is pleased to present a series of exclusive articles for Reef2Reef members. We will be delving into the various aspects of reef keeping, focusing on tried and true methods that can be implemented by aquarists of all levels.
    _____________


    Once you have chosen your display aquarium and paired it with an appropriate top, the next step is to pick out your sump. Sumps offer a space to hide equipment, and generally speaking, make keeping a reef tank significantly easier than trying to hang everything off the side of your aquarium. Oftentimes you can even perform your water changes exclusively from your sump (still have to maintain substrate – more on that in a future installment) which will help prevent stressing out your animals or exposing coral to low-tide.


    There are five main options for sump material: glass, acrylic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and fiberglass. Pros and cons listed below.


    Glass Sump Pros

    · Very affordable

    · Easy to customize

    · Easy to find

    · You can snag a small glass tank from nearly any pet store that could function as a sump


    Glass Sump Cons

    · Easy to break

    · Not a great thermal insulator (heater/chiller will run more)

    · Generally only basic baffle design is available


    Acrylic Sump Pros

    · Fairly affordable

    · Nearly limitless customization

    · Better insulator than glass

    · Lightweight (compared to glass and PVC)

    · Much sturdier than glass (assuming suitable material thickness)

    · Can include cool colored options


    Acrylic Sump Cons

    · Generally more expensive than glass

    · Longer lead times for custom designs

    · Sometimes have to pay for shipping

    · Not as efficient insulator compared to PVC

    · Not as sturdy as PVC or HDPE


    PVC Sump Pros

    · Top notch structural integrity

    · Excellent thermal insulation

    · Limitless customization including full exposure UV baths

    · Industrial look and feel – you can tell friends and family this is what most public aquariums use


    PVC Sump Cons

    · Expense

    · Longer lead times than off-the-shelf options

    · Quite heavy compared to other options (due to sturdiness of material)

    · Must be shipped freight


    HDPE Sump Pros

    · One-piece molded HDPE sumps are very sturdy (no seams to fail)

    · Welded HDPE sumps are still very robust

    · More affordable than PVC and sometimes acrylic

    · Large sizes can be had for minimal expense

    · Lightweight compared to PVC


    HDPE Sump Cons

    · Limited suppliers and size options (unless custom which removes affordability aspect)

    · Difficult to customize molded HDPE

    · Not a great thermal insulator

    · Generally shipped freight


    Fiberglass Sump Pros

    · Fiberglass sumps are as close to indestructible as you can get

    · More affordable than PVC and sometimes acrylic

    · Fairly lightweight

    · Great thermal insulator


    Fiberglass Sump Cons

    · Limited suppliers and size options (unless custom which removes affordability aspect)

    · Difficult to customize without glassing experience

    · Generally no baffles are pre-installed

    · Not a great option for sub 500-gallon systems

    · Must be shipped freight



    Most hobbyists will find a great option in acrylic sumps. If you drop a pump or accidently kick it, you won’t be too concerned of breaking it as with a glass sump. These sumps will have a long lifespan and will accommodate most methods of running a reef tank. Nowadays there are color options to fit any motif should you want to pop the hood and watch your fellow reefers drool. Here are the basic aspects we look for when choosing a sump:


    · KISSKeep It Simple Stupid. Don’t overcomplicate your sump design. The less baffles, chambers, etc. you go with the easier it will be to keep your sump detritus free, along with affording more room for expansion down the line for new methods and equipment.

    · Material thickness – the thicker the material the better. Thicker material affords a better bond, and better shock protection from dropping a pump, kicking it, etc. The thicker it is, the longer is will last.

    · Bracing – just like with a display tank it is imperative that your sump panels do not deflect. Thicker material will help with this, but a solid one-piece euro brace will really add structural integrity. A euro brace will also keep splashing and salt creep to a minimum.

    · Size – go with the largest sized sump you can afford, however, don’t forget to leave room for an auto top-off reservoir, two-part reservoirs / calcium reactor, or any other external equipment. Of course, you’ll also need room for all the electronic components too (ballasts, switches, controllers, etc.). We aim for a minimum size of 20% of the display tank volume.


    That wraps up the basics on sump materials and their advantages/disadvantages. If you have any questions or would like us to help you with your next sump design, please do not hesitate to reach out!
     
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  2. siggy

    siggy Which way do I go R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019

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    I am enjoying this series and also an inside look into these awesome systems.

    What design cue's can a hobbyist glean from these professional systems? For example are they running GAC 24/7 and leaving the gimmicks out, Media/pellets/resins ect. ..High efficient filters along with flow doing the work?
    What is the industrial standard?
    Also what is your take on the current trend of a Triton style of sump? Bio/fuge in the first chamber with no detritus collection.
    I noticed that the large Systems don't appear to use a fuge or a biological chamber for rubble or Chaeto, again are filters doing the heavy lifting?
    Thanks for your time.
     
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  3. vetteguy53081

    vetteguy53081 Well known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    This was fun to read and realize the many types and options of sumps on the market.
     
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  4. OffTopic

    OffTopic Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award

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    Somewhat of a newbie question but is it a problem if your Sump is larger that the DT? I don't think this would be a problem but I was curious...
     
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  5. vetteguy53081

    vetteguy53081 Well known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    No. You will be able to accommodate the necessities and items such as skimmer, return pump, add a refugium and mainly " GROW INTO IT " if you decide in the future to upgrade to a larger tank.
     
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  6. OffTopic

    OffTopic Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award

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    Sorry just to be clear, I can have a larger sump than tank? My plan is to get a bit larger sump than needed just in case I want to get a bigger tank. I think that is what you are saying but I am easily confused! Sorry
     
  7. vetteguy53081

    vetteguy53081 Well known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Yes you can
     
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  8. cracker

    cracker Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Ok maybe considered Redneck but I'm gonna to say it ! For affordability , custom fit & sturdiness . One can always build a plywood sump lined with fiberglass or painted with aquaculture 2prt epoxy .
    hey @OffTopic , no problem with a larger than display sump.
     
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  9. vetteguy53081

    vetteguy53081 Well known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Creativity makes this hobby unique. If it works and makes you happy, youre an aquarist !
     
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  10. Tenji

    Tenji Aquarium Design + Build R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Excellent, thanks for tagging along!

    Overall I would say the biggest thing to look for is structural integrity of systems and ease of maintenance. Both of these can lead to thriving systems long-term. All too often we see systems where someone has thrown the kitchen sink under the tank in terms of life support, when at the end of the day they would probably be better off saving their money for higher quality basic equipment and/or implementing more consistent/larger water changes.

    Most large systems will use basic chemical media, such as carbon and GFO. Rarely if ever do we implement pellets or additional resins. That's not to say they do not work or are not a great choice, rather there are better/more affordable ways to do things on large volume systems.

    It's very difficult to define an industry standard. Whether we design a 90-gallon system for a hobbyist, or 300,000-gallon system for a public aquarium, one of the first things we do is talk about your comfort level with various filtration aspects. We want to know how involved you'll be with the system, how experienced the aquarists behind the scenes are, and how much room we have to design an appropriate life-support system (LSS). Of course, the entire thing is designed to keep specific animals thriving.
    Triton-style systems are the wave of the future. We run a 600-gallon reef utilizing the Triton method in our showroom (feature article coming down the road). With that said we have certainly taken a hybrid approach, still utilizing filter socks and water changes to some extent. At the least we believe reef aquarists should be taking advantage of ICP testing to further understand their system.

    Most larger systems will use some sort of external biological filter. Many of the large tubes/spheres you see are biological filters. We also frequently have super efficient biological filters built into PVC sump partitions.
     
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  11. Tenji

    Tenji Aquarium Design + Build R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Absolutely!

    In no way is our list exhausting. Back in the day I traveled with a coral farm to frag swaps. We used Igloo coolers to transport coral frags, which became sumps during the show! Double duty.

    One thing to note would be the potential for leeching. You do want to be careful using certain materials as reservoirs of any kind (sump, fuge, remote DSB, etc.). In short, you want to be sure things are "food grade". Most quality sump manufacturers do their due diligence sourcing appropriate acrylic/PVC and associated glue/adhesive. Although we have seen some cheap sumps use questionable materials... remember cheap ≠ affordable long term.
     
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  12. vetteguy53081

    vetteguy53081 Well known Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Like my acrylic units. All I have had and will have But I do have an Elos cube that came with a Glass sump
     
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  13. Oliver d

    Oliver d Member

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    My tank has a glass sump of my own design,it does it job,but always intrested in other ideas thanks for showing other options.
     
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  14. Tenji

    Tenji Aquarium Design + Build R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Just to clarify, there is nothing wrong with a glass sump! Historically most of my personal systems used glass sumps. Just be sure to go through all the pros and cons prior to making your final decision.

    My last personal tank (seen below) used a pretty basic glass sump:
    IMG_20160906_132228.jpg

    IMG_0255.JPG
     
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  15. Rohit Vaghela

    Rohit Vaghela Member

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    This is great to know. Thanks for the info
     
  16. MnFish1

    MnFish1 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018 Partner Member 2019

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    I liked this but. The color of the sump? Is this an issue? Also interested in how much difference in thermal insulation differs. I mean of course it depends on the temp in the room. But if your hous is usually at 75 who cares
     

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