An aquarium sump is like an auxiliary tank placed underneath the aquarium. It is where the water gets filtered, treated, and sometimes even heated, before it goes back into the aquarium. Although it takes a lot of work and additional costs to set up the best aquarium sump, it will be worth it in the end.
When it comes to choices of reef aquarium sump, you can buy one that is already pre-built. You may also use a spare tank or even a large plastic container (if it is the right size) and add the baffles and the other necessary components into it. Whichever path you choose, you need to make sure that the sump will do what it is supposed to do.
This article will teach you about the things you need to keep an eye out for when you are shopping for aquarium sumps and Refugiums. You will also get a couple of product recommendations here.
Best Aquarium Sump Reivews
1. Bubblefin Aquarium Refugium Sump
This product is ideal for people who want to start their aquarium sump pump. I just happened to have a spare 10-gallon tank around and I have been thinking of using it for a future project. These baffles fit it perfectly. I just stuck them on using aquarium-safe silicone sealant and they worked incredibly well.
Another nice thing that I noticed about this product is how durable it is. These do not feel flimsy at all. I can’t even bend them using my hands. You can be sure that these baffles can handle all the water that will be passing through them. The only point of failure would be the points where you glued the baffles to the sides of the aquarium.
You can also use these baffles to make your refugium. These acrylic sheets keep the water levels in each chamber high enough that you can use the middle chamber as a refugium. It will make your sump even more efficient at cleaning the water.
It will almost be like having a self-contained ecosystem. I was also successful at cultivating a couple of live plants in the refugium, making it even more efficient at removing nitrates.
Having good best reef sumps will make water maintenance a whole lot easier and you will not be disturbing your fish quite as much. Although it does take a lot of work to get it started, after a month of using this product, I could say that it was one of the best decisions I have made when it comes to aquarium-keeping.
I do not recommend this sump tank for aquarium for beginner aquarists. For one thing, there are no instructions included, so beginners would not even know what order to install the baffles. Also, if you have even a slightly smaller tank, cutting the acrylic sheets to the correct size is difficult.
2. Fiji Cube Refugium Sump
This kit contains all the parts you will need to create a sump tank for your aquarium. You will get three baffles and a sock filter holder in the kit. The baffles also come with holders for other sump accessories. The only things that you will need to get are silicone sealants and consumable products.
Another neat thing about this sump kit is that you can adjust the water level for every chamber. It is important if you plan to use the center chamber as a refugium, and also for making sure the water level in the third chamber is high enough so the water pump can send it back into the aquarium.
A nice addition that this kit has that other sump tank kits do not have is the sock filter holder. It will be up to you if you want to use a sock filter, but I highly suggest that you do so. Those filters helped a lot in keeping the sump tank quiet. They also helped filter the bigger solid particles.
This kit will easily fit in any commercially available 40-gallon tank. However, just to make sure, you should measure your tank carefully to ensure that these baffles will fit it. If you are still planning on getting a tank, you should get this kit beforehand so you can get one that will accommodate it.
It was also quite easy to set the water level of the sump. It only took me a couple of tries to get the water level just right. However, it was not quite as difficult as with other sumps.
This is the issue with the sump tank baffles. If the tank is even just a bit too small, there is nothing that you can do to make it fit. Unless you have a band saw or a table saw, you will only ruin the baffles if you try to cut them yourself.
3. Eshopps AEO15005 Refugiums
Unlike the other sump tank kits that are on the market, this one already comes with all the fixings that you will need. You will be getting a tank with the baffles installed, sock filter holders, and a float valve to control the water level. This is practically a plug-and-play sump tank.
I also liked how big the refugium compartment is. It is big enough to cultivate a lot of beneficial bacteria and a couple of invertebrates. I put live plants in mine and they thrive quite well in the compartment, thanks to a small grow light I installed there. In my opinion, this has the best sump design with refugium out of all the ones I have tested.
I cannot find anything to fault regarding this sump tank’s build quality. The seams are smooth and completely watertight. The acrylic came without any scratches, and the baffles are all securely glued onto the sides of the tank. There is nothing else you need to do to this tank.
One reason why many aquarists use a sump filter for saltwater aquariums is that they add a bit more water volume to their setups. More water circulating in the tank is beneficial because it will be easier to keep it clean. This sump tank holds up to 29 gallons of water, making it the ideal size for larger 50- to 100-gallon tanks.
I also liked the large refugium compartment of this sump tank. It is large enough that it can treat a huge volume of water at a time, thus keeping the nitrate and ammonia levels in the main tank low. I have been using this product for a little over a month and I have not gotten any high nitrate readings yet.
The only issue that I have with this sump tank is that its design makes it hard to work on the pump, which is positioned behind the sump. This gets even more difficult if the compartment underneath your aquarium is not that large, and the sump tank just barely fits in it.
4. Esh Sump Reef System Rs-75
If you have not tried using a sump tank, then this kit is a great jumping-off point. Unlike DIY kits, you will be getting a complete tank. There is no need to provide your own tank, and you do not also have to assemble the internal parts. Everything already comes pre-assembled. You just need to hook it up to your aquarium.
Unlike the larger saltwater aquarium sump tanks, this compact sump is much easier to clean and maintain. Everything is easy to access so cleaning the sump is relatively easy compared to other sump tanks. You can also access the rear of the tank easily as it is so narrow.
Another nice thing about this kit is that it has nice build quality. The tank seams are welded together efficiently. There are no gaps and if you run your fingers across the edge, you will not feel anything that is even remotely sharp. The baffles are also stuck inside the tank securely. You could not even wiggle them loose if you tried.
Also, thanks to the sock filter, this sump tank is quite silent. Even if the surroundings are completely quiet, you can barely hear the water trickling in the sump. The sock filter and the configuration of the baffles allow water to flow smoothly. You might be able to hear the sump working when you increase the water flow, but you will still barely hear it.
It is also nice that you can set the water level for the individual compartments of this small refugium sump. Because the refugium compartment of this kit is a bit on the smaller side, I adjusted it so that it can hold a bit more water than it did initially.
This is a sump tank that might be ideal for tanks that are no bigger than a 50-gallon one. The refugium is quite small compared to other sump tanks. However, that does not necessarily mean that it does not work. You can most likely use this on aquariums with 20- to 40-gallon capacities, but anything bigger and the refugium might be unable to handle it.
What to Look For When Buying a Aquarium Sump
How can you start shopping for a high-quality aquarium sump? Here are some crucial factors to remember:
Size of the sump
The typical rule of thumb that you should follow when choosing the size of your sump is to follow the 1:3 or 1:4 ratio. This means if you have a 50-gallon tank, the sump should at least be 15-gallons or a bit bigger.
Don’t get marine aquarium sumps that are smaller or else it can potentially spill over if there is a power outage and there are no pumps to keep the water moving.
Size of compartments
It will be important if you are thinking of putting a refugium in your tank. The refugium should be large enough so that it can cultivate a large enough volume of helpful bacteria, making it handle a larger volume of water at a time.
DIY or pre-assembled?
The DIY kits are budget-friendly options. However, you will be supplying the tank that you will be using as a sump. The DIY route is typically best left for the experienced aquarist who is also skilled with their hands.
If you are not confident with your crafting skills, then you can opt for the pre-assembled sump filters for aquariums. They are a bit more expensive, but you will at least get everything that you will need and they are all put together. You just need to hook it up to your aquarium and you are good to go.
Ease of maintenance
Sump filters for marine aquariums will get plenty dirty because they will be constantly filtering the waste from the aquarium, so you need to get one that is easy to clean and maintain. As much as possible, you should be able to clean the sump without disassembling that many parts.
Aquarium keeping is an expensive hobby as it is, so you should try to save money wherever you can. Aquarium sumps can be quite expensive, but that does not mean that you should buy the cheapest sump that you can find.
You just have to find the best refugiums that provide a good compromise between cost and effectiveness. This might take a bit more time and effort, but you will end up with a product that you will not regret purchasing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Reduce Noise from an Aquarium Sump?
If you just finished setting up your sump tank, and to you, it might seem like it is producing too much noise, then the best thing that you can do is to just let it run for a bit and it will go quiet on its own.
However, if you are not willing to just wait for the sump to quiet down on its own, then you can do the plumbing so that the output is below the waterline.
How to Determine the Water Level for an Aquarium Sump?
If you have a new sump, then you need to figure out the right water level for it. To figure out the water level of your sump, turn off all the pumps for around ten to twenty minutes first.
When you do not hear running water anymore, fill up the sump to the brim, and then turn the pump back on. It will cause the water level to drop. Once the water stabilizes, grab a marker and place a line along the edge of the water. It will be the maximum water level that it can handle.
If you have a larger tank, like anything that is over 40-gallons, it would be best if you install the best aquarium sump to keep the water clean. A sump does a better job than ordinary filters when it comes to maintaining a healthy living environment for your fish.
It does take a bit of work to set up and it can be a bit expensive, but there is no denying the many advantages of having a sump compared to not having one at all. Hopefully, this article was able to teach you all the things that you need to know about aquarium sumps and convince you to get one for your aquarium.