Sump Filters And The Saltwater Aquarium
Running a sump is often thought to be a complicated affair and just for the experts, this is not the case. The first attempt at setting one up may seem out of your knowledge but once you actually start to connect everything it all soon makes sense. They are basically a large aquarium filter that has a lot more capacity than any other aquarium filters, even the larger aquarium canister filters.
They can handle large amounts of water passing through tem and are ideal for the larger aquariums or even for a bank of tanks in a fish house.
Pipe work connects the sump to the aquarium and the water is pushed up to the aquarium by means of a powered pump, the return is usually gravity fed through a weir and down pipe.
A sump is basically a smaller fish tank that has been divided into separate chambers by means of glass or plastic dividers; these are often referred to as “baffles”. Each chamber is capable of holding your media of choice and the water pump plus any other equipment that is required such as protein skimmers, heaters etc. The baffles are normally fitted with gaps at the top and bottom alternately and if you are keeping any livestock or plants in the sump then a sump lighting system is often installed. The media that goes into the sump is purely a matter of personal choice, gravel, sponges, ceramic rings or bio balls can be added and the capability of the filtering power of the sump can be adjusted by the diameter of the pipe work or the power of the water pump.
The tanks are drilled to allow the pipe work to be fitted; this can be a nerve wracking time but if you do not feel confident about doing this then there are many glass suppliers that will do this for you. Plumbing the sump is nowadays quite an easy affair; all of the pipe work is PVC as are all of the fitments making this job well within the capabilities of any fish keeper.
Advantages of using a sump filter
There are many advantages to using a sump system with your aquarium, the main one being that a sump increases the water volume of your system which in turn means that you can often add more stock to your main aquarium without any harm to the fish. If you have a 100 gallon aquarium and your sump is 25 gallons, you have now increased your water volume by 25 %.
All other filters have a limited rating capacity, you cannot increase this capacity but with a sump you can use different diameters of pipe work and water pump ratings to alter the capacity of the sump.
A sump comprises of separate chambers, the media that you add is your choice, you can even re-arrange the media if you need to do so.
Sump filters tend to be more efficient than other methods of aquarium filtration and produce water of a high quality that has steady water parameters. Water is more stable when housing larger water volumes.
Disadvantages of using a sump filter
As mentioned above there is a small amount of plumbing involved with connecting your sump filter to the aquarium, every joint has the potential to leak after a period of time and if this isn’t spotted at an early stage, a small leak will turn into a large one. Always check the pipe work on a regular basis.
If there is a power cut, there is the potential for the aquarium to siphon back into the sump and eventually flooding the room, there is a preventative measure that you can take when building your sump. You can keep the water level low enough in your sump to allow for some siphoning out from the main aquarium until the water level drops level with the outlet pipe.
The most common method used is to drill “siphon breaks” into the pipe work, if the holes are drill just below the water surface, as the level drops and the holes are revealed, the siphon is broken and the water stays in the main aquarium.
Centralised Sump Systems
This phrase is often used in the world of fish keeping and refers to one sump filtering several tanks by means of pipe work from the sump to each tank; this method is often to be seen in the aquatic stores or in some fish houses. I have tried this method in the past and thought it was great until the inevitable happened. One diseased fish quickly spread the disease throughout all of the tanks before it was noticed and a lot of stock was lost, this has now changed my views on using this system, I now prefer to run separate sumps for each tank that I am running.