Captbunzo's New Sump for 55G Reef


Premium Member
Ok. Maybe this is small news for the rest of the world. But for me, this is really exciting.

Since my 55G reef tank is now setup, I figured it was about time to upgrade my sump. I am currently using a 10G sump that I built for my old 29G reef tank. Now I have a lot more space under the tank and would like take advantage of the additional space for a larger refugium and sump chamber.

Here is a diagram from wetwebmedia that I used for the basic model for this sump.


In that picture, you can pretty much ignore the extra plumbing stuff. The important part is the sump chamber layout. I had been thinking for a while about a sump design that would combine the return chamber with another chamber (probably the refugium) so that the sump could handle more evaporation. By doing this, I can keep the return pump chamber pretty small and maximize the size of the refugium chamber. This diagram does so by allowing water to flow UNDER a wall from the refugium to the return pump chamber.

Here is a teaser picture of the sump at current status.

On Tuesday of this week, I laid out the pieces on my stock acrylic and rough cut them slightly oversized on my tablesaw. Wednesday, I clean cut them down to exact size on my router table. Last night I glued the base and outside walls (mostly) together and all but one of the inside partitions in place. Tonight, I should be able to finish it up.

A day or two to let the glue cure and then I will either route or file over the edges to make sure nothing is too sharp. And then, woohoo! Time for a water test. If all goes well, I might actually be setting this up by early to mid next week.

Anyone know how long I should let the acrylic & glue cure before I put water in the sump?

(And for anyone who wants to see more pics, click on the picture above)
Anyone know how long I should let the acrylic & glue cure before I put water in the sump?

Depends on what type of solvent you used, one part liquid or two part thick...

I used that basic design for my 20g sump, but are you sure you want a return coming from your refugum?

That should be an area of low flow, you might just let the flow from the return pump draw from the drain side across the fuge and into the small pump section. Also, what return pump will you use? Mine is on a mag9.5, I think a mag7 would have been sufficient. I have the mag9.5 turned down by more than half. I also have only 1 drain, maybe that's why it had to be turned down so much.
I am using a Mag 7 with a SCWD, so think of it more like the flow of a Mag 5. (or so).

Also, I am a fan of having a little more flow through a refugium......
Not to hijack the thread, but I thought about a spray bar just last night.

I have a Perfecto reef ready with the one return on the side. Wonder if I could just 90 degree with clear pipe and drill holes.

What do you think. More flow into the display would be nice!!
Ok. Here's an update, finally. :) I've completed the sump and it is about 36 hours into a leak test. Things look good so far. I am going to let it sit there over the weekend while I am out of town. Assuming all is well, I will probably switch the old sump out for the new next Monday.

Dirty - dust and stuff not washed off yet...

Picture of the silly and supportive wife....


All full!!!!!!!!

And a final picture for now, of the tricky end...
The rest of the assembly process had a couple of kinks. Namely, it's always fun to actually make things fit when you get all the sides on. And there was a little bit of an issue with the "tricky" end... But I shall never reveal the details there.

Overall, I am very happy with the experience and fell very confident to build some more things in the future. I have to say that a large part of the success was do to a large pile of tips and advice passed along in about an hour or two of phone conversations with Chris Howe (chris4693). His help was invaluable. I am always impressed when a craftsmen is willing to share the "trade secrets" that make it possible to accomplish these things.

Again, thank you very much, Chris!

Anyhow, my next project is a protein skimmer that I am going to build out of acrylic. We'll see how that goes.
Looks good, I will have to stop by next week and inspect the seams for bubbles and such. Your grade will be based off of Layout, Neatness, Construction, and Overall Craftsmanship, with 100 total points, below 70 and you will fail. Now where are those .001" Calipers.
Ok. Cool stuff - I got the sump installed tonight with some help from my wife. It fit beautifully into the space that I had and is working out great so far. I took some pics, but it's too late to go to the effort to post them. I'll do that tomorrow or monday.

Woohoo! ;)
And now it's Tuesday :)

Old with the Old...

...And in with the New

My wife, either helping or sleeping... :)

A little more water added...

And pretty much full...

Left & Right Pics

Shot from the Top

I am particularly proud with how I've notched the end of the sump to fit nicely into the space available in the stand. It really worked out nicely. And the "combined return pump / refugium evaporation chamber" concept is working really well - no chaeto being sucked into the pump chamber from the refugium or anything.
Btw. All of this pics are clickable links to pages on flickr where you can see bigger versions of them all. In case anyone is interested...