sump design

A Canfield

New member
Just about ready to get my sump built but I have a few questions..........

What, if any, are the pros and cons for the following designs:
Dimensions right now are 42x20x16

skimmer-return-fug or skimmer-fuge-return.

I'm planning on running a external return pump, mainly because of heat issues(going to try and get by without a chiller)
Skimmer is internal. I'm anticipating alot of fans, so alot of evaporation.

Any ideas, tips, etc... would be greatly appreciated!!!



Totally over it
Not that I know much of anything....but I would think skimmer-fuge-return would be logical. I don't have an explaination for why I think that....just makes sense to me. Of course now that I have opened my mouth....can't wait to see what someone that knows what they're talking about thinks. = )


Member of the Registry
I think the downside to skimmer first is nutrients could be removed before the fuge critters get to eat. Don't know that it matters if you're not pushing 100% of the flow through the skimmer. But if you put the fuge first, you risk skimming out your fuge critters. Same deal on the 100% of flow I guess.


Premium Member
I've been doing a TON of reading on sumps and I have read that Skimmer-Fuge-Return is the best way to go. Even though you are skimming potential "nutrients" out before the water hits the fuge, not ALL of the water in the skimmer area gets skimmed and so a sufficient amount of "nutrients" still make it to the fuge. The other reason for doing it this way, might be so that you don't have to add a tee to split the line so that water goes from the display tank into both the skimmer and fuge. Although if you did do this, you could have better control of your flow to both sections. Also, having the Skimmer-Fuge-Return also allows all of the microbubbles a longer amount of time to pop so that they don't end up in your display. But having a couple baffles and LR in between should pop these bubbles regardless of which way you go. What I'm planning on doing is using some eggcrate on the top of the baffle between the fuge and return areas so that I have more water volume inside of the pump area so that it doesn't go dry. It ultimately comes down to preference and just like everything else in this hobby, theres more than one way to make it work. GL and HAVE FUN ANNE!!!

A Canfield

New member I'm more undecided then before... :)
Seriously, thanks for the input. I think in the end it will come down to a personal choice.
Davey: thanks for the site info. I've be there several times...lots of good stuff.
Kevin and Rudy: good points to consider....thanks

Anyone else?


Active member
Well, the goal of a skimmer and a fuge is nutrient export. The skimmer is most effective when it gets the raw surface water. Ideally it would be fed directly from the overflow, but that's not always an option. So, the next best place is in the first sump compartment. The fuge goes next so as to not dice up our pods. It will still get plenty of nutrients, but will not become a potential nutrient sink, especially if you've got rocks, rubble, or sand in it. Doing it this way will also simplify your plumbing, as you won't need to run 1 drain line to the skimmer compartment, and 1 to the fuge(this is if you run skimmer, return pump, fuge).
So, to me it's pretty clear: Skimmer, fuge, return pump.


New member
Matt Donaldson set mine up for me and it seems to work well. My overflow dumps in to one compartment full of live rubble that the water cascades through to the bottom. In the next compartment is my skimmer and the last is my return. My fuge is a seperate tank (12 gallons) with a feeder pump in my return and an overflow return drilled into the fuge.
Skimmer/ fuge/ return is the best way but I like Skimmer/return/fuge just like this one here

I have designed and installed 3 like this in the past 6 months and they work really well. The key with sumps is not to have TOO MUCH water flowing through them (no more then the skimmer pump can handle) Most people try to get all there flow from just the return pump and wind up with a display full of bubbles. Feel free to give me a buzz if you have any questions.


Wag More; Bark Less
kevin has me interested in these remote deep sand beds. using the pic below; i think i would add one more chamber for a skimmer - return - dsb - fuge. you don't need all that area in between for a return.

you have two over flows right? one could come down into the skimmer, the other down into to fuge. everything flows to the center, goes up, have a "Y" split back to the returns.



Wag More; Bark Less
in addtion to what i posted above, i would also put the fuge in the center of the stand so the overflows would be over top of each chamber.

Brian Prestwood

Premium Member
In Sump RSDB

In Sump RSDB

Hey Kenny

If you add a RDSB to your sump I recommend you put in removable sections so you can swap out a portion of your RDSB without introducing oxygenated water into the other sections. Square tupperware tubs for CDs or tapes work well. It doesn't matter if they crack when you're removing them as long as the ones left behind are intact.

Also with respect to bubbling out nitrates, the deeper, up to 18", the better. No matter how deep a DSB is the first couple inches don't bubble out nitrates. A six inch sand bed might only have three inches of active DSB. An 18" DSB might have 15" of active DSB.

DSBs do two things. They are known for converting the nitrates into nitrous oxide gas that bubbles out. The other thing they do is bind up, aka sequester or sink, waste in general. The sequestering occures when bacteria grows on the sand. The bacteria uses the waste in the water to grow. IME, this has a much more dramatic positive affect on the tank then the bubbled out gas does. While the bacteria is growing you get both positive affects. Once the bed is saturated with bacteria you only get the bubble out affect.

Replacing some live sand with dead sand every once in a while solves this problem. In theory it should be easy to find people who will trade new, aka dead, sand for live sand. That hasn't been the case for me so far.
IMO if you do a DSB I would do that in a completely seperate tank. IMO a true DSB that works properly is totally dark and just has a 1/2"-1" layer of water that goes over the top. And I agree with Brian, the deeper the better.

Also the return chamber only needs to be large enough to hold the pump/s

A Canfield

New member
I'm leaning towards the skimmer-return-fuge setup. I like having to be able to control the flow to both areas.
And's not going in the cellar!! Thats for the prop tank :)

Brian Prestwood

Premium Member
Oh and incase it isn't obvious, I don't recomend putting the DSB in the display tank. The maintenance is almost impossible.

Look for Anthony RDSB in a Bucket thread for more on DSBs then you care to know.