55 Gallon Sump Build


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Meadowview, Virginia
More than 10 years
I'm looking to build a sump for my 55 gallon thank. I currently have a marineland c220 canister filter with a aquaclear 70 running together. I don't have a budget rn, I'm 15, so I'm seeing what tax returns my parents get. I do not want to drill into the tank, I do not know how much rooms is below that tank but we have a 10 gallon that takes up 1/4 of the room. I would like a sump build/ part list that isn't to expensive, I do not know If I am going to be able to put a Skimmer into the sump (Price). I do plan on growing coral within the tank so I would I need any special things or just like a normal sump? I know what I can put in the sump depends on the size of the tank, I will see what size I can get for cheap from our local fish person and see how much room is below the tank later.


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3 years
I hate to say it, but a Skimmer is an essential part of a reef sump, not just for removing waste, but for additional water flow and promoting things like coraline algae growth. Truth be told I don't know anyone who has a saltwater tank with a sump and DOESN'T run a skimmer.

A drilled tank really is best for a sump, but I understand the difficulty of doing so with a tank that is already set up. Really your only option is to get an HOB Overflow Box (which can be a pain as siphons clog). As for sump size, a sump of less than 20 gallons is worthless IMHO for the following reasons:

1) It doesn't provide enough flow to make the cost or effort worth it

2) It doesn't allow room for a decent size skimmer or return pump that will add significant benefit to the sump

3) Once you add in baffle partitions it will be very cramped for equipment

4) Maintaining and cleaning the equipment, etc. will be an absolute pain

For your sump setup you will need the following:

Overflow Box
Sump tank with partitions
Protein Skimmer
Return Pump (sends the water back up to the main tank)
Filter Sock (some use it and some don't, I personally do because it keeps nasties from going into the sump)

What I would recommend doing is checking with your local fish stores and buying a used DIY (Do it yourself) 20 gallon or larger sump (generally go with as big of a sump as you can fit), this way you will get the sump tank with baffle partitions already in it and can possibly get a used skimmer and return pump on the cheap. When I did my 90 gallon, I got a 90 gallon pre-drilled tank new (the used one was scratched really badly), the stand, skimmer, return pump, 29 gallon sump with baffle partitions and virtually all the plumbing for around $475.

Just to give you an idea of the sump system and how it works here is a vid of my setup in action (Mine is drilled though, so you won't see it with an overflow box):



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4 years
I have a 55 gallon freshwater planted tank with 29 gallon sump. I highly recommend my set up (which you would need to tweak for saltwater but the plumbing would be the same)...

Eshopps 1100 overflow box (~$90), it has two drains which let you do a Herbie style drain (one full siphon, the other emergency line. ) This is much safer than a single drain/standpipe set up. Also can be tuned to be perfectly silent.
Return pump (I have eheim 2000 compact plus, but your needs may vary).
29 gallon tank as a sump (got a dollar per gallon sale at Petco)
1" ID Black tubing (Dr foster Smith)
Spears gate valve (don't go cheap here, get a quality Spears gate valve not some knockoff), and all the PVC accessories (i.e., the Barb fittings to connect to gate valve..I think I bought these from flexpvc.com)
Upgrade the bulkheads on eshopps, I bought some from jehmco.com that were barbed (i.e. ready to plug in a hose).
In all yeah it's about $300 for plumbing plus whatever else you need to make it a Saltwater tank -- skimmer, baffles, foam, micron socks, etc.

Research research research in the meantime.

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