Most Efficient Order Of Sump Chambers


Hello all,
In the opinion of those who have done this for a long time, what is the most effective order of the sump chambers? Should it go intake and skimmer, refugium, Then return? Or are intake and skimmer, return, Where the refugium is controlled by a gate valve from the return? The mental debate with the song, is probably the most anxiety part of this whole thing, LOL


HI Welcome to Fishlore and congrats on the salty build.

Hmm, I don't have a sump but I have been doing the nano reef thing for a while now so I do thing I have some valuable thoughts to share. Let's break this down...

A refugium, at its most basic, is a place to grow macroalgae which will 'eat' nitrates and phosphates (algae's favorite food) to facilitate growth. Some will also keep rock rubble and even mud in a refugium as well. Either way, a refugium is for nutrient reduction and will have plant matter if nothing else. A ball of chaeto can certainly catch detritus and whatnot as water flows through it. In other words, a fuge can be a kinda dirty place but this is just the nature of things, not necessarily a bad thing.

A skimmer is also for nutrient reduction but the way it performs this task is by removing dissolved nutrients that are suspended in the water column... before the dissolved organics break down into nutrients usable by plants. See where I'm going here? The fuge, even though it too does its job, will not physically remove dissolved nutrients in the same way as a skimmer, yet the fuge may have organic matter breaking down into dissolved nutrients which would then be in the water column until either skimmed out, or, further breaking down into nitrates and phosphates and being used by growing macroalgae.

So, because a skimmer skims and clarifies water, it should always come after a fuge and likely should be the last stage of your sump before water returns to the tank.

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