How To Set Up An Aquarium Sump

Last Updated on November 9, 2021 by Marco C.

An aquarium sump is a very common and a very useful tool, which is why many enthusiasts wonder how to set up an aquarium sump. The truth is, using sumps has became more or less a standard nowadays and most people will gladly find room for one. However, installing and maintaining an aquarium sump might not be as simple as it first seems, which is why you might want to think thoroughly about this.

What Is An Aquarium Sump?

To put it simply, the sump is an additional tank that’s usually connected to your main tank via piping. This tank usually serves as a chamber for most of your electronics. A lot of enthusiasts will put their filter in the sump to ensure additional filtration.

An aquarium sump can be set up simply, ensuring that there’s room for a filter, a protein skimmer, and any other gadgets you might have. This way, you can hide all your electronics and achieve a cleaner look.

Most sumps have three to five sections: drain section, mechanical filter section, skimmer section, bubble trap section and return section.

The drain section is the first section of the sump. Water from the main aquarium enters this section first after going through the pipes.

Following the drain section, the water is forced into the mechanical filter section. This section will filter all the water, catching any debris and dirt. Most enthusiasts will install the filters that fit their sump pumps best – make sure that the filter you’re buying fits in the sump! The water then moves to the skimmer section.

After the filter removes all the dirt and debris, the protein skimmer can remove the dissolved organic compounds. Note that protein skimmers are more common with saltwater aquariums.

The bubble trap is a necessary part for the sump, as it catches all the bubbles produced by the protein skimmer. These bubbles can be disturbing for the fish and they can obscure the view of the aquarium! The bubble trap is essentially three slabs which catch bubbles and release them.

The last part of the sump – the return section – is the location of the return pump. This pump will force water back into the main tank.

Setting Up A Sump

You can buy most sumps in kits after which you will need to follow instructions to install the sump.

1 – Install the overflow skimmer. This part of the sump will force the water into the sump. Make sure to install it away from any décor.

– Connect the overflow skimmer with the piping of the sump. Water should enter the sump on one side and return to the aquarium on the opposite side.

– Connect the return hose to the aquarium. The water will return to the aquarium via this hose. This should be on the opposite side of the overflow skimmer.

– Once you’ve installed all the sections, you can put the overflow skimmer in the tank. Gravity will force water in the sump and you can start your pump.

This is the simplest aquarium sump pump set up and we recommend that you purchase sump pump kits instead of making your own aquarium sump setup. Assembling individual parts on your own is much more difficult, as it requires a profound understanding of the way pumps work. Also, if you want to buy parts and make your own pump, you need to know which parts are compatible.

Learn more about: How To Start A Saltwater Aquarium – Step By Step

Do You Need An Aquarium Sump?

This is a common question that’s rightfully asked by many aquarium owners. The truth is – not all aquariums need a sump pump!

There are many advantages to installing a sump pump. You can hide almost all of your equipment, making your aquarium more attractive. Your pump will help stabilize your pH levels and it will increase oxygenation. Your aquarium’s flow will also improve drastically, while the pump also makes the process of changing water easier and the dosing of supplements is safer.

However, there are a few negative aspects that also need to be taken into account.

Firstly, if you install a very strong pump, your sump pump setup will consume a lot of energy. You will notice this on your electric bills mostly.

Following that, if you install too many pieces of equipment, they might raise water temperature.

Additionally, even if it makes the maintenance of the main tank easier, maintaining and cleaning a sump pump might be difficult. This is especially the case with pumps installed inside the stand!

Lastly, if you don’t install your sump pump properly, it can drain the main tank! That would be very dangerous for the fish.

To answer the question – no, you do not need an aquarium sump, but it can be very useful if you know how to use one!

Canister Filter

The canister filter is an alternative to the sump pump and it’s become popular with freshwater tanks. This device is essentially a smaller sump pump in a smaller canister. It’s much simpler to install than a sump pump kit and it gets the job done. It’s so effective because it contains filter media in the canister, cleaning the water.

These canisters are very easy to install, clean, and maintain.

Experts, however, don’t recommend them for saltwater tanks as they need to be cleaned more often and owners forget that.

These canisters are a great alternative if you don’t feel like setting up a sump pump and you have a freshwater aquarium.

In conclusion, a sump pump is a very useful piece of equipment that can only be beneficial for your aquarium if you know how to use it. Sump pumps greatly improve water quality and filter your water better, while they also make your aquarium easier on the eye because they hide all the equipment.

Moreover, if you’re wondering how to set up an aquarium sump, know that most sump pumps are available in kits. These kits have detailed instructions and make installation easy.

However, if you don’t feel like installing an aquarium sump, you can use a canister filter, which is a great alternative.

Read more about: Saltwater Aquarium Filter Setup

Leave a Comment