How to Build a Custom Sump for Your Reef Aquarium

We’re going to make a sump in this article. We’ll show you how to construct a sump filter for your aquarium. That’s not only efficient, but also cost-effective. Proper planning goes a long way when it comes to designing an aquarium, especially when it comes to building your sump.

So adequate planning is the first step in constructing a sump pump at home. When it comes to sizing your sump, the largest tank feasible is ideal. As a result, measure the space available for your sump and select the largest tank that will fit in it. The minimum sump size for every aquarium is ten percent of the entire volume of the tank.

So we’ve got a 50 gallon show tank. To construct our sump, we’ll use this 30 gallon rimless aquarium.

The good news is that any aquarium may be used to construct a sump. You can even utilize old framed aquariums, which are very easy to come by and rather inexpensive. So now we must consider the baffles.

When designing your baffles, keep in mind the various chamber sizes and water levels. I like to sketch on the side of the tank with a ruler and a Sharpie.

This aids in visualizing the placement of the baffle as well as the water level. You can even try out your skimmer and other equipment to make sure the baffles are in the right spot. When it comes to your sump’s water level. It should be between 4 and 6 inches long. Alternatively, go a little lower to ensure the sump can store a little more water.

Use our easy-to-use aquarium calculator. The amount of water can easily calculate. In the event of a power outage, this will drain from your tank. Simply calculate the amount of water that will drain into the sump from the area inside your tank.


The space between your return pipes and your display tank’s maximum water level. You’ll know for sure that your sump is big enough to hold the water this way. Also, before it’s too late, you can alter the baffle height.

We need a skimmer chamber in this sump. To hold top-off water, there’s a return pump chamber and an isolated ATO reservoir. A refugium chamber is common in prefabricated sumps, but we decided to use this area for the ATO chamber instead.

You should aware that these two baffles are places close together in order to trap bubbles. Reduce the amount of debris that enters the pump chamber by using a bubble trap, which is a standard technique.

This should now put directly in front of the pump chamber. Rather than cutting your own baffles, I recommend having them make with polished edges from a nearby glass shop.

Glass that has been freshly cut can be extremely sharp and deadly. You can eliminate this problem by having it properly make and ensure that the baffles cut perfectly to size with straight edges. You want the baffles to be about a quarter inch short on both sides when sizing them.

This makes them simple to install in the tank and allows the silicone to stick to both the tank wall and the baffle. The baffles should made of thick glass, at least a quarter inch thick.

The larger edges provide more surface area for the silicone to bind to when putting the baffles in place. Now comes the difficult part: dealing with silicone and securing your baffles. Make sure you obtain 100% silicone that is safe for aquarium use, which you can usually find at your local home improvement store.

Begin with the first baffle and secure it with a couple pieces of tape. If you require a bottom gap, use some dvd or cd cases; a 2 x 4 will suffice in most cases, but the cd cases are nicer.

They’re simple to remove from tight locations and provide some versatility in terms of achieving the exact gap size you desire on the bottom. After taping the baffle in place, run a liberal bead of silicone up each of the corners and pass it over one more time with your finger. If you press down too firmly with your finger, the baffle may slide. Spreading a larger amount of silicone is considerably easier than trying to distribute a little amount.

It will stay clean and lessen the chances of your baffle sliding around if you only pass your finger over it once. Allow the silicone to cure for at least 24 hours after it has been installed. Don’t get too worked up if your silicone job isn’t perfect.

All it has to do now is keep the baffles in place. It’s unlikely to be particularly attractive, especially if it’s your first time. You can always cut a straight edge after the silicone cures. If you’re a stickler for details, clean it up with a razor blade.

Before you use your sump, you’ll want to dry fit all of your equipment to make sure it fits. The AquaMaxx ConeS Protein Skimmer, as well as a couple of AquaMaxx media reactors, are in use.

We went with the Waveline DC water pump, which is very new in this area. They’re great because they’re ready to use right out of the package. The CPR Sock-it Filter Sock Holder is also introduced. It mounts to the edge of any rimmed, rimless, or eurobraced aquarium with ease. After you’ve tested your equipment, you’ll want to do a water test to see whether there are any leaks. Also, make sure the water flows freely through your baffles.

I normally just hose down the first chamber with my garden hose. As the water fills up, observe how it flows through the baffles.

Allow the entire sump to fill with water for 24 to 48 hours before returning to inspect for leaks. Now, for those of you who are hesitant to construct your own sump at home.


These sumps have already been manufactured. They come in a number of sizes and are ready to use straight out of the box, complete with all the bells and whistles. Adjustable baffles, media trays, socks and probe holders, and more are among the whistles available.

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