What is the Best Sump for a Reef Tank?

There are many ways to configure an aquarium
filtration/dosing/monitoring system. But by the consensus of experienced
hobbyists and professionals, the best system is one that utilizes a sump. This
is for a few good reasons:

  • Sumps increase the total water volume of the aquarium system, making it more stable.
  • Sumps utilize an overflow intake system, which draws surface water from the main tank (thereby removing floating slicks and debris).
  • Sumps easily centralize aquarium equipment of all sorts, making the components easier to inspect/service.
  • Sumps can be hidden beneath the tank/within the cabinetry, thereby minimizing any distraction from the beauty and natural appearance of the main tank.

 But, then, what is the best kind of sump?  

The best sump design maximizes the benefits listed above. To
start, it should be as large as possible. In some cases, the sump contains more
water than the main tank! A roomy sump isn’t just great in that it greatly
increases system stability, but also because it provides lots of space to install
various pieces of equipment. Plus, a larger sump allows for the use of bigger
mechanical filter sponges, meaning they’ll be less likely to clog! Finally, a
larger sump experiences less dramatic swings of water level that follow
evaporation/top-off. This is especially important where an automatic top-off
device is not used (or, when it fails!).

Well-made sumps often have numerous compartments, which help
to separate heaters, probes, mechanical filters, chemical filter bags,
sterilizers, etc. Some models even include special inlets for dosing lines. Some
even integrate a separate, devoted refugium chamber! All this simplifies
maintenance and prevents mishaps, which gives you more time to do what you
enjoy most--simply observing your tank, with your hands dry!