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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
First post! :)
So my 55 Gallon Malawi tank was getting a little crowded from me buying too many fish. I knew crowding was a good thing with african cichlids but I got just a little too many lol. Anyways, of course my nitrates started getting out of control - even up to 80 ppm at times. It had me doing water changes every 3 or 4 days because i like to keep my water parameters as perfect as possible. My fish were always happy and healthy but i needed another solution until i get a larger tank because who wants to part with any of their beloved fish? Well i dont. So i got the idea of a sump because i knew of them from having saltwater setups. I had never owned one before but had always wanted one. I didnt even know if they worked the same for freshwater or even at all but i did some googling and found alot of info. I mainly wanted the added water volume and extra filtration never hurt. I ended up making my own to save some money, and i did just that. Probably payed 10% of what i would have buying one. I just used a 20 gal long aquarium from petsmart and some acrylic from a local plastic store and with some help from google i made a nice overflow box and pretty much just a custom sump. Then whadaya know - after a week or so my nitrates were hovering around 20 ppm and hardly rising, maybe 10 ppm a week which is awesome compared to before the sump. I incorporated a refrigerium type chamber in the sump itself with some fast growing submerged plants and a few ghost shrimp for a little life in there. So the water comes through the overflow down to the first small chamber where i now have my heater, then through some baffles with some filter pad and fiber(cleaned often), over into the refrigerium chamber then over to a wet/dry chamber with 2.5 gal of bioballs and some sechem matrix, then finally over another small baffle thingy to the return pump. Pump is rated for 400gph i believe but with the head hight its probably 300 or less. Either way this sump has made my life so much easier and i think its mainly the plants eating up the nitrates. unless the seachem martrix does what it claims and reduces nitrate, at an astounding rate at that, but i doubt that. The plants grow super fast constantly too. Just thought i'd share my experience and some pictures! Give me some input.

Just found out you cant post pics on your first post :? but i will after this one i suppose
 

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you won't regret it at all... sumps/refugiums/whatever you call it... these are a great add on to any system. I've got glass sumps, acrylic sumps and a rubbermaid tub. All DIY!
:thumb:
 

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That is an excellent execution of a freswater sump! Toss in some cherry shrimp if you have an carnivorous fish, and havest some for a snack once in awhile.
 

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Some set up "algae scrubbers" to help with nitrates. I'm thinking we have a "plant scrubber" here :thumb: . I second the RCS idea, growing your own live food is the way to go. Very nice...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah I put a few of the ghost shrimp in my main tank when I got them and they didn't last 5 seconds haha, but thanks for the feedback! I definitely recommend this to anyone having the same problem I was, it's worked wonders for me
 

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Just finished my own DIY sump. One problem I had is I took the easy way out and used Lexan instead of glass. Lexan bends a lot, so when one compartment filled first with nothing in an adjacent one, I was afraid it would bow and break loose. I compensated by adding equal parts of water to all 3 compartments as it filled, equalizing the pressure on the sides. I also put a pvc pipe as bracing to keep bends to a minimum.

Experimenting with balancing the pump / vs siphon from tank now.

Almost have that down. Anyway, what plants, specifically do you use in the refugium? Also, what is the substrate? I notice you are not using a Deep Sand Bed. I am thinking of argonite substrate with any plant that can handle high pH.

Anyway, the thing is ugly as sin since at this point, I am just trying to get the function down right and will worry about prettying the thing up later.
Thanks for your pics
:fish:
 

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I am in a similar situation with my 125 gallon new world cichlid tank. The little buggers are growing fast and I know nitrate is going to be a problem in 5-6 months or so. I was investigating sumps when I came across your post, very cool design!

What type of light do you have on the plants? Watts etc? Also, what type of blue media is that...I don't recognize it.

Good work here!
 
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