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I heard my name - so...

I am a huge fan of USEABLE surface area. Manufacturer claims in this regard are ridiculous.

The hardest part with biofiltration in a sump - I have found - is that the water must be FORCED through the media. Foam is good if you can force water through it. I did this originally for silence reasons. Silence is incredibly important to me because I work next to the tank all day.

I originally had the sump filled with foam, and I've actually moved it around a bit. My primary filtration is now two MBBR (filled with Smokey Mountain Biomedia like K1) reactors, split with a layer of foam in it. The foam is only to stop the currents in the two chambers from interacting with each other. The reason I did this is that my sump has no baffles. It was a linear flow. Goes like this:
1. Down the hatch, pipes terminate under water to keep it quiet
2. Straight into filter socks - filter socks have a 2 inch thick foam plug in them to keep the water from falling into the sock. Falling water makes noise. Foam stops the noise.
3.a. From there, it flows from the filter sock sump chamber to the biomedia chamber, and the first MBBR. It contains about a cubic foot of media.
3.b. At the back side of the MBBR, there is a sheet of matala mat to hold things vertical and to keep the K1 in the proper chamber. After this are 3 inch block of 20ppi poret foam/matala, 30ppi foam, 30 ppi foam, and another sheet of matala to separate all that from
3.c. second MBBR, also with almost a cubic foot of K1
3.d. MOAR FOME! Seriously, though, Auballagh was right. WTH is wrong with me... 2x2inch thick 30PPI foam and then into
4. The pump chamber. In a development that comes as a surprise to nobody, I have more foam in here...and... all the rest of the space in this chamber is taken up by plastic pot scrubbers exactly as described by the esteemed moderator, DJRansome. However, I'm quite certain I'm cheaper than him and found them for less expensive on Amazon.
5. Return pumps feed directly into dual 36W UV sterilizers. Again - I believe here that you can get away with less than folks tell you based on the Bunsen-Roscoe law of reciprocity in photobiology. The key is here, you're passing all the water through the UV sterilizers multiple times per hour. So, even if the critters in question get a small dose of radiation, they get lots of doses, and it all works out.

So, you pretty much just guess at how much of the stuff you need (and after rinsing the dust out) just pour it loose on down into the sump.
FALSE! (please read with Dwight's voice - it's the only way this makes sense) I ran detailed calculations for how much biomedia I need. I can tell you that my system will support nearly 10 pounds of fish. I'm happy to share the calculations. The source of the assumptions used was Whether the initial assumptions will hold water is irrelevant - I didn't "guess":ROFLMAO:
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