Aquarium Filtration Information


Reef Tank Filtration - Refugiums/Sumps

Today's top methods of aquarium filtration also includes media reactors, biopellet reactors, nitrate reactors, zeovit reactors, GFO reactors, and carbon reactors. While we are going to talk about mainly refugiums/sumps and wet/dry filters, these reactors can also be                                                                                                                                                    
A lot of people might click on this section and expect to find information pertaining to canister filters. We haven't ever carried canister filters. One reason is because of what even the thought of them actually is. Waste goes into them and sits inside of them while your tank water flows through the decomposing waste to be returned to your tank. The majority of the time this seems to cause an excess of Nitrates because we still have not seen a canister filter where the biological media is capable of keeping up with the Nitrate production.
We also do not sell or condone the use of ceramic rings, plastic balls, filter socks, or even cubes or porous materials that look like bricks. It seems that most of these forms of media easily accumulate a great waste. This waste we have noticed will eventually cause higher Nitrate levels in any aquarium which can be detrimental to the majority of tank members. We continually try these filters on even hundreds of customers tanks with the same results. 
We are extremely old-fashioned here and believe in methods that we have perfected over the last 25+ years. As an established aquarium store we are constantly on the lookout for new advances in the ever changing aquarium industry. We keep an open mind and thoroughly test every product that comes through our doors. However, we always end up going back to natural filtration such as macroalgae, live rock, live sand, carbon, protein skimmers, UV sterilizers, and the rest of the basics. We do feed our tanks more than almost any other store though.

Refugiums/Sumps are the main type of filtration that we stick to and advise others to stick to as well. They are extremely versatile, the allow room for expansion, the do a superior job when it comes to keeping our tank water crystal clear over any other filter, and they allow us hobbyists to keep "unsightly" filtration out of the way so we can view our tanks the way they were meant to be seen. 

When it comes to a refugium we have always told people to get the largest sump you can fit under your stand. Please keep in mind though that your refugium should not and most of the time can not house the majority of reactors. For instance Calcium Reactors need a metal CO2 tank so this of course should not sit inside of your sump and come into constant contact with saltwater. Always plan for the tank you WANT and not necessarily have. If you believe you are going to add such items down the road make sure under your stand will be equipped to support the needed room for any expanding you believe you may require.

We always try to show people the benefits of a refugium over any other form of filtration. Most hobbyists are trying to replicate natural conditions as much as possible. Knowing this, don't you want your filtration to also replicate natural filtration methods that are found on every living reef...we think so. These methods are all the same. Deep sand beds to grown anaerobic bacteria for the proper breakdown of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Live rock to do the same. Harvesting macroalgae such as Chaetomorpha, Halimeda, Ulva, Maiden's Hair or Caulerpa or any of the other 50 kinds of macroalgae to remove ammonia, nitrite and nitrate as well as phosphates. Refugiums are a powerhouse if they are constructed and maintained properly and keep tanks with even the largest bioloads in the best conditions. 

Now, we only recommend Chaetomorpha for your refugium. The reason being for this is that Chaeto is usually much harder to spread to your display tank and it can not "take root" on any surface. What this means is even if you should find some in your display tank you can pull it right out without having go through any sort of intense removal process. With any of the other macroalgaes they can invade your aquarium and harm corals, clams, sessile inverts, and more. Please consider only Chaeto as your nutrient export source. 

When it comes to keeping your refugium thriving you will need a good light as well. We specifically created out Refugium Lighting sale section for that purpose. In the beginning we did sell little garbage lights from China because so many people were fixated on $25 refugium lights. We also carried regular CF and even T5 bulbs. Then we realized this is not something you should try to save money on. The macroalgae in your refugium is just like any other plant. The better the light, the better the health of your plant, and the better it will export nutrients. A good refugium light is literally worth it's weight in gold.

To help your refugium thrive check out our Refugium Lighting section for the...

Another tremendous benefit of refugiums is their ability to house a tremendous amount of aquarium cleaning life. Copepods is just one example of that life. Copepods look like little tiny shrimp that usually stick to the rockwork, sand and glass. As your tank matures your "Pod Population" will increase. These little critters are valued member of your tank because they can clean a lot of waste in a very small amount of time; waste such as detritus, uneaten food, and fish waste. Once your population gets large enough you will receive the benefit of the life cycle of Copepods where they also feed your corals, inverts and fish.

Most people will notice the term DSB used a great deal throughout the AquariumSumps website. This stands for Deep Sand Bed. Deep sand beds to us are anywhere from 4 to 7 inches. In this store, and even in our houses, we are notorious for running deep sand beds on all of our tanks. Deep sand beds can buffer your tank water, break down ammonia, nitrite and nitrate rapidly and give a proper home to some harder to keep tank inhabitants such as one of my favorite reef fishes, the Leopard Wrasse. We have proven over time that with a properly maintained DSB, with a good clean-up-crew, can be an asset and not a liability. If you would like further information on running a DBS please contact us. We are here nearly around the clock to tackle in depth issues suck as this.

While we know there are dozens of types of filtration on the market we really only stick to the basics just because we always come back to the basics at some point. This doesn't mean one method is wrong or right, only what we have had the best luck with as a store. We have tried every form of filtration there is on the market and still come back to refugiums. 

Our philosophy as the countries leading sump supplier...

At we only carry the best brands with the best track records. We have personally studied every brand that we stock for construction, customer service, and bang for your buck. We have listened to thousands of customer reviews. We have a very firm hold on the market which is why we have so many people ask how many sumps we sell per month. That's our little secret, but we can say it's up in the triple digits. is a name that is known around the world and our site is spoken about with the highest regard, this is an achievement we had to earn, it's wasn't handed to us. We know what an honor it is to get tens of thousands of hits a day because people want a source they can rely on when making such an important purchase.

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If you still have any further questions about Filtration, feel free to contact us at


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