Tools and Materials

The following are ideas for using an existing aquarium as a sump. The decision must be made as to whether you are going to use plastic or glass as the baffles. If you opt for glass I would recommend that you have a window place do the cutting for you. It is fairly cheap and the work will get done correctly. If you decide to use plastic you can use 1/8" Acrylite sheeting for the baffles and I would recommend using some sort of bracing between the baffles as the acrylic is quite flexible and will bow in the middle of the baffle. The cutting of the acrylic is very easy with a cheap disposable acrylic scoring blade available at hardware stores that carry the sheet plastic. Look in the window section.

Here is a list of tools that will help facilitate the retro-construction of an existing glass aquarium into a sump configuration:

If you are considering using the sump with a refugium incorporated, you may want to consider using some holes in the baffle nearest the return side and the baffle between the refugium and the return to help the water flow through the refugium. Remember that you will have critters in the refugium so you will want to keep them from getting into the return pump. I used some vinyl screening over the holes to discourage the critters from getting over the baffle and becoming fish food. Snails get over there anyway but if the pump has a screen over the input they usually do some clean up and then head back into the refugium. The diagram on page one is of a 20gal with a refugium. These holes can be drilled in glass but I do not recommend it without the proper drill bits!!

This is a list of materials for this project. Both designs, whether glass or acrylic baffles are used, will use the following:

Constructing the Sump

Before you start, the glass will need to be clean for the silicone to stick properly. I use salt and tap water to wash the tank. This is a good time to check the tank for leaks. Make sure the baffles fit correctly side to side and that you know the proper measurements so that the return pump, the heater(s) and skimmer (if applicable) will fit in the proper divisions of the tank. I spaced the baffles about an inch apart, this measurement is subjective but I would not go less than an inch. You can use the marker to draw lines on the bottom and sides to make sure the baffles go in the right spot and that they are straight up and down.

The three baffles between the input area and the return/refugium area should be be installed in order. Working left to right, the first one being the baffle closest to the input side, then the middle one that is raised up an inch, and finally the baffle between the input and the return/refugium area.

Run a bead of caulk along the lines drawn on the tank and place the baffle in the tank to the right of the bead and carefully push the baffle up against the bead. Then run a bead along the right hand side of the baffle. Using a finger, smooth both sides along the sides and bottom of the baffle. Let this set for a few minutes and clean up as best as you can. Then follow the same procedure for the next baffle but leave out the bead along the bottom of the tank and use the 1" block of wood to boost the baffle up off the floor of the tank. Then install the third baffle the same way as the first. If you are incorporating a refugium you would then install a fourth baffle between the refugium and the return pump area. The order of these divisions is also subjective. Some prefer the return in the middle and the refugium at the end. I would not use the refugium as the input area because it would cause a sandstorm I would think!!

This configuration is one of the simplest and easiest to implement. There are other configurations all over the internet so do some research to find the plan that works the best for your situation.

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