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Can You Use a Sump in a Freshwater Planted Aquarium?

Sumps for Freshwater Planted Aquariums San Diego, CA

Aquarium sump filtration systems are essentially spaces where fish keepers can consolidate pieces of equipment. Quite a few aquarists design their own sumps, particularly for reef tanks, but these systems can also be used when keeping freshwater species. You’ll rarely see sumps being offered as part of starter aquarium kits. They’re more likely installed along with custom acrylic installations, and they’re often placed under the tank or behind it. In a garden koi pond, a sump drainage and filtration system provides maximum convenience in terms of maintenance. With all this in mind, sumps aren’t common in the aquascaping world, but there’s no reason they should be excluded from freshwater planted aquariums.

How Sumps Make Life Easier for Fish Keepers

Aquarium shops are the most common places where sumps are found, but customers don’t always get to see them. They’re usually inside cabinets and out of sight because keeping things tidy is part of their function. With a sophisticated sump connected to water source and a drainage system, the water volume in multiple tanks can be managed simultaneously. Sumps aren’t always placed under the tank. In some cases, it makes better sense to install them above the aquarium to let gravity handle most of the water flow. If you keep more than one tank at home, a sump would certainly be a smart solution.

Basic Sump Mechanism

A full sump located below the tank will hold about 50 percent of the water volume in the habitat. For the mechanism to work, the water will need to overflow into a compartment that sends it down to the sump tank once it comes close to an inch from the edge. What happens next is accomplished by a pump that returns the water to the tank, thereby creating circulation in addition to the aeration system. A check valve in the system will prevent the sump tank from overfilling in case the pumps stop working because of an electricity outage. This basic functionality can be enhanced with additional filters equipped with biological media so ammonia levels are kept in check.

High-Tech Planted Tanks with Sump Systems

Sump systems are perfect for traditional aquascape tanks that aren’t equipped with a carbon dioxide injector. There’s a risk of CO2 escaping through the sump in high-tech tanks that get CO2 injected from external sources. Sealing the sump tanks will eliminate this issue, but if the water column isn’t being overagitated, thereby promoting greater surface gas exchange, there’s no reason to worry about CO2 loss.

When Sump Systems Are Overkill

If your planted freshwater tank holds 20 gallons, and if you only keep low-light plants along with a small school of neon tetras, there’s no real need for a sump system. However, if you’re keeping exotic plants that come from stream habitats and require additional care to maximize their growth potential, a sump along with a CO2 injector would be beneficial.

Whether you need a sump or any other essential freshwater aquarium supplies, you can find what you’re looking for at Aquatic Warehouse. We also carry a wide array of supplies for saltwater tanks and koi ponds. We’re located in Kearny Mesa, or you can order whatever you need from our website and have it shipped to you. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call one of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives at 858-467-9297.



Contact Information

  • Address: 5466 Complex Street Suite 204
    San Diego, CA 92123
  • Phone: (858) 467-9297
  • Email: sales@aquaticwarehouse.com
  • Working Days/Hours: Mon - Fri / 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Saturday / 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Sunday / 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM


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