If you keep an aquarium with sensitive inhabitants or plants, you may struggle with finding the perfect setup that provides adequate water flow to the tank without damaging the more delicate life in the tank. If you’ve experienced this struggle, then a sump and refugium setup may work well for you.
A sump is a tank that sits below the level of the main tank and can be used to hide unsightly equipment, like skimmers. A refugium is a space within the sump tank that is protected, making it a refuge for delicate lifeforms. Refugiums can also be used for raising feeder creatures, like copepods and feeder fish. Using a sump also can increase water flow to your main tank, helping to stabilize water parameters. Sump and refugium setups are especially useful for reef tanks.
We’ve put together these reviews of our picks for the best aquarium sump and refugium kits to help you pick a solid product that will protect your tank and make tank maintenance easier for you. When it comes to picking the right sump and refugium for your tank, knowledge is power!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Fiji Cube Refugium Sump||
|Best Value||Bubblefin Aquarium Sump Refugium||
|Premium Choice||Eshopps AEO15005 Refugiums||
The 3 Best Aquarium Sump & Refugium – Reviews 2021
1. Fiji Cube Refugium Sump – Best Overall
Our pick for the best overall sump and refugium is the Fiji Cube Refugium Sump. This kit is available for four sizes of tanks from 10 gallons to 40 gallons. It is made to fit Marineland, Tetra, Top Fin, Aqueon, and Seapora tanks.
This sump kit is a complete DIY sump and refugium kit, making it perfectly customizable to meet your tank’s needs. The kit contains three filter sock holders with silencers to hold filter bags and decrease noise from water flow through the filter socks. It also has three baffle slots that have fully customizable sizing to accommodate your equipment, including your protein skimmer, media reactor, or refugium. It has two separate media trays for you to customize with your preferred filter media, like bio sponges and bio balls. Two bio sponges are included in the kit.
The water level in this sump can be set between 8-14 inches, depending on the depth needed by your protein skimmer. This sump is made of high-quality acrylic and replacement acrylic parts are available through the manufacturer if needed. Every part of this kit is made with solid workmanship, making for a precise, functional piece.
2. Bubblefin Aquarium Sump Refugium – Best Value
The best aquarium sump and refugium for the money that we reviewed is the Bubblefin Aquarium Sump Refugium. It is available in two sizes for 10 and 20-gallon setups and both sizes are very cost-effective.
This kit includes three acrylic dividers to fit most brands of tanks but measuring your tank ahead of ordering and comparing it to the measurements of the product may save you some time when the product arrives. The height of the baffles is appropriate to fit most protein skimmers. Each divider allows for different amounts of water to flow through them, making this a nice option for customization. The kit comes with a prefilter sponge but does not include a sponge to go below the third piece. There are a variety of objects that are an appropriate height to hold the piece in place while the silicone cures, though.
3. Eshopps AEO15005 Refugiums – Premium Choice
The Eshopps AEO15005 Refugium is our premium choice for the best sump and refugiums. This kit is a complete kit that is assembled and includes a float valve. It is made from high-quality acrylic and includes a micron bag, skimmer compartment, and space for customization of bio sponges. It holds close to 30 gallons of water.
This kit design allows for a large amount of gentle water flow and has a large amount of refugium space, making it a nice choice for protecting plants and corals and raising feeders. It also allows for water to flow via two “tracks”, allowing for adequate filtration and oxygenation and preventing stagnation.
It can be difficult to access the refugium to check water levels and flow, but a mirror can be used to help with quick checks. This system is very quiet and has a great flow. There may be some buildup of detritus and waste if not well-maintained and cleaned regularly, but the flow stays efficient while the water passes through multiple chambers, even if some buildup is present.
|When Do You Need a Sump and Refugium?||When Can You Skip a Sump and Refugium?|
|Intentional macroalgae/microalgae growing||If macroalgae/microalgae are not needed for feeding|
|If you’re having trouble controlling nitrites and phosphates||If nitrites and phosphates are well controlled|
|If needed as a hospital tank for sick/injured animal||If you have a cycled, detached hospital tank|
|Live food production (copepods, amphipods, small feeder fish)||If you are not growing feeder organisms|
|When growing delicate corals, fish, or plants||If you’re keeping semi-hardy to hardy fish, corals, and/or plants|
The Fiji Cube Refugium Sump is our best overall choice for its high-quality craftsmanship and customizability. The Bubblefin Sump Refugium is our best value pick because of its flexibility to be used for a variety of tanks for a steal of a price. Eshopps AEO15005 Refugium is our premium pick because it’s a premium-priced but high-quality, preassembled product that is ready to go right out of the box.
The three products in these reviews are all great because they provide a broad range of options for setting up the best sump and refugium for your tank. The Fiji Cube and Bubblefin products are good choices for DIYers while the Eshopps Refugium is ideal for someone who wants to hook things up and go. With all three products, you’ll end up with an effective sump and refugium setup to protect your fragile aquatic life. We’ve worked hard to make it easier for you to find the right sump and refugium for your own tank.
Featured image credit: luckypic, Shutterstock