HOW TO: Build an aquarium sump – emerged trickle filter

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In today’s video, i show an example on how to build a basic emerged sump for your aquarium, while discussing the pros and cons.

How to build an emerged sump:
How to build a submerged sump:
How to build a fluidized sump:


The king of DIY


What do you think?


Written by The king of DIY

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  1. Addressing the two problems that Joey pointed out:
    Putting the bio balls in a cheap plastic tote (box) and suspending it high in the sump allows for a full volume of water in the sump to be utilized. Salt creep will likely be worse if you do this on a salt water tank and for either fresh or salt, it will be potentially more noisy.
    As for channeling, one way to minimize that is to allow for a 3-4" space below your bio-ball holding area. Place a plastic inflatable bag (similar to the ones used on a massage chair – make sure it's made from sturdy plastic). Then get a timer which allows for on-off cycles of about 30 minutes. Hook an air pump up to the plastic bag and set it to inflate every 30 minutes. The air pump should not exceed the inflation psi max of the bag. The result is the bioballs are unevenly raised and lowered ever half hour. With that movement channeling is greatly decreased.
    In the end, as Joey pointed out, this form of filtration is very effective in converting ammonia (deadly to aquatic/marine life) into less harmful nitrite and finally nitrate. The key is that the bio-balls are SURROUNDED by air, which enables the aerobic bacteria to do their job extremely well.

  2. How important is it to clean the media? I had a thriving tank and hadn't changed or cleaned the media at all in over 7 years. (I'd even forgot to change the sponge also, but that didn't seem to matter).

  3. I understand perfectly what you are saying and I am on a budget trying to set up my 125 gallon saltwater aquarium. now if doing an emerged sump will I still need a protein skimmer or not?

  4. Wouldn't a Bakki shower filter solve the issues that a traditional wet/dry suffers from – mainly channeling since the media is spread out over a larger surface area?

  5. im a fan of the good old wet dry trickle and only make one small modification to this desighn…..i use 2 layers of fibers sheeting one of fine grade then a bit more open one and i place them with a tight fit  directlet under the drip plate resting on top of the bio balls or cubes.this way i get even coverage of dibre collection without disrupting the drip plate.

  6. Anyone ever tried something like this on a turtle tank? Ill be building a 150 gallon for my turtle in the coming months but can't decide what kind of filter system I should use.



HOW TO: Build an aquarium sump – fluidized moving bed filter

HOW TO: Build an aquarium sump – Submerged filter