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The 11 Best Sumps & Refugiums For Aquariums

For new aquarium owners, you may have just learned that there is a lot more equipment needed than you initially thought.

To supplement the filtration system inside your aquarium, you will probably need a storage and aeration tank, especially if your tank is larger.

Even if you don't need both, your needs may dictate whether you want the septic tank and sump to be separate from each other, or the sump to include an air duct.

For those new to the field, you're likely asking how to find the septic tank or storage tank that best suits your needs.

Checking through customer reviews of items is the fastest way to discover what you're looking for.

Thus, you will be able to understand the lives of other aquarium owners.

You'll learn everything you need to know about sump pumps and refugia in the following BestForPets (bestforpets.org) reviews of best sumps & refugiums for aquariums.


10-gallon Fiji Cube Refugium Sump Baffle Kit – Best in Class

  • Tank capacity: ten gallons (20 gallons long, 29 gallons, and forty gallons
  • 11’42” long by 11’38” wide by 3’7″ high
  • Body mass index (BMI): 3.04

When it comes to the greatest sump and refugium, this Fiji Cube setup is hard to beat. The refugium, protein skimmer, and other components of this kit may all be customized to your preferences thanks to the kit’s modular construction.

You may also raise or lower the water level to fulfill the protein skimmer’s minimum height requirement. As an added bonus, this package includes a set of filter sock silencers (and the sock holders can hold 4-inch filter bags).

The Marineland, Top Fin, Sepora, Tetra, and Aqueon tanks are all compatible with the Fiji Cube Refugium Sump Baffle Kit.


  • Can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • A decrease in background noise
  • Intuitive water level control


  • Doesn’t fit every tank
  • No waterproofing on the adjustable gate.


Kit for Aquarium Sump Refugium DIY for Protein Skimmer Sump – The Best Value

  • Tank capacity: 10 gallons
  • 10’94” long by 9’25” wide by 1’57” high
  • A total weight of 1.32 pounds

If you want the greatest sump refugium for your money, this DIY kit is the way to go. With this basic DIY kit, you should be able to get a protein skimmer that fits in a 10-gallon tank.

The pieces of this kit were also praised for their durability by those who had used it. Most aquarium owners reported that assembly took an hour or less and only required a small amount of aquarium-safe super glue.

This DIY kit also includes a foam pad that serves as a pre-filter between the last two dividers.


  • Affordable
  • Putting it all together is a breeze.
  • The best portions


  • The 10-gallon Aqueon tank is not compatible with this.
  • There are very few reports of products being too broad for tanks because of this.


Exceptional Refugiums – Eshopps AEO15005

  • Size range: 50-100 gallons.
  • 30″ long by 14″ wide by 16″ high
  • 1 pound is the approximate weight.

If you’re looking for a high-quality product, Eshopps’ refugium is worth a look. This refugium comes with a float valve, installed baffles, and sock filter holders, making it a “plug and go” solution.

For regular use, you don’t have to worry about the Eshopps’ seams leaking because they’re made of acrylic, which is quite durable. It has a capacity of up to 29 gallons and is meant to be quiet.

There’s also plenty of area to cultivate beneficial microorganisms, plants, and the like.


  • Includes the majority of everything you’ll need.
  • Strong
  • Seams that won’t leak


  • There are very few reports of a lid not fitting properly.
  • There have been a few instances of cracked products being delivered.


Inflatable Hang-on Refugium by CPR Aquatic

  • Tank capacity ranges from 29 to 75 gallons.
  • 25″ long x 4 5/8′ wide x 11.8′ high
  • It weighs in at 12.45 pounds.

This hang-on refugium is a great option if you’re short on floor space. 4.7 gallon capacity makes it easy to attach to the rear of your tank, even if there isn’t much room.

All you have to do now is hang the pipes and get started! While the power-head and baffle system ensures a steady flow of water, black acrylic inhibits light from reaching the main tank.

One thing to keep in mind while purchasing this product is that it does not come with a light.


  • Easy to set up
  • A powerful head is included.
  • Obstructs the passage of light from the refugium into the tank.


  • Is not accompanied by any illumination.
  • May be a little noisy.
  • On the smaller end of the spectrum.


Clear Water Systems by Pro-Clear Sump of Freedom Reef

  • Size of tank: 200 gallons
  • 32″ long x 12″ wide x 16″ high
  • Weight: 28.35 pounds

When it comes to setting up and maintaining a saltwater tank, the Pro Clear Aquatic Systems Freedom Reef Sump is one of the best options on the market.

Bubble diffuser tubs and a 4-inch 200-micron bag make this sump quieter and more efficient at the same time. In addition, there is an adjustable flow gate.

A 4-inch micron bag, bulkhead fittings, foam block sponge, and flexible hoses are all included with the Pro Clear Aquatic Systems Freedom Reef Sump.


  • Setup is a snap.
  • Affordable
  • Quiet


  • Saltwater tanks only.
  • There have been a few concerns concerning the chambers’ size.

Sumps & Refugiums for Aquariums: What to Look for in a Sumps & Refugiums

A sump can be a refugium, but a refugium is not a sump, which makes understanding the distinctions between the two difficult. The following are the distinctions between the two. “

A Sump Is What?

Separate from your aquarium, a sump is a tank with a plumbing system that connects to it. It serves as both a drain and a reservoir, and is often located at the system’s lowest point.

Your aquarium’s water quality and nitrate accumulation can be improved by using a sump, which adds to the volume of water in the tank. The drain, flex space, and return parts of sumps are the most common.

Many tanks have sumps, which are used to store equipment such as protein skimmers and heaters beneath the aquarium.

Describe the Refugium

You can use a separate box in your tank cabinet or hang a unit from the rear of your aquarium as a refugium, which is a term for a similar concept. Saltwater, tropical, brackish, cold water, and freshwater tanks can all benefit from their use.

Live plants, macroalgae, and microfauna can all find sanctuary in a refugium, which receives water from the main aquarium.

There are several benefits to using a refugium:

  • Fish and coral will benefit from the addition of helpful pods that would otherwise not be able to thrive in the main tank thanks to this feature.
  • To maintain your aquarium water clean, you may utilize it to produce algae that filters trash and nitrates.
  • A refugium or living sand may also be securely contained within it, which helps particular algae flourish by grabbing water’s nutrients.
  • You don’t have to cultivate coral near fish that like to eat it.
  • Live sponges can be utilized as filters in reef aquariums.

A Sump and a Refugium: What to Look for

There are a few things to consider before settling on a sump or refugium.


If you want a large sump or refugium, you’ll have to fit it into your tank cabinet. The 1:3 or 1:4 ratio works well for sump pumps. A minimum sump size of 15 gallons is required for a 50-gallon aquarium.

The size of your refugium will be determined by the type of plant you plan to grow in it, and whether or not it will be part of your sump or a distinct entity in your cabinet.

The Ease of Set-Up

When it comes to setting up sumps and refugiums, having written instructions or videos to refer to may be really helpful. You can also choose to build your own or buy a ready-made one.

Which one you select will be determined by your level of practicality. Of course, a pre-assembled product will be easier to construct, but DIY is generally less expensive.


An excellent sump or refugium will survive a long time, regardless of the use. Take a look at what materials the products you’re considering are composed of. For sumps, acrylic is less likely to break, whereas PVC is a more robust material that is, nevertheless, more costly. Your best bet could be a hybrid acrylic-PVC sump.

Low-Cost Upkeep

Sumps and refugiums are time-consuming to clean, so search for items that are simple to remove and don’t need dismantling the complete unit to do so.


You’ll want to compare prices on sumps and refugiums to be sure you’re getting the best deal possible. Another consideration is whether or if an object is worth its cost (that is, are high-quality components used in its construction? Is it well-received?).


If you’re looking for sump or refugium evaluations, go no further than other aquarium keepers. Reviews will help you get a better sense for whether or not a product is suited to your needs.


The Fiji Cube Refugium Sump Baffle Kit is a tank with customizable filters and quiet operation. It is the best of the best. For the best bang for your buck, check out the Skimmer Protein Tank DIY Kit.

This “plug and play” Eshopps AEO15005 power bank comes with practically everything you need for a good product. BestForPets (bestforpets.org) has listed the best sumps & refugiums for aquariums you need to find.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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