Aquarium Sump & Refugiums: Five Higly Recommended Low-Noise Brands

Many newbies who are beginning their first steps into fish, and corals aren’t quite sure about what to make of sumps. Explaining refugiums to them can be difficult too. This can even be a rather detailed discussion among reef tank veterans.

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But for the sake of brevity, let's simplify:

What is a sump?

What is a refugium?

Buying Guide

Let’s take a look at some possible units and see if any works for you. 

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1. Aqueon ProFlex Sump Model 3

This Model 3 sump measures 26.3 x 17.4 x 14.8 inches, which holds 20.4 gallons of water.

It can be used in a variety of ways. You can use it for your reef tank by placing in a large protein skimmer.

It can work as a refugium with live rock and particular plants that can control excess nutrients that can harm corals.

Aqueon also offers a biomedia accessory pack that lets this work as a wet/dry trickle filter.​

Pros

  • It’s made of materials so durable that it comes with a lifetime warranty against leaks.
  • It comes with a couple of 200-micron filter socks that can remove large particulates.
  • The way it’s designed makes it a very silent filtration system.
  • It even looks good.

Cons

  • There’s not much in the way of accessories. But this may be a good thing—it lowers the cost and you can just get the accessories you want. You don’t have to get any accessories that you don’t actually need.
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2. Eshopps RS-75 Reef Sump

This one is rated for tanks from 10 to 75 gallons, and it measures 18 x 10 x 16 inches.

It does have a separate skimmer compartment with 10 by 10 inch measurements.

Additional accessories that are of your purchase include a 300-micron prefiltration bag, 3 feet of 1-inch diameter flex hose, a 1-inch bulkhead, a square foam, and a cover.

If the noise level of your unit becomes too loud, check out this video that explains how to make the sump quieter. Definitely worth a look, as you can see the functioning unit as well.

Pros

  • If you only need to contain a single item like a skimmer, then it works very well.
  • It comes equipped with nice accessories.
  • It’s quite well made.

Cons

  • There’s very little room inside. Fill it up to the recommended water level mark, and it contains 7 gallons.
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3. Trigger Systems Emerald Sump 26

Trigger Systems specializes in making aquarium sumps, and it’s a US brand based in Dallas.

This model measures 26″ long x 13″ wide x 15″ high. It comes with interchangeable plates, various platforms, sections for a protein skimmer, for a return pump, and for a refugium, and a lid cover.

The skimmer water height is adjustable, and the emerald color even blocks light to prevent algae growth.

They also produce a 20 inch Ruby Cube, that might be worth a look if your setup needs something more specific.

Pros

  • It seems to have just about everything you need. If you need a sump for a variety of tasks, then this is the model you want.
  • It operates very quietly.
  • It's built to last.
  • It looks great, the emerald borders are just marvellous.

Cons

  • It’s a bit on the pricey side.
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4. Windridercreations Sump Kit

When they say this is a kit, it doesn’t mean that it comes with lots of accessories. Instead, it means that you have to actually put it together from scratch.

You also get a book of instructions for free (it’s 100 pages), and you also get a video series for instructions (it’s 3 hours).

Here you don’t even have a tank yet. You have to build it. It’s actually meant as a DIY project, and that it ends up as a sump is almost secondary in importance. You may want to look at some YouTube videos to see just what you’re in for.

Pros

  • It’s great if you’re a DIY enthusiast.
  • When you’re done, you get a sectioned sump with a refugium compartment.
  • It can save you up to 50% in costs compared to a similar sump.

Cons

  • If you don’t have the time or the interest to build one for your aquarium, it’s not really for you.
  • Its quality will depend greatly on your building skills, even though the materials are of good quality.
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5. CPR AquaFuge2 Hang-On Refugium

Unlike other refugium models (seems like the most agreeable plural form to me), this is a hang-on model.

This medium version measures 19" L x 4.5" W x 12" and it works well for a 36-gallon to a 90-gallon tank. It comes with a powerhead and features a unique baffle system.

It keeps the substrate and organisms from being disturbed, but enough water flows through it to prevent any stagnant areas.

It also comes with a pump. Its outlet tray feature really improves the water return system so that you won’t have any trouble with overflow that often happens so often with HOB refugium models.

Pros

  • This is very solid, as it’s made from thick acrylic.
  • Because it’s a HOB model, installation is pretty much a piece of cake.
  • It can be used in a lot of ways including a species-specific mini tank or as a refugium.
  • It works like a charm, and you won’t really get a lot of complaints about failing parts. The pump it features offers adequate flow rate for filtration, while you can also put in a heater.

Cons

  • It might make some noise occasionally.
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6. Eshopps Refugiums for Aquarium R-200

With its R-200 designation, it’s seems apparent that it’s rated for a 200-gallon tank, and you can even extend that to 225 gallons.

It measures 30" x 14" x 16", with an 11.5" x 13.5" skimmer compartment and a 10" x 8.5" refugium compartment.

With 2 separate water chambers, the protein skimmer can deal with the organic waste while you can grow macroalgae in a completely separate compartment.

The return pump chamber measures 14 by 5.5 inches. It also comes with a 7-inch micron bag that’s easy to remove.

Pros

  • It offers spacious accommodations for various accessories.
  • The design is quite effective.

Cons

  • To really maximize the benefits, you have to get the Eshopps overflow box. Note that’s a separate purchase.
  • Just be sure what you’re buying. The latest is the 3rd generation, but some sellers may still be offering earlier generations.

My Pick

These seem to be all pretty good models, and the right model for you will depend greatly on how to plan to use it. But it seems that the HOV CPR AquaFuge2 seem to offer the best value for money, as its price is cheaper than the Eshopps R-200.

If instead, you are looking for something more versatile and robust, the Trigger System Emerald Sump or the Ruby Cube might represent another viable solution.

But what about you? What are your plans for your sump or refugium? Tell us your plans in the comments, and discuss what models you intend to use. If you have any questions, send them in and perhaps we can find the answers.

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