How to Make a Sump for a Freshwater Aquarium: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you are a freshwater aquarium hobbyist, it is essential to maintain the cleanliness and stability of your tank. One of the vital equipment you need is a sump. A sump is a separate container that connects to your aquarium and helps in filtration, as well as other functions.

Before you start buying a sump or create your sump, there are various aspects you need to consider, such as the size, capacity, flow rate, and the type of filter media you want to use. In this article, we will discuss the basics of sump design and how to make a sump for a freshwater aquarium. Are you ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

What is a Sump?

If you’re a fan of aquariums, you’ve probably heard of a sump. But what exactly is it? A sump is an additional tank that’s placed underneath your aquarium, which can help improve the overall quality of water in the tank. Most commonly used in saltwater aquariums, sumps can also be used in freshwater setups.

To make a sump for a freshwater aquarium, start by choosing the right size tank: a good rule of thumb is to go for a tank that’s at least 20% of the total volume of your main tank. Next, you’ll want to think about the equipment you need, such as a protein skimmer, filter media, and a return pump. Lastly, make sure to install the sump correctly, so that it’s completely sealed to prevent any leaks.

By setting up a sump in your freshwater aquarium, you’ll be improving the water quality, increasing overall filtration capacity, and creating more space in your main tank.

Definition and Benefits

A sump is a vital component in the operation of a hydraulic system. Essentially, it is a reservoir that collects and stores fluid, which is used to lubricate, cool, and clean hydraulic machinery. The sump’s location is typically situated at the lowest point of the system, ensuring the fluid naturally flows towards it.

This makes it convenient for maintenance and servicing, as replacing the fluid is easier when it collects in one location. Additionally, a sump ensures the proper functioning of components within a hydraulic system, by reducing air bubbles, preventing pump cavitation, and maintaining consistent fluid pressure. Overall, using a sump can help increase the longevity and efficiency of hydraulic machinery, ultimately saving time and money in the long-run.

So, if you want to ensure your hydraulic system is operating at its highest level, a sump is definitely worth considering.

how to make a sump for a freshwater aquarium

What You’ll Need

If you’re looking to create a sump for your freshwater aquarium, you’ll need a few essential items. Firstly, you’ll require a tank or container that can accommodate your sump design and fit into your aquarium stand. The size of your sump will depend on the size of your aquarium, but in general, you should aim for a sump that can hold around 10-20% of your tank’s water volume.

Next, you’ll need a reliable pump to circulate water from your aquarium to your sump and back. A return line or bulkhead fitting that allows water to flow back into your tank is also necessary. Additionally, a protein skimmer can help remove waste from your aquarium water before it enters the sump, improving overall water quality.

Media such as filter socks, biological media, and chemical filtration materials can be added to the sump to further enhance its functionality. Once you have all the necessary components, you can start assembling your sump to create a more efficient and stable freshwater aquarium system.

Tools and Materials

To get started on refurbishing or building your own furniture, you’ll need a few tools and materials. Firstly, make sure you have a good set of saws, including a circular saw, jigsaw, and hand saw. A drill and screwdriver are also crucial, as well as a hammer and mallet.

Sandpaper and wood glue are necessary for smoothing and fixing any mistakes, as well as clamps to hold pieces together during assembly. For measuring and marking, a measuring tape, level, and marking tools like a pencil or chalk are essential. Other materials you’ll need depend on the project, but common ones include wood boards, screws, nails, and brackets.

For finishing touches, consider adding stain, paint, or varnish. Once you have these tools and materials, you’ll be ready to tackle any furniture DIY project that comes your way.

Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re wondering how to make a sump for your freshwater aquarium, rest assured that it’s not as complicated as it may sound. A sump is essentially a separate filtration system that helps to improve the water quality of your aquarium by removing debris and harmful chemicals from the water. To make your own sump, you’ll need a few basic supplies such as an aquarium overflow box, a pump, and filter media.

First, you’ll need to drill holes in your aquarium to accommodate the overflow box and the return pipe. Once that’s done, you can install the overflow box and connect it to the pump and the return pipe. Make sure to fill the sump with filter media, such as bio-balls or ceramic rings, to facilitate biological filtration.

Finally, test the system to ensure it’s functioning properly, and make any necessary adjustments. With a bit of patience and effort, you can create a sump that will help keep your aquarium clean and healthy for your fish to thrive in.

Preparing the Tank

Preparing the tank for your aquatic pets is a crucial task that requires careful attention and dedication. Here is a step-by-step guide that will ensure your freshwater or saltwater tank is ready for your fish or other aquatic creatures. Firstly, make sure you have all the necessary equipment and supplies, such as a filter, heater, substrate, and decorations.

Clean the tank thoroughly with warm water and gentle soap to remove any chemicals or debris. Rinse the tank several times to ensure no residue is left behind. Next, place the substrate at the bottom of the tank and fill it with water.

Allow the water to sit for a few days to eliminate any chlorine or other harmful chemicals. After this, test the water for pH, ammonia, and nitrite levels to ensure a healthy environment for your aquatic pets. If the levels are elevated, perform a partial water change, and retest.

Once the water parameters are optimal, you can add your filter, heater, and decorations, making sure they are securely in place. Finally, wait for a couple of days before adding any aquatic animals to allow the tank to settle properly. By following this step-by-step guide, you will have a healthy and safe environment for your aquatic pets to thrive.

Jigsaw the Acrylic

Jigsawing acrylic can be a bit intimidating for beginners, but with a few simple steps, anyone can create a beautiful piece of art or functional item. First, gather all necessary tools, including a jigsaw with a fine-toothed blade designed for cutting acrylic, clamps to hold the acrylic in place, and a straightedge for guiding the jigsaw. Next, measure and mark where the cuts will be made.

It’s important to be precise in order to avoid any mistakes. Once the acrylic is secure, use the jigsaw to make the cuts, allowing the blade to do the work and avoiding forcing the tool through the material. Finally, clean up any rough edges with a sanding block or file.

By following these steps, creating pieces from acrylic using a jigsaw can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. So, why not give it a try and see what you can create?

Drilling Holes for Plumbing

Drilling holes for plumbing can seem like a daunting task, but with the right steps, you can do it yourself. First, determine where you need to drill the holes. This will depend on the plumbing layout and where you need the pipes to run.

Once you have mapped out where you need to drill, measure and mark the spots on the wall. Then, use a stud finder to make sure you avoid hitting any important structures behind the walls. Now, it’s time to start drilling.

Use a drill with a masonry bit that is the appropriate size for the pipe. Begin drilling at a perpendicular angle to the wall and slowly tilt the drill to a slight angle once it reaches the halfway point. This helps the hole accommodate the angle of the pipe.

Once the hole is drilled, use a file to smooth out the edges and remove any debris. Repeat for all necessary holes. With these steps, drilling holes for plumbing becomes a manageable task that you can do with ease.

Installing the Baffles

Installing baffles in your car muffler can be a bit daunting, especially if you have never done it before. However, with a little guidance, you can easily install baffles yourself. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install baffles in your muffler.

Firstly, you need to identify the type of muffler you have. This is because different baffles are meant for different types of mufflers. Once you have identified the right baffle, detach the muffler from the vehicle using a wrench.

Next, locate the baffle hole and then insert the baffle. You can use a rubber mallet to ensure that it sits perfectly in place. Finally, reattach the muffler back to the vehicle and test your vehicle to ensure that everything is working correctly.

Remember, installing baffles can be challenging, but with the right tools and guidance, it is possible. By following these simple steps, you can significantly reduce your car’s noise and make driving a lot more enjoyable.

Assembling the Sump

Assembling the sump for your aquarium can seem daunting at first, but with this step-by-step guide, it can be done easily and efficiently. First, start by making sure you have all the necessary components, including the sump itself, a return pump, a heater, a protein skimmer, and any additional filtration media. Next, position the sump in a place where it will fit comfortably and be easily accessible for maintenance.

The most common placement is underneath the aquarium stand. Once in position, begin installing the components. Start with the overflow box, which should be placed on the back of the aquarium and connected to the sump with PVC piping.

Install the protein skimmer and any additional filtration media, such as filter socks or biopellets, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Afterwards, install the return pump and heater, and connect them to their respective components. Finally, fill the sump with water and turn on the return pump to check for any leaks or malfunctions.

Adjust as necessary and voila! Your sump is complete. Remember to regularly maintain and clean the sump to ensure the health and longevity of your aquarium.

Plumbing the Sump

If you own a freshwater aquarium, you might want to consider making a sump to improve the overall health of your fish. A sump is essentially an additional tank that sits underneath or adjacent to your main tank and is connected with plumbing. Making a sump can seem intimidating, but it’s really not that complicated.

First, you’ll need to choose the right size sump for your tank. It’s generally recommended to use a sump that’s at least 10% of your main tank’s capacity. You’ll also need to gather some equipment, including a return pump, filter media, and a protein skimmer.

Once you have all your supplies, you can start setting up the sump. Connect the plumbing from your main tank to the sump, install the equipment you’ve gathered, and fill the sump with water. With a properly installed sump, you’ll enjoy improved water conditions, which can lead to healthier fish and a more vibrant aquatic ecosystem.

Installing the Pump

When it comes to installing the pump in your sump, the plumbing process is crucial. First, you need to position the pump correctly, making sure it’s at the bottom of the sump and secured in place. Next, you’ll need to connect the discharge pipe to the pump and route it out of the sump.

The discharge pipe should slope upwards and away from the sump to prevent backflow. Don’t forget to attach a check valve to the pipe to prevent water from flowing back into the sump. Finally, connect the power supply to the pump and test it to make sure everything is working correctly.

By following these steps, you can install your sump pump correctly and ensure it’s ready to protect your home from flooding or water damage.

Connecting the Pipes / Hoses

When plumbing the sump, it’s important to connect all the pipes and hoses properly to ensure optimal function. Typically, the sump contains equipment such as a pump, skimmer, and heater, and each of these components requires its own specific connections. You’ll want to make sure that each hose or pipe is securely fastened to the correct outlet and inlet, and that there are no leaks anywhere in the system.

One important thing to keep in mind is the size of the pipes and hoses. If you have a powerful pump, for example, you’ll need to make sure that the diameter of the pipes is wide enough to handle the flow of water, otherwise, you may experience flooding or other issues. With a little attention to detail and some careful planning, plumbing your sump can be a simple and satisfying DIY project that yields great results.

Final Considerations

In conclusion, making a sump for a freshwater aquarium is a great way to enhance the quality of your aquarium’s water. The process may seem overwhelming at first, but with proper planning and research, it can be a fun and rewarding experience. Remember to choose the right size and type of sump for your tank, and ensure that it is equipped with all the necessary components such as skimmers, heaters, and filters.

Additionally, it is key to regularly clean and maintain your sump to ensure optimal performance and longevity. By implementing a sump system, you will be on your way to creating a thriving, healthy aquatic environment for your beloved fish and plants. So why wait? Start building your sump today, and enjoy the benefits it brings to your freshwater aquarium!

Maintenance Tips

As we come to the end of our maintenance tips for your home, it’s important to remember a few final considerations. First and foremost, safety should always come first. Make sure to use caution and follow all safety guidelines when completing any maintenance tasks.

Additionally, don’t forget to prioritize regular upkeep and inspections to catch any issues before they become bigger problems. Finally, never hesitate to call in professional help if you encounter any difficulties that are beyond your skillset. By staying proactive and diligent with your home’s maintenance, you’ll ensure that it remains safe, comfortable, and functional for many years to come.

Remember, a little effort now can save you time, money, and stress down the road.

Monitor the Water Level

In conclusion, monitoring the water level is a crucial aspect of responsible waterside living. It not only ensures the safety of those who utilize the body of water, but also helps to prevent damage to the surrounding environment. By regularly checking the water level, you can avoid potentially dangerous situations that may occur due to high or low water levels.

Additionally, keeping track of the water level can help you plan activities like boating and fishing, and can even help you conserve water during times of drought. So, invest in a reliable water level monitoring device, and enjoy all the benefits that come with responsible management of our precious bodies of water.

Enjoy your Efficient Filtration System!

As you begin to enjoy the benefits of your new filtration system, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Firstly, be sure to regularly clean or replace your filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure continued efficiency. Additionally, it’s a good idea to periodically test your water quality, especially if you live in an area prone to high levels of contaminants or mineral buildup.

This will ensure that your filtration system is doing what it’s supposed to do – keeping your water clean and safe to use. Finally, don’t forget to take advantage of additional features or upgrades your system may offer, such as UV disinfection or pH balancing. These can further enhance the quality of your water and provide even greater peace of mind.

With a little attention and care, your efficient filtration system will continue to serve you well for many years to come.


In conclusion, creating a sump for your freshwater aquarium may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and a little bit of creativity, you can easily turn your fish’s home into a bustling ecosystem. Not only will a sump help maintain clear water, but it also provides a home for beneficial bacteria and the opportunity to customize your aquarium to fit your aquatic pets’ specific needs. So, don’t be afraid to dive in and get started on crafting your personalized sump.

Your fish (and your guests) will thank you for the upgrade!”


What is a sump in a freshwater aquarium?
A sump is a separate container or tank connected to a main aquarium that is used to house filtration equipment and increase water volume in the aquarium.

Why should I make a sump for my freshwater aquarium?
A sump can greatly improve the water quality in your aquarium by providing additional space for filtration equipment, increasing water volume, and helping to maintain stable water parameters.

What equipment do I need to make a sump for my freshwater aquarium?
You will need a container or tank for the sump, plumbing to connect it to the main aquarium, a return pump, and any filtration equipment you wish to use, such as a protein skimmer, media reactors, and/or a refugium.

Can I make a sump for my freshwater aquarium without drilling the main tank?
Yes, it is possible to use an overflow box to connect the main tank to the sump without drilling, but this method requires careful installation and maintenance to avoid flooding or other issues.

How do I properly size a sump for my freshwater aquarium?
The size of the sump you need will depend on the size of your main aquarium, the equipment you plan to use, and the amount of water you want to add to your system. Generally, a sump should be able to hold at least 10% of the total water volume in your system.

What maintenance is required for a freshwater aquarium sump?
Regular maintenance of your sump will include cleaning any filtration equipment, checking plumbing connections for leaks, and monitoring water levels and parameters. It is also important to regularly clean the sump itself to prevent debris buildup and maintain optimal filtration.

Can I use a sump in a planted freshwater aquarium?
Yes, a sump can be used in a planted aquarium, but it is important to consider the needs of your plant species and adjust the filtration equipment accordingly. A refugium or other type of nutrient export system may also be beneficial for plant health.