Aquarium Sump As A Second Display Tank?

Aquarium sump refugiums are usually filled with macroalgae which help absorb nitrates and phosphates, taking some of the (bio)load off the biological filter.

Most aquarists are content to keep a green mass of chaetomorpha on a reverse lighting schedule.  The light keeps the chaeto growing, while the reverse lighting schedule helps to maintain good pH levels while the main display tank is in darkness.  While efficient, macroalgae filled refugiums are usually nothing much to look at.

aquarium sump

Sump with Maxima clams for additional filtration

I recently came across these blue Maxima clams in the aquarium sump at my local LFS.  The clams looked beautiful and they definitely made this sump the focus of a lot attention.

Clams are useful when an extremely low nutrient aquarium environment is desired.  They help filter the water and consume small amounts of ammonia and nitrates.  And since clams are also light-demanding, they are often incorporated into brightly-lit SPS dominated tanks.

Sitting on a 4 inch deep bed of coarse sand, these Maxima clams are placed in the sump compartment after the protein skimmer for the additional natural filtration they provide!

Four 24w ATI Aquablue Special T5 tubes placed about 16 inches above the sump provide light for the clams.  Note that the skimmer’s water output is aimed at a piece of black foam sponge to reduce splashing and microbubbles.

But beware — clams are not for beginners!

So before you go rushing out to buy a bunch of clams to put in your aquarium sump or refugium, please be aware that they have specific requirements as far as lighting and water quality for them to survive and thrive.   These we will cover in a later article.

Read more about Aquarium Sumps

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