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Cannister or sump/skimmer?

Posted 01/24/2014 at 03:08 PM by Sk8r

Canister or sump/skimmer? how to decide.
Modern canister filters can cost as much as a large sump---
They ARE good: but their goodness mostly has application to fish-only setups. This isn't to say you couldn't run a softie tank with one---we ran a nice little softie/small fish tank in a 30 long with a Penguin filter, no sump. It had algae; but hey, it was healthy.
To run a fish-only, even with a monster filter, you're going to need to do filter-cleaning: to run a sump, nope, nada, you just let the live rock and sand handle the waste.
Where you start seeing the big difference is in nitrate levels. Reefs require a nitrate reading way lower than fish-onlies can tolerate---I like to keep mine around 5, and you'll see filtered tanks running about 20. Again, softies are much more tolerant than stony coral, but if you get the notion of a reef, (which is a lot easier than fish, granted one thing---that you keep that water properly! Corals don't jump!) ---you'll find a sump with an autotopoff reservoir (fresh water, to make up evaporation) and a moderately ok skimmer make the whole coral proposition pretty effortless. [Note: corals do have particular need for strong lighting. But that's a top-of-the-tank issue.] ---You can also automate your stony coral feeding by dumping Mrs Wages Pickling Lime into the topoff water. ---
And just having fish feeds the corals. They ARE living filters, which is one reason you don't want a big filter system stealiing all the coral food, eh?

Anyway, that's the big difference. If fish are your big love, and you couldn't care less about corals, you're ok with a sumpless Big Filter, though you could very easily go with a sump/skimmer arrangement.

If you're doing a fish-only because corals seem delicate---naw, corals aren't prima donnas, really; they're tougher than fish, and unlike fish, they multiply in your tank and don't carpet surf. If you have coral-friendly lighting and can just do 3 water tests once a week and do some very simple water adjustment (adding powders, etc, by strict measure per gallon) you'll have no trouble with basic corals. They don't like nitrate, ammonia, or phosphate. YOur skimmer and live rock take care of the first two and a GFO reactor (about 50.oo) takes care of the third. But having the sump/skimmer/ATO is a Good Idea if that's the direction you ultimately want to go.

[If I really advised beginners how to have very, very little trouble, I'd say stick to hermits and worms and snails for the first 8 weeks, while you're learning how to keep your water ok and getting the phosphate out of the system; then add a small QUARANTINED fish, or a QUARANTINED fish (takes 4 weeks) and a DIPPED (takes 15 minutes) coral, and let that run for 4 more weeks before adding another of either. That's not the way most people start out.]

But at least make a choice of equipment that will set you up for your next step. I hope this post at least shines a light on what your choices are and what works for what kind of tank.
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    Qbass's Avatar
    Thanks, find it helpful.
    Posted 12/21/2016 at 03:05 AM by Qbass Qbass is offline

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