The Amazing Facts About Sump Pumps For Fish Tanks

Last Updated on November 9, 2021 by Marco C.

In any serious aquaponics setup, sump tanks play a crucial role in your system. Choosing the right Sump Pump for your needs takes some knowledge.  This article will tell you everything you need to know about sump pumps for fish tanks.  

So what is a sump pump? It is the designated pump that moves water from your sump tank into the fish tank.  Before we focus on sump pumps, we will overview the function of a sump tank. 

All About Sump Tanks

A sump tank is an exterior container that sits at a lower gravity point as your main tank.  This can come in many forms.  Some people use a plastic tub and others an additional glass tank.  

Basically, anything that can hold water is okay to use.  

A sump tank helps you in many different ways.   One way is that it makes it easy to process your tank water without needing to do it inside the main area.  It allows you to really clean out all the excess buildup in your water without needing to remove the tank contents. 

The nice thing about using a sump tank is that all parts of the water in your system is processed rather than only a portion of the tank water.   In a system without a sump tank, certain parts of your water will never be sucked up and passed through a filter 

The water drains out from your main tank and enters the sump where it can be processed.  Once it’s filtered, the water is re-pumped back into your system.  Since the water is separate from all tank contents, you have a lot of freedom with what you do with it.  

Some people add special filters,a PH balancer, a protein skimmer, Refugiums, and more.   You can even purchase a saltwater pump if you are raising certain fish species.

Using a sump tank allows you to keep all these gadgets out of your main tank.  This helps you keep your main tank free of clutter.

Your sump tank will need a proper pump to operate your sump effectively.  The main thing is that you want the water to flow seamlessly from the main tank to the sump, and back.  The water leaves the first tank and enters the sump via gravity through a drain hole in the bottom.  

The goal is to choose a pump that does not overflow the Sump tank or the Main tank!

Water filter tank for

Sump Pump Tank Systems

A Sump Pump is the most important tool to make your sump tank function.  This is because it moves the water back into the tank through pipes.  Purchasing a high-quality one can save you from doing a lot of maintenance in the future.

Our advice for any aquaponics owner is to consider the whole system’s design before making any purchases.  The Sump Pump for your Fish Tank is determined by the aspects of your main tank.  

First off you need to consider the size of your main tank.  You need to make sure that the Gallons Per Hour (GPH) is adequate to move enough of your tank water without leaving the main tank empty.  If the main tank goes completely empty, your fish will be stressed.

Typically you can use a basic rule of five gallons per hour for every gallon of water in your tank.  So, for example, a 250-gallon tank would require a 1250 GPH pump (multiply 250 x 5).  

When a pump is labeled a certain GPH it indicates the maximum amount it can flow when not connected to anything.  So please note that once your pump is connected to pipes this flow rate will decrease.  If you want a pump that provides 200 GPH, make sure you get something that goes higher than 200 to account for this difference.  

This also depends how often you plan to be pumping water between your main tank and sump tank.  University of Arizona recommends that you drain and pump tank water for 15 minutes, four times a day (so a total of 1 hour per day).  

To make your life easier, you can get timers on your pumps so your water changes are automated.  In this case make sure you have all your electronics set up cleanly, ensuring they won’t get wet. 

Types Of Sump Pumps For Fish Tanks

The other thing that you will need to decide is what kind of conditions do your fish need to thrive in.  Many sump pumps for fish tanks have extra connections to it for you to process your water.  For example, a sump pump could have a saltwater block attached to it to salinate your water.

You can also choose between a submersible pump or an inline pump.  A submersible pump is one that sits completely underwater.  An inline pump is put on the outside edge of the sump tank.

You can decide based on how much space you have for your sump tank or your personal preference.  Sometimes sump tanks are not big enough to house all of your filter attachments and the pump.  

If you care about sustainability, it is also useful to consider how much electricity your sump pump needs to operate.  Carefully check the labels to find all the information you need.

The fun thing about aquaponics is that you have so many opportunities to personalize your setup.  The same thing is true for the sump pump for your fish tank.  Make your choice based on exactly what your fish and plants need.

People who need to simulate a tropical environment use a heater to increase water temperatures.  There are tons of options to choose from!  Start with designing your whole aquaponics system and the type of sump pump you will need should become clear.  

Most important is that your sump pump moves the water from the sump tank to the main tank.  Everything else is the fun details! Stay open-minded and experiment. 

 If you need more information, please feel free to comment and ask questions below!

Read more about: Fish Tank Sump Pump Size Calculator- All You Need To know!