Terrible Advice Tuesdays: Sumps are outdated technology. A canister filter is a far superior method of filtration over a sump.
The rest of the story: Some things make me want to vomit and terrible advice like this definitely makes my stomach turn.
Let’s look at some basic facts first:
- A canister filter can act as a mechanical, biological or chemical filter depending on what type of media you put in it.
- A sump can also act as a mechanical, biological or chemical filter.
At this point it appears that a sump is just as good as a canister filter. Looks can be deceiving though and digger deeper, here’s where a sump starts to pull ahead:
A sump adds water volume to your system and everyone knows a larger system is more stable than a smaller one. While it is true that a canister filter does add some water volume to your system, it won’t add near the volume that a sump will. Advantage: Sump
A sump can also house a protein skimmer to remove waste from you tank. You can’t add a skimmer to a canister filter no matter how hard you try. Advantage: Sump
Here’s a big reason I prefer sumps: with a sump, you’ll see detritus building up, which is a sign you need to do a water change. And when you do that water change, you can easily suck out the detritus. Less detritus means less nutrient sources which will help keep things like algae out of your tank.
Does a canister filter also collect detritus? Absolutely! But you won’t see that detritus and if something is out of sight, it’s likely out of mind. Unless you clean that canister filter frequently – as in weekly – then it will collect detritus and cause issues. Advantage: Sump
Bottom line: Keep the sump and sell the canister filter to some freshwater person. Oh, buy some frags with the money you made!
P.S. I’m sure there are stories of people keeping saltwater tanks successfully with a canister filter. However, there are way more successful saltwater tanks run off sumps than canister filters. My recommendation is to run sumps and NOT canister filters.