One common problem of reef aquarists trying to size up equipment for a new or existing reef tank is getting gear that will not only fit in the sump, but can also be added or removed from where sump resides inside the aquarium stand. Nearly all of us want to use the biggest skimmer possible and if the size of the skimmer is not constrained by our budget, or the size of the sump, then the clearance into the sump is often the bottleneck of how big a skimmer will be used in an aquarium setup.
This problem of fitting a bigger skimmer inside a sump is one that is more often encountered in existing aquarium setups where the sump, tank and stand are tied with lots of plumbing and an aquarium that is full of life and water. For years we’ve dreamt of a seemingly simple solution to have a removable partition on the business-end of the sump which would allow for the addition and removal of even larger protein skimmer bodies.
After a lengthy conversation with local acrylic aquarium and equipment maker, Fluid Designers, a plan was hatched to build the first convertible Transformer Sump to specifications which would allow us to test ever larger protein skimmers on a 150 gallon saltwater fish aquarium, starting with the Vertex Alpha 250 protein skimmer. As with the previous sump, the acrylic box would be a very simple Berlin Method reef sump with just a filter sock on one end, a stable water level section in which to place the protein skimmer, and a variable water level area for the return pump.
Historically, an acrylic sump is a basic rectangular box with reinforced rim to prevent bending or bowing of the flexible material. The challenge in building and designing the Transformer Sump was in coming up with a way to take a “bite” out of this basic design and reinforce it to prevent any deformation as well as creating a method for reattaching the “missing” piece back into place to preserve the overall working volume of the sump.
We explained our requirements to Fluid Designers with the available dimensions in which the sump would fit and handed off the creation of the Transformer Sump to their capable acrylic-smiths. What they returned is a beautiful black bottomed sump with a perfect five-inch wide removable section that is reinforced with bracing, and tapped for ten nylon screws to reattach to the sump wall.
The difference between the “standard” clearance between the sump and the bottom edge of the stand above it is precisely what we needed to fit the massive Vertex Alpha 250 with a base more than 10 inches in diameter and just over 24 inches tall. It is quite a frustration to have a sump that is physically large enough to fit a very large protein skimmer body and base but placed in a stand without the necessary clearance to actually have said larger skimmer placed inside of it.
With the new Transformer Sump from Fluid Designers, we have been able to beat the limitation of having a sump ensconced in a tight stand. Hopefully in the future more sumps will be made like the Transformer so that upgrading to larger protein skimmers in an aquarium’s future will no longer be an issue.