Aqua Vim Eco-smart Sump Combo


The latest technology in saltwater aquarium keeping tells us, the best filtration for marine lives in an enclosed system is not achieved mainly through mechanical screening or chemical neutralization, but through ecological balancing of bio organism in diversity that resembles the great nature. By providing basic elements of natural habitats of thriving marine communities, with an adapting structure of living environment, you establish a life mechanism to work by itself. We put this new technology to test in our research facilities starting in the beginning of 2005. The reported results were so convincing that we determined to launch Aqua Vim's Eco-smart Sump Filter series and make them available to Aqua Vim's Ocean View, Star View, and Moon View aquarium owners, so that Aqua Vim customers can enjoy the goodness this system brings.

Traditional wet-dry filters are widely considered the best solution to ammonia and nitrite, the two substances toxic to fish and corals. The problem is, wet-dry filters mainly work, not by erasing, but by converting ammonia and nitrite, into nitrate, through a natural process known as the nitrogen cycle. Nitrate is less toxic to fish but harmful to corals.

Aqua Vimís Eco-smart sump is the best filtration system on the market that successfully combines both wet-dry and ecological filtering technologies, that gives the users freedom of adjusting their firing targets - either ammonia/nitrite, or nitrate, or both, according to their needs, by simply raising, lowering, or completely removing the bio balls in the media chamber. - Knowing bio balls works harder when exposed to air, you elevate their level of placement in the media room when you have more ammonia/nitrite in water (often found in immature aquariums), and submerge them partially or completely into water as you find less ammonia/nitrite and more nitrate. 

Aqua Vimís Eco-smart Sump system works the best for aquariums with corals when used with refugium mud and micro algae plants. Caulerpa, available in many aquarium stores and online, is a micro algae plant known to consume nitrate. You can also use mangrove, shaving brush, halimeda. These plants turn nitrate into gas, which evaporates into the air. A lighting fixture suitable for plant growth, can be placed on top of the sump tank for caulerpa plants. You can keep the light on all time when you don't want the plants grow too fast, or you can connect it with a timer to automatically turn it on during night time and off during day time just opposite to the light for your main tank to make them grow faster so you can harvest them to feed your herbivore fish.

Aqua Vim's 3rd version Eco-Smart Sump includes improved features, specially in the refugium room. The refugium room takes water in a very slow flow pattern through a small hole, before nutrients in water are taken away by any skimmer you may have. - You can insert a air tubing through the hole and hatch your bring shrimp in the room; you can keep small animals there separate from large predators of your main tank, and you can place live plants, live rocks, and multiply micro organism there in this isolated little world but automatically supply your main tank animals with these live food as they grow.

Unlike traditional wet-dry filter, a protein skimmer is less demanded with Aqua Vim Eco-Smart Sump system if you apply the above methods and developed an ecological balance in your aquarium system. In fact, a protein skimmer that is too powerful would "eat up" too much nutrients, curbing the reproduction and growth of microorganism that are beneficial to fish and corals. Unfortunately, most people overfeed their pets, producing too much organic wastes than the system can handle through natural means, thus comes the need of a powerful skimmer. The purpose of protein skimmer, however, should not be to remove all, but excessive nutrients, before they become toxic in aquarium water.  

UV sterilizer is not required either. If you want to use it to curb algae, you don't want it to overkill. A UV light too powerful can kill some good microorganism, even corals. The natural way to curb algae is by putting algae eaters like snails, hermit crabs, and blenny fish, sea stars, urchins, etc., into your aquarium.

Installation of Aqua Vim reef ready tank and Eco-smart Sump:

Tank installation note:

Aqua Vim's reef ready tanks usually come with overflow box(es) and pre-drilled holes (typically included with Ocean View and Moon View series aquariums). To give yourself room to work with, it's better to install pipe sets in the overflow box first before install pipes of the sump. 

There are usually 2 holes in each overflow box, the big one for drain and the small one from return. Your goal is to connect a water pump at the lower end of the system so it pumps water up to the main tank through the small pipe, as the water fills up the main tank, water from main tank goes into the overflow box and drain down by gravity through the big pipe to the sump filter and gets filtered, then gets pumped back up again to the main tank. You will need to make the connections without giving them any chance of leaking by using included pipes, bulkheads and fittings.

Aqua Vim's OV /MV tanks have a special 1/4" thick Styrofoam attached to the tank bottom, that serves as a shock absorber to absorb vibration from the floor. By using a razor blade, you cut off part of the Styrofoam around each hole, roughly 2" bigger than the hole size, so that when you install bulkhead, bulkhead nut can be in direct contact with the glass. 

The drain pipe assembling comes with a siren cap with 1/4" hole on top, that reduces the gurgling sound of the draining water.  For quietest operation, It's important to let the inlet of the drain pipe (the elbow of the drain pipe set) to stand as high as possible, so that the waterfall from the main tank into the overflow box has least vertical drop possible. For some reasons some installers cut this drain pipe very short, it's worth mentioning here: The high drain pipe set also serves a safety purpose - When your pump stops, the high drain pipe will make sure that water in the overflow box will only drop down to the inlet level of the drain pipe - that means it will not flood your floor even if overflow box leaks (rarely happen but it could happen if someone force their arms into the overflow box space, or if rocks lean too much on one side and a vibrating wave-making pump next to it). So setting your drain pipe inlet high not only gives you quieter operation but also give you extra protection from sump overflow.

When you install the bulkhead, use the included rubber ring inside the tank, between bulkhead head and glass. Thus when you tighten the bulkhead nut, it will provide a good seal.

To prevent the whole pipe set from turning with the bulkhead nut, you can glue the in-tank section of the pipe set to the bulkhead, so that you can have someone to hold it near the tank top when you tighten the bulkhead nut in the stand underneath. But only glue them when you have try all parts on to make sure they are the proper lengths you need. We don't recommend you glue threads, use PTFE seal tape instead, so that in case you need to undo the connection in the future, you can unscrew and dissemble them relatively easy. 

For saltwater setup, it's likely you will need a skimmer. Most skimmers need separate pumps dedicated to the skimmer. However, you can use ETSS SumpBuddy 40 skimmer (a patented technology by AE Tech), and AquaVim's 2000ghp or 2600gph SuperQuiet pump to supply water both to main tank and to skimmer. For this purpose, you install a "T" in the return pipe, one going to the main tank, and on the other, you install a ball valve, and the outlet of the ball valve is connected with a flexible hose to the skimmer inlet. You control and set the flow to the skimmer with the ball valve. The advantage of this setup is that you eliminate the need of another pump and the noise and heat it generates, and save space in the sump.    


Sump installation note:

First, identify which chamber of the sump tank will receive the drain pipe (bigger pipe) from main tank. - In AquaVim's sump filter, this is usually the room with a black thick sponge that has a hole in the middle.

With AquaVim Eco-Smart sump filter, water first flows down from overflow box of the main tank to drain chamber of the sump filter, it goes up to wet-dry chamber, trickle down on and pass through filter media, then to refugium/skimmer room(s). The last chamber water reaches is the main pump room. - This is where the filtered water being pumped back up into the main tank. 

If you did not get Aqua Vim's Eco-Smart sump filter, and have a sump from another manufacturer, the flow path is about the same - except you may not have the dedicated refugium section or skimmer room. A refugium enables you to reproduce micro organisms to supply your fish and/or corals with live food, and to keep live plants to reduce harmful nitrate. A dedicated skimmer room help maintain the water level for your skimmer to get the best skimming efficiency.

Please note many sump filters made by other manufacturers have only fixed inlet and outlet sizes, that are not alterable. You'd better get one that does not limit its inlet/outlet sizes or purchase a sump from Aqua Vim the same time you purchase the main tank. Why? Because one of the advantages of Aqua Vim reef tanks is that you can achieve more flow rates. If you reduce the inlet/outlet sizes, you are not taking one of AquaVim advantages. Besides, by reducing the inlet size of your sump, you risk clogging your drain; By reducing the outlet size of your sump, your pump has to work harder to pump equal amount of water to your main tank.

Sometimes, you will find the included PVC pipes from us are longer than actually needed - you may need to cut to fit and this can be done easily with a hacksaw or pipe cutter.

If you want to use a 45 degree elbow instead of 90 degree one, if you believe a flexible hose is easier to work with than a hard PVC, or if you want to add ball valve on the pipe line, get from Home Depot - our plumbing sets are standard and fitting parts are easy to find on the market.


* Note: a). The spare outlets from the ball valves shown above are reserved for any additional equipment, such as chiller, calcium/phosphate/carbon/bio-pellet reactor(s) and UV sterilizer.   b). Ball valves and additional fittings are usually not included in plumbing kit. You can get from Home Depot or other plumbing shops.

Sump Installation:

1). If you install a skimmer that comes with a drive pump, place the pump in the skimmer chamber, hook up the tubing with protein skimmer and its pumps. Connect any other equipment you may want to use, such as a chiller. Most people don't use a sump cover for easier access. If your sump is our earlier version that comes with acrylic cover, you can use it or leave it.

2). Use included PVC tubing, elbows, adapters, joint coupler, and hose, to do the following:

    a). Return pipe connection: Our SuperQuiet pump has a 1" outlet that can be used with both 3/4" and 1" adapters included. The adapter fits straight to a 1" PVC pipe that has a blue insert sleeve inside (You may also be able to use a slip/thread coupler to screw directly onto the SuperQuiet pump outlet).  This PVC pipe connect to a joint (a 2-part threaded coupler that connects two ends of PVC pipes. The other end of PVC pipe connects the joint to an elbow, than another PVC pipe that connects the elbow to another elbow that connect to an adapter that screws into the bulkhead at the bottom of the main tank.

    b). Drainage pipe connection: From the bigger bulkhead coming out of main tank bottom, the first part to used is an PVC adapter that you screw into the bulkhead, then a PVC pipe that can be connected with elbow and another PVC pipe, than another elbow, than another PVC pipe, to reach its drain chamber.

3). After pipe connections, you are ready to setup the sump filter:

4). Open the drip plate, and set the media rack to the level you want, then put in large bio balls or any other media you want. We suggest, you set the rack on high level if all your water and live rocks are new, or if you keep fish only. If you will keep both fish and corals, you can lower the rack to middle level after water with live rocks has been cycled for 3 months. You can lower the rack to the bottom and completely submerge the bio balls in water if you keep mainly corals. Remember: Exposing all the bio ball in the air maximizes the wet-dry filter's ammonia/nitrite-breaking power, and submerging the bio ball in water lets the ecological system take over the work on nitrate reduction.

5). (This is only for sump version 1 that has a screen wall.) Insert screen walls, put small bio balls into the wall. Cover the balls with the included glass cover. You may also use sponge-like filtering pad. This is to stop live plants getting into the pump room.

6). Put in refugium mud, or "Miracle mud", into refugium room, ideally to 3 ~ 4 inch thick.

7). Fill the sump with water, until the refugium room is half full. Then put in plants.

8). Water level: The water level in the sump can be between the level that your pump start pumping tiny air bubbles into the main tank, and the level where there is enough extra room to hold water coming down from the main tank after you stop you pump.

9). Skimmer. When you purchase skimmer from us together with a tank set, rest assured the skimmer we recommend will fit the space in the sump in the stand. If you buy skimmer from other source, please tell us the foot print and height of your skimmer and its pump, so we can be sure your skimmer will fit in our sump and stand. 

Eco-Smart Sump Filter version 3 (pump, skimmer and sump light optional)



  Eco-smart Sump combo version 2 (pump and skimmer optional)


The following is a drawing of our earlier version sump, that may be different from the sump you received:


                                        Aqua Vim Eco-smart Sump combo version 1