cleaning out sumps


Reaction score
Hey folks,

How do y'all clean out your sumps. Mine has accumulated enough debris and sediment in the bottom that I think it's causing part of my current nitrate issue. I have already rinsed my bioballs, but there's a lot of particulate matter in the bottom of my sump. I was told not to use any filtering media above the bio balls, but a lot of the waste seems to go right through them and collects in the sump. I can get most of the water out, but the gunk turns to mud and gets all over everything. I would love to have some sort of wet-vac maybe.... I'm sure that I could do it manually with some effort, but wondering if there's some device y'all use that could help ease the effort and time. Any relatively inexpensive solutions would be appreciated. I just don't want to make a mess and want to be sure I get it all out of there... (man, I sound lazy).....
Here's what I do: I make a wet vac of sorts by attaching some vinyl tubing to the output nozzle of a Maxi Jet powerhead. I then stick the powerhead into the sump and stick the end of the hose into a bucket and turn it on. While the water is being sucked out of the sump I stir it up with my hand, getting all the debris off the bottom and into the water. You can get most of the water out this way (less than 1/4 inch remains) and I'm guessing any powerhead will do.
I just bought a MR. Cleaner from Foster Smith and I am going to try it out when I need to clean my sump next. I doubt it will last very long buut it was only 10 bucks. You also don't have to take any water out.
I don't but mine is more a refugium than sump...the more crap the better..
I have alot of sponges in my sump to reduce bubbles so I have to clean them out alot!! Its a pain.
I use a">Marineland HOT Filter</a> along with a [IMG]">siphon attachment</a>. I take the carbon basket that comes with the HOT filter and put some mechanical floss in it along with the foam sleeve and use that as a relatively coarse filter. For more fine cleaning, I use the micron filter that comes with the HOT filter.

The main benefit is that you can take your time because it's not removing water.
you could use a gravel siphon when you do water changes and suck up the gunk with it. or just use some vinyle tubing and siphone it out.
I don't think that is possible because the water level is to high. It would be working against gravity. The water that your siphoning has to be higher than the bucket that your filling up.
phish phan wrote: Just run a hose out of your window and make sure the end is lower than the sump. Then use the hose to siphone. I may take some sucking but I have faith in you. lol

O lord. If thats the way you've been doing it for years then I bet your really good at sucking. :lol2:
Maroons15 wrote: George thats a great idea! How much did it cost you though?

I believe the links he provided show prices.

Maroons15 wrote: ...I bet your really good at sucking. :lol2:

Please keep in mind that you're taking shots at a member with 8posts. The smiley shows that you're only joking around but please be considerate of members that are new and might not understand your sense of humor.
Maroons15 wrote: George thats a great idea! How much did it cost you though?
The setup would cost about $55 now. I bought my HOT filters around 7 years go or so when I found them for something like $30-$35 each. I bought 2 for water polishing and carbon use.

Cleaning aside, those HOT filters are incredibly useful to have around for emergency use as well. Just slap it on the side/front/back of the tank and let it rip. The carbon chamber holds about 2 cups of carbon.
I ended up with a Filstar XP3 canister which I plan on using for the same thing. Mine is way overkill and would use a HOT if I didn't have this thing laying around. I will probably also try some RowaPhos in it as well.
Thanks for the tips. I cant just siphon, because without over 200 feet of hose I couldnt get the hose lower than the bottom of my sump... it's on the ground in my finished basement, lol .. but I certainly can try stirring it up and trying to pump some out that way....

At a LFS they recommended using a "python" which attatches to a faucet and is supposedly able to suck up things off the floor of a tank... anyone every use it?
I used to work at Atlantis and we went to people's house's and took care of their tanks for them and we used a python. They work really well but can be expensive. They are really powerful too.
Lenny wrote: At a LFS they recommended using a "python" which attatches to a faucet and is supposedly able to suck up things off the floor of a tank... anyone every use it?
It's nice, but if you accidentally clog it (shell, LR piece, etc) it's a pain to clean that long a piece of tubing. It's also very wasteful of water since it essentially relies on the venturi effect to suck water out of your tank. Whatever you suck out, ends up in the sink so you'll have to attach it to either a kitchen sink or laundry tub since the flow and debris are too much for a bathroom type sink. You can also attach it to a garden hose faucet.

However, for getting water or debris out of your tank and down the sink drain, I've never found anything that matches it for ease and speed. I have one that I used to use in my freshwater days that I still use for filling and emptying tanks during the test phase and to find out if they hold water. I don't use it for water changes because there's no way to tell precisely how much water you've removed. I use HD buckets for that.
So I tried the MR. Cleaner tool today. It worked pretty well for ten bucks. It got alot of the detritus off the bottom. I would recommend it because it is cheap and it doesn't waist any water.