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Help with 10 gallon reef Idea

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I have an idea for a 10 gallon tank setup and I really want some advice and criticism on my plans.

I have a 10 gallon tank and a stand that i built for it. I plan on using this DIY PVC overflow(youtube.com/watch?v=UZytENJZtJw&t=162s) down to a 10 gallon sump hidden in the stand. I will have a ball valve in line to adjust flow from the overflow and also a ball valve on the line from the return pump.

For livestock in the tank I would really like to get a small clownfish and maybe a goby. I really love the frogspawn, hammer, and torch corals as well as zoas. Maybe pulsing xenias on a rock in the sandbed to keep them from tanking over the tank. Also I plan to put some type of cleaning crew in to keep everything clean.

I cant remember how much sand I will need, but I was thinking about 10 lbs of live sand and 10 lbs of live rock for the display and then more rubble and sand in the sump for filtration.

The want to follow this(youtube.com/watch?v=_-oanakiI7k) for my sump build. Basically 3 chambers, with the overflow pipe running into a filter sock. In that filter sock I want to put chemipure blue nano. In the second large well I want to put the sand and rubble rock and maybe macro algae like chaeto. Maybe even introduce some copepods into this section of the sump. Then the next is a bubble trap and the final section would be used for the pump. I would like to know what size pump would be good for a 10 gallon tank, and also how many times per hour should the water flow through the sump?

Eventually I plan on adding a DIY ATO if this is feasible.

Here are just some of the questions I have so far!

Where should the float switch for the ATO be located? In the tank or in the sump?
What type of light do i need? I don't want to get too crazy in terms of what corals I want to keep because a.) its only a 10 gallon tank and b.) I don't want to spend a whole lot of money on exotic coral species.
How often should i do water changes and how much water to change?
How do I know what size pump to use in my sump?
Do I need to use a powerhead, or would the return pump add enough to provide enough motion in the tank?
According to the video the pic overflow will be 352gph. Is this too much for the tank I'm doing? I could use a smaller pipe and reduce this, or add a ball valve to reduce this. If i continue with this would a 400 gph pump be good enough or should i go with a 500 with a ball valve in the line to reduce the flow?

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It is impossible to match the flow of that kind of overflow with a return pump.  You are better off removing the valve from the drain pipe.  If it is already plumbed, make sure that it is always wide open.  The valve on the return is fine however.


Xenia won't attach to the sand bed.  You can put it on a separate rock, isolated from the other rocks.  That will help; however, it always finds a way to spread.  A piece might break off and take hold on your main rock.  I'm not saying not to get any; it's an intriguing coral.  Just don't expect to contain it.


10 lbs of sand and 10 lbs of rock is more than you need to support a typical bioload.  I wouldn't add more in your sump, especially rubble.  That will collect detritus, increase nitrate, and make keeping it clean harder.  You could still keep chaeto and pods in the refugium section.


For a return pump, you lose some output by pumping water up to the display (due to head pressure); so the actual output will be less than the pump is rated for.  You don't want to pump more water than your overflow will handle.  A Cobalt MJ1200 should work; but you could get something a little more powerful, like a MAG 3.  There are a number of pumps you could use.


  • The float valve for the ATO should be located in the return chamber of your sump.
  • I'll pass on the lighting recommendations.  There are a lot of choices depending on your budget.
  • I'd start by changing out about 2 gallons of water per week, and see how that goes.  You can make adjustments as necessary.
  • I covered the return pump.
  • Most people use a powerhead.  A Hydor Korallia Nano should suffice.  Having two sources of flow helps create more random currents.  It also adds some redundancy, should your return pump fail.  But as you approach 300 gph on your return, you wouldn't necessarily need more flow.
  • Normally an overflow is rated up to a particular max flow rate (before it overflows, assuming no obstructions, bubbles trapped in the overflow, or loss of siphon).  So anything less than that will typically work.  However, some overflows have a recommended minimum as well.
  • In theory you could use a bigger return pump (especially with a valve to restrict the flow).



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I can't help with the sump/overflow. I run my tanks sumpless. 



Coral compulsion: par 38 35 watt full spectrum

Aquamaxx nemolight

Ai Prime




Waterchanges: 15%-20% each week


I would definitely add a powerhead in the tank:

Hydro 240

Jebao sw2


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