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Return Pumps - ideal flow

Joao Monteiro

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Joao Monteiro

Hi there,


There is always a big discussion about the ideal flow of the return pump from the sump. Usually, 3 theories are pointed out:


1. The return pump should have the same flow (lts/gall. per hour) of the skimmer´s pump in order to maximize skimming;


2. The return pump flow should be between 2 to 5 times per hour the total volume of the aqua for ideal bacterial filtration;


3. There is no specific flow for the return pump so you may/should use it to maximize circulation in the aqua.


Your ideas ?


p.s.: I´m for theory 3.

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I think it depends on what kind of corals you are keeping. I think that is should be anywhere from 10x per hour turnover for lower flow corals up to 30x-40x turnover for high flow SPS and the like. This flow must be well dispersed as well.



Here is a brief article by Anthony Calfo on this subject.




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Also, the type of flow you're looking for....


Many go with number "2", since that should also satisfies number "1" in most cases.....it also reduces microbubbles. Having your overflows running like Niagra Falls creates alot of microbubbles!


Therefore, many use 3-4x/hr return and something like a seio or tunze stream for good circulation in the tank.

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