Jump to content

Looking for other opinions on filtration choice for 180 gal discus tank

Recommended Posts

So my wife and I plan to get a 180 aquarium once we move into a larger house. It is taking time since we want to rent a house near the boys school. So this time is just spent planning. And I'm wavering between using a sump and using Fluval FX6's for the tank.

SUMP: PROS: increased water volume = more stable parameters / able to use as many different types of filtration as wanted / can implement a fluidized bed / easy to integrate an ATO (Auto Top Off) system / heaters out of sight / returns replace the need for additional equipment to move water surface for gas exchange

CONS: May not be totally silent / may not be able to remove for cleaning / needs tuning so you do not flood during a power outage

PLANNED DESIGN: Drilled aquarium with overflow built in at center for easy restart after power failure and return is split to both ends  Chamber 1 is socks and sponges  Chamber 2 is Media, Chamber 3 is heaters and fluidized bed Chamber 4 is floss filtration and pump return Chamber 5 is water chamber for ATO system

Fluval: PROS: self-contained / can be removed for cleaning / with 2 pumps I have redundancy and can alternate weekly for cleaning

CONS: Potentially way more expensive than a sump / not as many benefits as a sump / any ATO is isolated from filtration

PLANNED DESIGN: One Fluval at each end of the aquarium. Intact moved towards center for both. 


SO With all that said I'm looking for input (especially from discus owners) on the choice between the two systems. I already had one old "need" for discus debunked in that divers found discus in the faster moving waters of the Rio Negro tributaries. Not in slow moving water! 

Keep in mind that 1) we live in Colombia so our tap water is equal to what wild fish live in 2) Since we are an hour from the Rio Negra the likelihood of wild discus is quite high. In fact it is quite possible all fish I get are wild caught.

  • Like 1
  • Love 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you go the sump route; jebao dcp pumps are a *lot* quieter than fluval canister filter - i have both. Those jebao pumps are dead slient. Jebao makes a lot of pumps but i've only tested the dcp before going with them so can't comment on the other models.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think from an animal health perspective sumps are the way to go. That added water volume, the customization, and there are so many plans online to prevent flooding as well as to make them quiet it’s the way to go. You can take your 180 g to a 220-240 g which leads to absolutely rock solid parameters. Cleaning and maintenance are much easier with a sump. Have fun and this is the easiest and most fun time on a project enjoy it!

  • Love 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would suggest a sump. Premanufactured sumps being a bit easier as well as one that may be designed to go as a system with the tank and stand.

The reason for this, for me, isn't really about a lot of the reasons mentioned above, but simply that it gives you the ability to better see and care for your tank. You will have a refugium for plants, OTS, and so many other advantages, but the big one is that you can very easily open up a door and go "yep, it's good".  There are entire life support systems designed for sumps and the ability to use dosers and other things all connected pretty easily..... Battery backup.... It's too much flexibility to pass up for the sake of an all in one unit.

A sump for me, frees you up to have so much more "all things on one" than any canister could ever compete with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you decide to go with dual canister filters, I wouldn't recommend one at each end, with intakes in the middle. I tried it in 2014 with my 135 gallon aquarium & two Eheim 2217 canister filters. My discus didn't like being in the middle of the tank.

I swapped to one spraybar on the right end pointing to the left, at the water surface, intake of it in the middle and the spraybar of the other canister in the middle, pointing to the left, at the water surface, with its intake on the left end. The discus were happier and swam across the entire tank again.

It was tricky getting the middle spraybar to stay, so I ended up putting both spraybars on the right.


Fast forward to now. I've moved & no longer keep or breed discus, but I still have the 135 gallon aquarium, with the same setup, except reversed.

Here's how I set up 2 spraybars in the same location. The camera angle makes the lower spraybar look tilted, but it's level.. It required one more elbow than came with 2 packs of the nicer spraybars, but I had spare parts from my tanks I'd taken down. Yeah, it's time for a hose & spraybar cleaning.


No matter what you decide, good luck!


Edited by Tazalanche
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you decide to go with a sump, google the "beananimal overflow" it uses three holes drilled in the overflow, and once you get it dialed in, is dead silen. It is the go to design for reef keepers for their tanks, as it is silent and redundant so no flooding if one of the overflows gets plugged. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...