As far as reef-keeping goes, trickle filters have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Not so the sump, however! Once the bio-towers were removed, aquarists found many new and innovative ways to utilize the sump making it one of the most versatile and beneficial aspects of a modern marine ecosystem. What makes this statement possible is in large part due to the method of getting the system water out of the aquarium and down into the sump itself. There are many possibilities in accomplishing this, but I will focus on the two most practical:
- Internal stand-pipes
- Overflow boxes
Stand-pipes are considered the "professional" approach as they are integral to the aquarium and enhance it's overall function. Many manufacturers call this a "reef-ready" option. Just a couple of examples: All-Glass has their Twin-Flo™ Corner Overflow system and The PetStop.com offers these type of tank options using Tenecor brand name aquariums, as many other aquarium suppliers do. However, tanks so equipped command a higher price.
The other option for those of us that have existing equipment, or for those that wish not to invest in a drilled tank, the overflow box is the way to go.