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I would first decide what it is you want to accomplish with the sump, now and possibly down the road. You can then buy/build the sump appropriately for the equipment you are planning on having in it. If you have the convenience of doing so, dont plumb and or cut/glue ANYTHING until you have all your parts together, then y ou can kind of mock it up and piece it together before you do anything permanent youre going to regret tomorrow.

For filtration, healthy rock in the tank is all you need. You can possibly add a filter sock on your sump return line or some more rock in the sump. You can add a small canister filter to polish your water with carbon if you want but that will fit easily somehwere in you sump and can be added later.

The skimmer you choose is going to be very relevant to the sump you buy as if you are planning on having everything underneath the tank, if you dont get a in sump skimmer, it will greatly reduce the size of sump you will be able to fit under there. For that reason i recommend going in sump with the skimmer unless you can put the skimmer next to or behind the tank. The return pump is kind of the same space considerations as far as internal or external. If you go external, it will require a signifigant amount of space that you could be filling with sump.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I already have some canister filtration in the display tank. I'm just not sure if the pump should be bought first or the skimmer because i cant get both at once. If i get the skimmer first i can start adding more fish/corals without any major water quality changes. If i get the pump first then i have the advantage of more water and a less clouded tank, but i cant add more fish/corals. Just not too sure what is the best procedure for these kind of things.
 

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Are you running without a skimmer now???

If so you have a tough situation to answer. You need a skimmer, but you dont want to buy one that can hang on the tank if you are planning on adding a sump. At least I myself wouldnt recommend doing it that way. IF you are indeed running without a skimmer, i would go buy a $25 Berlin airlift and a $15 air pump(both of these things can be found for cheaper on ebay) to tide you over until you can afford to buy the sump, skimmer, return pump and plumbing all at once. That skimmer will perform well enough if you keep the airstones fresh to make a dramatic positive effect on your water quality vs. running without one.
 

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You can go with in sump or out of sump skimmers. I am fond of MRC's (out of sump)and ASM's (in sump) and i use them both on different systems. But either of these are going to set you back $200-$350 for the size of your setup.. If you are trying to do this economically I could actually help you out. I have two of these collecting dust. http://www.marinedepot.com/md_viewItem.asp?idproduct=RS1111
You would have to spend $50-60 or so on a pump to run it with but you pay shipping and ill give one to you for $25. This would fit in your sump. You could then spend $65 or so on a mag 7 return pump(submersible), another $20 or so on plumbing stuff and there you have it.
 
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