Sump Design Questions?? Surprise Surprise I'm overwhelmed yet again!

I just purchased a 20 gallon tank (24x16x12) which I will be using as a sump for my 40 gallon aquarium. Can someone PLEASE pass along a picture or drawing for how I should design my sump tank? I've checked out roughly 50 websites now with all different designs. I'm getting so confused :( I don't know enough about this hobby yet to design one on my own, so I'm turning to the experts here for a little help!!

Thank you all again!! This site rocks :bounce:
I don't have a drawing off hand, but the simples thing to do is get 3 pieces of plexiglass that fit snugly in the tank, about 4 inches below the top of it, then silicone those in to make 3 different compartments. Water will flow over each baffle into the next compartment.

There are other people on here that have drawings made up already, hopefully they'll chime in soon.
hi jup

check out my thread (newb general questions) i asked the same thing and got some great answers as well as sites with DIY pictures and drawings

by the way im in the same boat as you
i dont even have my tank set up yet and theres so much info available its almost overwhelming
Here's a pic of my sump. It's a 55g, but the same idea for any size sump. Overflows drain into far right section and return pump is on far left. You can see the 3 peices of plexi for the baffles near the center. The middle section is for the fuge. I used a piece of eggcrate to keep any macro from getting into the return pump.


And here it is running with the skimmer in the right side section and fuge in the middle.
Thank you all for the replies and the pictures, this is exactly what I was looking for. I have a fun project for this weekend now, woohoo!

I forgot to ask about the pump as well. Any ideas what size pump I should be using for this? 20 Gallon Sump / 40 Gallon Display tank.

This may be a dumb question, but do you put any snails / crabs / fish / the sump tank? Also, When doing water changes, do I still take water out of my display tank, or should I be removing it from the Sump? Does this change how I do my water changes at all?
The size of the return pump depends on the size of your overflow. If your overflow is rated for 600 gph, you want to match that with your pump, taking into account any head loss. What you don't want is a pump too strong where it will pump the water out of the sump faster than the overflow can drain it back. You would end up with a empty sump and overflwing tank.

You can still do water changes out of the main and vacuum up any accumulated crap.

I don't have anything in my fuge except macro, lr rubble and pods, but I guess you can throw in a snail or 2.
A good website like will list the strength of their pumps at different head distances. Like Capt said, you'll want to match your overflow boxes, but if you buy a more powerful pump, you can always add a ball valve to the line to dial it down. I've used both Eheim and MagDrive brand pumps to run my sumps, and both have done very good jobs.