Often described in aquarium literature as a ‘place to store unsightly aquarium equipment’, sumps have something of a reputation for being objects to hide behind closed cabinet doors, being displeasing to look at and perhaps chaotic and unclean. This actually doesn’t have to be the case though, indeed many items of aquarium equipment now available to reef-keepers verge on being ‘works of art’ in their own right and can ellicit interest and admiration equally as much as the living contents of a reef system. The sump itself though has seemed mired in the past to some degree, overlooked in favour of fancy protein skimmers and reactors. Slowly however more and more specialist providers are offering sumps that not only fullfil their function in the most effective manner possible, but also visually embellish a reef system rather than detract from it. The I-Supra from Vertex is one such option.
The Supra may look a little OTT at first glance but once you’ve owned a few systems you start to appreciate that it is the fine detail that really makes the difference here. In terms of that detail, this sump sure does deliver on paper, so let’s take a look at exactly what you get. Overall, the Supra is 31.5″x19.75″x19″ (LxWxH) in size and is constructed from 10-15mm thick saltwater and ozone safe clear acrylic and white PVC, with plastic welded seams and braced rim for strength and durability. As well as coming with a vast array of rigid and soft plumbing including unions, valves, pipes, tubes, clamps all of which are colour-coded (and which you’ll be hard pressed to source beyond Vertex), the Supra boasts an attractive feature-set. Working from left to right (inflow to outflow), first we have the 4” filter sock which clips into an integral holder. Also in this section there is a 7 slot multiple diameter probe holder (grade II titanium screws) to house a variety of different diameter probes neatly and securely. Moving down we have two integrated ceramic bio-media slots, say for marinepure plates for example. Moving into the next chamber, the central and largest section, this houses the skimmer (either a Vertex Omega 180i or 200i) and is spacious enough to also include Rx-U+ 2.0 universal media reactor. You could even include an optional Rx-Z+ 2.0 zeolite reactor to augment the already potent nutrient management combination. Furthermore, this central section includes a small Eheim C1000 pump milled into the rear corner which allows the central section to be completely drained independent of the running of the system for cleaning. The height of the water is set by an adjustable baffle which leads into the return chamber and is secured again with multiple titanium screws. The main chamber also features a depth scale so it is easy to fine tune to match optimal skimmer depth. Talking of skimmers, the skimmate effluent line can be neatly run through a gland to an external container and the same thought has been applied to power cables which all have special routing guides on the tank walls to keep them out of sight. There’s even a special rotating power cord port akin to something you’d find on a computer desk on the left rear. Moving on to the final chamber, there is a built in dosing array with 5 ports to which you can connect the supplied red, white or red Vertex tubing. Again, this tubing is routed neatly around the rear rim of the sump and this is in turn covered with an acrylic sleive which looks fantastic. We’ve seen Vertex’s V6 pump before and take note that this system is powered by a slightly smaller but equally gorgeaous V4 which has been selected to provide the ideal throughput to maximise flitration perfromance. One of the key features of this sump is that it has a manifold system included and, controlled by red and white ball valves, it is therefore possible to channel flow back to the media reactor in the centre section without the need for additional pumps. In this area, the Supra also boasts a feature connected to the Eheim pump we mentioned previously. By the turn of two valves it is possible to completely bypass the central section for cleaning and this can be completely emptied and cleaned at the flick of a switch.
All-in-all, the Supra really is a thing of beauty but it perhaps takes the most demanding and well-heeled hobbyists to appreciate it. Truly, this is a piece of aquarium equipment that deserves to be brought out from the cabinet and exhibited in its own right as an example of superb engineering. The only minor comment we’d have is that the height means that accessing the skimmer cup is a little tricky if you are thinking of installing it on a typical ‘off the shelf’ system. Frankly though, if you are looking to buy this sump you are far more likely to be having it standing alone, perhaps is a dedicated fish room. At the time of writing, the Supra is available in the UK to buy new for a shade over £2000 from selected suppliers and it comes with a 2 year warranty.