Description: My average 30 gallon tank is being filtered by a self- separated 10 gallon sump. The sump is divided by plexiglass into 3 chambers. The first receives the water through a hand-made trickle filter, which could use some tweeking, flows into the second, refugium chamber and on into the third. There a Rio 2100 pumping approx. 300 gallons per hour sends the water back up 3 feet.
It's been a lot clearer since we added the 10g sump in place of hang-on filter. I also find it much easier to maintain as the higher water flow discourages algae growth.
Advice: Look into sump filtration. It needs more space but it has sure been beneficial for me. Check out the L.A. fishguy on youtube for an interesting opinion on caring for fishtanks. ;)
Fish Kept: I'm currently housing one Malawi cichlid (cobalt blue/female??) in a community and yes I know it's ill advised. She's grown to about 2 inches and the pack of 5 red minor tetras keeps her out of hiding and more active. I have a sixth tetra currently regrowing some fins in the reservoir. Other than her and two other initial losses, the fish seem to have found a balance.
We've just added three guppies and have had some hiccups there. Two seem quite happy there now, with 1 return to the pet store, and a beautiful teal recuperating in the refugium with the tetra.
Corals/Plants: I also have some plants. A couple of wendtii, a cobomba, and one other of which I don't know the type. I'm hoping to add more in the future.
About Yourself: I live and work in Niagara Falls, Canada. My boyfriend and I have had this 30 gallon up for two years with an over hanging filter but had a lot of algae. We recently tested out this new system and saw great results within days. It wasn't too expensive and required just a little bit of pvc, an extra tank and some plexiglass. The pump was the most expensive thing. The whole thing might be overkill, but it's been way easier to maintain and it seems good practice for the salt water tank we hope to set up in the future.