Uniquariums vs. Full Set-Up


Blue Ring
i know that a full set-up with sump/protein skimmer down below in the cabinet is better filtration than a uniquarium (wet/dry filter located in back or top of tank), but is there a HUGE difference?

it seems like a huge production to do the full set-up and much easier to just do an acrylic uniquarium but i'm hearing those filters in the back get clogged and are far inferior to the full set-up

i'm starting up a 75 or 100 gallon tank in my new condo for a California 2-spot octopus and am weighing my options. The full set-up is more expensive than just doing a stand + uniquarium + chiller

any input is appreciated, youtube footage will be posted once the tank has cycled and the octo is added!

Animal Mother

One difference between the two setups is overall water volume. A sump allows you to add more gallons to your entire systems capacity, and that helps dilute nutrients, and in turn helps keep the water parameters more stable. The skimmer that comes built into systems like that is usually pretty weak, so I would replace that with a quality skimmer. Not much room to work with though so you might have a lot of trouble trying to fit in a good skimmer. The wet/dry area is small and doesn't allow for a whole lot of media. The bio-balls grow the bacteria needed but eventually they get so clogged with junk that they turn into pollution factories, then you have to rinse them out, and the beneficial bacteria that colonized them is wiped out, and you start all over again. You might be okay swapping the bio-balls out with live rock rubble, but again, the space is so limited it might not be worth the trouble. So, there's 3 reasons why I wouldn't suggest the uniquarium.

Oh, and the return pumps in those things are usually really weak, and placed in hard-to-reach areas. So maintenance of the filtration area and cleaning the intake of the return pump would be another reason I wouldn't suggest a uniquarium.

I have one, and one of these days I plan on using it strictly as a sump.

There are ways of being frugal in this hobby, but in the long run, quality equipment and design will save you money, and probably your critters lives.


Staff member
Neal's "Nano Cube" is the worst for maintenance and my least favorite aquarium. It is only 25 gallons and the very first of these to come out but the filtration is awful. Nancy has just transferred some of her stuff to a new one with the latest equipment so she may have a more appropriate review, but for me, never again.

FPVigo (winter)

Blue Ring
no doubt at all, I've tried both systems and I would never reccomend a uniquarium.
More water, easier maintenance, freedom for setting up almost anything you may need. I have 2 skimmers, 2 heaters and a 2kg carbon canop. Adding freshwater for evaporation, additives etc... its always better in a sump.


Staff member
I've moved my corals from a 19 gallon tank to a 19 gallon Biocube, with some adaptions. I'm also using a Marineland canister filter and have replaced the bioballs in the tank with live rock rubble. I'm using a protein skimmer, too. So far the results are very good - very clean water, thriving corals, not too hard to take care of. My biggest complaint is that the canister filter outflow can move around a bit and sometimes blows on the sand.

However, I would NOT recommend this for a ceph. A friend tried a dwarf in a similar tank, and the octopus got into the back filter part of the tank and would not come out. I don't think there's any way to remedy this.


Members online

No members online now.