4628 S. Ward Way, Morrison, Colorado 80465
Phone: 303-978-0940 and 303-719-0950
E-mail: lifereef@lifereef.com

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Nano Systems/LifeReefugiums and Nano Prefilters

Nano Prefilters are at the bottom of this page too, you might need one....

For those wanting the benefits of a full-sized system squeezed into a small cabinet space I have designed a number of systems to accommodate your needs. The reasons for going to a system of this design are numerous:

When possible, there are five separate compartments or chambers to handle all aspects of a proper sump/refugium design:

  1. Input chamber to handle the incoming water and airbubbles and turbulence
  2. Mechanical/chemical chamber for removal of particulates so as to not clog the refugium, and a place to use bagged media
  3. Protein skimmer chamber where water flows across the chamber before going into the refugium
  4. Refugium area, maximized as much as possible for volume and viewing
  5. Sump/return pump area, again maximized for as much water volume as possible

For those of you who prefer the stock protein skimmer but want to increase water volume along with a refugium, a simpler three-chambered unit is available.

Of course you will also need a hang-on prefilter and I have designed some just for nano aquariums!

Below are a number of systems designed for some of the more popular nano aquariums. This is certainly not all that can be built as I have designed and built many more that are not show here. Of course what can be designed is based on how much space you have to work with.

And, as it has been for 27 years, Lifereef systems are NOT stocked but built only when you order. This way if you have any special requirements or needs these can be accommodate. In other words you do not have to accept one of those off-the-shelf things and try to make it work.

Note: I will not make any protein skimmer recommendations for inclusion in any of these builds. You are left to choose a protein skimmer you wish to use and a system will be designed to work with that protein skimmer. Though the photos show a Tunze protein skimmer it is not an endorsement nor a recommendation but just a very popular protein skimmer that many have chosen to use. Sump/refugium design is very specific with regards to the protein skimmer used. Some skimmers require high water level operation and others a low water level operation, and hang-ons of course have their requirements. I will design a sump/refugium system to work with your skimmer selection where possible.


Click on photos for larger pic.
This sump/refugium features six compartmentg:
1. Input bubble/turbulence chamber
2. Mechanical/chemical media chamber
3. Protein skimmer chamber
4. Probe and flow direction chamber
5. Refugium
6. Sump/return pump chamber

Sump Covers provided as are end rails for lighting to be elevated 1/2" above sump. No cover for refugium.

The photo shows a 23 x 12 x 16 high though it can be built any size you prefer or will fit and to accomodate the appropriate protein skimmer.
Recommended pumps are any small nano pump less than 600 gph.

Recommended protein skimmers are any that require a high water level, somewhere around 12" as this will also be the depth of the refugium area.

This system must be designed to work with your protein skimmer so give me a call to discuss the particulars: 303-978-0940

Price for 23 x 12 x 16 $599.00

Other sizes will be quoted per request.
 LRSM-D for the Red Sea aquariums RSM 130/130D or any Nano aquarium
click photo for larger pic

This sump/refugium is for other brand in-sump or hang-on protein skimmers.
Designed to fit into the cabinet space (all of it) This was the first nano sump/refugium for the RSM aquariums. Though designed for the Tunze 9001 protein skimmer it can also be designed for many other skimmers, space permitting.

20 x 17 x 16 for the RSM cabinet or custom sized for your cabinet. For larger builds price will be adjusted accordingly.

You will need 3 3/4" behind your aquarium rim for the prefilter.

See the RSM Nano Prefilter details further down this page.
Required Modifications for the RSM130 and 130D aquarium rear cover:
Center canopy lift-up cover needs simple modification for the prefilter which you can do or you can send your cover to me and I'll make the modification. A diagram with dimensions is provided with the instructions.

This mod is required if you will be removing your RSM protein skimmer.

This mod is required if you will keep your RSM skimmer in its stock location. Note one hinge pin has been shortened.
Complete System $949.00


Foam filter pad
LRSM Nano Prefilter Siphon Box
MagDrive 7 pump

System Manifold
All hoses, clamps, fittings

Lighting options extra

Protein skimmer not included. This sump/refugium will be built to fit your selection of in-sump protein skimmer.
We will offer to get you a protein skimmer at less than retail if our distributor carries what you want.
 LRSM-250 for the Red Sea aquarium RSM-250 and RSM C-250
click photos for HUGE picLeft is the sump containing the protein skimmer, 2x mechanical/chemical compartments, and main system/refugium pump, right is the LifeReefugium.

LRMS DetailFour 1/4 threaded input holes for ATO, calcium reactors, etc. These connectors not included. Also shown is the 1" input to sump from aquarium, included.
Designed as a two-piece sump/skimmer component and a separate refugium component to fit into the RSM 250 cabinet.

Sump: 15 1/2 x 18 x 14, approximately 16 gal volume total, but 8 gallons when in operation.
Refugium: 14 x 18 x 18, approximately 15 gal volume.

Lifereef SVS2-24 protein skimmer and Mag9 pump. Zero maintenance on skimmer except for empyting the collection cup.

Can also be designed for other protein skimmer makes and can be used for any other aquarium makes, not just the RSM.

Mag9 system/refugium pump moves water to the aquarium and to the refugium for independent flow control of aquarium and refugium, very beneficial compared to systems pushing all the water through in-sump refugiums.

You will need 3 3/4" behind your aquarium rim for the prefilter.
Required Modifications
In order for the prefilter to fit you will need to modify the fan opening as shown below.
Or you can make a similar sized opening 5" wide in the center area where the RSM protein skimmer used to be.

The center panel of the RSM cabinet will require two 3" holes for in/out fittings to the refugium. These are easily drilled using a 3" hole-saw. 

Complete System $1399.00

LRSM Nano Prefilter
Sump, 15.5 x 18 x 14
Refugium, 14 x 18 x 18

Foam and Polyester filter pads
Protein Skimmer SVS2-24 MagDrive 9.5 skimmer pump
MagDrive 9.5 system pump

System Manifold
Hoses, clamps, fittings

Lighting options extra
  LRBC for the BioCube or any Nano aquarium
LRBCclick photo for larger pic Designed for the BioCube, or any other nano tank where this design is desired, this system uses the Tunze 9001 protein skimmer but can be designed for others too, space permitting.

17 x 14 x 16, or whatever your cabinet dimensions will allow. Larger builds will be priced accordingly.

Return pump is a Mag7

16" light canopy (not shown) fits above refugium  

You will need 3 3/4" behind your aquarium rim for the prefilter.
See the Lifereef Nano Prefilter for BC details details further down this page.
Required Modifications:
The Nano BC Prefilter must fit into the right rear chamber. We don't have any photos but so far no one has had any problems fitting this on the rim. As soon as someone sends a photo it will be posted. Aquarium hobbyists are very adept at getting things to work on their tanks.  

Complete System $899.00

Nano Prefilter
Tunze 9001 skimmer
MagDrive 7

Foam filter pad
Hoses, clamps, fittings
Light options extra
 Model A
Model A Sump/Refugiumclick photo for larger pic Just another variation on a 5-chambered sump/refugium design. Skimmer fits in front left corner, input and mechanical/chemical chambers behind skimmer chamber, central refugium, and sump/return pump on right.

The sump/refugium dislayed measures 20 x 12 x 16
This sump/refugium system will be designed to work with the protein skimmer you will be using. Sizing may differ from those specified and that is the benefit of having a sump made for you and not having to accept just what happens to fit. Priced as Follows:

Sump/Refugium $599.00
(final price based on size)
Prefilter $129.00
MagDrive7 $85.00
Lighting options extra

All hoses, clamps, fittings included
 Model B
Model/System Bclick photo for larger pic Model/System B This fantastic design uses the Lifereef SVS2-24 in-sump protein skimmer and features six separate chambers or compartments:

1. Input/bubble trap
2. Mechanical/chemical media chamber
3. Transition chamber with removable grid between      media chamber and refugium
4. Refugium
5. Removable post-filter media rack
6. Sump/return pump and skimmer chamber

Protein skimmer uses the MagDrive9.5 pump and the return pump is a MagDrive7. Alternate pumps can be ordered.

20 l x 17 d x 16 h, skimmer is 22 1/2 high and can be built other sizes if needed.

Perfect for the RSM 130/130D

Fanstastic for the RSM Reefer 170

Excellent for any nano tank where cabinet space is small. This can be made in other sizes than specified.

It is a fantasic and compact system for any application requiring a small footprint sump/skimmer/refugium/pump package system.

Complete System $1399.00


Foam Filter Pads
SVS2-24 Protein Skimmer

MagDrive9.5 skimmer pump
MagDrive7 return pump

All hoses, clamps, fittings
Lighting options extra
Nano Prefilters for Red Sea, Bio Cube, JBJ and Innovative Marine or any nano size aquarium.
 Go Here  for prefilters for larger aquariums.
RSM Nano Prefilter
Front View
Optional Lifereef Silencer shown in right prefilter but can be used in "WEDGE" version also.

RSM Nano Prefilter
Rear View
"WEDGE" verson inner box
shown on right

RSM Nano Prefilter top view
This RSM Nano-Prefilter was designed for use on the Red Sea Max 130 and 250 aquariums.
It will also work on other aquariums where the water level is several inches below the aquariums decorative rim.
For the RSM130 and 130D:
If you will be removing your RSM protein skimmer
order the RSM NANO prefilter.
If you will keep your RSM protein skimmer in its stock position order the RSM WEDGE.prefilter.

Tank Canopy Modifications:
The top rear cover of the RSM130/130D will need a modification as shown.
A modified canopy is also available for $25.00.
RSM Hinged Cover Mods  

For the RSM250:
Order the LRSM Nano

Tank Rim Modification:
The left rear fan opening will need modification as shown below. The prefilter can also go where the RSM protein skmmer is, but the skimmer needs to be removed and a cutout needs to be made in the trim panel approximately 5 1/2" wide x 2" deep.

 Lifereef RSM Nano Prefilter Features:
  • AUTO-RESTART when power resumes, always 100%.
  • No aqua-lifter pump or other cheap device needed!
  • All edges radiused and chamfered, no sharp corners
  • 1" diameter siphon tube.
  • No nipples or other connectors on siphon tube that could allow siphon to break causing flood.
  • 1 1/2" of up/down adjustment of inner box.
  • Inner box cannot be knocked out of vertical alignment.
  • Long lasting and easily cleaned foam filter element.
  • Will not overflow, even if foam element becomes dirty.
  • 3/4" male thread output, hosebarb and clamps included
  • Optional Lifereef Nano Silencer

You will need 3 1/4" behind your aquarium rim to fit the prefilter. A narrow 2" version can be made but you will not be able to use the foam filter element or the Silencer.

Priced as Follows:

RSM Nano $129.00
RSM Wedge $129.00
Lifereef Silencer $19.00

You might also want to order the following:
Modified Cover $ 25.00
       (specify color)
3/4" vinyl tubing $1.25/ft
5/8" vinyl tubing $ .95/ft
Return J-tube $9.00
Mag7 pump $85.00
3/4" ball valve/barb $5.00
Spare Siphon $11.00

    Return J-tube
       Return J-Tube
This is how the water gets back to your aquarium.

Nano BC
Nano Prefilter Box
Until I can get a photo of this it looks identical to the Nano Prefilter above.
See above for features. You will need
3 1/4" behind your aquarium rim.
Price: $129.00
Lifereef Silencer: $19.00

You might also want to order the following:
Modified Cover $ 25.00
       (specify color)
3/4" vinyl tubing $1.25/ft
5/8" vinyl tubing $ .95/ft
Return J-tube $9.00
Mag7 pump $85.00
3/4" ball valve/barb $5.00
Spare Siphon $11.00

Lifereef Nano Silencer
See photo above showing a Silender installed in a RSM Nano prefilter box.
The Lifereef Nano Silencer is for all the above Nano Prefilter boxes.
You cannot use the foam filter element if you use the Lifereef Nano Silencer.
Unlike Durso, Stockman, and Gurgle Buster, this nano version was specifically designed to work with Lifereef Prefilter boxes.
Water enters all the way at the bottom via slots, not at the top or subsurface as in other silencers.
This Lifereef designed Silencer is used to make the Lifereef prefilter boxes run quiet, that is, if it happens to make noise. Not all installations will make noise and you never know until you have it installed and running. Two methods can be tried to silence or lessen the noise:
1. Snaking a hose (included) down the drain line.
2. Adjusting the return water flow
If neither of these work the Lifereef Silencer should.
Price: $ 19.00