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More FAQs about Plumbing Marine Systems 12

Related Articles: Plumbing Marine Systems, Myth of the One Inch Beast (Why Relying on One Inch Overflows... or Overflow! Is foolhardy) by Scott Vallembois, Plumbing Return Manifolds, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Marine Plumbing 1, Marine Plumbing 2, Marine Plumbing 3Marine Plumbing 4, Marine Plumbing 5, Marine Plumbing 6, Plumbing 7, Plumbing 8, Plumbing 9, Plumbing 10, Plumbing 11, Plumbing 13, Plumbing 14, Plumbing 15 Plumbing 16, Plumbing 17, Plumbing 18, Plumbing 19, Plumbing 20,   Plumbing 21, Plumbing 22, Circulation Plumbing, & FAQs on: Plans/Designs, Parts: Pipe, Valves, Back-Siphon/Check-Valves, Unions, Tools, Solvents, Use of Flexible Tubing, Leaks/Repairs, &  Holes & Drilling, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing Noise, Make Up Water Systems, Pumps, Plumbing, Circulation, Sumps, RefugiumsMarine Circulation 2, Gear Selection for Circulation, Pump Problems Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large SystemsWater Changes Surge Devices

Don't forget to screen those overflows!

- Bulkhead Clarity - Do bulkheads require Teflon? (if they do, that would explain the leaking) thanks. <No Teflon required. I often put a spooge of silicone sealant on the gasket before I install the bulkhead. If yours is leaking, you may have left out the gasket or perhaps have the gasket on the wrong side of the fitting. Cheers, J -- >

Many Manifold Questions... Dear Crew, <Scott F. your Crew member today> Reading through your plumbing articles and FAQs has inspired me to redo my reef plumbing.  I especially love the closed loop manifold and am thinking I need to mosey on down to the local hardware store to start picking up some PVC. <Great idea, fun to plan and build, and really useful!> I have a couple of questions before I mosey, though. <Sure..> I have an in-sump Mag 9.5 whose return line is upgraded to a 1" flex hose.  The return line travels five feet to the top of the tank and will connect to a 3/4" pvc closed loop manifold.   Question one:  Wouldn't 8-45 degree angles in each corner rather than four 90 degree angles help to prevent the water return pressure from reducing in the manifold? <Good question, and I suppose the answer really depends on the outlets' distance from the pump. On the other hand, you want a fairly sizeable number of outlets for maximum water dispersion/circulation, so it may be better to go with the greater number of outlets at lower pressure...You may have to experiment a bit before the manifold is installed...> Question two:  I plan on having six outlet Tee's, one in each corner between the 45 degree angles, one in the center of each long side.  The tank is 36"LX18"X18".  What I haven't been able to determine searching through the plumbing/manifold FAQs is what size should the flexi ball socket tubing for the outlets be, 3/4" or 1/2".  I'd like to get the best flow possible coming out of the outlets-not too weak, not too restricted. <Agreed...If it were me, I'd go for the 3/4"> Thanks again for all the help you folks have given me and fellow aquarists.  Chris   <Always a pleasure! Good luck and have fun! Regards, Scott F>

- Plumbing a Closed Loop - Hi again.  I have (another) question for you all.  This is a quick one, I promise.  I'm finally ready to install a closed loop on my 55 gallon tank (thanks for the advice on this a few months back!).  My question is: I have a quiet one 4000 pump which has a 1" outlet that will be feeding the closed loop, coming from a small tank below main tank.  Should I keep it 1" PVC for the loop or should I reduce it down to 3/4" PVC and if so, does it matter where I put the reducer pipe? <I'd go ahead and reduce it down - near the pump.> The pump should be pumping about 750-800gph after factoring in the 3' head going into the tank. <Perhaps a little less with the reduction in the output. Should still be plenty for a 55.> I will be putting about (any advice - more or less T's?) 6 movable T's spaced through out the perimeter of the tank - except for the back left wall.  This is where the overflow box and hang on skimmer is so no pipe can go there...  What's your take on this? <Sounds fine to me.> I've actually bought the 3/4" pipe etc. but now I'm not sure if I should be reducing it or not? <Would be best to maintain the same diameter as output on the pump throughout, but 1" pipe will dominate the top of your tank if you are building a manifold.> Hoping to get the most flow possible so I can get rid of powerheads... <Mmm... can understand the aesthetics motivations.> Thanks once again.  You all are great and your advice is well appreciated. Jan
<Cheers, J -- >

- Plumbing Designs - I am looking for input to the plumbing design I came up with. Please review the attached diagram. Tank size: 200 gal Reef - Sump/Refugium Sump: Converted 55 gal aquarium Overflow boxes: Two CPR CS-90 - 600gph Overflow Plumbing: 1" ID Plastic Tube Miracle Mud and Macro Algae Kent Marine Nautilus EX Protein Skimmer with MAG 12 - 1200 gph Sump Return Pump: MAG 18 - 1800 gph Sump Return Plumbing: ?" PVC tees to twin pivot nozzles - Closed Loop Circulation system Dolphin Master 2700 pump 2700 gph Pump Intake Plumbing: 1.5" PVC pipe Pump Discharge: 1.5" PVC pipe tees then reduced to two SCWD with twin ?" pivot nozzle discharges. Any suggestions are very welcome!! <Looks good to me.> Bob
<Cheers, J -- >

Today's diagram for plumbing design Hi Guys and Gals, In today's FAQ you show a great plumbing design. I especially like the closed loop system with the SCWD's. <Me too. Liked it so much made it the daily pic and have it on my active desktop as the backgrd.> After looking everywhere I can't seem to find prefab suctions that slip onto 3/4" or 1" pipe and sit directly in the tank. To be clearer on this, suction covers with grates as to not suck up my friends. Not to be confused with overflow boxes. Sure I can fabricate something, but it's so much simpler to purchase things. Any sources you might have for this? Thanks in advance. You guys rock, Dick <Mmm, these fittings are available... try one of the larger on-line etailers like Dr. Foster's & Smith, MarineDepot.com... they should have thread in strainers, threaded elbows, couplers... Bob Fenner>

Plumbing design, skimmer first? Regarding the email titled "Plumbing Designs"...the proposed setup that I emailed you about previously is very similar to this. However, I'm curious as to why the skimmer is plumbed after the Miracle Mud/Algae section. You replied that the setup "looks good," but wouldn't it be better to have the skimmer first? <By and large, yes... there is some advantage in having the skimmer later in that the water level in its chamber is easier to keep stable, but some disadvantage in the removal of life that might otherwise be transported to the main/display system> I know that Ecosystem doesn't recommend that use of a skimmer, but I'd probably use one too, so I'm interested in your thoughts on the correct order (if any) of the plumbing of the skimmer. Regards, Walt <In actual practice, the order/arrangement of the skimmer usually is not of major consequence between these two alternatives. Bob Fenner>

Re: today's diagram for plumbing design Hi Bob, Alright, I finally get to converse with the "Master". Just can't write enough about how great your site is. You guys have saved me from many mistakes before hand. I use your WWM FAQ as my hindsight if that makes sense. I've tried the marinedepot.com site. I'll check into the Dr. Foster's and Smith. If I ever have the opportunity to meet you the beers are on me! Thanks a million, Dick <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Will be looking for you and that brew someday soon. Bob Fenner>

Re: today's diagram for plumbing design Hi Bob, Duh, I went back to MarineDepot and searched for strainer's AND there they were. I've been searching under overflows, fittings and skimmers with ton's of feedback, but nothing related to what I was looking for. There's another beer! Thanks, Dick <Thanks for the tip. Bob F, shooting for a six-pack>

How Low Can You Flow? I have a quick question to ask you guys, in regards to purchasing my overflow box.  I plan on using the Marineland overflow, which is rated for 300-600 gph, and I plan on using a Mag 2 or 3 as my return pump (this is a 20H nano) through a DIY manifold to satisfy all my circulation requirements. Will I run into problems if I only run a flow of 220-250 gph through this?  I'm worried that I will be "under-utilizing" it, and that air bubbles may build in the tube, etc..  The problem I am facing is that most all overflow boxes share a similar flow rating, so I want to make sure it will be alright to do this. <Well, it is a possibility. You may simply have to fill the tank up and run it for a bit and see what you get. Personally, I'd go with the higher flow and either restrict it somewhere where the outputs are located, or utilize the remaining excess flow somewhere else in the system, such as a refugium...> I know it would have been a better idea to drill the tank and avoid this altogether, but it is too late now, unfortunately.  Thanks in advance, guys. I'm so close! Truly yours, Dave Conners p.s.-The tank is a soft coral/LPS tank, so I didn't think a flow in excess of 250 gph would be necessary.  I understand that there is really no such thing as over-circulating a tank (at least that is my understanding), but I have tested a few flow rates with a powerhead and 250 gph seems to blow the hell outta the tank.  Too much flow will bother my mushrooms and open brains, correct? <It can definitely have a negative effect...> It seems to, at least. I would like to circulate this as much as is necessary, but I don't want to overdo it. <Agreed. However, as suggested previously, you could look into uses for the excess flow...This might be a better solution...Good luck, and have fun! Regards, Scott F.>

- Bubbles and Noise, Please Help! - Hi all, Thanks for all your help in the past! I have a problem with bubbles and noise in my drain line. I looked in the FAQ's and tried the vent hole T technique and it did improve the gurgling but I still get massive amounts of bubbles, and it is LOUD. I really don't want to decrease my flow rate as the my future SPS won't appreciate it. Also, I am using a Durso standpipe, and have included pictures to help.  Do you have any suggestions to improve this drain? <Well, you can try a couple of things... you can put a small length of PVC into that T-fitting to extend it - it looks to me like you've got water coming out of there at the moment - that might help. You might also try substituting a Y-fitting for that T and putting it a little farther up the line. You can also try what I have done which is put a small length of air-line tubing from the standpipe down into the drain line, perhaps about 3/4 of the length of the entire drain. This takes some fiddling to get it right, but provides an air source to stop those backwash gurgles that occur every so often. There's no way to reduce to noise to absolute silence, but you can certainly get it to a tolerable level. Regardless of which solution you try, you're going to have to go through a trial and error phase with each. Be patient, you'll get it.> Thanks a lot! - Ryan <Cheers, J -- >

- Noisy Bubbles - Thank you very much, I tried moving it up and it let out more air and less water. I wanted to make sure that I am not trying to accomplish the impossible. Is it possible to stop most of the bubbles that come crashing into the sump? <Hmm... I don't think so. Just the action of the incoming water entering another body of water will induct air - you can try this with a hose and a bucket of water.> If it is I will find the right combination, but if it is not is there a way to trap them other than baffles? <Depends on the size of your sump - a large settling chamber in the sump will eliminate some, but likely not all.> Thanks again for your help. -Ryan <Cheers, J -- >

- Drilling Advice - Hi crew members I am going to buy a 20 gallon long tank and have it drilled. <Hmm... this is not an ideal tank for drilling. The glass used in smaller tanks is rather thin, and even 'cheap' [float glass rather than rolled or tempered] which tends to make the panels brittle. Your best bet for getting the holes cut is to disassemble the tank, then re-silicone it together once the holes are cut.> I would like one hole for an overflow down to my sump. Then have another hole drilled for a closed loop. I do not want powerheads in my tank as you can see. <It wasn't obvious until you mentioned it ;-) > The sump will be 10 gallons. Would the hole for the overflow to the sump be ok at 1". <I think so.> And when you drill for a 1" bulkhead what size should the hole be? <1.5"> Is the same size hole for the closed loop ok? <Sure, but you could size it down to 3/4"> Or would bigger be better. <Larger would likely give you trouble - weaken the panel.> I want 15-20 times turnover. So I was going to get a Mag 4 to use as the closed loop pump. Is that too much or too little? <It's going to be quite a bit - you may be challenged to keep the water in the tank rather than have it slosh over the sides. The fluid dynamics of such a small box are going to be a challenge. Any chance I can convince you to try all this with a larger tank? Your overall plan is good, but I'd really like to see you attempt this with something larger.> The tank is going to have zoanthids mostly. No fish. Also would it be ok to drill the overflow in the side pane of the glass just about 1/2" below the top of the glass? <Sure.> The hole for the closed loop can go anywhere right? <For safety's sake, I'd put that just below the water line. If you put the bulkhead in the bottom of the tank and something in your plumbing fails, you will be quite sad.> Thanks, Karl <Cheers, J -- >

- Drilling Advice, Follow-up - Hello JasonC <Hi.> Thank you for the fast reply. <My pleasure.> My hotmail account is not working good and I was afraid you guys didn't get my last email. I know the 20 gallon tank is not a great size to work with. It is all I have the room for and am allowed in my rental. <Fair enough.> It is an acrylic tank so drilling should be better right? <Oh sure, much better.> And if I went for a 3/4 hole for the closed loop and used a Mag 3 (350gph) would that be better or more safe so that water does no splash around. <I would plumb it in externally at first so you can experiment before you commit to drilling the hole. The Mag 4 isn't really a beefy pump and if I recall the outlet is 3/4" so you're not really going to be holding it back much.> Thank you again Karl <Cheers, J -- >

Disguising plumbing with live coral 10/16/03 Greetings from Denver, Anthony, I've recently gotten my new 75g/70g sump going & picked up some green star polyps to affix to the return input pipes. Question;  Would the corals cover the entire pipe faster by affixing them to the underside of the pipe, forcing them to strive to the reach topside to reach the light? Thanks, Scott <Briareum is quite hardy and adaptable and may very well grow here. Still... the lack of adequate light will be a great hindrance. You would be better off fixing a sponge here to grow. Best regards, Anthony>

Disguising plumbing with live coral II 10/16/03 Thanks for the quick reply Anthony, the water return pipe are in the tank about 4" away from the lights, I've already glued the purple mat of the Star polyps to the top side of the flare nozzles & various places along the returns, I want the corals to completely encrust the pipes, I just wondered if placing the coral on the underside of the 3/4" pipe would convince them to move towards the top side a little quicker.   <I understood/gathered as much/The concern is that the underside simply receives inadequate light for even such a hardy coral to establish. Hence the sponge recommendation (may sponges are weakly photosynthetic and will fare well in light or near dark. In your case (so close to the surface) its tough to say... perhaps yes, it will work. A lux meter sure would be handy right about now. Ha! Anthony>  

Toxic Trouble? Hi Scott, how are you doing, hope you're doing great. <Can't complain!> If you remember I wrote you about a month ago, telling you about the near tragedy with my clown trigger. Well, every thing was fine, every body was happy, till I purchased the protein skimmer. <Uh-oh..> If you can remember, I told you that the skimmer barely fit, in fact the skimmer pump was not totally horizontal in the ground, it was about 45degrees inclined, so as you can imagine, I had to put more water in the wet/dry filter, because I was afraid that the skimmer pump did not get water and burn up. <A good move on your part> And it was fine working for about a week, but I wanted to arrange all of the parts to be place as their supposed to go, so I put the pump totally horizontal (siting on the floor perfectly), but now the PVC elbow which connected the body of the skimmer with the skimmer pump didn't reach, So that day my plumber was in the office and I told him to help me build a connection made of PVC to join the skimmer body and the pump. it was a little bit difficult building that connection, so He recommended a black car radiator house (made of material like rubber tire), MISTAKE, MISTAKE, MISTAKE!!!!, It fit so well and the skimmer was skimming so perfectly, that I thought that nothing could go wrong. I was very WRONG, the next morning, My clown trigger and my puffer were DEAD. and my Miniatus grouper, and my eel were very sick, I call Immediately the owner of the octopus's garden store in San Diego (Ron), to give me some advice, I didn't know if it was better to take my 2 live fishes home or not. He recommended to do a 30% water change, so I did, for 3 consecutive days. <Another good move on your part...> The fish look much better now, in fact the eel ate yesterday and today, but the miniatus is not eating, since Saturday, well at least I haven't seen him eat. <It's hard to say what went wrong...Did you monitor water parameters? I cannot imagine that the skimmer could cause some kind of "crash" in the system...> Now I am afraid to turn the skimmer on, I all ready went to purchase at aquatic warehouse some the proper house for the skimmer it is a connection with 2 pvc elbows, and flexible PVC, that fit perfectly and the skimming work perfectly and is all properly install. I all ready wash the skimmer, and I notice that every time I turn the skimmer on the eel goes above the pump return, as if it was not receiving enough oxygen, or maybe he likes it there, but the eel never spend time in that spot of the tank before the incident. <Curious...> Question, If the skimmer is to big, could it affect the oxygen return of the fishes???? <I doubt it...Skimmers generally assist in oxygenating an aquarium...I wonder if the hose contained some kind of toxic compound? Try some activated carbon and Poly Filter to help remove any potential toxic substances> What is your advice on how to feed the miniatus grouper??? <My best advice here would be to continue attempting to feed the fish with a variety of meaty seafoods, in the hope of enticing him to eat...Don't give up- if he is healthy, he'll start to feed again! Do monitor water parameters to assure that everything is up to par in there...> Inside the wet dry filter, does it affect the way the venturi pump of the skimmer is pointing (point to the carbon filter or to the return). What other observations and recommendations can you give me??? Thank you for the advice, I am sure the thing that cause all of the problems is the radiator house, If you have other opinions please let me know. <As we both mentioned, I would look at the radiator hose as a potential source of toxin- either from the composition of the hose itself, or from some chemical that may have been in it previously...> As always thanks for your advice, time and attention. att. Juan Santos <Sorry to hear of this trouble, Juan...I hope that things start looking better- keep up the good work. Regards, Scott F.>

Plumbing Dilemma... I just acquired a 70 gallon reef ready tank . its got 3 holes on the bottom of the tank  and 2 on one of the ends about 2/3 to 3/4 the way up. I have two canister filters and I'm not sure how to plumb this set up. As of right now I'm not sure if I'm going fresh or salt but I've got to get this plumbing thing figured out. <The fun part...LOL> Should the return lines be on the bottom of the tank with check valves in case power out age? <Frankly, check valves scare the hell out of me! They are vulnerable to failure...at the most unfortunate times... I'd prefer something above the water line, like Sea Swirls, which have the added benefit of oscillating water flow...Neat stuff...> And the line feeding into the pumps be the ones on the side? I just can't find any info out for this kind of tank. <Well, there are about as many approaches to tank plumbing as there are hobbyists...No real right or wrong answers...Just do what works or you, and remains reliable and functional...> I'd really appreciate your help  , and maybe I'm way off , any suggestions ? <As above...check out Sea Swirls for returns...> I'm lost. Thanks. Sean McConnell <Well, Sean-there are lots of approaches here...you can look into plumbing on the WWM site...lots of good information here- check it out! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

My Fish Hey, I sent you this on Friday but received no response, did you not get it (maybe mail.wetwebmedia.com is a bad address?) or have I asked too many questions? <Mmm, I didn't' see it, but let's try to respond now> Thanks! James Hey Crew! It's James again emailing because I have become addicted to GOOD ADVICE!  As you may remember, I have a 20 gallon marine tank and am in the process of building a 75 gallon with a DSB sump.  I have built the sump out of a drilled 29 glass tank and some Plexiglas, procured an IWAKI 40RXLT (that's right, 1100 GPH baby!).  The lights are on back order and I just got a quote for a custom drilled 75 AGA tank (because I don't know what they are thinking with these overflows that can't handle the needed circulation for the tanks size).  My questions are: 1)  The LFS has said I don't need more than two 1" pipes of drainage from the 75 gallon display to accommodate 1100GPH.  I think that they are wrong. Should I go for three 1" drains? <I definitely would... You could "cut down" the two one inchers... and have water collect over them, and worry about transit volume should the power or your pump fail... but I would do as you suggest>   Why are they so stingy about providing the right flow?  I don't want to throttle back my flow rate with a ball valve! <Well, the rationale? Probably has a lot to do with "less is better" mentality... smaller holes are easier to cut, smaller through-puts are cheaper to buy... Most folks would just have less flow... I think their sizing is off, and would provide much larger fitting sizes for upgrading overflows> 2)  When I first started my 20 gallon, I noticed amphipods, the little white bugs.  Within the first three months, the tank had a case of ick, and I tried malachite green to cure them.  It didn't work, and ultimately a regiment of FW dips, lowered salinity and water changes cured them.  However, since then I have not really seen amphipods. <Probably "bumped off" with your treatments, environmental manipulation> It's been at least 9 months, and the biological filtration is certainly there (levels are really good), but still no bugs.  Did I poison the live rock with the malachite green?  I have since added more rock but still no pods.  There are tube worms, and I have noticed bristle worms but no pods.  I will be buying about 80 lbs of rock for the new system, can I still use the old rock or will the old rock poison the new rock?  What about the gravel?  Can I use it to seed? <Should be no problem in re-using the rock or gravel. I would do so... and you will very likely end up with many new small crustaceans on/with your new LR> 3)  I was thinking of using 1mm to 1.7mm sand in the DSB for NNR and so I could get plankton blooms, is that the right size?  It will be at least 6" deep. <Should be okay, yes> Thank you for your help, this is the best aquatics site on the web.  I have spent entirely too much time reading your articles and FAQs.  Thank you. James <A good use of ones time I merit. Better to be educated, inspired to do what one wants than work the time to re-do, re-pay for mistakes and lack of vision. Bob Fenner>

Couple Set up Questions Hi, I have two Marineland Tidepool Overflow Boxes on a 135 gallon tank, going down into a 40 gallon sump.  I originally bought an Gen-X MAK IV external pump to use as a return pump, but I don't think I am going to be able to drill a hole in the 40 gallon tank for a bulkhead.  If I can't get it drilled, I was thinking going with a Mag 12 and use it as a submersible.  Do you think this would be a viable alternative?< This would be the best way to go>  Would it work if I set the MAK IV on a platform that would put it about at the top of the 40 gallon tank and just have a piece of hose down in the sump going into the pump? (that's the only way I would know to get around not having a bulkhead).< No Definitely Not> Also, I was also going to put a "T" in the return line and pump the water back into the main tank at two different places.  The "T" would be about three feet above the return pump.  There would also be two "U" fittings on each of the return lines to hang over the back of the tank.  The "U" fittings would be at each end of a six foot tank.  Do you think this would cause too much head loss?  Would it be better just to run one line up to the main tank and pump the water back in one corner?< Use to lines but make the tees out of a larger pipe, like 1 1/2" instead of 1" this will almost eliminate your head lose. Eric Rood> Thanks, Paul

Power failure questions II 10/8/03 I need as much info as possible.  The sump/power outage/water on the floor issue is the last question I have...but it's a big one my apartment is full of books. Please help, Y- <Yuell... this is very difficult to explain via e-mail. And yet could be answered or realized in seconds with a visit to a local fish store or member of a local aquarium society. Regardless of your overflow box/hole source... the prevention of a sump overflow is a remarkably easy thing to calculate properly. What big city do you live in or near? I can perhaps suggest someone for you to consult locally to make this all very clear. Else, you can make sure the return tube does not extend below the water surface in the display. Then fill the display until it just begins to overflow, then stop.... then fill the sump until it is near the top, then stop. And at that point with all power off... and the display and sump filled... you are at max system volume. When you next turn the power on, then water level in the sump will fall as the plumbing gets filled and after that level stabilizes... you simply mark a line on the sump as the max running level. You now know at that point for the future that as long as you never fill the running sump beyond that point, your sump cannot overflow. Hoping this helps. Anthony>

-Plumbing question- Hi, I am plumbing a sump return pump.  It is a Gen-X Mak IV, 1990 gph at four feet.  With price not mattering because both ways are similar in price, which way would you recommend to plumb the return line 1) Use a barbed nipple coming off the return pump and use flexible hose back up to the tank or 2) use PVC connectors and PVC pipe?  I have a ball valve and check (anti-siphon) valve, to connect to the PVC option, but I would suspect I could find ball and check valves that could be connected to flexible hose. Other than a ball and check valve that could be connected to flexible hose, I have the rest of the equipment for both options. <Since it doesn't really matter which one you pick, I'd go with the flexible tubing option because it will be much easier. I would screw (or if it has slip fittings, locate the proper adapters) the ball valve right on the outlet of the pump on top of a true union. I would have a ball valve and a true union on both the inlet and outlet of this pump since it is being run externally. Flex hose will be easy to work with, and the head pressure will be reduced without any hard 90's in the way. Good luck! -Kevin>  Your recommendation would be appreciated. Thank you, Paul


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