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More FAQs about Plumbing Marine Systems 13

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 12, 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

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- System Planning and Plumbing - Hello crew! Thanks in advance for your help here.  You guys and gals are great.  So I have a few unanswered questions that I haven't been able to pinpoint on the FAQ's.   I have been planning a 150 gal. custom reef tank for about 4 months now.  Constant reading.  I plan on having LR, some fish and eventually go reef.  40 -50 gal sump with skimmer.   1.  I want to buy a Kold Ster-il ? water filtration system for my setup. I know that you shouldn't plumb the FW refill top off directly into the sump without letting it age and correcting the PH and temp, but this filter claims to not lower the hardness of water.  Can I put the Kold Ster-il water directly into the sump without aging it, or should I have some sort of reservoir? <I'd go with the reservoir, but am aware that many people do plumb their RO directly into their sump.> 2.  I have been purchasing a lot of books about reefing and SW tanks.  I also have been looking online everywhere.  I want to find a good book/site that includes plumbing ideas with pictures.  More on the big schematics of where pumps, sumps, others go in the big picture. Do you have any good references/sites? <No, I'm afraid not... do think this is a place where the recent Paletta book, Ultimate Aquariums falls flat on its face. This information should have been included.> I like the sites that explain what kind of problems individuals encountered. <Yes... much cheaper to learn from other's mistakes.> 3.  Is it better to have a refugium as part of the sump or two separate entities (a separate sump and a separate refugium)? <In larger tanks, it's probably better to have the two split, but an all-encompassing sump will work just fine.> 4.  If I wanted to do a water return manifold like the one described by Anthony Calfo, does that need a separate pump? <Can be powered off the return pump.> Is that a closed system? <Doesn't have to be, but would work as one.> Is there anything specific needed when I get my tank made and drilled to know upfront so these plans will work? <None that I can think of... measure twice, cut once.> 5.  I want to have a water turn over rate of 10 -20 times the tank size per hour.  If I have the tank drilled to turn over 10x's, will the return manifold provide the other turnover or is that something totally different? <Is up to you... certainly moving that much water though a sump will complicate your desire to combine a sump with a refugium. Do consider having addition circulation in the tank that would supplement the main return pump.> Or should I just have the tank drilled to turn over 20x's per hour? <A viable option.> I know water movement is important, I just haven't gotten the whole concept. <As much as possible is a goal worth shooting for.> 6.  If I have a refugium in the sump will the high water flow be ok for the refugium or does the refugium need to be separate?  (same as ? above) <Based on your stated plans, I'd separate them.> I know these questions are kinda vague, but I have been reading so much and I want to get it right before I buy the tank and equipment.  I have built the stand and I am currently running the electrical now.  I'm a little lost on the plumbing but I'm sure that will come.  Thank you again for taking your time and helping me.  Have a great day.  Dan <Cheers, J -- >

- System Planning and Plumbing - Thanks for the info. <My pleasure.> Ya, I recently bought the Ultimate Aquariums by Paletta and I agree, It kinda blows for real info.  There are great pictures of tanks though. <And some really crummy pictures too...> I am currently reading Coral Propagation by Calfo.  That is a good read.  Lots of great info for the beginner and up.  I guess I will keep looking.  Thanks again.  Dan <Cheers, J -- >

- Plumbing a Closed Loop - Hi - My question (today) is about plumbing a closed loop system.  I looked through the FAQ, but didn't really find anything to address this question. I have a 180 gal acrylic tank that is 60" long, 30" side and 24" tall.  It has two overflow chambers on each end, 8" square each.  There is a "coast to coast" overflow 4" square across the whole back of the tank that flows into the overflow chambers. I drilled holes for bulkheads for a 1" Durso standpipe for outflow to the sump in each of the overflow chambers and a 3/4" return that is piped through the overflow chamber and into the tank itself.  Although I drilled each overflow for a return, I'm finding that one 3/4" return from my Iwaki 40RLT pump is sufficient. The second overflow is turned off at the ball valve.  I had wanted to use an 1 1/4" outflow, but found that I could not get elbow of the standpipe into the chamber.  The 1" seem to work fine, so that's not an issue. Now for the question - I have a Dolphin 3600 AmpMaster pump and a Haywood Electrical Ball Valve to create a closed loop system that will change flow as the ball valve swivels from right to left sides. <Hmm... just a word of caution here. Do observe carefully your pump's interaction with the ball-valve - my feeling is that the switching between the two outlets will cause back pressure on the pump.> Both the pump and the ball valve have 1 1/2" input and returns. I have room in the overflow chambers for one more 1" bulkhead that I can to tie together and with a 1 1/2" tee underneath the tank.  But I'm concerned that I'll be pulling too much water through the overflow chambers and unless I get the standpipes exactly the same height, I'll "starve" either the closed loop system or water flowing into the sump. <Possibly - if you haven't already, I'd go through a wet-run/leak test - just fill the tank with fresh water to make sure all works according to plan.> The other method is to pull the input for the closed loop from just below the 4" square coast to coast. <Perhaps a better idea, although plumbing failure will cause a good deal of water to drain out - how about a bulkhead in the coast-to-coast?> The return from the Dolphin will go to 10 - 1/2" Loc Lines.  I'm also not sure whether it's better to drill two 1 1/2" bulkheads in the back of the tank for the returns and have 1 1/2" to 1/2" tees inside the tank or to have the 1 1/2" to 1/2" tees outside the tank and drill  for 10 1/2" bulkheads in the back of the tank (I'd also do this as close to the coast to coast as possible - just in case one leaks I want to try to minimize water loss). <More holes will weaken the tank - I'd go with as few holes as possible.> By having the 10 holes in the back of the tank, I'm taking up less tank real estate by not having a lot of visible plumbing along the back of the tank.  I'm not too concerned about drilling ten holes - I've gotten fairly good at drilling acrylic :-). Thanks in advance for the answer. Steve <Cheers, J -- >

Plumbing question Hello crew hope all are well quick question on a bulkhead going through 125 gal should I put silicone on along with rubber gasket? and also on threaded fittings or Teflon tape&can I use the gray pipe glue that I already have on the slip to slip fittings. thanks again for a wonderful sight.   Rocky <I would put a thin "smear" of 100% silicone on the gasket (both sides) and on the threads where the nut is synched... and leave off with Teflon tape, pipe dope... just use the silicone... Cushions, helps seal and is easily removed at later time. Bob Fenner>

Planning A Tank For Maximum Performance!  Hello again,  <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!>  Thanks for the info. I purchased a 75 gal. tank! I have also located a glass company that will drill the tank. The plan is to use a 1 1/2" bulkhead, I am guessing that this would provide a max of 1500 gph?  <I think that you might want to use two 1 1/2" bulkheads, just to be safe>  I have read that the bulkhead should be place 4" below the top but not sure on the horizontal position?  <If you are using an overflow box to house the bulkheads (which I prefer, myself), then the bulkheads are in a vertical position>  I am also considering building a manifold out of 1" pipe with 3 outlets. I used the head calculator on Reef Central and looks  like this would output around 750 gph with a Mag 9. The intent of the tank is FOWLR at first and to add coral after the tank has established. Would the 750 gph be enough for the corals or would it be better to have 2- 1 1/2" bulkheads, bigger return pump and add more outlets to the manifold?  <Yep! Bigger is better, when it comes to flow, IMO! You can always cap an unused manifold or bulkhead. it's much tougher to drill a tank once it's up and running>  Question on the overflow plumbing. I plan to have a tee come out of the bulkhead and cap the top end. This should quiet the overflow? I have also noticed that some folks have mentioned ball valves and gate valves. Where should these be placed in the plumbing to and from the sump?  <All sorts of options. If it were me, I'd look into a "Durso standpipe" as an option. This is a great way to quiet overflow noise! Do a search on the 'net under "Durso Standpipe" for more details>  The skimmer will be in-sump. Many of the DIY sump plans seem incomplete for me.  <Yep- I prefer manufactured skimmers, myself!>  Thanks again for the info. I just want to avoid as many mistakes as possible because it seems that once it's up there's no turning back. Sincerely,  Doug R  <Agreed, Doug. Take everyone's advice with a grain of salt, including mine! I'd get more opinions from fellow reefers (use the WWM Forum or Reef Central), and talk extensively with the people who are making/seeing you tank! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Drilling question II 2/3/04 Hi, Anthony sent the following, but I forgot to mention that the tank is acrylic...........any suggestions??!!?? <Ahh, yes... an important distinction! In this case, the solution is easy. Block the back of the hole soundly with a piece of solid wood or scrap acrylic. Then advance the piloting drill bit in the hole saw's mandrill far enough to at least compensate for eh depth of the hole (thickness of the tank's acrylic) and let the bit bite into the block on the other side first as you start to drill over the old hole. Best of luck. Anthony> Drilling question 2/3/04 Hey guys, I have a FOWLR 300 gal. tank that has 1 inch corner overflows with a Little Giant MD5 pump.  Even with brand new pre filters, the water backs up in the overflow because the drains cannot keep up with the pump.  So my question is how do I make the existing hole bigger from a 1" to a 1.5" bulkhead overflow?  Since there is no longer a way for a pilot drill on the hole saw I am a little confused. Thanks Sean <you cannot drill over another hole in glass safely without a reciprocal drill ($10K machine). In your case, you will need to drill another hole or simply make due otherwise here, bub. Anthony>

U-tubes 2/5/04 Hi, from Barry in warm Canada(-45 deg Celsius). My first time on WWM. <greetings my friend... and welcome> I would appreciate your opinion on u-tubes. I work as a doctor in Canada, but grew up in South Africa where I kept marines in my youth. I wanted a INTERNAL drain that would suck off the bottom close to the sand. I felt this would suck up the larger pieces of crap better. <this is truly not necessary and generally overcomplicates plumbing. From an aesthetic point of view if none other. Easier and safer/better movement of detritus can be obtained simply by having adequate water flow in the aquarium that keeps all in suspension. In fact, the presence of much solid matter on the bottom is an indication of inadequate water flow> Thus we produced a U-tube that sucked the water up to the surface, went through 180 degrees and then drained downward through the bulkhead. <U-tubes are patently flawed and potentially (easily) prone to failure> We had no overflow boxes or filtration from the top of the tank. A hole of variable size was drilled in the very top of the tube, thus connecting to the air. The height of the tube determined how high you wanted the water level in your tank. The nice thing was that with a power failure the water only dropped to bottom of the U and then stopped flowing. <yes... but it can break siphon, and when the power resumes, the display overflows> Secondly the faster your pump worked the quieter it became because the water rose just above the air hole and occluded it. A pump with excess capacity would have to be gated to rate. Apart from the crap aesthetics can you see any major problems with this? <they very commonly overflow the display when the power resumes. I have often jokes that I will not sleep in a house with a u-tube on the tank: fire hazard> I am currently getting back into the hobby with a 135 g. I am going to phone the local physics professor and ask him to calculate the flow for a 1 1/2 " U-tube. Do you know of any company who could make a clear plastic U like that?. Many thanks. Barry <my strong advice is to have a proper/modern overflow hole drilled on the back wall of the tank (high) and sleep in peace :) Best regards, Anthony>

Drilling question 2/3/04 Hey guys, I have a FOWLR 300 gal. tank that has 1 inch corner overflows with a Little Giant MD5 pump.  Even with brand new pre filters, the water backs up in the overflow because the drains cannot keep up with the pump.  So my question is how do I make the existing hole bigger from a 1" to a 1.5" bulkhead overflow?  Since there is no longer a way for a pilot drill on the hole saw I am a little confused. Thanks Sean <you cannot drill over another hole in glass safely without a reciprocal drill ($10K machine). In your case, you will need to drill another hole or simply make due otherwise here, bub. Anthony>

- Plumbing the Overflow in a Small Tank - To the experts, Please help I'm going nuts! I have searched the web site for hours and cannot resolve my plumbing problem. These are the basics. 30 gallon tank with a 10 gallon sump. DIY overflow (2 lees breeder boxes) 3/4 U pipe and 3/4 bulkhead fitting. 3/4 tubing down to sump. Return back to the tank is as follows: Mag 5 pump to 1/2 in. tubing to a Y fitting to 1/2 in. tubing to 1/2 in. 90's with Line lock fittings ending in the main tank. Now to the problem. I can't run the Mag 5 full open unless I remove the Durso stand pipe I've installed in the over flow. I have made 3 designs with the same results. All are design's from Mr. Durso's web site. All are based on 1 pipe size larger than the bulkhead, meaning they are constructed out of 1 in. pipe tee's, 90's etc. . I even made the straight 1 with out the Tee. All with the same results. Also can you help me out with flow rates with a 3/4 bulkhead and a 1in. bulkhead in my situation? <Hmm... think you are suffering from a couple of issues - first, I'm pretty sure the outlet of that pump is 1/2" which means that you are not restricting the pump when you use 1/2" plumbing which in turn means that the pump will perform at the rated flow. So onto the bulkhead - I think the maximum flow rate for a 3/4" bulkhead is 1,000 GPH, but not sure what the standpipe would do to change that - you might want to experiment by taking off the top of the Durso, so you just have a straight pipe, see how that runs with the pump wide open and then add the parts one by one until you find the limiting factor.> All help would be greatly appreciated, Thanks from a big fan. <Cheers, J -- >

Overflow Question Hey! How is everybody? <Beautiful day in San Francisco.  Ryan Bowen with you today> Thanks again for such a great site! Got a question.  I have an established 40 gallon tall and I want to add a sump but it just isn't possible for me drill holes for an overflow. <Hmm...Most overflows require no drilling at all>  I'm not sure how to get the water movement correct. <Choose an overflow with about a 400gph rate.  Since you're not going the drilling route, you will need a submersible pump, and don't skimp.  The cheaper ones add a lot of heat to the water.> I have a ten gallon laying around that I was planning on using for the sump. <Go to PetCo, get a super-cheap 20-30 gallon instead.  The extra water volume is the true reason for all this labor- 10 gallons is barely worth the effort.> I was thinking about using 2 of the same pumps (quiet ones, 300gph) to move the water to the sump and back up, into a SCWD wave maker, then into the display tank. <Hmm...I would use a CPR Overflow or a Tunze outlet.  Look up some DIY Sump designs here: http://ozreef.org/ And then pump it back up with an adequate pump.> I don't about all the water pressure, gravity, calculations and stuff. <Trial and error can be pricey, so you may want to read the Circulation FAQs> The top of the tank is about 4ft off the ground.  What can I do to make this work without drilling? <See above> My main focus it get everything I can out of the display and off the back of the tank. <Great> The health of the tank is good and I think a sump could make it much better. <Can't improve perfect health!> I cant afford a bigger tank and I want my 40. Any advice would very much appreciated.  <Surely!  Good luck, Ryan> -nick

- Plumbing the Pre-drilled Tank - Hello all. Your website has been a great reference tool. I have a question on an All-Glass Aquarium 75 gallon pre-drilled with a overflow box.  The tank came with 2 drilled holes 1 3/4" & 1 1/2".  My question is can both holes be used for intake lines and can the return line or lines can be plumbed up the side or back of the tank? <Sure, if you want - no hard/fast rule that you 'must' plumb this any certain way.> The limited information from the manufacture only references the larger for the intake and the smaller for the return. <Is the design, but not the requirement.> In addition can this tank (not tempered) have the back drilled for a closed loop circulation system. <Yes.> Attached is my design please advise your thoughts. <Hmm... the attachment doesn't seem to have made it,  but I'm willing to guess that a closed loop system will work just fine. Cheers, J -- >

SCWD Leaking <hello> I'm running a quiet one 4400 (about 700 gph) to a SCWD.  Actually, I have 2 pumps and 2 SCWD.  My problem is they (both) keep leaking on the inlet side.  I have tried wrapping some Teflon tape around the "wannabe" barb fitting and using a hose clamp...but no matter how tight I make the clamp, I keep getting a little leaking.....any ideas, suggestions! <Sounds like the tubing you used is a little to big. There are 2 models 1/2 & 3/4". Make sure that the tubing you used says either 1/2 or 3/4 ID NOT OD. The tubing should be hard to get on, if it slips right on it's to big (heat a cup of water and place the tubing in for a minute or two .It will soften the tubing and go on easier. I am using one of these and have had no leaking problems. MikeH> Dave

Where to drill the hole 1/20/04 Hi Anthony, (or other helpful WWM crew) <Adam here today.> Please help! I have search the FAQ and other forums and cannot find a definite answer.  I am planning on drilling the back of a 75 gal non reef ready tank. I plan on  using 1" bulkheads which require 1.75" holes. My question is: where to place  the holes in relation to the top of the tank/water level? Where should the center line of the hole be? I plan on using a screw in strainer and/or a 90  elbow as I have read that will allow some adjustment. Is there a standard or good old "rule of thumb" I have read that the distance  from the top should be the diameter of the hole drilled? But does this mean from the top of the tank or from the top of the water level? Please help as I sure don't want to drill in the wrong place. No chance for a oops "do over"!  Thanks, and as always WWM is the best source of reliable information! <I have not heard a rule of thumb on this either, but I suspect that leaving one "diameter" distance from the lip of the tank has more to do with preserving the strength of the glass than anything to do with tank drainage.  I would say that that is a reasonable guide, but you may have to use an elbow to raise the water level to an acceptable level.  I would also suggest leaving several inches between holes if you are drilling more than one.  Adam>

Where to drill the hole 1/20/04 Hi Anthony, (or other helpful WWM crew) <howdy> Please help! I have search the FAQ and other forums and cannot find a definite answer. I am planning on drilling the back of a 75 gal non reef ready tank. I plan on  using 1" bulkheads which require 1.75" holes. My question is: where to place the holes in relation to the top of the tank/water level? Where should the center line of the hole be? I plan on using a screw in strainer and/or a 90 elbow as I have read that will allow some adjustment. Is there a standard or good old "rule of thumb" I have read that the distance from the top should be the diameter of the hole drilled? But does this mean  from the top of the tank or from the top of the water level? Please help as I sure don't want to drill in the wrong place. No chance for a oops "do over"! Thanks, and as always WWM is the best source of reliable information! <the distance from the surface of the water is somewhat subjective... but most folks want it as near to the surface as possible for aesthetics if no other reason. Drilled lower, however, you can extend the elbow upwards (and add pipe/tubing if needed)... however this is a possible point of leakage (into the sump at risk of overflow) in the event of a power failure. I prefer to drill high... and for a 1" bulkhead, the highest you can go is about 3" from the top of the glass on center (of the hole... thus, there will be a full 7/8" above the drilled hole). A whisker lower would be nice to play it safe. I'd suggest 4" on center from the top and use an elbow on the inside of each hole to act as a standpipe for adjusting the water level. Best regards, Anthony>

To Drill or not to Drill 1/15/03 Dear Crew, I need to know if I can drill a hole( bottom or side) in a 125 gal. O Dell tank. I bought it about 3 years ago used.  I don't know how long they had it. Would you be able to help me with this (temper or not). The company is no longer in business. Thank you! Tom <Hi Tom, Adam here today.  As you probably know, drilling tempered glass can be very dangerous.  As a general rule in larger tanks, if any of the panels are tempered, it will be the bottom.  In such a large tank, it is unlikely that the sides are tempered, but I would want to be sure before drilling.  You might be able to tell if the glass is tempered by looking at it through a diffraction grating.  Tempered and non-tempered glass will show different patterns when viewed this way.  Check with a local glass shop for help.  As an aside, this is why you see a pattern in automobile glass if you look at it with polarized sun glasses.  HTH.  Adam>

Siphon box prefilter 1/15/03 Hi Crew!  Easy question today. As I do not have a drilled tank, I am forced to use a  hang on siphon box. I seem to remember reading that the foam filter should  not be used as it will go biologic (sp?) and then become  a source of  nitrite/nitrates in the sump. Is this correct? If so , should the foam filter  be used? or just go without? My sump is really just a refuge with live rock rubble for growing critters. Thanks as always. <Some nitrate will be produced in the sponge filter, but I doubt it would be enough to be of concern.  Unless you need to protect the drain from snails or other animals/objects entering and clogging it, there is no good reason to have it.  Bottom line... I would base the decision on flood risk, not nitrates.  HTH.  Adam>

Re: siphon box prefilter 1/16/03 Adam,  I'm sorry to bother you again but I did not post my last question very well.  I am so stressed out about this, that I can't write clearly. Maybe I need a  hobby? I know! I'll get a aquarium! <No bother at all!  And by the way...  I tried that I need a hobby, how about an aquarium thing with my wife and she didn't buy it for a second!> With the overflow drain pipe going into the sump, should it be above the water level in the sump or should it be below?? Thanks <Sorry for passing over this part of your question.  IMO it really doesn't matter.  I prefer to put under water because I found it to be quieter and makes less salt creep.  HTH.  Adam>

Re: siphon box prefilter// follow-up 1/15/04 Adam,  Thanks for the fast reply. I was referring to the big round filter in the drain box on the back of the tank, not the skimmer box with "teeth" on the inside. Would you still not use the cylinder shape foam filter? <Hmmm...  I am pretty sure that is what I was thinking.  Snails can be quite feisty and climb over into the "outside" box of an overflow assembly.> I also have a question on the drain line going into the sump/fuge. It is a 1" PVC pipe going straight down. I have checked the FAQ and some say the pipe  should be above the water line, some say it's OK for it to be below? I am  trying to make it as quiet as I can, but it still makes a loud flushing noise. Is this just the "nature" of these boxes? Are they all noisy? Thanks again! <There are a couple of ways to quiet this down.  One is to build a "Durso" stand pipe in the outside box of your overflow.  If you do a search on the internet for "Durso stand pipe" you should find a diagram.  You can also cover the top of the overflow box to muffle the sound.  Best regards, Adam>

Tank Drilling for undersized overflow 1/8/04 Anthony...thanks for your reply.  I have never drilled a tank before.  The oceanic (boo, hiss, never buy another one) back panel is 1/2" thick non-tempered glass.  Could you describe step by step how you would go about drilling it.   <hmmm... it's not something that I can describe properly in the brevity of an e-mail. It's also not something that you want improvise on. It's truly worth it for you to contact a local aquarium shop or aquarium service person that has a proper drill press and diamond hole saw with experience drilling a few hundred tanks. Truly worth the investment here> I think this is something I could do myself judging by the amount of people who have done so and could practice on an old tank or sheet of glass before I screw up the good one.   <yes... ultimately its not hard at all> Am I correct in assuming that it should be drilled low on the back side inside the overflow?   <not sure I follow. Most are drilled as high as possible and depend on the presence (or not) of an internal sealed horizontal overflow> The largest bulkheads I saw on the marine depot site were 2" requiring a 3" hole, but they did not list a flow rate for these.  Do you know what kind of flow I can expect from a 2" bulkhead?   <there is some such data in our archives if you care to do a keyword search... as well as calculators for these things on the big message boards like RC. I, however, simply consult the bulkhead mfg's website or specs to be sure> Is it any harder to drill a 3" hole than a 1.5" hole?   <not at all... its all about having a sharp hole saw and proper coolant> If I need more than (2) 2" bulkheads I don't think they would fit in the overflow unless they were at different heights, would that work?   <not sure here... I have no idea how deep you want/can afford the overflow to be> If I drill the back then I can use the 1" bulkheads for the return lines and use one of the 3/4" bulkheads to run power through.   <I suppose... although I do not see the imperative need for submerging the power cords> I am very appreciative of your help with this.  I want to make sure that I get this all done correctly.  I hope you won't mind if I continue to follow up with additional questions as they arise.  thank you for all of your help...Jeremy <always welcome Jeremy... best of luck. Anthony>

I think I got hosed: plumbing question 1/8/04 This question is for Anthony.   <at your service> I've been reading your articles on plumbing a reef system and I'm curious about the rate of flow you suggest and how that can best be achieved.  Am I reading correctly that for a reef system consisting of live rock, live sand, corals (mostly LPS), and inverts you recommend water circulation approaching 20X the volume of the tank per hour?   <quite correct... with many successful reef tanks (see Paletta 2003 for example) cited with flow rates approaching 40X per hour. Much more akin to the dynamic flow on a  real/proper reef> So for my 175 gallon tank I would need to provide approximately 3,500 gph water turnover?   <correct... and to be delivered in a random turbulent way of not surging (never laminar unless keeping those few species that need it)> I purchased an Oceanic 175 gal bowfront tank that is drilled for 1" drain lines and ?" return lines in each corner overflow.   <heehee... nice looking tank, but much is writ (here in WWM archives and on the 'Net abroad at great length) about the size of these so-called "reef-ready" tanks> Using the calculations I can find it does not seem possible for me to get anywhere near the suggested 3,500 gph to drain from my tank, not even if I use all four holes for drainage and run a separate return line (which will look like crap on a tank that was going to sit in the middle of a room).   <you are exactly correct> I have read a few of your FAQ's concerning improving the rate of return by enlarging the size of pipe as close to the bulkhead as possible, even if I go from 1" to 1-1/2" or 2" for my drain lines on the other side of the bulkhead how much improvement might I actually see?   <I cannot say... depends on the run downward: number of bends, tees, elbows... released underwater or not, etc> What is the best configuration above the bulkhead to maximize the flow of water to the sump?   <this one is relative to the rockscape and needs of the corals placed upon it. Rather an experimental endeavor. Simply have enough outlets/nozzles tapped into the manifold in advance and cap off what you don't need later> The bottom of the tank is tempered so drilling additional holes does not seem to be possible, unless there is some way that I do not know of to drill tempered glass, or enlarge existing holes in tempered glass?   <none alas> What are some other tricks to improve the amount of flow from drain lines? <none safely without creating noise/suction. You can just drill extra holes in the back wall like a normal drilled overflow if that glass is not tempered> On the return line side, am I correct in the assumption that I can use any size line for the return, but will experience greater losses due to friction with a smaller line?   <not exactly... rather a volume vs. velocity gig here. You might consult Escobar's "Aquatic Systems Engineering" for many such technical questions/explanations> I had originally planned to use 2 or three of the holes in the overflow for drain lines and the remaining line for return, but if I need to use all four holes for drain lines I'm not left with an option other than to provide an outside return line.  The pump will sit on the floor below the tank so there will be about 6' of head loss.  What size pump/line would you recommend using for this situation.   <I wish to help... but it simply cannot be estimated from here not knowing the system and livestock. You really need to figure out how to deliver the safe flow (say 20X) by the means available to you. In this case, a 4000 GPH return pump that is teed/bled as needed is on par> Have you ever heard of anyone running underwater electrical line through a drain line to get power to their lighting? <its possible, but not appealing to me regarding complication/safety> Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide, it is much appreciated. Jeremy <I do wish I could be of more help, but our (mine and yours) hands are tied by the undersized overflows drilled IMO. You may simply have to deal with a  powerhead or water pump to support the undersized flow of the drains. In that case, estimate what can safely be pushed through those drains (200-300 gph through a 1") and then make up the diff with a sexy Tunze streamer in the display for example <G>. Best of luck, Anthony>

Plumbing Dear Bob,<IanB here today> I have been working on setting up my first 55 gal marine aquarium for about a minute (5 weeks), and listening to my LFS for the setup, now after stumbling onto WWM have stop all production on my system and reading a lot. Goal to be a reef tank and as close to the nature oceans as I can get. <good to hear> Setup (Now) 55 gal tank 4-AquaGlobe AQ-200F (total 800 gph-rated?) 1-Hangon overflow box 15 gal sump (glass tank) modified for algae refugium-Ling Sy's approach 1-rio 2500, clear tubing back to the tank After reading awhile and knowing this setup is flawed (understatement), Her are my thoughts for the future. Setup (future) * Getting 1300 gph of circulation within the tank by means of a "closed loop", running my  intake tubing down the inside of the tank (rear and in corners), and having 4 (front and at top) manifold tee's on the return.<yes, this will give your aquarium more than adequate circulation> * Using the overflow, but exchanging the bulkhead (due to not enough flow)<agreed> * Using the Rio 2100 which is rated for 375 gph with 5ft of head, which is suggested with the Leng Sy's follow for 10 lbs of mud.<ok> Any thoughts on my thoughts will greatly be received, and any suggestions on what to use not to suck my future pets into the "closed Loop". Or should I scrap what I have so far and start over?<I believe you are on the right track my friend, keep reading and good luck with your first reef aquarium, IanB> Many thanks, I hope you truly realize what you give to the hobby. Respectfully Aaron Oakley Plumbing & Live Rock Questions (1/5/2004) Thanks for the response. I actually sent another email yesterday because I wasn't sure if this one you responded to went through! Sorry. Okay, another question. <Steve Allen answering tonight.> If we do drill a hole in the sump, we have to seal the hole with something because we don't want any leaks. What is safe to seal with for fish? <You need a bulkhead fitting of appropriate size. It has a rubber gasket that goes on the water side to seal the hole. You can glue your PVC pipe to the inside of the bulkhead (one with a smooth inside) with regular PVC cement from the plumbing section of Home Depot or Lowe's. Check here for  plumbing parts:   http://www.marinedepot.com/a_ft_2.asp?CartId=#bh   The bulkhead is inserted from inside the sump and the ring is threaded tightly from the outside. Some sort of strainer ought to be on the inside. Your PVC can then be glued to the inside of the part that sticks out of the sump. If you don't glue it, you will get some leakage and salt creep. Of course, this is permanent, so don't glue anything until you have it the way you want it.> Very interesting about the bio balls. Someone told me NEVER to disturb them. Now I know the real story.  I had a friend buy live rock and put it in his tank. All his fish died within 2 hours. <Obviously, the rock was not properly cured and released a load of ammonia. The other possibility is that it was used rock that had been exposed to some sort of toxin.> I've been scared to do it since that happened to him. <No need to fear. You can either buy uncured rock and cure it yourself or buy thoroughly pre-cured (from LFS) and add it. This way is much more expensive and you will need to do it slowly to avoid ammonia spikes if it was not fully cured. Curing it yourself is much less expensive and allows you to be certain it was done right. Read more on WWM about "curing live rock."> We have the living color coral now. Its very pretty, but not as natural as I'd like. <If you are looking at corals, you need to research proper lighting first.> Also, I had a friend tell me to get a crab to clean up, but I was also told this is a bad idea. I heard a crab will grab a fish while it is sleeping, and even if it is a clown trigger, the crab can eat him. I thought that was odd. I thought Clown Triggers eat crabs. <Yes, but they do sleep. However, it is not likely that a hermit crab that stays small will do this. Other crabs maybe, but the Trigger will likely get the crab first. Crabs are generally untrustworthy. I am not a big fan of them as cleaners either. Look at some snails (Nassarius, Nerites, Turbo, Cerith) and brittle stars as better choices.>  Maybe you can clarify. I mentioned I'd read the Conscientious Marine Aquarist, anything else you can recommend? I enjoy reading, and I have learned a lot at this point, but I am always wanting more! <Uh Oh, you got the "librarian" tonight. How much are you willing to spend? For starters, I'd suggest "Reef Secrets" by Fossa & Nielsen. This is a wonderful book with a great chapter on live rock and an excellent selection guide. I love Bob & Anthony's "Reef Invertebrates" book. Great discussion of algae, deep sand beds, live rock & refugia. Then there's Scott W. Michael's "Reef Fishes," a great guide to 500+ species. If your interested in other, progressively more detailed and expensive books, I'd be glad to provide some other titles.> Thanks, Trish Brian <Hope this helps>

- Poor Siphon? - I have a pretty normal siphon going on in my tank. <Oh?> I can't get it to have any real suction like I used to, any ideas as to what that could be from? <Perhaps just a build up of mulm on the inside of the siphon tube. Might want to replace any flexible plastic tubing on your siphon and then soak the U-tube in a bleach solution for a little while to clean it. Here's some more FAQs about cleaning aquarium decor: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornfaqs.htm > Jason <Cheers, J -- >

Hole dia. Hello Mr.. Fenner, <Howdy> I strongly assure you that it is a great honor. I am in the process of reading your book which my spouse gave to me as a Christmas present. I have a question. I just purchased a 180 gal perfecto tank and want to run it with a 55 gal sump,. I was thinking of using 4 over flow holes evenly distributed across the back of the tank and my intention is to have a turnover rate something near 10. -What size holes should I get drilled???- I'm thinking a pump feeding 2000 gph at 4.5 feet. -does this sound good to you?- <Mmm, yes... I would make these through-puts 1 1/2" inside diameter... a few things to remark here... Do look a bit further into the actual configuration possibilities you have here... perhaps corner "towers" with the overflows drilled through the bottom, with risers as drains threaded into them... would be better> I can't find any information the applies directly to this issue. <Take a read through the many articles and FAQs folders on Marine Plumbing posted on our site www.WetWebMedia.com>   I want some good flow. Also, this will be a very lightly populated fish only with live rock. Everybody tells me not to bother with a sump and high turnover rates but I want all chances on my side and I want a couple happy fellers in my nice tank; I like the idea of higher turnover..  so what size holes do you think I should get drilled? do you think 4 is overkill? <The holes will likely be 2" diameter, and four is not too many>             Thanks so much in advance for any and all time spent on this; your work and contribution is fantastic. <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Bob Fenner>

Tiny Bubbles- Big Troubles? I have been reading about skimmers, etc. making tiny bubbles in tank..... How big of an issue is getting bubbles in your tank (apart from aesthetics')..? I can't seem to find any reference as to problems with bubbles, and I would think that it would not do any harm to have some in your tank.....in fact, right before lights out (for my fish), I turn on the venturi to create bubbles for approx: 10-20 minutes....it seems to create a nice "wave" effect in the tank and stirs up debris etc.... Is this practice bad...? Jess <Well, Jess- the practice may not be bad, but the big concern about microbubbles or other bubbles in the tank is the potential for them to become "trapped" in sessile inverts and corals, potentially irritating or damaging them. The "danger" of this happening may be somewhat overstated, but it is a good practice to avoid activities that could cause irritation to inverts. I'd make sure that you don't see a lot of bubbles accumulating on your inverts. If this does not appear to be a problem, then I wouldn't be overly concerned. Just use your good judgment, and all should be fine! Regards, Scott F>

- Sink Plumbing Problems - Hello, I just installed a new kitchen in my 20 year old house a few months ago.  My father-in-law helped me with the plumbing.  My sump pump pumps water into the septic system.  When he cut a hole in the floor in the kitchen, he saw the sump pump PVC drain pipe, and tied the sink drain to it.  However, every time the sump pump kicks on, it makes a sucking noise.  I put a sump pump check valve on the sink drain, but it didn't work because the valve was upside down.  I didn't think it would work, but somebody at a hardware store recommended it to me.  Can I get rid of the noise without running a new sink drain line or re-routing my sump pump line? Joe <Joe, I'm afraid I don't know what to tell you. I'd love to have an answer, but I don't - our website deals with the ornamental aquatics hobby, and as such we do answer plumbing questions as they relate to fish tanks, but I'm at a loss to explain problems with household plumbing. My apologies. Cheers, J -- >

- Errant Siphon/Overflow - Hi,  I have a 5' tank, about 100 gallons sump included, the return from the sump is from an Eheim 1060 so ~ 500 gph but prob much less after 4ft head height and several bends: the problem is that it takes ages for the level in the main tank to reach its proper level after the 1060 has been switched off and then back on again, e.g. after a water change. It fills the tank until the sump is empty and the pump is taking in a water + air mixture and the bracing bars in the main tank are submerged, then eventually a siphon begins and the water level falls to the level of the hole I drilled in the sump intake pipe in the main tank which breaks the siphon (with a big gargle), the level is now stable. The pipe taking water from the tank to the sump has an internal diameter of 1 1/4'', I've read on this site that these pipes can take a flow rate of  >600gph, presumably without emptying the sump first and siphoning to the point where the siphon break is. The pipe going from the main tank to the sump comes through the side of the aquarium and bends 90 degrees down, it has a half inch diameter hole in the top of it on the part inside the tank before the 90 degree bend which I've blocked otherwise the siphon never occurs and the water level won't come down, neither does it when the hole is partially open. The pipe taking water to the sump is currently slightly submerged in the sump to prevent noise, though having it above the sump water level makes no difference to the above problem. Though the many answers to the problems I have read on this sight have been informative I haven't found anybody else with this problem yet! <Hmm... I'm confused as to why you have a 'siphon' setup with a hole drilled in the side of your tank. Should just be a basic gravity-driven overflow... no siphon required. Could be this is the root of your problem... sounds like perhaps the bulkhead/hole in the side of the tank is too high up, and would work better about 1/2" or more lower than it is currently. Again... I'm not entirely sure by your description about what's going on... if you could create a diagram of the plumbing on your tank, that might help a little.> many thanks, Pete <Cheers, J -- >

Re: plumbing... 12/20/03 Hi! <Welcome back, Pete!> Thanks for your suggestions Adam on what could be causing the level in my main tank to get really high before a siphon starts and then going down to where I made a hole and making a gurgling noise. <No problem!  I just hope we solve it this time, because if not we may have to resort to drawing diagrams, and I am a terrible artist!> I unscrewed the 90 degree bend inside the main tank and found that the internal diameter of the connection that goes through the glass was only 1", perhaps too small for an Eheim 1060 flow rate?? (500 gph, though less with a 4' head). <Considering head losses, I doubt that you are overwhelming the drain "system".  I really think we are dealing with an oddball fluid dynamics occurrence.> I put a small valve, (one from an old gravel cleaning siphon kit where you push the middle part to open/close it) onto the hole in the top of the elbow in the tank (this elbow comes out of the side of the tank and bends down where it's attached to a strainer). This hole is normally blocked up completely (this is so that a siphon can start and allow the level to come down to where I made another hole which breaks the siphon). Anyway, I adjusted the valve to allow different amounts of air through, from a tiny amount all the way up to fully open but the level in the tank was always too high and the sump empty with the 1060 aggressively churning up air and water. This hole with a valve attached would have exactly the same effect as a Durso standpipe wouldn't it? <Yes, this should function the same as a Durso.  When you say the water level was too high, perhaps you tank is drilled to high on the wall of the tank for this to work properly.  Anytime I have seen a Durso running, the water level is always very near the top of the elbow.> If so then the reasons for the siphon and gurgling is cos the pipe can't take the flow rate right?  - cos of the diameter of the bit that goes through the glass being too small (1") ?? <It could be.  You could test this by reducing the flow from the pump with a valve or by blocking an outlet.  Did you try simply running it without the inside elbow (or turning it so the opening was pointing upward?  If so, what were the results?> and perhaps the 5' horizontal length of pipe and four 90 degree bends on the way ??(the water exits the tank conveniently at the opposite end to the sump underneath!) <I doubt this is a contributing factor> I was hoping to increase the flow rate through the system and make this proper reef tank but it's not looking too promising! <You may not be able to increase it much with a larger return pump, but you could apply a closed loop or in tank water movers (power heads, Tunze streams, etc.)> Also - any reason why my Berlin classic skimmer prefers to deposit solid protein waste on the sides of the black rising tube rather than go that extra 6 inches and end up in the collection cup as a brown liquid? <I am not certain of the adjustments on this skimmer, but it sounds like the water level is too low.  This could be because of adjustment or because the driving pump is too small.> Many thanks guys! and sorry for emailing the last one twice - feel free to delete one ;) <No worries!  Adam> Pete

-Plumbing... 12/19/03 hi, <Hi Pete, Adam at your service.> I have a 5' tank, about 100 gallons sump included, the return from the sump is from an Eheim 1060 so ~ 500 gph but prob much less after 4ft head height and several bends: <I agree you are probably getting much less than the rated flow.> the problem is that it takes ages for the level in the main tank to reach its proper level after the 1060 has been switched off and then back on again, e.g. after a water change. <you can calculate the actual output of your pump by calculating the gallons per inch of tank height and then timing how long it takes for the water level to rise and inch once you restart your pump.  A little arithmetic, and you can calculate GPH or GPM.> It fills the tank until the sump is empty and the pump is taking in a water + air mixture and the bracing bars in the main tank are submerged, <Yikes!> then eventually a siphon begins and the water level falls to the level of the hole I drilled in the sump intake pipe in the main tank which breaks the siphon (with a big gargle), the level is now stable. <Whew!  A relief it does not flood, but as you know this is still not right!> The pipe taking water from the tank to the sump has an internal diameter of 1 1/4'', I've read on this site that these pipes can take a flow rate of  >600gph, presumably without emptying the sump first and siphoning to the point where the siphon break is. <I agree 1.25" pipe should easily handle the flow you are achieving.> The pipe going from the main tank to the sump comes through the side of the aquarium and bends 90 degrees down, it has a half inch diameter hole in the top of it on the part inside the tank before the 90 degree bend which I've blocked otherwise the siphon never occurs and the water level won't come down, neither does it when the hole is partially open. <You have essentially created a Carlson surge device.  I am surprised that a hole above the desired water level does not cure the problem though.  Try the following to see if any solves your problem:  Turn the elbow inside the tank sideways or upwards so that it acts more like a stand pipe.  If that doesn't work, try replacing the elbow outside the tank with a "T" to create a "chimney" on the top of your drain line (picturing the "T" fitting as the letter "T", it would be sideways).  You may have to extend the "chimney" with a piece of pipe to ensure that the top is above the top of the aquarium.> The pipe taking water to the sump is currently slightly submerged in the sump to prevent noise, though having it above the sump water level makes no difference to the above problem. Though the many answers to the problems I have read on this sight have been informative I haven't found anybody else with this problem yet! <please do let us know which if any of these suggestions solves your problem.> many thanks, <my pleasure.  Adam> Pete

-Overflow Dilemma - Dear Bob: <Actually, JasonC today...> It's been several weeks since I e-mailed you but I have another question that I have been unable to answer.  I have just about everything ready to go for a new 180 gallon marine aquarium (FOWLR) that I have been setting up. With your input I decided to purchase a EuroReef CS8-1 Skimmer as you may recall from my prior e-mails.  It will be placed in a 50-gallon sump in a stand beneath this aquarium.  My question deals with the tank itself.  It is from All-Glass Company and features two corner overflows (not the newer center-located overflows that are found on their newer tanks).  The Mega-Flow Overflow Kits that the dealer sold with this tank are a tight fit since All-Glass now uses the Durso standpipe system because of noise concerns, etc.  As you know, these feature a 1" bulkhead fitting in each corner and a 3/4" PVC return line.  The numerous postings on various websites regarding flow rates for this and other drilled setups has my head swimming!  The nice folks at All-Glass indicated that each overflow can handle a flow rate of 600 gph -- 1200 total for the tank.  The many letters I have read seem to present a different picture, indicating flow rates as little as 200 to 300 gph. <Nah... a total of 1200 GPH is about right.> I have a Mag 18 ready to use for the return plumbing to the tank.  I made this choice after calculating flow loss due to friction and head pressure through the 3/4" return plumbing.  The return line will use a 'Y' connector to split the flow path and eventually bend thru the 90 degree elbows near the top of the tank.  I estimated a return flow of about 820 gph -- or roughly 410 gph for each return line.  Based on the lower flow rate numbers from above (draining thru the 1" bulkheads) I am now concerned that this pump may be too powerful.  If this was your setup would you install a ball valve to control flow? <I'd install one for other reasons... being able to take the pump out to service it, etc. But again... I think you'll be fine with your pump selection.> I'm not sure how Mag drive pumps can handle any type of back pressure, so I'm reluctant to do this. Or, do you believe these overflows can handle a Mag 18 without interruption? <No worries.> Just to note the Mag 18, according to the manufacturer, has a flow rate of 1200 gph at 5', and 825 gph at 11' (which is the figure I used).  Thanks for any advice you can offer. Sam M.      <Cheers, J -- >

- Overflow Calculations - Hi Crew, Would you kindly check my calculations/idea? <Sure.> I am setting up a 75 gal non reef ready tank. As such, I need to use a hang on overflow siphon box (yuck). I really don't want to risk drilling the back unless you think it is worth taking the chance? <Not a chance you or I should take, but if there's no water in it I'd take it to a glass shop and have it drilled.> Anyway, I wish to set up a 15 or 20 gal sump/refuge. As the tank is in the living room I would not wish to have any flooding to explain to my wife! <Understood.> If I keep the water level 2 inches below the top of the tank this would be about 7.4 gals short of overflow. If I then keep the submerged pump in the sump 6 or 7 gals below the sump high water level, then there should be little chance of the tank overflowing in the event of a siphon break? correct?? <Only if the water remaining the sump is not more than the 7.4 gallon margin of error in the top tank. Sounds risky to me... evaporation and top off will be your biggest issues.> The only worry would be the pump running dry and burn out? Which I could live with. <If that happened, you could lose everything in the tank.> Does this sound correct or am I missing something? <It 'sounds' correct but still more risky than I would be willing to tackle.> Also, when adding make up water, would I add to the tank or sump? Does it matter? <Doesn't matter.> Thank you for your assistance. Happy Holidays. <Cheers, J -- >

Quick plumbing question Hello guys!  I have a couple questions that I would like to present to you,  if you don't mind.  I have a 20H nano w/a 10 gallon sump/fugium, and I  currently am using a Mag 3 for a return pump.  I am using 1/2 ID flex tubing for a return, run through a T at the tank and bushed down to 3/8 ID tube for the outlet into the water.  For one reason or another, this just isn't providing adequate flow for the tank, and I'm thinking about hard plumbing the set-up.  If I stick with 1/2 tubing all the way to the return nozzles, will my flow increase? <very very, small amount> I thought that bushing the nozzles down would increase the outlet flow, but now I am not so sure.  I'm thinking that the T is the problem, as the pump isn't very large, but I'm really not sure.  Any suggestions would be much appreciated, as all of your responses are.  Thanks again! < I would either get a new pump (if possible) or run a single return and add a powerhead to the tank. If you use a single return run in 1/2 exit tube and use a magnum return. This will produce the most out of your pump. MikeH> -Dave Conners

Bulkhead drain rate 12/14/03 Anthony, My bulkhead-drilling project resulted in 6 1.5" bulks installed across the back of my 135; I now wish I'd drilled a seventh hole, and may do so yet...the problem I encountered is that each bulkhead doesn't flow nearly what I'd hoped it might...careful flow testing with a stopwatch and a measured 6-gallon volume of the tank discloses that the maximum drain rate for a 1.5" bulkhead with the usual 90-degree threaded elbow and strainer installed is just 385gph. It seems that removing the elbow increases flow to ~485gph, but then there's no way to control water level...and of course the tank drains much lower when powering off the pump. [The bulks are draining through a vented T at the back, of course.] I thought you might find the 385gph number useful for future WWM FAQ's. Regards, JACK MARCH <yes... much appreciation for this my friend. Yet, for future readers of this message in the FAQs, your measure (albeit accurate, I trust indeed)... is only accurate for the length and run of the specific pipe/path you are using. Others with more or less plumbing, fittings, turns, etc will have differing flow rates. Nonetheless the measure is still quite helpful for perspective. Kind thanks, Anthony>

- System Design, Plumbing & Pumps - Hello Bob, Your site is great, been using it for a couple years now for advice.  I have one quick question though.  I currently have a 44 gallon reef tank (36"L 24"H 12"W) and would like to add a sump to this to hide my Remora Pro and heater, because I want this setup to be viewed from 360 degrees instead of against a wall.  In order to do this, I am considering drilling the bottom of my display tank.  My two questions are: 1. What turnover rate is sufficient for this setup.  I would like to use the Little Giant 2MDQX-SC (800GPH) pump for the return.  I believe this should be enough. <Not familiar with this model pump, but anything that gets you close to 10x turnover would be just great.> 2. What size of PVC should I use to accommodate the 20 gallon sump with this pump? <One inch from the tank to the sump, 3/4" from the pump back to the tank would work fine... one inch would be better.> What I plan on doing is drilling the bottom and having the PVC run up the middle of the tank for the inflow and then another PVC running up another spot in the tank for the return.  Also note that the tank is 24" tall so there would be quite a bit of head resistance(?). <Make sure the pump will deliver what you're looking for at the proper head height.> What sizes would you recommend for the inflow and return?  1 1/2" down and 3/4" return sufficient? <Yes.> Any suggestions would be really appreciated.  Thanks for all the great advice!  Blaine <Cheers, J -- >

- Shut-off Switch - Hi Crew, I am trying to add a sump to be 75 gal reef. It is not drilled, so I need to use a hang on siphon box. As I fear floods if the siphon breaks, is there a type of float switch I can install in the sump which will shut off the return pump if the water level falls below a certain level? <I'm sure there is, but I can't recall any product names. I'd scan the online retailer - there are a number of variations on the electric float-switch out there.> I imagine it would be always "on" and it would have to be mounted up at the correct water level. I guess I am thinking a switch like a boat bilge pump switch only 110 volts. Is this a feasible idea or am I missing something? <It's out there...> Where would one get such a switch? <Check with your local fish store first. If they can't help, go online, perhaps Marine Depot or Fosters and Smith... each of these has extensive catalogs. I'm sure they'd have something that would fit the bill.> Thanks for any assistance. <Cheers, J -- >

- Shut-off Switch, Follow-up - Hi again Crew, I was able to locate a few vendors who sell such a switch, but I guess my real question is: Is this something I should spend the $$ on? <Too me, peace of mine is often worth paying for.> Does this offer me some protection against overflow or is it prone to sticking and causing more problems then not having it? <Depends on the nature of the float switch. May pay to give it a rinse from time to time.> Have any of the Crew used this or know about them? <You left out the important information - what is 'this'? You didn't name the actual product.> Thanks <Cheers, J -- >

Re: sump shut off switch 12/7/03 (2) Crew, Sorry, One that I found is the UltraLife float switch at MarineDepot and premium aquatics. Thanks. > - Shut-off Switch, Follow-up - > Hi again Crew, > I was able to locate a few vendors who sell such a switch, but I guess my real question is: Is this something I should spend the $$ on? <Too me, peace of mine is often worth paying for.> Does this offer me some protection against overflow or is it prone to sticking and causing more problems then not having it? > <Depends on the nature of the float switch. May pay to give it a rinse from time to time.> Have any of the Crew used this or know about them? <You left out the important information - what is 'this'? You didn't name the actual product.> > Thanks > <Cheers, J -- >

- Siphon Overflow Box - Hi Crew, I want to set up a sump on my 75 gal reef tank which is not drilled. Can you offer any advice on the brand of prefilter/overflow to use? I have checked on the discussion boards RE: the CPR CS50 and have opinions ranging from OK to don't even think about it. <It's only one of a couple of options out there, and probably your best one. External siphon/overflows are a compromise no matter what.> I checked their Web site and it seems it requires a power head attachment to keep the siphon going? <Yes... will jumpstart the siphon in the event of power failure and restoration.> Would a regular U tube box like Amiracle be less trouble prone, or how about Tidepool? <Would use the CPR, as it is the most reliable of an unreliable-by-nature line of products.> I realize CPR is a sponsor so if you can't take sides or make recommendations I understand. I am just very afraid of flooding potential! <You should be, and none of the manufacturers can really avoid this problem 100% - the CPR design is the only one that comes close.> Thank you <Cheers, J -- >

Diagnosing A Durso Standpipe Problem... I have checked the freq asked quest.  But still need assistance. I have a 75 gal with one overflow box with a diy Durso standpipe made out of 1 1/4 in pvc with a 1in threaded reducer connected to the 1in bulkhead opening. This drains into a diy 20gal ecosystem sump via a 18in drop thru 1in pvc. The outlet is aprox 1in  below the water line when the water is flowing. Problem is too much noise created by the air that gets sucked down the standpipe it really gurgles when it empties into the sump. I have played around with this a lot but I haven't figured it out.  I also have a larger air hole in the cap than recommended( 1/4in dia. as opposed to a toothpick size hole or gradually larger).  Anything smaller caused the overflow to slowly flush up and down.  Is there anything I missed?  Is there any way to make this less noisy?  I know that this will not be silent but any thing will be better than the present conditions. Thanks, Kevin V. <Well, Kevin- The Durso Standpipe is a great design, and really is relatively silent...I'm at a loss to explain, myself- so I'm going to recommend you contact the man himself. Richard Durso's website is: http://www.rl180reef.com/frames.htm Shoot him an email and I'm sure that he can offer some suggestions...Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F>

- Draining into the Sump - Ok, I'm confused!!! <Oh?> Should vertical drain lines going into the sump be an inch or so just below the sump water level, or just above the water level??? <I'd do this just under the surface of the water, would keep the noise down a small amount.> I have mine about 2 inches below, and am getting a ton of little bubbles in the sump (some making their way back into the display via pump) please advise/clarify in your opinion Thanks! <The bubbles are actually not from having the outlet below the water but from the process of water coming down the pipe in the first place - you can tweak the plumbing somewhat to reduce this but it's almost impossible to eliminate.> Blair <Cheers, J -- >

Bulkhead drain rate 11/22/03 Searching though your very informative FAQs, I get the general idea that a 1" bulkhead in the back wall of a tank can be expected to drain about 600gph; <Hmmm... to clarify: some aquarists/mfgs claim this flow through a 1" bulkhead, but truthfully it is not likely. Only occurs when overdriven (drawing a noisy siphon). Reading through the FAQs you will see that I advise folks to expect half this much> however, I recently installed one of these guys with the elbow and strainer... and was dismayed to find that his max flow was only 200gph with the elbow and strainer in place, 300gph through the open bulkhead sans elbow and strainer. <yes... agreed. And it speaks to my very common rant/peeve with so-called "reef-ready" tanks sold which really are a joke because they have too few/small holes to actually be reef-ready> (I measured the flow coming out of a 1" drain line attached to the bulkhead by simply putting a stopwatch on the time required to fill a calibrated Rubbermaid gallon container. The bulkhead attaches to a 1" T fitting to let it "breathe" as it drains. [I subsequently installed a 1.5" bulkhead, which returned a more useful 400gph through an identical elbow and strainer, running through 1.5" flex PVC pipe.]) Is this low flow a surprise to you? <nope... common. And it has been surprising aquarists for about 20 years I can recall <G>> Or has no one ever taken the trouble to actually measure the flow through these things? <ahh... there is the mfg specs. As well as the calculators on the big message boards (like RC) as well as some technical manuals on aquatic systems engineering. All to be revealed with a little digging/research by us when planning for a tank> The reason I ask is that I'm planning to drill my 135-gallon tank which is currently draining through much-hated siphon overflows, and naturally I'm trying to figure out how many and what size bulkheads to drill into the rear wall of the tank. <I would recommend enough holes (size/number) to handle 2500 GPH if this is to be a reef> The Iwaki 70RLT on the tank is probably running ~1200gph through the tank (with another 200 diverted through a UV)--so how many 1.5" bulkheads would you expect would be needed? <the above 2500 GPH to get near the recommended 20X turnover for a healthy reef aquarium> Thanking you for your time and patience, JACK MARCH <best of luck to you. Anthony Calfo>

Re: bulkhead drain rate II 11/23/03 Anthony, Thanks for your prompt and helpful response! Perhaps you would be so kind as to answer a follow-up query: <our pleasure> Although this particular tank is freshwater, I want the flexibility to convert it to either FOWLR or reef as time and opportunity may permit, so as I'm taking it offline for drilling I'd certainly want the 2500gph drain capacity you mention; <indeed... not such thing as too much flow here> but the inside back wall is just 71" long, so...the math works out to [assuming a 1.5" bulkhead will drain 425gph, which I would guess is just slightly optimistic] six 2.5" holes every 10.5" or so--which leaves just over 7" between holes. <yes... correct> Forgive my ignorance in this area, but does this much glass removed from the rear wall leave enough structural strength to contain the contents of the aquarium? <a valid question. But no worries... this is safe here. Safer still is to cluster them towards the ends (avoid the center where there is some bow/deflection to the long panes of glass)> What is a safe minimum distance between holes to prevent  half-inch glass from breaking? <its variable by tank... but as little 3" can easily be done oftentimes. This decision is to be left up to the professional who drills your tank. The other option is to simply drill fewer but even larger holes> Of course, the obvious solution would be to consider 2" bulks, but I already have the drill bits and 1.5" bulks, so I'd hate to have to re-invest yet more of my exiguous bucks in 2" hardware. <understood> On the subject of OEM "reef ready" tanks, I have a 210 & 240 Oceanic with absurd 1" bulkheads in each corner overflow; <agreed... absurd. The tanks are fine/beautiful... but the marketing/drilling/drainage is flawed in my opinion for most reef aquarists> when I bought the tanks I was such a newbie I had no idea what a huge problem this would be as I added experience and flow to the system. Really, it makes me angry--the systems as sold to me were essentially a frauds, but I was too inexperienced to know it. <alas... this is not uncommon, and most often occurs out of ignorance by your merchant, not so much as malice/fraud> By converting the two pump return lines to drain lines and using 1.5 flex PVC from the 1" bulks I've been able to bump flow to a measured 3273gph on the 240, <yes... helpful indeed. The compromise most with these systems make> but this is still far short of where I'd like it on a grossly overloaded FOWLR system. <correct> [Incidentally, it's dismaying to note how much more a vertical 1" bulkhead flows than a horizontal one!] <really... please do share these numbers/perspectives> I've always preferred WWM over RC, much less bs on your site than with the mostly BB format of RC; their flow calculator is pretty useless for addressing this issue of bulkhead drain rates, viz.,   <rather geared for experienced aquarists too> Calculators < http://reefcentral.com/calc/> ->Drain Size Calculator < http://reefcentral.com/calc/drain.php> Using the following input parameters Gallons per Hour = 2500 Drain and Overflow sizes are calculated as Recommended minimum drain pipe diameter = 2.06 inches Recommended minimum linear overflow size = 38 inches Truly I appreciate the wealth of information and sheer hard work your site represents, don't know what I'd've done without you, since I'm not much of a joiner and the LFS's aren't exactly cutting edge in terms of the tech side of the hobby; <its a labor of love on our end> one memorable comment from an LFS owner was to the effect that you certainly wouldn't want [even!] 10:1 flow in your tank--why, my gosh, that'd turn it into a whirlpool! <Ughhh... what are they smoking?> Right...and weren't the '50's a wonderful time to be alive? Now lemme see where I put that Supreme AquaKing... <heehee... its with the box filters and glass wool... and coconut carbon> Regards, JACK MARCH <kindly, Anthony>

Re: bulkhead drain rate Once again, thank you for your courteous and informative response to my queries. The tank in question is a stock Oceanic 72x18x24 glass 135 with an 18" center brace, so there is no detectable bowing of the rear panel when sighting down the length of the tank. Therefore I'll assume, based on your kindly-shared expertise, that it's safe to drill six 2.5" holes evenly spaced across the back glass... <seems doable to me> and, BTW, the "professional who drills your tank" would be me, a rank amateur; but I've drilled a total of 3 holes in much thinner glass [.25"] previously, using a diamond bit and Honda coolant as a lubricant, had no trouble despite using a handheld drill, just kept the rpm's--and pressure--very low, so no detectable heat build-up. <all good... indeed a possible DIY project. Just nice to have a professional do it and insure his work> A 1" fipt x fipt vertically-mounted bulkhead [as sold by Oceanic on most of their "reef ready" big tanks] can be modified to flow at least 900gph [confirmed using an actual stopwatch and measured vol. of water to calculate flow rate] by CAREFULLY opening up the 2 male PVC adapters with a Dremel and immediately placing a 1>1.5 flush bushing inline below the bulk to bring the drain line out to 1.5", then using standard techniques [e.g., long-turn elbows or 2x45 elbows, no 90 elbows] to construct the drain line. A <very interesting... thanks you for sharing this> above the bulk is the usual Durso standpipe with again 1.5" PVC. Using 4 of these modified 1" bulks I'm easily running 3273gph in my 240. [although naturally the overflows have been lowered] But a horizontal 1" bulk will max out at a meager 200gph with elbow and strainer, or 300 running wide open--even connected to a T behind the tank to admit air and smooth the flow. I've no idea why there should be such a large difference between flow rates--vertical mount vs. horizontal--but we humble aquarists can't argue with the laws of fluid dynamics. <agreed> I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom and experience with the rest of us, Anthony! Regards, JACK MARCH   <a labor of love... wishing you the best my friend. Anthony>

- Glass Drilling - Hello.  My husband just bought me a 150 x-tall (All-glass) I think tank... I would like to set it up for a reef... however, I have a question and couldn't figure it out by reading other posts, although it is possible I missed it. The dimensions of the tank are 4 ft long, 2 ft wide, and 21/2 ft deep... I would like to drill some holes in it and set up the overflow as described in Anthony's book where there is a glass shelf built in to the aquarium that the water flows over then into the bulkheads... Problem is, we don't have a LFS, and the largest hole that the local glass shop will drill into it is 1", which won't even accommodate a 1/2" bulkhead fitting, right? <Actually, think it will... typically bulkheads are about 0.5" larger than the plumbing they are intended for... but a 0.5" bulkhead is much to small for a drain - you need 1" or better.> (Also, they say if they break the tank it's my tough luck, I guess I understand...) <Yes, much better to drill before the tank is assembled.> So anyways, If I can't get them to do a 11/8" hole to accommodate a 1/2 overflow, how many would I need to accommodate the overflow I would like? <Hmm... to match the same flow rate as two 1" bulkheads, I think you would need seven or eight 0.5" bulkheads.> I would like to just have one large pump in my sump to handle all of my circulation needs if I can do that, would prefer not to use powerheads... and will all these little 1/2" bulkheads drilled, will it reduce the strength of the tank? <Yes... will need to brace up the area where they are drilled, but the nature of Anthony's overflow design is such that you will brace the tank sufficiently.> Any suggestions? <Start considering other options... perhaps external overflow boxes or find another glass shop that can drill larger holes - you really need two, 1" bulkheads.> I think the glass is either 3/8ths or 1/2"....it's still in the back of the truck! Thank You! Ginger <Cheers, J -- >

Plumbing question Hi,     I have a small problem and I came across your site.  I can't trust my  local pet store I feel they are lying to me and ripping me off.  I have a 90  gallon reef ready tank and an Amiracle SL wet/dry filter.  I have had it in  storage for a couple of years, and I've seemed to have forgotten how to connect the  filter to the tank.  The pet store is telling me I am missing a part and will  need to purchase a $70 replacement kit.  Knowing that I only need ONE part they are encouraging me to buy the whole kit.  The worst part is I'm not sure  what part I'm missing so I can't order the part through the Doctor's Foster &  Smith catalog.  They are telling me that the part I'm missing connects the white  flex hose to the male end PVC pipe that comes out from the bottom of the tank. ANY help you can give me will be so appreciated. < hi, it is kind of hard to understand what you mean with out a picture, on the bottom of your tank you should have 2 bulkheads (they are black and go threw the hole in the bottom of your tank. Out of this bulkhead you said you have a piece of pipe. If it is an All glass or oceanic tank it will be 1"pipe)to connect your hose to the pvc pipe you will need a coupling they sell them at home depot in the plumbing section. you do not need to buy the whole kit .take the pieces to the store with you and they can help you. Later MikeH> thank you in advance

New tank setup (c/o Ryan) Hey Ryan, et al. <Hello! Ryan back with you> Thanks again for the all the advice, I am excited to get this project started!!  Sorry my sump sketches didn't come through I'm trying it again here as an attachment instead of incorporating it in the e-mail. <Great>  Now, even with 4 drains (two 1" and two 3/4") I have come to the realization that my Blueline pump will vastly overpower the two overflows so I am going to incorporate a bleeder line with a valve from the return line to cycle back through the sump for fine tuning, possibly with another T (not shown in the drawing) for ease of water changes. <Wow, you've been doing your homework!  This is a great way to plumb the system.> My question now is what size should I go with for hard-plumbing the drain lines? With 1" and 3/4" bulkheads, should I use 1-1/2" and 1" drain lines respectively, (there will be a few turns and angles in each of the drains <To be expected>) to maintain the free-flow, or is it pointless to increase the size over and above the bulkhead size? <No, it's nice to over-shoot in case of a re-write later.  Use 1.5/1 lines as you planned.> Secondly, in the sump as modified in the proposed drawing, would the system benefit from a 12" x 12" DSB (5" deep) in the sump as shown, or is it too small to have any useful impact on the system? <It will help, but can't be relied upon for primary filtration.  All the more reason to invest in high quality live rock>  The tank is going to have a substrate of an inch or less of crushed coral just for aesthetics. <Recommended> I expect a fairly decent bioload for this FOWLR. Lastly, does it matter if the protein skimmer is near the drain (input) side of the sump, or the (output) pump-end?  <Yes, the skimmer will certainly produce more skimmate if placed on the input side.  Sounds like a great setup you've got in the mix!  Best of luck, Ryan>   Thanks again for all your help! Blair.

- Top and Bottom Skimming Overflow -  Hello WWM Crew,  I will be purchasing a 75g tank in the near future. My question is, what is a top and bottom skimming overflow? <Just a type of design in the corner overflow box that allows water to be drawn from multiple places in the water column.> All of my previous tanks just had a "standard" corner overflow. If I am planning to use 3 -4 inches of fine grade aragonite, wouldn't the substrate be sucked into the "bottom skimming" opening of the overflow? <Well... Oceanic and All Glass both have this feature in their overflows, and if I'm not mistaken they've also both recently moved the intake area on the bottom of the overflow to accommodate the trend towards deeper sand beds.> This may be a silly questions, but I have just never seen a top and bottom skimming overflow. <Well... it's rather hard to explain without illustrations, but I've owned tanks like this myself and it does work.>  Thank you for your time and all the great information.  Mike  <Cheers, J -- > 

Plumbing A New Purchase  Hey guys <Hello! Ryan with you>.. thanks for the advice, clearing up my algae problem on my 90 gal reef was a snap with your help! <Great to be of service> New Project: just ordered a 120 AGA (48 x 24 x 24) aquarium for a FOWLR set up. <Pardon my envy> I just got a Blueline 70 HD pump in the mail (the Iwaki equivalent of the MD70RLT) The 120 will come with 2 overflows spaced evenly along the back, each drilled (I am assuming for a 1" bulkhead for the drain and a ?" line for return per/overflow. My first question: would it be wise to convert both the 1" and the ?" of both overflows to all drain to the sump, each retrofitted w/ a respective Durso standpipe, (4 drains instead of 2) and have the return line from the pump (1" split to two ?") come up and over the back of the aquarium? <Sounds nice and clean> The sump is a 29 gal acrylic wet/dry with two compartments where the bio-material used to be. What would be the best way to have the 2 (or 4) return lines empty into the sump? Just a straight shot down, at the end opposite the protein skimmer and return pump, or should I utilize the drip/trays w/ pre-filter material of both the original wet/dry compartments? <I use the drip trays, because it's a great way to pass a large amount of water through carbon or PolyFilter.> My obvious concern is minimizing the ever-popular micro-bubbles and rushing waterfall effect. <Microbubbles are always frustrating, but simply require time and patience.> I'd like for the one end of the sump to act as a settling chamber, instead of using a filter mat, but would like a little advice on the avenue to pursue. <Hmm...message board will be your best ally in sump conversions... ReefCentral in particular has some great DIY discussions.> any help would be great, I've attached a rough sketch for your input/ comments, on how to best utilize this sump <Actually, pics didn't come across. Send them back, I'd be happy to check them out>. Thanks, Blair  <<Picture (Metafile)>>  Oh yeah one more quick question: regarding minimizing flow restriction, 2 45 degree elbows are better than a 90 degree from the pump back to the tank.. correct? <Yes, far> Thanks for all your help. <Great luck with the new setup! Ryan>

-Tiiiiny bubbles (insert rest of cheesy song here)- Ok, I've read through the FAQs many times now but still can't find what I'm looking for.  The return line from my sump to my tank is making many tiny bubbles go into my tank.  I read that most of the time this is caused by a small air leak some where in the return line. <I've never encountered this, although I'm sure it has happened. Most of the time, bubbles going back into the tank from the sump are either from the skimmer or from the water splashing down into the sump from above.> My system is a 29 gallon tank with a 10 gallon sump.  I just added a 10 gallon tank not too long ago (both systems tied into the same sump).  So I bought a new Mag 7 to run both tanks.  I thought my bubble problem was due to check valves and split offs.  So I decided to take it all out and return back to my original Rio pump and only have one return line to my 29 gallon tank (so the new 10 gallon was no longer apart of the system).  Before you say anything about my Rio I will tell you that I wasn't happy going back to it! <Hehe, I don't know if I believe the myths about all the oil and stuff. At worst they're not reliable in a short power failure event.> Anyway, I still have the problem.  My return line is sealed.  I doubt it's the skimmer but I'm going to shut it off for awhile and see if the bubbles go away.  Assuming that isn't it, what's next? <I'd wager it's the skimmer. You can remove most of the bubbles by using a sponge under the outlet, but you'll need to clean it VERY frequently.> The fish don't seem to mind (so far).  However, it makes me feel uneasy about it and it doesn't look great. <Aside from aesthetics, there's nothing wrong w/ bubbles besides the tendency for them to accumulate on the undersides of some types of coral and cause necrotic patches.> At certain angles you can't see the bubbles, but at other angles they are very obvious.  Please help.  I feel if I do anymore to my system at this point I will totally stress my fish out. <I bet it's the skimmer. If not, it's just from the water pouring in from above. You can't do much to prevent them coming in, but u can do something about getting them out before they hit the return pump. Play around with 1 or 2 acrylic baffles that you could position in the sump to make the water go over them (encouraging the bubbles to keep rising and pop). Give it a shot! -Kevin> Thanks for the help.... again... and again... and again!  Steve 

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