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More FAQs about Plumbing Marine Systems 4

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 5, Marine Plumbing 6, Marine Plumbing 7, Plumbing 8, Plumbing 9, Plumbing 10, Plumbing 11, Plumbing 12, 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

Overflows I've been reading your articles and FAQs about under-sized overflows causing noise. I just got a 300 gallon tank with 2 1" overflows and 2 3/4" returns. From what I have been reading I should be having around 3000 gallons of water circulation per hour and I'm worried that the overflows and returns are too small. Do you have any info on what is needed for a quiet system? GK <... these fitting diameters are way too small... am hopeful it won't be too much trouble to re-drill, fit ones of twice the size... Please use the Google search tool on the WWM website, or see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbfaqsmar.htm and the many (linked, blue in color) FAQs files... Bob Fenner>

Water filter and brass fitting  I was hoping you could give me some advice on  a water filter system I have. Is it ok to have a few brass fittings in a water filter system for my 125gal FOWLER  aquarium water? Two of them are on the output side of the filter. I could not find the fitting needed in pvc. Thank you again, Den <<Hi Dennis, The implied danger is lead and copper in plumbing, however, most of us use copper pipe for plumbing homes. While I prefer plastic, I doubt any harm will come from using these fittings. What type and size fitting is it?  Some of these are available in the John Guest line. You might try flushing water through the line and discarding the initial product before filling your tank. This is a common practice in home plumbing.  I flush my copper pipes before using the product, even for my RO/DI. You're very welcome, thank you for writing! Craig>>

Re: Plumbing Craig, thanks for great information and speed on the plumbing info you gave me.  Will look up marine depot for their plumbing parts.  I do have a few more questions regarding valves (check, gate, ball).  The best way though is to explain my intended setup.  I have a 75 gallon tank.  I have two 1.5" holes drilled on the back for flow to the sump.  Going to use 1.5" PVC from tank to the sump 3 foot below the tank.  Sump is DIY made from Rubbermaid container.  Water initially flows into one end of sump thru filter bags then to the Euro-reef skimmer. Water travels thru sump over chemical media to return pump.  Pump is a Little Giant rated at 1050gph @ 3ft.  Return to tank thru 1" PVC to the top of tank.  Making a manifold like Anthony describes in his book to vary the flow pattern so hopefully I can reduce the use of any powerheads. Intending on going w/ soft corals.  (whew) Now some questions or help.  One of my concerns is that my pump is too big for my described setup (got a great deal on eBay) what do you think?  I have never got a good or definitive answer on the amount of water two 1.5" bulkheads could handle and I am afraid it won't be enough for the pump. One thing you brought up was the use of gate or ball valves for oversized pumps. Explain a little more if you could Craig.  And from my description above do you see anything that I might change, add or do differently? Sorry so long this time, about ready to put everything together.  Thanks a million, Bryan <<Hi Bryan, No problem, sounds like a nice set-up. Are these 1.5" holes or holes for 1.5" bulkheads? Regardless, you will match that I'm sure. The pump is fine.  A little oversized but shouldn't be a big issue and you can match the output of the pump to your overflows with the gate valve on the *outflow* of the pump. A gate valve is like a guillotine, it raises or lowers a "gate* to either open or shut down the valve.  This is preferable to a ball valve for this application. Your 1.5" overflows will be fine for your pump, likely even when completely opened up. As I recall 1" overflows are rated for something like 600 gallons. It sounds fine Bryan, do have a good time! Craig>>

Plumbing set up Hi Bob, <Steven Pro this morning.> I'm planning my next tank (reef) and I'm considering using electronic Y valves from the main pump run by a wave maker in order to eliminate powerheads in the tank. I don't see any discussion on this approach and I'm hoping for your opinion. I know that the parts are expensive but is there any other reason that more people are not doing this? Thanks, Seth <I have seen a few of these designs myself. The big concern with some of these is with the Y valve having a lot of metal parts. Other than that, they are just something else to break, so I would leave them out. You can create a lot of turbulence by using multiple outlets all around the tank and not worry about a wavemaker or expensive valves/solenoids. -Steven Pro>

Skimmer & pump To One and All: I currently have a 90 gallon AGA with 1 overflow tank with 2 triggers, and a puffer. (I am aware that when my fish get older a larger tank will be obtained). FOWLR. Approx. 90 lbs. of live rock. I have an AMiracle wet/dry with 90% of bio-balls removed, running a Mag 9.5 return pump and a Magnum 350 canister. My question concerning the skimmer. I plan on purchasing the Aqua-C EV180 after reading yours and others recommendations. I could barely place the skimmer inside the sump due to return pump taking up space. Should I place the pump outside the sump, or pump in and skimmer outside? <I would place the pump outside and the skimmer inside.> I am also thinking of upgrading the return pump in sump from 9.5 to Mag 12. Can the overflow and return lines handle the flow. <I am not sure if one overflow box could handle this flow, at least quietly. Do check with Supreme regarding what size line the Mag-Drive 12 needs to pump its maximum flow rate. The rate will vary with the diameter of pipe.> AGA states 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 hole per overflow. <This sounds more like the holes vs. the bulkhead fittings.> It is approximately 4 feet of return height. <You should be able to find the correct information from Supreme.> Thanks for the response. Regards, Mendy1220 <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

Plumbing Question Good afternoon, A question regarding plumbing if I may. I have a 150 gallon reef tank utilizing twin Mag-Drive 18's in a 55 gallon sump, with 2 overflow boxes with 2 inch drains on each. All seems to run well, with the exception of excess micro bubbles. <In the sump or in the main display? IN the sump is fine, but the display would be a problem.> So far I have utilized a 25 micron bag to stop the bubbles, but this is probably having an adverse effect on my skimming operation (per Anthony), as the Euro Reef collects only a 1/2 cup or so of waste a day. <I do not mind the prefilter bag, IF you clean it several times weekly. Daily would be best. The removal of detritus and other debris with this method would outweigh its impact on your skimming. If you neglect to clean it though, the micron bag will become biological and help to produce nitrates.> The problem I believe is with the drains, as twin vortex's are forming above the drain pipe (which is approximately 2 inches or so below the gates on the overflow boxes, to stop waterfall noise). From a physics standpoint, are the vortex's forming because the 2 inch drains being too small to handle the flow from the pumps? <I would believe so.> I have approximately 4 feet of head pressure on the pumps. I am considering using gate valves on the drain lines to slow the flow down somewhat, <Not you best option.> balancing it such that the sump does not empty (obviously), but slowing the flow down so the vortex's don't form, hopefully reducing the micro bubble production. I have read of others doing this successfully (I guess), but would like your take on this. Where is the downside, or put another way, if a proper balance is established with the flow, what could cause this setup to become unbalanced? <There will inevitably be some buildup on the inside of these drain pipes. This buildup will slow the drain flow slightly. There is a possibility of slowing enough to back up the water and cause a flood over the top of the tank. Also, this valve is a very good (or bad in this case) place to trap a piece of debris or an exploring snail and cause a flood. I would look into building Durso overflows. We should have Richard Durso's webpage linked. If not, it can be found with a simple search.> Thanks, Steve
<You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Making waves Hello guys. I am setting up a 135 gallon reef tank and I am almost finished plumbing the return from my 70 gallon sump but I have a question about the returns. I am using an Iwaki 100 RLT pump as my sump return pump(2000GPH) and will have 4 one inch returns, one in each corner of a 6x1.5x2 ft tank with the ones 6 feet apart pointing at each other. I was considering adding an electronically controlled 3 way ball valve to create a wave effect but it was a little more than I wanted to spend ($800!!!) so we come to my first question. Do you know of anyone that has ever tried a sprinkler system electronic control valve in a reef tank? <This and a few other novel approaches... unfortunately, they carry the risk of metal pollution> I don't think you can create a wave effect because you would probably burn up the motors but one could change the flow patterns within the tank a couple of times a day. I am also wondering if the materials to fabricate these things could withstand the harsh effects of salt water so I thought I would ask you first. <There are a couple of metal components that come in contact with the water internally> My second question is whether you think the above mentioned return pattern will be adequate for my tank. <Should be.> I plan on keeping mostly soft corals but some SPS also as well as fish and inverts. For additional circulation I have a 1.5 inch bulkhead that I plan on using for a closed loop with a pair of Sea Swirls as returns. <Good idea> I am considering hooking up my chiller to this instead of hooking it to my main pump. Is that a bad idea?  <Should be fine... Do make provision for covering over the intakes to prevent animals from being sucked in... and maybe rig an overall shut-off switch for all pumps when draining water here... easy to forget, run some dry with (near) surface intakes...> The water going through the chiller wouldn't be filtered. Please see the attached graphic ( I hope you can make sense out of it) and make any recommendations you see necessary. By the way, did Mr. Fenner make it down to Mazatlan? <Not yet. Anthony are scheduled to be there early October for a conference> Gerardo Gomez ps: the purple thing is a calcium reactor
<Ahh, I wondered. Bob Fenner>

Siphon rates, etc. You can feel free to post this on your site, might be a good "dduuhh" for other readers. <We post every Q&A on the daily page and then file them under the pertinent categories for referral later.> Scenario: I inherited a ~125 gallon tank from a friend, that was not properly setup, stocked, etc. While I do plan on a complete replacement setup, I have been "upgrading" the systems in an attempt to recover some of the Live Rock and other critters. Also during the upgrade, acquiring items that are to be used in the new tank setup, or can be redeployed in my other tanks (2 tropical and 1 outside "trial pond"). The original system was simply fish/Live Rock and a sump (Del Ray Model 240) with bio-balls. Two siphon overflows with 1 inch inside diameter tubes. The pump was rated at ~1080GPH giving a turn over about 10X tank size. Should be OK "per the books" so to say. <Agreed> However, water quality was poor to say the least, high nitrites and yellowish-cloudy water. To this setup, I've added a Fluval 404 filter, and then a Berlin Skimmer with a Rio 1700 power head. Both of these units are really-nice. The Fluval I installed in the stand so it is hidden, while the skimmer is still sitting on top of the tank with some unsightly plumbing while I'm working on the sump at which point it will be in the stand as well. After these 2 additions, water quality finally improved to the point I would say it is OK (~0 Ammonia, ~0 Nitrite, PH, etc..) however the nitrates shot up through the roof, I hate to say it but greater than 110ppm! <Normal with W/D systems.> probably because of the Fluval is what I thought at this point. <No> Cleaning the Fluval helped, but not much. <Export of organic material> So, expanded the water changes, and it would drop accordingly, but within a few days would shoot back up again! <That is the way trickle filter works. They process ammonia and other wastes into nitrates.> So at this point I new the next step was to address the sump and pump. The pump was very noisy, a Little Giant 4-MDQX-SC rated at ~ 1080GPH for my 5' head pressure. Plus the sump was installed poorly, difficult to maintain, etc. So with the Fluval and Berlin Skimmer running, I felt safe (okay hoped!) with a little "sump down time" for upgrades. I got a Rio 4600 ~ 1200GPH for the 5' head all new tubing, etc. I repositioned the sump so it is now easily accessible, and thoroughly cleaned it all up. I was doing the "Happy-happy Joy-joy" song at this point after a long day of working on it. Yippee, finally a solution to the maintenance problems and such. So after plumbing everything up, starting the siphon overflows, and topping off the sump, it was time to hit the switch. Wwwwooooossssshhhh, I was happy. That new Rio was very quiet, could barely hear it running, this was with the doors off of the cabinet. Then it very quickly sucked air, and more air and more air. What is going on? <You may not have enough water in your sump. Get things running for a while and then shut off the pump. Water will begin to drain down and fill your sump. After a minute or two the water should stop back siphoning (hopefully without overflowing). At this point, you can fill your sump up all the way. When you turn the pump back on the sump will drain down some. Now, mark this water level. That is your maximum water level for the sump. Note, if you ever change any of the plumbing, you must create a new maximum fill line. Changing the return plumbing will effect how much water back siphons and whether or not the sump overflows in a power outage.> Overflows working, water levels normal except for in the sump, no leaks, etc. Stop the pump, siphons and time for a beer and thinking. The pump GPH is the same, the overflows were not changed, what did I miss. <The return plumbing is different for one thing.> Rechecked the Little Giant flow. Nope it's ~1080GPH, recheck the Rio, YUP it's ~1200GPH. With two 1 inch siphon overflows at ~550 GPH it should not have drained immediately. Lets see my head is spinning, brain is burning, and then I noticed it. The old plumbing was all 3/4 inch schedule 40 PVC! The inside diameter on the pipe was, well just a little over 1/2 inch! No wonder the pump was noisy and always very warm. So Sunday morning the guys at the hardware store were once again happy to see me in the plumbing section. Not wanting to increase head pressure on the pump, which restricts the GPH, and pump load, I figured I would tee the output and with a plastic ball valve have an adjustable return that goes back into the sump. While this does in fact work, the flow measured at the tank is a mere ~360GPH! If I close the valve I get ~1100GPH till the sump runs dry. So, now the questions that you probably know I'm already going to ask. Does in fact a one inch inside diameter siphon overflow generate ~500-600GPH? <Sounds about right> Right now I have three 1-inch siphons and one 3/4-inch siphon, and the waste gate is at full open. At least the pump is not sucking air now... However, I'm pushing more water around in the sump than I am down and up into the tank! These siphons should give me close to 2000GPH? What would your suggestions be? <Add more water to the sump> Wait, I know, two holes in the tank with 1-1/2 inch (maybe 2 inch?) fixed returns and toss the siphons huh? <Yes, that too.> Unfortunately, now the Rio pump is one noisy unit. Not sure if the running dry did it or what. It is getting a bit more quiet, any good tips on a rebuild/take apart for these guys? <It may just need cleaned out and the impellor reset.> Even a different pump all together? <I prefer external pumps, but not really important for your question.> Hagen has a good words on the net, but if I don't have to replace it I don't want to. <Hagen's are nice, but too small for your application.> Now I'm wondering how noisy that Little Giant pump would be with proper plumbing sizes, but now with the sump nicely located there is not really room, but hhuumm. Well, that's enough for now I guess, I'll be putting pics up on my website of this upgrade fiasco so I'll keep you posted. <Pictures would be helpful in confirming my suspicions.> Thanks for your time, Robert Molenda <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tiny Bubbles Hi, My sump is up and running, but I have one problem. Both my return outtake "pipes" put forth lots of tiny bubbles into the tank. Do you know what's causing this? <It could be several things, most likely your pump is sucking in air from the sump or there is a pin hole leak in your return plumbing that is acting like a venturi. There should be more specific information regarding in the plumbing FAQ's.> I have a brand new LifeReef Protein Skimmer, so could it be the break-in period from that? <Not really.> Right now I have both of the pumps in the same sump, not separated, which I'll have to do eventually, but the tiny bubble thing is sort of irritating. Help! Thanks much, Mike <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Overflows & FYI I have a 100 gallon acrylic tank with two overflows; opposite each other, on the right and left side of the tank. Since I bought the tank, one of the overflows has never really worked. I've had the tank for a year but recently I've been redoing a few things and the "dead" overflow is bugging me. I've tried all of the usual things. . .bled the return lines checking for clogs, etc. No success. As a side note, I'll also mention that the return line is not equal distance from the overflows. Picture this: the tank and stand are 60" long. The sump stretches across half of the sixty inches. The pump plus the exit line from the sump covers most of the remaining thirty inches. Naturally, the overflow on the right side of the tank is closer to the pump than the left side.  <should be of little matter on a level tank> However, oddly enough, it is obvious to me there is more water coming out of the left return line than the right. But it's the right overflow that works the best! Are you confused yet?  <yep> It appears to me that the left hand return is shooting water through the right overflow. This is not happening in the reverse. <er...OK> I though that overflows worked on the principle that the water level of the tank was supposed increase thereby gently spilling water into the overflow.  <again... on a level tank... the drop should be relatively even if the run is also similar enough (which it is likely to be from the bottom of each overflow. You don't have either (especially the slow one) releasing into the sump below the sump water level? Impedance> The tank has way too much surface agitation for the water to gently overflow. Any suggestions (short of draining the tank, etc.) to solve this problem? Oh, the system pump is rated at 1500 gph but it's going through a 3/4'' line and changes to 1/2'' line as the water enters the tank.  <restricted indeed! Do you need to? why not more flow (larger supply line)?> This tank was a Clear View aquarium design. I would never have had lines that small. <perhaps re-route the return with a simply flexible line off the pump and a u-tube over the top of the tank... even if only as an experiment> On another note. . . In the past, I have read many questions from people that own the Turboflotor 1000 skimmer. I have always been unhappy with mine (almost a year) until this week.  <if you aren't feeding this skimmer from a skimmer box in the sump with a static water level, then that has been most of the problem> Let me give a little advice: 1) Use a skimmer box to keep the water level around the skimmer between 10 and 15 centimeters, no more no less;  <ah-ha!> 2) if you've been using the skimmer, check for a clogged venturi, clogged feeder pump, or problem with the Rio 2600. <good advice.... thank you> I assure you, those two items alone will make a world of difference in the skimmer's performance, especially the skimmer box. <agreed... critical for all skimmers. A skimmer getting water from a pump/sump with a fluctuating water level is a great impediment!> Keep up the good work and thanks for your help! David D. <thanks kindly, Anthony>

Re: Overflows & FYI <<You don't have the drains releasing into the sump below the sump water level do you? Impedance>> ++++I'm not sure I follow. The sump is a homemade Rubbermaid. The overflow lines empty into the skimmer box about a 1/2'' below the water level. The lines simply rest slightly below the surface of the water.  <exactly as stated/feared above... in doing so air gets trapped and backed up. Overflow drains should never be even slightly under water. Release a whisker just above the water if you must be close but let the air escape... else it backs up flow> Are you suggesting an improvement? I'm game if it might help the problem. <as per above> <<perhaps re-route the return with a simply flexible line off the pump and a u-tube over the top of the tank... even if only as an experiment>> ++++Might be worth a try. But if the u-tube were to get loose. . . <sheesh... a hard U-tube bud clipped or clamped to the top... its just an experiment :) Be resourceful, my friend> I might also mention that I get a suction noise from the left return from inside the tank. This is not the flushing toilet sound that one gets from the overflow. I built a Durso style silencer when I first got the tank and it's been wonderful. The sound only happens maybe every twenty or thirty minutes. It looks like a little cyclone is forming right where the water leaves the flared nozzle and enters the tank. I have helped the problem immensely by turning the return nozzle clockwise. I just thought this might help give you another clue as to what the problem is. Maybe I should just leave well enough alone and continue using those powerheads. I appreciate your thoughts and efforts. Thanks again. <the flushing toilet noise is often trapped air... the cyclone is usually an undersized overflow drain or and oversized pump. Undersized commercial overflows are a dreadfully common problem. Few can ever handle reef sized pumps. Best regards, Anthony>

Overflow <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> I have a 20 hex I am going to use for a refugium and you said "PLEASE don't use a siphon overflow, drill the tank." What is your aversion to siphon overflows? <<They clog very often and need regular cleaning. The clogging can/will cause the tank to overflow and perhaps your return pump to run dry.>> I am looking for some advice as to where to drill the holes into the back of the tank to install the overflows? My guess is as close to the top frame as possible leaving enough clearance so the bulkhead fitting will clear the frame, is that correct? <<Yes, would be my choice.>> My LFS (189 miles away) has only drilled the bottom of tanks and did not have any ideas where the holes should be drilled in the back of the tanks. I am very limited on the size of the hole I can have drilled. My community is very small and only on glass shop drills glass. Fortunately, they can drill 1 ?" holes. I know this probably seems like a stupid question, but I have already made enough mistakes, I don't want to make another by ruining a perfectly good tank <<Not a stupid question at all. Cheers, J -- >>

Chiller Plumbing Anthony, Presently have the right side return going to my chiller before it returns to the tank. I have heard that it is best to use a separate pump that will cycle on with the chiller. Will a single controller handle the current load of both the pump and chiller? <constant flow through the chiller is recommended. Cycling is deleterious because detritus settles and clogs the lines faster> It looks like my 50 gallon macroalgae tank is going to become a 100 Imperator tank (other half doesn't want to part with her fish). Should I run both tanks independently or can I tie then together? If I do tie them to one sump, then I can use the other sump to grow macroalgae like I had originally wanted to do. <I do believe it will be fine to run the two together. I'm delighted to hear its a keeper:) What a magnificent fish!> Thanks, Mark Johnson P.S. Can't wait for your book to get here. <thanks kindly my friend, Anthony>

Re: Plumbing <<Greetings...>> Last night I read an Q&A that said you get 600 gph from a 1" bulkhead. What gph flow will can I get from the twin 1" bulkheads out and 3/4" bulkheads in. <<Outflow could be as high as 1200 gph [600 x 2] the inflow will depend entirely on your return pumps, which shouldn't exceed 1200 gph.>> Thanks, Steve <<Cheers, J -- >>

Durso Overflows Thanks for your quick response. I will do as you recommend. Two more question please: 1) I have a 125 gallon All Glass tank with the 2 overflows in each corner. I was reading last night about the plumbing you recommend for the water going out of the tank down to the filter. It was called Durso? <Durso actually, for Richard Durso, the man who came up with a solution for a noisy overflow box.> Where in your site can I find how to assemble? <Richard Durso has his own website with excellent instructions. I do not see a link to his site on our links page. I would just use a search engine using the keywords Durso overflow.> I was told by two local aquarium stores to simply use bioballs on top of eggcrate in the overflow. <It would work to quiet the noise, but would also trap a lot of detritus.> 2) How may ball values do I need in the plumbing and where. <One before and after pump for servicing.> I saw your diagram by Anthony Calfo has one before the pump and after the pump, but I was thinking to put one in each line after overflows before the filter <It is not a good idea to restrict your overflow water. This should be a nice gravity flow down to your sump/filter.> and one in each line after the pump and after the Y split going back to the tank. <For controlling the water from multiple outputs, gate valves are much better due to their finer control, but more expensive and harder to find.> Thanks, Steve <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Plumbing Steve: My tank is an 125 All Glass with 2 overflows with WMD 40 RLXT pump. I initially thought of using a 3/4" 90 degree with a nozzle attached to return water back to the tank. Today someone recommended that I use a 3/4" 3/4" 1/2'' so that that 3/4" 90 degrees splits into 3/4" nozzle and 1/2" nozzle. Please let me know what you think of this idea. <I am sorry, but I am completely lost. I do not understand your description.> Will the 1" bulkhead openings for down flow and the 3/4" bulkhead openings for return be enough to allow movement of about 1100 to 1200 gph of water flow? <Probably not.> Should I make the openings larger? <I do not think this is possible. The only other thing I have heard of is making both the 1" and 3/4" holes drains and plumbing the return line up and over the back of the tank.> Thanks again, Steve <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Plumbing You recommend using 1 1/2 PVC pipe, but my pump is only 1" inflow and 1" outflow. Does this matter? <You could use 1", but you will get greater flow using the 1 1/2" pipe. You should be able to find the appropriate fittings to increase the size.> Also I am not sure - are you recommending to use both 1" bulkheads and both 3/4" bulkheads that are in the 2 overflow boxes as drains? <Yes, if you wish to be able to get 1200 gph through the overflow box.> Thanks, Steve <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Plumbing Sorry, let me try better. There is a 3/4" PVC pipe that water goes up into the tank. At the top of the pipe I plan to use a 90 degree 3/4" elbow with a 3/4" black movable nozzle to return water back to the tank. <Ok> Yesterday, a friend recommended that instead of the 90 degree 3/4" elbow I use a PVC filling with 3/4" to fit to the PVC pipe at one end and then the fitting does a 90 degree but splits into 3/4" and 1/2", so there are 2 outflow nozzles of water back to the tank. <Ok...> How does that sound? <Alright> Another idea is two reduce the 3/4" outflow to 1/2" so that I have two 1/2" outflow nozzles of water back to the tank. This way I don't reduce the water movement too much. Would this be better? <Mildly> Thanks, Steve <Your best bet is to use the 3/4" return bulkhead fitting as another drain and plumb multiple return outlets up and over the back of the tank. I would use 1 1/2" PVC pipe from the pump up the back of the tank to a 1 1/2" T and then across the back or around the entire top of the tank. From there, have four or more 3/4" reducing outputs to maximize flow all around the tank. -Steven Pro>

Re: Plumbing Wow, I really did not want to do so much outside plumbing. <Ok...> I wanted to keep it clean under the stand. I will be using the Ecosystem 3612 filter which Ecosystem's recommends 1,000 to 1,200 gph. Do you think I can get that with the standard All Glass overflow set up and the Iwaki WMD 40 RLXT? <The whole point of the past four emails was that it was my opinion that your All-Glass overflow box with one 1" drain will not be able to keep up with this kind of flow.> Thanks, Steve <Sincerely, Steven Pro>

Re: Plumbing Custom Tank I just have one more question (until I read this answer probably) what do you mean when you say "when the bulkheads are vented"? Ryan <When water drains through a bulkhead, the rushing water draws air, too. The more water you attempt to drain, the more air is drawn in. The problem is the drain line can only accommodate so much of both. You can vent the bulkhead and drain line and allow the air to escape and therefore allow the water to fall unobstructed. The easiest way is to attach a T to the bulkhead so water can fall straight down and air to escape up. -Steven Pro>

Top Off Hello Bob, <<Actually it's JasonC today - Bob is away taking more photos...>> Great site for Info, You guys are the best. <<Thanks, although I can't bask in all the glory myself - there are many who contribute to this effort.>> I have a quick question. <<Shoot...>> I'm setting up a 125g tank. It will be FOWLR. I have a 20g sump system with 2 siphon overflows and 1 return line. I have a top-off device which is a probe that starts a pump when water level in sump drops about 1". Will the water level in the tank stay the same, and just the level in the sump will decrease? <<Yes... that is it - the siphons and return pump will/should keep the water level in the tank relatively constant.>> Or will both the tank and the sump water level decrease? <<The water level in the sump will drop - this is where you want to place the level sensor.>> Thanks in advance for the help. <<Cheers, J -- >> Regards, Mike

Plumbing Custom Tank Hey Guys, I have a custom aquarium that I have had for a while, it was made in Korea. I want to set it up for salt water but due to the way it is surrounded by a bamboo covering and has a bamboo hood (which I will have to get retrofit lighting for) I can't put an overflow box on it, it has a weird ledge of glass too which makes it difficult. <We never recommend siphon overflow boxes anyhow.> Now for my question, I found a place that will drill glass to fit a bulkhead that I bring them. I was wondering if two one inch lines at the water line would give enough drainage for the tank which is about 55 gallons. <Yes, two one inch bulkheads should serve you fine and allow for up to 800 gph of drainage when the bulkheads are vented.> I would like to use a return pump that would give me around 400 gph return at the tank. <I would aim for at least 500 gph.> I really don't want to use powerheads in the tank (I don't want anymore breakable parts than necessary). <Powerheads are best avoided for a whole host of reasons; unsightly, impart heat to water, additional maintenance, etc.> Thanks, Ryan <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Question (... overflowing tank, filter, plumbing? Cats and Dogs living together, other chaos) Hello Bob, <Steven Pro in this Saturday afternoon.> I really need your help desperately. I am new at this saltwater tank thing. I went on vacation and showed my neighbor how to feed and clean the protein skimmer. However, when I got back, the three sections of the tank in the back (excuse my vagueness, I do not know the correct terminology, but hopefully you will know what I am talking about) were overflowed. <Is this what is called a Dutch Reef tank? It is a brand name of glass aquariums that has an internal filter. These are very popular at Petland. Or perhaps a similar acrylic unit from a different company.> When I put the cup back on, it started to over flow the cup. The black rubber ring was off the cup also, so I put it back on and secured the cup. When I started to adjust the plastic door which is supposed to control the water level, the whole thing came off and I could not get it back on. Now the whole back of the tank is over flowing and the protein skimmer cup is spurting out water. My fish have been also acting weird, swimming from top to bottom vigorously. It has been like this for 3 days because no one I have called will return my calls. PLEASE HELP! <Really, I would love to help you, but I have no idea what you have or what is going on. Please respond with brands, models numbers, anything that can.> Thank you, Nathan <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Overflow Question Overflow Question... no question. Drill the tank I have a 55 gallon acrylic tank with a Tidepool S.O.S. over flow box on it. It seems like every other day I have to suck out the air bubbles that accumulate in the top of the u tube.  <that's because it is a poorly designed, overpriced piece of... er, never mind. Ahem... what I mean to say is that siphon overflows are inherently flawed and almost never to be recommended. I personally would not sleep in a house with one. Overflow is inevitable and the concern for a short from overflowing water trips me> If I don't I will eventually lose suction will stop and that is not good.  <agreed... inevitable for most every siphon overflow in the 2 year picture if not within weeks/months> What can I do to fix the problem.  <drill the tank> If you say drill the tank what is the best way to go about it and what would I need to make it work.  <the tank...alas... need to be empty and drained to drill it. My advice is to call around to local aquarium service personnel or LFS (yellow pages) that are skilled at doing such drilling. The good ones will guarantee their work if they can ID the brand of tank (verifying that panes are not tempered). There are modifications for siphon overflows in the meantime... using a nearby running powerhead to keep a constant siphon while power is possible. The siphon overflow has or is to have a stem and length of airline tubing tapped at the top of the "U" which runs into the powerhead (which keeps a constant suction). However... guess what happens when the power goes out and the siphon breaks: no guarantee that the running power head will be able to start the siphon when the power comes back on. And let me ask you what you think the chances are of the power going out while you watch the tank versus when you are on vacation. sleeping or at work. Drill the tank, my friend. A> Thanks

Overflow Box Project Hello all, I want to first thank all of you at WWM for the wealth of knowledge you have given me over the past week (I just found this site about a week ago, and wish I found it sooner). I have just built a 50 gallon acrylic tank 29 x 19 x 22, and I decided I wanted a sump, but would rather not build an overflow box in the corner (I would like to keep as much landscape as possible). I was reading about other overflow boxes hanging off the back w/ a siphon going from the tank to the box and down to the sump. I like this idea but I think I like the idea that the surface water spills over into the sump to break up that buildup on the water surface. I was planning on building an overflow box on the back of the tank, but instead of siphoning the water, the water would just flow into the box through holes in the back of the tank - please see diagram. The box would be permanently sealed on the back of the tank using acrylic cement. I haven't been able to find any ideas like this on your site and was wondering if you guys had any ideas about this. Any reason why this would not be recommended? Greatly appreciated <A good drawing, and workable design. I suggest adding an "aspiration" tube (a small diameter length of tubing down the larger overflow that will cut down "gurgling" noise tremendously)... and a larger "weir" (overflow cut out) about the slots you have pictured... to accommodate a troublesome blockage that may occur (a cut-out of the acrylic above the slots will do here). Bob Fenner> -James

Re: Overflow Box Project great! - thanks a lot for the quick response!!! -James <You are welcome. Please make it known how your project comes out. Bob Fenner>
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