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More FAQs about Plumbing Marine Systems 18

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 13, Plumbing 14, Plumbing 15, Plumbing 16, Plumbing 17, 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

Hydrozoans (and Gorg.s). Sipadan 08.  

Overflow Skimmer Box vs. Pre-Drilled I have an empty 55 gallon glass tank. I'd like to move my 29 gallon "grow-out" reef tank to it. I could either buy one of Lifereef's exterior overflow pre-filter/skimmer boxes, or go ahead and just buy a new aquarium with overflows built in. I have read mixed reviews. Looking for more input, but not sure what specific you may need for the best advice. Thanks! <Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/overfloboxfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> 

4 - 90's or Sumps, Pumps and Plumbing Greetings to the Salty Dogs, <Woof!> If possible, I was hoping for a little more advice for the plumbing situation on my new tank? (My original email follows for reference.) My 90 Gallon tank arrived today and is drilled for two 2" outputs and two 1.5" returns. My sump is designed with one 2" output to the return pump. I have purchased two Reef flo Darts for the system. One for the sump return pump and one to power a closed loop.  I am now re-pondering my original plan to use both 2" Drains to the sump and instead converting one of them to feed a second pump for the closed loop. <You will likely need both the two inch lines to feed the sump here> Originally, the closed loop would be fed by an over-the-wall feed pipe and the returns would be in the same manner. <I would stick with this> It seems like simple physics in that having two 2" pipes feeding another tank (the sump) with only 1 2" exit leaves one of the outputs superfluous. Is this the case or am I missing something in my thinking in terms of the dynamics of the pump output? <You can try it and see...> I do realize that the pump is adding pressure but shouldn't the gravity feed equal out with what the pump can move back up into the tank to drain back down via gravity? <Mmm, if the pump had a very low flow rate, yes... In actual practice, pi R squared for surface area of the opening... gravity doesn't "suck" much here... especially if there is any horizontal plumbing involved...> I'm making myself dizzy with this question. <Take a tea break... I am> In your opinion should I stick with my original plan and use both outputs to the sump and feed the closed loop over-the-wall and keep the redundancy to the sump or go ahead and use one drain to feed the closed loop? <Stick with the original plan> Thank you so very much for the help! The Drunken Monkey <You wish! Bob Fenner>

Water Level Fluctuation in Overflow Dear Crew: <Paul> The water level in my overflow fluctuates by about an inch every 10 seconds. <... not large enough, water level/s too low... pump/s too large flow rate/s...> If the water level drops close to the opening of the Durso-type standpipe, an irritating suction sound is generated. <Yep> What can be causing this periodic fluctuation in water level? <See above> Why is the flow through the standpipe not constant? <Transit volume issue. Your water is "oscillating" twixt your system above and below... due to insufficient plumbing, and/or pumping flow> I have an Oceanic 75-gallon tank with a "Mega-Flow" overflow and an Oceanic standpipe that is similar in design to a Durso standpipe. The overflow empties into a 29-gallon refugium with an Iwaki MD-30RXT pump. I had replaced the Oceanic bulkheads with PVC connectors to increase the size of the openings by 1/4" and to increase the water flow. <Good move. You may still need to add water (take care to measure... with the power turned off... so as to avoid flooding) to the sump... reduce the flow rate of the pump... Bob Fenner>

Plumbing and Stuff Hey crew, My brother is on his way up from Southern Cali bringing me my brand new 135G glass tank.  72"X18"X24".  I am going to make it a FOWLR predator tank: 200 lbs. of Florida crushed coral substrate, is that too much? <Try it and see... should be thin or rather deep... see WWM re> 80 lbs. of Caribbean Live Rock from Drs. F&S Home made 40G sump w/balls EV180 w/ Mag 7 Soooo, I was planning on using a Gen-X PCX-40 rated at 1190GPH w/22' max head for the return pump.  I will only be at about 5' of head.  I contacted the company who I bought the tank from and they said the bottom pane is tempered and the sides aren't.  The tank is a complete virgin with no holes.   I know it is a no no to drill tempered but, is it impossible for even the pros to do? <Can be done>   Someone like Custom Glass? <Or other glass companies around you... call them re> If so, I will then have to go through the side.  I can only have one overflow because of where the tank is being placed, so by going through the bottom back of the tank, what size bulkhead would you use?  I was thinking about 2". <Should work... if placed low enough... when/where in doubt, make it larger... can be regulated on the discharge side> It sounds excessive, but it has to go directly into a 90 degree elbow.  Do you see any problem with that size because of the elbow? <Will slow down flow a bit... I encourage you to use a Tee instead... for venting, noise reduction... read on WWM re> Also it will then have to Y off to go into two separate chambers of balls.  I read over the faq's on plumbing and got a lot of mixed opinions. <Then... keep reading till you have your own ideas of how to proceed> I just don't want to have the wrong size hole drilled. Now to my DIY sump.  I might have a good idea.  It's a 40G three foot tank.   I want to use two five gallon buckets filled with bio balls.  It seems like a lot but the fish are big and messy.  My main concern is keeping the nitrates as low as possible between the faithful bi-weekly water changes.   <Skip the wet-dry media (balls) if you want to avoid nitrate bottle necking> Most wet/dry's with 4 gallons of media say they're good for 150G.  So by having two going, when the nitrates got too high, I could pull one bucket and clean em up while the other 5 gallons are still holding the bio load.   What do you think? <Won't work... but go ahead and try this... you can always pull them> Finally, I would like to try out UGJ.(under gravel jets)  Have you heard of anyone using this idea on a s/w tank? <Yes> I got the idea from http://www.vatoelvis.com/135g.php.  He uses it for cichlids, but I like the idea.  Maybe it would help with circulation at least? <Maybe> Well, as usual, I'm up at 3:00 a.m., searching the site, and the rest of the web, for anything new I have not seen yet.  Thanks for the reply whenever you get the time.  The site is wonderful, and I'm looking forward to some new books from you guys.                    Thanks, Mike <Keep reading and keeping good notes Mike... you'll do fine. Bob Fenner>

Check over my design PLEASE!!!!! Hey guys, <Kyle> I don't want to be one of them guys that you are going to make fun of. <Mmm> I don't have any specific questions for you. But I designed up this reef tanks set up here at work on my computer. This set up is for a 125 gallon tank. 72" x 18" x 24" with 24" being the height. I want to put 2 protein skimmers off to the side. <Why two?> Also have 1 sump with all the partial filtering and the pumps for the protein skimmers. Is this a good place to pump from? <Yes... but the indication of "small pump" for servicing them is a bit confusing... they/it will take considerable pumping> Because I want to put a second tank for a refuquarium <Like this... spelling. RMF>. Or would it be better to pump from that tank and not the sump? <Better from the sump, not the refugium> What do you think of the design? <One major defect, omission... it looks like you're trying to "balance" water flow with pumping... won't work. Do devise and use through hull fittings to allow water to flow twixt all below and only pump back up to the main tank and your skimmer/s> the tanks and everything else will be in a separate room. I'm going to put a hole in the wall about 6 by 6 and have all the other components in the room behind the tank. Also is there anything else that I will need? <... depends on what you intend to keep... how involved you want to get.> I plan on making everything myself except the tank. Bad idea? <Not at all... if you're handy, have the time, should be fine> I work in a tool and mold shop. Although I'm a designer. So I have access to a lot of tools. Like steel and a welder for the frame. <Have the metal bead blasted, powder-coated...> Any help would be really appreciated. I attracted a few pics of what I drew up. Is there anything you see in there that won't work? Thanks <Mainly the lack of "equalizers" for water level... Bob Fenner> 

Check over my design PLEASE! True about the water flow. I would like to have 2 overflow boxes one on each side of the tank. <If this system is not yet filled, up and running, I strongly encourage you to have it drilled, fitted with permanent overflows> Then pvc piped to the first tanks. The first tank will have partial filtering and then bio balls. I ended up making the refugium on the weekend. I made it like a pond in my basement. I made it 5 feet by 3 feet by 1.5 feet high. I plan on putting corals and live rock in there after I get everything running smooth. To see. But if I bought crushed coral would it be better in the tank or in the refugium.  <Either, both> Then put just sand in the tank? I decided on using 2 skimmers because of this article I read. IT said that you need 2 minutes for a air bubble to fully attach itself to the nitrite. <Mmm, not so... though the more time in contact, generally the better. But fine to have just one good skimmer> Then it said that a 5 inch skimmer is perfect. So I thought that I would go a bit smaller and go with two. Won't hurt to go with two. My biggest question was about lighting. Metal halides are the way to go. I'm thinking 2 MH 15,000k, what other lighting would I need I know florescent. But which ones do you think? Thanks <I think you should be studying... on WWM, elsewhere. Please take your time here... consider lots of inputs... the rationale behind them... make up your own mind. Bob Fenner> 

Cross brace in the way 5/6/05 Hello, thanks for all the info. <You are always welcome :)> I have a 75 gallon reef ready, it came with only one overflow located in the left corner. The cross brace is directly in the middle of the tank and sits very low. The brace prevent the surface water on the right side from making it to the overflow, so I am left with stagnant surface water on that side. I have tried everything short of installing a hang on siphon (which I don't want to do).  <agreed... please don't> Can you think of anything I can do to get this scummy surface water back into the column water so it can be skimmed out in the sump? <the overflows were built too high, and are not easily corrected. Instead it may be better to seal in some thin Euro-style bracing (narrow strips of glass sealed at the top of the tank and perpendicular to the vertical panes). Then... the center brace can be safely cut out> Also, would it cause any problems if I converted the return line coming from inside the overflow box to another Durso (sp) stand pipe?  <That is a very good idea> My sump is fed by one stand pipe located in the overflow. My return pump is too big for the single pipe so I have it restricted, losing out on some circulation from the pump. Thanks for all the help. Travis Hunt <best of luck/life. Anthony> 

Marine Plumbing Hi to everyone at wet web <Hello> You guys do a great job. <Thanks> I am in the process of upgrading my tank.  The tank is 1060mm x 915mm x 700mm. I was planning on a sump to house all the gear, a refuge for algae to grow etc, and another small refuge for pods to grow etc sitting on top of the tank. <Okay> With the water coming out from the tank, I was planning on splitting it up so that some of the water went to the skimmer and the rest going into the refuge. I have read that the water from the tank should go to the skimmer first, also read that all the water should the refuge first? <Mmm, you can have go to both first...> confused, can see both sides, is splitting a option? <Sure> once water has been thru the refuge and skimmer it will go to the main sump to be pumped back to the main tank.  Does this make sense and will this be ok. <Will be okay> The amount of water coming from the tank is about 5000 - 6000 ltr per hour. I was planning on having the refuge about 12 - 15cm wide x 40cm high x 60cm long, what would the ideal flow rate thru here be? <A few to a handful of actual volumes per hour is about right> The small refuge on top that will flow straight into the main tank. the only purpose for this is for pods etc to grow.  I'm I right in saying that it won't need any light, would it be able to have a low flow rate flowing thru, 600ltr per hour?   <Could or not> The size will be small, maybe about 10 - 15 ltrs. filled with a bit of rock , sand and a few coral fingers. Thanks for the help Tim <Sounds like you're well on your way on a workable plan. Bob Fenner>

Overflow and return pump Dear Bob,  <James for vacationing Bob> I recently purchased a 110 gallon tall aquarium. This is going to be set-up as a FOWLR. The majority of biological filtration I plan on is live rock and sand. My question is with the sump. I have a 600GPH overflow and was wondering the size of the pump I should get. I'll probably have at least 4' of head, and I also want to maybe run a few returns. I was reading an article saying that if you want more returns to get a bigger pump. So with this in mind I was thinking of a Rio 3100 or a Mag 9.5. My question is how big? Any specific models are greatly appreciated.  <Sam, with a 110 gallon tank, I would want a minimum of 1100 gph going through the system. Of course you can accomplish this by adding power heads along with your sump pump to make up the difference. With a 4' head you will lose a little over 50gph. The Mag 9.5 should work for you. I would put a ball valve on the output in case you need to cut the flow down should the overflow box not handle it. James (Salty Dog)> 

Help w/upgrade please I currently have a 72 gallon bow front reef tank (non reef ready). I currently have 96 lbs of live rock and 40 lbs of live sand over 50 lbs of aragonite substrate. I am looking to upgrade to a sump/refugium/protein skimmer combo (currently have all hang ons and it's killing me).  <Ahh, you'll like the change for sure> Is it possible for me to NOT utilize my cabinet, instead I would like to place the sump/refugium/protein skimmer combo to the left of my display tank almost the same height of my display tank. <Yes, possible> I want to include mangroves in the refugium part of the sump, and that precludes using my cabinet to house this sump. I would also like to try to feed my tank (copepods, etc.) from the refugium. I realize the PVC lines would have to enter down from overflow tanks (I plan on having 2 overflows, each one independently able to accommodate my water flow, in case one clogs)... <Good> ... make a left turn and continue to the sump area, then turn down again to feed sump. I guess I want to know in your experiences, am I asking for trouble, i.e....... siphon break, leak, etc. <Not much trouble... worth the risk IMO/E... do need some "difference in water levels" to expedite gravity overflow feed... but with testing of flow rate (return from sump/refugium) such that just one of the overflows can handle in the event of loss of one of them... all should be fine. Bob Fenner>  

Plumbing a Refugium Questions (Or, "Around Robin Hood's Barn") First of all, excellent web site and great response to our previous questions! Thank you! <Welcome> I have a 125Gal acrylic reef aquarium and I'm adding a 60Gal glass aquarium on the side for a sump with a refugium. We have two CPR USA CS102DX C-siphon overflows (1200gph each) to feed the sump, a Turboflotor T1000 Multi skimmer for use in the sump (now hanging on the 125), a used 30Gal tall acrylic tank (to be drilled for flow) for the refugium inside the 125Gal sump, and a Supreme Model 18 Mag Drive pump (1800gph) for the return to the 125 (with a 3/4" inline valve). <Mmm, this tubing diameter is too small> A 1/4" acrylic panel will separate the skimmer from the refugium on one end, and another panel will separate the refugium from the pump on the other end (Aside, should I epoxy or silicone the acrylic panels to the glass tank?). <Try siliconing some plastic strips to the tank and fit the acrylic panels in... or permanently silicone them in...> The overflows will be connected inline, with a union and a valve downstream from each box, in case one fails, or needs to be removed for cleaning or maintenance. Two outputs from each box are 1", and all four outputs will feed into a 1-1/2" PVC line to the sump.  <I would test, make sure that one alone can/will handle the flow of the pump and plumbing you end up with here> Each overflow will require a 1-1/2" valve and union, downstream in the 1-1/2" line from each box. <Mmm, a valve... union for the overflows? For what purpose?> From the FAQs, I see the recommendations for PVC gate valves, rather than ball valves, and I understand the reasons why. Unfortunately, even here in a large town like Las Vegas, NV, not even the plumbing supply houses, or garden nurseries, stock PVC gate valves, saying that one reason is that they're not as reliable as ball valves. Also found web reference to that opinion at: http://www.plumbingworld.com/slicegatevalves.html. I'm leaning towards a PVC slice valve for the overflow box disconnects, and a PVC gate valve for the pump return line  http://www.mops.ca/cgi-bin/SoftCart.exe/cshop/BHSS-GV07FF.html?L+scstore+hsmj9175ff6ffe6f+1112298765 . <Could work... the valves on the discharge side/overflows are not really necessary (as far as I know)... with lowered water level... > I apologize that I don't have a drawing to follow (anyone have a link for a simple drawing program with a short learning curve?),  <Wish I did know of such... my graphics expertise is extremely limited> and I hope you can follow this, but I'm open to suggestions, and I thank you for your kind attention. Tom in Las Vegas <Your plan sounds/reads workable... I would look to either enlarging the 3/4" ID line to one inch... or arrange an over the tank manifold of larger diameter. Bob Fenner>

Plumbing Hello.. I have a 90 gal drilled with 4 1" bulkheads. 20 gal. Sump. Drilled 1" blk. Return pump is Mag drive 9.5. The system is really noisy. My LFS rep installed the system with 6 90 degree elbows in the return. I'm guessing that is where the noise is coming from. I want to replumb but want to pre- plan for best outcome. I will try to use 45Degrees instead of elbows where needed. <Might want to try hose if possible (better to have sweeping curves than all the 90's/45's>  The diameter of return on pump is 3/4" but I thought I would step it up and use 1 1/4" PVC to top where I would like to create a manifold with 2 outflows on front/back of each side. I imagine I'll have to seriously step down to 1/2" in PVC to get decent pressure in the manifold. Any thoughts? <It isn't going to do you much good going with 1 1/4" from your pump. I'd take 3/4" up to the tank with 3/4" manifold and have two 1/2" returns. James (Salty Dog)>

- Sumps, Pumps, and Plumbing - Hello to all the staff at WWM! <Hello.> First off, MAD PROPS and HUGE THANK-YOUs to the entire crew! I wouldn't want to think what the hobby and industry would be like without you folks!  Late in 2003, and early 2004 I spent some time building a very nice custom stand, canopy and sump for a planned 90 Gallon rig. In 2004, I was laid-off and my expensive project was put on hold and I settled myself by enjoying my then current 40gal tank. Recently, I moved from one state to another and destroyed the old 40 gallon tank before moving. However, all the life, rocks and some sand from that tank are currently living in my new home office in a Rubbermaid container awaiting their newer, nicer, roomier home.  I figured it is only fair since I got one. At this point, I have 200 pd.s of very fine sand, have re-poly'd my tank and canopy, looked at integrating the 440W VHO light system into the canopy, have the custom sump leak-tested, have 88lbs of Tonga Kaelini LR curing in the garage (Thanks Walt and ReeferMadness.us!), and am currently in the ordering process for the tank (90 Gallon Acrylic). I posted some pictures in my user profile here of the rock on receipt. I also plan on adding pictures through-out the whole project. Anyways, I can't seem to get a solid opinion on the boards and I am at the scary part (for me) which is the plumbing and pump selection. This seems to be the hardest area to research in tank construction due to the overwhelming number of configurations. I was hoping someone might answer a few questions and tell me If I am on the right track. Ok, here goes! <Ok, I'm wearing my seat belt.> I have already purchased 2 -- 2.0" diameter bulkhead fittings for the tank output to the sump and 2 -- 1.5" return bulkhead fittings. In your opinion is this a little bit overkill for a 90 Gallon or is my planning sound in that I wanted to run 1000gph (quietly/ish) to the sump through the outputs and that I thought that the larger the size the better in terms of clogging, noise levels, etc? <It is a bit of overkill, but not something that will cause you trouble - just takes up real estate.> Due to the stand and sump design I created, I have now figured out that I will have to mount those fittings high up on the back pane of the aquarium as my sump does not allow much in terms of extra holding capacity (the internal walls are high relative to the total height of the exterior sump walls) and I don't want to take a chance of flooding.  I won't make that mistake in design again but I still want to utilize the existing sump, darn it! It is, relative to the tank, at least, a high capacity sump (45 gallons filled) and I custom built it to the stand so that when the main door is open you will be looking at the refugium area of the sump. Considering this do you have any recommendations or suggestions for placement of the bulkheads on the back pane?  <Evenly spaced along the back wall.>  How close to the top can I safely go in the standard 1/2 Acrylic they use in 90 Gallons?  <On acrylic, you'll be fine fairly close to the top - you do realize that with the two inch bulkheads, you'll have a noticeably low water level in the tank - the outer diameter of that bulkhead will determine its placement on the back wall, meaning the lowest part of the inner diameter will be almost three inches from the top... you may want to reconsider the use of these bulkheads.> Since I will have to use the back pane I planned on using a weir built around the strained bulkheads to control the maximum amount of water that can evacuate the tank.  <Ahh yes... this would help, but how would this work with the returns?>  Also, I plan on using an anti-siphon run in my return line in conjunction with check valves to avoid flooding! Does that sound pretty bullet-proof?  <I'm not familiar with "an anti-siphon run"... but the check valves should help with this issue.>  Did I mention I have a fear of flooding?  <Think I noticed this theme, yes.> Besides the sump I also plan on building a closed loop incorporating a SCWD or similar on the system for circulation, so as to avoid powerheads and provide a higher turnover rate and a healthier environment for future denizens. Do you have any favorite devices in that arena?  <SCQD is a fine device. SeaSwirls are also widely used but much more expensive.> Since I am at the point that I need to look at ordering the pumps, I had hoped for some further input. What 2 pumps (matched if possible) would you use to drive the 90 gallon system while achieving a 10x turnover in the sump (900+gph) and a 10x in the closed loop (900+) given that: A. The sump return would be pushing 2 1.5" diameter lines to the tank with each having at least 3 90's in them and the runs would be at least 4-5 feet. --Would that roughly equate to 11 to 12 feet of head pressure?--  <I think much less... 6-7 I think.> B. The closed loop would feature 3-4 1" lines with approximately the same number of 90's and length in runs. -17 to 18 feet of head?-  <Think you're giving too much credit to those 90's - I won't deny that they are an impediment to direct flow, but I don't think they knock off even a foot for each bend.> Would 2 Iwaki 30RXLT or 2 Dolphin Ampmaster 3000's be appropriate?  <The AmpMaster would be a significantly larger pump than the Iwakis. Depending on where this tank is placed in the house, you may prefer the AmpMaster for its quiet operation, but you could likely do fine with the 2100.>  Would you use two different spec pumps? Do you have a favorite between those two or any other favorites with the newer manufacturers that might be a little less hefty in price?  <Both are excellent, I use Iwaki pumps, but they run outside in the garage where I don't have to hear them. Have many friend who use the AmpMaster and am impressed by its silent operation... is supposed to be kind to your electric bill too.> Also, for pump output plumbing, where is the appropriate place to go up in size in pipe diameter to match the return bulkhead size if the outputs on the pump is smaller? (for example, say if 1.5" bulkheads and 1"output on pump)?  <Right after the pump.> For the plumbing itself, should I use a ball or gate valve directly connected to the bulkheads or should I have a slip union between each plumbing device in the system?  <Ball valves only - and slip unions everywhere there is a device you might want to remove from the chain for replacement or maintenance.>  From what I have been able to research on my own (assuming a union between each) does the following sound ok?  Tank Output side: strainer/tank bulkhead/union/ball or gate valve/union/pipe-run/sump Sump Output: strainer/sump bulkhead/union/pump/union/manifold or tee/return pipe-runs/union/check valve/union/ball or gate valve/union/tank return bulkhead <Unions around things like pumps, check valves... not so important directly after bulkheads unless you think the connected item might have to come out at some point in the future.> In closing, I want to thank you so very, very much for all the help and at the same time apologize for having so many questions on specifics. Having someone trusted, and willing to answer some questions is so very appreciated. I promise to continue to buy at least one of each book! Thanks so much! The Drunken Monkey <Cheers, J -- > 

Bulkheads and gph flow Would one have a better drain flow rate and/or return flow rate using tubing vs. PVC?  <Tubing is better. With PVC it would require elbows etc. Each elbow will reduce the flow rate around 5%.> I am planning on a 225 glass tank utilizing 3 2" interior diameter bulkhead drains, T's after drain, capped, with vent tubes-if PVC is the way to go. Might use tubing after the drain bulkhead. What would be your preference? <In that case, I would go with PVC and set it up so the drain would go straight down into the sump.> Plan to return water from a Rubbermaid sump, utilizing an Ampmaster or sequence (any other suggestions on pump?) to obtain 15-20 x turnover hourly through a closed loop perimeter (also likely out of PVC). I am thinking of just a single return line probably, 1.5" to the perimeter part of the loop/bulkhead OR over the top of the glass. What would be the ramifications of going from 1.5 to say 3/4" on the perimeter outlets?  <I guess that depends on the pump gph.> Would tubing from the pump return to the perimeter elbow connection be any better/worse than PVC? Anything you might do to change this plan?   <No, tubing is generally quieter, less vibration.> Thank you for your input!  <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

125 plumbing Hello to all. I will soon be plumbing my 125 RR AGA and have a question. The tank has the standard 2 overflows w/ 1" and .75" bulkheads in each overflow. I am planning on using both 1" and 1 - .75" bulkheads for the drains to the sump. I will use valves to adjust the flow to the sump.  <Why would you want to do this? No need for it.>  Then use the other .75" bulkhead for the return. My return pump is a Mag 18 and will be plumbed to a manifold running along the top back of the tank feeding 3 outlets. Does this sound reasonable?  <I would put a valve on the pump in the event the pump puts more water into the tank than the drains can provide.> James (Salty Dog)> 

Ordering tank, understanding Mr. Fenner: <Mr. Uscio> I am hoping you would take a few moments to answer a few short questions from a relatively new hobbyist. Your previous advice has been excellent. I am in the process of upgrading reef tanks from a 75 sumpless reef to a 120 72 x 24 x17 inch glass tank from Glass Cages. My problem arises with my lack of experience with sumps and overflows. <You'll soon have a bunch more> I wish to house mainly soft corals with a few scattered LPS. The tank may be bare bottom. The shallow tank will be lit by t5 lighting. I will be running two SEIOs blowing from each side of the tank inward. I have to instruct Glass Cages when I order about the specifics of my overflows. This is where I am confused. <Oh?> Should I go with one center overflow with one 1.5 inch drain and one 1.5 inch return? <I wouldn't... > Please keep in mind simple is my key word. If I go this route, what size pump or gph would I push? What would you recommend. I have to order the tank in 2 weeks for shipping. Thank you for your time. Mike <Mike... there are MANY other issues you will want to be aware of here... than how many holes, where placed... This is NOT an arena where a simple operant understanding will "get you by" (e.g., just push down on this lever and it'll make it go forward)... I STRONGLY encourage you to read re Plumbing, Overflows... Refugiums... WAY before you give instructions here concerning the cutting of the tank... See this part of WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm scroll down to "plumbing", read the article, the FAQs... go to "refugiums"... do the same... Take down good notes... others have had similar questions answered, HOWEVER, each case is different... BUT you will greatly appreciate the time you invest here. Bob Fenner>

Overflow Capacity/Plumbing Questions.... Hi Guys, <Hi.> I've read through all the Marine Plumbing and circulation FAQs, but I just wanted to get your opinion(s) on the setup that I am contemplating. I'm going to set up a 55 gallon acrylic (36x18x20) to house LPS and SPS, in addition there will be a 40-55 gallon sump located in the stand. I was thinking about having two 1 1/2" holes in the bottom of the overflow box as well as two 3/4 inch returns between the two. The overflows would drain directly down to my sump/skimmer and would then be pumped back up to a closed manifold via two separate in sump pumps (for redundancy). Do you think this system could handle a flow rate of the roughly 1500gph?  <Yes.>  Could it handle more?  <The plumbing could... not sure what would happen in the tank.>  What would you do if this were your own system?  <Get a larger tank... the more space you have, the easier it is to keep in balance, pull off things like high circulation systems. In a small tank you run the risk of having such turbulent flow that water will slosh all over the place. Certainly will make it hard to keep a sand substrate in place on the bottom. Otherwise, your plan for redundancy and increasing the drain size is all sound.> Thanks in advance for any and all responses.  Josh <Cheers, J -- >

Stainless steel Thanks for your help in the past. One more quick question: Is a stainless steel hose clamp a bad idea in a salt tank? <Very bad idea. Look for all-plastic or nylon. Bob Fenner> 

Plumbing Capacity Good afternoon Oh Wise Ones, As some of you already know, I have been bugging you for a few months off and on about setting up my first Marine Aquarium. So far, with the FAQ's, Articles, and the TOP NOTCH personal help, I think I am almost ready. Just have one more question for you (for now ).  I am going to have a 125 or 135 gallon tank on the first floor with the 55 gal sump in the basement. The drains will be 2 X 2" and the returns will be 2 X 1.5".  Now on to the quandary. Where I have to put the sump/refugium in the basement, there will be approximately a 9' horizontal run with about 8' vertical run. My  question is, is there a formula for figuring out how much water the pipes will be holding all together? <Sure - easiest way would be to just calculate the volume of the straight sections - volume of a cylinder [V] can be calculated by the following formula: V = pi * r2 * h - that's pi times the radius squared times the height. Radius is half the diameter of a circle, so make sure you use the internal diameter of the pipe to calculate this. Because the drains will not be "full" you'll have a good margin of error for the bends.>  I have the formulas for figuring gallons for tanks, head pressure, etc, but am just wondering if I split my 55 into 2 parts to incorporate a refugium, will there be enough water volume in the other half for the pumps/skimmer, or by the time I pump enough water to fill all the pipes, will my refugium run empty?  <One reason I was suggesting you think about a larger container for a sump.> As always, thank you for your time! You guys/gals are the best! Tom (The Tool Man) PS: Feel free to post this question. HA! <Will do. Cheers, J -- > 

- Plumbing the Basement Sump, Follow-up - Hey again, J--!  Thanks for the info.  I have to agree with you, I think I am going to go ahead and use the entire 55 GAL for the sump with skimmer and add an extra 20 GAL I have as an Upstream Refugium. I (of course!) have one more question if you don't mind. When using the formula you sent me for figuring the Volume of the lines, what units is the answer in? <Whatever units you use.> I am pretty sure it is not gallons, but is it cups, ounces...?  Am leaning toward Cubic Inches which would be approx 8 1/2 Gal in all 4 lines giving me around 12-15 GAL volume in the sump with everything going. <The answer would be in cubic something... inches if you use inches.> Doesn't sound like it would work. <Sure it would... calculate the cubic inches and divide by 231 [number of cubic inches in a gallon].>,  Sorry for the dumb question but it has been quite a while since I took a math class and I am getting rusty! As always THANK YOU!  If you're ever down Virginia way, I'll buy you a drink or 3! <Sounds good.> Thanks, Tom (The Tool Man) <Cheers, J -- >

Re: Tank Mod (do-over) by Tom the Tool Man Hey again Jason, <Hey again, Tom.> Who did you tick off to get stuck with all of my questions? ;-) <No one.> Still kind of nervous about drilling my tank myself and can't find anyone else around here that will do it. So... How about this: Tie the 1" and 3/4" holes together (on both corners) and use them all as drains and just run the Returns over the top of the tank. <That would also work.> According to the Overflow Calc on ReefCentral, this should give me approx 1700 GAL Overflow then push it back to the tank from the sump and will also add a separate manifold around the top. What do you think? <Sounds good to me.> Thanks for your time. BOY I'm going to owe you BIG TIME after I finally get something up and actually put water in it! Tom <Cheers, J -- > 

Bulkheads, plumbing Good evening! I am currently planning my next reef tank and would like an opinion before I put this whole thing into motion. Currently, I have a 75 gal softie tank. I plan to buy an AGA 150 and have the back wall drilled for four 1.5" bulkheads. My thought at this point is to use three of these drains to the sump and the fourth for a closed loop system.  <Sounds good> I want the capability of 3,000 GPH without the use of any powerheads, etc in the tank. I plan to keep LPS for starters and SPS in the future. I want to use the full length overflow outlined in Anthony's book. I looked at Premium Aquatics and the CPR overflows are rated for 1600 GPH with a 1.5" bulkhead. After much research on your site and others, I don't believe that much water can flow through that bulkhead. <Me neither... and other issues... e.g. what if one becomes occluded?> Should I upgrade to a (huge) 2" set of bulkheads? <Mmm, no, not necessarily... thought you mentioned four holes drilled... one for a continuous closed loop...> How close to the top of the tank can these bulkheads be placed? <A few inches... best to fit them internally with "street" "L's"... that can be turned and fitted in turn with screens...> The sump will be a 55 AGA or maybe Rubbermaid. Should the drain lines from the display have submerged exits in the sump? <Can... I encourage you to look into "filter bags"... like the real spiffy ones from Premium Aquatics> I have seen some of the older wet/dry type sumps with the drain plumbed into the cover(s) and newer units plumbed submerged. I think through the cover would probably cause more bubble problems downstream. The sump will have one or two Aqua C EV Series skimmers and a compartment filled with live rock. Provisions for a future calcium reactor and possible Borneman type flush device will be made. The idea of two return pumps is appealing. After looking at the MDM/Sequence pumps, I think of going with only one return pump because the amp draw is very low versus flow rate on their 3,000+ GPH pumps. <Yes> Operating cost is, of course, a concern. I know Iwaki (Japanese) are highly recommended, but one Iwaki won't be enough. What are your thoughts on pump brands, noise, and operating costs for the water movement I need? <These are posted on WWM> I really want to do this right the first time and avoid the mistakes that I made setting up my 75 gal. I thank you people for all of your help and truly value your opinions. This site and its volunteers is an asset to the hobby. Luke. <Glad to help. Bob Fenner>

Re: Bulkheads, plumbing Mr. Fenner- Thank you for your reply. Just a couple more questions.  Filter bags are suggested in your reply. I currently use no pre-filter media to avoid nitrate build up and had planned not to use any on this tank as well. <Mmmm, well... if there's a bunch of fish, feeding... and you don't mind frequent rinsing (get two sets), the Emperor Aquatics bags are really useful for both sieving out large particulates... as well as keeping noise and splash down to a minimum> I would rather clean a skimmer more often than clean a pre-filter. I am mostly unfamiliar with filter bags and would like to know if there are any advantages to using them that I am unaware of. <Maybe... kind of hard to describe via this media... what I am referring to is a bag made of Dacron that has a tie... a noose if you will, that is secured over the throat of a fitting on the discharge end/s of your overflow/s... going into your sump/s.> The goal is to keep this tank as natural (and cheap) as possible and keep any daily maintenance/tinkering tasks to a minimum. <I'm with you> The cost of this project will be watched closely even though some bells and whistles are mentioned in the original email. Also, what are the pros and cons of submerged or above water inlets to the sump? <... well... some noise reduction... ability to have a little more transit volume... with submerged discharges... but a bit more trouble to fit and maintain.> One last thing, my copy of CMA is falling apart from lots of use and Reef Invertebrates is looking pretty rough too. Thanks again for your help. Luke <My frequent-use references are taking a beating as well... Was at the local (Scripps Institute) college library last week (scrounging references for a friend) and they had a display of natural history books from the 1800's! Man, "they don't make 'em like they used to!" Bob Fenner>

- Refugium/Plumbing Problems - Greetings to all the fine folks of WWM.  <Greetings from one of them.>  I have a plumbing/refugium design problem that I haven't been able to find an answer to on the site or in Bob and Anthony's Reef Invertebrates . Sorry to have to email directly. I really try to find the answers first (and usually do!). I'd love some guidance if you don't mind. I'm rather terrible when it comes to plumbing. Although, I did change the faucet fixture in my kitchen sink a couple years ago and it still works (only leaks a little!). My opus of handiwork I'm afraid.  I am in the process of adding a 50 gallon refugium to my 110 gallon display. I know there are many choices/designs depending on what results I seek. My main goal is nitrate reduction and maybe a zooplankton haven.  My biggest problem with the set up is hampered by aesthetics. The display tank is in my living room. My wife is gracious enough to let me add this refugium as long as it is not an eyesore. It's going to be on the floor against the wall next to the tank. I plan on constructing (more likely having it built for me) a faux cabinet with no floor or backing. This way I can easily remove it when I want to tinker with the fuge.  <Hmm... this might be the first flaw in your plan... refugiums really aren't meant to be tinkered with - they can be observed, but shouldn't be disturbed on even a semi-regular basis; should be set up and left alone. Having a cabinet just for the refugium is a good idea however.>  She can keep photos and knickknacks on top of it so it actually serves another purpose. Right now I only have a 20 gallon sump (wish I knew better and bought a large one in the beginning) which holds my skimmer and heater. I can't upgrade it because the sump tank is trapped inside the stand unless I take down the main tank (which is not happening: water + rock + livestock removal + mess = imminent death at hands of wife). I would still like to use the sump though as part of my overall design but think there will be problems with a safe/useful set up as you will see.  There is only one overflow box (another lament) in my main tank which will now divert the water to the refuge. My plan is to have the first and largest chamber be a DSB. The water would then overflow into the next compartment which would hold my skimmer. Most designs seem to have the skimmer in the first chamber but EuroReef recommends the skimmer sit in only 6-8" of water. Wouldn't that mean the second compartment's water level would be even lower?  <Yep.>  I plan on making the sand bed 6-8". I can't really prop the skimmer up on anything inside the fuge since it has to hide inside the cabinet. The skimmer is 24" high and the cabinet will probably be about 28".  <Well... if you're having the cabinet built for you, why not adjust these dimensions?> Now I believe my plans run into the real roadblocks that I think the laws of Physics will keep me from completing. I would like to feed the water from the refugium into my old sump (which I would fill with some crushed coral to get more zooplankton growth). From here the return pump would be plumbed back into my display. Since the refugium is not going to be higher (maybe an inch) than the sump, gravity won't carry it into the sump. I don't want to put a siphon box on my tank dedicated to the sump. Anthony has scared me away from that idea. Is there anything else I can do?  <No... having a two pump system will really cause your wife to throttle you the day one of the pumps slows down. Would really reconsider the cabinet design you've proposed and perhaps have the refugium at a higher level so it can gravity feed into the main sump and be returned from there.>  Reading all the FAQ's it doesn't seem that pumping it from the fuge to the sump will work properly either.  <Nope, an ill-conceived idea that many have tried only to eventually pump their tanks onto the floor.>  I know I could always nix the use of the sump and just have water return from my fuge to the display but I'd like to take advantage of the sump space too.  <And would be better to leave the skimmer in the main sump, try to dedicate as much space/surface area as possible to a true refugium.>  Anything else I could do to achieve this that doesn't take an engineering degree?  <Consider a change to your cabinet design... you're not out of options yet.>  I'd appreciate any help. On a side note I'd like to thank all the WWM crew for all the help you wonderful people selflessly give. In this day and age where everything requires passwords or a paid subscription, your site gives out an unlimited source of knowledge for FREE! You are truly a life preserver in this fantastic hobby that is amazing, unpredictable, and at times downright infuriating! I sincerely thank you for all the help and encouragement I've received just from reading your articles and FAQ's. You do this hobby an unbelievable service which can't be measured. Thanks for always being there to help and I look forward to the next volume of The Natural Marine Aquarium Series.  <Me too.> Much success, Bobby B. <Cheers, J -- >

Proper flow into and out of a refugium... Hey ho, go with the gravity flow! Ridiculous water balancing act, AND great revelation re: SeaClowns Hi all, glad you are here to help me yet again. <Let's see> I am trying to get a refugium started, for a salt water tank. I get the basic idea of what one is, and the many uses of them. But I cannot seem to get a good, or should I say a controlled flow into and out of the reef. I either get too much water and it overflows or I get too little and I empty the reef. I have tried siphoning from the main tank; I get too little water that way, so I hooked up a powerhead in the main tank a Penguin 550 and a Penguin 550 in the reef to return to the tank. Now it overflows I have looked in the refugium FAQs and did not see any questions that dealt with my problem. <There are a few> So in essence I am asking what do I need to do to get it to work correctly and achieve balance? Cutting holes in the display tank is not an option for me. <Mmm, then you can drill the refugium, set it higher than the main tank... OR use overflow boxes.... OR a hang-on refugium... OR flow valves, cut-off switches....> I would like to have an overflow hooked up but tank placement forbids this. The 10 gallon reef tank is about 4 feet away from the main tank. Please point me in the right direction. Thanks Craig  <Read my friend: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm  and the blue colored links...... and on to the setting up small marine systems sections...> As a side note I have a Sea Clone 100 and I finally got it to work right. I had to change the air inlet valve. I had to buy a check valve from Sears; this actually opens and closes according to pressure. <Good modification> I got to thinking about waves; the foam is produced generally when water crashes in to the beach. Why not use this same principle in the skimmer. <! Great idea> The valve opens after the suction is created by the pump sucking the water, after about 10-12 seconds of pumping the valve opens all the way letting a massive amount of air in until the pressure is equal again. All I have to say is, wow, I got a full cup of ugly nasty brown thick skimmate the first day, it has calmed down since to about every 3 or 4 days I get a full cup of skimmate. The bubbles when I first did it were getting into the tank but I made a diffusion plate to put on the skimmer where the water is reintroduced into the tank, and the bubbles are no longer a problem. I hope this helps someone having problems with their skimmer, and gives them an idea to help correct the problem.  <Thank you for this. Bob Fenner>

Pump Choice and Overflows HI Scott, <Hello again!> Sorry to bother you again. Just one more question. The center over flow only has enough room for a 1 1/2" and 1" bulkhead. IYO, would the single 1 1/2" drain handle the MD55RLT? Thx, Vince <Well, Vince, I think that it would work. You may need to experiment with the control, so a good ball valve is important. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Re: Tank Improvements? Scott, Got it. I'm an idiot. RLT is pressure rated. I got the wrong pump. Better to know now then after I install it. Vince  <Not an idiot Vince! You're just a dedicated fish nerd like me! I think that you'll definitely enjoy the MD55RLT! Regards, Scott F.>

Plumbing a new sump Crew, <Scott> I sent a question on Wednesday of last week from work, but I'm not sure my work email allows .jpg attachments anymore. <Should> So I am resending from a different email account. If you received this email and just haven't had time to respond, I'm VERY sorry for the intrusion. Here is the text from the previous email. Good Morning, I am in the process of upgrading to a larger size display tank, and am planning on taking my current display tank (a 50g Long) and converting it to my under-cabinet sump. My current sump is two 10 gallon acrylic tanks that are connected using a bulkhead system. But it doesn't use any bafflings, [sic] so I am a little confused by how they affect water levels. <They "back up" and keep water levels at the height they're set at... allowing for continuous levels for... gear like protein skimmers, the coalescence of bubbles...> I read through Bob's article, Plumbing Marine Aquariums, and would like to model my sump much like his diagram at the bottom of the article. But I had questions about portions of the diagram. I have made notations on the diagram and have attached it to this email. My questions are numbered on the diagram:  1) I'm not clear on the exact placement of the activated carbon in this design. Is it in the trough of that baffling system? If so how do you access it to change it?  <Should be toward the end of the runs/baffles... After mechanical stripping... skimmers, other contactors... just in front of whatever pumping, overflow mechanism... where water will be occasioned to run through, past it. For purposes of visualization, you might well want to add another baffle chamber ahead of the one leading to the depicted pump... with an eggcrate support to place the media on... and the wall/baffle beyond this low enough to allow water to overflow into the pump chamber should the media area become occluded> Also, I like to use a PolyFilter pad in my current setup, and have on occasion had to use a phosphate filter. Where would / could these filter media be placed? <In the same vicinity... all chemical filtrants toward the rear> I have read other places where Bob has suggested horizontal water movement through filter media, as opposed to vertical movement for clogging reasons? <Yes... the most important> 2) I do not understand the purpose of this portion of the return plumbing. My assumption is that in conjunction with the check valve coming out of the return pump, this pipe will handle the return water that is pulled back when the pump is turned off?? Or am I completely off track? Is the gate valve always open on that portion of the return? If so, wouldn't water be pumped through there as well as going to the main tank anytime the pump is running? And wouldn't that disrupt the DSB in the refugium? (I know that is a barrage of questions. ) <This arrangement allows for two adjustments... the control of flow back to the tank, and added circulation (if wanted) in the sump/DSB/LR area. Not necessary, desired in most systems... better to select a pump of about the right capacity...> 3) I am not sure of the water height in the return pump partition of this sump diagram. Is it A, B, C or something completely different? Is it a constant level? In this system, where do you see the water level variance as you evaporate water?  <No higher than C... maybe having B as a minimum water line when the system power is off... for evaporation, water change purposes> 4) Where is the water level in the refugium? I currently have some Chaetomorpha in my current refugium and would like to do the same in this setup. Would I need to make the 6" baffles taller in the refugium to contain it? <Between C and B> 5) Finally, (you're saying the same thing right?) in my current setup, I took out the bio-balls from the trickle portion of my sump and replaced them with my uglier pieces of live rock. I'm wondering where that rock would go in this design. Should I enlarge the space between the first two baffles coming out of the skimmer compartment and have the water flow down through the rocks much like it does now in my current setup? Or should I just place them throughout the refugium on top of the sand and have the water flow across them? <Either will work> Thanks in advance for all the advice. Your site is invaluable.  Scott <Thank you for your kind words and being part of it as I am. Bob Fenner>

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