Please visit our Sponsors
More FAQs about Pump/Plumbing Noise, Prevention, Abatement and Aquarium Systems... or Save My Sanity, PLEASE! 1

Related Articles: Plumbing Marine Systems by Bob Fenner, 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: Plumbing Noise 2, Pump/Plumbing Noise 3, Pump/Plumbing Noise 4, Pump/Plumbing Noise 5, & 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 18, Holes & Drilling, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, 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

Let's see... filter bags, tees at discharges... Aspiration lines in overflow downspouts... Styrofoam padding around sumps and stand inside panels... Good quality pump/s... Pumps attached to solid bases... Earplugs... Noise reduction headphones... larger house

Quest For Silence - 01/22/06 Hi WWM crew! <<Hello!...EricR here this morning.>> I am continuing on my quest for a silent tank, and the current problem is that my pump is really loud, and I am very sound sensitive. <<Mmm, so is my wife...and I experienced similar problems when I installed my 375 gallon reef tank.>> The tank is setup in the living room, so we hear noise from it constantly. <<Ah yes, I can sympathize.  Mine too is in the living room...originally drowned out the television...the Mrs. was not pleased.>> We got all other noises reduced, so the pump is the last item to fix, noise level wise. <<Excellent, so let's see what we can do about the pump...>> We have a 75 gallon tank, which is currently being run with a sump setup, and a RIO 14 HF. <<Hmm, these pumps a generally "fairly" quiet considering their cost, but there are better choices for a return pump in my opinion.>> The vibration noise is very significant.  We lined the cabinet and the sump pump chamber with soundproofing, but it just muffled the noise, it is still quite loud. <<Yes...you need to "dampen" the vibration.  Try placing some "spongy" material under the pump for it to rest on.  Perhaps a piece of filter sponge like that used in pond filters...or even an old "mouse pad."  Depending on your plumbing, adding a short section of flexible tubing (input and output) can reduce vibrations transmitted to other components of the system.>> Is there another pump that is quieter that would match the flow of this one? <<The Mag-Drive series of pumps may work for you (is what I use): http://www.marinedepot.com/aquarium_powerheads_pumps_danner_mag_drive_supreme.asp?CartId= >> Should I switch to an external pump? (not even sure if I can with my sump) <<Not necessarily>> I was looking at "Quiet ones", and Velocity pumps (but then I might have a heat problem) and Iwaki or Eheim, but I have heard the latter two can be noisy also.... <<The latter two are great pumps...I have been standing next to some Iwaki pumps that you had to put your hand on them to tell they were running...and if a submersible Eheim would fit your flow requirements I believe you would be very satisfied with its performance too.>> Thanks for your input! - Sleepless in Alberta... <<Regards, EricR>>

Noisy Air Pump  12/15/05 We have a "Elite 802" air stone < Actually the Elite 802 is a pump, not an airstone.> for a 10 gallon tank that is really noisy. Do you have any recommendations for any air stone's <pumps> that aren't noisy? This thing is pretty loud and we even have it laying on a folded over dishtowel to buffer some of the noise. Thank you! < This is a very common problem that aquarists encounter with small aquariums. Little vibrating air pumps are relatively inexpensive but almost all of them work off a vibrating diaphragm. With little plastic housings there is not enough ballast around them to contain the vibration or the noise. Bigger ones were sometimes no better. The was a company many years ago that made an outstanding pump called the Silent Giant. It was an incredibly powerful pump that you could hardly hear. Unfortunately they began to use cheaper materials, the quality went down and they were not nearly as good and the company went out of business. Unplug the air pump from the airline while it is till plugged in. This is as quiet as it is ever going to get. Lots of the vibration comes from excessive back pressure, liked clogged airstones or kinked airlines. If the problems are fixed but it is still too noisy then you will have to change to an outside power filter. Other little air pumps are not going to be much better. Look at the penguin brands. The only noise you will hear is the sound of water running over the filter. Some people actually find it relaxing.-Chuck> Noisy skimmer pump  12/13/05 Hi all. I have got a 30 gal reef tank and have just brought a aqua medic BioStar flotor that came with a Oceanrunner 2000ltr pump and the problem is with the pump, it is very noisy which I can only describe as a very loud hum and it is also vibrating too much. Is it a problem with the pump where it needs taking back to the shop or can it be fixed. <I'd talk to the horse himself.  Contact here.  www.aqua-medic.com  James (Salty Dog)>

All but one noise source conquered 10/31/05 Gentlemen, <What about the gentle ladies here?> as much as I attempted not to bother you guys, I honestly believe I am stumped with this noise issue. After reading the FAQs I researched and bought the Stockman pipe (Durso alternative) to solve my overflow box noise problem (Thank You WetWebMedia!) but as much as I have tried I cannot seem to solve the gurgling noise from my refugium. <Sometimes...> Let me outline my setup, I have two converted wet dries - the larger one is a sump and the smaller is a refugium which is slightly raised higher than the sump to use gravity to return water.. The refugium and the sump are side by side. The refugium has three 1/2 in bulk heads all on one row. One for incoming water and two for outgoing water. Water is pumped into the refugium from the sump via a 1/2 inch bulk head. Water is returned by gravity to the sump by the remaining two bulkheads. No matter what I try, I have loud gurgling noises - I assume the result of air and water mixing. <Yes... these bulkheads/through-hulls are too small in diameter...> I have even put another small pump inside the refugium to help in circulation but mainly to "push" more water to the two outlets hoping to prevent the noise. I also tried capping one of the bulkheads but that did not work. I REALLY need some help here. I want to get my refugium working to help with NNR but I am facing a revolt because of the frequent loud gurgling noise. Thanks in advance A grateful newbie. <Mmm, drill out, fit larger through-puts... done. Bob Fenner> 

Aspiration?? And/or options  10/20/05 Good morning.   <Yep> I am looking to solve the flushing noise dilemma in my 60gal almost FOWLR (almost, because I have some neat hitchhikers on the rock that are doing well).    <Okay> Set Up:  60 gallon, back is drilled about 4" from top of tank, way off to one corner. <Four inches? This is quite a bit of "transit volume" to accommodate below... i.e., what happens to all the water above the bottom of this through-put if/when the pump quits?> Im using 1" PVC. <For a drain line? Too small...> Inside tank, there is a 90 degree elbow facing up toward surface with screen thing on it.  Outside tank, another 90 elbow facing downward at a 45 degree angle, and a flex pipe running the whole length of the tank, and beyond, at that angle to a filter pad/ <These can be problematical... need to be cleaned... sometimes daily> bioball column/chamber, which then trickles into a sump.  Mag 7, running wide-open, pushes the water back to the tank using a hang-on style return feed.  Might sound odd, but with the stand I have, the sump can not be "under" the tank.  It is off to the side. <Yes, happens> As you can guess, I have that cyclic flushing sound. <Luckily in at least one important case... w/o actual siphoning, the one inch I.D. line would not be able to "keep up" with the Mag 7 flow... In other words, w/o  reducing same, and/or increasing the number, diameter of the drain lines... you can't aspirate to reduce noise, flushing...> And based on the set up, can't use a Durso standpipe, <Correct> and from the look, the external modified Durso needs the J-tube skimmer box...I don't have that either. I've read the FAQ's till my eyes burned, and now I have info overload. Aspiration:  is this as simple as sending a 1/8" flex pipe down the overflow, and seeing if the flushing stops? <Would/could be... but you don't have a large-enough drain line to allow the volume/speed of water to return... the one inch is too small> Or sticking a BIC Pen tube in the first 90degree elbow, out the top above the waterline in there, as an "air chimney" ? <Likely need the air to "originate" further down in the line than "flipping a BIC" would do> Either way, won't this reduce the flow, and potential cause an overflow (unless I work on the  return? ) <Yes> I was advised by my LFS to create a baffle, and stuff it into the outflow.  Did you know that it can take almost 20 minutes for the inflow to exceed the outflow, causing an overflow? <Yes... poor idea> The flow difference must have been miniscule... a wet mess none the less (luckily I was nearby when she started to pour over).   I've also heard that putting an air valve on the outer 90 elbow will help; sort of like the air valve on the true Durso ... Will this create mega outflow; or bubblemania? <Some of the latter, but no increase (actually decrease in flow, due to the loss of the periodic siphoning effect> Then, I've read that the configuration of the drain tubing can/does affect the noise.  But haven't found any info on what configuration is particularly quiet.  Again, I have a flex pipe, running at a sagging 45 degree angle straight to the sump.      <... here come your options...> Now, I don't know what to do, or what to try first.  Any suggestions ? THANKS         John M <Well... you can drain the tank, re-drill the one line (or better) add one, two more... Or you can use (if there is another one) the pump/return fitting for more drainage, and pump/return water over the top of the tank edge... and/or you can reduce the flow rate from your pump, divert the "excess" flow elsewhere than the tank... Less desirably you could add an overflow box to this current arrangement... adding its draining capacity (I would not do this)... Basically, to put this in another way, you've been saddled with an inadequate diameter, number of drain-hole/s, too large a pump... Bob Fenner> Sump Gurgle & Overflow Noises 10/7/05 I have read over a lot of the Q&As regarding noise in the plumbing but have not been able to find a solution to the gurgle noise coming from the water entering my sump. I have a 90 Gal Plexi tank with three 1" drilled bulkheads on the top back of the tank. <Too small a diameter> I placed a T on each of the overflows with a small drilled hole to help vent. Water flow decreases with the vent holes but without them I get the sucking noise at the bulkheads.  <You could aspirate them... or re-drill...> I have the three overflow lines running into a 1 1/2" junction which then runs to the sump at about 4-5" below water level after a couple 90 degree bends.  <Won't help> I get a large volume of gurgle sounds with a lot of air bubbles. What should I do to help vent off the added air going into the sump. The gurgling is the largest sound irritation and if I can quiet that down and at the same time reduce the bubbles I can keep the family from running the TV volume so loud. I am also running a Mag 9.5 pump which I have to reduce slightly using a ball valve so I assume that the three 1" overflows recommended by a local fish store were not large enough. <Bingo... now you're starting to make sense> Thank you for all your knowledge and help.  Mike Raymond  <Read re aspirating lines... you might be lucky to simply fit some lengths of 3/16 ID hard tubing down the T's... Bob Fenner>

Pump noise question with a twist  10/3/05 Greetings crew. <And to you> I really hope that I didn't miss the answer to this in the FAQs, if I did, I apologize in advance. I have a Japanese Iwaki 30 series for the return pump from my sump.  Due to space constraints, it is connected to the sump via vinyl tubing, and it returns the water to the tank via vinyl tubing & SCWD.  All of the drain lines are hard plumbed.   I passed the freshwater leak test but there is an underlying hum from the pump that is, I believe, louder than I might achieve.  After a bit of poking around, I believe that the vinyl tubing that connects the sump to the Iwaki is amplifying what would be a tolerable amount of vibration noise from the pump itself.  I believe this is the cause because I can feel the vibration in that length of tubing, but not in the pump, or the walls of the sump. Changing the orientation/underlayment of the pump has no effect, but I can dull the noise by fiddling with the orientation of the vinyl tubing.  I'm just hoping that there might be a more permanent solution to the problem without me having to hold the vinyl tubing just so, as it would make it very difficult to observe the tank while holding onto the sump plumbing :*) Hard plumbing this I don't believe is feasible, due to limited space. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. <Although the Iwaki's are an excellent pump, I think they are a little noisier than most. Hard plumbing the return would just make this noisier.  If the pump is inside a cabinet you could line the cabinet with insulating foam.  This will dampen the noise level.  You may want to put a piece of foam under the pump itself also.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks so much, Sam

Noisy Wet/Dry - 09/29/05 Hey crew, <<Hey Clare!>> I have a 75 gallon sw tank, and it is an older model, and makes a whole lot of noise <<?>>.  I have a wet dry filter<<Ah, yes...can be very noisy.>> (125 capacity) and we decided to put a towel over the wet dry filter, this really helped with the noise. I was just wondering if this was OK to cover the filter or if you see any problems with it? <<Mmm, interesting question... But as long as you're not blocking air/oxygen from entering the filter (else, I'm sure you are already aware, you defeat the purpose of the wet/dry), using the towel to dampen noise shouldn't be a problem.>> Thanks, Clare <<Welcome, EricR>>

Aspiration (Let Those Return Lines Breath) - 07/14/05 Hi Gents (and/or ladies) <<Howdy>> I was wondering if you could assist me in understanding the concept of aspirating an overflow return line. <<I shall try.>> The only information I can get so far is - "..a small/er diameter line (flexible or rigid tubing) can be inserted into the larger diameter overflow line/s allowing more gentle mixing of air with water" , but I cant seem to find any FAQs or other docs that go into more detail about this. <<Mmm...have seen these on the site...>> If for example I have a 1.5inch bulkhead overflow with 1.5" drain pipe, would the size of this aspiration pipe be something like 1/2inch or 1/4inch in diameter or maybe smaller/larger? <<Requires some experimentation.  I like to use the smallest diameter that will do the job.>> If for example I have a T-piece connected to the outside of the bulkhead, would this aspiration line go all the way from the t-piece down to the sump? <<Nope...experimentation again... Insert the tubing/pipe until maximum noise reduction/flow is achieved.  There will be a finite point/length where any more or less provides a lessened result.>> Should the aspiration line be in "clear air" on both sides or should the bottom part be submerged? <<Submerged... You are releasing trapped air from within the water column.>> Apologies for all the questions. I don't understand the concept and haven't been able to find any more info on the net. <<Not to worry...happy to assist.  But do be aware that aspirating your return lines is not a panacea.  It is affected by/a compliment to other factors/functions such as return pipe configuration, flow rate, etc..>> <<<Ooooh, well-stated Eric. RMF>>> Many thanks Chris <<Regards, Eric R.>> Butterfly and Filter Question Hi guys, <J.D.> I purchased a wonderful little Auriga butterfly. In retrospect, I guess I purchased him a bit too small (about 2²). He did great in quarantine, but since I introduced him into the main tank there¹s traces of blood around his mouth. <A sensitive area> It doesn¹t appear that any of the other fish bother him (4 blue/green Chromis, a 6-line wrasse, cleaner shrimp). 175 gallon tank with perfect water conditions. Any ideas? Is there a softer food I should try feeding him? <Try an assortment of crustaceans, small worms... live or frozen/defrosted... 'gooshed' in front near the Butterfly with a turkey baster> In quarantine, I mostly fed him brine shrimp soaked in Zoe and either Zoecon or Selcon. Since I¹ve added him to the big tank, I mostly feed frozen cubes of Mysid shrimp, angel/butterfly cubes, plankton, etc. <Try breaking these up, or just the small organisms themselves> I have a twin pump Euro-reef skimmer in my sump. I was thinking about using silicone to glue neoprene pads to the bottom of the skimmer chamber and the pumps to knock out the vibration noise. Will the neoprene degrade over time or have any adverse chemical effect on the water? <Use Polyester or Dacron... not the neoprene. Bob Fenner> THANKS!! -- J.D. Hill

Noisy plumbing--sump located in another room Hello, and thank you very much for taking my question. I have looked through the FAQs and didn't find an answer to my situation... <Welcome> I have a 270 gallon reef tank in my living room. It is 72x30x30 and is a "peninsula design" (short side abuts a wall and you can view from the two long sides and the other short side). There is a single overflow abutting the wall. This overflow has two 1.5 inch drains and 4 3/4 inch returns. <What, wait... reading further... this, these are the only fittings for water coming/going?> The sump and filters are located in the basement laundry room. Water is returned to the tank via a Dolphin super amp master 5600 pump. Turning down the flow into the aquarium from the Dolphin pump did not quiet the system. Most of the flow in the tank is via a pair of Tunze 6100's.  The laundry room is one floor down and about 15 feet horizontally from the tank. A local plumber (who insisted he knew how to install aquarium plumbing) installed a 2 inch flexible pvc drain line and 2 inch return line. <Dismal> The tank has been running for a number of months now, but is very noisy. The is a gurgling/ air sucking noise constantly. Also, there is a flushing effect that cycles every five seconds. You can actually see the water spill into the sump in large boluses every few seconds.  <Yes... oscillatory motion from siphon-effect> I have twin 1.5 inch Durso standpipes installed (no help). Recently, I have been told that the problems is that the plumbing run to the basement was not done correctly. There are either small loops in the drain line or it is not pitched correctly. <Mmm, two things...> Finally....a question..... What is the correct pitch for aquarium drain plumbing?  In other words, how many inches of vertical descent are necessary for each foot of horizontal run? <An inch a foot minimum... the less horizontal the better> Currently I have the two 1.5 inch drain combining into a single 2 inch flexible pvc drain hose. If I have to re-do the plumbing, would I be better off running twin 1.5 inch drain lines down to the sump? <Ahh, now we're getting somewhere> Thank you again for your help (and sorry so long), Michael <This situation is not uncommon. We have a beginning of archived "noisy plumbing FAQ": http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbnoisefaqs.htm.  Am sure you'll enjoy the working title.  You are correct that changing the number, size of your drains is a step in the right direction. I would have at least 2-2" inside diameter drains here, and (IMPORTANTLY) arrange an aspirator (a length of tubing (flexible) inside each to allow air (they need to "stick out" of the Durso "Tee" tops...) to get into the draining water trains... to stop the gurgling, oscillating... I apologize for the lack of clear description here (am still somewhat asleep... not an excuse, just a feeble description), but this will work. Bob Fenner> 

Plumbing Noise (And Solutions) - 05/24/05 Hello crew. <Howdy!> Thanks again for a sight full of great info. Your input helped me a great deal with a small tank project, a 55 gal. acrylic. I ripped out the little 4"x4" corner skimmer box and replaced it with a larger one that spans most of the back wall. Punched in two 1 1/2" drain lines center back, near the top of the tank. <Excellent...You'll be happy you installed the large drain lines.> I made a 3 section acrylic sump with baffles to separate air and a refugium. It uses all available space in the stand, which isn't that much. <A common issue.> Followed some of your recommendations for equipment. Aqua C skimmer, Mag 9.5 pump, (can throttle it back by opening a ball valve if needed) and two Sea Swirls to stir things up. <Very good. But I'm hoping the MAG pump is not your only source of water movement.> Everything is looking good and I'm getting amped. Water leak test passed. <Whew!>  Fired up the system to circulate water and was disappointed with the noise. <As the Jetson's pooch Astro would say..."ruht roh"> Thought two 1 1/2" drains would be plenty for this little set up. <Hmm...one might think...> Messed around some and got it quite a bit better. First, I opened the ball valve in the water pump line to slow water flow a bit. Bulkheads went from 80% full to about 50% full but noise remained about the same. Wondering what is considered an optimal level to run bulkheads at? Each drain line (starting from fish tank) consist of one 90 degree elbow, one union, one ball valve and two 45's. <I don't use/recommend placing valves on drain lines. Though some claim noise reduction by partially closing the valves, this also creates a restriction that will collect detritus or a stray snail(s) and lead to a possible flood condition; usually while you're away on vacation.> Looks like the ID of these valves is quite a bit smaller than the 1 1/2" pipes. <Oh yeah.> Probably should yank them, right? <Reading my mind.> Second, I dropped the drain lines in the sump to just below the water level instead of just above. Cut way down on the splash noise and didn't seem to inhibit flow or increase noise topside. Was a little confused here because I've read conflicting FAQs on this subject. <Different solutions for similar situations...fluid dynamics, go figure <G>. As your discovering, sometimes trial and error here is really the best way.> Also, and this is my main question, I put the drain lines on about a 45 degree angles thinking they would be more quiet. That is to say, they start draining from the center back of the fish tank and drop into one corner of the sump. Poor logic? <Nope. volume + velocity = noise> Seems to me that a more gentle meandering flow vs. a free fall to the 45 degree elbows below would be more quiet. Another tweak that really did help was to shove a few inches of small vinyl tubing into each bulkhead. <Aha! You have been doing your homework.> Worked so well I am thinking of drilling breather holes in the tops of each drain line. Good idea? <Is what I do. But don't just drill a hole and leave it, you'll have water everywhere. Insert some rigid airline tubing (play with it a bit to find that "optimum" length) and seal in place. For even more versatility you can put a short length of flexible tubing on the end with a valve for a more finite adjustment of air flow.> Thanks again for a wonderful sight that I am sure gives great pleasure and insight to many. Jim <A pleasure to serve. Regards, Eric R.> PS: Are Bob Fenner's books sold at Barnes & Noble? It's time. <I'll defer this to the Bobster.> <<Marina has not found any of his or Anthony's titles there, but has at some LFSs and always on Amazon.  Wonder if Overstock.com will take some of their business..>><Yes to our titles being available at B & N, Amazon... and ReadingTrees.com. RMF>

Standpipe noise, tempered glass tanks Hi Guys! Me again. <Me too!> I have read several articles about this topic, but none that help me... <Keep reading> so here goes: I have a 65 gal FOWLR set up. I just had the back drilled, and I plumbed it on down to the sump... Flowin' like a champ. However, despite how much water I send down the shoot, I get that sink-draining sucking sound. Here is what it looks like... Bulkhead is about 5" from water surface, 90 degree PVC, that goes to a 1"(or so) threaded adapter, with one of those cone shaped skimmer thingymabobs on it to keep the little guys from getting sucked in. Out the back, there is another 90 degree, that is facing 45 degrees downward, and that is attached to some reinforced 1 1/4 ID tubing... That flows on downward to the sump. Once it gets in the sump, there is a MAG-7 pushing water back up.  I cut out a few of the "bars" on the thingymabob, thinking it was too restrictive, and it did increase the flow, but did nothing for the flushing sound. Is there some sort of a baffle, or trick that would fit this set up and make my living room a quieter place? Everything I read, is for bottom plumbed systems.  <A few tricks... I'd try installing an aspirator here...> ALSO.. for your readers who might be thinking about drilling an aquarium... IF you have an ALL GLASS or an ODELL 55gal, and you wanna drill it... and you bought it at a chain store (Wal-Mart, Petco and so on). DON'T ! Despite the sticker saying "tempered bottom"... The whole %#%&& thing is tempered ! Let me tell ya... it is LOUD when it blows...and takes the diamond bit with it. <Yeeikes!> IF you bought the tank from a private dealer... ONLY the bottom is Tempered, and drill away. This is fact, and was verified by All Glass... Thanks again in advance guys !!  John Mulrooney  <Start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/dursopipefaqs.htm and on to the linked files above. Bob Fenner> 

Overflow Boxes - Noise Reduction Hello Crew, <How goes it?  Maddox here, listening to 'Korn - Beating me Down' and thinking how fitting it is...because in the time it took me to answer this, several more emails came in... ;)> Thanks for the great resource.  Only wish I had more knowledge so I could join forces to help answer questions for you.  Maybe someday as I am fairly new at this.  Quick question regarding overflow boxes which I could not locate an answer on the site. <Thanks for letting us know it helped.  We can usually use help here...but you must have had a decent amount of aquatic experience.  I read the daily's once a week or so for ~6 years and had aquariums for 10yrs before volunteering...and most of the time I feel I know just a little above zero> I have just set up a 210 gallon tank with twin overflows.  As most others, I am trying to deal with the noise factor by using pre-manufactured Durso style overflow tubes (All Glass Aquariums). <The standpipes, or regular tubes?> Even with the tubes, we are still getting a fair amount of gurgling noise, etc.   <Is it mostly echoing out of the overflow box, or resonating from the tubes?>   A friend of mine has a single overflow set-up which he modified as follows:  In lieu of the overflow tubes, he set a crate (lighting grid) at the bottom overflow box then filled the overflow boxes with bio-balls.  At the top he placed a thin sheet of poly filter to eliminate the cascading sound (which he replaces weekly).  The set up is remarkably quiet.  I was wondering if a similar set up for a reef tank would be ok or would that create a longer term biological problem.  I would not thinks so, but you all are much more suited to answer the questions than I am. My set-up will use an 80 gallon sump in the basement with a My Reef Creations MR3 Skimmer. <If you were diligent about replacing the poly filter, it shouldn't be a problem in a 210.  You could also cut a cover out of acrylic, or even ghetto rig it with a folded towel draped over the top of the overflows :)> Thanks for your time. <Glad to be of service>    Michael <M. Maddox>  

Overflow noise problem and solution Hello Crew, <Michael> This one is easy since it is more of a suggestion to post for your readers then a question for you all.   As we are all well aware, today's manufacturers grossly undersize the overflow drains in standard tanks given the flow rate sought for some of the reef tanks setup today. <Yes>   Trying to watch the budget, I purchased a stock 210, 30 inch tall tank with the standard twin overflows containing two 1 inch drains and two 3/4 inch returns.  I figured that somehow I would overcome the noise and flow issue.   Noise is of particular concern for us since the tank would be in our family room.  As typical, I installed the Durso style overflows which eliminated the waterfall, gurgling and sucking sounds.  However, I was running a fairly high GPH (approx 1200-1300 GPH), which needless to say was overworking the drains.  In lieu of the sucking sound, we had a fairly loud draining sound similar to that of bathwater running through the drain in your walls, which resonated through the water column and into the room.  I tried several methods to get rid of the sounds but to no avail. The only method to quiet down that sound was to throttle back on the pumps and significantly lower the GPH - Of course defeating the desire of maximizing raw water to the sump and skimmer.  It became clear to me that the only way to eliminate both sounds and to have a really quiet tank would be to force the drain tubes as well as the overflow boxes to fill with water. Artificially restricting drain lines is highly frowned upon (and rightfully so) since the slightest change in the flow rate in that line could cause the tank to spill over into the room in which the tank sits - not good especially if the wife or husband is looking over your shoulder.  So, I endeavored on a simple modification which I think will solve both the noise problem and the overspill potential.   Since most overflows come with two pre-drilled holes, I removed the 3/4 inch return line and used that as a primary drain hole (no Durso tube). Of course I had to re-route the returns over the back of the tank as opposed to through the overflow but that was a small price to pay for the quietness that I gained.  In the intended 1 inch drain line, I inserted a Durso standpipe.  I then artificially restricted the flow on the primary 3/4 inch drain line such that the drains lines filled to capacity with water and caused the water level to slowly back up into the overflow box.  Once the water in the overflow box reaches the standpipe top, the standpipe takes over as a drain line but only needs to handle a fraction of what it is capable of handling.  I assume the system at this point has a built in warning device in that if the primary drain ever gets clogged with something, that ever so unfriendly roar of rushing water will return.   <Hopefully> Perhaps there is a flaw in my design and I invite you to let me know if I have any unforeseen issues that may creep up, but I think it will work.  Let me know if you disagree. Thanks for the great site.  You guys and gals do an excellent job and are an invaluable resource to those of us who are just starting out in this challenging and stimulating hobby. Best regards Michael <Mmm, well, I still believe in gravity... and would ask that manufacturers "up-size" their drain and return line fitting sizes... and that aquarists contact these manufacturers and ask the same... they WILL do this on special request... OR that people otherwise have the holes re-drilled or enlarged... small diameter lines are too likely to clog, become occluded... Bob Fenner>

Re: Overflow noise problem and solution Bob, <Michael> Thanks for the response. I just thought I would share that with your group as I see it is a fairly common problem/question. <Is very common... and I thank you> I agree that a perfect solution would be to have the larger holes pre-drilled, but for those of us (myself included) that did not heed that advice, I think there is hope. As set up the drain system still relies on gravity while at the same time increasing drain capacity of a standard tank (with two 1 inch drains and two 3/4 inch returns) by 175%. The tank is whisper quiet and I am fairly confident that even if both 3/4 drains become clogged 100%, the 1 inch drains will handle all of the flow based on the circulation set. Regards,  Michael <A good point... and I hope you're right.... if it were me, my system, I'd practice test... plugging one of the 3/4" lines... and maybe one each of both sizes... to see if water hits the floor. Bob Fenner> 

- Overflow Noise - Hello, I just had installed a 155 gal all glass aquarium with two overflow boxes, one in each side. The tank is in my room and the noise from the water falling into the overflow boxes is driving me crazy. The tubes going from the bottom part of the overflow to the sump are one 1' and another an 1' and a half in each overflow. I don't have the canopy done yet nor the metal structure covered with wood will this help for the noise? <Only slightly... what is making the most noise is the sound of water falling the distance of the overflow, followed by the sound of air being drawn down the drain of the overflow. Both can be addressed with a stand pipe, which can be built in a number of configurations.> What can I do to reduce the noise form the overflow boxes? <Do look further into WetWebMedia as well as around the net for a "Durso Stand Pipe" - a good design that will help reduce, though not eliminate the sound from your overflows.> Thank you <Cheers, J -- >

- Overflow Noise - Bob, Hi!  I set up a tank for a customer, and she heard the sound that the overflow was making and just about threw in the towel on marine aquaria (no pun intended).  Afraid that she might not be able to make the sound more tolerable, she was considering switching to a canister at my recommendation.  She wants to have a full blown reef eventually, and another LFS has her really uneasy about canister use in reef aquaria.  From one more experienced, she would like to hear whether or not she will be able to successfully maintain a reef using canister filtration. <It is possible, yes but probably with a strong commitment to very regular water changes and diligence in keeping the canister clean. Likewise, it would be wise to have redundant canisters to keep the system running when one fails or is being cleaned.> With an Eheim Ecco, 1 1/2-2 lbs of liverock per gallon, good water flow, and good husbandry I feel like this could work. <Is also a quiet canister so might be a good choice for this customer... just make sure she buys two.> However this option does leave her with a hang on the back skimmer, she is afraid will make as much noise as the overflow. <Perhaps she just isn't really "ready" for a marine aquarium.> Are there any REALLY quiet hang-on skimmers? <In what way? They all make some amount of noise.> We were also considering getting the glass tank drilled. <This won't make anything any less noisy.> However with everything set-up and running, I'm afraid to tear everything down and get everything drilled and re-set-up and not have it meet the standards of peacefulness.  Are there any other relatively simple options we could work on putting together to make for a virtually noise-free system? <Think the redundant canisters might do the trick, although without a skimmer... would suggest you at least try an AquaC Remora to see if she can tolerate the noise. Encourage her that some allowances must be made to have an exquisite tank.> Thanks as always! Scott Critter Cabana <Cheers, J -- >

- Overflow Noise, Follow-up - Hi again and thanks for replying, what I did was get a 3 feet PVC tube and this helped the noise now I am going to buy an elbow so the water doesn't go straight down will this reduce even more the noise? <To some degree, sure.> And another question when refilling the sump should I always use antichlorine, even when I left the water sitting or using water from 5 gal drinking water they sell. <You only need to use dechlorinator when you are working with tap water. Purified water will likely not have any chlorine in it.> and if I put water to sit does it have to have a powerhead in it. <It should.> thanks a lot <Cheers, J -- >

How do get rid of that sump overflow noise, but still have a lot of circulation? Hi << Blundell here. >> I've read pages and pages of the FAQ's and loads of articles from the website over the last year or so - loads of excellent info. thanks.  Anyway I've had a smallish reef aquarium (35 gallon) for about a year with some success, and now I'm setting up a 100 gallon fish only. In my experience I've got just about everything with the other aquarium wrong first time and had to change it so I'm trying to avoid that with this one.  So here is the spec: 4ft*2ft*2ft tank, 3ft*1ft*18'' sump, loads of ocean rock, and other suitable rock (none live), fluorescent T8 lighting (2-3 - undecided at the moment), good skimmer (either 'the beast or AquaMedic Turboflotor - still to decide). Lots of powerheads, etc. << Sounds good, especially the "loads of ocean rock". >> So here are my questions: Firstly I have an overflow which is an upstanding pvc pipe (1 and quarter inch).  If I use the Rio 2100 to return the water (approx 2500 lph) turning over the tank 5 times, I get a load suction noise. My LFS advised my to cut the flow on the return into the tank.  If I reduce it so it's about a 1000gph I get an low level of noise which I prefer.  But this means the total capacity of the tank only goes through the sump twice every hour. Is this enough? << I don't like the idea of cutting down circulation.  I think you are better to search the web for "Durso stank pipes" or even add multiple drain tubes. >> The answer I think depends on what I have in the sump - which then brings me to what to have in my sump? << You can't have to much circulation. >> I'm keen on having live rock, although I do have plenty of bioballs (left over from my original plans with the reef aquarium).  The sump is a fair size with 4 chambers (an old tank that I put baffles into).  My original plan was to have the water passing through filter pads, then the bio-balls, then on to a refugium compartment (with live rock and sand and Caulerpa), and on to the return pump. Would you suggest I include hermit crabs, sand shifting snails and other snails in the refugium? << A few, but not many.  I would get rid of the bioballs, and just add more live rock. >>  If this is a good idea where do put the skimmer in the order - or does it not really matter? << I would put the skimmer will before the Caulerpa grow out area, probably after the filter pads. >> Obviously I need to have good water circulation, but how much in an FO tank of this size? Would 10 times an hour be enough.  (I could do this with powerheads in the aquarium). << Tough to answer, but when in doubt add more pumps. >> So now the fish - which I suppose links to everything else.  I have a yellow tang, and blue cheek goby which have outgrown the other tank. (the blue cheek keeps chucking sand over the open brain coral!)  I have my heart set on a Niger Trigger, and I really would like to get some sort of Angel.  I like all the Angels I've seen and realize most would need an even larger set up.  Can you suggest any apart from the dwarf angels which would be OK in this set-up. << A 100 gal tank with lots of live rock really allows you to keep just about any angelfish.  I would just pick one that looks appealing to you (flame angel, coral beauty, rock beauty)??? >> I'm also considering getting a snowflake eel, and a lionfish. << These fish are nitrate factories in my mind.  I'm not sure I would keep them with the angelfish and goby.  I would either keep ornamental reef fish (goby and angel) or the aggressive fish (lion and eel) with your tank and trigger. >> Can you see any problems if I get them all small? << Yes, I wouldn't get a small fish, if you do get the eel or lionfish, instead I would make sure your angelfish or goby are 3-4 inches long. >> Are there and clean up crew that you could suggest? << In a 100 gal I would have a mix of 200 snails and about 100 crabs. >> Finally - lighting, it's a deep tank, but not a reef aquarium.  Is it just a matter of as much light as I like? << Pretty much.  If you want to grow coralline algae you'll need blue light, and if you want to grow Caulerpa you'll need light.  But if you just want the rock and fish, then it isn't that important. >> I'd really appreciate any help you can offer me - I really want to get this right, and not have to keep changing things - cost is a BIG factor for me. << For us all.... unfortunately ;) >> <<  Blundell  >> Loud toilet flushing sound from gravity overflow plumbing... Hello WWM Crew, <Hello Dennis, MacL here with you this fine and sunshiny day.> Thank you for all the advice you have given me in the past and I appreciate any help/advice you may offer. <Very kind of you to say.> Recently, I took the advice of various postings on your website and had holes drilled into my new tank (acrylic 30 g show) for two 1" bulkheads at the top of my tank (at the water level) on the back panel. The water flows thru the bulkheads thru 1" clear flexible tubing and enters my sump/refugium (a simple AGA 20g long) w/ Chaetomorpha and live rock.  The return pump is a dolphin/pond master series rated at 650 gph.  The return pump via 3/4"clear flexible tubing returns the water to the tank thru 2 u-tubes. When the return pump is on, the water level in the main tank reaches an equilibrium at right below the very top of the holes in the 1" bulkheads.  <Sounds wonderful.> This system works great and functionally speaking has been the best upgrade I have made thus far for my livestock (and as Blundell suggested, no problems w/ microbubbles).  But there is just one problem. the extremely loud sucking noise from the 1" bulkheads. Most of the time, the system just sounds like a babbling brook (and I can usually tolerate that sound), but every now and then it sounds like a loud toilet flushing, and this loud sound may go on for a long periods of time before it returns back to the brook sound. I tried to add a filter cone to ease my paranoia that my fish would get sucked into the tubes, but adding the filter cones made the sound 10 times worse. <Its not the most beautiful but you could use something like a PolyFilter around it. Cut to fit and tied with rubber bands. Makes a great cleanser as well.>  I tried adding a 1/2" flexible tube about 2" long thru the bulkhead (I'm not sure why, but just thought I'd give it a try) and the tank actually did not make any sounds at first (i.e. it was even quieter than the babbling brook sound), but shortly after, the loud sound came back w/ a vengeance.   Would adding elbows so that the drain in my tank will face downwards and would be well below the water level prevent such a sucking sound?  I hope that makes sense (not sure how to explain it more clearly since I am not a plumbing parts guru or great w/ DIY stuff). <I'm pretty sure I would but let me ask my water guru friend and send you a second email on that.>  Basically, I am rationalizing that since the water level is just below the top of the bulkhead drain that some air is getting pulled into the drain (and when I look at the drain it looks as though this is happening) and that is the reason why I hear such a loud sound.  But I am not sure and therefore seek your sage advice.  Thank you in advanced! <Dennis I wanted to get this out to you but will be investigating a bit more.  You should hear from me again shortly, MacL> -Dennis

Toilet sound follow-up Hello WWM Crew, <Hi Dennis, MacL here again with a follow-up. Just go to the end.> Thank you for all the advice you have given me in the past and I appreciate any help/advice you may offer.  Recently, I took the advice of various postings on your website   and had holes drilled into my new tank (acrylic 30 g show) for two 1" bulkheads at the top of my tank (at the water level) on the back panel.  The water flows thru the bulkheads thru 1" clear flexible tubing and enters my sump/refugium (a simple AGA 20g long) w/ Chaetomorpha and live rock.  The return pump is a dolphin/pond master series rated at 650 gph.  The return pump via 3/4" clear flexible tubing returns the water to the tank thru 2 u-tubes. When the return pump is on, the water level in the main tank reaches an equilibrium at right below the very top of the holes in the 1" bulkheads.    This system works great and functionally speaking has been the best upgrade I have made thus far for my livestock (and as Blundell suggested, no problems w/ microbubbles).  But there is just one problem. the extremely loud sucking noise from the 1" bulkheads. Most of the time, the system just sounds like a babbling brook (and I can usually tolerate that sound), but every now and then it sounds like a loud toilet flushing, and this loud sound may go on for a long periods of time before it returns back to the brook sound. I tried to add a filter cone to ease my paranoia that my fish would get sucked into the tubes, but adding the filter cones made the sound 10 times worse.  I tried adding a 1/2" flexible tube about 2" long thru the bulkhead (I'm not sure why, but just thought I'd give it a try) and the tank actually did not make any sounds at first (i.e. it was even quieter than the babbling brook sound), but shortly after, the loud sound came back w/ a vengeance.   Would adding elbows so that the drain in my tank will face downwards and would be well below the water level prevent such a sucking sound?  I hope that makes sense (not sure how to explain it more clearly since I am not a plumbing parts guru or great w/ DIY stuff).  Basically, I am rationalizing that since the water level is just below the top of the bulkhead drain that some air is getting pulled into the drain (and when I look at the drain it looks as though this is happening) and that is the reason why I hear such a loud sound.  But I am not sure and therefore seek your sage advice.  Thank you in advanced! <Dennis after consulting with an expert he says you need to add a plumbing trap to your drain hoses. Like what you'd find on the bottom of a sink. A place where water stands and you can do that with pvc or you can bend flexible hose into a U shape going down then back up then down. Basically creating a place where if your pumps were off water would stand. If there wasn't a vacuum going from the tank. Think this should help you Dennis. MacL> -Dennis

Loud noise! Thank you very much MacL! <So glad I could help Dennis> That makes sense actually.  Will re-do my plumbing to see if I can get rid of the vacuuming. <Please let me know if it does work? MacL>  Take care! -Dennis Plumbing Noise 8/13/04 Good morning, I have several questions about plumbing noise!   <this is a very common complaint... please do also (and first in the future) check our extensive archives at wetwebmedia.com on subjects like this. We build this database to help folks/friends like you> I finally got my 150 gallon tank up and running with water.  I couldn't believe the noise.   <sadly too common... this is from undersized overflow holes (diameter and/or number of holes drilled). This is a huge peeve of mine with mfg.s and merchants selling so-called "reef-ready" displays. They are hardly reef-ready. You may get an appropriate sized pump for the display, but without a large enough overflow... it sounds like a toilet, if not risking overflowing the display by out pumping the drains!> First tank stuff;  150 gallon glass tank with one center overflow with two 1.5" bulkheads in my living room wall. It is viewed from three sides.   One bulkhead drains water to a 50 gallon refugium directly underneath the tank via 1.5" pvc.  The second bulkhead drains water to a 40 gallon sump underneath via 1.5" pvc.   <the double sump is odd, complicated, unnecessary, ill-advised... and a potential risk (flooding) in the future. Do consider a single large sump> The sump and bulkhead are on the same level and connected by two 1" flexible tubes near the top of the fuge.  Everything is gravity controlled.  I have union ball valves on everything and all discharges.   <the ball valves on the outflow are definitely adding to the noise. The back up water by constricting the flow coming down and add to noise> Sorry, but I think this will be long... 1st.  The overflow; It was like Niagara falls.  I installed two 1.25 Durso standpipes and that helped immensely.   <OK> 2nd.  The return pump from the sump.  I have a Gen X Mak 4 pump.  It is incredibly loud.  I can hear it "hum" all the way upstairs.  It is not really a vibration because I have fixed that problem, just the normal turn of the pump.  I'm really not happy with it.  I haven't purchased my second pump for my closed loop pump yet. <folks often spend much time and money searching for a pump "as good as an IWAKI". Take my advice mate... invest in a Japanese made IWAKI and enjoy a durable pump for the next decade and beyond. A case of getting what you pay for :)> With all that noise from the primary, I am scared to get a second.  I know that everybody likes Iwaki's but I was under the impression that they were louder than the Gen X.   < a mistaken impression... they have a couple models that are loud/necessarily like the dual 400... but overall, this brand is top shelf and they have a model/size (and silence) to fit any demand> I must be wrong because I can't imagine a louder pump.  Can you recommend a QUIET pump brand so I can replace my Gen X and purchase a closed loop pump?   <IWAKI hands down... I've been using them as a hobbyist for 15 years... and a decade of that has also been as a merchant> The way I figure it, I have about 750 gph with the Gen X and I want to get at least another 1200 gph with the closed loop pump?  Sound ok? <this 150 gallon tank needs a total flow of around 3000PGH or better if reef, and you will need 3-4 1.5 inch bulkheads to handle this comfortably> 3rd.  The water flowing through the pipes sounds like a running toilet all day.  Now I read many pages of the plumbing FAQ's and tried several fixes.  I used to have the 1.5" discharge pipes exiting underwater in both the fuge and the sump.   <exiting at or slightly above the water surface for quieter flow> I read this causes O2 pressure and can make a toilet noise.  I changed the tubing so it "falls" into the water.  The noise is still there.  Next I tried to put a air tube down the Durso Pipe, but that didn't work as well.  I am pretty confused.  I don't have a suction noise from the Durso's, and I don't have a problem with micro bubbles.  I just can't stand how loud all the PVC is.   <I suspect the problem is that your overflow holes are simply overdriven> Maybe this is just the way it will sound.  Can you actually get rid of the water flowing down pipes sound completely??   <insulating foam (used to protect pipes from freezing)  often helps> Should I reduce my 1.5" pipes to something smaller?   <Yikes!!!!!!! no... it will get louder> From what I read, that shouldn't be the answer.  What can I do to reduce/remove this running water sound? <soft straight drops in the gravity line... and enough overflow holes to handle the flow... do compare bulkhead specs/capacity (at mfg site) to rate flow maximums> 4th.  I used to have the 1.5" pvc plumbed to a 1" T in my fuge to disperse the water flow.  This worked ok as long as I partially closed the discharge ball valve to the sump.  Is this common/ok to gate back the overflows?   <not recommended.... neither the valve nor the tee> Should I be concerned?  I tried to test fully closing each discharge to see if the other standpipe could handle the entire overflow.  If I closed my sump discharge, my fuge discharge (with the dispersing "T") couldn't handle the overflow.  The tank would have overflowed.  Is this common as well?   <a common flaw, yes... as mentioned above - its from the overflows being undersized.> I am new to the hobby and it is very hard to find plumbing info.   Well, there it is.  Can you please make recommendations and problem shoot my loud tank?  Is this tank/sump/fuge design ok? Will it ever be quiet?   <no worries... it can be made quiet!> I am really sorry about the long email, but I really respect your team's opinion.  I have been planning this tank since December and everything I'm doing/have done is a result of this site.  It is a WEALTH of info and I would hate to think what would of happened without finding this site.  I can understand why so many people give up on SW tanks because the info is so complex and so few places to get the answers.  It is a shame that manufactures don't give you the info.  (IE. predrilled "reef ready" tanks with 1" bulkheads).  Thanks to you and your team for everything... <do let us know what big city you live near... we can point you towards an aquarium club with kind members with quiet tanks <G> that can advice you locally. Best regards, Anthony>

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

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

Noisy overflow (9-29-03) Hello <Howdy, Cody here today.> I am new to the site and also saltwater. I have installed an Aqua Clear 175 wet/dry with a pre-filter box onto a 125 gallon tank. The return pump is a CAP 2200.There is moderate "gurgling" noise in the pre-filter box from the water going down to the sump. Anyway to quiet it down?<There should be some ideas here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm.  Cody> Over Flow-box Noises Actually,  I figured it out !  I am hanging a piece of 1/2" above the drain so it's inserted about 1" into the drain.  The air is now drawn from the 1/2" pipe.  Works like a charm. <Good for you! Sounds like you came upon a variation of the Durso pipe. Take care, Don>

Bulk Head Draining Noise 7/16/03 Hi Anthony, How are you doing?  Wish you still had your store in Cheswick.   <wow... good to hear from you my friend!> Love the new book by you and Mr. Fenner.  Great job.   <thanks kindly :)> Anyway, I read the questions and answers on the web site and am baffled on how to correct this problem.  I just purchased a new 120 long for a reef setup (upgrading from a 55).  The trickle filter is a 30 gallon sump filled with live rock and a Berlin Turbo Skimmer.   <do consider replacing this skimmer or adding another/better one on the future. Mediocre at best IMO> The return pump is a mag drive 1,200 gph flow (4' height).  There are 4 bulkhead drains drilled into the tank for drainage to the sump (according to my receipt, they are 1.75" bulkheads).   <likely 1" bulkheads (which require a 1.75" hole)> The noise from the bulkheads is unbearable.   <indeed... four 1" holes is borderline IMO for 12OO GPH. A siphon is being created. I have 5 holes on my 50 gallon mini-reef for the same sized pump> Sump noise is okay.  The water draining at the tank level is the problem.  I tried a couple of different drain setups and the T got rid of the sucking noise.  I am now dealing with a raging flow that sounds like Niagara falls in my living room.  The only thing that seems to quiet it down to a reasonable level is cutting the flow in half.  This seems insufficient for a reef display.   <absolutely> After reading all the postings, it seems like 4 drains should be plenty (which from a flow perspective, it is). How do I get rid of the noise?  Should I have a couple more drain holes drilled to lower the flow per hole?   <would be a good remedy... or even have just two drilled in the display wall to install the 1200 GPH pump on a closed loop. Then add a smaller pump for the sump return> The only other solution I can think of is to let the pump rip wide open all day when we are not home or are sleeping, and turn it down to half when we are there.  Is this a bad idea? <hmmm... interesting. Not thrilled about it, but can't really argue well against it if it is a minority of the time. You can get solenoids and put them on timers to do this for you if you like (timed restriction during your eve/viewing hours)> I am concerned about stressing fish and corals by constantly varying the flow like that.   <arguably it could be good for variety/feeding opportunities> Everything I read says that 1,200 gph should be good, and I think the setup should handle it, but I cannot stand it.   <in terms of total flow it is on the low end of the good range. Most reef aquaria require 10-20X flow per hour> Ready to return everything and stay with the 55.   <no worries... not that bad <G>> I have broken it down and set it up 4 times already and am pretty frustrated.  If you are still located in Pittsburgh, do you do any in home consulting services?   <I am still in the burgh... but at a loss for time on the consults. We have several good professionals in the area though. Our (WWM) old friend Steve Pro would be good to start with at Pro Aquatic Services: dspro@sgi.net > If I can't get this resolved soon, I am giving up (my wife will go crazy). Thank You, Andy <truly not that bad mate... easily resolved. Do consider the closed loop and/or chatting with Steve for a visit. Best of luck, my friend! Anthony>

Bulkhead placement and noise 2/16/03 Hi guys real quick one.  I have 2, 1.5" bulkheads drilled in the top back of my 75 gallon tank.  I decided to add a glass overflow (like Anthony describes in his book) about 1" wide along the entire back of my tank.  This has been siliconed and really looks good.  So I filled my tank up (again) w/ tap water to test everything out.  Well....I don't think the overflow works quit like I hoped.  Don't get me wrong, it pulls a sheet a water directly from the surface, and works great w/ a simulated power outage, but the problem is the water going into the bulkheads. I don't know how I thought it would work, but here is my problem.  As the surface water runs over the overflow there is about a 1-2" space at the top of overflow where there is no water and the bulkheads are sucking the water in, in fact the very top of the bulkhead is not in/under the water so I am getting a sucking noise.   <if I understand correctly... the top of the bulkheads are actually slightly higher than the top of the overflow? If that's the case... no worries... drain the tank slightly and silicone an extender piece of glass to the overflow> I have been told b/f that this could be from a pump pushing more than the bulkheads can handle <almost certainly the case... not a problem even with your high placement of the bulkheads... that has nothing to do with creating a siphon> (pump is CSL velocity T4) but I have tried turning down the return w/ a gate valve and it doesn't help (turned the flow almost off even). <Doh! you fit the bill, bubs. A common problem where aquarists don't drill enough holes or put too large of a pump on. The ratings for bulkheads are a joke. What they can run under pressure (or creating a noisy siphon like you hear) and what will run safely and quietly (half filled pipes) are two very different things. The common 1" bulkhead is rated at 500-600 GPH per hole. But at that rate... it is noisy as all get out! 1" bulkheads really should only handle about 300 PGH each to be safe and quiet. Thus... to run a 1200GPH pump, you need 4 bulkheads! With your 1.5 inch holes... I'd guess you could only run about 1000PGH trough them quietly. If your pump is pushing more than that... you have your answer IMO> I always read that the best way to have tank is drilled for bulkheads, instead of built in overflows w/ bottom drains to pump.   <not much difference in flow here... just noise (the floor holes/towers are much louder)> But it seems almost everyone has these and builds a Durso standpipe and everything is quiet.   <this is just an engineering issue, my friend. Holes drilled on the back wall and sized correctly for the pump do not require a modification like the Durso. You just don't have large enough holes/bulkheads> I don't have this type of set up, my tank is drilled on the back w/ bulkheads and I can't hardly find anything about how to get flow from the tank/bulkhead to the sump and the quietest way to do it ( Nightly I read over WWM, reef aquarium guide, reef central and reef.org) Please Help.  I'm ready to get the tank going again but have been dealing w/ this issue for about a month or so.  I might even rip the overflow off and try 90 degree elbows again and try to rig something else up.   <will not solve the problem bud... cut that pump flow back to 1000GPH and you hear it quiet down> I even tried the elbows b/f, but again had a terrible sucking noise, and yes tried turning the pump down, still did not help.  Any suggestions, I'm just feed up.  Thanks Bryan   <no worries bud... a miscalculation. Easily corrected. Best regards, Anthony>

Overflow volume and noise Hello, Getting ready to drill a 120 gal. tank and have a concern about the noise from the overflows.  I am hoping to turn over the volume of the tank at 20-22 times per hour. I have read that a 1.5" overflow (PVC) can drain water from the display tank  into the sump at a rate of 600 GPH (I  plan to "T" the 1.5" PVC on the outside of the bulkhead so air can escape as the water runs through the overflow into the sump). <Easily 600gph. Go to one of our sponsors like Foster and Smith, Quality, etc, and look at the flow rate of add-on overflow boxes with 1.5" pipe. If you are concerned with noise, under-using the overflow/plumbing size and using Durso style vents (like you intend) is a good plan. The water actually doesn't make any noise....it's the AIR being *sucked* into the drain that makes the noise. If it flows rather gently with enough room for a reasonable amount of air while draining it will be quieter.> I think I read somewhere that the 1.5" overflow can move 600 GPH,  BUT will create a lot of noise as it moves that amount of water.   <Probably not. A 1" pipe is rated for 600gph, so 1.5 is considerably more. Still, you will do well to use oversized overflows for noise reasons.> The suggestion was to plan for the 1.5 overflow to move only 300 GPH (1/2 it's capacity) and it will move the water much more quietly. <Please do check out the rating of the overflow boxes with 1.5 " pipe.> Is this true? <The theory is true, the sizes/flow rate need to be changed to protect the innocent.> If so I will refigure my plumbing and drill extra hole(s) and only expect the overflows to carry 300 GPH- but quietly. I continue to use your wonderful site daily! Thanks <Bigger is better, but 300 gph through a 1.5" pipe is probably a little overkill. They will do 600 gph without much problem. Check out the overflow plumbing, it will help!  Craig>

Noisy overflows Greetings to all I have been searching all over for information on quieting sumps down and would like to know if there is anything else I can try.  I have a 55 gal corner bow with a 20 gal sump.  I had 2- 1" bulkheads put in. On the inside of the tank there is a 1" service elbow pointing up with a coupling on top with slots in it. (that is my makeshift strainer)  On the outside of the tank I have a Tee attached with hose running down to the sump.  In the top of the Tee there is a short piece of pvc with a cap on top.  The Cap has two holes in it.  One is to vent the line and the other has a piece of 3/8" clear vinyl running down to the bottom end of the 1" line to vent the bottom.  The hoses are just under the surface of the sump water when it is running.  I tried having them above the water, but the noise and splashing were extremely loud.  I have an Iwaki md30rxlt pump returning water to the main tank. <Look at Durso pipe overflows to figure out how to vent these quietly. I don't think the 3/8 line helps. may hinder venting. Also, run water over splash plate w-filter pad in sump to quiet bubbles and splashing.> The two noises I am trying to deal with are the constant waterfall noise from the water running down the hoses and the hum coming from the pump. The waterfall noise has me pulling my hair out. The Iwaki is mounted to the bottom of the cabinet and has a piece of 3/16" rubber under it.  It is lagged down and I think that the cabinet is amplifying the hum. <Yep, bolting down to cabinet makes it part of cabinet....and it's larger vibrating hum.> Any ideas? <As per your new post, you moved it downstairs for noise and heat. 10 degrees increase in heat isn't good.....is the pump too big?> One more totally unrelated question.  We have put in a Deep sand bed and I am going to purchase a detritivore kit as well as 44 lbs of live rock to reseed the rock I already have.  Which should I add first?  The rock or the critters? Thanks Bryan and Dana Flanigan <I would add the rock first.  Hope this helps!  Craig>

What's that annoying sound? We recently acquired an established 90g reef tank (TruVu with center overflow) . After moving it in to the new digs and getting all the fish and critters settled in we noticed an annoying sound coming from the j tube that goes into the sump. <Doh!!! A j-tube... I wouldn't sleep well in that house. Siphon overflow tubes all fail in time. Most in less than a year... some within months, other years... but all put water on your floor in time. Do seriously consider having the tank drilled for holes with proper bulkheads and sleep well instead> About once every minute there is a large air bubble that erupts. We have tried readjusting the J tube to no avail. Is there something we are overlooking? <the j-tube is too small or the return pump flow is too high> The LFS thought the overflow on the tank might be sucking air but didn't think it could be the filter in the overflow.  Any thoughts? <if it sucks air it will break siphon but the pump won't know it and you will have an overflow of a lot of water onto your floor. J-tubes are ancient technology and simply unsafe> Also, we moved ALL the water with the tank (quite the task, that god for LARGE commercial garbage cans with wheels) and we are wondering how long before we can start adding a couple new fish. There are currently 15 swimming residents...some damsels, an Anemonefish, domino damsel.   <at least one month and do test full water quality to be sure (pH over 8.2, zero ammonia, nitrite, etc)> Should I wait a couple weeks and does the "1 inch of fish for each gallon of water" rule work for salt water as it does for freshwater? <Yikes... not even close. one half that amount may be too much for marines. Please consider buying a good book like Bob Fenner's Conscientious Marine Aquarist> The tank was donated to the non profit agency where I work. I am used to dealing with freshwater but this saltwater stuff is new to me. Is there any retraining I should be aware of?   <indeed... many new and wonderful things to be aware of... do seek a good book or two> When the salt water fish gets the porcelain funeral is there a different prayer to be recited??  ;) <we may have to smack you :) Anthony>

Plumbing Noise Hi guys, Have some plumbing questions. Main thing is dealing with bulkheads and gushing water noise. Like you haven't heard this one. I have researched but have some questions. I have 2 1.5" bulkheads drilled on the back left and right at the top of the tank. Most things I have found deal with the bottom drilled overflow and Durso standpipe to quiet the water noise. Here are my questions. I had a "T" coming off/out of the bulkhead on the back of tank down 1.5" PVC to the sump. Using "T" to vent the air. Still pretty noisy, especially with the tank being in the waiting room of my office. <Can you isolate where the noise is coming from and how is it produced? Either drawing air into the T or from the water crashing/splashing into the sump.> Had thought of maybe using a "Y" instead and maybe putting a piece of tubing down into the PVC a ways to help vent the air. What do you think? <I don't follow your description for a correction.> Any suggestions, IYO/IYE what seems to work the best? <If it is drawing in air at the T, add a cap to the top and drill a small hole in it. That way excess air will vent off, but not draw air and make a suction noise. If it is from water crashing into the sump, I would try extending the pipe work below the water line.> I had a LFS tell me that if I use a 90 or 45 elbow that there would be no noise or gushing since the tube would be closed and no air. What do you think? <The air will be drawn in through the bulkhead and probably worse.> Last thing, I was thinking or wanting to paint some PVC elbows that are being used to pull water into the bulkheads. Can this be done and with what? <I have never used a paint. Perhaps see if black ABS pipe will fit into your bulkheads instead.> Thanks for your time, Bryan <Good day! -Steven Pro>

Water Noise in Sump Thanks for the answer.  <glad to be available> I had put a 45 deg connector and even that helped a lot. I used the sponge from the original standpipe to slow down the water. I tried your suggestion. I got a length of 3" pipe and put it around the 1" pipe going into the sump. The 45 deg pipe was a little quieter. However, I then tried putting the foam from the standpipe around the 1" pipe and also added the 45 deg bend so that it was inside the foam cover. That did the trick.  <good to hear!> The tank is now pretty quiet. Just the hum from the pumps and the trickle out of the waste valve from the skimmer. The Durso standpipe helped too. That was extremely easy to build, and cost me about $10 in parts. <yes.. a crafty invention> My tank is an Oceanic tank, supposedly top of the line among the ones you can buy locally. It doesn't seem like it would make hardly any cost difference having a 1 1/2"or 2" hole, vs. the 1" hole that is standard. For what those things cost, I'd rather pay a couple of $ more and have something that works well. <yes... agreed. It defies explanation to me as well> Just for the record, though, the siphon effect only occurred when I placed a straight pipe well into the water line of the sump. When the water was free flowing,  <yes...air escaping> dropping into the sump, there was no siphon noise but a loud splash form the water flow. Thanks for your help. Your suggestion got me going in the right direction. Enrique <all to your credit, good sir. Best regards, Anthony>

Water Noise in Sump Hello my wet webbed friends! <Cheers, my friend. Anthony Calfo in your service> I am coming to you again in search of your wisdom. I just filled up my new 75G reef-ready tank and I am having a noise problem with the water falling into an Oceanic sump. The tank is connected to the sump via a 1" flexible hose. It hose is connected to a bulkhead in a piece of glass at the top of the sump. The sump is about 17" tall. The return pump is a Mag Drive 7, rated to pump about 420 gph into a 5' head. Water is returned to the tank over a 3/4" vinyl hose. The water falling from the bulkhead into the sump (maybe a 10-12" fall) causes a lot of noise. I thought I could quiet this by adding a length of 1" PVC from the bulkhead to about 1 inch from the bottom of the sump, well below the waterline. However, this results in just as much noise although the pitch changes. There is also a "siphon" noise that ensues when I do this. That is, there's a sucking noise that comes and goes in the overflow of the tank. The issue seems to be that there is a lot of air in the water. <rather a common problem with these and many such tanks... the overflows are undersized for the return pump. If you have doubts... restrict the pump in attenuation (slowly) and notice that the noise disappears. Sucks... it irritates me that manufacturers continue to pump out these overflows without educating the many consumers likely to put a healthy sized return pump on the sump> When the water exits the pipe, there are a lot of air bubbles released into the sump water. <try a larger diameter pipe to catch the drop and act like a slow overflowing well inside of the sump> I then tried drilling a lot of holes in the PVC pipe, all at once, above and below the waterline I thought this might let some of the air escape, but there seems to be just as much noise as before and there are still perhaps the same amount of bubbles released into the sump by the returning water. Do you have any suggestions for eliminating this noise?  <the 1" pipe may just be too small> The tank is in a family/TV/Stereo room and the sump sounds like a washing machine filling. I need to correct this quickly. <yes. indeed!> I am also going to build a "Durso" style standpipe but I assume this will not have any effect on the water exiting into the sump, only on the water leaving the overflow. <agreed...but a nice touch> Thanks for any help/suggestions you can provide. Enrique <best regards, Anthony>

Water Noise Bob, Hi, you have helped me in the past and hope that you can help of friend of mine with the setup of his tank. Here is the problem, water noise and lots of it. Here is his setup: 180 gallon All Glass reef ready tank with dual overflows. He put his tank on the main floor of his house and his 300 gallon sump in the basement. He is using two Iwaki 55's to pump water to the tank from the basement and we figured about 10-12 feet of head. From the exit overflows he is used a one inch fitting that went to one and one half inch fitting at the bulk head. From there the pipe drops about ten inches where he added a 90 elbow to exit out the back of the tank stand. From there on the left side of the tank it drops straight through the wall and into the ceiling below. While the right exits the same from the bulkhead it has to travel approximately six feet before it enters the wall and drops into the ceiling below. Now from there both pipes travel horizontally about ten feet before both pipes drop another five feet into his sump. There is a lot more noise from the right exit pipe than the left exit pipe. We have tired angling the pipe from the right side so that there is no bend upward before it enters the hole in the wall where is goes into the basement. But this does little good. Someone at our local fish store suggested taking the overflow float out and inserting a longer pipe and inside of that pipe insert a smaller diameter pipe that is flexible and can be pushed down the pipe until it quiets down. We pushed the smaller pipe more than twelve feet down but that didn't work either. Our conclusion is that the pipe at the bulk head is to large and he doesn't have enough flow out of the tank to fill the 1 1/2 inch pipe. Would it help to reduce the pipe size at the bulkhead to one inch? Would you run one inch all the way to the sump? Or would it help to run one inch from the bulk head into a why ) connection behind the tank and then into 1 1/2 inch pipe and then through the wall and into the basement and finally into the sump? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks again for your help!! I hope this makes sense! Sincerely, Brian >> Some sense, yes... at least I think/hope I get the picture... No to reducing the plumbing size from the gravity overflows... this would probably result in setting up an oscillation between siphoning from the overflows and when the siphon noisily stopped... some amount of water overflowing onto the floor before the siphon started again...  The aspirator idea is a good one, if the partial vacuum from the draining water mixing with air is a big part of the noise... is this a gurgling type of sound? If it were me, and not knowing any more about this set up, I might do one or both of the following: Upgrade the drain plumbing to 1 1/2" diameter... to allow freer maximum flow... And buy and wrap around some "insulating foam" around the pipe... this stuff is made/sold for heat/cool insulation, but works well for sound as well... It won't "solve" the noise situation, but will muffle it greatly. The larger home improvement outlets sell this insulation. Good luck, Bob Fenner

Aquarium noise Hi: I hope you can help. We just set up a new salt water 180 gal oceanic reef ready aquarium. It's set up in the den, so we did everything we could to keep the pumps etc. on the quiet side. All that was for naught because you can't hear the pumps, protein skimmer or even conversation ( well... maybe not quite that loud ) because of the loud splashing/gurgling coming from the overflow chamber. I tried inserting sponges where the water hits the bottom but that didn't work. The noise apparently is coming from the drain hole/piping instead of the water falling to the bottom of the chamber. Do you have any ideas on quieting that sucker down? thanks in advance Terry <Yes, a few... Consider building a riser out of a piece of PVC pipe that has slots cut in it (no need to get too involved here on what size, how many... you'll be able to pull out, modify as we go along...) and insert this pipe on the hole cut in your tank via a FIP fitting (thread to slip)... with the top open to allow for overflow... Am a bit tired... and don't know if this makes much sense... Some folks wrap these sorts of risers with batting material (like from the yardage store, and panduits/zip-ties... to strain out the larger particulate/suspended material as it passes through from the tank to the sump below. Bob Fenner>

Re: aquarium noise Bob: I know about tired....been a long day. thanks for your quick response. We have the risers in the overflow boxes already, but I hadn't thought about wrapping them. The noise is definitely coming from the drain hole at the bottom. I was also thinking about cutting a piece of Plexiglas and gluing foam sponge to the bottom with a hole cot out for the riser, but I guess I could also put foam in the riser, since it goes all the way to the top of the overflow.  <Sounds good, just don't impede the flow too much, or allow a clog to occur... maybe a floating diffuser box on the entry side of your sump, with holes cut in the sides to allow the incoming water to flow out...?> I'd then use the Plexiglas to cover both boxes without covering the whole tank and avoiding gas exchange problems and increasing tank temps. thanks again. Terry <Good luck my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: aquarium noise Thanks again Robert: The tank came with foam cylinders to go around the standpipes...I'll just have to be careful to keep them clean. I have the diffuser box in the sump too. thanks for the advice. TP <Hope it all works out... have rigged the bottom "box and foam" design myself for quite large flow rates in holding systems, fish hatcheries... You know, another thought/idea comes to my feeble mind... have you seen the great filter bags offered by Emperor Aquatics? Fitting one of these (get two so you can be cleaning, air-drying the other while the "A" one is in service) on the discharge of your tanks overflow line will easily remove a great deal of particulates, quiet the water flow down, and be very unlikely to result in overflow of the sump... Yeah, just checked and their link is on the wetwebmedia Links pages... hunt these bags down... very worthwhile, Bob achooo Fenner>

Re: aquarium noise Bob: I was surfing and found this link with what sounds like a perfect solution....at least from all the kudos left at the site. Look under hardware...then at the top of that screen look for the ....standpipe http://www.rl180reef.com/frames.htm terry <Great... will add to plumbing FAQs. Thanks, Bob Fenner>

Helping out other readers!!!! (w/ noisy overflow plumbing) Hi Mr. Fenner, I'm writing you a little bit of info to hopefully help a lot of other readers of your site. First, I read the daily FAQs every day, and often see other people writing in about noisy overflows, or lots of tiny bubbles from their return in their main tank. <Yes, a common complaint> Believe me I've been there. I've solved it by doing the following. First of all I have a built in overflow that has a 2" hole drilled in the bottom. I tried I think just about everything, and nothing helped, ( something's kind of helped with the noise, but didn't stop the bubbles, or vice versa), until I did the following. Now my tank is completely quiet where you have to look at the waterline, to see the current moving to let you know if the filter is even running at all, and not a single bubble in the water column. My overflow is wide enough to allow a 4" wide pipe in it without touching the edges. I put a standpipe that is 2" wide, ran this up, and then put a flange that widens from the 2" to 4", then added another piece of pipe about 4" long, and 4" wide to that. The whole thing stops about 2" below the point where the water flows into the overflow. The enlarging of the neck is to gather, and concentrate more water down the pipe. Next what I did is put a valve under the tank, but the trick here is to use a gate valve, and not a regular ball valve. The ball valve will not allow you enough of a variable in adjusting the opening to regulate the flow. The ball valve goes from full open to full close in just a quarter of a turn. On the other hand, a gate valve goes from full open to full close in 10 full turns. This allows for a lot of fine tuning.  <Yes, I understand> In case anyone doesn't know what a gate valve is. It is made of white pvc plastic just like a lot of other plumbing parts used for filter plumbing, and has a red handle, but it's shape is different. The valve handle resembles a garden hose faucet handle, ( the round type), that sticks out one side. Unfortunately ( at least where I live), you cannot buy this type of valve at the home depot style stores, but will find this at specialty plumbing distributors. With this type of valve you can run your return pump at full force, ( something I read a lot of people complaining about is that they buy a pump with good flow only to have to cut back on the flow rate because of bubbles being produced), and by turning this valve you can match the rate of what is going down your overflow to the rate that is being returned into your tank.  <Mmm, better to rely on gravity than float switches, valves> By using this setup the water completely fills up in the overflow, then fills up the stand-pipe, and by adjusting the gate valve, you can get the water level in the flow-pipe to be just a bit below the top, thus eliminating the waterfall sound effect, and no air intake to create churning bubbles, yet enough flow to still get good water suction happening. My tank is a reef tank with good water flow, and I'm using a Gorman-Rupp pump that delivers in the flow rate dep't, yet I have not once had to do any fine tuning of the flow rate. <We used this manufacturers line in our pond service and install work for years> It has been working like a charm for a very long time. It has gone through the noise level test intensively since my tank is a see through built into the wall that separates my kitchen from the living room. These two rooms are in use 100% of the time, and you can hear a pin drop over the sound of the tank. I also used to get an incredible amount of bubbles in my water column from the return that I hated, and was enough to make me worry about the well being of the fish. I must add that my filter setup consists of a refugium, ( Miracle Mud, LR, and macro algae) with a separate sump for an external skimmer, the heater, PH monitor etc.. in the basement. The sump is very important as you know ( mentioning it just in case anyone forgets to think about it), to handle the rise in the water level when the pump gets turned off, ( which I do at feeding time). Sorry for the long letter, but every time I read about these problems someone else is having, it brings back the memories of me being so frustrated to have a tank which is supposed to be calming, yet sounded like an immense waterfall that drove my wife, and I nuts!!!! Greg N. <Thank you for this input. Will post (ultimately) under marine plumbing. Bob Fenner>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: