Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Bubble Trouble and Aquarium Systems: Discharge Issues 

Related Articles: Plumbing Marine Systems, Plumbing Return Manifolds, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Bubble Troubles 1, Bubble Troubles 2, Bubble Troubles 3, Bubble Troubles 4, Bubble Troubles 5, Bubble Concerns, & FAQs on Causes/Fixes: Diagnosing Sources, Intake/Overflow Issues, Plumbing Issues, Pump/ing Issues, Biological Issues, & Solved Cases, & 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, 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

Fine/r meshed bags attached to discharges, relocating discharge/s below water level, employing baffles, foam to coalesce.

Microbubbles 1/3/11
Hello WWM Crew! I finally finished my fish system at my new facility. It consists of 6 sections of 3 tier tanks all 33gallon Long. Anyhow, I just started working on lighting these tanks and I noticed a pretty big issue here. With the plumbing I decided to return the freshly skimmed water at the very top row and have them drain/return into the next row of tanks and again into the last row(hope that makes sense) which drains into the sump.
<Mmm, it does, but I wouldn't do this... not controllable "enough"... not able to shut off a section... for various reasons>
The middle row and bottom row of tanks have a huge micro bubble issue. The reason I went with this style of plumbing is because the size of the facility, no basement and I wanted to stick with one pump and one large sump. I cant figure out how I can reduce the amount of microbubbles being produce from the drain. Any ideas?
<All sorts>
The return/drains are 1" and the bottom row drains into a large diameter pipe that runs across from one side to the other which drains into the sump.
_ ____ _ ____ _ ____
|_|____|_|____|_|____| ____
|_|____|_|____|_|____| |SUMP|
| | | | | | | |____|

Hope the diagram helps! :)
<It does indeed. I would attach "dissipaters" of some sort to the discharges... bags, sections of tubing attached with elbows, drilled holes in the pipe... Bob Fenner>

Microbubbles -- 10/28/2009
Hi Crew,
I'm emailing from my home address so I'll try to refresh on my system.
I have a 125 gallon FOWLR, wet/dry with 2 BioWheels, 20gal sump, protein skimmer. Sorry, it all came from my LFS through Marineland so I am not sure the makes/models. This is what I have below:
I have 80 lbs of live rock along with about 3" of live sand. I'm having trouble with tons of microbubbles. <Mmm, how long has this system been set-up, running?>
From what I have read on the FAQs, Anthony Calfo suggested using Vaseline to try to locate where the bubbles are coming from and once that is narrowed down, sealing it. He also mentioned in another person's query that a person can put bioballs in the overflows to help decrease the flow.
<Or a filter bag on the discharge/s to help coalesce bubbles, reduce splashing>
I have to shut off my pumps during feeding as the majority of the food gets sucked into the overflow too quick.
<This/these can likely be easily modified... directed downward... with plumbing... to prevent such>
One overflow keeps gurgling and it trickles too fast and runs over the back of the mechanical filtration unit
<Ugggghh! No fun... this too can be fixed. Please read here:
down into my sump. Is there a way I can slow that down on one side and will this help with the gurgling
<Yes... but likely better to aspirate this/these... see the link>
Sorry, I don't know technical terms. Wish I had a quick class in plumbing before I started this.
My porcupine puffer got popeye last weekend ending in his demise. It came on quick and by the time my LFS started antibiotic treatment in one of their spare tanks (I didn't have a hospital tank set up at home), it was two late.
Could the microbubbles have caused this?
<Could be a contributing cause>
All my other fish are well. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10 ppm.
Another thing I noticed is the clamps that clamp the hose onto the pumps in my sump are metal and rusting.
<Mmm, I would replace these with plastic>
I imagine this can't be good so when i shut my pumps off, I take them out of the water so the metal isn't touching it. Do they make plastic clamps?
<Yes. See the larger etailers (Fosters & Smith, Custom Aquatic...)>
Maybe a dumb question but hey....What do I know? Thanks so much guys and gals!!
Regards, Jill
<Please do write back if this isn't clear, complete to you Jill. Bob Fenner>

Re: Microbubbles  10/29/09
Hi again Bob and Crew ,
<Evening Jill>
Bob, thank you so much for your always timely and quick response. I found that it is my skimmer that is causing all the microbubbles. I currently have it shut off tonight and will remove it tomorrow for a thorough cleaning. My LFS guy suggested attaching a piece of sponge or filter material to the intake and trying that out. Any thoughts?
<Yes... on the discharge side... not the intake>
I haven't addressed the gurgling noise yet but I see that it is coming from below in the sump area. Still lots more reading for me to do yet.
<Mmm, yes... again "Emperor Aquatics" bag/s may be your salvation here... and cutting/terminating the discharge/s slightly above water if you can't aspirate the line/s properly>
Seems air is getting in there or something. Like everyone else....I wish I had read this site thoroughly before starting on this mission. Anyway, everything that I've read about wet/dry filters seems to be true. My nitrate's went up from a normal (for my tank) 10ppm to 80ppm. I did a 40 gallon water change 1 1/2 weeks ago. I brought my water in to have it double checked and it's still showing high nitrates. Phosphate is almost undetectable. Being as my system runs with two BioWheels, would it be possible to remove one of them and just keep the filter material there instead?
I am slowly increasing my live sand bed with CaribSea live sand.
When I get my 180 gallon, I would like to eventually convert my 125 to a reef tank. I can definitely see why a newbie should start off with just a FO or FOWLR.
My freshwater aquarium is loaded with plants and I never have an algae issue or anything. Could I just grow some macroalgae down in the sump to help with nitrate reduction?
<Ah yes... one of a few approaches>
My heater is currently housed there but I'm sure I could find someplace else to put that. I have a spare 10 gallon...would that even be worth converting into a refugium for a 125 or is it way to small?
<Even this helps. Just make sure to rig it where it won't overflow>
By the way...last month my LFS suggested I use de-nitrate from Seachem for my nitrate issue. You
see, 10 was even too much for me. Even though I don't have a reef system yet, I still want the best
for these critters. Anyway, I put this in and now today, approximately a month later, my nitrates shot
up to 80. Could this be a case of too much of a good thing??
<Is about "par for the course">
My system is still relatively new....4 months old and I'm wishing like heck that I put it together myself
instead of letting my LFS do it. At least then, I would know how everything works!!
Stay safe and happy diving to all of you!!
<And you. BobF>

Microbubbles in Sump 7/24/08 Greetings and salutations WWM crew, <Hello.> It's an honor to speak with such experience. I am having a serious problem with micro bubbles in my sump flowing to my display. I know this is covered many times in the FAQs, but I think I have tried most if not all solutions to no avail. <Microbubbles can be very frustrating at times.> I have a 90 AGA RR mixed reef with a 29 gallon DIY sump that has been running for over a year. I have redesigned the sump a few times by changing the gap of the bubble traps to adding more, adding LR, trying different media, even running the sump w/o the skimmer (Urchin Pro). The micro bubbles all come from the inlet/skimmer section. It seems that with the water/air flowing into the sump from the display creates most of the bubbles, then the skimmer adds to that. Closing the valve on the return is only effective if I turn it to a point where it is barely pumping. I installed an elbow on the return pump pointing down, but that was ineffective and has been removed. I have attached a crude drawing of my current setup, the flow to the sump is ½'-1' below the sump water line. <I would start by lowering these lines into the water a bit more. At such a shallow depth the incoming water may suck down some air from the surface at times.> All the lines between the display and sump are PVC hard plumbed with valves and unions everywhere for easy maintenance. I have had this problem since the tank was setup, but have found no leaks. I know some would say a Mag 9 is too much for the current overflows, but I know of others who run Mag 12's w/o issues, I have followed their sump designs, but still no favorable results. <It is not so much that the overflows won't handle the pump as a return (once plumbing and head pressure is accounted for), it is that you will be pushing the limits of these overflows with no redundancy/safety factor with this.> The Mag 9 return is split off and feeds my display refugium as well, there are bubbles in there too. I know for fact that the bubbles are coming from the sump as I can see them passing through the bubble traps. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your valuable time. <If you have tried everything in the FAQ's, then you experimented with the most tried and true solutions. I would move your refugium overflow line as far away from the Mag 9 as you can. I understand wanting to keep it away from the skimmer pump, but a drain line next to the return baffles will be an issue re microbubbles. Filter socks on your drain lines can make all the difference weeding these bubbles out. You can also fabricate baffles of a sort for either the overflow lines, the return pump, or both. For the overflow lines you will want something as simple as a cup. Have the overflow pour into the cup with the top of the cup 3/4' or so below the water level in the sump. This will force the bubbles to the surface, eliminating many of them before the water even transits the sump. With a pump baffle, it is the same basic principle, just in reverse. You will want something the pump can fit into such as a cheapy Gladware or something similar (I used a plastic tea pitcher with a Mag 7). You will want the top of the container to be out of the water with the bottom sitting on the bottom of the sump. Then, you will need to drill several 1' or so holes in one side of this container near the bottom. You do not a high water flow through any one hole. Now you can place the pump in the container and rotate the container until the holes are in a position that takes in the fewest bubbles possible. These both seem like hokey solutions, but they do work and work well! If either of these 'baffles' work out, by all means, find something nicer if you wish to use. Acrylic is easy enough to fabricate and make your own manufactured looking baffles. The name of the game here is to make the bubble work hard to get to your pump. Just get creative! Welcome, I hope this helps out, Scott V.>

Re: Microbubbles in Sump 7/26/08 Thanks for the quick reply, hope this follow-up finds you bright eyed. <2:30 a.m., can't sleep, so sure!> You are correct in that a sock helped reduce the amount of bubbles, but elsewhere on WWM I read not to filter the water before the skimmer, as it effects the skimmers efficiency and also adds to the PO4 and nitrates. <Really of no consequence if you clean the socks frequently. I recommend buying a dozen or so (relatively cheap compared to other equipment). This way you can change them out every day or two and then just wash the whole lot at once. If the socks do the trick or even just help, by all means use them! They will keep your sump a bit more tidy also.> I adjusted the drain everywhere from about 1" from the bottom of the sump to about 1/2 way to the surface, not much change. I added a pitcher to the drain in the sump, this had a limited effect. <Every little move you do adds up/has a cumulative affect. If you have such a big bubble issue with the baffles you already have, no one thing will likely solve it, it will take a combination.> I am working on finding a suitable container for the pump. I also moved the refugium drain to just after the skimmer pump. I am seeing about 1/2 the amount of bubbles now. <Half way there!> Do you think a different sump design with taller/lower baffles would be more helpful? <Your design is sound, but you could perhaps add another baffle or two to make a longer path for the bubbles if you have the room.> I have looked at the designs of the off-the-shelf sumps, and they seem inferior to what I have now, by having smaller and less baffles, so why am I having this issue? <The X factor! I just helped an LFS setup a 40 gallon sump with 2000 gph+ flow through. There are no baffles in the sump, a large (10' diameter, 26' tall) skimmer and no bubble issues. Some have high flows through small volumes with no bubbles, whilst others have low flow through large sumps with major issues.> What could possibly be different in my system that causes me to have these bubbles while others can basically run w/o baffles and not see a single bubble? <For good measure do check your return line for any small leaks. These can introduce air into the line rather than leaking out water. Also, do realize that certain additives, foods and/or vitamins can increase the suspension of microbubbles much in the same way they make a skimmer go crazy.> Water quality is great, and 10% water changes are done every 10-12 days using RO. Could a certain coral be causing this? <No.> I dare not list what I have for there are 50+ pieces, none seem affected by this, but for esthetics I would like clear water. Thank you in advance <I understand my friend. Short of finding anything that may actually cause the bubble issue, back to the creativity part of it. Make as long and brutal path you can for the bubbles to reach your return pump. It is a challenge and will be rewarding once you accomplish your goal here. Do let us know how it all comes out, very welcome, Scott V.>

Noise Level and "Micro" Bubbles 4/29/08 Thanks for your guidance in the past in setup. <You're welcome.> I have two questions about my still lifeless tank. I have a used Dutch AS 75 G flat back hex tank which I restained and varnished, drilled for two 1.5 bulkheads in the top corners. 90 pounds of very cured Live Fiji rock. I have installed it with two overflow PVC 1.5 pipes running from L's at the bulkhead. Each L has a 1/4 inch John Guest Air valve to allow air suction into the 90s and prevent "burping". <Is the airline run down into the drain line?> The pipes run down to a 30 gallon 30X18X12 sump/refugium, which is turning out to be too tall. One pipe goes directly to the 12 inch ASM G2 skimmer chamber (right side of sump); one passes the 9 inch refugium (left side of sump) with a teed 3/4 inch ball valve dropping a few gph into the fuge, and then continues to the skimmer chamber. Middle chamber is a 6 inch pump chamber housing an OR6500 pump. Bubble trap baffles between the skimmer and the pump chamber, although I made these too narrow and may be promoting too rapid flow. <This can be a problem with not enough dwell time through the baffles to allow the bubbles to escape. Foam between two of the baffles can make a huge difference.> Exhaust enters the sump below the waterline from the 2 1.5 drain lines but is dropping a lot of bubbles. <They will, this needs to be managed.> Some appear to be making it past the trap and back into the tank. I did not build a bubble chamber for the skimmer section, and I have not employed socks, because the sump is so tall I would have a hard time accessing/changing them, and would turn them into nitrate sources. <This too can be a big help for you. You will need either a filter sock (even if it is a pain to change) or to fabricate something your drains can dump into forcing the water and air to come back up before transiting the rest of the sump. I used to have my overflow dump into a 1 liter bottle with the top cut off for this purpose!> OR6500 pumps 1.25 line out through 6 inches of flex, threaded connection, union, ball valve, 2 45s, 3 foot rise, tees at the top of the tank into two 1s and drops water into the tank about an inch below the surface. Both sides are blasting microbubbles. <Frustrating.> In order to reduce bubbles I have tried vaselining pressure-side joints to check for any venturi above the sump waterline and found none. I have damped flow down from the refugium and seen minimal impact. I suspect the problem is with the volume speed through the baffles. <It is sounding that way.> So much for background: 1) Short of reengineering my sump, which may be inevitable, what other suggestions can you offer to reduce bubbles ?2) I have not seen much foam or skimmate in my ASM. I only have a few hermits and snails aside from the LR so there is not much to skim. Is it true that fresh salt water takes some time to "ripen" and reduce surface tension and that the skimmer and bubbles will improve over time? <Yes, more of the components in the tank being new with manufacturing residues floating about.> 3) I don't have overflow boxes, just two 90s acting as drains which are currently level with the waterline. They are loud. Is there any trick to minimize their noise level? <First, be sure the open end of the elbow is pointing down into the water. This will keep the inside of the line from being exposed to the atmosphere and your ears. Next you may need to experiment a bit with the air inlets on the elbows. John Guest fittings are nice, but you will need to be able to run the airline down into the elbow a bit. How far down for your case it the experimental part, you will need to play with this distance until the overflow is quiet. Generally 4' down in from the top of the elbow will get you fairly close for this amount of flow. Your drains are sized well for this pump, you can get these quiet.> Thanks, as always, John. <Welcome John. You have a bit of playing to do, but this flow can be managed through a sump this size. It is just all about directing it, making the bubbles work around obstacles to get into the return pump. Keep with it, good luck, Scott V.>

Re: Noise Level and "Micro" Bubbles 5/6/08 Thanks for your guidance in the past in setup. <You're welcome.> I have two questions about my still lifeless tank. I have a used Dutch AS 75 G flat back hex tank which I restained and varnished, drilled for two 1.5 bulkheads in the top corners. 90 pounds of very cured Live Fiji rock. I have installed it with two overflow PVC 1.5 pipes running from L's at the bulkhead. Each L has a 1/4 inch John Guest Air valve to allow air suction into the 90s and prevent "burping". <Is the airline run down into the drain line?> {no, just a gate valve on the ell. I will extend the line down into the pipe 4 inches} <<This will make a big difference.>> The pipes run down to a 30 gallon 30X18X12 sump/refugium, which is turning out to be too tall. One pipe goes directly to the 12 inch ASM G2 skimmer chamber (right side of sump); one passes the 9 inch refugium (left side of sump) with a teed 3/4 inch ball valve dropping a few gph into the fuge, and then continues to the skimmer chamber. Middle chamber is a 6 inch pump chamber housing an OR6500 pump. Bubble trap baffles between the skimmer and the pump chamber, although I made these too narrow and may be promoting too rapid flow. <This can be a problem with not enough dwell time through the baffles to allow the bubbles to escape. Foam between two of the baffles can make a difference.> {Wouldn't foam slow flow further? } <<No, it will just serve the purpose to trap bubbles. Use the coarser filter type foams.>> Exhaust enters the sump below the waterline from the 2 1.5 drain lines but is dropping a lot of bubbles. <They will, this needs to be managed.> {OK..........} Some appear to be making it past the trap and back into the tank. I did not build a bubble chamber for the skimmer section, and I have not employed socks, because the sump is so tall I would have a hard time accessing/changing them, and would turn them into nitrate sources. <This too can be a big help for you. You will need either a filter sock (even if it is a pain to change) or to fabricate something your drains can dump into forcing the water and air to come back up before transiting the rest of the sump. I used to have my overflow dump into a 1 liter bottle with the top cut off for this purpose!> {My space is cramped with a gate valve modded G2 but I will see if I can squeeze something in. } <<Even a small cup that forces the air back up before the water is allowed to flow through the sump can have an impact.>> OR6500 pumps 1.25 line out through 6 inches of flex, threaded connection, union, ball valve, 2 45s, 3 foot rise, tees at the top of the tank into two 1s and drops water into the tank about an inch below the surface. Both sides are blasting microbubbles. <Frustrating.> {Yup} In order to reduce bubbles I have tried vaselining pressure-side joints to check for any venturi above the sump waterline and found none. I have damped flow down from the refugium and seen minimal impact. I suspect the problem is with the volume speed through the baffles. <It is sounding that way.> {Yup.} So much for background: 1) Short of reengineering my sump, which may be inevitable, what other suggestions can you offer to reduce bubbles ?2) I have not seen much foam or skimmate in my ASM. I only have a few hermits and snails aside from the LR so there is not much to skim. Is it true that fresh salt water takes some time to "ripen" and reduce surface tension and that the skimmer and bubbles will improve over time? <Yes, more of the components in the tank being new with manufacturing residues floating about.> {Actually only the Sedra is new. Everything else including the g2 body is used.} <<Even that can impact skimmer performance, or you just don't have much to skim as you mentioned. You're water tests will tell you which.>> 3) I don't have overflow boxes, just two 90s acting as drains which are currently level with the waterline. They are loud. Is there any trick to minimize their noise level? <First, be sure the open end of the elbow is pointing down into the water. This will keep the inside of the line from being exposed to the atmosphere and your ears. > {Are you saying facing the tank bottom? Thant would place my overflows 8 inches below the waterline? Or are you simply saying 45 degrees from vertical like 10:30 and 1:30? } <<However far you need to rotate them so the open end is underwater. Without boxes you may have to construct a little standpipe to get the desired water level. Be creative!>> <Next you may need to experiment a bit with the air inlets on the elbows. John Guest fittings are nice, but you will need to be able to run the airline down into the elbow a bit. How far down for your case it the experimental part, you will need to play with this distance until the overflow is quiet. Generally 4" down in from the top of the elbow will get you fairly close for this amount of flow. Your drains are sized well for this pump, you can get these quiet.> Thanks, as always, John. <Welcome John. You have a bit of playing to do, but this flow can be managed through a sump this size. It is just all about directing it, making the bubbles work around obstacles to get into the return pump. Keep with it, good luck, Scott V.> Thanks for your help. {Thanks. I will try these suggestions.} <<Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>>

Aqua C Urchin troubles 12/18/07 Let me thank you first for being a great source of info. But let me get right into my problem. I have a 65gal moderately stocked coral tank with a few small fish, 50# LR and a 20gal sump. After going through your site and the rave reviews I bought an Aqua C Urchin Pro with the Mag3. <Yes, nice skimmer.> The tank has been setup for about 2 years and the skimmer was installed about 2 months ago. The problem I am having is even with an under/over/under bubble trap in my sump, the tank is constantly being flooded with micro bubbles from the skimmer. I do not add any additives such as stress coat, and I rarely put my hands in the water. The sump is plumbed with sch 40 pvc. The sump flows about 400gph. I spoke with Steve at Aqua C, and he said it is normal for this to happen. It is very unsightly to see this in a show tank. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance for your help. <A simple piece of filtration foam cut to fit between the baffles (I would put it where the water comes over and back under) will keep most, if not all, bubbles from reaching your display. Welcome, good luck, Scott V.> Nitrate: undetectable pH: 8.1 Ammonia: undetectable Phosphate: undetectable SG: 1.025 Calcium: 480 Alkalinity: 3 <mEq/L I assume.> Temp: 82 day/78 night

I have a micro-bubble problem that just won't quit and wonder if you can help. -- 07/03/07 Hi Crew! I have a 125 gallon AGA tank with dual overflows that is piped to a 100 gallon sump/refugium behind the wall its sitting in front of. I am using two GenX pcx70 pumps. One pump line goes directly; back to the tank. One has a tee to feed the refugium. The strange thing here is only one side has the bubble problem. <A plumbing leak...> My right side return looks great, the left side looks awful. So I think this rules out the problem being in the sump. I checked all the connections to the Left side and can't find any leaks. <There is at least one there somewhere> I pulled out the return pipe and cleaned all the loc-line fittings. I noticed at one point when fooling with the loc-line that the bubbles stopped temporarily. Do you have any ideas? I was wondering if maybe the loc-line pieces could suck in air and maybe they need to be replaced? <Yes... or at least switched with the other side to confirm the source of the leak...> Thank you for any help you can give me. Great site, I use it all the time. David Matza <Try switching out the Loc fittings... replacing the hard plumbing in turn if this doesn't disclose the source of entrained air. Bob Fenner>

Air bubbles in plumbing discharge   2/22/07 Hello Bob, I had a question for you regarding my 90 gallon reef aquarium. My return  for this tank is spitting air into the aquarium and I can't figure out where it   is coming from, I have checked the plumbing to make sure its secure and not leaking, and the filters water level is not low. The tank dimensions are 48"x 18"x 24" the pump running the system is a blue line 40 HDX The tank sits about 4  feet in up on its stand and the sump is located below the tank on the floor.  The bubbles coming from the return are very tiny and there are tons  of them. Any suggestions on what to look for to fix this? Thank  you, Brian <Almost assuredly there is a "pin-hole" leak somewhere... very likely in the discharge side... of your plumbing... You might get lucky and just detect this with a spray bottle of water, or systematically covering each solvented and threaded joint with a very wet paper towel... but if the tank has no livestock in it as yet... I myself might "skip ahead" and daub a bit of solvent over these areas... to seal up the leak where the air is being entrained. Going forward, do you use clear or purple primer before solventing? I would... and a smear of Silastic (rather than Teflon tape or pipe dope, or...) on all thread to thread connections... can/will "come off" if the need arises... Bob Fenner>

Thank you... Found! Source of air entrainment/bubbles, Not-Caulerpa control/biol.   2/23/07 Bob, thank you for the advice, I found out that the bulkhead to the return nozzle was the culprit for the air pouring into my tank! No more air!! <Ahh! Congrats!> I also found a way to manage the algae problem I mentioned in a previous email. It   turned out to not be Caulerpa, but I am guessing hair algae, I didn't know hair algae could be feathery in appearance, but the Trochus, and Nerite snails, along  with the red tip "equal handed" hermit crabs I added seem to be really doing the  trick working as a team on it, I stocked the tank sparsely with them so they  would have enough to eat and hopefully wont run completely out of food. I will  be putting 10 Nassarius snails in the tank soon also. The Trochus snails  are really going at the diatoms in the aquarium as well, I have been seeing a  lot more coralline on the rocks. The tank does have animals in it now, three  crocea clams, the smallest 2 are three inches, and the larger is 3.5 inches.  There is a yellow tang, about 4.5" in body length, a coral beauty that is  about 2.5 inches in body length, a mandarin dragonet, a large six line wrasse, a yasha haze (white ray) shrimp goby, a young Banggai cardinal  fish, and a group of squamipinnis Anthias 1 male, and 4 young females. I  also plan on getting a lineatus wrasse in a couple of  weeks. This is all in a 90 gallon reef, no corals yet, but it is looking to  be possible soon. The fish and clams have been in for almost a week now and no  signs of stress, illness, or anything to a negative effect. I check the water  every few days for calcium levels, dKH, PH, Nitrate, Nitrite, and  Ammonia, haven't had any readings on ammonia or nitrite since I set the  tank up, I cured all the live rock in dark vats before hand for 5 weeks with  vigorous water flow and protein skimming, and left lots of area for water flow  when I set up the aquascape. The readings have all been great, calcium just  above 420, dKH at a constant 12, PH at 8.3, Nitrates at 0, Phosphates  at 0. The temperature in the aquarium is 80 degrees F. around 12  PM to 8 or 9 PM then it slowly cools down later to no lower  than 76 degrees F. <Mmmm, would raise the settings on your heater/s to about 78 F.... four degrees in a day can be a bit much>   The tang still hasn't become fond of prepared  foods, but seems to prefer the algae growing in the aquarium, I feed the tank  small portions 3 times a day with Cyclops eeze, brine shrimp, krill, oyster eggs,  and blood worms. I use Kent's garlic extreme, and Selcon in their food. I also  use Kent's marine C. to boost their vitamin C. Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it, and my animals do too! Thanks again, Brian <Thank you for this follow-up, insights. Bob Fenner>

More On Micro-bubbles And Their... "Origin?" - 02/12/07 Hello Crew, <<Jeremy>> I am having the same problems as the person of the post I copied below this one is having. <<Ok>> I have two sets of over-under baffles and also my flow into my refugium is going through a 200-micron filter sock.  I have a Mag-5 submersed for my return.  My return line is 3/4" and my bulkheads are threaded 1".  I have an adaptive nipple that is 1" female to 3/4" male.  Inside my overflow I have 1" hose going into a "t", 3/4" hose coming off of the "t" back into my tank.  All the hose is flexible clear hose. <<Hmm...perhaps replumbing with hard-pipe will make a difference here>> I feel that somehow my return hose is causing the bubbles, I can't see any bubbles entering my pump in my refugium. <<This is not uncommon.  Even the smallest pin-hole leak can cause air to be drawn in to the return line>> I also have the sponge that comes with the pump covering the inlet.  You say that this person's problem is air entrainment. <<Sounds like it may be your issue as well>> Could you explain this more to me? <<Quite simple really...is the "inclusion of tiny air bubbles" and is most often described as relating to making concrete more "workable" without adding excess water.  But for our purposes, when speaking of air entrainment in the hobby/on these pages we are referring to air that becomes introduced/trapped in the water flow path.  This can be air that gets "gulped" down the water intake on the way to the sump...or it can be as already mentioned...air that is "drawn" in to the flow path as in a venturi, or a loose fitting, etc.>> How does this happen? <<It is often the result of faulty "joints" in the plumbing lines.  One way to avoid these is to use well cemented PVC pipe as much as possible to reduce the number of "clamped" joints or use "continuous" runs of flex pipe to eliminate joints altogether>> I have seriously been losing sleep over this and my wife says if it is causing me so much stress she is going to make me sell the whole set up, and I have only had it running for one month!  Help!! <<Try sealing the joints on the output side of the pump one-at-a-time (with silicone grease) until you find the offending joint/joints>> Thanks, Jeremy <<Happy to share.  EricR>> Micro bubbles in my tank   9/21/06 I have been going in circles with my 120 gallon tank for 5 months now to no avail. There are bubbles everywhere in my tank. Well first I spent 200 dollars on sump with baffles and visibly there are no bubbles in the pump chamber it looks completely clear. I am using a mag 9.5 submerged). The return is made with flexible tubing split half way up with a tee to the return pipes. <Likely air entrainment... very likely at one of these junctions...> everything was working perfectly except for the bubbles. So I thought just the other day could the bubbles be coming from my pump. So I unplugged it put it in the main display and there was the culprit bubbles coming out in short burst. so my question to you guys which have helped me so much already. Is there a submersible pump with a 3/4 inch outlet that will not cause these problems because this is not the first time this has happened to me. Thank you. <... how did bubbles come from a submersed pump? This is assuredly not the source... but one of the lines distal from the discharge. For one, I'd replace the flexible tubing with solid... If you're set on using a submersible pump, you can... but they have downsides... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i1/Powerhead_test/powerhead_comp.htm and the linked files at the bottom. RMF>

Solution - Turboflotor 1000 and bubbles in sump/tank I was able to get rid of 90% of the bubbles. I "invented" a device. Maybe I should market it! Since my overflows use 1" PVC and output from Turboflotor are 5/8", I made a bubble trap with a 2" piece of PVC with cap on bottom. I made it about an inch higher than normal sump level. I then inserted this into a Marineland filter material (filter in outside). I then flow water from overflows and from skimmer into top of the PVC traps (overflow and skimmer returns extend about 2/3 of the way down into the traps). The water flows in, cascades out of top (which dissipates some bubbles) and then flows through filter material. The filter material removes most of the remaining bubbles. This has eliminated 90% of the bubbles - the only one that remain are extremely fine and evidently pass through the filter material. There are still bubbles but they are greatly reduced. If I could find a finer filter material I am sure I would eliminate almost all of them (something like a sponge-type filter with a 2"-2.25" opening in middle to fit 2" PVC trap). <Emperor Aquatics makes micron filter bags that maybe just what you are looking for. They are extremely efficient at trapping debris, but must be rinsed out almost daily, for fear of becoming a home for nitrifying bacteria.> Will the remaining 10% bubbles and of very fine/smaller nature pose much of a danger now? <Probably not much> They are hard to see anymore and most evident under the 2 x 96 compact fluorescent lights. You can't see them coming out of the return anymore - before it looked tons of dust blowing out into the water. They are very very fine and smaller now and don't seem to stick to everything anymore. - Mark <Do look at the micron bags as another option. If you clean them regularly, they are very effective at removing large amounts of detritus. -Steven Pro>

Protein Skimmers...Tiny Bubbles Do Not Make Me Happy 12/8/06 I'm hoping that someone there can help out with a question in regards to protein skimmers. I have an Aqua C Urchin Pro driven by a Mag 3 pump. When I turn it on it fills the top <of the> tank with micro bubbles within minutes. I have tried turning it on with different water levels in the sump, I tried all possible cup placements, no luck. I contacted Aqua C and went back and forth with them a few times and they feel it is something in the water. <I tend to go along with them.  Some additives can/will cause this.  Have you used any additives recently?> It's a 75 gal. tank with a 37 gal. sump. I moved the water from my 50 gal. tank into this setup and filled the remainder with saltwater that I mixed from an R/O. The tank has been running for approximately 4 weeks. I can not run the skimmer because it fills the tank with micro bubbles. <Ahh, did you put any Stress Coat or similar product in the water on initial set-up?> At this point I would like to consider replacing the unit out of frustration. I have been on your site and have become very confused, some people swear by the ETSS, then others say it's too loud and cumbersome to clean because of the bio balls. Others say that Euro Reef with an Eheim motor and not the proprietary motor from the manufacturer is the way to go. <All good skimmers, and the Euro Reef/Eheim combo is a good choice.  The Eheim pumps seem to last forever.  I like skimmers that offer the least amount of adjusting/tuning, etc. I'm using a Tunze and find this skimmer to fall into that category very much.> Based on what I have described can you offer any suggestions which would make this decision easier? <I wouldn't throw the towel in yet.  Get yourself two units of Chemi-Pure and place in the sump where some water flow will go through the bags.  If there is anything in your tank that could cause the micro bubble problem, this will remove it.  I feel the Aqua C skimmers are a very good and hear very few complaints about them.> Thank you very much in advance for your help, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Ron Kennedy

Re: Protein Skimmers...Tiny Bubbles Do Not Make Me Happy 12/11/06 Sorry I just noticed a typo, I meant to say that I did use stress coat <Stress Coat> when I made up the water. <This will definitely cause your bubble problem.> On 12/8/06, Ron Kennedy wrote: >> Thank you for the quick response, I did use Chemi pure <Chemi-Pure> when I made up the > water. I actually have two new <units of> Chemi pures <Chemi-Pure> in the container. My sump is a 37 > gal. tank with a glass divider about two thirds of the way over, will it > work if I get a specimen container drill holes in the bottom and hang it > over the divider with the Chemi pure <Chemi-Pure> in it. Do <Does> the Chemi pure <Chemi-Pure> need to be > fully submerged. Also, how long do you think it will take for the Chemi pure <Chemi-Pure> > to work. ><Does need to be submerged or have water flowing through it.  The Chemi-Pure, depending on the flow rate through it, should take a couple days to remove the Stress Coat.  Please check your caps and grammar before sending so we do not have to do it.  Our time per day is very limited.> > Thank you so much for your honesty!!!!!!! ><You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

180 gallon tank ... bubble city  11/10/06 Bob, I have a 180gal with two corner overflows boxes with one 1 1/2 Durso drains in each one. My returns are 1." until you get to the 3/4 bulk heads in the bottom of the tank, I have one exit on each of the over flow boxes, so I have 2 - 3/4 outlets powered by a Turbo sea 1190. I have one Turbo Sea 780 with 3/4 return, which goes through my chiller and returns to my main tank via sea swirl. Both of these pumps draw water from my sump and return to my main tank. My sump is 34 X 20 X 16.  My problem is breaking down the micro bubbles from the 1 1/2 returns. I have one set of baffles, which may or may not be good enough for this high flow system. <Apparently not> I have put socks around each return still have micro bubbles, <Good try... you may need a "foam" dissipation area...> I have replumbed and triple checked each fitting no leaks. Do you have any suggestions. I have done just about everything to figure out if I have an air leak or is the return flow just to much. <May just be the turbulence, mixing of water here... most likely... could add another sump area to receive water, or the media area alluded to above to allow coalescing> Fortunately the tank has only been operational for about 5 months, have live rock, sand bottom , refugium (which is incorporated into my sump) and three fish. I don't want to go any further until I have solved the problem, by the way I have taken the skimmer out to eliminate that problem if there was one. If I take the micron bags of the returns, I have so many bubbles it is hard to see, <Yes> with micron bags on bubble situation is better, but still to <too> many bubbles for corals. Any input would be greatly appreciated, Thanks, Frank <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm and the linked file in the series above. Bob Fenner>

Major Micro-Bubbles in the Sump -- 10/23/06 I have a micro-bubble problem that has kept me up late at night for the past two weeks trying to solve!  I have narrowed down my source of the bubbles to the water draining into my sump. <<Not uncommon...often caused by trying to 'maximize' flow>> My system is a 215G aquarium which I purchased with just the factory drain holes.   I'm only trying to push about 700GPH combined through these holes with the use of two submersed Mag-Drive 7's. <<I see, but how large are these throughputs...how many?  Have you 'measured' the flow from the pumps or is this a guess?>> My sump consists of two 30G Rubbermaid containers joined a few inches from the top by two bulkheads.  I have four other containers cut out at the bottoms and tops to act as baffles.  Water enters from the drains by two separate pipes (1 pipe for each overflow drain) and into the skimmer container on one side of the first 30G container, and exits by the pumps from the totally opposite end of the 2nd 30G container, this is a good 4 1/2 ft of travel. <<Hmm...makes me think bubbles generated from the tank drains is not the issue here>> I have managed to cut out 97% of the bubbles that appear to be in the first container from reaching the pump intakes.  However that extra 3% is a good number of bubbles that I would love stop reaching my display, and I can see them just being pushed  along the baffles and getting drawn down into the pump intakes. <<Interesting...I would think with a good baffle system; and considering the distance of travel/the relatively slow water flow, that the bubbles would be easily dispersed.  I wonder if there is any other equipment along the way that could be generating more bubbles?  Maybe the skimmer?>> I'm thinking that I need to reduce the number of bubbles that escape the very first container, it is approximately 12'x14' and 12" deep and I can hardly see the bottom due to the number of bubbles. <<Ahh, okay...wow...that is a LOT of bubbles!  Sounds like you have a major air entrainment problem>> I have a plan to perhaps take out this container so that water is entering into the next container which is a good bit larger. <<From what you describe I don't think this is the best plan of attack>> I'm thinking I would have room to build a manifold system similar to those built for aquarium returns but have the water drain into it where it can be slowly released from a number of smaller exits as opposed to just the two 1" pipes. <<Not sure I follow this...but a series of 'over-under' baffles in the first container should have been able to deal with many of the bubbles>> Do you see any potential problems with doing this? <<Not 'problems'...just don't see it resolving your issue if you have as many bubbles as indicated> Do you suppose it would work? <<Dunno>> I can't figure out why it wouldn't but I don't want to build this thing if someone else can quickly tell me why it would fail. <<Can't do that without better 'detail' of what you plan.  But try this...throttle back the flow from the pumps and see if the bubbles decrease significantly.  Measure your true flow to the tank (time the filling of a container of known size) and adjust to about 300 gph per each 1' drain (175 gph for ¾' drains).  Most drain calculators/schedules will tell you these drains can handle twice this flow, but it is my opinion/experience that reducing by half is much more practical/less problematic to deal with and the flow will still be quite ample for the sump.  Also, make sure your drains are all absolutely at the same height.  If one is a bit lower than the other the flow through this can be significantly higher; causing the excessive bubbles.  If flow is not the issue, then look in to aspirating the drain lines and/or adding an ell to the termination point of the line in the sump.  The former will help release entrained air in the drain lines while the latter helps to guide bubbles away so they don't rise back in to the line blocking flow/creating more turbulence>> Thanks, Kevin <<Happy to assist.  Eric Russell>> Micro-Bubbles/Drain Line Plumbing - 10/14/06 I have a 215G Oceanic Reef-Ready that came as is from the factory.  I thought I did my homework and then some when ordering this tank, but I have since learned that the drains are inadequate for this size tank. <<A common enough opinion/fact that you'd think the manufacturer would eventually "get it">> Redrilling this thing really is not an option at this point so I need to make best with the situation that I have. <<Can be done, yes>> I'm running 2 Mag-Drive 7's for my returns, I'm figuring that I'm pushing about 700-800gph combined with the 2 pumps after figuring in head pressure. <<This should pretty much "max out" the 1" drains>> I have two Vortech pumps to provide additional circulation within the aquarium. <<Excellent>> The two 1" drains are handling this with no real noise issues. <<Good...often this is not the case>> The problem I'm having is with micro-bubbles, I'm not sure if this would be related at all to the inadequate drains. <<Could be/probably is...nowhere for the entrained air to go...>> I'm doing a container with a container sump system using Rubbermaid Totes.  I figured that my problem was the result of not enough baffling, but I have since read the opinion of one of your crew members that micro-bubbles are not the result of the water returning from the drain, instead they are only formed in pressurized situations. <<Hmm...>> Is this fact, or just his opinion? <<I have no wish to second-guess others of the Crew (especially without knowing the reasoning), but I suspect both (opinion based on some fact).  But that said, I don't agree that micro-bubbles would only be present in "pressurized situations."  As with the case of venturi-style skimmers, the bubbles can be the result of trapped air and water turbulence...in "my" opinion.  Maybe it comes down to the individual interpretations for "micro-bubbles," but I have witnessed some very fine bubbles emitting from drain lines over the years>> I poured a glass of water in my tank and saw large bubbles near the surface and very fine bubbles deeper in the tank, similar to the micro-bubbles that I have. <<Indeed...much the same as what is happening in your drain lines>> If it is true then my problem must lie within my plumbing work or the pumps themselves. <<Bingo!>> I don't want to reconfigure my baffling setup if I'm not getting rid of the source. <<Hmm...well...supposedly the "baffling" should handle any bubble issues (is why it is there), but excessive quantities of very small bubbles can be very difficult to "baffle out."  I agree with your stance to attach the source of the bubbles>> I did the Vaseline test on all plumbing connections and that didn't seem to help. <<Do be sure to clean the joints of any residual Vaseline to preclude possible deterioration of the plastic from the petroleum elements (Bob "cringes" at the use of this product).  It's likely the problem stems from the fact you have the drains pretty much at their maximum potential.  "Noise" isn't the only problem associated with overloaded drains.  I think your problem is entrained air due to the amount of water you're pushing through these 1" drains...aspirating the drains may provide relief.  This involves inserting small-diameter tubing at the highest point in the line to allow trapped air a route of escape.  The exact diameter and length of insertion requires a bit of experimentation>> I have two 30G totes as my main sumps, linked together through bulkheads.  One was going to be a refugium.  I'm now thinking that perhaps I should now use the refugium tote to provide additional room for dealing with the micro-bubbles so I can have more containers and hence more baffling. <<Mmm, I like the idea of the refugium.  I would look to aspirating the drain lines...you could also try using just one return pump to reduce flow in the drains (would still be plenty of flow through the sump/refugium in my opinion>> I also seem to have what appears to be a bunch of fine particles in my saltwater, like dust in the air, only seen when turning the lights off and shining a light through the tank from one side and viewing from another. <<Hmm, do you have a fine substrate?  Bioturbators?  I wouldn't be concerned>> I'm sure after all the work I have been doing in an attempt to rid myself of the bubbles I have introduced a good bit of dust into the tank.  The tank was filled with purified water, so the source is not my source water.  But I'm not sure if this can be related in anyway to micro-bubble formation, or if everyone who did the same thing would see it in their tanks as well.   Can you tell me what would be the best way in using a sump system such as this to filter out these fine particles? <<Some folks use filter socks on their returns.  I am not a fan of these as they trap detritus (obviously) and require constant maintenance/attention to keep them clean/become a source of decaying organics.  Personally, I wouldn't bother/worry about some particulates in the water>> I have already drained this tank once, and it would take a lot to have to do so again. <<I see no reason to drain the tank>> Please let me know any input you can provide for my situation. <<Have done so...>> I hope this post is coherent; I have been up late trying to work this thing out.  but I'm determined to do so. <<No doubt you will>> Thanks, Kevin <<Regards, EricR>>

Micro bubbles and powerheads 02-08-06 To the WWM Crew <Hello Flávio, Travis with you today.> Recently I put 2 Sicce Extrema power heads (2000 litres/hour each) in my 500 litres reef tank for more circulation. Since then, a lot of micro air bubbles are all over the tank. They are ejected from the power heads periodically in a way that when the water is becoming "bubble free", from the last jet, another and new bubble jet comes again in the tank. The main pump in the sump, is not the problem, because if I run it only the water becomes crystal clear. The top of the powerheads are below the tank water surface about 12 cm and I do not notice any surface air suction. Do you have some tips in order to solve the problem? <Remove the powerheads and build a closed loop.> To much propeller speed? <Very possible.> Bad design? <Possibly.> I've tried also with another brand, the New-Jet NJ 3000 from Aquarium Systems and the problem remains, maybe less notorious. In fact I do not understand from where are all these bubbles are coming from. <The bubbles are actually caused by what is called cavitation.  This is due to high propeller speed. The suction of the propeller actually creates a void which fills with air.  To relieve this the propeller needs to either be slowed down or the intake needs to be larger. Hope that helps explain your situation a bit.  By going with a closed loop you will only have one pump to deal with and it can be throttled back if necessary.  Travis> Thank you very much for your attention Flávio

Micro-Bubbles from my skimmer....   2/14/06 Hey WWM, <Angelo> My tank has just cycled and I'm waiting to add livestock finally (woo hoo!).  50gal, Odyssea skimmer, AMiracle wet/dry sump.  The return pipe from the sump was spitting out micro-bubbles into my tank.  I read page after page on your site about these bubbles, I went through all the steps (turn the skimmer off, check for leaks etc...)  After all the testing it I figured out it's the skimmer doing this bad deed. When I turn the skimmer off and wait an hour all the bubbles are pretty much gone.   <Ah, yes> The outlet on the skimmer already had a sponge on it.  So my question is... how do I use my skimmer without making these bubbles?   <Mmm, a few possibilities... add more "sponge", an area to allow coalescence, dump into a more rear-ward sump area...> Currently the skimmer is in the sump but it could hang on it.  Also I'm not sure if your familiar with AMiracle sumps, but they don't really have baffles. <Yes... I would add them... or go with another container that has these. Have you seen the CA article re?> Any advice would be appreciated.  I was thinking of making baffles in the sump and having the skimmer in the first baffle to allow the bubble to "pop" before it hits the last chamber were the return pump is. -Angelo <Ah, an excellent idea, modification. This is what I would do as well. Bob Fenner>

Bubbles from outlet... Bob- I truly appreciate all the advice you have given everyone in the hobby, including myself. My problem is one I haven't seen in your column. I recently replaced the sump/refugium in my 125 FOWLR. At the same time I installed a new pump (the T4 from FFE) and plumbing. The first part of the sump has several baffles to help dissipate the bubbles, which works great. I have quite a bit of filter media in both the inlet and outlet portions of the sump. There are no bubbles that I can see in the refugium portion of the sump. The problem is that from the outlet in the tank, I am getting 100's (thousands?) of tiny bubbles. The only source I could think of would be somewhere along the plumbing lines or that the inlet at the pump might be sucking a small amount of air. However, wouldn't a small leak cause either a water leak or salt creep? <Not necessarily... and the source of these bubbles should be found and fixed ASAP... you should read through the "Emphysematosis, Gas Bubble Disease" piece in the Pond Section of the www.WetWebMedia.com site... applies to marine/aquariums as well> If so, I haven't seen evidence of either. I used flex ABS for the plumbing and with the exception of the pump, all fittings are glued. The pump fittings have clamps on them and the fit from the pump to the ABS was extremely tight. Any suggestions? Thanks, Andy <Yes, I would try using a length of tubing, one end on your ear, the other applied near all the joints,,, bit by bit and/or a wet hand towel/paper towel applied at each junction, one by one to locate the source of intake... Look especially to the MIP and FIP fittings installed in your pump intake/discharges and any/all gasket joined areas connecting the volute (pump housing) to the motor, trap (if any), unions... Find this NOW!  Bob Fenner>

Micro Bubbles Let me start by saying that I have used your site many times as a reference and want to thank you for putting together such a wealth of information - very helpful. I have poured over the many faq regarding micro bubbles and though I don't consider my question to be "unique" in nature I was hoping that you could elaborate on a few suggestions that you have made in response to similar questions to my own. I have a 125g reef/fish tank with an under tank sump (I have removed the bio-balls) that now houses only my return pump and a reef devil (ETSS) protein skimmer. The sump, being very small has very little room as it remains divided with all of my equipment on the right side of the divide.  I have changed very little from the original setup.  I have quite a few microbubbles being returned to my tank due to my protein skimmer. I recently replaced my Rio 1800 skimmer pump with a mag drive pump as the Rio gave out.   After having added a valve to the outflow of the mag drive I finally have my skimmer under control but it certainly has increased 10 fold the presence of micro-bubbles in my tank. You recommended to many of your readers that to reduce this effect there were a few things you could try. The first being to add a baffle.  I'm humiliated to show my ignorance but what exactly is a baffle and how would I go about installing it in the sump?  Another suggestion was to add a foam block.  The reef devil already has a ring of foam attached to its outflow. Should I add a sponge to my return pump or to the actual return pipe within my tank?   I realize that these questions are very basic but I had some difficulty finding a response in which you elaborated on these topics, specifically the baffle.
<Ben, no need feeling humiliated.  No one is born with info.  A baffle is specifically a piece of acrylic separating the skimmer from the rest of the sump.  The baffle is usually 1/2 to 1 inch above the bottom of the sump.  The return from your skimmer should go through the baffle as near to the opposite end of the sump as possible.  Being that bubbles do rise, most of the water flowing under the baffle should be bubble free.  You may want to email the skimmer company.  They may have a bubble trap as they are called.  James (Salty Dog)> Thank you. Ben

Micro Bubbles I need your guidance once again. <Okay.> I have a simple 40G glass aquarium serving as my sump, containing my BioWheel, UV sterilizer, and protein skimmer. The chiller and mechanical filter are on a separate closed system. My current problem is the micro bubbles that are in my display tank and I believe that they are from my protein skimmer (bubbles from it are being sucked into tank). <Your skimmer should be near the inlet to the sump from the overflow, the return pump at the farthest end from the skimmer, thus avoiding any bubbles as they disperse to the surface over the length of your sump. If not, add baffles, a skimmer box (a simple five gallon square bucket, cut-up will work nicely) or a pump box with baffle or sponge to stop bubbles, but this should be overkill. Is your return pump external? If so you should check all plumbing connections as well, it is more likely than skimmer bubbles.> The skimmer deposits onto filter media to help disperse these bubbles, and has been working fine until recently. I know these micro bubbles can be harmful to the fish. <Perform complete water tests, this could cause persistent bubbles.> My question: if I move the mechanical filter from the closed system to the sump system, after the pump (i.e. water flow: overflow/BioWheel/sump/pump/(filter)/tank, will this help trap / eliminate / stop the micro bubbles from reaching my main tank? I doubt it, More likely to gather in cartridge and blow out in bigger blasts than they are now.> I don't have the funds to change the sump itself (not to mention the time/effort to take down my display to do so). Always appreciating the help! Craig <Shouldn't take much if anything to separate skimmer and return enough to allow bubbles to rise to surface. Space, sponges, baffles, boxes all will work and are inexpensive to free.  I still would check water first.  Craig>

Tiny Bubbles- Big Headache Scott F or whoever may be working (not me today. snow day...yah.) <Lucky you! Ya gat Scott F. again today!> Well I got everything done last evening but as you said expect a glitch or two.  I am having a bubble issue in my tank now.  Lots of little bubbles.  My configuration now goes something like this.  Overflow drains in skimmer chamber, which overflows into refugium, which overflows into another chamber  | | | 3 pieces of Plexi  with the 1st and 3rd being higher than the 2nd piece to help reduce bubbles before the return pump.  Well obviously that wasn't enough.  So this morning I took the old finishing block from the wet/dry and sliced off some pieces to place in the last chamber to reduce the bubbles.  And it has helped a lot.  Is there a better solution for that config to get rid of the finishing block seeing I am about out of space in that thing?  The blocks will be cleaned daily with the skimmer since they are easy to get to and in the same general area. <To be quite honest, I would have recommended the same thing that you did...Just keep messing with it until you get the desired results...> Also my tank is hazy today.  Looks like a smoggy day in CA.    Just part of disrupting the tank a little yesterday?  Will this clear up?  Readings are all normal. 0's for what I test.    <Yep... you'll see some residual cloudiness for a couple of days until some of silt or other suspended matter settles out...Normal> Also added a 60 watt plant bulb above my refugium (are these ok?) <Should work...You may want to experiment with other bulbs if you don't get the desired results...> I cut a hole in the white plastic top and used a work light fixture to provide lighting to the refugium which now contains a 6" DSB, about 3 lbs of live rock, just some extra from other tanks (will add more when I come across it) and a few strands of Caulerpa.  Will that bulb be enough for the leaf Caulerpa to grow?   <Probably...this is a remarkably tenacious and adaptable macroalgae> And is that a good thing for the refugium?   <Personally, I don't like Caulerpa...to invasive, to prone to "crashing", and there are some chemicals given off by the algae that have been (arguably) shown to impact coral growth negatively...I like other, less "nasty" macroalgae, like Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria..> I have a very hard time finding algae strands or starter samples of things around here.  Have 3 LFS in the "area" (about 30 minutes away).  Nothing other than mail-order besides that.  The downfall of living in a corn field.  Any advice on getting or finding this type of stuff? <I love Indo Pacific Sea Farms....They offer a variety of macroalgae, as does Inland Aquatics...check them both out on the Web> I would really a good algae or plant start for down there.  I really need to get to this one LFS (about 1 hour away). Their reef tank sump has a severe overgrowth and would think they would sell me some or just give me some. <If you're willing to make that drive- they should do better!> One note on Mr. Fenner's book.  I currently do not have this and have looked in the library but they are a hillbilly library and carry no such books.  (I am a teacher) and had our school librarian check other libraries for it...no luck.  So she said she would order it for our library.  Not that my 11 year old students will have much use for it, but I will have it checked out quite a bit I'm sure. <Well- you might just start some kids on a positive life-long addiction! A great addition to the library, IMO!> Will keep you updated on the tanks progress and with more questions I am sure.  This site was an excellent find.  Thanks again. Matt <Glad to hear of your progress, Matt...Feel free to shoot us an email any time. We're really happy that you enjoy the site! Good luck! Scott F>

Tiny Bubbles.... Greetings and well wishes... more importantly a heartfelt thank you to each and everyone of you for your patience and assistance to us novices. <Thanks for the "props"! We're so glad to be here for you! Scott F. here today> My BakPak2 has been running for about 24 hours.  But I am still getting a lot of tiny bubbles from the Bio Chamber into the tank.  I am assuming this probably has some negative effect on the damsels and shrimp.  What negative effects?  How soon?   <well, generally, the negative effects of tiny bubbles are the possible irritation that they can cause to corals and sessile inverts. I would not get overly worried about the bubbles as far as their effect on fishes. I had hoped that it would clear up after 24 hours - no luck.  I have adjusted the air valve (even to the point of removing it).  I have tried the piece of sponge provided by CPR Aquatics in every conceivable orientation/position.  I have supplemented the provided sponge with additional pieces of polyester filter material.  I can slow the bubbles down but I can't stop them.   <CPR does make a "bubble trap" specifically for the BakPak skimmers. These gadgets do work, and cost less than 20 bucks. You may want to purchase one for your unit> I did do a 10% water change before introducing the skimmer and adding the Eheim ECCO 2233 filter.  The specific gravity is at 1.022.  The make up water had been aerated for over 72 hours.  I did add a small amount of Stress Coat during the water change.  My understanding is that the bubbles should have cleared up after 24 hours.  I am considering compressing the bio-bale media into a more compact mass.  Good idea in your opinion?  Any other ideas? <Personally, I wouldn't use the bio-bale myself. I definitely would not compact it, because I think this could create potential "dead spots" within the filter due to impeded flow through the medium. Doe try the "bubble trap" as mentioned above.> Possibly something from the Eheim filter pads is messing with the surface tension?  Possibly the inexperienced aquarium owner has overlooked something? <A possibility could be that there is a loose connection somewhere in your plumbing, allowing some air in. Do re-check all hose fittings, connectors, etc. just to be sure. Don't get too discouraged; you'll eventually get rid of these tiny bubbles!> Over the last couple of months all of the crew has been especially helpful - I and my aquatic pets are most grateful. Rex Merrill <Always glad to be of help, Rex! Feel free to contact us any time! Good luck in your "bubble battle"! Regards, Scott F>

Bubbles from hell Hi all! Well, after about 3 months of reading your site to find answers to the many questions I've come up with in putting together my 75 gallon reef set-up,  I've got a question that I can't find the answer to anywhere.  The only hope of getting an answer to this question, I believe, is if there is some funky aspect going on here which will be familiar and immediately recognizable to more experienced aquarists.  I have bubbles from hell in my tank coming from my return pipe.  I've read all of your "I've got bubbles" posts and responses.  These are not standard, "you've got an intake leak . . . find it and seal it" type bubbles, these bubbles apparently exist independent of air and physics.  I have a 35 gallon sump with a PM bullet 100 skimmer.  Irrelevant since the sump is BUBBLE FREE at the point of intake to the return pump.  I've checked this with a magnifying glass and even run specially designed "air releasing" pipes into the sump from the tank drain. I've pulled the skimmer. The bubble aren't coming from the sump.  I started out with PVC from the sump to the pump with flex tubing right at the pump intake fastened with hose clamps.  I've reconfigured the intake pipe shape, length, etc. . . and even removed the hose clamps by hard lining the pipe right to the pump . . .with a no washer connection, just a coupling that has threads (to the pump) on one end and receives the 3/4" pipe cemented directly on the other.  That line is air tight and solid!  Pretty much the same story on the return line to the tank.  Thought it might be a venturi so I removed all flex tubing, quick connector and a ball valve.  It's solid 3/4" PVC from pump to tank.  That leaves the pump.  I took the main cap off, examined the washer, etc and tightened the screws which seemed a bit loose when I removed them.  Still had bubbles.  The pump btw is a 1200 gph Gen-X.  I have the exact same pump running my skimmer.  I switched these pumps to see if maybe it was something I wasn't seeing when I took the first one apart.  Still have those damn bubbles even with the second pump.    The possible key that hopefully one of you may recognize is that the bubbles at this point come in "waves".  While there is a constant stream of some very tiny bubbles coming from the return pipe, about once every three minutes, a pulse of TONS of bubbles will burst from the pipe.  They stick on the rocks and on the back of the tank. They are hugely apparent under the metal halides. They smoke my cigars and drink my beer.  They kick my dog.  I hear them laughing at me when I walk into the room. I want them punished in the most painful way. The tank has 85 lbs of live rock, two fish, lots of snails, hermits, 1 coral banded, 2 peppermints, 2 sand sifters, 1 brittle star.  It's a very fine white sand bottom.  I really want to begin adding corals, but I don't feel like I can proceed until this is resolved.  Any suggestions?  Am I missing something? JIM <Hmmm, I suppose the Gen-X has a 3/4" inlet or even 1", but I'll bet it doesn't really put out 1200 gph with 3/4" pipe (inlet), and thus produces what would be known as *cavitation*, like a boat prop that can't get enough water to drive in and thus, sucks air. Increase your pipe size and bulkhead to keep up with your pump. Any valves should be after your pump. With such a valve you could turn down the output to test the cavitation theory. With it turned down the pump won't need to pull in as much water and thus shouldn't cavitate, or produce bubbles. Hope your dog is alright. You can always buy more cigars and beer! You should get the last laugh!  Craig>

Microbubbles Hi Bob: I'm a bit confused with regards to the term "Microbubbles" are these the same that are produced by my venturi skimmer?  They are smaller than those produced by an airstone (which I unplugged due to salt everywhere) but not to fine to see easily enough - they fill probably 50% of my tank - I hope they're not dangerous because I can't seem to do anything about them - I only run the skimmer at night now but it pulls very little skimmate that way. My thinking there is at night the fish are in the rocks where the bubbles don't penetrate. <Is this a new tank and skimmer? If so this will go away in time. Sometimes bubbles are caused by high wastes (only running the skimmer at night is BAD, run 24/7 no matter what) or improper water chemistry/ionic balance/pH. Check these too. Also, if the skimmer is pushing too much water through and destroying the dwell by pulling the bubbles through the skimmer and into the tank, adjust the pump/skimmer to slow down the flow, increase dwell/contact time, and reduce bubbles by floating them out where they should....in the skimmer cup.> I even tried hanging a bag of Chemi pure under the exhaust of the skimmer to dissipate them a bit - no avail. then I turned a powerhead at the exhaust and this created a bit of a "whirlpool" effect and kept the bubbles at one end. but are the bubbles themselves really the problem or the amount of oxygen they create in the water?  (By that I mean that the oxygen levels are the same regardless if the particular area is suffused with bubbles or not because the oxygen is dispersed equally?) David <The bubbles are a problem for fish because they can act like the bends in humans, forming bubbles in their flesh or systems that are as problematic as they are for humans. Do check your skimmer set-up/adjustment and water chemistry to find out why you are getting so many bubbles.  Craig>

Closed return manifold bubbles 9/29/03 Ok, I understand that micro bubbles are from the pump eating air or small leaks in the pipe joints. Where would large bubbles come from in a closed manifold? All of the tees are blowing 1-5mm bubbles into the water column of my tank. The tee to nozzle join is sealed with silicone and I have double checked all of the other plumbing joints. Dave Lockwood <there are a couple of possibilities... the most likely being a venturi like action from outlets placed just slightly above the water surface (or half submerged). If instead your outlets are all submerged but you are still getting bubbles... there is clearly a leak in the plumbing somewhere that is aspirating air (pinhole in fittings, pump housing, etc). Do consider. Best regards, Anthony>

- Plumbing & Skimmer Bubbles - Hello crew, <Hello to you.> I have a wet dry/sump that houses the skimmer in one of the two parts. My skimmer is an "ASM G1" skimmer which it's supposed to be like Euro reef. <Ok.> Because of the size of the sump the skimmer fits snug. I have bubbles coming out of the "leveling" tube and this ends up going into the pump and up to the tank. I have tried putting a sponge at the bottom of the skimmer but made no difference. What I am thinking of doing is to build a bubble trap (baffle). Since this does not fit the sump, I thought of building it external. My sump has a 3/4" bulk head that is connected to the main pump, I want to build the baffle so it's connected through this 3/4" bulkhead, and then drill another one on the other side to connect the pump to it. Would this work? <I think so, but I'm not sure from the description how this will affect the bubbles.> While I'm at it, I need to increase the flow to the tank so I thought that I could actually drill another hole on the baffle to connect another pump, but I do not know if the two pumps will dry out the baffle since it would only have one connection to the sump... <Possible... might need to increase the size of that bulkhead.> Hopefully you can understand this. Or any tips to eliminate the bubble on this skimmer? <Really sounds to me like you have a mismatched set - the skimmer and the sump - would be better perhaps to redesign and build a new sump altogether that had a settling chamber, perhaps some baffles to allow the bubbles to settle out. If I understand your description correctly, space is at a premium, which means your baffle idea will likely be undersized, and may not be effective - very hard to predict.> Thank you
<Cheers, J -- >

- 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 -- >

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

Bubbles Hello and thanks for taking the time to read my email...<Hi Anthony, I've had your email for a day or so but have been trying to do some research for you.> Problem is I refuse to put powerheads in my new reef tank. <Ahhh don't like that powerheads hanging everywhere look, I do understand.> I also refuse to cut the flow (for my corals sake) I am running dual Blueline 200's (Iwaki 70 equivalents 1600 gph each) one for each side of the tank two outlets per pump. 120 Gal. Standard tank dual 1 1/2 " inch overflows and 4 3/4 " inch returns, 65 gal sump. <I understand.> My problem is when the water enters into the sump the bubbles that are created are extensive and most of them find their way right into both return pumps intake. Without redoing the plumbing is there anyway I can remedy the thousands of microbubbles that are being created.<You need to put in some kind of baffle plate for the water to land on and not cause so much splash. The idea is that you need to knock down the amount of turbulence.> currently there is nothing but saltwater in the tank as I am doing the testing on everything. Is there any downside to having bioballs submerged in the overflow part of the sump to catch the bubbles or do bioballs even though SUBMERGED cause nitrate problems. <Bioballs that are submerged will hold detritus, unless you have some type of prefilter to catch the detritus, but its not in the same manner.> Also if any of you live in the NY Metro area what would it take to get one of you guys to come over and critique the set up?  I hope the pictures I have attached went through..<They did come through Anthony and thank you.> Thanks for your help. Anthony

Micro-bubbles Hi, I have been reading the great info on your site for some time now, I really get some good help. I do have a problem I hope you can help with. I have a 29g tank with a CPR Bak-Pak II, a bio wheel 125 and 3 power heads. The Bak-Pak is not the reef version but the one with the bio bale. I have a bad problem with micro bubbles coming from the Bak-Pak and was wondering if you had any suggestions to get rid of these pesky things? <Hello, CPR sells a bubble trap that can be attached to the outlet of the skimmer. It usually goes for about $20, so it is not too expensive. Good Luck. MikeB.>

Micro-bubbles and Beyond... I was wondering if since I have about 45lbs of live rock and 3 inches of crushed coral, could I remove the bio bale and possibly fill the cavity with floss or would that cause me other problems? <No, that should be fine.>  I'll also check out that bubble trap you mentioned, is it one that is inserted into the Bak-Pak or on the discharge line? Thanks. <There are two types I find the one inserted on the discharge works the best. But, it wouldn't hurt to have them both. Good Luck. MikeB.>

A Baffling Problem... (Stopping Microbubbles) Hello, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> I have been running a marine tank for over ten years (45g w two whisper 3's on back). Recently, my wife bought me a 75g w/ built-in overflow. Sump was sufficient for low stand (22''). I wanted my tank to be visible at eye level. Built a stand to accommodate. Soon found that the return flow not sufficient enough for 5 foot lift, so I upgraded pump, and it's still not sufficient. My overflow gurgles a lot. <There are a number of ways to counter that; Durso Standpipes, etc.> Turned 29 gallon into my sump and placed 2''substrate under gravel filter with 2 power heads to aid in flow. Then added around five pounds of live rubble to bottom (still trying to get more). Then protein skimmer constantly purged air into tank leaving visibility hazy. Now the protein skimmer has been removed, which improved visibility- but not all bubbles are gone, not to mention less than desirable flow. If I added another return pump would it help? <If your goal is to increase flow within the tank, you could use a pump on a closed loop, power heads, such as Tunze Streams, etc., or external power heads, like Gemini, Hi Tech, or Tunze Turbelle. If you need the power to run equipment, then a single, more powerful pump seems to be the most simple answer. Ball valves used to control flow should do the trick.> I will purchase a "closed" bottom protein skimmer to manage bio-loads (6" blue spotted grouper, yellow tang, and 10" zebra moray). <That Grouper is gonna get mighty big...Do think about a much larger future system for him!> Love the tank, but just can't tweak the filter to where I want it! It comes over the overflow to about 12" thick of bio-balls to two layers of fine filter padding, than 5" of foam block, under tank 1" PVC travels 18" to a hard 90, then 1' to another hard 90, down 6" to a tee, then forks out in two 15" arms with holes drilled in different directions covered by foam sleeves. Return pump sits on bottom with pre-filter sleeve and travels around 5' to a preformed 90 than tees to 1" PVC angled fittings. With all that filter padding, I still have visible debris being discharged via return (mostly air bubbles, very fine bubbles). <I think that acrylic baffles in the sump might be more advantageous than all of the filter media that you're talking about. Do consider that simple solution...> Can you help? If not advise me of another "efficient" filtration method. I am to receive a 180 in a couple of months and fear of what a task that will be to get set-up if a 75 is so taxing now. Thank you for reading this JB <Well, JB- it sounds like you have some good ideas, but the issues that you're having might be solved with a more efficiently-designed sump. Baffles make a very easy and efficient solution to micro bubble issues. Do look into sump design on sites such as ozreef.org, etc., and you'll get some great ideas as to how to do this more effectively. Sorry that I couldn't give you a concise answer to your problem, but I think that this will point you in the right direction! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

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: