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FAQs about Bubble Trouble and Aquarium Systems: Overflow, Intake 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, Plumbing Issues, Pump/ing Issues, Discharge 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


New tank plumbing questions 9/19/08 To WWM, First off, thank you for all of the information you provide. <Great to hear, thank you Ed.> It has been a big help. Now some details, I have just finished an upgrade from a 60 gal. reef tank to a 125 gal. reef tank. The new tank has two 1.5 inch drains and four 3/4 inch returns. I am using a Sequence Dart for the return pump with about 18 feet of head pressure when you account for all of the tees and elbows. Both returns are fitted with Durso standpipes. Now for my problems, when I tested the system there were no issues with micro bubbles. Then salt water was introduced, the bubbles appeared. <This happens, you can never tell about bubbles until the salt is added! You can experiment with different baffle configurations, make the path of the water to the return pump as long as possible. This can be tough with a Dart return, this is quite a bit of water to have to manage through a sump. Even filter socks on the overflow drain lines can make a huge difference here.> I am currently adding u-shaped pipe to the bottom of each return to try to diminish the bubbles. Secondly, and more of a concern at this point, I am still getting a bit of gurgling noise from the air hole at the top of the Durso. When I throttle down the pump, the noise diminishes as well as the bubbles. Obviously I want to maximize flow to the tank so throttling down the pump would not be my first option. The air inlet on the Durso is 3/16 in. If I increase the size of the air intake, will that decrease the gurgling sound? <If it is 3/16' inner diameter this should be enough. If the outer diameter is 3/16, I would increase the size. Two 1.5' bulkheads will struggle to keep up with the flow from a Dart, even with all the plumbing. Do increase the size of the airline, but the amount of flow is likely the culprit here. Even if the airline does solve the issue, realize that these drains will be running at their absolute maximum with no margin for safety. 750 gph is about the safe maximum for a 1.5' bulkhead without siphoning (the source of the noise). If you are just now setting up this tank, I strongly encourage you to take it down now and drill for another drain or even two.> If so, to what diameter? <1/4' inner diameter or so.> Thank you for your help. I look forward to your response. Ed <Welcome, congratulations on the upsize! Scott V.>

Plumbing/Battling Micro Bubbles 4/10/08 Hello to the crew, <And good day to you, Jeff> I was hoping someone could help me with a closed loop issue. I am using the design from Melve's reef site where the water is drawn out of the overflow chamber in the tank. I have a 72 gal bow front with the standard overflow kit probably about 2 to 3 gallons (the tank is drilled for overflow 2 holes on bottom of tank, but not for closed loop). I have a Durso in the over flow so the chamber stays pretty full. I have a 20 gallon long sump with 3 chambers. I am using a Gen x mak-4 external (3/4" in/output) pump located under the tank. The loop is plumbed with ¾" PVC and the outputs are ½". I currently have 3 outputs set up for the closed loop. I can get the pump primed and it works well aside micro bubbles. My issue is with micro bubbles. There are so many it is hard to see the back of the tank. I had 4 outputs, I went to three and I still have micro bubbles. I went back and made sure I had all the plumbing sealed that is not underwater. I used airline tubing to listen for leaks and could not find any. I wrapped filter media around the intake pipe on the system and placed filter media on the inside of the overflow so the water entering the overflow is not splashing but I am still getting tons of micro bubbles. They seemed to get worse when I resealed the plumbing. I am out of ideas and can not figure out where the bubbles are coming from. I was wondering if you had any other suggestions to get rid of the bubbles. If not I guess I will have to settle for power heads and sue the pump as a fancy door stop. Thanks for all your help and again great site!!! <Your sump is more than likely full of bubbles from the overflow. I would isolate the section where the pump intake is located with a piece of foam whereby all water must pass through the foam to get to the pump intake. See if that doesn't help the matter. Also ensure the sump water level is high enough so a vortex isn't created above the pump intake.> Kind Regards <Thank you, James (Salty Dog)> Jeff

Re: Plumbing/Battling Micro Bubbles 4/11/08 Hello again, <Hi Jeff> I think there was some miss understanding on my set up. The intake for the closed loop is located in the overflow chamber in the main tank. The intake is a 6 inch section of PVC with many holes drilled in it. It pulls water out of the overflow box in the tank, down to the pump and back into the main tank. The sump is not involved. <Will be difficult here to completely eliminate the micro bubbles. Are any of the holes in the 6 inch section exposed to air? All holes need to be completely submerged.> As I mentioned I have wrapped the loop intake with filter media, it is blue on one side and white on the other, so all water entering the loop has to pass through the filter media. I have also placed some filter media along the inside of the overflow box so there is no splashing as the water enters the overflow. You mentioned using foam, would this be any different then using the filter media? Would the foam be denser and stop more bubbles? Any special foam or will home depot have the right stuff? <There are round foam sleeves available that slide directly over the intake tube will should reduce the micro bubbles a great deal. The availability will depend on the diameter/size of your intake tube. Example here. http://www.premiumaquatics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=PM-F46B&Category_Code=GFI In your particular set up, I believe it will be difficult to completely eliminate the micro bubbles. You may also want to try throttling down the return from the pump. You may be trying to pump out more water than is available to the pump. This will cause pump cavitation which will cause this problem. Try the foam sleeve for sure, will help.> Thanks again for all your help. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Jeff Amato

Over flow box: air bubbles break siphon  4/5/07 <Hi Brian, Mich with you today.> Please help! <Will try!> I can't find any specific solution to the tiny bubbles which break my siphon. <I think I may know what the problem is, but I have a couple of questions first.  Are you using a U tubes or do you have a continuous siphon overflow box?  Do you know where the air bubbles are coming from?  Do you know why you are getting air bubbles?  The attachment is not coming through.  Could you resend the photo?  It may be helpful in trouble shooting your problems.> I've looked at the provided links for hours and have also done many of my own searches, and still nothing.  Thanks for your time,      <Welcome!  -Mich>

Re: over flow box: air bubbles break siphon  - 04/05/07 Sorry I don't know how to resize the attachment. <Still not getting the photo.  It is very strange.  The email is showing there is an attachment but there is no way to open the attachment.> To answer your questions so you can answer mine.   <A question for a question if you will...> I am using a continuous overflow box.   <I have used this also and I too experienced this problem> The bubbles are created when the water first enters the overflow box from the aquarium only when the water level of the water reservoir of the overflow box is lower than the level 1 which I marked on my attachment.  While the water level of the reservoir box is kept higher than the level 1 mark, the bubbles are not created.  The problem is keeping the water level of the reservoir of the overflow box higher than the level 1 mark using my ball valve and without overflowing my aquarium.  I can usually get the water level of the reservoir to stay at the level 1 mark for about a day, and then it slowly decreases.  I'm not sure why it doesn't seem that many people have the same problem as me because when I l search for  "bubbles and overflow box" the problems others have are different.  Maybe I am doing something wrong. Well obviously not right! <I think so. I'm not totally clear on how you have things set up, but I think I understand enough to offer some suggestions.  A couple of options.  You can get an "Air Lifter" pump and attach it via airline tubing to the knob.  This will continuously remove any air which gets stuck in the top of the overflow.  The pump sits on the top of the overflow and does not get submerged.  Or you can use a power head which has a venturi feature. Again connect it to the knob via airline tubing but the powerhead will need to be submerged in you tank.  Either of these will continuously remove any air build up and you should allow you to complete open you ball valve.  Does this make sense?  I have used the air lifter and have found them to last about a year.  I always kept a back up on hand.  When you start having a problem with circulation that you can't figure out, check the air lifter.  It might need to be replaced.  It may acts as if it is working, but I have found over time it looses suctioning ability.> Thanks again for all the help,      <Welcome! Hope this helps!  -Mich>

Re: over flow box: air bubbles break siphon  - 04/05/07 <Hello again Brian, Mich here.> Awesome! You have cured my headache thank you.   <You are most welcome!> I did have a venturi powerhead so I tried to mess with it and couldn't figure out how to incorporate it with the overflow box, so I did a search online.  I came across a forum that said instead of using a venturi powerhead or an "air lifter" you can just attach airline tube to the top of the overflow box and start directly siphoning this to your sump/my refugium.  I did this and it works.  The air bubbles are forced to siphon down to my refugium.  I think this is great, but I'm wondering if this is safe (over fill proof).  As long as my tank is safe from loss of power, reverse siphoning from return pump line, and loss of siphoning from overflow box  It should be safe right?   Is there any concerns that you might have about this vs. the "air lifter" or venturi powerhead.   <My biggest concern was the airline coming out of the sump and siphoning several gallons of water onto the floor.  Also complicating the matter for me, was airline tubing looks way too much like a kitty toy.  In my house this was way too tempting.  You may be OK if there are no four-legged critters or little two-legged ones!>    Thanks again,    <Welcome!  -Mich> Brian

Standpipe plumbing, bubble-madness (and noise if you're really lucky!)  - 5/12/2006 Hi guys I need some serious help. I just purchased a 75gal to replace a 75gal that was old and leaking. I got an All-glass with the MegaFlow overflow already installed. <Hopefully one with the larger through-put/holes> Ever since I installed it and turned it on, I have been having a problem with air bubbles in the drain line from the tank into my sump. Is there anything that can be done to correct this? <... some> It is the standard 1 1/4" standpipe with drilled aquarium bulkhead fitting, then it goes straight down to a flexible pipe (pool hose stuff) and into a 20gal sump. <... have you tried aspirating this line?> I have tried to raise the standpipe, lower the pipe etc. I do not understand why the air is getting into the drain line. <It is "entrained"...> Before I used the stand pipe, I had a corner overflow, with bioballs, on the drain line I had a valve and that regulated the flow so I would not empty the overflow. I have tried this with the standpipe and it does not seem to work. when you slow the flow, the water stacks up in the overflow.   I am at my wits end at this point and am very unhappy with the whole MegaFlow/standpipe thing. It looks like it might be  a great setup, but mine just isn't working properly. any help would be greatly appreciated. I have a Quiet one pump to supply water back to the tank, not sure what the size is but I have not changed it from tank to tank.   Thanks, Chris <Mmm, this technique is described in various places on WWM, but basically, inserting a length (to be determined... so don't cut it just yet) of rigid or flexible "air-line" diameter tubing... nominally 3/16" into the standpipe... and trying this at different depths within the standpipe... should yield relief from the "entrainment"... try this and see. Otherwise, do Google on/with WWM re this issue, or read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm and the linked files above, where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner>

Micro bubbles returning from sump    5/2/06 Hello, thanks once again for your site... lots of great info!  I am setting up a 125gal reef tank with a 30 gal sump. I divided the sump into 3 compartments.   Water drains from the tank through a 2" bulkhead ( 2 90's and a 45 elbow and pipe) into the first chamber which houses an EV-180 powered by a mag 7. (tight space in here, nothing but the 2" return pipe, skimmer and mag 7 pump)   It then flows over, under, over 3 baffles into the center section (housing a Via-aqua 3600 return pump). Baffles are 1" apart (maybe a bit less) and center has 1" space under it.  The return plumbing has a T and a ball valve so I can send some of the water into the 3rd chamber (planning on using as a refugium). the reason I set it up this way was so I can run 8" water depth in the first chamber, let the return chamber fluctuate a bit with evaporation, and run 14" depth in the refugium ( planning on 5-6" aragonite and some live rock in the fuge) this seemed like a great setup but I'm having lots of bubbles making their way into the return chamber of the sump. If I open the ball valve all the way so most of the water is coming back into the sump and not being returned to the tank, then my bubble woes go away ( seems like not enough water flow returning to the tank though) <May have to increase this some other way...> Should I change my design and put the fuge in the middle and the return at the end (chamber 1 would then be 9", fuge would be 8" deep, and  return chamber would be 6-8 depending on evaporation). this would give the bubbles more time to pop before getting to the return chamber ( going through the fuge and another set of 3 baffles)...  but I'd lose some overall water volume in the fuge. <This is one approach... might want to experiment with a bit of mechanical media (large/r cell sponge, Dacron batting...) twixt the baffles as well... to see if this will solve the bubble issue... will have to be serviced often though> I'm also in the process of plumbing a Mag12 on a closed loop so total water turnover in the tank should not be too big of a concern) <Oh! Good...> Thanks again, Mike <All possibilities, plans sound good Mike. Bob Fenner> Re: micro bubbles returning from sump    5/2/06 Thanks so much for the reply... I'll try some batting in-between the baffles and see if that helps (I'm assuming I can get it at the pet store, anywhere else that would have it cheaper, like a fabric/sewing store?) <Ah, yes... the latter is best> Is my sump design flawed by having the return chamber so close to the raw water from tank/skimmer chamber? <Mmm, no...> One other question, the 2" drain pipe entering the sump has about a 13" vertical drop straight into the sump, is there a better way to have thee water enter the sump to help get rid of the bubbles? <A tee on the end may be of service here... as might a perforated "receiving chamber" that allows bubbles to coalesce...> I did put a 4" piece of PVC around it so it dumps into the 4" and then flows out the top, this seemed to help some, I need to cap the bottom of the 4" though so the bubbles are forced out the top and don't blow down and around the bottom, maybe putting a small piece of live rock in the bottom to keep it in place. Thanks again, Mike <Welcome. BobF> Re: micro bubbles returning from sump  - 5/2/2006 Putting a T at the end of the 2", so the water comes down and hits the T and has to go left or right? <Yes> If so, should that be partially or completely submerged? <Yes>   Would that be better than going straight into the 4" pipe? <Yes... but try both out and see for yourself...> My thinking is the 4" pipe would keep bubbles from going everywhere and force them up over the top and then flow over and drop into the sump with much less force than coming straight down into the sump. As far as the perforated collection chamber, would that be my 4" pipe but drilling a bunch of holes in it? Or capping the 2" on the bottom and perforating it profusely and leaving it in the 4" pipe? <... try it> Sorry for being so brain dead...  Thanks, Mike <No worries. Bob Fenner>

Bubble Woes/Stocking Plan - 03/08/06 Hi everybody, <<Greetings>> Just after comments on my stocking strategy & hopefully some ideas on a little problem if I may. <<Alrighty>> Setup- New system, 24" cube 200litres (50ish USG) with closed loop (3000lph) - been running IO saltwater (from RO/DI source) for about 1 week now, Miracle mud sump 23"x10"x12" (to Ecosystem design) - just mud in so far, returning around 2000lph to main tank.  No LR in tank yet or substrate - aiming for 20ish Kg.s LR & 1/2" CaribSea Fiji-Pink sand. <<Sounds like a plan.>> I've read the bubbles FAQ, most of the plumbing FAQ & much much more on WWM - I spend a great deal of time here! <<Me too <grin>.>> Many thanks as always. <<Welcome, as always.>> I ran the tank with fresh water in for over a week with no problems at all, however since filling with RO/DI & subsequently adding Instant Ocean (mixed in tank) I've had nothing but micro air bubbles running all through the system, I suspect that there is some suspended debris whizzing round the system as well but it seems to be mostly micro bubbles. <<Ok>> Pump return plumbing is 25mm (correct for pump) with overflow plumbing at 50mm.  I understand from the FAQ's that the main suspect should be the return plumbing and pin-hole leaks in the glued joints & I have eliminated this as a cause by rigging up flex hose to bypass all hard plumbing, with no lessening of the bubble creation. <<Hmm, okay...I would next look to see if bubbles in the sump are making their way to/being picked up by the return pump.>> I suspect that it is the overflow plumbing (50mm) where it dumps into the end of the sump, pipe runs from in-tank Durso, through bulkhead fitting, 45deg bend & into y-piece to exit vertically into sump - slightly underwater. <<Is the termination-end in the sump vertical?  If so, you may want to consider adding a 45 degree fitting to the end of the pipe to help with air entrainment.>> The first chamber is filled with submerged bio ball type media <<This can work, but would rather see live rock utilized here for its buffering capacity/greater bio-diversity.>> - blue drum shapes which are quite open & I am getting loads of bubble generation here which flow through the sump to be pulverized by the pump & returned to main tank to complete that loop once more. <<Aha!>> I was hoping the cause of this was just new plumbing or settling in or something however we are a week on with salt in & no  reduction in micro bubbles (which look horrible with halide on!) I guess it's not going to fix itself now! <<Mmm, indeed not.  You will have to install some sort of bubble trap/baffle system.  A Google search on our site re should provide ideas.>> I intend to get some more conventionally shaped bio balls in the hopes these will trap some of the bubbles - do you think this will help? (I doubt it will cure the problem for sure!) <<I don't see this making a difference.  You need to contrive some method of slowing the bubbles as they travel through the sump to give them a chance to "escape."  This is usually easily done with a series of baffles which won't allow the bubbles to travel to the pump once they rise to the water's surface.>> Adding extra baffles is not an option here due to the size of the sump, <<Uh oh>> however at a push I could fit another 23 1/2" long, no more than 10" wide & tall as I like (within reason) sump to take the overflow from the main tank - this entire length could settle the bubbles from the overflow with baffles at the end before overflowing into the sump as is. <<Ah yes!  You could even employ the first vessel as your refugium and then devote your entire sump to holding your equipment, chemical media, etc..>> This is quite drastic, involves replumbing & would just about fill the cabinet so is very much a last resort. <<Mmm...but sounds like your only option since you can't modify the "existing" sump.  Either this or reduce the flow through the sump and see if that makes a difference.>> Any ideas for bubbles caused by overflows dumping into sump that don't involve more baffles or a second sump upstream? <<Not other than greatly reducing flow (thus turbulence) through the sump.>> I'm getting quite despondent & depressed here! - I'll also try to get a pic of setup to you shortly.  Couple of points here - The salt was mixed in tank (I'll do it externally next time!) & has left some fine particles (which have formed a hard coating on the tank base) and some larger white grains/lumps which bob about - could this be connected in any way? <<I don't think so, no.>> Have I changed the salt blend in some way to be more prone to bubbling? <<No>> Doubtful I know but clearly even if not connected to the bubbling issues I want to start with chemically balanced salt water - is there any risk to proceeding with this water in terms of future livestock problems? <<Not likely...have you performed any water tests?>> Will my LR be OK added while these bubbles pervade?  Currently it is sitting in a trash can with a powerhead & I want to get it into the tank ideally as soon as possible - it was bought on Sunday cured. <<It's probably a fine point, but I would leave the rock where it is until you resolve the micro-bubble issue.>> I have already caught a few very small crabs in this LR (Indonesian - about 18/19kg) should I try to bait any more out by laying on raised egg crate in the main tank (when bubbles/your advice permits) is this worth doing? <<Unless this is how you plan to install the rock, no, I wouldn't bother with this.>> Right, onto the stocking plan (which will certainly wait till the bubbles are fixed), <<And the tank has cycled/matured a bit hopefully!>> which will cheer me up thinking about!.  I plan to introduce slowly & quarantine in the following order - your comments/suggestions/warnings would be most welcome - <<Is my pleasure to provide.>> Cleanups for main tank - 15 or so Nassarius Snails, 5-ish Turbo's from existing tank, maybe a few Ceriths if I can find any. Would a crew for the mud sump be beneficial? <<Not if it involves macro-crustaceans (crabs/shrimp)...defeats the purpose of the refugium in my opinion.>> If so what critters/numbers would you advise? <<If anything, a detritivore kit from one of the e-tailers offering such...but is likely the mud will populate from the live rock just fine.>> 2 or 3 Banggai Cardinals, 3 Blue Green Chromis (is there a difference between blue, blue/green & green Chromis? I have seen all offered & want the most chilled I can get!), <<Yes, though Chromis viridis is often called/sold by all three of these common names.>> 2 black & white Clowns (in my existing tank currently) - these may end up going in first or possibly residing in the sump for a while due to logistics, 1 Orchid Dottyback, 1 Flame, Potters or Coral Beauty Angel (I guess you're gonna recommend the Flame?) <<Yuh huh>> That's probably it for the fish plan, still working on the coral list! <<That pretty much fills you up.  I would like to suggest that you skip the Dottyback...aside from your stocking density, I'm a bit worried about aggression in this size/stocked system.>> Should I stock corals or fish first or does it make little difference? <<Ideally...the tank would sit empty of both for 6-12 months, allowing the biota from the rock to develop.  Then...were it me...corals before fish.>> Hoping for a cure for the micro bubbles. <<I think you know what has to be done...>> Cheers, Chris <<Be chatting, EricR>>

Mag Drive 1200 in my 54 Gallon Corner Tank 10/13/05 I have a 23" deep 54 Gallon FOWLR tank. I have 1 Yellow Tang, 4 Green Chromis, 4 Convict Blennies, 1 Black Star Damsel, 1 Maroon Clown, <Too much fish life...> 4 Turbo Snails and 1 Cleaner Shrimp. I have 55lbs of live rock. The bottom of the tank has cutouts for the plumbing. This is placed inside the corner overflow. The intake bulkhead fitting is 1.25 inch and the output that spills into the trickle filter is 1.5 inches diameter. I recently upgraded to a Mag drive 1200 pump to circulate the tank. <The "intake" can't accommodate this pump's full flow> The pump is 2 feet under the tank in a sump and pumps about 1200 Gallons an hour when using 1.5 inch inner diameter tubing. I'm using 3/4" inner diameter tubing from the pump to my tank. <Not a good idea to downsize the discharge diameter from that of the size of the pump's volute> The nozzle is pointed at the middle of the curved glass front causing the water to disperse evenly on both sides. I also have 2 Maxi Jets 900 pointed at each other on each side of the tank. Is the 1200 too much for my tank. <Yes, in the current plumbing arrangement> The fish are not getting blown around or anything. My one problem is the tank is full of tiny micro air bubbles. They are being released directly in the stream of water coming from the sump. The pump is completely submerged and is not sucking in air. <... so... where is the air coming from? A leak in the discharge side's plumbing? You should find... and fix> Is this normal and is there anything I can do to decrease the air bubbles. <Not "normal" as in healthy... can be fixed... > It makes my tank look cloudy and they stick to everything. <And can be dangerous... emphysematosis... > The Mag drive shares the sump with an AquaC Urchin protein skimmer. Shutting it off has no effect on the micro air bubbles being delivered by the Mag drive pump. Thanks, Wayne <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm and the linked files above... quite a task, but necessary, to review what your situation is, options. Bob Fenner>

Bubbles in overflow  9/26/05 Hello, I have a 55 gallon reef tank with a small refugium below.  Until I get a drilled tank, I am using an overflow box.  At times the water flowing in the grooves of the overflow cause a lot of bubbles to accumulate, ultimately in the apex of the U tubes.  Which we both know is a bad thing.  The size of the box just allows me to fit 2 u tubes for a little peace of mind.  I have tried the drill the hole in the top of the tube and attach it to a venturi nozzle of a powerhead method, but had numerous problems.  Something would always clog.  At times there are no bubbles.  I cant determine the variable of when it bubbles vs. not.  When the water is not causing bubbles when it overflows it works perfectly.  How can I stop them or find out what causes them? <Corey, if you are using any additives like Stress Coat etc, this will cause bubbles/foaming.  The biggest problem with "U" tubes is that they are not sized correctly.  Too large a tube results in low water movement giving bubbles a chance to built up in the top part of the tube.  Using a tube just large enough to prevent the overflow box from draining is recommended.  This results in a high water velocity through the tube which helps prevent the bubbles from being trapped and resulting in siphon loss.  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for your time, Corey

Mega bubbles 8/23/05 Ok first off awesome site.  Your site has helped me out countless times and saved me a hundred other times.  Ok here is my main situation at the moment.  I currently have a 65 gallon all glass aquarium with mega overflow.  My issue is with the standpipe.  When the water exits my aquarium through the standpipe and into my sump I get massive and I mean massive amounts of bubbles.  I can change the plumbing if I need to I currently have it making a straight shot down from the standpipe into my sump and the outlet is about 2 inches under the water.  I talked to Rich Durso <Good> and he told me to contact all glass and I did as he said and they never bothered to get back to me. <Poor>   I feel that the massive amounts of bubbles may be hurting my skimmer but more so its just annoying and the splash and spray goes everywhere. <Yes>   My tank other then this issue is running great just for specs I have around 140 Lbs of live rock, 3-4 inches oolitic <Better than illicit> sand, 700 gph on my return to the tank plus three powerheads to keep the water moving really good,  and tons of softies and hermits and snails and what not. I just recently had to move the tank so my fish are in my other tank at the moment.  Thanks for any help you can offer and as I said awesome site. <Mmm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaq2.htm and the linked files above, where you lead yourself... You have a few options... aspirating the discharge "mega" line/s, venting the discharge in your sump, coalescing the bubbles with an (Emperor Aquatics or similar) bag, building some baffles... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Stephen

Tank flow from Overflow ... not so "reef-ready" tanks 8/11/05 Ok I have read all over your site about micro bubbles and problems of the such, but my problem isn't exactly in that reading and I don't know where else to turn.  I have an Oceanic 75 gal with built in overflow and oceanic overflow kit.  The line to the 38 gal sump is 1" tubing <Too small...> that goes directly into the compartment that contains the skimmer (ASM G1).  There are three baffles, which flow into a refugium and then finally over one last baffle to the return pump (a Mag 9.5) that returns the water through a 3/4" line with a ball valve and then to a T joint to both corners of the tank.  I cannot get a steady flow of water through the line to the sump.  It constantly takes in a lot of water mixed with small air bubbles and at times very large air bubbles. <... yes> I called the LFS and they said I should be getting a steady flow through my overflow to my sump with the setup I have with or without the ball valve. <... no> I have tried to move the standpipe up and down, add a small piece of air line tubing 3/4 the way down to the sump, and play with the ball valve. <... won't work> None of these have worked and I am out of answers.  Is this a common problem or are there any solutions that I am not using. Thanks Erik <Is a very common problem... with most all so-called "reef ready" tanks/kits... the through-puts (holes...) are too small and too few... You need a larger drain line... practically speaking 1 1/2 or two inch inside diameter... two would be better than one... Yes... requiring draining the tank... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/overfloboxfaqs.htm and the linked files (till you understand) above. Bob Fenner>

Bubble question Hello, Thank you in advance for you help. I have a 1" hose running into my refugium under my main display tank from my built in overflow.  The problem is that I am getting a lot of bubbles coming into my refugium from this hose.  I am using a stockman down pipe that I bought from his web site and I made sure that the hose is going down into my refugium at a gradual down sloping angle.  I have read on your web site to put in a "T" or "L" in the inlet hose somewhere to help reduce bubbles, is that right? <Mmm, might... but I would add a "sock" here... as well. Look at the mighty fine ones offered by Emperor Aquatics...> Could you explain to me where to put a "T" or "L" into the hose to help reduce bubbles. <At the distal end... under water, in the refugium...>    To help keep the bubbles from getting back into my tank I am using the filter foam that goes over the intake of the Mag 5 pump that I bought for my return, <Good> I also put a filter sock over the foam of the intake of the Mag 5 pump. <Mmm... no, not a good idea... this is a centrifugal type pump... pushes... doesn't pull... need to have some screen on the intake side, but the real restriction should be on the discharge... the end>   However I am still getting little bubbles into my main tank.  If there was a way I could limit the bubbles getting into my refugium I think this would help greatly. Thank you very much. Jeremy <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm and the linked files above. RMF>

Bubbles in tank (for Brad) Hey Jason. <<Greetings.>> I have been reading the daily FAQs every day and noticed that Brad was having trouble with all those bubbles spitting back into the tank. I have a 125 All-Glass with dual overflows and had the same problem to begin with. I should be able to turn over 1200-1400 GPH. I am using a Iwaki MD30RLXT, which ends up being about 950 GPH at 4'split between the two. The problem ends up being that since I'm not filling the drain pipes up with 1400 GPH of water, it sucks in a lot of air, which ends up as bubbles in the sump. My sump is 55 gal, 4' long, and still had a problem. I thought those white floating things should have been made to adjust the amount of air flow into the plumbing. Anyway, I'll tell you what I did to fix the problem. I have ball valves on all the plumbing supply and return lines under the tank. If you restrict the flow from the tank (the 1" in the overflow) instead of throttling down your pump, it will take care of most of the bubbles. In essence, what you would be doing is throttling down your overflow to only handle what the return pump will supply it. Obviously, you would want to leave some slack in case something were to get sucked into the drain pipes. But with the All-Glass prefilters on the standpipes, I personally don't think there's much to worry about. What this does is allows your overflows to fill with a little more water. This will cause the white floating thing to rise more that normal because the water is not as free flowing as when it was wide open. I'm sure some people will not agree with this because it is restricting the flow from the tank. I just see it as matching up the standpipe capacity to the pump output. I have been running my set-up like this for about 10 months with no problems. I don't have any bubbles returning to my tank, and I'm running my Iwaki at full throttle. I also have a closed loop in the tank with another Iwaki MD30RLXT for more circulation. Hope this helps! <<we will see - will post in the usual style and we'll hope he's reading/keeping up.>>
<Better to add more overflow capacity. RMF> Jason <<Ahh... Cheers to you. J -- >>

Troubled By Bubbles! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I have spent many hours reading over the articles on your site before plunging into the world of reef keeping, its a great resource. <So glad that you enjoy the site! We're glad that you enjoy it! We sure have a great time bringing it to you!> I am setting up a 75gallon tank with 20 gallon sump/refugium. I built a DIY overflow using the Durso standpipe design to reduce noise, it works great with one problem (that I know about). I am getting a huge amount of air going from the overflow to the sump. The large bubbles aren't a problem as they just stay on the surface but the microbubbles are entering the mag 9.5 return pump and pouring into my display tank. They look almost like dust and make visibility terrible as well as possibly causing problems when I decide to put fish or corals in the tank. <They definitely can be a problem...We need to find the cause and eliminate it, or at least, create some sort of barrier to keep these bubbles out of the tank> This happens even when I am not running my Berlin style airlift skimmer. I hardly ever have it on as I have nothing in the tank yet. I have one baffle in the sump to prevent sand from my DSB entering my return pump. Would putting in more baffles or removing the deep sand bed in the sump help? <I'd recommend the idea of additional baffles, or perhaps a sponge to help "absorb" them> Could I put foam around the return pump to cut down on bubbles? <I'd give that a shot, myself> I have just put in my live rock and sand but have nothing else yet so this would be a good time for any major changes. I know it can cause gas exchange problems in fish but don't know if it causes problems with corals or inverts. It also causes bubbles to collect on the walls and plumbing. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks <As we both have concluded, constructing some sort of baffle is really the best way to deal with the existing bubbles. As far as tracking down the source of the bubbles- I'd check all connections on your plumbing. You can use the old trick of some soapy water placed over the connections to see if you have a good seal. Hopefully, with a little diligent detective work, you can find the source of the microbubbles and eliminate them. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Micro bubbles from closed loop 10/7/03 Dear Reefers, <I prefer it in brownies instead, if you must know. Mmmmm... brownies> Firstly a big thank you to Anthony and Robert ( not to mention Messrs Gonzalez ) <ahhh, Messr.. and Madame Gonzalez <G>.> for penning Reef Invertebrates. I have just finished reading, and it is a 5 star book with no equal in its field. <an outstanding compliment taken with thanks. Please do tell a friend :)> Please help me with a problem relating to micro bubbles. I am nearly there with my set up but have hit a dead stop again and am running out of steam. <microbubbles are a common problem... if you have the energy, it has be writ about at great length in the archives here at wetwebmedia.com> I have a 90 US Gal tank with a 7" square corner overflow box, bottom drilled to take one 1" and one 3/4" connector. The 1" drains a modified ( to optimize siphon effect) Durso which comfortably balances an Aquamedic Ocean Runner 6500 ( i.e. 1,670 USG/h nominal - excellent pump) from the second of 2 daisy chained sumps. The return is via 1" hose teeing to a 1/2" pipe work loop round the top of the tank with 8 x 1/2" mid water nozzles and 2 bottom spray bars. This all works very well, but there is not quite enough turbulence.  In your pbfaq9mar.htm - item headed Closed Loop System - you advise in response to a question " Would it be possible to place the intake [for a closed loop circulation pump] in the overflow box" answer  "< Ideal as long as the box itself can handle the flow>". I have therefore followed this advice and plumbed the 3/4" overflow box connector ( with a short stub and inlet screen inside box ) via 1" hose to a Dupla Turbo 5A pump ( 82w, 620 USG/h nominal, 2600 rpm, 14 feet max head ) and fed this into the other end of the same return loop. <interesting/good> This now provides the necessary turbulence/circulation, as far as I can tell. However, the Dupla is creating micro bubbles - so I have come to a dead stop again. <understood... the (overflow) well is too shallow and we need to baffle the bubbles. It could be as simple as installing an inline coarse prefilter (like a tube cartridge with a foam block) and only need to compromise with the additional servicing (monthly/quarterly?) of this media> The Dupla is the source as I can hear the characteristic snapping sound from the impeller housing, and no it's not venturi effect. <understood> Unfortunately, the overflow box is black glass, so I cannot see whether bubbles are being sucked down into the inlet. <seems likely... else it is an aspirating breach (pinhole) on the pump housing or intake plumbing (unlikely)> The overflow seems to work fine and I have tried adjusting the Durso to bring the box water level up to the tank level and avoid bubbles being created, and I have covered the outlet with a 2" dia. pipe and cap, to draw water from nearer the bottom, but with no effect.  Is it possible to pull bubble free water from the bottom of my overflow box handling this flow rate? <yes... as described above with a coarse prefilter... Or... you can even plumb the prefilter on the outflow side of it all (in a place that is easier to service)> The Dupla only has a 3/4" inlet connector. I have used 1" hose (4 feet) to connect to the box outlet, with one 90 degree bend. Which is the more likely cause of the bubbles, the pump cavitating, or bubbles entering from the overflow box? <in this case... I'll put my money on overflow influx> If the former is it worth trying a restriction valve on the return hose from the Dupla? <an inexpensive option to try indeed... use a gate valve if you do> If the latter, is it practical to make an in line vessel to vent any bubbles without losing the head - i.e. by venting at tank level? <complicated... some flow will be lost indeed as per above res> If neither is possible, do I have to run the 3/4" outlet into the sump and use a second sump outlet to feed the Dupla? <not ideal> This would mean pumping against a 4 foot head, which I was specifically trying to avoid by using a closed loop. Given the choice, is pumping against a 4 foot head more or less efficient than restricting the output in a closed loop? <I cannot say without seeing/working with it> Finally, in general is there a better way to set up a circulation loop using an external pump to enhance flow/turbulence but at the same time avoiding micro bubbles or risk to the inhabitants from intakes? Many thanks, Eric Brightwell FZSL <the simple closed loop manifold works well and easily with properly sized sumps. The problem for most aquarists is that their sumps, overflows and refugiums alike are grossly undersized. Public aquariums for all of their success with fish longevity can ascribe much of it to stability in the standard of having as much water behind the scenes as on display. Does this mean that aquarists need a 100 gall sump for their 100 gallon tank - no. But it does mean that a 20 gallon sump is too small/turbulent. In this case, your problem is not that your overflow box is too small/turbulent (or  rather... it is a by-product of the real problem... which is that the sump is not large enough and/or the drilled overflow holes are not large/numerous enough to handle a single and proper large return pump to single power the manifold. It sounds like the modifications you'll need to make here though are minor. No worries! Anthony>

- Someone Call Don Ho - HELP.. this would be the 1st time I have asked for your help - I have the nightly ritual of reading your Q&As and website and can usually answer my questions and solve my problems from that... but I can't seem to tackle this problem and you guys and gals are a wealth of information! I have recently set up a 125 gallon FOWLR tank with a 75+/- sump (15 gallons attached fresh water holding) - both custom acrylic - with bits and pieces designed by your website... I am migrating over from a 55 gallon FOWLR that was set up about 9 months ago.... I learned my lesson with the Tenecor "all in one" setup quickly!!  The new tank has a coast to coast overflow with (2) 2" overflows and a corner holding reservoir that dips down the tank about 3/4  for the huge overflow - a slanted "Y" plumbing that enters the 1st chamber of the sump - over live rock and rubble (there is about 90lbs of live rock and 5-5 1/2" of live sand in the display and about 10 lbs in the sump) the raw water exits thru a wall with (4) 1.5" holes - the wall is about 3/4 the height of the sump for overflow... into the large skimmer/heater chamber (EV 180 - mag 7) over a 3" baffle to a filter media area and under a wall with a 1.5" open bottom to the return pump holding area - Dolphin AmpMaster 3000 - I increased the return plumbing to 2" straight up to 1.5" bulkhead with only 1 elbow  to the 1" return manifold with 6 loc-line segments each with 3/4" dual spray nozzles. I am fighting massive amounts of micro bubbles in the display originating from rush of water from the overflow (single 2" flex braided PVC)... I have done the following... 1) checked for air leaks in all plumbing and at the return pump - nothing - all good.. no Venturi action from the pump. 2) gated down the overflow to reduce water pressure entering sump.... restricted the pump  - too much fluctuation between overflow siphoning and pump - drilled 2 small holes on the outflowing elbows to reduce air siphon and noise - works great - but can't restrict to much pressure at the gate valve or it will leak out holes... 3) added poly-filter, sponges, sock of crushed coral in the filter media area to diffuse bubbles.... - bubbles still coming thru. 4) added more live rock to 1st chamber to diffuse bubbles - made it worse 5) added pre-filter tray to 1st chamber - clogged filter quickly, foamed, overflowed and restricts pump 6) extended plumbing to 3" below water level when entering sump, added filter bag to the end... nothing 7)just drilled many holes about the size of a pencil from the sump water level down to the end of the flexible tube to release the  water - drilled small pinholes above water level in sump to release air 8) last resort... I added a few of the bio-balls that I had in my old tank ( still up and running - my QT tank) completely submerged on top of the live rock/rubble - I was told that these can act as diffusers for the bubbles in the sump - I didn't want to use them - but if it would work, I was going to try. the water enters down - about 1-1.5" off the bottom - then up thru live rock and then the bio balls - bounces down thru the 4 holes in the wall.... I tried a drip tray and sponges everywhere.... I was told by Jason K at Aqua C that the skimmer does produce micro bubbles the first few weeks of operating  - but I have been fighting this for about 4 weeks now - and it is not coming from the skimmer.... Still have micro bubbles in the display - any ideas of what to do next?? Your input would be much appreciated!! I just want this hurdle to be over with. It has been nothing but hurdles setting this tank up - but I think this would be the last one in the race. Thanks again for your time. Michelle <Well... it's my guess that this problem is exacerbated by the high flow you have in your circulation loop. It's not the overflows per se, but the amount of water flowing through them. I personally try to get as much circulation going in the tank via powerheads as I do via the return pump rather than trying to accomplish all with one pump. Jacking up the size of the return pump really just puts bulk quantities of water into circulation and a large(r) sump with many baffles would probably be the only way to address this short of throttling back the Ampmaster. Hope that helps. Cheers, J -- >

- Someone Call Don Ho, Follow-up - Sorry, I was time pressured when I responded... Thanks - I had a feeling that more baffles would be needed.... right after I wrote to you, I added a baffle wall with 1" ground clearance right after the 1st chamber and then a bubble trap right after the skimmer and before the return pump. An over, under, over and then under to the return chamber. The baffles are spaced 1" apart with the center wall with a ground clearance of 1" . It seems to be helping - I think I will just wait until the insides of the plumbing and tank is coated with algae and film. Maybe that might help some... I have been messing with the plumbing and sump for so long that nothing has been able to grow. My first hurdle was with the return pump not able to push the volume of water I needed for the return manifold and the 3' spray bar. It was restricted with the 1.5" reducing to the 1" just before the bulkhead - at the elbow. I had to increase the size of plumbing. Now the flow is perfect - not a hurricane for the fish - just enough to create movement in the tank and loosely blow out the sand junk. If I do have to restrict the pump I am considering the dolphin pre-filter assembly as a last resort - I had a couple of sea-swirls on my last tank - they worked great - but I didn't want any external powerheads on this one. The return manifold with 7 loc-line tees - "y" with 2 segments and a nozzle on each along with the spray bar have good circulation with the coast to coast overflow skimming the surface from the rear have an excellent turn-over, debris removal with no turbulence... but nothing can be simple as that... the bubbles, although still there, are fewer than before and just may dissipate over time - hopefully!! <Results are most often the end product of choices made.> Thanks again and keep up the good work - you guys are great!! Michelle
<Cheers, J -- >

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