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FAQs about Circulation in Marine Systems 2

Related Articles: Circulation, Submersible Pump Selection, Efficiency and Price Assessments by Steven Pro, Inexpensive Wavemaker Impressions, by Steven Pro, Plumbing Marine Systems, Holes & Drilling, Aeration, Water Flow, How Much is Enough, Powerhead Impressions by Steven Pro, Marine System ComponentsRefugiums, Central FiltrationFlow-through Live-holding Systems, Refugiums, Business Set-Up

Related FAQs: Marine Circulation 1, Marine Circulation 3, Marine Circulation 4, Marine Circulation 5, Marine Circulation 6, Marine Circulation 7, Marine Circulation 8, Marine Circulation 9 & FAQs on: Rationale, Designs, Pumps, Plumbing, What's About the Right Amount, Troubleshooting/Repair, & AerationPumps, PlumbingMake Up Water Systems, Sumps RefugiumsGear Selection for Circulation, Powerheads, Pump ProblemsSurge Devices

Bank of RK2 Pumps at Pacific Aqua Farms in Los Angeles.

Bulkhead Drilling Hello Steven, Recently I bought a used 100 gallon acrylic tank and my intention is to make it FOWLR. Right now it has one corner over flow with a 1 inch bulkhead at the bottom of the tank. From what I've been reading (FAQ's from www.wetwebmedia.com), your suggestion was to increase water turning rate meaning drilling more bulkheads. <Correct> Would you please let me know what's the good turning rate for my tank and how many more bulkheads should I drill to accomplish that rate. <This depends on what in particular you wish to keep, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-20 times the tank volume per hour. I would use at least three 1" bulkheads in a 100.> Also the suggest location of bulkheads (important). BTW, I'm using plenum so I prefer not to drill at bottom. <I drill most of my holes near the top. You can see a very nice diagram excerpted out of Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation" here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm> As always, thank you very much for your help and advise. Regards, Dung Ngo <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Flow in a reef tank Hi, I'm assuming the best way to do this would be to split the return with an adapter from the pump to opposite ends of the tank? <or with a manifold that has 4-6 nozzles (adjustable or on a complete loop to even volume per nozzle)> Does it make a difference if I split return close to the return pump or wait longer?  <I'd wait for the tee or manifold tee at the top of the display> And if I am using 3/4 inch return tubing for one line, should they both be split at 3/4 or two at 1/2 inch each?  <requires some experimentation... all dependant on pump volume at head> Thanks for all your help thus far--it has been great! Keep up the great job! Mike <thanks kindly, Anthony>

Flow in a reef tank Hi Again, Should the current in a reef tank (75 gallon) be clockwise or counter-clockwise? Does it make a difference? Thanks, Mike <neither are favorable... random turbulent flow or surge flow is best. Have opposing outlets converge upon each other for a nice random dynamic pattern (as in back left and back right discharge aimed to opposing front left and front left corners). For a 75 gallon reef tank you will need a minimum of 800 gph water flow... likely though that will not be enough for most species. Aim for 200o-3000gph for most tanks (more for sps corals and gorgonians). Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Built In Overflow Hi, Do you think a corner overflow unit in one of these aquariums (rated at 500 GPH) could still work if combined with one or two powerheads rated at 200-300 GPH to make up the difference?  <Yowsa... actually dangerous to do... really impossible in fact. The return pump couldn't possibly me matched exactly tot he combined gravity and PH supplied feed. Not consistent, reliable or easily calc'ed. You will either overflow your tank or burn a pump out within weeks/months if not days> Or should the "filtering/sump" actually turnover the entire 800-900 GPH in a 75 gallon reef tank?  <in a reef tank... the elimination or reduction is ideal. High flow is critical for long term success and the prevention of nuisance algae, etc. A large single return pump is the professional and proper way to do it> I'm thinking about purchasing a new 75 with the one corner overflow, but want to make sure water circulation is nice and brisk. <it would be much better to have this or another tank drilled simply with enough holes. I have a 50 gallon that has four 1" holes that can barely keep up with a 1100GPH pump. And that was not enough flow for my corals... I still had to add 2 powerheads> Thanks, Mike <best regards, Anthony>

Plumbing question Hello, since the day I found it I have read your forum on a regular basis. Great info!  <outstanding... please pass along a good word :)> I am setting up the plumbing for a 135 gallon reef and would like to plan ahead in case I need a chiller in the future. Where is the ideal place for a chiller?  <if in the same room... it should be mounted near the ceiling to keep the considerable heat produced away... but ideally it should be in the next room or room downstairs... NEVER in a confined space (closet, under tank, etc)... always well circulated air around it. Flow through styles are best... drop in probes are a waste of money> Should I just take water from the sump, pump it through the chiller and back to the sump or could I use the skimmer's pump and run the water through the chiller before the skimmer?  <any dedicated pump will be fine.. prefiltered water is best... never gravity fed> Or what about T'ing the main return pump having part of the return water go through the chiller and back to the sump?  <likely fine> I will be using an IWAKI 100RLT as a return pump.  <fine pump> I plan to also drill overflows in the back of the tank and I am almost positive a source was named for inexpensive glass drill bits in one of your posts...but I can't find it now!!. I need to drill 4 holes in 0.5 inch glass for 1.5 inch bulkheads.  <excellent> Do you happen to have this source stored in your biological or mechanical computer? <alas... I do not recall, but simply use a specific keyword search on the index page with google but check the "search WWM" bullet. Best regards, Anthony>

Tank Overheating Bob & Crew, <cheers> I just finished going through your FAQ's on pumps and was wondering if there are any pumps less prone to heating the water?  <for starters, externals are less prone than submersibles> I just finished my 180 gallon tank and can't keep the temp unless and my chiller runs almost continually. <hmmm... you have bigger problems then... the pump choice alone is not going to make or break this situation. Do you use powerheads as well? They are horrible for adding heat to the water. A well designed reef has no powerheads ideally... just a large overflow system, a large external return pump and an adjustable manifold system to distribute and tweak water flowing into the tank> My pumps are from Little Giant: 2) 5-MDQX-SC returns from sump 1) 4-MDQX-SC closed loop reticulation 1) Mag 5 skimmer <this brand has been around for a while but their pumps don't have the same reputation (longevity). Still... they are less expensive than a super engineered pump (German Oases for example)> Little Giants claims low heat exchange in their adds. <hmm... do check the message boards regarding this... I don't want to be the only dissenting voice :)> Thank as always for your time and input, Mark Johnson <with kind regards, Anthony>

Re: Tank Overheating Anthony, Thanks for the reply, I know your inundated with questions.  <still our pleasure> I don't have any powerheads in my system.  <excellent> It does have a close loop re-circulation system with a separate pump. I also install 2 slightly smaller return pumps instead of 1 larger pump. My local LFS recommended Little Giant and since the used tank I purchased had 1 new Little Giant, I just matched the existing.  <they really don't have a great reputation for longevity in seawater> After many phone calls and much research, it seems that these pumps are somewhat known for excessive heat transfer,  <oh, ya!> by some accounts as much as 3-4 degrees per pump. Multiply that times 3 pumps, that adds up to a lot of heat going into your system. I did order a Dolphin Amp Master 3000 to replace my return pumps.  <I haven't used the Ampmaster but have heard very good things about it being very efficient and running quiet> I just hope people read this and don't make the same costly mistake I made. <thank you for sharing... it will be posted> Thanks for your help and insight, Mark Johnson <best regards... (and yes... 3hrs later, still doing e-mail :) )Anthony>

Powerheads vs. Water pumps Hi, thanks for your comments on my 75 gallon eel, trigger, and lion tank with nitrite spikes. (remember Tetratec and Prizm filters) <Vaguely> I'm going to follow your first recommendation and get more water movement via powerheads. Just one question, is there any advantages/disadvantages to using two Rio 1400 pumps vs. two Aquaclear 802 powerheads? <I am partial to the Hagen powerheads.> I can get the Rio pumps about $5 cheaper each, and both the Rio and Aquaclear are rated at 400 gph. Thank you as always, Jack <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Water flow Hi Bob & everyone: <cheers> I have 2 questions about my 60 gallon reef tank. The first one is about water flow. I have a Fluval pump filter circulation of 225 gallons per hour. The Fluval is theoretically for a 100 gallon tank. I have one of those "bubbler" things that I plug in that looks like a waterfall. <still not enough water flow for this tank by itself... 4 to 10X tank volume per hour please> I have about 2and 1/2" inches substrate - broken coral, shells, etc. and it really gets dirty under there. <because it is too course. Weekly siphoning is needed with this type of media> I also have a CPR backpack which is very effective for 6 fish, crabs, live rock, etc., but I feel that the substrate should get more aerated.  <agreed> I stir it up every couple of days and worry that the dust that comes out of it will make my fish sick, if not now, later. <not to worry about> Should I make the switch to aragonite or could a use a powerhead or two to get water circulating through the substrate?  <you need MUCH more water flow here please> If I put a powerhead in there, how powerful should it be.  <two pumps 300gph or bigger would be very nice for this marine tank> I just bought one which circulates 40 gallons per hour and that just doesn't seem to be nearly enough .  <agreed> It is a Rio 50. I should add that my fish are small, so I don't want to blow them out of the tank, either. <pump size does not do this... improper direction does. Place the 2 PH in opposition so they converge for random turbulent flow rather than sever linear/laminar flow> I am down to 2 mithrax crabs now and am happy to know, thanks to you all, that they don't start eating fish until their bodies are 2" across. As ever, thanks for all your help!! Connie Cavan <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Upgrading to Reef Hey, I've been giving your idea of building a sump some serious thought and had a few questions. First, does the pump for the skimmer need to be rated the same as the regular pump (if I bought a water pump rated at 375 GPH, doesn't the skimmer need the same so water is leaving and entering the main tank at the same rate)?  <nope...they are entirely unrelated. The skimmer sitting inside of a skimmer box that sits in the sump (or anywhere else for that matter) operates on a closed loop with its own dedicated pump. Two pumps never could or should be made to balance each other... even same brand/models have variations or one can clog. That application would be a recipe for disaster> Secondly, does it matter if the pump is outside the sump or is one that is submersible inside the sump as good?  <external pumps are generally better made pumps and contribute less heat to the water. Internals are necessarily mag drives, impart heat, do not work against head as well, but usually are a little less expensive to run> I was thinking about picking up a Rio pump rated at about 460 GPH--is the reef formula the same as a regular tank--water being turned over 5 times the volume of the tank? <reef systems need much more flow. Aim for 10X turnover and understand that even that may not be enough to satisfy some invertebrates (depends on what you choose). Remember too that a drilled overflow for a large pump will require 4 or more 1" holes. Most tanks are flawed with one or two 1" overflow holes. Never use siphon overflows please)> I'm sure I'll think of more later! Thanks for all your help! Mike <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Upgrading to Reef Hi, OK, as far as the pumps go, I'm thinking more along the lines of a Mag Drive rated at 700 GPH--sound good? <by common rule of measure it sounds like it is in the ballpark but once you rockscape the tank and start picking coral you may find that it is not enough. I have a 50 gallon aquarium run by a Mag 1100 and supplemented by 2 additional powerheads!> Next, what would be a good skimmer pump than to go with that? 100 GPH? Not sure what I should aim for here.  <I really don't understand your question about a "skimmer pump" my friend. A commercial skimmer comes with its own pump or recommendation for one, an extra is not needed. You are simply sitting a sump skimmer in an overflow box that sits inside of the sump (or has a sealed dam doing the same thing). The skimmer box catches all gravity overflow water which overflows in turn into the sump proper to be carried back up to the main display by a single return pump. In cases like this, the location of a good local aquarium society is so helpful to find local members for fellowship to show you the ropes in person with their own tanks. What city are you from? Perhaps we can recommend a helpful regional club> As far as the overflow, you are suggesting not to use an siphon overflow box?  <Correct... they are never foolproof and inevitably fail... if not in the 1-year picture, at least the 3 year picture... few people escape without a disaster> That would mean I'd have to drill holes into my 75 gallon main tank, right? Four of them at one-inch apiece all with bulkheads?  <correct... this is the most reliable way> I'd probably have someone with more "mechanical" expertise (and the right tools!) do this.  <exactly... local aquarium society, LFS or aq service personnel> How far about should the four holes be?  <let the driller decide after seeing your tank, bud> And all the tubing leading from them would be controlled by one pump, or does the water just flow down by use of gravity  <correct> (and does all this water first enter an overflow box, or go straight into the sump)?  <straight into the sump is preferred... into the skimmer box specifically or into the skimmer if the model allows (like the Turboflotor)> Sorry for all the questions, but I'm learning a lot! Thanks, Mike <best regards, Anthony>

Circulation & Crab Good Day 'O' Great Ones... <Holy cow... Wayne Gretsky joined the WWM crew. I didn't even know he liked aquariums!> Two questions for you today - firstly, I have attached my old email as a reference if needed for reference... I have been cycling my live rock for close to 3 months now and am continuously getting debris collecting on the bottom of the tank -  <interesting... the rock is surely cured by now (zero ammonia and nitrite, yes?)> I still have not put the sand in because I was waiting for the detritus collection to diminish.  <may be natural from a healthy microfauna... to be tempered in main display by very good circulation and protein skimming as expected> I believe I have adequate flow in the tank however your previous note suggested to have enough flow in the tank to prevent detritus from settling/accumulating... so, I am concerned. In your opinion would the addition of supplemental pumps or powerheads in the display be the way to go?  <or a larger sump return if the overflows will handle it, yes> As suggested in the previous note I was trying to avoid this... Or when doing the water changes should I just siphon from the bottom of the tank?  <helpful but not enough... add the powerheads if necessary for daily circulation... more is usually better> My second question: I believe I have a Cancer antennarius crab which is now in my sump - not knowing if this crab would cause more benefit than good I though I would play it safe until I could get direction from you.  <More harm than good!> I have read through your section on crabs but it did not go into much detail.  <we have a large section on crabs in our next book Reef Invertebrates (pre-sales September for March 2003 delivery or sooner)> In the tank so far I have an umbrella coral, colt coral, a selection of polyps and plan to add the standard selection of reef fish - tangs, angels, clowns, etc. at a very slow pace once I have worked out the bugs of the system. <no place for crabs in most reef tanks... too omnivorous if not carnivorous> Many thanks for your dedication to this hobby - you allow me to go into great debt investing in this hobby with confidence. :) Mike <thanks kindly, Anthony>

Marine set-up query Hi Anthony <cheers> Sorry, one last thing. I checked my 2ft tank for fit in my 4ft cabinet last night and had bit of a thought upon seeing the sump and Fluval 404 together. Could I run the 404 intake hose from the sump and use it to pump the sump water back up to the tank ? <no my friend. This great little filter was not designed to handle that sort of head pressure. You will need a dedicated pump for the purpose><<Mmm, actually... with the lines filled... it really doesn't matter how far the canister filter is situated below the tank... the pressure in/out will be about equal. RMF>> Cheers, Scott <kindly, Anthony>

Re: Closed Loop Circulation Questions Good day crew -- Yesterday I plumbed the closed loop system -- what a disaster!! First the good new -- no leaks from my bulkhead or the rest of the plumbing configuration. Now the bad news -- 1) Warning re: Oase pumps -- the Oase Nautilus pump is designed for submerged applications. To convert it for external use they sell an "in-line kit" of very poor design. There are no instructions with the kit and there is a PVC part that appears superfluous (even the Oase tech person I spoke to had no idea what it was for). The metal converter coupling merely slips into the intake inlet and leaks like crazy. Good thing I plumbed in valves and unions on both sides of the pump. I now plan to purchase an Iwaki pump. For a 100 gal closed loop do you recommend a particular model? <Get whichever one gives you the gph you desire.> 2) I plumbed the system with one 1" bulkhead intake (with a ball valve in-line) leading to the pump and a 1" return line (with a gate valve in-line) reduced to one 3/4" connection into the spray bar as described in my correspondence. During the short times I ran the pump I encountered the following problem -- the water level in my "false back" built-in sump area would draw down very quickly to the point of the intake bulkhead (positioned approximately 6" below the water level). Will I need to add additional water until equilibrium is achieved or is there another solution. <I suspect this in tank sump will gives you problems. I would add more water carefully/slowly so that you do not overflow the tank. Your drain into the back sump section may not be able to accommodate this pump/gph.> Thanks again for your assistance. <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Sub tidal zone Aquarium habitat Hello, I am interested in turning a 20long or larger tank into a sub tidal zone habitat. I think it will be a good learning experience for myself as well as my children. Do you have any insight into resources and how to set up such a tank.  <Mmm, interesting... something in the way of a fill/drain system plus maybe a twice-daily partial empty/fill mechanism to mimic two uneven (or so) tides?> I have just started searching the net and have found very little. Will the basic aquarium equipment be the same as any other tank or will there be special needs?  <Most all the typical gear will be needed... and all pumps, heaters inside the system mounted low of course. Perhaps the simplest would be a rig of two principal components... a container higher than the system to accommodate the shorter term "wave action" (there are a few designs here... pls see: http://www.ozreef.org/) and a lower container that you can hang an airline tubing siphon to (securing it not too low in the main tank) with a pump in the lower sump on a float switch that will "turn on" when the siphon fills it to a certain level (not too high, lest the tank drain too much, break the siphon), and turn itself off when the lower sump is mostly empty). An interesting project. Bob Fenner> I appreciate any help. Thanks, Daniel

Re: Make up water  One dumb question. Won't good circulation provide good aeration?  <not a dumb question at all but also incorrect (a common misconception). Aquarists with overstocked fish tanks and undergravel filters know this: powerheads with venturis off lead to gasping fish behavior... turn the venturi back on and the O2 saturation increases and fish are relieved. Circulation of the system from top to bottom does help, but aeration from a skimmer or aspiration (venturi) of air through a pump is better> I mean, if I have good circulation (I have two 295 GPH power heads and my return is a 3MDQX 875 gph @ 6', and I am pushing up only 5' and it's split into three outputs at the tank) a total of about 1500 gph and I run my Berlin skimmer with a mag 7 pump 24hrs/day, will this not provide good aeration?  Sure... good, yes. But enough, I don't know. The simple test that I mentioned before will clear this up. If a vigorously aerated glass of water gives a higher pH reading then when you started... you do have a slight problem with accumulated CO2 (easily corrected with increased aeration)> I will try your suggestions below, thanks for your patience! Larry <my pleasure, bud. best regards, Anthony>

Question (Rate per what function?) I just bought a 150 gallon tank and I want a fish only saltwater aquarium I just don't know how many gallons per hour I need for this to work. Please email me back. Thanks for your time. Chris <What? GPH for? Please read here re marine water circulation: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarfaqs.htm and the linked files beyond. Bob Fenner>

Cycling pumps off at night time Hello all. Last time I wrote, Bob was the only one answering questions (it's been a while). You have grown a bunch! I have a question regarding a pump in my system. I have a 125 FOWLR. I have one pump that runs full time returning water from the sump. I have another on a closed loop. The pump on the closed loop is on a timer that comes on in the a.m. a little after the actinics come on, and goes off before the lights go out at night. So the fish get more vigorous water movement during the day, and it's softer at night. Is it safe to have the closed loop pump cycle off at night, considering the water stays in the plumbing for it overnight with no movement? I know that stagnant water can cause problems, and was wondering if it applies in a situation like this. Or would you recommend just letting it run all the time, even if it doesn't cause a problem? <From your questions, I believe you are most concerned about the stagnant water inside the plumbing giving you problems. I would not think that could be too much of a problem over 12 hours, but I have another concern. Your circulation and therefore gas exchange is weakest when your system needs it the most, at night with CO2 production at its highest. For that reason, I would run both pumps 24/7.> Thanks a bunch! Jason <You are welcome a bunch! -Steven Pro>

Skimmer/Circulation Questions Good Afternoon, May I borrow some of your precious time for a couple of questions? <"Precious time" wow! If I were not answering questions now, I would probably be watching the local news telling me that it is still going to be incredibly hot today.> I have a 75G corner aquarium (pentagon shaped) and have taken the my first steps into reef keeping. I am in the process of dismantling my wet/dry (AquaClear 150 series) filter by removing the bio-balls and using the box as an overpriced sump. It does have an integrated skimmer that has been somewhat efficient which leads me to my first question. I purchased an AquaC EV-120 skimmer to put in the sump and was wondering whether I should maintain the other skimmer as well or is my skimmate return not worth the extra heat/electricity of running the additional pump? <I would let both run for the time being. If the integrated one does not remove anything after a month or so, then I would remove.> The tank is drilled for the standard overflow and return. I was using a RIO 2100 with the W/D for the return and am now considering changing the pump to a Mag 7 to increase circulation. I have two Maxi-Jet 900 PH in the tank to boost water movement and it still seems to not be adequate as there are some dead spots in the tank. Since the W/D is no longer serving as a biological filter can I increase the velocity of the pump significantly or will I risk creating a noisy overflow as it attempts to keep up with the return? <It may become noisy. The only way to know for sure is to hook up the new pump and see. Even then a Durso-style standpipe may help increase flow while reducing noise.> I have one another question as it relates to the overflow. Is it in my best interest to keep the prefilters on the overflow pipe. <Yes, if rinsed regularly. Daily would be best.> It is difficult to access those filters, to rinse, any more than once a week during my water change. I will keep some filter pad in the sump to catch detritus/waste that slips by the skimmer. I believe I have used up my questions. Thank you very much for your time. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Closed Loop Circulation Hello Crew -- My nine month old reef setup is an acrylic tank (48 long x 24 deep x 20 high) containing about 125 pounds of LR, 2" aragonite sand bed, one yellow tang, one fairy wrasse, six green Chromis, two Firefish, several soft corals, zoanthids, and mushrooms. I want to add a closed loop circulation system which will allow me to get rid of the 4 PH's I currently use. The tank has a black acrylic "false back" which originally housed a trickle filter setup with an overflow on one end and a PH powered return on the other end. I removed the bioballs and now use this area as a built-in sump housing carbon, a Turboflotor 1000 Multi, heaters and some LR. I ordered an Oase Nautilus 45 pump (based on Anthony's glowing Oase comments in past FAQ's) which is rated at 1600 gph at 0' head. I am going to drill the back wall of the tank (which I'm a little nervous about) and have several questions: 1) How many 1" drain bulkheads do you recommend for this size pump (2, 3, 4 ???); <This external pump is now your new return pump, correct? Then you should only need one 1" bulkhead for it to draw water from.> 2) Where should I position the bulkheads, i.e., how far from the top/bottom of the tank and spaced how far apart (also could you humor me and affirm these holes won't structurally weaken my tank); <You want to drill the hole approximately where your old powerhead return was and your tank should be fine structurally.> 3) Do you recommend slip or threaded connections for the bulkheads and other plumbing components; <Either, but do include some unions with ball valves for maintenance.> 4) I can connect 2 bulkheads with a "Y", if you recommend more than 2, how do I tie them together; <You could use more T's, but I do not think that will be necessary.> 5) For the plumbing, do you recommend hard PVC pipe, flex PVC pipe, or vinyl hose with barb fittings. <Hard PVC pipe.> 6) I am thinking about splitting the 1" return into two 3/4" returns tied into a U-shaped spray bar which will run along the back and sides near the top of the tank. Any comments/suggestions re: this plan? <Sounds good. Several outputs is always better than just one.> Many thanks to the whole hard working crew, you guys provide an invaluable resource. Your website is my first stop every day. I have both Bob's and Anthony's books in my library and refer to them constantly. Keep up the good work. Bob L. <Thank you for the kind words. -Steven Pro>

Power head Dear Fenner, How are you? I am very sorry to have to disturb you again. Currently I am putting up a 350 gal tank so I have to make sure everything is right. What kind of turbulence should I attempt to recreate with my power heads? Should I make the water go around or go against each other's current? Should I place the power heads near the top of water or close to the bottom? Should I place them evenly spread in 4 corners or favor stronger current in one direction? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarfaqs.htm and the links beyond. Bob Fenner> I have tried to find this information but can not get it in the database. Liao I Ching

Circulation Bob & Crew I'm finally up grade to a 180 reef and was wondering about flow rates. The tank presently has 1 1/4" returns, I was thinking about increasing them to 1 1/2" and going to separate pumps from each return. <Ok> Since I'm going to be using a refugium set up with a protein skimmer, what kind of flow rate should I have? <Depends on the inhabitants. I generally use 10x per hour for most things, pushing 20x for SPS.> I'm also plan on installing a circulation system with a 1000gph pump, to keep water circulating behind the live rock. Thanks, Mark <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Everything into the sump? Hello my friends at WWM, <cheers> I spent the last 2 hours rearranging my power heads (AGAIN!) so they don't show. Very tedious job to say the least. After cleaning up my mess and getting the rock back into place, I went to WWW.WWM.COM . <hmmm... this is a site for world wide media (?!?)... you should have come to www.wetwebmedia.com> I was at this link about sumps etc, when one of you guys said you don't like powerheads in the main tank at all. Really? What about the importance of water flow? <Pam... I have said that many times here on WWM and in my book... and almost always with an explanation why. Please note that I do not say that I do not like/recommend "water flow" (?) but merely powerheads in the tank... hence, find an alternative like a larger return pump to provide flow in the main display. Having multiple powerheads rather than one large return pump generates too much head, provides that many more places to clog/trap/kill fish an invertebrates, they add so many ungrounded plugs, they are generally poorly made and have been known to fail (read shock/electrocute aquarists), create unnatural and perhaps stressful noise in aquaria, can impart stray voltage, may influence HLLE and the list goes on.> Back to the drawing board for me I guess. Talk about taking one step forward and three back! You know, I have had a box sitting on my porch now for about 2 weeks with a Kent Nautilus skimmer and pump inside. I have been recommended by more than one of you at WWM to invest wisely in this very important part of my reef tank. So, I haven't opened it yet, because if I decide to return it, policy says, "it must be unopened".  <I personally think that is a wise move... have you got feedback yet on the message boards for this brand/product?> I wanted to go for the real "beast of a skimmer", EUROREEF, but it seems you need a sump for that model,.... I don't have one.  <then consider an Aqua C hang on model or a Tunze rail or clip-mount model> Which brings me back to powerheads. You guys say that you put your powerheads in the sump. <I'm not sure what that statement means/who said it. Instead of say 4 powerheads... one might use a single dedicated return pump like an Iwaki 40, Little Giant, Gen X, Oase, Mag Drive, etc> Well now, I guess I'm buying a sump.  <and you plan to have your tank drilled for an overflow? I hope because a siphon overflow is generally a bad idea (check archives on this topic)> I wonder if I will ever get this right!  <is there a local aquarium society near you my friend? Such fellowship puts many such questions to rest with visuals and visits to local aquarists> This is what I have now: 1) Tank 55g. ( I have this) 2) LR 70lbs. (and this) 3) Sand 4 inches deep (this too) 4) Kent skimmer (so far, I still have this) <sorry> 5) 6 powerheads <sorry again> 6) Heater <two small heaters are safer than one large. Titanium instead of glass) with a remote thermostat is the best IMO> 7) Sump (don't have, yet) a) powerheads>>>>> into sump? <no idea why?> b) skimmer>>>>>into sump? <depends on model and path of raw water. If in sump, make a skimmer box with a standing water level to improve performance. Threads in the past week have covered this with diagrams> c) heater>>>>>into sump? <usually a great idea> Is a sump very necessary for a healthy system,  <not necessary... just convenient> or can I cut this expense from my budget? I am willing to upgrade to the Euroreef, but if it needs a sump, Hmmmm, where do I go from there? My head is spinning! Thank you to all of you for sharing your educations! <do keep reading/learning and know that no one person's advice is gospel. Take all in and make an informed decision based on an intelligent consensus> Pamela <best regards, Anthony>

Micro-bubbles... why and how to stop Hello....I've bought your book.....lots of great information. Simple question....looking for your experience. I seem to have lots of bubble swirling around when ever I increase the current in the aquarium. It seems to me that because the current is moving around it doesn't allow the bubbles to surface and they just continually stay in motion.  <micro bubbles... relatively harmless... but irritating to some cnidarians/coral> Is this common? I hate bubbles they don't look good and I worry for my little friends! <hmmm... if you have a sump and a return pump... look to find a pinhole leak on the outflow side acting as a Venturi and aspirating the fine bubbles on the return (check by systematically applying petroleum jelly to each joint and checking for stopped bubbles... then re-glue joint). Else, without a sump... look to see which skimmer or water pump is causing the bubbles and dismantle and reassemble to try to stop the aerating seam.> Regards, Roland <kindly, Anthony>

Sump overflow I am trying to size my sump overflow pipe. I will be using a Rubbermaid (tm) 100gal tank, and will cut an opening about 6 inches from the top of the tank using a bulkhead fitting. The aquarium is 200 gal. with a projected 1000 gph flow. Is 2 inches enough? Thanks. Charles Jones, Franklin, GA <if I understand you to be asking if a 2" PVC sized overflow from the main display down to the sump will handle 1000 gallons of water gravity overflowing: Yes. A 2" pipe will handle the flow, although likely noisily. And for what it is worth... 1000 GPH circulating through a fish only tank is dangerously weak flow (likely to allow detritus to accumulate and feed terrible algae blooms down the road). If the tank is also going to house invertebrates... then it simply will not work at all. The old ratios of 4 to 10 X turnovers were dramatically understated we know now... and even by those standards you are on the lower end. Adding extra powerheads in the display top compensate adds heat, excess risk of shock, clogging, failure... they are less long lived, and so many more complaints. The best is to have a good strong external inline sump pump running most of the flow. Best regards, Anthony>

Stumped (Powerhead dangers, Mandarins) Bob, Man, do I feel foolish... I just cleaned my powerheads and found the Mandarin had been sucked up into one of my 402 Powerheads!  <Yikes! Not difficult for such weak swimmers.> I now wonder if that had been what happened to the other one as well. I never even thought about that. I did read up on the link you sent me to. My serpent star is more brown in color, but I guess I will have to keep an eye on him. I do know that he has had two of my feather duster worms for an expensive meal when they have released from their tube to find another place to live. I know this because I watched him do it! Thank-you kindly for your assistance on this. John <Will post your input on WWM "Powerhead" and "Mandarin" FAQs pages as a useful warning to others to secure the pumps intakes with filters/screens. Bob Fenner>

Wavemakers Anthony, <Anthony is off with most of the crew to Germany/Interzoo and then off to the Red Sea. Steven Pro here today.> Thank you very much for your advice on purchasing the Iwaki pump. I will be getting the high end model (American motor) soon from the Marine Depot online. I was also wondering if someone could recommend a good 'WAVEMAKER' for moving/oscillating large amounts of water in my 180 to simulate a nice ocean current. <I have heard good things about the SeaSwirl devices.> I do not want to use a standard powerhead since these units don't do such a good job in producing waves. I am planning on keeping a large Imperator Angel and I have read some articles that suggest that this fish along with many tangs require strong water movement in order to thrive. If you know of someone who keeps large delicate fish of these types what are they using and have they been successful for how long? Please let me know. Thanks! <No real secrets here; excellent water quality, strict quarantine protocols, good foods/feeding schedule, etc. Talk to you later. -Steven Pro>

Water turns A brief question regarding water turnover in a 15-gallon young (7 weeks old) reef aquarium. I have a CPR skimmer (Rio 600 pump) and a Via Aqua pump. Between the two I figure I'm getting about 280 gallons/hour total flow. I added a P. Ocellaris to this (main tank) yesterday. Last night when I noticed he looked stressed and was hiding in the corner. I turned both pumps off and this morning he looks better. Are these pumps providing too much by way of water turnover in my tank? Would I be better off removing the Via Aqua-- or alternating between the two? Thanks, Greg <This is a bunch of water movement for such a small system, but the Clownfish's behavior likely has little to do with it. Water movement, "changes" in the wild are often many times this factor. The hiding, hanging in a corner or bottom is mainly due to being moved, placed in new circumstances. You could practice alternating the pumps to see if this suits. Bob Fenner>

Bubbles Returning to Tank Hi Guys! Thanks for your time. Just wondering how I can keep bubbles from returning to the tank after being in the sump. The bubbles aren't caused by my skimmer but are caused by the overflow water pouring into the sump. -Becky <Several options; a sponge over the intake of your return pump, building some baffles out of pieces of glass or acrylic (more difficult to install, but no additional maintenance required), adding an elbow to the intake of return pump so that the pump draws water from the bottom of the sump, lengthening the overflow lines so that they go to the bottom of the sump (underwater), etc. Take a look at the WWM site, performing a Google search for bubbles should lead you to further info and additional ideas. -Steven Pro>

Water flow Hello Anthony. Thanks for your kind input and unbelievably quick response. <very welcome my friend> Your turn-around is better than that of some e-vendors. <we are quick because we are not burdened (ha!) with taking money through this portal. Labors of love are funny that way...<smile>> I am not quite sure if the flow rate that I presently have is quite enough. The gurgling and flushing noises emanating from my stand pipe are most likely caused by air that is going down the pipe with the water. Would increasing the flow rate and thus quasi over filling the overflow stop the noise? <no... in fact it is more likely that your tank like most has an inadequate overflow. The gurgling is a siphon being created by the rush of overflowing water that exceeds the gravity flow capacity in silence. We recently had a bunch of posts on this topic if you care to archive. But basically... you need many standard one inch holes (4-6) or a very large (2 1/2 "+) overflow to begin to have enough drainage for a reef without any/many powerheads. I think the extra holes and large return pump are well worth it> Last questions for today, would you discourage me from building my own skimmer (as the LFS is doing) or can we actually construct something that will/can work as well as a store bought one.  <you can construct a better skimmer than most any commercial unit. However, beyond labor to construct... many DIY skimmers are labor intensive with ongoing maintenance. Weigh your willingness to make sometimes daily adjustments with your willingness to pay extra for a commercial unit> Would you still use an air driven one or are venturis de rigeur? <on bigger reefs I prefer one of each and clean them alternately so that skimming is never interrupted (they skim differently too...qualities of skimmate)> Thanks again for all of your help. Perhaps I'll be stumped again soon and have to call on your assistance again. Cheers, Fred. <if that happens, just put an "R" on one sole, and an "L" on the other...hehe. You walked into that one my friend. Anthony>

Loud Water Flow Noises Hi all, First, I would like to add my praise to all the others regarding this web site. You guys are doing an amazing job and providing a great service (Bob' s book is great as well). Thanks so much! <Thank you very much!> I am new to this hobby and just purchased a 65 gallon tank with a sump system. After setting everything up, we turned it on and were astonished at the noise coming from a multitude of sources. I like the sound of running water (I have a fountain in a nearby room) but this was a different story. There was a very loud flushing, gurgling noise which (after searching on the web for clues) has been partially remedied with the addition of a vent tube at the first 90 degree bend. However, we still have a deep, gurgling water sound coming, I think, from the rapid flow of the water from the end of the exit pipe into the sump water (also possibly from just the water running through the piping). We have an overflow box which is filled with bioballs. From the overflow box to the sump, the water flows through 1.5 inch PVC pipe straight down 6 inches, bends 90 degrees and flows across for 16 inches before bending 90 degrees and dropping the final 8 inches into the sump. We're running about 15 gals/minute through. <About 900 gph, quite impressive.> To quiet the exit noise, we attached a 6 inch piece of bike inner-tubing to the PVC exit pipe which extends into the sump water. The idea was that this would reduce the turbulence in the sump, and it does seem to help quiet it a bit. However, this requires the water to flow through a narrower path of 1" diameter as it exits (vs. the 1.5" PVC). Here are my questions: 1.)Is there a problem with decreasing the diameter of the outflow-meaning might it back up and cause overflow problems (the tubing isn't fully distended when running and doesn't appear to be reducing flow). <It is possible to cause you problems. Better to use more 1.5" PVC.> 2).Is there a problem with harmful chemicals leaching into the water from the bike tubing? <I was wondering that myself when you first mentioned its use. I would much rather see you use PVC.> 3).Is there a better, more effective way of minimizing the sound of water entering the sump? <The use the air vent is great. Also, see if you cannot eliminate the 90's and use 45's instead. Try attaching a 45 right off of the tank and angle the water straight into your sump. You will probably have to move the sump around to fit it right. The PVC should extend into the sump water and should be vented somewhere. Preferably, right before the drain line goes into the water, insert a Y so that air can escape.> 4).Air is certainly mixing with the water as its exiting the pipe. Should I punch a vent hole in the 90 elbow positioned just before entering the sump? <See above notes, a variation on your idea.> Thanks so much in advance for any help you can offer. -Eileen <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Circulation Pumps Hi guys I am so glad I found your site it's great. Please keep up the good work. I am setting up a 55 gal. salt fish/invert tank. Can you give me some help on circulation pumps (size number and brand recommended) I am currently looking at using two Rio 1100 or the Dolphin D270 what do you think, is on more reliable than the other? <Of those two, I would get the Dolphins.> Is their another brand that you would recommend. <I like and use mostly Hagen and Aquarium Systems.> I also have a Eheim mod. 2222 that I can run empty or with carbon etc. when needed. Their will also be a AquaC Remora pro skimmer with the Mag 3 pump. Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Dennis Vigliotte <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Film on Top of Water what to do about film on top of water I have two return pumps and three power heads connected to a wave maker for water circulation still have this film on top of water can find no information any where James mills  <You should re-aim some of your returns or powerheads for surface agitation. Also, take a look at your overflow. This should be effectively skimming water from the surface and eliminating this scum layer. -Steven Pro>

Powerhead Questions <<JasonC here, filling in while Bob is away diving.>> I am curious. . .my tank is two months old and I have two totally submerged power heads in the tank. Periodically these powerheads create tiny bubbles. Sometimes cleaning them helps and sometimes it doesn't. Any suggestions? <<I would suggest not worrying about this. Powerheads occasionally do this, if something gets swept in, etc.>>  Also I'm having a micro bubble problem in the return from the sump (houses a T1000). So far I have built (from egg crate) a place for the overflows and T1000 to empty over a bed of poly filter. This has helped a lot. However, there is still a bubble problem. Any suggestions? <<perhaps a foam prefilter before the pump that returns water to the tank. Again, micro bubbles produced by a skimmer or powerhead are not cause for concern.>> One last question. . .I'm having a hair algae problem and I want to add a Salarias fasciatus. Since it doesn't have scales, does it need to be quarantined? <<smooth skin or not, quarantine is always in order.>> I really need this fish and soon! Keep up the good work while Bob's away! <<will do>> I appreciate your promptness in posting responses. <<my pleasure>> Thanks, David D. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Lots of Questions - Jason breaks down A) I have a MTC Pro 6500S Skimmer - it is about 2 feet high. It is powered by a Rena 400. Is this powerful enough. <<I should hope so. Two feet is quite the reaction chamber.>> Is there some sort of conversion chart to figure this stuff out, or do we just have to ask the experts - like you. <<no conversion chart too many variables, mostly as all skimmers are not created equal.>> I am a little confused on this - do people use powerheads to power their Skimmers??? <<some people do - certainly one of my three skimmers has a powerhead running it.>> Can you recommend 1 for me??? <<that skimmer is running with a Rio 800. Some people like maxi-jets. You could ask this question on the WetWebDiscussion Forum where you could get easily 10 opinions on this: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ >> B) When I read that you should have 10x (is this correct for an avg reef tank) the turn over of your tank size per hour. <<It's a good number to shoot for, yes but not worth killing yourself to accomplish>> 1) Do they mean 72 gallons - 20 gallons LR - LS = 50 gallons??? <<no, it means 72g + ?g in the sump = X total system gallons.>> 2) Do you count your return pump from sump 600 gph plus the power heads you have in the tank itself 3x200 gph??? <<depends on who you ask. I would cast my vote behind total flow - powerheads + circulation pumps.>> (I would have 1200 total.) <<are you sure you're getting 600gph at the head in the tank. Many pumps that have a rated output of X drop to X minus something as you raise the output away from the pump [head feet]. You may only be getting 400gph. But in any case - what does it look like in the tank?>> C) I am having problems with gravity flow from my overflow box. What causes the bubbles to be created when it is released from the tube into the water. The tube is about 1 in underwater and the tube is a 25/34 mm Eheim - I think from what I have read the hole is 1in on the overflow. - I have read that the overflow can't handle the GPH from the pump. Mine is Rio 2500 it pumps the water 4 ft to top of tank. <<ahh yes, Rio 2500 pumps approximately 520 gph at 4' according to Rio.>> The tubes are the wrong size, or that there is a vortex that is created in all of these overflows. <<Much talk of an overflow that you didn't name - who makes the overflow?>> I have take of the pre filter pad on the skimmer to try increase flow rate, Put a small tube down the line to increase flow rate and stop the vortex, I have added some foam pads, I have prayed. These don't seem to make a big difference. <<you've confused me - we're talking about skimmers now? In any case, not sure any of those things would have helped if things were designed to work to a certain limit that you are now exceeding (?) - very hard to tell. Perhaps some more detail on these pieces/parts.>> The only thing that has worked is to lower the power output from the Rio - but I think that works b/c less flow equals less bubbles created b/c less water is flowing through the tubes. The neg is less filtration :( <<are you strictly concerned about the gurgling noise from the overflow? If this is the case, do try to get used to it and let you tank enjoy the increased flow.>> I have checked your site thoroughly and have not found any definite answer on these - sorry If I am asking questions you have already answered. What can I do stop this problem I don't want to 'kill' the bubbles after they are created I just don't want them created at all. <<in the overflow process? almost impossible to avoid some, is mostly attributed to the design of the overflow, which... you didn't tell me who makes it so I'm really not sure which direction to point you in.>> Thanks for making life a little easier for all of us :) Brad <<Well thank you. Cheers, J -- >>

Follow-up on Lots of Questions - Jason tries again Thanks for the reply JC <<No problem...>> -A is regarding a skimmer. I wanted to know if the Rena makes enough bubbles for the skimmer. <<I think so, yes.>> Please tell me what aerator you recommend besides Rena and what strength it should be approx. <<Check with the manufacturer for your skimmer.>> Can it be too strong??? - What would happen with too many bubbles in the skimmer??? <<Don't think it could be too strong.>> -B is regarding powerheads - ah... <<did I answer that one well enough for you?>> -C is regarding Overflow. The overflow is the one that comes with the All-Glass Tank 72 bow front- I assume it is a All-glass. <<Ahh ok, the built-in overflow - I have one of these myself in my 75. >> 2 tubes in over flow - 1 return and 1 intake. The intake is about 16 inches tall - There is a solid white pipe that is 12in long then continuing a clear pipe with square holes all around it for the next 4in. <<yes - very familiar>> The water level is about a 1/2in above the white pipe. <<<are you strictly concerned about the gurgling noise from the overflow>>> I could care less about this. <<ok>> I just want to get rid of the bubbles and use the overflow to its max. <<what bubbles? I'm not sure I understand where those are coming from...>> I have told you the make of the overflow in hopes you can help me further and answer the questions you were unable to b/c you did not know the make <<right, well now you know I have the same overflow so I can probably answer quite a few questions about it.>> D - New question Do you know of a powerhead that has a foot print of 4in x 5in that is as powerful as the Rio 2500. That is all the space I have in my sump and I don't have the means/know-how to cut acrylic. <<Can't think of one... you should browse the web and some online fish stores and see what you can find.>> Thanks again. Brad <<You are welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Return pump and powerheads Hello again! I have finally started to acquire the equipment to set up a FOWLR aquarium where I also want to add some soft corals and polyps over time. I thank you for your previous help and I have a few more questions. I now have a 75gal reef-ready tank with an Oceanic PowerCompact light (110W, w. Coralife white and actinic blue bulbs). I intend to put a 20 gal sump underneath it, probably an Oceanic Sump model 1 (it will be difficult to put something bigger because of the doors/supports of the cabinet: Oceanic cherry oak cabinet). I realize I may need more light for the corals but that will have to wait for now. I do intend to buy around 90 lbs of live rock after I get the skimmer and sump. Here are my questions: 1.) I will get an AquaC EV120 filter with a Mag-Drive 5 pump. I could get a Dolphin DP-560 pump for the same price. Do you favor one over the other? I have only seen the Mag Drive pumps locally. <Both are fine.> 2.) My second inquiry has to do with the return pump. I believe I need about 750 gph through the sump plus some additional powerheads in the tank to turn the water over as much as possible. At the same time I want to balance the water flow to the sump to not make the system too noisy. I am planning to set up a Durso style standpipe (see http://www.rl180reef.com/pages/standpipe/standpipe_frame.htm for a description or http://home.att.net/~rstockman/overflow.htm for a more compact modification) that my LFS says really reduces the gurgling noise from the water falling down into the RR overflow box (if you know of other good methods, please let me know). <This one is about ideal> However, I have heard that if you get too big a return pump, noise will still be a problem. Is a Mag-Drive 9.5 too much? <Yes... by about twice the flow-rate... Depending on what you want to achieve in this sump arrangement (definitely not a refugium at this turnover rate), a good five, six volumes of the main system per hour is fine> The pump will be in the sump under the tank and will have to push an almost 5 ft. water column. I saw a chart at marinedepot.com that says the Mag-Drive 9.5 will push 750 gph with a 5 ft column. Others have recommended to just use a Mag-Drive 5 or 7 (250 or 420 gph at 5 ft). What would you recommend? <!, the same> Less flow through the sump but more in powerheads? More flow through the sump? <The former> 3.) I am planning to use a few powerheads in the tank. Maxi Jets seem fairly inexpensive at marinedepot.com. Is it better to put in say 4 MaxiJet 400 @ 106 gph ea, or 2 (or even 4) MaxiJet 1200 @ 295 gph ea?  <Four smaller> I am concerned about too much flow from a single nozzle. Is this a problem? <Yes, can be... animals, non-life getting sucked-up, blown about> I don't have agood gut feeling yet for what these flow rates mean in terms of turbulence in the tank. <You will> Thanks for your help. I trust your judgment more than most of my LFSs. <Trust only your own ultimately. We are all humans. Bob Fenner>

Oceanic 75RR and pump Hello WWM crew Anthony, I just wanted to get back to you about my overflow question on the Oceanic Reef Ready that we had been talking about. Good news! I placed a post on Reef Central and inquired about the tank and its over flow. Many people owners) responded and said that they were pushing much higher volumes through it than Oceanic stated. One person said that he is running almost 1200gph through his 58 Oceanic Reef Ready tank. (Same specs for both 58ga & 75ga tanks) No one who answered said they had any trouble with that much flow or any sound problems either. YES! Now I will take your advice and buy a nice Iwaki MD 30RLXT (Japanese version). My faith is restored in Oceanic. I thank you for all your help. I am so glad to be done with all my purchases and can't wait to get back to paying attention to what is in my tank instead of what is on the outside of it. although cool gear is neat!) Zimmy <I am not Anthony, but I am glad to hear that things are going to workout for you and glad you got back in touch with us. Now we can file this with Pump/Circulation FAQ's and maybe help others. -Steven Pro>

Reef Ready Tanks - circulation Hi Anthony, <Cheers, my friend> I read with interest your reply regarding an owner of a reef ready tank with what appears to be inadequate overflow pipe diameter to the sump. I have the same problem, a 75gal tank with a one + inch return on the right hand side of the tank, and a 2 inch diameter pipe at the bottom of my corner overflow, on the left hand side of the tank. I am planning on purchasing another tank, as I want to take the 75gal out of service to replace the coral gravel with sand, and fix some scratches in the acrylic viewing panels.( The new tank will probably be in the 125gal range, though I may purchase a 55gal in the near term). In general, what is the best layout in regards to returns and overflows, twin returns with one overflow, multiple overflows, and in what location(s) ?  <all very common Q's/concerns but most not to worry about. The distribution of fixed returns (one, two or more) is of little matter because all need to be adjustable. I prefer a single return line feeding a manifold with teed outlets that have the lock-tite style attachments (flexible/adjustable pipe). So you might have a single one inch return line from the sump sneaking up the back and plumbed to a one inch PVC closed loop mounted just at the water surface. This loop will have say 4-6 tees that have the adjustable spouts so that you can fine tune flow as necessary. With a large enough pump and adequate overflow, this will prevent the need and expense of any power heads in the tank and the manifold mounted at the surface is unnoticeable (compared to ugly powerheads submerged). The placement of the overflow should have relatively little bearing on the matter if the turnover in the tank is sufficiently dynamic. For hardcore reefkeeping, I have a very specific preference for a custom, low, long overflow dam (the length of the back wall at times) to capture the thinnest overflowing water for protein skimmer efficiency.. but this is really not necessary for most applications> With my 75gal empty, would you recommend adding returns and another overflow?  <the more the better on overflows... I really don't like noisy "drains"> My reef tank has been up for over a year, very healthy, the only problem is low ph (8.1 in the day, high 7's at night, I buffer the water a lot, so have good Alk (10-12dkh)).  <yes... scary low, but are you certain about the validity of the tests. If so, you may actually be a candidate for using extra bicarb, or perhaps you need to tweak (increase) your use of Kalkwasser> You stated that a lot of the tanks available are set up with cost as the first objective, circulation second. My tank falls into this category, unfortunately.  <as do most> I need multiple powerheads to keep the water moving for my corals, and still have stagnant areas in the tank.  <yes... sucks IMO, but we make do with what we can> Do you know of a mfg/web site where one can purchase "professional" level tanks, or have them built to "reef" standard specs? On another subject, I have your book on order and am looking forward to reading it. <Thank you! At the risk of tooting my own horn, do check out the sections in the first part of my book on dynamic reef aquarium concepts. The "stuff" I have mentioned above is covered there as well as overflow box, skimmer box modifications, customizing aquaria, radical rockscaping techniques and more. If you are inclined to be a DIYer, don't worry about finding a custom manufacturer just yet. With kind regards, Anthony> Thanks, Steve

Re: requesting some help: circulation do you think I should use two power heads for chaotic circulation? Thanks for the quick response <Two or more usually. It depends, do you also have a return pump from a sump? -Steven Pro>

Circulation question Hey guys (or whoever gets the wonderful job of answering email for the day), which method is better for returns. For a 125 gallon FOWLR, is it better to have a strong 1200gph return through a 1" pipe at one end (overflow on the other side) ? or a T on the return side from the 1" that exits with 3/4" flows - sort of a spray bar with 2 exits, both on one side of the tank front and rear ?, or for a spray bar type of setup along one side of the tank with multiple hopes ? or a spray bar along the length of the tank long ways ? <They are all good ideas, but for a fish tank I would go with the simplest. Use either the 1" return or two 3/4" returns on the side opposite the overflow.> There are multiple PH's in the tank(3). Should they face the same direction, or are various directions better? <You want to use the powerheads to provide circulation wherever there are dead spots in the return pumps flows. You will have to adjust there arrangement once you have the return pump plumbed and running.> Thanks, Ed <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Circulation, aeration, tank top, cc stars... >Thank you so much, but how do I size the additional powerheads? ><A couple of hundred GPH will be fine. Do arrange for the intakes to have a "pin-ball" piece of wet-dry media in their intakes to prevent animals being sucked in... and place these pumps in a fashion, where >they can be easily removed for service, cleaning. Bob Fenner> Okay, Bob, more questions. I ordered 2 powerheads that arrived tonight and I finally sat down and read your book and Michael Paletta's book. Loved them both, and I finally feel more capable of asking some more "right" questions. <Hmm, okay> 1. I got a Hagen 201 and a Powersweep 214. Aren't the strainers that are installed on them enough to keep critters out? I can't for the life of me even figure out where I would insert a bioball into these, since the strainers both protrude. <Yes, these are good powerheads... that come with their own sufficient strainers... the above note is to emphasize the importance of having same... not to remove, leave off...> 2. I have always been concerned with the aeration of my water. Will the Caulerpa in my refugium/sump be adding enough O2 back in to mitigate my concerns?  <It will indeed help... especially if constantly illuminated, or alternatively the sump is lit during "lights off" on your main/display tank> I redirected my sump return about a year ago so that thetank surface is getting a little rippled from it. Is that all enough, or should I utilize the venturi air intake on the Hagen powerhead? Would the resulting bubbles be a problem for my current or future petfish and invertebrates? <You can test for dissolved oxygen with kits, meters... but would just observe livestock here... all likely fine> 3. When I upgraded my lighting to a SmartLite, I removed my tank top and the lens on the light to allow the greatest light transmittance. This leaves some large gaps between the light and the tank rim where things might escape. After reading your book, I am concerned that might happen to me in the future. I am also worried about water splashing on the bulbs. I don't have a hood and the SmartLite canopy (do I havethose backwards?) is resting on the center tank support. It has beenthis way for about a year and everything has gone well (except for increased evaporation loss). Should I stop this foolhardiness and put the top back on my tank? I don't have any corals yet. <I would leave all as is... and not worry> 4. I have a very large and a very puny chocolate chip starfish. They used to be the same size and one shrank and the other grew exponentially. This monster is now about 5 inches wide. I only have some damsels now as far as fish are concerned, but I am trying to plan my future stocking plan. I'm pretty sure I will have to remove the damsels because they have been allowed to rule the roost for too long and are very large and probably pretty aggressive. Will the starfish have to go back to the store too? My children and their friends love the starfish. <I would leave them be as well.> 5. I successfully battled off a terrible turf algae invasion a couple of years ago, mostly by introducing a small cleanup crew to the tank. The live rock is not very interesting now, except for a couple of fan worms and some other wormy looking stuff and I do have coralline algae, although it does not cover the rock yet. I am going to get more on top of things like calcium. I don't supplement and so the tank is only replenished by small frequent water changes. Should I add some new pieces of live rock for interest sake or leave well enough alone? I guess the starfish is probably eating a lot off of the rock too... <Would likely add a bit more live rock... new livestock you plan on will change many dynamics, reveal other life going forward.> I am getting more responsible and conscientious every day. Even if my tank takes forever to get to where I want it, my next trip to the local Monterey Bay Aquarium will be great now that I feel more informed. <Ahh, the pleasure my friend> Thanks so much. Linda Swenberg <Be chatting, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Advanced Aqua Conversion questions--circulation now Bob, Thanks for all your help last Spring. I'm finally getting around to my project. <I see> I finally converted my Advanced Aqua Tank to an algae/mud filter. Ihave one that is about 40 gallons with an additional integrated filter area in the back. I contacted Bob at EcoSystems, and he talked me through converting over to a Miracle Mud system. I took out/moved the bioballs from the old wet/dry this weekend and installed the mud. I am now twiddling my thumbs waiting to plant the Caulerpa, which I will buy from my LFS. The water is clear and the inhabitants are doing well. <You and your livestock will gain from this plan> I have a Rio 2100 running the circulation as the return pump from the sump, which is supposed to provide the tank with 650 gph. I have no powerheads or other circulation. The rate is considered adequate for the Miracle Mud system, but I want to add some circulation to kick up the detritus in the back of the tank, as you recommended to me before. Should I just tee off the return pump and run another nozzle down to the bottom corner of the tank, opposite the current return nozzle? Or should I buy some little powerheads and place those down there? How would I size those, since I don't need additional circulation through the sump? <You can "tee" off of one unit if it is sufficient in flow-rate and pressure, but I would use more than one unit... at least another small submersible pump of size... if not two> BTW, when the 2100 gets too loud, I plan on buying an Eheim 1060. <You are wise here> Thank you so much for your help, Linda Swenberg <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Advanced Aqua Conversion questions--circulation now Bob, Thank you so much, but how do I size the additional powerheads? <A couple of hundred GPH will be fine. Do arrange for the intakes to have a "pin-ball" piece of wet-dry media in their intakes to prevent animals being sucked in... and place these pumps in a fashion, where they can be easily removed for service, cleaning. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Linda

Circulation Bryan again. Questions on circulation. I currently have a 75 gal FO. Return from the sump is by a Rio 2100 with a pvc output on one end of the tank pushing water across to the other side. I currently have 3 maxi jet 1200 powerheads not in the tank yet. I'm thinking of doing this....would like to upgrade the return from sump by way of two pvc outputs on each end going towards each other. <Increasing the size and/or number of return lines will increase the flow you are getting from the RIO. The 2100 put out just under 700 gph at 0 feet. I am going to guess that if the line is 3/4" PVC at ~5 feet of head, you will get 400 gph out of the RIO. If you increase this to 1" PVC or two 3/4" lines, you may get closer to 500 gph.> Putting 2 of the maxi jets in each back corner with the current towards the middle front and placing the other maxi jet towards the bottom of tank. <I think if you aim everything to the center, you will have problems with your substrate getting blown out of the middle of the tank.> Does this seem like to much, not enough circulation. <Should be enough.> I was thinking about going with the Rio 3500 for the return rate, but I have read a lot of negatives about the Rio (have had my 2100 for 2 years and no problems) any suggestions on pumps. <I have heard the same stories, but have had no bad experiences with the few RIO's I have used. I would not buy another pump, though. I would just use what you have. They will provide your tank with plenty of movement.> Thanks again Bryan. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Help. I just get so confused with all this aquarium stuff. I am re-starting my 30 gallon tank after a doomed failed on my part. Everything died because of a sudden nitrate breakout and only my 1 year old fish lived. Anyway, I just purchased a Skilter and am buying a power head for better water movement, and don't know what flow to buy. One of my favorite stores said to buy a 600 power flow (or something like that) but I don't know if that flow will be too strong for my fish and stress them out. What should I do? <For all marine tanks, I like to see a total flow rate of ten times the tank volume per hour. For your 30 gallon tank, that means 300 gph as a minimum. No more than 600 gph total is needed.>

Powerhead Preferences Steven thanks for last info. <Anthony Calfo on the tag team shift> Real quick question on powerheads. I have a 75 gal FO, I want to add a couple powerheads for circulation at about 400gph. What or who makes the best powerheads or does it make any difference. Your input. Thanks again Bryan. (the type you choose depends on your specific needs. If short term economy is your goal... the Hagen brand PH's are popular, if heat from pumps in the water is a concern, Gemini top mount water pumps work great (Aquarium Products distributes), and if long term durability are your goal, then Tunze Turbelles (expensive but can last long past a decade!!! With kind regards, Anthony>

Pump it up Hi Bob, I have a question regarding my sump/refugium. I would like to buy a Turboflotor T1000 which requires a pump and also I would need a second pump for the return to the main tank from the sump. Is this a correct assumption or can these be combined. <Better by far to have two separate pumps here... hard to adjust the flow, pressure for the skimmer...> Ideally, I would like the skimmer in the sump/refugium. I don't know of anyone with such equipment to view, and I would need to mail order the skimmer, so I'm not sure how the setup would be configured. Your input would be appreciated. <Configured? Mmm, maybe take a look through Oz' Reef, champion DIY site re our field: http://www.ozreef.org/ and elsewhere on manufacturers sites (Our links page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/links.htm) for ideas on layout. Bob Fenner> Thanks Roland

Powerheads I am in the process of setting up my 75gal reef tank. I want to know what is your preferred brand of powerheads to aid circulation and what gph should each be? I plan on having 2 of them. I already have a magdrive500 which is actually 310gph at 4" head for my return from sump. I also plan on having an anemone or two and need one which has a strainer or something of the sort which will not suck it up. All info is appreciated Thanks <This is Steven Pro speaking. Anthony Calfo and I are helping out while Bob is away. On to your question, I like to use Hagen 802 powerheads and I put a Bio-Ball on the intake to keep creatures out. It works really good for snails, shrimp, etc. It may not be a fine enough screen to keep out anemones. Also, Aquarium Systems makes a nice powerhead, the Maxi-Jet series.>

Wave timers...the Skinny Hello Bob, <Zimmy... Anthony Calfo here answering Bob's mail while he follows his heart on tour with a circus freak show... something about a buttered brass pole, a ballet tutu and an original interpretive dance that he choreographed> I just bought the Natural Wave power strip from Aquarium Systems to give it a try. It does its job well enough but my concern is that it just dumps all the power to the powerheads at once. Kind of jerks them to a start. I am not a genius or an engineer but I believe that will wear out the P.H.'s fast. Am I right? <very correct sir... some units have a soft start feature which may help a bit, but still...the nature of the beast in any form reduces pump life> The Red Sea Wavemaker states that it has a soft start feature. <Ahah! I should learn to read ahead... or direct one of my multiple personalities to look out for me at  least... hehe> Is that unit worth the extra money or is my concern about the wear not a valid one. <very valid concern... but ultimately may be worth the cost in the long run if you so desire this effect. Popular powerheads have a relatively short life to begin with... German Tunze Turbelles had a reputation for lasting over 10 years regularly; that's why they cost over $100 each. Using more economical pumps you might be tickled for it to last three to five years. And if wave timers reduce that life in half... so what. You are talking about repurchasing four $25 powerheads once-over in the same 3-5 years, which sounds like a drop in the bucket for a reef system worth thousands of dollars. I personally do not care for the devices at all and have discussed the reasons a bit in my book (shameless plug inserted HERE). Zimmy <best of luck to you, bud. Anthony>

Making a stand for simplicity I pump 1900 gallons per hour in180 tank no power heads.. no wave makers just good water movement can not see the need for all of hard ware <Agreed. Less is better. Bob Fenner>

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