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Related Articles: Plumbing Marine Systems by Bob Fenner, Myth of the One Inch Beast (Why Relying on One Inch Overflows... or Overflow! Is foolhardy) by Scott Vallembois, Plumbing Return Manifolds, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Plumbing Noise 2, Marine Plumbing 1, Marine Plumbing 2, Marine Plumbing 3Marine Plumbing 4, Marine Plumbing 5, Marine Plumbing 6, Plumbing 7, Plumbing 8, Plumbing 9, Plumbing 10, Plumbing 11, Plumbing 12, Plumbing 13, Plumbing 14, Plumbing 15, Plumbing 16, Plumbing 17, Plumbing 18, Holes & Drilling, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Make Up Water Systems, Pumps, Plumbing, Circulation, Sumps, RefugiumsMarine Circulation 2, Gear Selection for Circulation, Pump Problems Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large SystemsWater Changes Surge Devices

Mmm, water flows downhill, payday's on Friday... liquids are relatively incompressible... the gov't and banks are not your friends

Re Green haired algae: Attn Bob, ScottV... test selling/making new   3/20/09
Hey Scott,
<Hello Mike.>
Thank you for the offer.
<Sure, it stands, think it over. It costs neither of us much of anything to try.>
It is rather funny, when I first built it, "selling" it never even crossed my mind; a friend actually suggested it. I'm still a bit on the fence if I want to try to market it or just write up a "how to" article and post on WWM.
<Well, that is much the same how I came to sell overflows. After building several for friends, one called me up one day and said "Hey, I built a website to sell these things"!
Either way I would do a write up. If you do decide to sell the units it really won't impact you much. If somebody is going to DIY they are going to DIY.>
I currently have one built and operational. Ran without issue on my test rig, so I'm running it on my tank. Unfortunately <?>, I have yet to lose siphon since I've installed it. It could also work on a drilled tank as well,
<Ah, yes.>
I'll give you a brief overview on how it works.
1. Controller plugs into wall, pump plugs into controller. Sensors and lights are all 24 volts DC.
2. PVC float switches set to upper and lower limits. At the moment, they are drilled through the side of the sump, working out a way to mount them in the sump and still keep the wiring completely out of the water.
3. Start\Reset button is pressed, pump starts. Water level indicator lights and pump running lights "Go Green"
4. If water level gets too high or too low, pump shuts off, alarm sounds (You can hear it just about anywhere in a 3000 SqFt house.). Low or High Water level light and pump running light "Goes red".
5. Owner determines cause, corrects problem, hits start\reset button, normal operation resumes.
6. In the event of a sensor fail, owner can bypass one or both floats with a switch.
<Mike, to possibly market these have you thought about adding an audible alarm?>
As the owner of a non-drilled tank, I can understand the reluctance -
Once the tank is set up and running, the thought of tearing it down and drilling 5/8" tempered glass makes my left eye twitch...:)
<Oh yes, I do get that, believe you me! The possibility is drilling through the back...non tempered panels.>
<Scott V.>
> Hey Scott, 
> Thank you for the offer.
> It is rather funny, when I first built it, "selling" it never even crossed my mind; a friend actually suggested it. I'm still a bit on the fence if I want to try to market it or just write up a "how to" article and post on WWM.
<This offer, possibility is THE best possible avenue for testing such a device's sale-ability... ahead of any real expense, ramping up, licensing... I assure you, having gone down this road a few times m'self. BobF>

Plumbing Options/Overflow 9/19/08 Hi crew- <Hello Jim> Many thanks for such a high value resource/community! <Thank you!> I recently had to move my 75g reef tank to install some floors. To do so, I purchased an extra drilled 75g, plumbed it inline in my basement next to my sump, and the job went relatively smoothly. Now, I am ready to move things back, and here is my dilemma... The old tank is a reef ready system with a corner overflow and custom pipe/float system which works well (and is absolutely silent). The temp tank is NOT reef ready, but was well drilled (one IN and two drains, all with nice bulkheads, 1.5", etc) - nice... I have been trying to figure out how to make this temp tank work, since I'd like to buy back the corner overflow space (given the fact that a 75 isn't all that large). <Okay, I hear you!> I haven't been able to find much on how to configure the drains so that they will operate SILENTLY (my sole requirement). On the outside of the tank, the drain plumbing already has an upwards facing T with some removable pipes that serve to vent the system. I have found that they gurgle a bit. I am SURE it must be possible to address this, but am not entirely sure how to do so. Here is my plan: cover the vents with caps that have small holes with airline tubing with valves on them, then adjust until silent. <If the noise is coming from the airlines there is a simple solution, not so simple to explain in text, but I will try. Take a 1-2' length of PVC pipe and put a cap on both ends. Next, on one end, drill a hole just large enough to slip your airline into. Then on the other end drill the same sized hole and slip another piece of the tubing in there. This acts as a muffler, much the same as used in cars. It sounds idiotically simple, but it does work very well.> Will this plan *completely* address the noise issue while also responding well to any possible fluctuations in pump output? <The above will fix any noise issues with the airline. If you are getting noise from the drains themselves, you need something inside the tank to keep the drain from being open to the air in the room. Something as simple as a PVC elbow in the bulkhead, with the open end facing down into the water. Pump fluctuations should not make a difference in anything but the water level.> I have a Poseidon PS3 one floor (and ~45 feet) away from my display system. If it will NOT completely address the noise issue, do you have any alternate suggestions for how to configure this drilled tank (or should I just use my reef-ready tank with the corner overflow)? <Try the above, run from the 'reef ready'!> many thanks! Jim Gray <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Plumbing Options/Overflow, noise f'  9/22/08 Thanks for the tips- <Very welcome.> I have a follow-on question- <Okay.> I am finding that I have some noise by introducing air via airline hose. The noise is primarily in the plumbing and in my sump. I can add some pipe insulation around the flexible hose the noise is coming from, and I can probably live with the noise in my sump (but I'd rather do it the RIGHT way). <Pipe insulation does help. If it is the turbulence within the pipe itself, a rubberized undercoating (spray or roll on) on the pipe will help this too. Also just anchoring/attaching the line to the stand or wall will cut down on this noise. With a properly set up overflow, this line noise is typically all that is heard.> I am presuming that I'd really rather go full siphon, if possible (this would be the quietest situation, right - no turbulence at all?), but either of my drain hoses running full siphon beat out my pump. By that, I mean that the tank will drain down to bottom of an elbow in one of my drains. I am thinking of adding a valve inline to my main return and trimming it back a little until I can run it at full siphon, keeping the other return dry, as a pure emergency line. Doing this seems a little fragile (as does this whole system, to be honest). I guess it presumes that my pump output will be relatively constant (which I suppose it should be) and that I have an emergency drain (which I do). <This will not work, you have made half my point for me here! The problem is twofold. First, the siphon will inherently change or fail. The pump output changes (clogged or dirty) or the overflow line has buildup inside, maybe becomes clogged altogether. The pump fails or slows and you end up with a maddening flushing noise, the overflow line has the slightest issue and water is on the floor. The second problem with this 'overflow overclocking' is the idea of a safety drain. If this safety drain relies on a siphon it assumes the siphon will start. Many times it will not. If the safety drain is gravity fed it will not keep up with the flow from the full siphon drain if the first overflow fails. Take a 1.5' bulkhead. It will flow 750 gravity fed, over 1200 siphon fed. This is quite a margin to account for.> At any rate - does this sound like a good idea? <Nope, not in my house.> What do others with this problem do? <Take the steps mentioned above to cut down on the pipe noise.> thanks- Jim <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Plumbing Options/Overflow 9/23/08 Ok - I will try to make this my last question on this topic - appreciate your help/patience! <Heee, no problem.> Turns out that the noise in the sump (or pipes) is NOT going to palatable. <Does your drain line(s) run under the water in the sump?> The sump is right under our bedroom, and the air traveling through the line and into the sump was not subtle (not a good night's sleep, unf). So, I am going to have to work a little harder to solve this problem... Let's start at the beginning- I actually have 1" bulkheads (sorry for the previous misinformation). <Quite a difference, plan on 300 gph per quietly/safely. The volume through these is likely the culprit, a 1' bulkhead makes little if any noise with the correct amount of flow through it.> Each of them exits to a T, pointing up to provide a vent, then they elbow down. I have been experimenting with capping those vents and drilling various size and numbers of holes for airline tubing. <You should, 3/16' inner diameter at the most for the flow that will work through these.> This clearly helps a lot... This supports the gravity fed approach, but forces me to introduce air into the lines, which is noisy in the plumbing and upon exit in the sump. <To a point.> I am (just like everyone else, right?) looking for a silent, safe solution to getting water from my tank to my sump (which is, again, in my basement, on the other side of my house). <Yes, this is what most want.> My previous solution worked pretty well on this front - I had a reef ready system which had a custom standpipe that someone had worked up - it had a large pipe that slid over the stand pipe, and had a Styrofoam top on it, such that it would rise and open more holes as the water rose. It worked very well - was completely silent and (I believe) operated at full siphon. <Sounds like the case.> There was a backup pipe in the same chamber in case it needed it. There was also a valve beneath it to adjust the output. I guess this is similar to what I was thinking of doing, perhaps you are saying that my previous system was fragile/risky. <It was, a modicum of luck here.> May well have been - but it did run well for 2 years without any issues. Key question: Is there any way that I can rig a reliable system that will not have air in the lines? <One siphon line to two gravity fed emergency drains, but this really should not be necessary. Even then you will be tuning here and there.> Not having air in the lines appears to be required for a quiet system, unless I am missing something (entirely possible). <Hmm, no, we have covered the bases between the two emails. It does sound to me you either need a larger drain or less flow. Otherwise soundproofing or the siphon, the choice is yours.> thanks- Jim <Welcome, Scott V.>

New Nano reef, total > 100 gal.s, overall set-up!    7/24/08 Hi, <Hello there> Please could you have a look at some questions I have for a NANO tank plan. <Sure> I was looking at the various NANO tanks people have and how nice they look (better than my 120 gal). <Can> So I was thinking of creating one myself (I already have a 120 gal from the last 2 years). I am still in the design phase. <Good> However, I designed for a RDSB and sump of almost the same size as the display tank. <All right> The tank size is 50 G The RDSB (below the tank) is 23 gal Sump is 35 gal My tank, sump and RDSB specs Inches RDSB (12") sump Display Length 24 18 28 Width 18 24 24 Depth. 12 18 18 Vol in gal 22.4 34 52 108 Vol in liter 85 127 198 411 Questions 1. Is this big DSB going to give me a super advantage or should I reduce the RDSB? <I'd leave as is... really, the bigger the better> 2. Is it good to take a direct feed from the RDSB to the return pump location? <Is fine> 3. Will the return pump (standard powerhead) kill all the plankton? <No. Most all "passes through" alive> 4. I plan to use one Hydor koralia-3 propeller pump on one side and the sump return on the other side facing the Koralia and a siphon that fires OUT of the tank (down to the sump)? <Mmm... a siphon? Not a drain?> The siphon should fire in around every 10 seconds for 2-5 seconds duration taking approx 10-15 liters with it. Will this work for circulation? <Mmm... I would NOT do this. What if the siphon should fail? Where will all the water in play go? On the floor?> 5. Plan to go bare bottom as I have a RDSB. Will use egg-crate or acrylic boxes drilled for water flow to lay the foundation for the live rock. Will this have problems? <Can be done... depending on the needs, desires of your main system livestock...> Plan to use 60 pounds in the display. 6. Sump will have carbon and skimmer. 7. Will a 1/4th HP chiller be too much for this volume? (I have one in spare and can use it) <Likely will provide sufficient draw-down here> 8. Lights I plan will be Compact Florescent for 12-14 hours and MH will be only for 2-4 hours. Something like this (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3578+3733+12779&pcatid=12779) 9. Tank theme is Zoanthid / Palythoa garden with LOTS of feather duster worms and SPRINKLING of mushrooms and ONE cup coral "Turbinaria peltata <http://www.google.com/custom?hl=en&client=pub-4522959445250520&cof=FORI D:1%3BGL:1%3BLBGC:336699%3BBGC:%2399c9ff%3BLC:%230000ff%3BVLC:%23663399% 3BGFNT:%230000ff%3BGIMP:%230000ff%3BDIV:%23336699%3B&domains=www.WetWebM edia.com&sitesearch=www.WetWebMedia.com&oe=ISO-8859-1&sa=X&oi=spell&resn um=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=Turbinaria+peltata&spell=1> ". 10. Fish would be a shoal (5-7) of blue or green Chromis, 1 Purple Fire fish, 1 Psychedelic Mandarin. 11. Inverts would be 2 skunk cleaner shrimps, 1 Pom-Pom Crab, Snails, Blue Linckia (don't ask why but this works for me rather than a Fromia or any other sea star) have had this Linckia almost a year now. <Might I ask: What do you attribute your success to with this genus/species?> Cheers Ranjith <Other than the "siphon" this set-up sounds fine. I would read on WWM re overflows: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Peruse the first few trays... Bob Fenner>

Re: New Nano reef... plumbing/circ., and Linckia fdg.    7/25/08 Hi Bob, I had planned the siphon to try and give some bit of a wave effect. <Ahh! I see...> I presume, if a surge in is good due to moving water, a surge out should also be good as it moves water out. <Agreed... but/and a further cautionary remark... such devices are fraught with inherent dangers... at the very least one should plan on overflows.... where the water might actually end up... Better to do a bunch of reading re various "Surge Systems"... Perhaps a beginning read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/surgesysf.htm and the linked files above... Or better, a search on the Net with the term: "Bruce Carlson Surge System" to start with> Would it be fine if I have an emergency overflow hole above the siphon pipe? <This would definitely set my mind to greater ease> The sump will be deep enough to take the load incase the pump fails and all the water till the siphon pipe opening flows down. <Good!> The advantage being no salt crepe near the lights and electrical. The sump does not need light and will be covered and can be cleaned at intervals to maintain salinity. <Very good to understand that you are aware of all this> Would I be totally off my mind if I tried to run the skimmer from the output of the tank surge?? <Mmm, I would NOT do this... Best to situate the skimmer in a part of the sump that will be constant volume, have its own pump...> At a very basic level, would it provide enough flow to be able to skim? <No> Could you tell me what plumbing part I can use to siphon from the display? <Mmmm.... I'd rather not. Please understand, what "we" discuss here is posted, viewed by many folks going forward... I do not want to either encourage you or be seen to be encouraging siphoning as such a mechanism... IS fraught with danger, again, I assure you. Most easy example... what happens if the "higher" safety overflow becomes occluded, the sump overfills the tank?> A bulkhead would not be helpful as the inside part does not have a facility to attach a tube or the 90 degree elbow. <Again... I would fashion or buy the parts to make one of a few types of proven surge systems instead. Though these too often include a siphon mechanism/trigger, they are more reliable> Regarding the Linckia, I feed it fresh minced fish (marine origin) or prepared food (dried krill, minced fish, Cyclops eeze, Nori, shelled prawns, ocean nutrition (nano coral food) blended and frozen in small cubes. Feeding method is to wedge the food in a flat rock structure and then actually pick him up and put him on the food so his mouth cavity is directly on it. He does not find food if it is near him sometimes so I put him on the food. <Thank you for this> Surprisingly I have seen Fromia stars waste away and not accept food. <Me too. There are other important sources of mortality than nutrition> Ps: Initially he demolished my population of small squirts (that's what they looked like) Cheers Ranjith <Ahh! You likely have very healthy systems if you're able to sustain Ascidians. Cheers! BobF>

Loud Overflow (Another Overwhelmed 'Mega' Drain) -- 07/17/08 I have recently set up a 90 gallon reef tank with a central inside the tank standard Mega overflow kit. <<As yes, the grossly overstated 1-inch overflow kit>> It drains through a one-inch bulkhead into a 30gallon sump below the stand. I have been doing a lot of research concerning Stockman, Durso, and Hofer gurgle overflow pipe constructs that supposedly will quiet down the gurgling noise. <<Will help'¦as long as you aren't simply overcoming the drain with too much flow. Regardless of what may be stated in your kit, trying to run more than 300gph through a 1-inch gravity drain is trouble>> I am still confused which one will work best for an inside the tank overflow which is 24 inches tall. <<Differing means to the same end. All will probably elicit a change'¦finding which one fits and performs best for your situation/setup will take some experimentation>> I am worried about handling the outflow. <<'¦?>> I have a Gen-X pcx-40 pump <<Yikes! Unless you have a ton of headloss or this pump is throttled way-back, it is way too much pump for a single 1-inch drain (see my earlier comment re)! You have a dangerous potential for flooding, and as you have discovered, noisy siphon effect going>> which I plumbed into our crawlspace for noise control, and the standard design of the Hofer gurgle pipe only handles 5-600 gph. <<In reality this is plenty'¦the concern is over how much flow your 1-inch drain can safely handle (300gph)>> I was trying to determine should I increase the size of Hofer gurgle to 1.5 inch and 2 inch pipe, does it need to be taller than the design on their website which is only 5 inches tall and then extend the air tubing above the water line, or is there a better option for noise control that can handle the overflow? <<I would follow the recommendations of the designers'¦and visit/query the reef forums for others input re their design modifications, if any. But the real issue you need to address is flow rate. As stated, you just have too much water being pumped to the tank for the 1-inch overflow to handle. I would suggest you downsize the return pump (best option), or at the least install a gate valve on the output side of the pump to reduce flow to that which the drain can safely handle'¦even with an aftermarket 'gurgle pipe'>><RMF would have another drain line drilled, fitted.> Thanks, Mark <<Good luck with your plumbing project. EricR>>

Tank plumbing Siphoning Overflow 7/1/08 I was setting up the plumbing for a 20 gallon tank I'm using as a frag tank. It is drilled from the bottom with a 2" PVC going straight down into a 20 gallon refugium/sump. <A serious overflow for a 20 gal!> Its a straight drop into the refugium and I have a 'T' in the PVC and under the 'T' a ball valve, so that I can regulate the flow go into the refugium and the rest of the water will be diverted into the side of the sump with the mechanical filter, and in the middle of the sump is the return. I built the stand as well but didn't get around to putting any paneling on it so its quite loud. To solve this I extended the PVC down into water, realizing this would make that lovely toilet flushing sound, but thinking it would be more tolerable than the sound of the water crashing into the sump. <Both are curable.> My question is can I drill a hole into the PVC just above the waterline to solve the problem of the toilet flushing sound? <Yes, tis the solution, even with such a large drain line. Drill just large enough to slip a piece of vinyl or other tubing in to slide up and down, you will need the end of the line inside the pipe about an inch or two below the waterline inside the pipe to prevent siphoning.> If not, is there any other way to work around this problem? <Nope, you have the solution.> Given the choice, I'll take the toilet flushing over a waterfall, but it would be nice to be able to fix it. <You can fix both.> Thanks. <Welcome, Scott V>

Flow Rate (gph) vs. Pumping Height (Feet) = Refugium trouble, Combining A Refugium Within A Sump...How Do I Regulate Flow? -- 08/15/07 Crew or anybody for that concern, help please. <<How can I be of service?>> Hello again, <<Greetings>> So it's been awhile since I lost my 125 reef. <<Uh-oh>> Yes the seal let go. <<Mmm, I can sympathize...had the bottom seal let go on an 80g reef a few years back>> I was crushed, we saved every thing but still lost a lot of money and good effort go down the drain. <<Indeed>> This happened last April of this year. Now I find myself wanting another reef tank and my soon to be wife wanting to kill me. <<Fortunately my wife was more empathetic and understanding>> I'm building a 55g reef with a 125g refugium under the 55g reef tank. <<Interesting...most folks would go the other way around. But kudos to you, the reef will be all the better for the larger size and capacity of the refugium>> My cousin is building the hutch-like stand for me as I type and read WWM daily. <<Cool>> So here is what I'm trying to figure out, I hope I don't confuse you. <<Me too! [grin]>> The Mag-Drive Pump that I have pumps 1200gph and with 7ft head-loss it pumps 810gph. <<Okay>> My continuous siphon overflow box does 800gph. <<Hmm, do 'test' this...I think it likely you will find anything more than 'half' this rate may become problematic>> This turns a 55g reef over like 11-12 times per hour( I think). <<About '14' actually>> That's way too much pumping through a refugium from what I read. <<Not necessarily...in my opinion>> WWM recommends turning over a refugium 2-3 times per hour, correct? <<That's more of a 'minimum' baseline...there's no real necessity for it, but also no reason why you can't use a much higher flow rate as long as the system handles it well>> I'm really hoping I can combine the sump/refugium all into one tank? <<You can... This is not 'my' preferred method, but many hobbyists do just what you stated>> If so, how can I slow the water down and combine the two? <<Ah, well...you will need to 'isolate' the refugium within the sump yet allow water to pass from the first chamber to the last/the pump chamber unimpeded. There are two ways you can do this...one is to install baffles as usual to enclose/isolate the refugium but instead of fitting these from wall-to-wall across the width of the sump, you will need to stop short by a couple inches. You will also need to fit a side piece along the open length of the refugium. In doing this you have created a 'channel' along one side of the 'fuge which will allow water to circumvent the refugium and travel directly to the pump chamber. Now all you need do is install a small pump/powerhead in the first chamber of the sump to feed a lower flow-rate to the 'fuge while letting the higher flow-rate from the tank' drains travel around to the other end of the sump. Or...rather than 'building' the refugium you can simply place a smaller tank (30g/40g) within the sump to achieve the same effect. With both of these methods you can either drill the end-wall to allow water to drain, or as long as the top of the refugium chamber is lower than the top of the sump, you can simply allow the refugium to fill and 'well-over' the sides (this latter might actually allow for 'better' transfer of planktonic/epiphytic matter>> If I'm way off track here or if I seem confused it's from reading others ideas and WWM. <<Keep reading/thinking, mate...the understanding will come>> I'm more 'you show me' or a 'hands on' type of guy so that's why I'm asking you or someone for some help because I'm really stressing it here over this little 55g reef. <<No worries...just take a deep breathe, slow down, and take your time>> I just want it right this time, I can't keep starting over and over again. <<Patience is key...keep reading/researching/asking questions...>> Sorry this was so long and took some time to figure out. <<Again...no worries>> Thanks for your time, I appreciate your efforts here at WWM. Brian, Wisconsin <<Happy to help, Brian. EricR, South Carolina>>

Sump Flooding 8/14/07 Hello, and thank you so much in advance. <You're welcome.> I have everyone's fear happening to me at the moment. My tank, a 90 gal reef, has been running for 18 months without incident. My sump is an AllGlass Megaflow model and my tank is pre-drilled. I run a Sedra 900 pump for my returns. Today in my usual manner I turned off all power to begin my weekly tank cleaning. I usually let my lights cool (I have to remove the canopy to get in tank) for 10 minutes or so. When I came back, luckily after only a few moments, my sump was overflowing. I have traced the problem to the Sedra siphoning the water back from both return pipes in tank. Last week I did tighten the connectors on the return pipe to try to get rid of some bubbles, this is the problem I'm guessing but I don't know why or how to fix. Please give any advice you've got I've been living by it for 18 months already. <Jill, there are two ways to handle this problem, one is relatively cheap. What I do is drill a hole the same diameter as rigid air line tube, then trim a piece of the air line tube and stick it in the hole so that there is only about 1/4" between the top of the tube and the water surface. When you shut your pump off, water will siphon to that point, then air will enter the return line breaking the siphon. You will need to do this on all returns. The other method is to by an in-line check valve and plumb it into the pump outlet. I use both devices, not relying on the check valve itself, although it hasn't leaked back yet. It you decide on a check valve, it is a good idea to put a shut off above it. This will allow you to unscrew the cap and clean the valve of debris.> Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Jill

Re: Sump Flooding 8/15/07 Thank you so much for your quick response, I did the quick fix for now and will go forward with the check valve. You're a lifesaver (and floor saver), thanks again. <You're welcome, Jill. Do make sure what you have done works properly. James (Salty Dog)>

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