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FAQs about Large Marine System Filtration/Circulation/Aeration

Related Articles: Large Marine SystemsFish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Plumbing Marine SystemsRefugiumsMarine Biotope, Marine LandscapingFishwatcher's Guides

Related FAQs: Large marine Systems 1, Large marine Systems 2, & FAQs on: Large System Design, Large Tanks, Large System Lighting, Metal Halides for 40-200 gal. Systems, MH for 200 gal. Plus Systems, Large System Skimmers, Large System Stocking, Large System Maintenance, & Shark Systems Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Marine System Plumbing Biotopic presentations

1000 gallon FOWLR filtration        1/13/16
Hi Crew,
I just got my 1000 gallon (10x3x5) tank into my basement and I need some help with how to filter that size of tank. Tank has large corner overflows with 2 inch drains and 4 one inch returns on both sides hidden in overflow. I am looking at 1200 gallons total with sump. My plans are to use 110 lbs of those ceramic bio noodles and an RK2 skimmer along with some
light live rock decoration (approx 600 lbs). Is there a better way to filter a saltwater tank that size in my house ?
<Mmm; well.... it depends on what you intend to keep; and what you'd like to do with "it" here. I'd be adding some mechanical filtration; a DSB, RDP lighting and algal or even mangrove propagule culture in the sump.... and a good deal of in-tank circulation (not just the outside pump/s)....>
I plan on keeping a few big angels, golden puffer, butterflies, large tangs, clown trigger and a few smaller schooling fish.
<Much to consider; and am out of town w/ a laptop that doesn't load the searched URLs... DO search, read on WWM re large system filtration.... the archived FAQs. Bob Fenner>
Chad Keller

Adding a sump to an existing setup 5/4/12
Hello to all the helpful people @ Wet Web Media.
<Hello there.>
I have a 300 gallon saltwater system that has been up and running for about 3 years now.
The sump is inside the stand and is a mere 40 gallons. I have recently purchased a 180 gallon acrylic sump that I have just finished the plumbing to connect it to the 300 gallon. I still have the 40 gallon sump running on the 300, but am just about ready to start up the 180 gallon sump, but I am concerned about adding 150+/- gallons of water to my system all at the same time. How would I go about doing this?
<It's not a drastic change providing the pH, temperature, and specific gravity are close to that of the main system.  Your livestock should actually benefit from this increased volume of water.  You may need to upgrade your protein skimmer to process the larger volume of water you will have.>
Thanks in advance and keep up the great work. Take care.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> 
Re Adding a sump to an existing setup 5/4/12

Hey James(salty dog),
I also have upgraded my skimmer.
I have a ETSS 1800xr pro downdraft skimmer rated @ 800 gallons so I think I should be ok there.
<Yes, that model is a beauty.  I believe it was originally designed for shark tanks.>
I had to upgrade my skimmer anyways as I have a pretty high bioload with my 16 fish (2 of which are 12" tangs).
So I should be able to just fire her up and let her rip you say?
<I would being mindful of matching water parameters.>
Thanks for the help, I'll let you know how it goes.
<Sounds good.>
Take care.
<And you as well.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re Adding a sump to an existing setup 5/10/12
Salty Dog(James),
wwm: Todd
180g sump update............after a few days of water testing and allowing the water temperature to rise to the same as the 300g display tank upstairs, I decided to cut all ties to the previous 40g under tank sump I was using and run the 4 drains down to the new 180g basement sump. It was a tough decision when I finally made the first cut through the existing pvc plumbing because once I made the cut there was no going back.
wwm: Would not have been a problem, easily fixed with a coupling.
Lol. Anyways, I made the cuts and ran the plumbing to the basement. No leaks!! I am however getting a ton of bubbles coming into the display tank (from the plumbing I believe, as there are not any bubbles in the return section of the sump) which I think should go away over the next couple days.
wwm: Yes, the effects of new PVC.
The skimmer is a beast!!
wwm: Yes it is.
It was very finicky to get it to start foaming into the collection cup but once it started it hasn't stopped!! I will email a couple pics when I get home. Thanks for the advice.
wwm: You're welcome and will be looking forward to the pics. James (Salty Dog)

Final Questions on Remote DSB Plan for a 220 Gallon Reef Tank 4/15/12
Hi everyone,
<Hello Bryan>
Longtime reader with my first question! I have really tried to do my homework by reading on here, as well as reading Coral Propagation and Reef Invertebrates several times. Love them both! Anyway, I've been planning my RDSB for some time now and want to run my plan by for feedback as well as a few final clarifications.
System: A 220 gallon display with about 200lbs of live rock, a 75 gallon sump with skimmer and Chaetomorpha (sp), a 15 gallon fuge/holding tank.
DSB Goal: primary purpose is for NNR (Nitrate Reduction). But as you'll see I'd like to add Invertebrate (i.e. - zooplankton) Culture and possible macro algae.
So I'd like to keep nitrates down to zero if possible.
<Best to have a small amount with corals and clams.>
My plan is/was to use a 100 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank filled with sand, at least 6 inches, maybe more. 
I know the DSB should be at least 6" deep, but I'm thinking there's no limit to how deep? I.e. -The deeper the better?
<I would go no deeper than 6 inches.>
I was going to put like 12-18" inches of sand in the bottom of this huge 100g Rubbermaid stock tank. And then the rest place some live rock/rubble and then top it off with Chaeto and a light.
<I believe it would be more effective without the rock on it.>
Then the more I read I thought I should split the two goals (NNR and Invert/Macroalgae production) into two vessels.
1) For NNR I should fill the holding tank all the way to the top (i.e. - RDSB in a bucket), keep it completely dark, and then have the top 10cm or so flowing fast with water to keep particulate settling down. 
2) Then, find some other vessels for invertebrate and macro algae culturing.
<Just use your 15 gallon fuge for this or bump it up a little on gallon capacity.>
How large for my sized tank? I was thinking of a 75/100 gallon glass tank, or maybe several 20g plumbed together (I have the space, for the most part).
<Plumbing nightmare, better to use one tank.>
Or, should I switch the use, use the 100g Rubbermaid for the invert prop and plumb several 20g tanks as RDBS?
Sorry if I'm over thinking this but I'm big on planning, especially something this important!
Finally, I've read a lot on the use of sand, esp. A. Calfo's breakdown. 
Ideally I'd fill the NNR vesicle with sugar sized -Oolitic sand.
For the other DSB, I've seen Anthony say silica based sand is ok, good b/c its inexpensive, bad b/c of the shape of the sand.
My question is: I've always heard silica-based sand propagates Phosphate (PO4) and never to use it? I would love to fill up one of the vessels (or both) with play sand from a big box store but they all say "contains silicates".  Would really make my operation cost effective but I would never take the risk just to save a few $$$.
<Silicates can cause diatom blooms.  I wouldn't use.>
So, based on my primary and secondary goals, equipment and space available, have I missed anything?
<Yes, aquarium technology has advanced to a degree where there are better methods and less problematic than DSBs to control nitrates.  Carbon dosing and nitrate reactors are the two primary ones.  Do check into this.
Thanks in advance!
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Bryan Heron

Advice needed on large reef tank. Rusting, circ., lighting     10/26/11
I am Vijay Kumar from India. I have spent countless time going through the great advices from you guys. It has really helped me in making many crucial decisions in this difficult hobby of reef aquarium. Now I am in the process of a 3300 liters mixed reef aquarium dimensions are 8.5' * 3.5' * 4' (L*H*W). I have a few questions for which I would like your help
1) Due to suppliers credibility in India for acrylic tank supply. I have made the tank with 19mm toughened glass with ss316 frame. Now is there any coating that we can use to prevent rust in the long run?
<Not as a one-time application... you might get away w/ occasional re-application of epoxies or resin paint/s>
2) I have narrowed my lighting requirement to 400w *4 14000 k metal halide bulbs with 8 nos 4 feet 54w actinic blue t5 bulbs and 4 nos 4 feet 54 watt 6500 Kelvin bulbs. Can I go with the same proposed lighting or kindly give me your advice so I may proceed accordingly and to recap I am going for a mixed reef ?
3) With respect to circulation I am having a reef octopus return pump which gives me 7000 l/Hr flow also I have 2 Sicce voyager 10 around 15000 l/Hr pump each which is placed on the back side at both ends flow is directed to the front glass.
<Better by far as a surface generated gyre. See WWM w/ this search term>
Now my question is should I go with Tunze Ts48 kit or EcoTech mp40. Which make would you go for.
<The Tunzes>
If Tunze would TS 48 be enough to create the waves and the necessary circulation( Especially after the new study).
If Vortech how many mp40 would be needed(As these are the only two models available here). Also One side of my tank is up against the wall , hence my placement can be either in the back or on one side. Given the consideration what will be your choice.
<The side>
4) Is there a necessary to also go for a wave box if I choose the ts48 kit.
<Not necessary; nor advised>
Thanks will appreciate your views very much
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Advice needed on large reef tank, circ.    10/28/11

Thanks Bob for your feedback. I will definitely keep Tunze has my first choice. Due to availability issues if I choose Vortech mp 40 w es how many of these would I need for my tank.
<Likely 3-4... Also fine products. B>

FOWLR and DSB (application/efficacy) -- 10/26/11
Hi Folks,
<<Hiya Mike>>
I was hoping you could provide some guidance.
<<Will try>>
I tried searching your site but can't find the answer to my question. First some background. I have a 1500 gal fish only marine aquarium with 25 fish ranging from clowns to a 15 inch Vlamingi tang and a dinner-plate-sized French angel.
<<Very nice!>>
It originally was set up with a wet/dry with two sand-filter pool filters containing plastic bio-media. I am not satisfied with my high nitrates, and I am sure my fish would agree with me.
I started converting the filtration system. Last year I added a 4ft x 6ft x 5in DSB/Refugium.
<<Excellent'¦am a big fan re>>
I removed one of the sand filter containers. I am now starting to add dry rock base rock in the hopes of converting to a FOWLR system so that I can remove the final sand filter and eventually the wet/dry. So far I have added about 120 lbs of rock into the sump (I know, a drop in the bucket).
<<But coupled with the DSB'¦>>
The rule of thumb seems to be to have 1 lb of rock per gallon.
<<Very hard to measure'¦so many variables to consider'¦a 'rule' mostly propagated by those who sell the rock, in my estimation>>
My question is do I need to maintain a similar ratio or does the DSB count for something?
<<The DSB counts for much here>>
I don't think I can fit 1500 lbs of rock in my current sump.
<<Nor do 'I' believe you will need to; I would expect you to be able to get away with considerably less than this>>
And I assume it's not a good idea to stack up rock on the DSB in the refugium.
<<A matter of preference, really'¦I can't say that I have ever noticed a difference in DSB performance either way>>
Any insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
<<I have a moderately-heavy stocked 330g reef display which I recently 'redesigned' utilizing the 'negative space' aspect of captive reef design. As such, my display contains only about 60 lbs of live rock'¦supplemented by a sugar-fine substrate of a couple inches in the display but also by a very mature inline 55g lighted vegetable refugium (Chaetomorpha) with 6-inch DSB (also sugar-fine aragonite). It's only been a few weeks, but I've not suffered any deleterious effects to water quality 'and I feed my tank very well. My point is I think you can get by with much less rock than you believe 'just how much will take a bit of testing to determine. Were this me; and depending on urgency here, I would add another 180 lbs of dry rock (for a total of 300 lbs) and let this become 'colonized' (throwing in a couple tens of pounds of 'live' rock with the dry rock will speed things along and seed many beneficial organisms). Once the rock is ready (4-5 weeks), I would remove one of the devices mentioned and monitor water quality closely 'if all is well after 4-5 days, remove the remaining device and continue monitoring. As long as ammonia/nitrate doesn't become an issue, you can then 'play' with the amount of rock to determine how much is needed to give you the desired result. Having a goodly supply of fresh saltwater readily available for water changes/dilution as/if necessary during this process is a good idea. In addition to the DSB and rock, I would suggest throwing some light on a corner of that DSB if possible and adding a large ball of Chaetomorpha, to be harvested periodically as an additional export for nitrogenous products. The Chaetomorpha also provides an excellent matrix for organisms that are of benefit to 'any' marine system>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
e: FOWLR and DSB (application/efficacy) -- 10/26/11
Thank you Eric. This was very helpful.
<<Good to know Mike...good luck with the conversion. EricR>>

500 Gallon Aquarium Filtration. Reading     10/18/11
Planning a 500 gallon aquarium 96x36x36...FOWLR and maybe T5 for lighting.
<The lighting... what do you intend to stock here?>
Can't make up mind on filtration. Want something simple and easy to maintain. "currently have a 180 FOWLR, sump, skimmer, etc. so understand the need for husbandry.
Have looked into the idea of using two of the Aqua Ultima II 2000 filters with 2 114 watt UV filters.
<Mmm, these bead filters are really designed for pond use. They can/will work on marine systems... but there are other aspects of filtration (e.g. denitrification) that you'll be missing... with obvious troubles... And backwashing? You're going to throwing a good deal of water away>
Basically, each overflow would have a filter and UV with both filters being feed by a Reeflo Hammerhead pump with around 4000 gph flow...maybe more or less as needed.
<Mmm, no... these units are engineered for a given flow rate... 2k/hr. is about it>
Plumbing would be 2 overflow boxes with 2" drains and 1.5" returns. Each 2" drain would feed into a single filter.
<I'd rely on propeller type water moving technology in the tank itself...>
Will run a closed loop system with the Oceans Motions 8 way...Reeflo Dart pump with around 2000 gph on the closed loop.
<Old school... again, I would not do this>
Have pondered the idea of a 135 gallon aquarium as a sump with dual Reef Octopus Skimmers, two fluidized bed filters and the closed loop as well.
<Another possibility; but not the route I would take... What re a skimmer? Outrageous NO3 issues?>
Just trying to get the best bang for my buck on this new system.
Your thoughts on this?
<That you should read: http://wetwebmedia.com/lgsysfiltrs.htm
and the linked files above. Please learn to/use the search tool (on every page) and the indices on WWM. Bob Fenner>

question/s regarding 330g acrylic; stkg., filtr., H. magnifica    9/25/11
Hello, folks. Thanks for this wonderful website. I have unexpectedly been given the chance to buy a fairly-priced 330g pre-drilled acrylic aquarium (84"x30"x30"). After years of keeping freshwater Discus, I have had only one previous saltwater setup; a 125 gallon LR with a magnificent anemone, MH lighting, etc.. I am considering catering this aquarium to house only a magnificent anemone(s), Perculas, and damsels. My previous magnificent anemone thrived over the 2 1/2 years I had the tank but it was a decent amount of work; battling algal blooms with such intense lighting, frequent water changes, closely monitoring parameters, etc. However, I think dedicating a tank of this size to just magnificent anemone(s) and a large group of Perculas could make for a breath-taking setup.
<Mmm, not too large a group of clowns... they don't share hosts nicely>
My two questions are;
1) before I purchase this large of a tank (and not having time yet to do enough research; tank will go quickly), will I be able to purchase the required filtration (likely trickle),
<I'd look into something "more modern"... a remoted sump, DSB, RDP lighted, refugium area...>
pumps, skimmer, etc. from the standard on-line distributors or am I getting in over my head with a lot of customizing to make this work?
<Mmm, the former. Gear (mechanicals, controllers) are available commercially for such sized systems, even MUCH larger>
I have never maintained a tank of this volume...
2) My plan will be LR formed to allow the H. magnifica a flat spot ~12' below the water surface directly beneath MH lighting (would 2x250 = 500w 10,000k provide enough?)
<Mmm, again, I'd do a good deal of look/seeing here before spending your/my money... there are better long term lighting options nowayears>
hanging ~12" above the water, some big-time water movement, an appropriate sized trickle(s)/overflow (all intakes meshed and covered) stocked with a large group of blk/wht Perculas with some damsels. I get excited just talking about it!
<I'd round out the livestock selection here... with Anthiines, Apogonids, a bunch of bottom dwellers... Let your imagination soar! Mine's already aloft>
This will be a long process and I will allow the tank to establish/cycle well before attempting H. magnifica. I just wanted your opinion on maintaining a tank of this size and what issues you see with my set-up plan for this tank. No rush, but they are only willing to hold this tank for me until Tuesday!
<Mmm, do start your reading here:
scroll down to the tray below "Large Marine Systems"... peruse all>
A side note, my previous H. magnifica only moved a significant distance twice in the 2 1/2 years I had it. It was parked directly under a 250w MH just below the water surface. It moved once due to a power outage (light off in middle of day cycle) and once when the algae went a little crazy when on vacation. Do you think it would be possible, with an well-thought-out LR formation, to hold more than one H. magnifica in this size tank?
<Mmm, "possible"; yes... but I would limit yourself to just one really... for all the reasons gone over in the article on this species by me, archived on WWM and the linked files re Heteractis magnifica linked above>
A very big thank you! Kind regards,
Kevin Crowe
<And you, Bob Fenner>

Skimmer for a 1200 Gallon FOWLR system/Skimmer selection 6/9/2011
WetWeb Crew,
I recently purchased a 1200 gallon acrylic tank with the following dimensions; 12 foot long by 4 foot wide by 43 inches high.
My plan is to set up a FOWLR system that will house angels and a tang or two.
The tangs, I am thinking, will be a Purple Tang and a Sohal Tang.
<Sohal's are very aggressive, may not be a good idea.>
Regarding the angels, I am still on the fence, trying to determine what would be the best mix. Researching your site, I was disappointed to learn that angels don't mix well, but I am hoping to be able to pick a maximum of six, and get them to adjust to one another and play nicely in the sand box.
<Larger systems such as yours are a little more forgiving with cohabitation issues.>
With that being said, my question tonight is regarding skimmers. I have the Aqua Medic, Shorty 5000. If I ran this skimmer coupled with Ozone, with a maximum of 10 large fish, can I get away without upgrading, or would I need a larger skimmer?
<That skimmer isn't going to do it, your fish selection will produce a good amount of waste.>
Currently I am looking at the Octopus 8000 EXT, and considering it my plan B.
<That would be the route I would take.>
Another concern I have is regarding water flow. I currently have two Reeflow Barracuda Pumps, but wonder if I should upgrade to the Hammerhead class.
<I'd be looking for a total water flow of at least 12,000gph. James (Salty Dog)>
Marc Madison

Question About Circulation On 540 gallon tank - 11/03/10
Attn Crew:
How many times in an hour must 540 gallons of water totally recirculate every drop? What is the equation to figure that one out?
<A good rule of thumb is 10X the tank volume per hour.>
I have a built in overflow box and two huge wet dry systems so what size pump would work good as my return pumps for this size of tank? Would a total of 2500 gallons an hour be sufficient?
<The 2500gph figure would be close providing one of these pumps were used on each wet/dry system. You also have to figure in head loss of the pumps to determine actual flow rate to the system. I suggest reading here and related articles found in the header. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circmarart.htm>
I have approximately eight fish.
<James (Salty Dog)>
Re Question About Circulation On 540 gallon tank 11/3/10
Salty Dog,
I saw the article,
The water needs to shoot up about 6 ft from sumps to get into the tank. It is a straight up shot to get in. If I used a Mag 950 in one Sump with a Head Pressure of 14 ft and Mag 18 with Head Pressure of 21 ft in other sump for a grand total of 2800 gallons an hr that should be good right?
<If you can furnish me with the outlet pipe size you are going to use on each pump and indicate if any ball valves and unions will be used, I can tell you what your actual flow rate into the tank will be. Do include any elbows if they are to be used, they will have a factor in total gph. James (Salty Dog)>
Flow to Sump question -- 11/03/10

< Hi Christopher,>
How many times in an hour must 540 gallons of water totally recirculate every drop? What is the equation to figure that one out? I have a built in overflow box and two huge wet dry systems so what size pump would work good as my return pumps for this size of tank? Would a total of 2500 gallons an hour be sufficient? I have approximately seven fish.
<There's a lot of good info on our website: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm . The topic of flow though the sump has changed over the years. It's hard to say what is perfect. But, as a general rule of thumb, I go with between 2 and 10 times the display water volume per hour. So between 900 and 5500 gph, depending on stocking densities and tank inhabitants. In my fish breeding systems I lean more towards 2 times an hour. In an sps reef, people would probably go more towards 10x. So, 2500gph sounds perfect.>
<Scott T.>

UV Sterilization, lg. sys... filtr.  6/24/10
Hey Crew
I have a 500 gallon reef tank and have had one for some time now, about 5 years. I've had my share of ups and downs, more downs than ups, though.
I've had corals that require "expert care" that thrive and corals that are considered "easy" and die. The same goes with fish. I do nothing special.
I don't have any high tech controllers, or quarantine tanks. All I do is weekly water changes, about 20-30 gallons and have a skimmer and a red sea ozonizer.
The ozonizer I hardly use because I'm about half scared to use it.
<Don't be. These devices are not harmful. See the area linked below to assuage your fears>
The ORP reads between 250-300. By the way what is the therapeutic level for the ORP and dosage rate for the ozone?
<... please read here:
or the article vers. linked above>
The nitrates are always low and there is a trace amount of phosphate. I seem to be having an ich problem with my blue tangs and I recently lost a Sailfin tang to what I think was dropsy.
<A symptom, w/ a few possible etiologies... again, please search/read on
WWM as we request before writing us>
I've lost alot
<... no such word>
more than this, but I think ich is the problem which leads to secondary infections.
<Ahh! You may well be correct here Lar>
My male lyretail Anthias is now getting a cloudy eye without visible signs of parasites. I need to know about the UV
<Your Ozonizer is doing about all the good that a UV would>
such as...a good idea...which one to get and what size for a 500 gallon tank.
<See WWM re... the Vectron line by TMC is my fave for this size system... and others. Bob Fenner>
Thanks for your time and help

Questions For Your WWM Experts...240 gal. lighting, sump questions... 6/1/10
Hello, Im called Buddy in most forum links im <I'm> a member in, but the issue or what is always mostly the problem is if you were to post any new thread on what if it be on lighting or otherwise, you most always receive a
difference in opinion on many ideas in which only adds to one being more confused then they were from the start.
<Yes, can happen on forums.>
The facts are, even that I been in this hobby ever sense the late 40`s I had never kept SPS corals.
<Yikes, someone in the hobby much older than I, but I'm guessing this is a typo. Let's see, if you were 15 years old when you started, that would make you 85 years old if the "late 40's" is not a typo. With that being said, salt water aquariums were not a reality until the early 60's.>
Yes, its strange somewhat that SPS corals be one type of system I never done, but that is to change sometime next year depending on cost and so far im looking at more then $14,000 to rebuild something that wasn't done right years ago when I paid one other at one lfs.
The question is for a 240 gal tank (8x2x2') and I am looking for complete specs for MH with T5`s, also what was suggested was LED.
<No need for T5's using a MH system.>
Now I been planning on four 250w MH and the other question here is, is <are> 14k bulbs good enough for a dominated SPS reef system? Or should it be of something greater then that?
<Plenty of light here, but I'd go with 10 or 12K lamps supplemented with two Ice Cap Blue LED strips for color accent which also fits in with your dusk to dawn which I see below.>
I am looking to have top of the line in this lighting equipment, im <I'm> no wish to buy cheap, only to have to spend more later on in upgrades, so im <I'm> looking to do it right from the start.
Also, I like to have the total best in the ballast for what I will have, I was looking at one that was strongly suggested to me, but its been a discontinued item, and if I buy this one, the Sunlight Supply Blue Wave 7 250W HQI Dual Metal Halide Ballast, I would have to buy four of these right away so that I would have my backups for these ballast if one was to ever fail me.
<I would suggest looking at the Ice Cap line of MH lighting systems. I believe they are one of the better systems.>
I like to buy first the parts I will need to get this system started with and buy slowly the dry goods, equipment I will need for any equipment failure which includes all pumps and chillers, as well as cooling fans.
From any and all of the experts here, what specs suggestions can you suggest on my total lighting system? Also, I like to have a dusk and dawn effect. Total lighting that includes what if with T5`s or VHO`s, but know something there that I would do better to have T5`s, but what I not know of is the LED lighting.
<As above, no need for T5's and do check out the Ice Cap line. As to the LED's, here is a link to the LED blue strip lighting I mentioned above.
You will also find the Ice Cap line carried by this etailer.
Also, the sump I will have will be a 125 gal tank and im <I'm> looking to have a refugium and im <I'm> a bit lost there to what gph flow rate im <I'm> to have for the guy who will rebuild this for me is saying too strong a flow, will make it that I can not have a refugium. I not know if you can assist in this as well, but if any of you can, I will have two one main return pump, that will split of into two return lines, Im looking at now a 2000 gph external pump right now, a Iwaki (Japanese built) for I heard they like last forever. Now I will also be having Vortech pumps for my water currents, here too will be a question to have many I should have. If the pump isn't ideal in having a refugium, which would you suggest?
<I will provide you with an index to our articles/FAQ's and suggest you read on plumbing and refugiums. This should answer all if not most of your concerns. After reading/learning, do write back if there are areas that are unanswered.
I do however have other questions in this SPS system im <I'm> looking to finally build, I should also tell you if I not mentioned it as yet that this will be my first SPS tank, I done other reef tanks, soft corals however were extremely easy to keep and maintain. My QT for this reef tank will be a 40 gal breeder tank, im planning on T5`s for this QT.
<Articles on this subject can also be found in the above index.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
A personal request:
This isn't to be posted at WWM, I like to make a request if your staff can email me the link with your experts suggestions to XXXX so that I wouldn't have any problems in relocating it, Thanks
<All queries are posted for the benefit of others. An email is sent to each and every querior, the posting is done after the fact.>

starting a saltwater pond   1/11/10
New Year Greetings(from Maldives) to WWM Crew,
<Hello to you Ahmed from sunny S. California>
I would appreciate if you could give us your professional suggestions/ advice on this project of us. Please bear with us if it sounds funny.
One of my friends and I are going to make a salt water pond in one of the islands (were my friend lives). Actually we want to convert a fresh water pond to a saltwater pond.
Dimensions are as follows.
Its a hexagon shape were S= 12' , A= 11' and H= 2'.
The options we have on our mind are:
1. pump saltwater directly from the sea to the pond and over flow it out to the sea. My friend lives very close to the sea and some of you might know how clean our seawater is. We did that before; but after few days we found out that the fishes eyes are getting infected. Question is, do you think this could work or where have we gone wrong?
<Certainly could work>
2. We are going to pump seawater directly from the sea to a sump get it skimmed and then send it to the pond and the overflow to return back to the sump. But we will have a mechanism to pump fresh saltwater from the sea like twice a weekly. Question: how much skimming would we require
<Mmm, something sufficient for the gallonage... pi R squared times the depth times about 7.5 gal.s per cubic foot... and stocking, feeding...>
and do you suggest a UV filtration,
<If you can support the install and operation costs, yes>
if yes were do we need to put the UV filtration (in the pond or at the sump)
<On the final discharge side of all filtration... after the sump on the way back to the pond>
and how big UV light would we require?
<Posted on WWM. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/uvselfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
How much circulation will we need?
<Sufficient to "turn over" the water 5-6 times per hour likely>
At the moment we are pumping from a 2" pump from the sea.
<Mmm, should be enough, depending on the pump, plumbing, head, drag...>
Some challenges we will have to face are, since its and out door pond we will have to cater for the rainy season. If its raining we will keep the saltwater running 24/7 from the sea directly. Your suggestions please.
<Unless it's "really" raining, you should be fine... I have visited the Maldives... and know how hot it can be/get... You'll likely install a sun shade of sorts, and this can/should be employed to divert most rain water>
I know this is not a small task that we are going to start, but we would appreciate your input as we believe you guys are doing great to keep the hobby going.
Keep up the good work.
<Will do! Please send along news of your progress, images if you can. Bob Fenner> 

Re: starting a saltwater pond   1/13/10
Hi Bob,
Thank you very much for your comments. We will keep you posted on the progress.
<Thank you>
Thanks WWM Team.

Need an Idea on How to Re-Setup My Tank -- 12/21/09
I have a viewable from 3 sides' tank that is 8x2x2.
<<Ah, very nice'¦ I have an 8 x 2.5 x 2.5 tank myself'¦built into a wall and viewable from the front and back sides>>
I have lots of live rock, plus live rock that is no longer used in the tank and now been cleaned and dried. I just need a better way to use what I have to make a better display and better water movement. When I had the tank custom made I asked for a style that could be viewed as a walk-around, it has a pump that moves 5500gph, plus a 6x2x2 refugium sump filter. The tank has 4" of live sand but the seamount style that the live rock is arranged in is not a very good style and reduces the water movement plus also creates areas for detritus build up. Attached is a photo of the tank so that you may see what I am talking about and looking for ideas to change. Please give me some ideas on how I should rearrange the live rock since the inflow pipes are fixed and cannot be moved but the top flow outputs can be changed if you think they need so.
<<Well Bryan, based on what I can see and from your description, reducing the amount of live rock in the display (perhaps any surplus can be placed in the refugium) to a couple 'low' bommies will help with your water flow. Because of your design, I can see where the addition of powerheads/pumps at the open end would not be desirable. But, perhaps something like a Tunze Stream pump (the controllable/variable speed type) or a Tunze Wave Box could be added to the end nearest the wall. Either of these devices would provide some very nice pulse/surge type water movement to supplement the laminar flow of your return pipes that, coupled with the bommies, would work very well for this long tank I think>>
<<Cheers'¦ EricR>>

Plans For New 340 Gallon Tank -- 11/23/08 Hey guys, <<Hey there Adam>> I have rushed every reef I have had because it was previously a friends system or someone who was getting out of the hobby etc. Due to this everything has always been a rush and issues have always ensued. <<I see>> I am now in the planning/purchasing phase of the first system solely designed and started by myself. <<Cool! Much fun and learning to be had during the planning stages>> I have been brainstorming different ideas for nearly 6 - 10 months and have settled on a 350 gallon display, 100 gallon sump, 100 gallon dry sump (in case of over flow issues), a 180 gallon refugium and a 45 gallon grow-out tank. <<Very nice'¦ I have a 500g system (375g display, 75 sump, 55g refugium) that I built from the ground up, so I have a an idea of what is ahead for you>> The display will focus on invertebrates and fish so I wanted to run a possible stocking list (fish) by you guys. <<I'm happy to give you my opinion>> I've researched a lot of the fish and their temperament but some of them I am not so comfortable with. Other inhabitants will be a focus on SPS, Clams and shrimp (pistols and cleaners). <<Okay>> The stocking list is as follows: 1 Hippo Tang 1 Sixline Wrasse 1 Bar Goby 1 Pink and Blue Prawn Goby 1 Bicolor Blenny 1 Ember Blenny (Saw it at a LFS guessing from looks it is a color morph of the Lawnmower blenny) 2 Firefish 2 Purple Firefish <<I don't recommend these Dartfishes (Nemateleotris spp.) in this type of setting. These shy little fish (conspecifics aside) tend to get bullied and or just stressed to the point that they simply 'disappear' when housed with more boisterous fishes, as you have listed. They're really best suited to a species specific system'¦or at least one with 'their' requirements as the focal point>> 1 Bicolor Pseudochromis 1 Fridmani Pseudochromis <<Mmm, not sure these will cohabitate even in this size tank>> 1 Yasha Hase Goby 1 Flaming Prawn Goby 1 Flame Wrasse 1 Filamented Wrasse 1 Carpenters Flasher Wrasse 1 Australian Lineatus Wrasse 3 Dispar Anthias (2 F, 1 M) 1 Fathead Anthias <<Ah yes'¦this is one Anthiine species that I've 'not' seen do well in captivity as a group (results much like those when trying to keep a 'school' of damsels)>> 3 Ventralis Anthias (2F, 1 M) 1 Blackcap Basslet <<This Gramma may also become a target of the Pseudochromis>> 1 - 2 Green Mandarin Fish (depends on availability of a pair) <<Even with the refugium, I suggest you let this system mature for at least a year before attempting these fish>> 3 Neon Gobies 2 Yellow Headed Jawfish 1 Sea of Cortez Jawfish <<And a suitable substrate for these'¦>> 1 Yellow Tang 1 Purple Tang 1 Flame Angel 2 Percula Clowns This being my third and final reef tank I scoured the internet and books to try to include everything I could and then make adjustments given their husbandry requirements. I know I have read that the Anthias if housed with even semi-aggressive tankmates can go belly up, would this be an issue with the tangs and angel with this big of a tank? (I already have the purple, and yellow tang as well as the angel housed in my 120 gallon reef and don't want to part with them.... and absolutely cannot stand something dying under my care. :( ) <<There is a possibility the Anthiines will be intimidated to the point of decline, yes. Some species seem to fare better with aggressive tankmates in my experience (e.g. -- Lyretail and Bicolor)'¦maybe partly due to their larger size but also 'their' more aggressive nature. Anthiines also seem to do better in my estimation when they are the major population species in a tank'¦not the case in yours>> The tank will be set up over the next year, and I don't have plans of stocking it with fish until around six months of cycling to give planktors and algae their first go at life and it will be a slow addition later that with the fish in my current tank being introduced last (except some of the gobies). <<Excellent! Kudos to you for your patience here'¦ Your system will be so much the better for it>> Second question, due to circumstances in the past, like the recent demonstration of Murphy's Law while I was on vacation, I want everything to have a "back- up" plan. <<Redundancy is good'¦ I could share my own tragic and costly events re>> I want to go with a single pump circulating the display and Fuge, as well as feeding the Aqua C EV-1000 I plan to employ, and of course, keep a backup of that pump at all times. <<Mmmm'¦ Some considerations to share here'¦ Trying to regulate flow to multiple devices is a constant battle. Small changes in resistance to the flow within the plumbing lines, the skimmer, etc., will require your continuous attention to regulate for maximum efficiency of the skimmer. And of course, if the pump goes down, everything goes down. And with that in mind, why not 'two' sump return pumps? You stated you wanted a backup system. Well mate, short of an auto-start generator in the event of a total loss of power, running two smaller sump return pumps (for sump return/circulation only) on separate electrical circuits is the way to go. If one pump fails, or if something on one of the circuits trips a GFCI, you still have one pump that, even at half the total flow, will be able to keep your tank 'alive' until you can affect repairs. Even the auto-start generator won't help for a simple surge/circuit breaker tripping'¦but running two return pumps on two different circuits could be a lifesaver>> I was thinking of using the Reeflo Hammerhead Gold due to its 5555GPH output and low watt draw (~275 watts). <<Do also consider the pumps location/noise in the living space'¦if a consideration>> Would running this pumps output into a 3-way manifold with ball valves ruin its high flow rate? <<In my opinion, yes'¦ High flow pumps with very low wattage draws typically do not do well against much head pressure>> Even if it doesn't would it depreciate it enough that it wouldn't be worth doing? <<That depends on what the end flow rate needs to be>> I plan to have ~3000 GPH going to the display, ~1500GPH to the skimmer and the rest of the flow directed to the Fuge. <<I doubt you will get this much total flow from this pump with the manifold and other head-loss issues. And a note'¦ This is a LOT of flow to process through a sump'¦some noise and flow issues ahead of you for sure>> Or would it be a better idea to run two Darts (3600 GPH) into a manifold and have them feed the three tanks/device? <<These too are high-flow low-wattage pumps'¦not much of an improvement in my opinion. But I also don't think you need as much flow as you are striving for so these or your original pump/plan will probably be fine'¦though I suggest a separate 'dedicated ' pump for the skimmer>> On the display end I plan to use a manifold much the way that Anthony Calfo describes in the WWM article so that obviously would have its own effect on the total system head. <<Indeed it will>> (Other circulation will be provided by 4 EcoTech Vortechs ~3000GPH apiece, hopefully creating a surging effect in the tank) <<A much better way to create flow within the tank versus trying to flush thousands of gph through the sump, in my opinion>> Lastly I am trying to make a decision on Lighting and wouldn't mind a little input from someone with loads more experience than I. I had planned to place 3 400 Watt MH 12K as well as 4 48" T5 Actinics and 3 36" Actinics. My local Fish store said that the 400W would be overkill and a big power hog (I knew the power hog part). So do you guys think that going with 3 250W would be adequate? <<250w MH is perfectly adequate in my experience for a tank of this height. And considering the depth front-to-back, have a look at full-size quality reflectors like Lumenarc and LumenMax>> The tank dimensions are 84" X 36" X 26" H. with a 1 - 2 inch sand bed. <<Ah, well then'¦either consider passing on the Jawfishes or deepen the substrate to at least 4-inches of sand with some mixed rubble>> Thanks AGAIN, Adam <<Happy to share. Eric Russell>>

Setting Up Plumbing on a Large Reef Tank -- 07/25/08 Hello all, <<Greetings Larry>> I've just taken delivery on a used 540 gallon tank (8' x 3' x 3'). <<Very nice>> It is drilled in back with two 2" bulkheads in the top corners (about 2" from the top), four 1" bulkheads evenly spaced between the 2" bulkheads, and five 1" bulkheads evenly spaced around 6" from the bottom. <<Wow'¦lots to work with here'¦excellent>> When I get it set up, it will be primarily stocked with LPS from the Faviidae and Caryophyllidae families. I plan to have flow at a rate of about 10 times volume per hour (5400 gallons per hour). Do you think that will be an appropriate turnover for the system? <<I'm a big proponent of heavy and vigorous flow Larry'¦ Some may disagree, but I would plan on at least twice this volume of flow. In tanks of size such as this, the 5400gph you are planning will be disappointing'¦and deficient for the overall best health of your corals/system>> I expect to get about 3700 gph flow from my existing pair of Tunze 6000s unless I alternate them with the 7095 controller, which would reduce the flow rate. <<As the owner of an eight-foot long reef tank myself, and outfitted with seven Tunze Stream pumps of differing models'¦these pumps will have trouble providing sufficient flow along the entire length'¦best to run them opposing each other and together on the controller set to 'Pulse' for maximum effect/water movement in this large tank, in my opinion>> I would like to feed by sump about 600 gph as this is the flow rate required by my protein skimmer. <<That's fine'¦though you certainly have the overflows to go a bit more with any problem'¦how 'bout 1200gph?>> The remainder of the flow I would like to get via closed-loop(s). <<You have the throughputs!>> I'm stuck in figuring out how to tie all of the bulkheads together appropriately to achieve my circulation goals. <<I would 'tee' the deeper intakes to one or more likely two external closed-loop pumps>> The prior owner used the corner 2" bulkheads as feeds to his sump and the four 1" bulkheads along the top as returns from the sump. If I did that, I don't think that I will get sufficient flow from the remaining bulkheads to generate the volume that I desire. <<Not true necessarily. The hydro-dynamics of a closed-loop are much different than those of a gravity drain. If you have a 2000gph pump with a 1' intake port, then you only need one 1' bulkhead to supply the pump. Granted, using bigger or multiple supply bulkheads will reduce the 'force' of the water flow at the intake if this is a concern>> I am considering running the 2" bulkheads to the sump, building a return that goes over the back instead of through the existing bulkheads. <<okay>> That would leave me nine 1" bulkheads for closed-loops. <<More than sufficient>> I could then run two closed-loops, each fed by two of the bulkheads along the top of the tanks and returning by two of the bulkheads along the bottom of the tank. <<This is okay'¦as long as the upper bulkheads are deep enough to not become 'exposed' by fluctuating water levels'¦and will certainly make keeping the intakes clean/open much easier than if they are deep or buried within the rockwork>> I would either close off the fifth bulkhead along the bottom or split one of the returns three ways instead of two. <<Okay>> Is this a reasonable/viable plan? <<It is>> Am I off base or missing something? <<Perhaps only in your perception of how many bulkheads are 'required' to feed the closed-loop pump. But as stated'¦more bulkheads will mean less suction force per bulkhead and less chance of 'trapping ' livestock against the intake>> Also, do you have any recommendations for pumps that would be appropriate for running the circulation? <<Ah yes'¦ Large Iwaki pumps for the closed-loops and an Eheim submersible for the sump return. Dolphin and Sequence pumps would give higher flow rates for the closed-loops, but you would need to increase the size of the intake bulkheads in the tank to match that of the chosen pump model. Though you 'might' be able to keep from starving the pumps by utilizing more than one intake per pump as you have planned>> I could use my Iwaki MD-100 for the sump, but it generates much more flow than I am planning for the sump and has high energy consumption. <<Would work for one of the closed-loops>> I would prefer something more efficient than the Iwaki. <<All things considered (quality, longevity)'¦a difficult task>> Thanks for your help! Larry <<Larry, if this tank is going to be positioned in/near a frequently used family living space you may well find the closed-loops and their associated pumps to be too much noise. If this is the case, you may want to consider spending the money re on more and bigger Tunze Stream pumps to provide for the flow in the tank'¦energy consumption will be a fraction of as well. Regards, EricR>>

Re: Setting Up Plumbing on a Large Reef Tank -- 07/26/08 Okay, I was having trouble figuring out the flow as I was looking at the throughput for 1" bulkheads on an open-loop, which is considerably more limited. <<Ah yes>> I'm not certain I understand why a 1" bulkhead has different throughput for an open-loop than it would for a closed-loop, perhaps you can elaborate a little. <<The open-loop or 'gravity' drain is just that, it relies on gravity and the weight of the water to make passage through the plumbing. Air entrapment, turbulence, bends, et al, severely hamper and restrict the flow rate on a gravity drain system'¦though much of this can be alleviated by using large-diameter (1.5' and greater) plumbing and throughputs. On a closed-loop, the water is 'pumped or drawn' in to the plumbing by the direct connection to the pump volute. The 'power assist' so to speak, enables the water to flow much more smoothly and efficiently through the plumbing enabling a much smaller diameter throughput to flow at a much higher rate than a gravity system. Essentially, merely matching the plumbing and bulkhead to the size of the input on the pump is sufficient to meet the flow demands of that pump>> I will look into upping the total flow for the tank. <<Okay>> I am hesitant to go with 20 times volume as I have seen my Euphyllia unhappy when they get too much flow. <<A good point...and improper 'application' of the flow can cause damage to this fleshy coral from moving/abrading against its sharp skeleton. Still'¦I think you can apply more flow if cautious in your placement of these animals>> I have to be careful with the setup in my existing 225 gallon tank to insure that they are somewhat sheltered. <<Yes>> Of course it is easier to dial back flow than to increase it. <<Indeed>> The setup you describe on the Tunzes is exactly how they are set up in the existing tank. Since they are not on full force, let's say I am getting around 2500 gph out of the Tunzes. I could increase the flow through the open-loop. As you rightly point out, the 2" bulkheads certainly support it. <<Yes>> What if I used the top row of bulkheads as the prior owner did, with the 2" for outlet to the sump and the 1" as returns. <<A quick word here'¦ Even if you upsize to a 1200gph pump, you only 'need' one of those 1' returns. You can certainly use more, but the flow strength from multiple returns will be quite meager. Another option and one which I employ on my own system is to use multiple 'return pumps.' With your 2' drains, a pair of Eheim 1262s would not be a problem at all. This would give you a combined flow rate of 1800gph before headloss, and the redundancy would make your system all the more secure in the event of a pump failure (do also try to put the pumps on different circuits or at least different GFCI outlets)>> That leaves five 1" bulkheads near the bottom to play with. I could use one as an input to a Sequence Dart and return the water to the other four via an Oceans Motions 4 way. <<I like this but for the match-up of the 1' bulkhead and the chosen pump. The Sequence Dart 'has a 2' intake' for a reason. I really think the 1' bulkhead would starve this pump of water and create a micro-bubble nightmare for you. You could use one of the 2' throughputs to feed the pump'¦though you may have to supplement the remaining 2' drain with one or two of the 1' bulkheads if you do this, depending on the size of the sump return pump(s) you choose>> Or, I could do two separate closed-loops, running each with a Dart. <<True, though you would need t use both 2' throughputs here'¦and turn to the 1' throughputs to feed the sump thus limiting your pump choices there>> Since the Darts are rated at around 3500 gallons per hour, how much actual flow would I get in those scenarios? <<The closed-loops will give you pretty close to the rated flow capacity of the pumps as long as you match your plumbing to the inputs 'and' outputs of the pump volute (note that the output port on the Dart is 1.5'). Reducing either will effect the flow rate, while reducing the intake diameter may well create more severe issues. Perhaps a bit more exploring of pumps/options/configurations? Be chatting, Eric Russell>>

Pond Filters For Large Saltwater Systems? -- 03/28/08 Good morning folks, <<Back at ya, Ben!>> Great website! <<Thank you'¦quite the collective effort>> I am a professional aquarist. <<Hmm, I wonder what that means exactly'¦someone who's 'in the biz' in one capacity or another, I suppose>> I have been for 16 years now. <<Some 30+ years under my belt'¦though aside from a short stint in retail, the time has been spent as a mere 'hobbyist''¦though I dare say, my interest/involvement has been/is anything but casual. Wait a minute'¦this ain't about me'¦. [grin]>> For 6 years now, I have been running my own aquarium sales/maintenance/installation company with very great success. <<Ah good!>> I have recently been contacted by a high end restaurant with stores nationwide. <<Ooh'¦opportunity a-knockin'>> Each location has a 2,200 gallon SWFO system. <<Neat>> The two in my area are doing very badly so I was called in to take a look. <<Unfortunately this seems to be all too often the case with these systems'¦I do hope you can/will turn things around>> I was appalled to say the least. <<Is generally my reaction as well>> The aquarium is run by an AquaUV Ultima II pond filter. <<Mmm, so in other words'¦a very large detritus trap. Don't suppose you took any water-quality readings? Would be interesting to note>> This one has a capacity of 2000 gallons as far as ponds go. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is not adequate. <<Actually Ben'¦if the filter is saltwater-safe, it would be quite good at removing suspended material as an 'ancillary' filtration device. But'¦the filter would require backwashing at least every couple of days, in my opinion. Which may not prove convenient/economically feasible considering the volume of water involved re>> I will ask Aqua about the capacity of these filters for saltwater use but one of my questions was about the experience, if any, the WWM crew has had with large aquariums using these filters. <<Can't say I've ever seen one used this way, even on large centralizes retail systems. Bob's experience here will far outweigh any of mine, perhaps if he sees this he will comment. Though I must warn, he is currently out of the country with questionable NET access>> Do they work well on saltwater aquariums when sized properly? <<I suppose it could'¦with proper maintenance/husbandry'¦and if the unit is saltwater-safe>> The next question involves turn over rates on very large aquariums. I worked at the Houston Zoo for two years where I was in charge of a 4000 gallon reef exhibit so I am familiar with very large systems. <<Excellent>> My question is though; do you guys feel that the same rules as applies to smaller aquariums translate to huge ones? <<For the most part, yes>> I realize that the turnover rate requirements may depend on the type of filtration employed. <<Indeed'¦and in my opinion, actual 'turn-over' (as in processing the water through a sump/filter) is less important than providing good 'flow' within the system'¦keeping in mind that on most systems, the major/best biological filtration is performed by the rock/substrate within the display>> If we were talking trickle filters here I would assume at least 5 time volume turnover or more. <<I think you could get by with less>> The problem is that space is limited underneath this aquarium and a trickle filter for this size aquarium would truly be huge. <<Perhaps fluidized-bed filters?>> When I redo these systems I will be looking for something more efficient with a smaller footprint. I have been researching this with the idea of a fluidized sand filter in mind. <<Ah! Great minds'¦'¦. [grin] >> Deltec has some nice ones, albeit expensive. <<You get what you pay for>> Any advice here as to if this is the avenue I should be looking down and if so what brand? <<I believe this to be a very good 'avenue.' Pentair Aquatics offers some 'economical' fluidized-bed filters (Rainbow) for systems up to 900-gallons that could be plumbed in 'series' for larger systems>> If I used a sump and a fluidized sand filter, would I need to flow through at least 5 time turnover? <<No, not in my opinion'¦follow the rated volume for the filters used>> Don't worry. I won't hold you responsible...haha. I am a professional. I am just looking for the combined experience and knowledge from you guys. Bouncing ideas of your heads. <<Understood, mate>> The aquariums do not have a sump down below which means no skimmer...pitiful. <<Agreed>> When I redo it I will put one in. <<Excellent>> I would also think that on this size SWFO system, ozone would be a huge help as for clarity of water and breaking down organic pollutants. Wouldn't you agree? <<Yes, very much so'¦and would not have to be an overly large unit either, I would think'¦perhaps as little as 500mg per hour. Do have a look at the units offered by Ozotech'¦very high quality and long lasting>> That is enough for now. I am sure I might bounce some more ideas of you guys shortly. <<Okay>> Until then.....down some Belgian white ales for me (assuming you like them)...cheers. Ben Johnson Captive Aquatic Ecosystems <<Mmm, only have a few Beck's in the fridge at the moment'¦perhaps this afternoon on the deck'¦ Be chatting. Eric Russell>>

Re: Pond Filters For Large Saltwater Systems? -- 04/11/08 Thank you very much for the reply. <<Quite welcome, Ben>> I have some more filtration quandaries to bounce off your collective skulls. <<Bounce away>> As I stated in the last letter, I am being tasked with fixing the problems of a 2,200 gallon saltwater fish only system in a restaurant. <<I do recall>> I am attaching some pics of what is in place right now. <<I see them; mostly'¦I am getting a compression error on the two filter-design images and can't view them>> The tank has an overflow built in but is being filtered by an Aqua Ultima II filter (very good filter but undersized for this tank and the application of it is all wrong), an Aqua sterilizer (again very good unit but they used the wrong ones), and two Sequence Hammerhead pumps. No sump, no skimmer, no ozone (mandatory IMHO on tanks this large and public) <<I am in agreement>> ......No joke. Whoever set this up has never done this before. <<Mmm'¦maybe so>> If they have then there are other tanks out there with large, beautiful and dying fish out there. <<A probability'¦it has been my experience that systems like these (restaurant/store/office installations) often suffer from improper or inadequate installation and neglect. I sincerely hope you will make a difference here>> I just wanted one or more of you "old salts" over there to look at how I propose to change things and let me know if you see anything that is amiss or that could be done differently. <<As the saying goes'¦'there's more than one way to skin a cat''¦ As I'm sure you are aware, this system could be reconfigured a number of ways'¦and even the existing configuration could probably be made to work with a few tweaks here and there, along with better maintenance and husbandry practices'¦and possibly a close look at stocking levels. Be that as it may'¦I am quite happy to proffer my opinions>> I am attaching pics that I drew on the computer that detail my proposed changes. <<Am afraid these are the images that I can't get to render>> First off, one of the problems is that I am fixing someone else's bad engineering. <<And though not necessary'¦ As such, perhaps it would be best to tear out all and rebuild'¦reusing what components you can>> What I would do if tasked to build it from the beginning is different then what I am doing to fix this one. <<Understood>> The filtration on this system can only be located underneath the tank. If I where doing it from scratch then there would be two cabinets on either side of the aquarium to house things like a very tall RK2 skimmer and fluidized sand filter etc. <<Have you presented these thoughts to the client? It may be much more work/trouble/expense; but in the long-term the improved functionality and ease of maintenance will make all the difference in this tank>> What I have decided to do then would be to employ multiple shorter skimmers and filters in a sump. <<Okay>> The black boxes labeled skimmers in my drawing are 4 Deltec Turbo 1060S's. <<Hmm'¦just a thought'¦have you considered contacting Euro-Reef and seeing what they can do re some custom units to fit your situation/space limitations?>> The tan circles are Aquatic Ecosystems Quicksand fluidized sand filters. I have them staggered so they don't pick up any water from each other. This is the only part of my design that I have not completely sold myself on. Fluidized sand filters where chosen because of space limitations. I needed something with a small footprint but very efficient. They are a pain in the ass though. Not only that but though they have the capacity to biologically filter a ton of waste, they can't pass that much water through themselves because that would blow out all the sand inside them. When you see that the Lifeguard units say that the smallest unit can filter 300 gallon that is misleading. The capacity of the sand inside is capable of handling that bioload yet you can only pass around 100 gallons an hour or so through them. That is not going to work on a 300 gallon of course. <<Mmm, I disagree'¦though it should not be 'too' low, the flow rate through these units does not have to be high'¦and the turnover-per-hour certainly doesn't have to match the volume of the system to be effective>> My question is do you think using 8 or so fluidized sand filters on this 2,200 gallon is silly? <<No'¦I don't>> Between the Ozotech ozonizer, <<A good choice>> 4 high-end skimmers, and huge area with T5 lit Chaetomorpha, and hundreds of pounds of med grain aragonite gravel, <<Only 'hundreds?' Not nearly enough for this size tank if it is going to be relied upon as a primary means of processing Nitrogenous waste'¦ in my opinion. My 375g home reef employs 1,300 pounds of sugar-fine Aragonite, between the display and the refugium>> do you see a need for this much biological filtration on top off all this? <<I do think it very likely you will need some type of supplemental biological filtration>> Does this setup of staggered FSFs (fluidized sand filters) seem like a way to go or does it seem a waste of space. <<I don't think the sand filters are a waste of space, no'¦I consider this type filter to be more efficient re than most any other 'biological' solution>> If I made a giant wet dry filter for this tank do you know what the cubic feet requirement of bioballs per gallon of saltwater would be? Meaning, how many cubic feet of bio balls would I need to take on a moderately stocked 2,200 gallon saltwater aquarium with all this other filtration? <<I do not believe a wet-dry filter to be your best option here. But if you were to go that route, the 'volume' of the unit would be decided by the particular media used. I would follow manufacturer recommendations re, and size the unit 'irrespective' of the other filtration employed>> As far as the attached pix goes: KONA FILTER DESIGN DESCRIPTION: This how I intend to filter it Kona filter design: This is the above pic without all the confusing text on it. <<Mmm'¦do wish I could see these>> KONA TANK PLUMBING: This is how I am going to do the returns coming off the Sequence pumps. <<Must state, I do not like the application of the check-valves'¦ These 'will' fail'¦>> KONA LAYOUT: This is a drawing of what it looks like now. AQUA FILTER: This is the bio filter. <<Mmm, yes'¦does look rather 'anemic' for this system>> PUMP ON A RAG: The people that set this tank up installed Sequence Hammerhead pumps....on a dishrag....nice. <<I'm sure it serves the purpose'¦though it is less than professional in appearance. I find the rubberized material that interlocks to be placed on shop floors and the like works quite well when cut down and placed under pumps or other 'vibrating' equipment. The material is water resistant/proof, looks 'professional,' and is readily available at most any Lowe's or Home Depot>> Everything else is self explainable. Thanks for the feedback...I look forward to your opinions. <<I do hope they are of use to you. Good luck with your venture'¦I would be very interested to know how things progress/turn out. Cheers mate! Eric Russell>>

R2: Pond Filters For Large Saltwater Systems? (2,200g Tank Restoration) -- 04/12/08 Eric, <<Hello, Ben>> Thank you very much for your opinion. <<Quite welcome>> As far as the check valves go, I think they would be good for many years <<Maybe so'¦but when it happens'¦and on a system of this size'¦the liability alone could be catastrophic>> but you are right about them...especially if I am running ozone I suppose that over time the EPDM rubber in the check valve would be a little more worse for the wear. Actually, if done right, the ozone would never make it to the check valve and if it did I would have worse problems then that. Maybe I will just drill a finger sized hole into the PVC pipe inside the overflow box as a standard anti back siphon. <<I've never liked this solution either'¦ The is still a potential for failure (clogging)'¦always best to design/position the plumbing such that all transient water volume can be contained in the sump when the pumps are off>> A hole can't really fail. <<I can tell you from experience'¦this is not the case>> I appreciate your opinion on the FSFs as this was the most difficult part for me to feel OK about but now you are one of many other pros telling me that it would be great. <<The fluidized-bed filters are great/respond quickly for handling large and shifting bio-loads>> I will call Euro-Reef to see if they could do something custom for me. <<Yes do! Very nice folks'¦and I 'love' their skimmers (I have an older CS12-3 with updated ER-modded Eheim 1262 pumps, on my reef system), if they can put something together within your budget I have no doubt you will be very pleased>> I did like the idea of multiple units skimming the Hell out of the water passing by but after four of this size Deltec you could almost buy a new 2,200 gallon aquarium. <<Yes indeed'¦though don't expect the Euro-Reef skimmers to cost much less. High quality design/materials/workmanship does come at a premium. I am just hopeful they can provide a solution that may be more space-saving and hopefully less maintenance intensive. We shall see, eh?>> Do you find many problems using aragonite sand on aquariums housing large predatory fish? <<In what aspect?>> As far as reefs go we have things like Nassarius snails and sand sifting sea stars and gobies but of course these would more then likely be eaten. <<A possibility, yes'¦though I think the addition of the Nassarius snails is worth the try>> If the sand isn't mixed around then I can't see how this wouldn't just turn into a nutrient trap. <<Ah, well'¦the fine grain structure of the sugar-fine Aragonite makes this less likely than with coarser substrates. Couple this with good water flow (even fishes in non-reef systems enjoy/benefit from strong and vigorous water movement) to help keep detritus suspended, and fears of a nutrient trap are small. Do also consider'¦even if the fish don't allow the addition of larger sand-stirrers'¦the substrate will become populated with worms, small crustaceans, etc.; both macro and micro, that will utilize available nutrients and aerate the sand bed'¦especially if you seed the system with some live rock (recommended)>> I will try a different format for the pics I drew. I drew them in Paint in the Start menu from Windows. <<Hmm'¦should have worked>> I thought it was curious that these guys had a chiller on the tank. <<Hmm'¦if kept in an air-conditioned space and without high-intensity lighting I wouldn't think it would need one either'¦unless the pump/equipment is overheating the system. Or maybe whoever did the original installation just took advantage of the client '¦>> I will have to check into it myself but I seriously doubt that there is enough temperature fluctuations in a 2,200 gallon in Houston, TX to warrant it. Besides it doesn't even look big enough. <<It would depend ultimately on the required 'pull down'...but 'if' needed, I would think a couple 1-hp units to be required>> Maybe I can find a cheaper way to data log the temp. YSI and some of those computer probe combo deals like Neptune and such might be a little too much but I just want to see the trend of the temperature throughout a couple days to see if any temp control is necessary. <<Mmm'¦or perhaps just a couple trips to the restaurant (morning and late evening) for a couple days, with digital thermometer in hand'¦>> I do greatly appreciate your input and I hope anyone reading this sees what quality of help is offered at Wet Web Media. You guys are a tremendous help to beginner and advanced professional alike. <<It is my great pleasure to share'¦and many thanks for the kind words. Be chatting! Eric Russell>>

300 Gallon Tank Setup 1/29/08 Dear crew, would greatly appreciate your input on how you would plumb and setup a virgin 300gallon acrylic tank? <OK, no problem.> Measurements are 96lX24wX30h and 3/4in thick with two overflow boxes one in each corner 5inX6in. It sits 3ft above the floor on a wrought iron stand on a cement slab. It will be a fish only tank, but would like to try reef in 4 or 5yrs. I had a duplicate tank in glass 10yrs ago, but lost it in a divorce. I ran 1 ½' bulkheads in each overflow box (no risers, pretty noisy) which teed under the tank into a 55gallon tank I turned into a wet /dry. I had a 1in return run by a little giant#4pressure pump which ran 4ft up, back into the middle of the tank. I also was running an ocean/clear canister filter on a separate little giant#4 from two 1in bulkheads on the bottom of the tank. I had a top fathom protein skimmer I ran part time (always had to tinker with it) with fluorescent lighting (nothing special). I also was using 4in of crushed shells for substrate. Ten years later here I am starting from scratch. Here are my questions. 1. What modifications would you make to the plumbing? <The plumbing sounds fine so long as you plan to run 1500 gph or less (maybe around 1000gph to stay safe) through your overflows. If you want more plan on an extra 750 max per each additional 1 ½' or step them up to 2' for around 1300 gph max. Do leave some safety margin in these overflow rates, do not run them to full capacity. It is also a good idea to have some redundancy here. As far as returns, this will depend on the flow rate also. You can run your returns through the bottom as before, just be sure the actual outputs are near the top of the tank to prevent too much siphoning in the event of a power outage.> 2. Are wet/dries outdated and canisters better (rainbow)? <More modern day reefs no longer use either, as well as the growing number of FOWLR (fish only with live rock) tanks. The live rock provide biofiltration and your sump houses equipment such as your skimmer, heater, a filter sock if you want, etc. If you want a reef down the road you will need to invest in live rock anyhow, and it is a great addition to a fish only tank. Also consider adding a refugium, the bigger the better.> 3. What protein skimmers would you recommend (here AquaC is pretty good). <These are good skimmers, do look at the EuroReef line also.> 4. Would I be better off with metal halides (what wattage) or compact fluorescents? <For a fish only it is just what light appeals to you to see your fish. Halides will cost more to run and will generate more heat that will be transferred to the tank. If you will need them when you convert to a reef depends on what you wish to keep. If it will truly be 4 or 5 years before the reef conversion, fluorescent will be the way to go, unless you particularly want the shimmer halides provide.> 5. what type of substrate crushed coral or sand? <Sand, it will trap less detritus. Also consider setting up a DSB, check out the article and related FAQ's here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm . DSB's will provide some denitrification.> 6. Would you add another pump for just circulation? <Yes, again how much depends on what you run through your sump, but a minimum of 10 times your tank volume per hour for total circulation. You can accomplish this with powerheads also.> 7. What size risers would you put in the overflow boxes to cut down on noise, if 1 1/2 bulkheads would you use 1 1/2diam risers or reduce to 1in. <The larger for sure.> 8. How high would you go with the risers, 12in high? <First of all, for risers, I assume you are talking about the Durso style standpipes? Put them a few inches below the upper edge of the overflow. If you put them too low you will have much more noise from the water falling into the overflow.> 9. What type of pumps would you recommend, am I better off with pond pumps? <For return pumps, Iwaki or Eheims, and PanWorld are my personal choices. If you want a closed loop for circulation the Reeflo Dart pumps are very energy efficient a quiet.> 10. Would you recommend the use of a uv light or ozone? <I am not a fan of using the UV. Ozone is a great addition, but not completely necessary. A good skimmer, addition of a refugium and live rock will to fine.> I ran my old tank for 3yrs without any problems, but think I was a little lucky since my tank was overstocked. Thanks for your time and recommendations. thanks, james <Welcome, do keep reading, things have changed a bit since your last tank. I have included a few links to get you started, good luck, Scott V.> http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i5/Filtration/Filtration.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/thrhullsizing.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm

Large Tank Filtration Switch 1/19/08 I really hate doing this after the fact but here we go. I am running a 500 gallon acrylic FOWLR that's been up for 4 years now. it is lightly stocked with appropriate fish purchased as babies who will grow into it with plenty of space. <OK> I woke up this morning to nitrate readings off the charts. <Not good.> Everything else is fine. I have 500 pounds of live rock and 3" of live sand. Heavy filtration that turns the tank over 12 times an hour and very aggressive protein skimming in the sump. The only person I knew to talk to was my LFS guy who after coming to my house told me the trickle filter is so loaded with muck that it is the nitrate issue. <They very often are detritus traps/nitrate producers.> Part of this is my fault as I am a disabled veteran who can get distracted and my fish have been doing marvelously and the ammonia, nitrites, ph and spec grav have been right on. <I'll have to take your word on that.> I haven't tested the nitrate in a while. <That raises the question of whether something caused a spike in nitrate or if it has accumulated over time.> Anyhow the guy told me to ditch the bioballs immediately and fill the 55 gallon sump with cured liverock and algae. <This will be a superior setup. Do consider at least a section of this (the more the better) with a deep sand bed for nitrate reduction. One thing to be cautious of is that the rock may go through another curing process. If it was truly cured rock you may possibly avoid this altogether.> He said this is the way to go and is replacing the old trickle filters. He also told me to do a 20% h20 change and another in 48 hours as well as reducing fish feeding and siphoning any detritus found. I was then told to look you guys up on the web, which I did, and found your section on trickle filters and found you recommend slowly removing bioballs. <Generally safer, it gives the rest of the system time to account for the removal of the bioballs.> I asked the LFS guy this and he said I was in a dire emergency and needed to get the nitrates down or I was in for disaster. <It is a problem that needs to be addressed.> I hope I haven't brought disaster on myself by doing this drastic change. <Assuming that your tank is indeed properly stocked and the new rock does not go through another curing phase after being moved to your tank, all will be well. Just keep an eye on your ammonia and nitrite levels, if you read any more water changes will be in order. > I fine tuned my skimmer and am getting as much skimmate as I can and hoping for the best. <Good.> The fish show no signs of stress which I find amazing due to the unreal levels read today. <Good sign.> 8 hours after the change they were down to between 80 and 160 on the strip (yikes) but half what they were earlier. <Heading in the right direction.> I prize my fish and feel horrible I failed to do my job on checking nitrates and feel plain sick. My prize is a huge red Coris wrasse whom I dearly love and would be heartbroken if he didn't make it due to my stupidity. I am not going to get much/any sleep tonight and would really appreciate any advice you can give me including whether or not the advice the LFS guy gave me as far as h20 changes and feeding are good ideas. <It is sound advice.> Thank you very much in advance. <Keep doing water changes to lower your nitrate levels. Feeding sparingly and the changes you made to the filtration system will definitely help. Do consider the DSB in at least the refugium area. Sleep easy, Scott V>

Re: Large Tank Filtration Switch 1/20/08 Thank you very much for your quick response. <Very welcome.> The live rock at the LFS is kept in a special curing tank when it arrives so it is cured. <Good, do still keep an eye on your water.> A question about a deep sand bed in the sump. Should I just fill it to 6 inches of sand then replace the rock on top? <This is fine so long as the rock is not stacked too precariously. If you choose this route do make sure you have sufficient flow through to prevent detritus accumulation.> Should I put any type of organism (snails etc) in the sand to help? <If you wish, perhaps Nassarius snails.> I am also running a light 24/7 for the algae growth, is this a good idea? <I would opt to have the refugium light on when the main tank lights are off. This will help PH fluctuations. The Chaetomorpha will do better with a 'resting period'.> I can't make the main tank area a deep sand bed at this time as with the size it would be a huge financial strain but can manage the sump if you recommend. <A small DSB will not likely eliminate the nitrate, but it will help, especially when combined with your addition of the Chaetomorpha algae. Thank you. <Welcome, good luck my friend, Scott V.>

Re: Large Tank Filtration Switch 1/20/08 Thanks again for the initial info. <Welcome again.> I have 1 further question.....When I converted the right side of the sump to a deep sand bed (the left side has live rock, algae and a light source) I put 10" of live sand in it and put a piece of screen on top of the plastic grate to keep the sand from leaking into the cavity below and filtering out. Is this the correct way to do this? <I am not picturing exactly how you divided the sump up, but as long as the sand stays put it will work.> I researched your site tirelessly and also the web but could not get this answer anywhere. <Many ways to divide this/build your own sump. Check out the link below.> http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i1/Baffles/baffles.htm Thank you again and will look for your response. <Very welcome, good luck again, Scott V.>

250 Gallon Flow 10/22/07 Hi Crew, I am still in the process of setting up my 250G. The tank is 72x30x25. I wanted it to be wide so fish can swim both sides of the rockwork. Along with the sump return I am setting up a closed loop with 2 x 1.5" feeds located on each side of the tank about 2" from the bottom of the tank. I was thinking about putting suction strainers (such as the ones here: http://www.lagunakoi.com/prod202.html) on each one and building a "cage like" that in the October "Tank of the month" and building the rockwork around it. Seemed like a good idea. Now I am concerned that I will be getting too much flow around the bottom of the tank and stirring up the sand too much. I'm planning on around a 2" sand bed and then having the intake about 2"above the sand. The closed loop will be driven by a Sequence Dart pump. Also, only one side will be operating at a time. Each side consisting of a 1.5" feed and 3 X ¾" (or 1" ?) returns. The system will be set up so that when the left intake is open, it will output on the right side, and when the right intake is open it will output on the left side. Onto my questions; do you think that the 1½ " feed will starve the dart too much? <Sequence recommends that the intake line be as large or larger than the output line. That being said, many people plumb Darts with 1 ½ " intakes with no issues. Just be aware that there will be some diminished flow doing so. > Will there be too much suction in the lower portion of the tank (stirring up the sand)? <The suction at 2" above the sand is cutting it very close, especially when you consider that the suction in the line is not the only thing that can kick sand into the intake. Certain fish love to blow sand around. Reef pumps inevitably process some sand, but I would try to minimize it and put the intakes higher in the tank. You could even possibly angle the intakes up with elbows considering you plan to hide them with rockwork. This would give you some adjustability in the setup. > Will the 3 X ¾" returns generate enough flow? <I would probably make that 4 X ¾" or 3 X 1", 3 X ¾" would be awful brisk flow. As for overall tank turnover, without factoring in your sump return, this leaves you in the ballpark of 11-13 times turnover (accounting for intake size, plus there will be some friction loss), not much for SPS corals. It depends on what you want to keep in the tank and the flow of your sump return. > Grateful as always for your input. Olly <Nice tank, have fun, Scott>

Re: 250 Gallon Flow 10/23/07 Thanks again for your insight, <Anytime, the question is much appreciated> as far as flow goes, I have another sequence dart that is plumbed into the 2x 1.5" overflows going back to 4 1"returns. <Two 1.5" overflows will probably not flow the full force of your Dart. You can put a ball valve on the output side and throttle the pump down. Do be careful about running your overflows at full capacity, some safety margin should be left.> Do you know of any calculator to figure out plumbing sizes? Ie, that 2x1" = 1 x1.5" . <The pump manufacturer has some good information on flow vs. pipe size on their website for pipe flows in accordance with their pumps. Reefcentral.com has an overflow calculator, but keep in mind this a numerical calculation and would be a best case scenario at full capacity. > What is your opinion on spray bars? I was thinking about plumbing the returns from the sump into two spray bars front and back at the surface. <Spray bars have the tendency to get clogged in a saltwater environment and can take a lot of trial and error to get the number of holes and the size of the holes just right. It would be less of a headache for you in the long run to stick with the 1" returns.> Thanks again, Olly <Thank you Olly, have fun, Scott V>

Help With Plumbing For A 300-Gallon Tank...And The Need For A Bigger Drain Or A Smaller Pump! -- 07/17/07 I was hoping to get some of your opinions to help me on plumbing the returns to my tank. <<Okey-dokey>> I thought I had a good understanding on how I was going to go about setting this up, but the more thinking/planning about it I do- well, I think I've come to a point where I have thought it out too much and now I'm starting to confuse myself! <<Hee-hee!...does happen. Let's see if I can help make things clear again...>> I read, read, read and then read some more articles/posts but not everything is completely consistent...that or all this research is starting to become mind numbing <<Mmm, perhaps a bit of both... Keep in mind the information here comes from a wide array of opinions/experiences>> Anyway, my situation/question.... I recently acquired a 300-gallon acrylic tank <<Cool! I have a 375-gallon Tenecor acrylic display tank>> and it has one overflow chamber built in, and has several holes drilled for returns on the tank. <<Hmm...only one overflow on such a large tank? I hope it has a very large drain/bulkhead...>> The guy left all his plumbing for the returns attached, and was using 4 of the holes for returning the water (the rest have plugs). <<So there are extra throughputs available if needed?...excellent!>> Well first off....the overflow chamber... he had a 1.5'' bulkhead fitting but chose to reduce to a 1'' standpipe (doesn't make much sense)... <<Indeed... Typically the larger diameter is better for attenuating noise/helping with flow issues>> I want to utilize maximum flow rate, so I replaced w/ a new 1.5'' bulkhead (b/c the other was glued to the reducer) and added a 1.5'' Durso. <<Sounds like you know what you're doing thus far...>> OK, so the overflow/drain is good to go now.... <<Is a good start, agreed...but do realize the type pipe/tubing and configuration of the plumbing (drain line) will also contribute to the final result>> As for the returns, he used 1/2'' pvc piping. I want to achieve somewhere around 1200 gph so will need to replace the piping....I plan on using a Mag-Drive 18.... <<I'm afraid this pump and this flow rate are not really practical for a single 1.5' gravity drain. Anything much over 700gph and you are going to begin to experience noise/flow issues...in my opinion/experience. This lower flow rate utilizing a smaller pump is still 'plenty' for circulation through the sump. If you 'must have' the higher flow rate through the sump, then you will need to install another 1.5' drain/bulkhead...or increase the existing drain/bulkhead to 2'>> I will be attaching a tee and elbow w/ ball valve going back into the sump so I can adjust flow... <<I strongly urge you to consider a 'gate-valve' rather than the ball-valve, the former allows much more 'finesse' for tempering flow>> My question finally....I was under the impression that I need to use a 3/4'' to 1'' male adapter on the pump outlet so I can use a 1'' pipe for the return line (to handle that flow)... <<Mmm, yes...'necking-up' the diameter of the pipe on the output side does seem to help maintain flow rates with these Mag-Drive pumps>> Things I have been reading are now confusing me (mainly friction loss and pressure). <<A good rule-of-thumb is to add a foot of head-height for each turn in the plumbing (tee/ell), and a foot of head-height for every ten-feet of horizontal run. So, as an example...if you have a four-foot rise, a ten-foot horizontal run, and four turns...your total head-height (head-pressure) would be equal to a vertical rise of 9-feet (4 + 1 + 4). Make sense?>> I will be running the return line about a foot up and then splitting w/a tee into two lines... then about another foot outward on each of those lines will be split with another tee to make a total of four returns lines back into the tank.... <<Mmm...4+ feet of head-pressure then...though you will likely find the multiple tees and splitting up of the flow will result in a bit more loss than plumbing the same number of simple 'turns' on a 'single' line. Also, if you are after 'vigorous' flow from the return lines, you will need to figure about 350gph for a ½' nozzle (i.e. 350 x four returns), and about 650gph for a ¾' nozzle (650 x four returns). But, you also can't lose sight of the fact your current drain configuration will only handle about 700gph en toto. Are we having fun yet? [grin]>> Since I am doing this, can I just stick with 3/4'' piping, or did I have the right idea in the first place to go to 1''?? <<If you increase the number/size of the drain bulkhead and stick with the Mag-Drive 18 pump then yes, I would use the 1' pipe but reduce the output nozzles to ½' for more forceful flow at these terminations>> Or do you guys have any other suggestions?? <<Digest what I have put forth thus far, consider how you want to proceed, and then we can discuss further>> And, the return holes in the tank are 1/2'', I was planning on drilling them bigger (to accommodate for bigger piping/fittings) ... <<Not necessary for reasons stated>> Or is there any way I can avoid doing that and use what is already there??? <<Indeed there is...>> I hope I explained everything well enough... <<I have a pretty good idea, yes>> I am at work <<Shhhh...so am I!>> so I can't post any pics of the back of the tank, but I think the description should give you a pretty good idea of what I'm working with... <<Yes>> I can always post pics when I get home in the morning...Please, any info you could offer would be great!! <<Give me a shout back if you need/wish to discuss this more. EricR>> Re: Help With Plumbing For A 300-Gallon Tank...And The Need For A Bigger Drain Or A Smaller Pump! -- 07/18/07 Hi Eric! <<Hey Tiffany!>> Thanks for such a fast response! <<Quite welcome>> I do have a few questions to clarify things. <<Cool!>> I was told/and have read about the standpipe flow rate, and I'm under the impression that a 1.5'' drain is rated for 1200 gph, and can even (under ideal circumstances) reach 1350 gph. <<Indeed...but there's often a gap between 'rated' capacity versus practical application. And as for 'ideal circumstances'...>> I understand that there are other variables that will determine this (one ex: sponge pre-filter...that can greatly reduce flow-rate). So I'm not entirely understanding where you are coming up with 700gph... <<I'm not saying you can't get that 1.5' drain to flow 1200gph with enough 'fiddling' of the setup/plumbing (e.g. aspirating the lines), but I'm doubtful you will like the resultant noise generated or the continuous messing about to keep all working/water flowing at this rate. If you already have the pump, do hook it up and see/decide for yourself>> I am wanting to pair my pipe w/ pump accordingly, and that is why I was going with the Mag-Drive 18 (to account for the ~1200 gph drain and head loss) and being able to adjust the flow down a bit if I have to. <<Understood...and I do agree with over sizing the pump slightly with a gate-valve plumbed on the output side for flow adjustment. If for no other reason than the fact the build-up of bio-film in the piping will eventual reduce flow of itself>> If the drain will produce a lower gph, then I will go down in pump size for sure... <<It will be much easier in all aspects to deal with a lower rate of flow through the sump. Consider too the desirability for some measure of a 'safety margin' by NOT maxing-out the drain's capacity should that errant snail/hermit crab/et al find its way in to the drain>> Anyway, my main concern is obviously the pipe diameter for the return line. <<Okay> I'm not too worried about the smaller returns to the tank b/c the pressure will be dispersed between the 4 (and I will stick with the 1/2'' nozzles). I'm just worried, whether in be Mag18, or 12....according to pipe diameter and flow rate charts, a 3/4'' pipe can handle ~ 330 gph, 1`''- 600gph, 1.5''- 1200 gph....would using 1'' be safe for return line? Or should I go bigger and reduce the size when I split off into the 4 lines to accommodate the proper initial flow rate?? <<The 1' will be fine...and I sense some confusion here... The flow rate charts are generally for free-falling (gravity) drains...pipe diameters for pump outputs are dictated by the individual pump manufacturers. Unless otherwise stated by the manufacture, matching the pipe diameter to the output nozzle is usually just fine...though as stated earlier, their does seem to be a slight advantage to upsizing the pipe diameter on the Mag-Drive pumps (not always the case with other manufacturer's pumps)>> These flow rate charts are what are throwing me off, and making me second guess things. <<Indeed>> I know there always have to be "guidelines" and that in experience, people have been able to step outside those guidelines and have had no problems. I just want to make sure that I don't use too small of a diameter pipe to cause wear/tear and lead to leaks/busts --> not fun :). <<This is of small concern here really. These magnetic-drive pumps are not true pressure-rated pumps and thus designed to work well against differing head pressures with flow and pressure falling off accordingly. Using (too) small diameter pipe for the length of the output would do little more than reduce the 'efficiency' of this pump>> Thanks for you help!! <<Happy to assist. Eric Russell>> Sand in large setup 10/18/05 Crew-  <Craig> Quick question. What type of commercially available sand would be acceptable to use for the deeper portion of the DSB? I am not sure I like the projected cost of putting an all aragonite 6" DSB in a 220 gallon tank. Ouch! Is there a cheaper silica free alternative to aragonite that I could likely find in bulk? How many inches of a DSB bed could be of the cheaper variety and how much should be the aragonite? Please let me know of any other details to be aware of for such a proposed DSB. If there are FAQ's that already address this, please point me that way. As always, thank you for your time.  <Craig, here is a link to FAQ's concerning your question.  http://www.google.com/custom?q=south+down+sand&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com  James (Salty Dog)> 

Filtration system  11/28/05 I was wondering if you could give me some advice of some filtration systems.  My wife and I are having a 600 gallon tank built for our new house. We are setting it up marine with the intentions of keeping a small shark (Banded Cat Shark) along some other fish. I am not a beginner in the marine aquarium field but am a bit confused as to the different filtration systems I can use. I've heard of wet/dry, fluidized bed filters, skimmers, etc. If I use a wet/dry system, is a fluidized filter an option or is that over kill?  <You can use a wet/dry system which would work well but wet/dries large enough for that tank usually aren't available over the counter. Would probably have to be special ordered.>  What would a good system include?  <For a non-live rock system I would go with a Pentair system (formally Lifeguard). Their triple mechanical and chemical modules can be configured to meet the demands of your system. They also make a fluidized bed module in three different sizes that can be used with the system. If using live rock, I'd go with a wet/dry filter and a 6000 gph pump. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks for the help!  <You're welcome> 

Question about bottom drilled 300 gal Tank... pump, filtration options   1/18/06 First of all thanks for all your help and tremendous site.. <Welcome> Then as always compliments are followed by questions :-) Details... I have a 300 Gal 96L x 30H x 24W tank. The tank is drilled with 2 bottom drains that go into an Ocean Clear 325 with Iwaki Walchem WMD-40RLT-T115 and an overflow into a 60 Gal Sump with Live Rock and DSB with a Little Giant Model 4MDQX-SC as my return.. <Are these pumps still around?> Questions: What do you think of both pumps? <I would switch out the Little Giant, keep it around for back-up> Are they big enough for their duty? <Mmm, no... the Iwaki is likely fine, about all you can do linked up with an ever-clogging particulate filter, but I would switch the second out for better service factor (heat, flow, energy consumption)...> Would you keep the bottom drains?    <Mmm, a tough one... as opposed to what? If it were my choice, and day one, I would not drill the bottom, but the side instead... If the bottom holes can be fitted with "riser/towers" such that the water overflows to a sump... that in turn there's room for...I would do this, and rig another "pressurized manifold" independently to remove, return water either through the back or over the top>             If so, what do you think of the Canister filter? <Not much... a pain in the keester to maintain, a source of nitrate, bunk in terms of flow... expensive to operate... in terms of what it does. I do hope you have multiple sets of cartridges> In your book you state that these are a haven for waste and buildup... <Oh! I still think so> Thanks again for all your help and love of the hobby!!!! Rick <It is obvious, eh? Do take a read on WWM re Pump Selection. Bob Fenner> DSB For A Large Tank - 04/09/06 Dear Bob, <<EricR here this morning...I think Bob is still asleep/recovering from his Lavaman ordeal <grin>.>> I currently have an 8ft tank and would like to add a deep sand bed to assist in denitrification and to provide more comfort for my stingray. <<A very good idea in my opinion.  I too have a 8ft tank, with a 6" DSB...but no stingray (is a reef display).>> I have read the article on the website, and am aware that 3" depth is a minimum. <<Mmm...can depend on 'grain-size' of the substrate, with larger grain-sizes meaning deeper beds.  But even when using sugar-fine sand my preference is for a 4-inch minimum.>> There is 40kg of fine coral sand, 12 kg of fine grade aragonite currently in the tank which makes up an average depth of between 1-2 inches.  I will create the DSB by adding sugar fine sand, although I would like your opinion as to how deep I should go? <<Were it me, with this mix of sand, I would shoot for an absolute minimum depth of 4 inches...even 5 or 6 inches if your not opposed to the look/loss of depth to the open water column. I know that bigger tanks require deeper sand beds. <<Not sure I agree with this.  All things equal, the sand bed will be proportionately larger in the larger tank.  As far as I'm concerned, 'minimum' bed depths would apply equally to all tank sizes.>> Current inhabitants included a small masked-stingray, 3 snowflakes. <<Sounds like a very nice display.  This ray (Dasyatis kuhlii) seems to be one of the better choices for aquariums (not to be confused with Taeniura lymna...another/different 'blue-spotted' ray with a very poor survival record) and will definitely appreciate a 'fine' sand bed.>> Also, I have attached a spare 10g tank as a refugium (which I know is small, but at least it puts the tank to good use) and would also like to know if creating a deep sand bed in there, without having a DSB in the main display, would have any sort of effect on denitrification? <<Probably not a noticeable effect...considering the size/stock list of the display.  I think putting the DSB in the display is your best option.>> I'm just trying to get my head around the proportionate area of DSB and its correlation to the degree of denitrification. <<Please have a look here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm >> Thanks in advance, Joe <<Quite welcome.  Regards, EricR>>

Hybrid marine system, set-up   4/6/06 Hi, <Hello> I am setting up a 300 gallon reef tank with 80 gallon mud sump.  The main reef tank will house mainly SPS and live rock roughly 200kg of live rock.  I was also planning to run a deep sand bed in the show tank as I am trying to get the maximum diversity of microfauna to help feed my Anthias and other difficult to keep species. <Can be done, though I am a much bigger fan of having such culture, DSB areas outside main displays (in sumps, refugiums) for ease of manipulation and looks> My plan was to place the live rock on the bare base of the tank and build up 6in of 0.2-0.05mm sand round the rocks.  Does this sound ok? <Sure> Also would it be a bad idea to place some coral on top of the sand bed or would this prevent oxygen transfusion and cause dead spots. <Always a risk, consideration. The placing of anything on a substrate affects, changes the path of water circulation above and (profoundly) below/within the substrate. Good to move periodically... like every month or two> My water flow will be 20x volume of the tank per hour with adequate lighting for the SPS and calcium reactor and Kalk stirrer to maintain calcium levels. thanks james <Sounds/reads thus far. Bob Fenner> 600G In-Wall Plumbing Nightmare -- 02/22/07 I wanted to bounce some ideas off of you guys, I'm open to about anything right now <<Sure...bounce away...>> I own a small service company, (we do custom installs as well) and we had a customer request a tank re-haul.  It is an older in wall tank that was set up for fresh, and we would like to make it into a marine Fish Only display. <<Ok>> It's a giant tank! <<Cool!...love big tanks...have a 375g in-wall reef display myself>> It's about a 600 gallon system, 10ft long x 4ft tall and about 24"-36" deep. <<Very nice>> It is an in-wall with the two larger viewing panes visible and the left and right sides are bricked in, so basically it's a transparent wall with the ends bricked in. <<Same configuration as mine...>> It has six bulkheads, ~ 1" each centered on the bottom glass every 2ft.  Underneath the tank is cabinet space, but its cut up into sections by vertical supports for the tank. <<Indeed...but hopefully room for a sump?...refugium?>> I can get below the house if need be to place equipment since its pier and beam. <<Ah yes, my house has a crawl space as well...which is where I positioned the chiller for my system>> But it would be very hard to fit a sump of any real size in between the supports. <<Hmm, what is the possibility of pulling/reinstalling this tank and building a redesigned support stand to allow for the ancillary systems?  I built my stand to support the 375g display tank, and designed it to be open enough to fit a 75g sump and a 55g refugium beneath the display>> The current filter uses a cartridge filter and a large external pump. <<Mmm...a possible maintenance nightmare...in my opinion.  Am sure you are aware some purposeful chemical filtration (carbon/poly-Filter) and employment of a large fluidized-bed filter or two will serve better here.  The cartridge filter could be left in place if desired but will require strict maintenance on a weekly (or more often) basis>> The two outer (far left and right) bulkheads had some kind of clear rigid pipe going towards the surface (I believe they were return lines) and the remaining four had strainers below the substrate <<...?!>> as intakes- (Could be the other way around.).  My idea was to plumb Durso stand-pipes from the outer bulkheads and tuck the Dursos along the glass on the far sides of the aquarium- (would 90 out of the bulkhead to the left and right end of the tank then go up towards the surface). <<The fewer turns the better here.  Why not build skimmer towers to house the stand-pipes and go straight up?  The skimmer boxes could then be camouflaged with live rock>> Or I could just pop the drain and the return right above the substrate and cover with rock. <<Mmm...this too could work since you're not utilizing a sump and the drains will need to be plumbed directly to a pump>> Then plumb in two large Eheim Canister filters, and use the center as a circulation pump, the returns would have check-valves and would rise just above the sand. <<I wouldn't use the check-valves.  Aside from the huge amount of restriction from these valves that may damage the canister filters...sooner or later they 'will' fail...though I suppose this is a small concern really considering the drains will be plumbed much like a closed-loop with a canister filter installed.  (a ball-valve to shut-off flow to facilitate maintenance of the canister filters will be a necessity.  But I still like the skimmer tower if for no other reason than to 'skim' the fats/proteins/colloids/et al that collect at the water/air interface on the surface of the water) Heating this tank, I have no idea. <<Look to the 'in-line' options available.  As implied, these heaters can be plumbed 'in-line' on the output side of the canister filters>> Plumbing a protein skimmer? - I have no idea. <<A dilemma indeed, in the absence of a sump.  Are the ends of the tank accessible?  Perhaps you could employ several of the largest 'quality' hang-on skimmers you can find (Deltec, AquaC)>> The other options would be trying to plumb three sumps together to make a large sump- but that may be too much of a headache than its worth, or using a similar system, with an external pump and module filtration like the cartridge filter that's there now. <<I would drill/plumb together the three largest tanks that will fit beneath the stand...if it were up to me...  You really do need someplace to install a skimmer (or 'skimmers'), and probably some ancillary biological filtration.  You wouldn't need to use 'all' the drains to feed the sump and could still employ direct-fed canister filters for chemical filtration, etc if you wished.  But if a sump is just not possible then perhaps as you say, the modular filtration systems will have to do>> Any fresh ideas would definitely help! <<Ahh...if only I could see this arrangement firsthand>> Oh and by the way, big fan of all of you guys, I've seen a few of you speak in Dallas, and Houston on a few occasions- always learn so much. <<Bob has indeed assembled a fine group of folks here>> Thanks, Jeff Morley <<Do keep brainstorming this Jeff, and feel free to 'bounce' any further thoughts/questions my way...am certain there is a reasonable solution.  Regards, Eric Russell>>

Re: 600G In-Wall Plumbing Nightmare - 02/22/07 I've decided that it's impossible to do a sump, so I'm going to do the two Eheim canister filters with attached fluidized-bed filters-you were talking about the fluidized sand bio-filters right? <<Correct>> Where can I find an in-line heater that large?  How many watts is it going to take? 3,000? <<Mmm, will have some dependence on ambient room temperature, but if not overly cool I think you could get by with around 1000-1200 watts of heat.  My system is about 500 gallons en toto and I get by with two 300-watt heaters>> The one I've seen is $1,000- is there more economical units than that? <<There are, have a look here: http://www.aquaticeco.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/product.detail/iid/9092/cid/2198  A "pair" of 300-watt heaters plumbed in series on the output side of "each" canister filter (four heaters total) should do the job I think>> To address the film on top of the water, I'll use a large pump to move water across the surface, and perhaps an attachment that connects to the intake of the pump to skim the surface. <<Very good.  But speaking of skimming...hopefully you have come up with a way to employ some type of foam-fractionation device as well>> I think this is going to be the direction I go in; perhaps I'll add a UV-sterilizer as well. <<Can be a useful tool...if maintained/kept clean>> Any advice is greatly appreciated. Jeff Morley Lone Star Aquariums Custom Aquariums & Service www.lonestaraquariums.com <<I hope I have been of service.  Eric Russell>>

Preparation, SW, large sys... still not ready   3/21/07 Hello all!   I have emailed your site for over a month now. The advice I have received and the knowledge I have gained is immeasurable!  Thank you.   I will be setting up a 240g (96x24x24) in the near future.  I am going to forgo the clown trigger due to what I have read on this site and references for other local fish store owners.   I am deeply intrigued by the Hawaiian dragon eel.  I have read up on it and asked several questions before. Thank you once again for your help.   The Hawaiian dragon eel is going to be the center piece of my aquarium.  As for the tank mates I would really appreciate your advice.  I was thinking of adding a Pinktail trigger, Naso tang, emperor angel (I was told that the emperor angel will get to <too> big for the dimensions of this aquarium. <Yes> If so, what other large angel could suggest?) <Mmmm, for having the Moray as your center piece... none> and a volitans lionfish.  For filtration I will be using a Euro-reef RC250 with and ozonizer. <Mmm... need more... biological, mechanical...> I will be employing a closed loop system for added water movement.  As per Anthony Calfo's diagram.  I will have two overflows and was wondering how to make it a closed loop with not being able to put pvc in front of the overflow? <Mmm... could loop around, truncate on either side, even drill through...>   My questions are as follows.  Are these fish compatible with the Hawaiian dragon eel? <All are potential prey> Is this too many fish for the system? <Mmm... not initially> If the fishes are not compatible, what fishes would you recommend? <Heeeee! You're not joking? To go with what? The Moray... see WWM re the "Compatibility" and "Systems" of what you list, are interested in...> Do I have adequate filtration and water movement?   <No>   I would really like a trigger and a lionfish but know that this may not be possible.   Thank you once again for your patience and time.  It is greatly appreciated!   Brent <You're getting closer... but I'd still be reading, studying, dreaming and scheming at this planning stage. Bob Fenner>

Extremely large tank setup, care questions.  Business possibilities.   5/13/07 Hello Mr. Fenner.  I hope emailing you direct was alright? <All comes, goes to the same place...> I talked with Adam Jackson from your staff and he said you would be best at answering this question so I am sending this straight to you.  Our store may have a huge tank setup in the near future and we are wondering (I get the responsibility to email you) how it is done.  I am sure you have seen the extremely large (6,000 gallon) tanks in Florida and elsewhere.  The tanks I am referring to are the cylinder tanks with the fake rock and coral insert for an overflow and return, these are at restaurants such as RainForest Cafe (not sure you've heard of that). <Yes... have been to... even seen these tanks fabricated... SeaClear/Tradewind/Casco... in Cerritos... the four owners are friends...> So here are the main questions, how do these tanks with a small amount of sand and no visible live rock break down ammonia and nitrite? <Filtration provided elsewhere...> My first thought is loads of Bioballs? <One approach...> I am assuming these tanks have enormous sumps filled with either the Bioballs or a massive amount of live rock? <Another> How frequent would a very large water change be on a tank like this? <With "proper" maintenance, not often... expensive to toss...> What type of equipment is needed for something like this, meaning UV sterilizers, protein skimmers, filters, return pumps, and anything else? <I would limit the use of UV here, but if it can be incorporated, add an Ozone generator...> To be honest this is so far over our heads that I'm not sure how we would be able to pull something like this off. <Mmm, keep gathering data...> How much would it cost to have you flown in and advise us as to what to do (I am joking, unless it's possible)? <Am sure there are folks able to help you locally... I'd have Jeff Turner on by... will BCC him here> I believe those are the main questions that we have for you at the moment.  Once again I hope it was OK to email you direct.  Thanks, Ryan Nienhuis. <No worries. Bob Fenner>

Large marine filter gear 6/6/07 First, thank you in advance for your time and expertise. I live in FL and building a 300gallon, 375 with refugium filter reef system. <How nice!> An ETSS 600 Pro skimmer was recommended to me. <Mmm, there are better choices... Posted on WWM...> Is this the best and should I use ozone to a new system. Regards, Shawn Sturm <I would definitely look into and use Ozone (and maybe even a desiccator to go with it) if this were my large marine system. Bob Fenner>  

Big Tanks Need Big DSBs -- 06/30/07 Hello, <<Hi There>> My main display tank is around 900-gallons. <<Neat!>> My Nitrates have shot up lately, to 50+. <<Not so neat'¦>> I have set up a 7-inch deep DSB in my refugium tank. It is 23-inches x 16-inches in surface area, with the other half of the refugium live rock. <<This is a start, but you need much more here for this large and likely well-stocked system>> Is this a big enough DSB for my system or should I have more? <<If you have the capacity, definitely go larger>> I do have another 50-gallon tank connected to the system, which I could also use if I have to. <<Indeed do this, and add another if you have the space for it. You could even use plastic trash cans/storage containers for this purpose. The more the better in my opinion. As an example'¦ I have a somewhat smaller system with a 375-gallon display. I have 1,000 lbs of sugar-fine Aragonite in the display and another 300 lbs of this material in a 55-gallon in-line dedicated vegetable refugium. I'm a firm believer in the DSB methodology>> My clown trigger is getting some white spot although my other fish are fine, probably stress from the nitrates. <<Possibly, yes>> How long does a DSB take to have any effect? <<A DSB should start providing 'some' benefit fairly quickly (say about a week), but will take a bit of time (weeks to months) to realize its full potential (can be helped along by obtaining/adding a few cups of substrate from fellow hobbyists/your LFS). Though with the small DSB (in relation to tank size) you have now, you may not notice much improvement other than a possible slowing/stabilization of Nitrates'¦if that>> I have ordered another skimmer (Bubble King) so that will help as well. <<Beautiful skimmers'¦but, is your current skimmer not doing its job?'¦or maybe simply not 'big' enough?>> I'm doing 105-gallon water changes once a week as that is about as fast as I can make my water. <<Unless this system is 'very much' overstocked I would think this to be sufficient'¦the answer to your Nitrate issues is likely to be found elsewhere>> I have recently started using Ozone, can this cause Nitrates? <<Not that I am aware'¦ Randy Holmes-Farley has written some excellent pieces about Ozone usage (and so much more) in the hobby; do have a look on Reef Central at his archived articles in the Reef Chemistry forum>> Have to ask. <<Understood>> One more thing, should I also get an Aqua Medic nr5000 nitrate reducer to help things along? <<This could prove beneficial. But these Nitrate reduction units seem too 'fiddly' to me'¦would much rather put my stock in a large DSB>> All the big systems around here are using them but they do cost, an additional mV control and probe is needed. <<Yes, pricey bits of gear>> I will do anything for my fish so if you recommend them then I will have to part with the cash. <<Mmm, perhaps as a 'last-ditch' effort'¦ Add as large a DSB (even multiple containers re) as you can and see how things proceed'¦I would even consider putting a macroalgae (Chaetomorpha gets my vote for its 'user-friendliness') in the vessels over the DSB for some additional organics removal'¦with all lighted on a reverse-daylight schedule. I would also add Poly-Filter to your filter flow-path or in a large canister filter to pull down those Nitrates>> Oh well, I enjoy it so much. <<Indeed>> Thanks for the help again. <<Quite welcome'¦hope you find it useful>> When I see people in shops struggling for information, I just pass them a bit of paper with your website on it, boy do they thank me when they see me next. <<Ahh!'¦a strong endorsement indeed, and is redeeming to know>> Kind Regards, James <<James, I would be most interested to hear how you proceed/things progress'¦please do send me an update if you find the time. Eric Russell>>

Refugium and Pond question Dear Bob, <<I'm not Bob, but I play one on TV... JasonC here.>> I am working on the addition of a refugium to my 300 gallon (96x30x24) reef tank. I have obtained a 250 gallon container and plan to locate it and all my other hardware in an adjoining "fish room". I have researched your website and read your book (both excellent!) and have a couple of questions: 1. Is it ok to have the new "refugium" act as my only sump as well? <<Sure.>> If yes, do I need a separate area for the water to crash into from the tank overflow? <<In a container that large, probably not... but it wouldn't hurt, it would just need engineering and construction in advance.>> 2. My tank is currently turning over at about 8 times per hour, and I am planning on increasing the flow as part of the new plumbing (larger pump). Will a flow of about 10-12 times per hour be too much for the refugium to function properly (nitrate removal, oxygenation, transfer of pods and other critters to feed main display)? <<In this case, you may want to baffle the water coming into the sump/refugium just so things don't get completely swept away.>> My other question is regarding ponds. I live in southern California (near the foothills in San Bernardino County). My wife has always wanted to have a saltwater outdoor pond. <<I would think this is do-able, but not without many issues - right off the top of my head would be constant top-off to deal with evaporation.>> Is these do-able with local animals (maybe leopard sharks, or rock wrasse, etc) or is it possible to do something with tropical livestock. <<Not with local livestock unless you also invest in a LARGE chiller... tropicals would be easier, but you'd still need a pretty large heater to make sure the temperature didn't drop too low on that one day a year when it gets chilly.>> Any insight you have on either subject would be appreciated. <<I say do as much research as you can... this isn't impossible, but will probably test the limits of your financing.>> Thanks, Bob McCook <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Big Tank..... Big Filter Thanks for all your help in the past. I'm coming much closer to finalizing my plans for the 300 gal. I'll be receiving in a couple of weeks, and without your assistance I don't believe I'd have designed a very effective system! <That's why we're here! Do keep the questions coming!> The tank will be constructed of glass (96"x24"x30")with two narrow supports at each end (5" each) and two wider supports across the middle area of the tank (10" each). The total width of all supports is 30" leaving 66" of open access at the top. Three overflow boxes are being constructed on the outside back of the tank. I have noted on this site that it would be ideal to skim as wide a surface area as possible to capture the maximum organic waste for a given volume of water. So, each box is 22" long (utilizing the entire available 66" width of open surface area) and will feature two 2" overflows (Durso standpipes in the box). Thus if all were utilized (I may not run full flow in this neotropical cichlid habitat, but I may want to "go" reef in the future) I will have six total 2" pipes providing flow to the sump/filter. <Good idea to overbuild for the future.> The return flow would be distributed through eight bulkheads inserted into the glass support braces in the top of the tank. Back siphoning would thus be no problem, and I could fix nozzles to the bulkheads to better direct flow if necessary. <Do realize that the nozzles will siphon until they reach and pull in air. Also be aware of the stress the bulkheads, pipe/hose etc. will put on your braces, in the horizontal plane, the weakest feature of glass. You may want to consider a manifold *above* the top altogether, eliminating this stress.> My questions are: 1. What would you suppose the flow would be per 2" pipe if I drained them all into a 6" horizontal pipe tilted a bit to drain into a sump? The 2" pipes would each have on elbow (45 or 90 degrees) leading to the 6" pipe. <The passive flow rate for 2" pipe? They can probably reasonably handle approximately 1500+ gph or so each, depends on design. To get a real number shop overflow boxes with 2" pipes, they will be rated at GPH. The WetWebMedia.com sponsors will carry these.> 2. Would I be better served to utilize a wet/dry filter or another form of filtration. I am planning, at the moment, on a 75 gal. sump. The drain would first flow into a micron bag, then over the bio chamber (bioballs in use in this freshwater tank), then a couple of baffles with a chemical chamber, returned via two Iwaki pumps (trying to get enough flow and be able to service one at a time without disturbing the bio-media). I have received two different sorts of advice in the past, one favored wet/dry while the other supported a pond/pool type of filtration (I believe Aquanetics was noted; if so please specify). <This choice will need to be made for your FW inhabitants, but perhaps with an eye to the future again. Either of these options would be suitable depending on capacity. They both work essentially the same way.  For cichlids I would go with a larger system. Neither of these would be necessary for a reef tank in the future. Deep sand beds, live rock, carbon filtration and protein skimming is the way to go there.> 3. Would the micron bag work best submerged (except for the top in or so) or hung above the bio chamber (the stand is 39" high and should accommodate either approach). <No matter. Position for ease of maintenance.> 4. Any benefit to skimming in freshwater? Probably not, huh? <Nope.> 5. U.V. filtration needed? After sump or in? Any recommendations? <Not needed.> 6. Heating via submerged Jaegers in the sump or a fireplug model? <I use Ebo's myself. A personal/esthetics choice.> 7. Return flow will need to have a couple of elbows (maybe three for each of the two return pumps) if I am to hard plumb the returns. Is there a distinct advantage to flexible tubing? I thought I saw it might be quieter, but I think I'd prefer hard plumbing the system with PVC for stability. <Perhaps a piece of flex tube after the pump to isolate that vibration. I prefer hard plumbed pvc, oversized to reduce the friction of turns, ells, etc. Flexible tubing can overcome this, but do be aware of pipe size. For instance, a Mag 18 with a 3/4" outlet only produces this rate and pressure with a 1 1/2" pipe. The hint? Oversize plumbing substantially. Pumps are easier to size/replace!> 8. Is there any way to keep floating plants without them all flowing down the overflows? <Mesh at the top of the overflows or tie them where you want them.> 9. I guess I'm most concerned with the filtration type issue. <Don't be. They both work the same, one uses aerated bio-balls as a wet/dry and the bio-wheel pond system uses a wheel for wet/dry biocapacity.  Some of the pond systems would offer a sump of sorts and more filter capacity as they are designed for larger outdoor systems. Cost/size/capacity are the main considerations.> Sorry about the length of the questions. Thanks in advance for all your help! <No problem! Hope this helps!  Craig>

240 Gallons and 1 Million Possibilities! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I purchased from a friend a 240 gallon show tank; 4' tall and wide and 2'deep. <Sounds sweet!> The acrylic tank was a steal at $50 and never had water in it, no scratches dings or dents, just a 10 foot long python that he kept as a pet. I was really excited about the tank and started putting together all of the parts that I felt were needed. I bought an Eheim 2229 wet/dry canister because I wanted a sealed wet/dry unit and figured it would double as one of my canisters. I bought the Prizm Pro protein skimmer, Helix 18 watt UV light, 2 aqua clear 802 power heads, Sea Storm mud unit (was free from another friend), Fluval 404 canister filter, Ice Cap ballast, 2- 40 watt VHO actinics and 2 40 watt VHO daylight bulbs. I also plan on buying or making a sump after I get done making the custom stand out of 6x6's and other BIG chunks of wood. <A thought here...You seem to be dependant upon a lot of mechanical filtration systems. You could really simplify things (and possibly save some $$) by going with a simple sump set up, and a more capable protein skimmer, like a Euro Reef or Aqua C.> I plan on doing a sort of hybrid reef setup because I do like some non reef tolerant fish. I also plan on using live sand/crushed coral and live rock as a supplement to my mechanical filtering capability. I talked to quite a few of the local shops and most are in concurrence that my setup should work well. <It can, but you will need to regularly clean and change the filter media to avoid them becoming a "detritus/nutrient trap". Again- you may want to explore the flexibility and simplicity that a sump affords for a large system> I ran into another fish store owner one day and was discussing this setup and he advised me that all I need is a filter sock, sump and a protein skimmer and two 10k metal halides. He talked about how he's breeding some reef life under this setup and that my equipment will not handle the tank for more than 3 months. <I don't know about the "3 month" estimate- but I do concur that you should do some research into this suggestion. Sumps work well, even in FOWLR setups...> I am concerned now about the path I have taken and that all of this equipment will go on EBay for pennies on the dollar. <Well, you can still use some of the components...For example, the canister filter can be used to help periodically "polish" the water with carbon, or you could run it continuously with Poly Filter, changing out/cleaning the pre filter and Poly Filter as needed> What is your opinion of my current and future path. Thanks in advance, Jeremy Pratt <Well, Jeremy, I really do think that you can do eat easier and better (especially for the long term) with a well-thought out sump. You'll be much happier in the long run, IMO. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

240 Gallons of Doubt? Hello, I purchased from a friend, a 240 gallon show tank; 4' tall and wide and 2' deep. The acrylic tank was a steal at $50 and never had water in it, no scratches dings or dents, just a 10 foot long python that he kept as a pet. I was really excited about the tank and started putting together all of the parts that I felt were needed. I bought an Eheim 2229 wet/dry canister because I wanted a sealed wet/dry unit and figured it would double as one of my canisters. I bought the Prizm Pro protein skimmer, Helix 18 watt UV light, 2 aqua clear 802 power heads, Sea Storm mud unit (was free from another friend), Fluval 404 canister filter, Ice Cap ballast, 2 110 watt VHO actinics and 2 110 watt VHO daylight bulbs. I also plan on buying or making a sump after I get done making the custom stand out of 6x6's and other BIG chunks of wood. I plan on doing a sort of hybrid reef setup because I do like some non reef tolerant fish. I also plan on using live sand/crushed coral and live rock as a supplement to my mechanical filtering capability. <You mean biological filtration, not mechanical. I suggest live aragonite sand over crushed coral to avoid trapping particulates/waste, contribute to primary denitrification.> I talked to quite a few of the local shops and most are in concurrence that my setup should work well. I ran into another fish store owner one day and was discussing this setup and he advised me that all I need is a filter sock, sump and a protein skimmer and two 10k metal halides. He talked about how he's breeding some reef life under this setup and that my equipment will not handle the tank for more than 3 months. I am concerned now about the path I have taken and that all of this equipment will go on EBay for pennies on the dollar. What is your opinion of my current and future path? Thanks in advance, Jeremy Pratt <Well Jeremy, I've heard of these hybrid ideas before and I don't know how well you can expect that to turn out, depending on your fish wish list. I would keep it simple and straightforward to begin with. Your lighting will be insufficient for reef life in a 4' deep vessel, depending on your coral/invertebrate wish list. You will make good use of those VHO's though, so not to worry, although after you use those up (in about 8mos to a year) switch them to 03 actinics all around to supplement the metal halides you will need to penetrate 4 feet of water. Something in the order of two 250-400 watt fixtures will suffice. With 10K you may want to just run the VHO actinics for a dawn/dusk/fluorescing effect. The filters can be used for carbon, so not a total loss, but forget all the bio-capacity of these and change them every two weeks (minimum) better small amounts weekly to avoid nitrate production. For the best presentation of this concept please read the articles on Live Rock and Deep Sand Beds on WetWebMedia.com in the Marine section. The only other upgrade I would look at is the skimmer. Before you go too far or use it, return it and look at a Euro Reef or Aqua-C for your sump for improved nutrient export. The main issue is your lighting.  Fine for 18" or less.  No need for the UV unit, return for more circulation, shoot for 10-20 times tank volume turnover.  Don't forget to factor in return pump from sump, overflows, etc. Best to draw up and solidify a good plan before spending any more hard earned $$$!  Look for more in the Marine Set-ups pages and faq's, more there than can be posted. I hope this helps you out! Craig>   

Wet/dries for 300g+ commercial installation 1/24/04 I work in the aquarium svc business, at this point mostly with 4' & 6' glass fish-only aquariums using wet/dries, and decorated with coral skeletons/shells  & artificial decorations.  We generally make our own wet/dries from 20 & 29  gallon aquariums using  PVC, eggcrate & bio-balls.  We have had good success using one Mag 5 or similar pump per standard overflow (All-Glass "Reef Ready" tanks) and with a sump capacity that is about 20% of the size of the tank (so that  evaporation doesn't become much of an issue). <All sounds quite appropriate.> We're preparing to handle sales and maintenance of 300-600 gallon acrylic  systems, and I'd like your input on a couple of things: a) Should we still stick with 20% size wet/dries? It appears that our competition is using smaller ones (re: less expensive), but we haven't maintained any  of the systems they installed so we're not sure how well this works. <I would consider 20% a minimum.  My greatest concern would be that the sump can handle the volume of water that will flow into it if a pump stops.  As a general rule, I suggest the largest sump that is practical.> b) Can you recommend a source of inexpensive rigid-sided rectangular tanks (made from plastic?) that we might use instead of glass aquariums to construct the wet/dries?  If we stay with our current wet/dry design and just enlarge it,  in most installations we will probably be looking to make wet/dries with  dimensions similar to 75 & 125 gallon aquariums.  (Anticipating that in some installations the wet/dries will still need to fit under the tank in a stand.) <Several types of water holding vessels come to mind, including fiberglass, acrylic aquariums, polyethylene tanks (often used in the back of trucks).  An internet search using key words like "water tank" combined with poly, polyethylene, fiberglass, etc., should yield a good starting point of hits.> c) Any input you can provide concerning the various acrylic tank makers would be helpful. <I can't really be of much help here in terms of specifics.  The "big boys" of the industry (Tenecor, Sea-Clear, etc.) haven't gotten there by chance.  Just stick with well known companies.  FWIW, your acrylic tank supplier is a great place to check with for sumps.  Adam>

Natural Filtration Methods For A BIG Tank! Hi Scott, a little resume of our previous e-mails: I'm trying to set up a 350 gallon tank FOWLR with a 100 gls sump, in my new apartment, in which there will be 3 large clown trigger (9, 8 and 11 inches) <<Pardon a side note here... combining large Clown Triggers is not a good idea... very likely they will fight... to extreme damage. Even in a tank three times this size. RMF>> and 1 large Arabian picasso(6 inches) and 1 Guinea fowl puffer (10 inches) - I have them now in my actual tank - therefore with very high bioload . You told me that LR and DSB are OK for my tank filtration. <Okay> 2 questions for you: 1. Many experienced people told me that the container used to run a separate DSB would have to be nearly 2/3rds (about a 240gal) as large as the main system to be useful ; this size is too large for space that I have in my living room; what about it, is it true or not? <I'm not entirely disagreeing with this thought; however, I believe that your system can realize the benefits of DSB methodology without such a large remote sand bed. I think it's entirely acceptable to maintain a DSB in the sump. I have set up such systems before, and have several friends that have kept them for years without problems.  Remember, the DSB is just one of several biological "filtration" adjuncts that you will utilize in your system. The live rock will perform a similar role, and aggressive protein skimming will help, too. In a tank with heavy feeders and a large metabolic load, you will have to be diligent about regular maintenance, and utilize chemical filtration media (ie; activated carbon/PolyFilter) as well.> 2. I'd like to use (Berlin system) ONLY Live rocks with Caulerpa in my sump lighted 24/7. <I'd go for a "reverse daylight" cycle, myself> I think to put in the new 350 gallons tank + 100 gls sump 700 pound of live rocks - 110pounds LR rubble in the sump and remaining LR in the main tank. <Sounds fine to me...> Besides, I'll use a huge skimmer, Aquamedic 5000 twin (greater Aquamedic skimmer). <Excellent> I wouldn't want to use a wet dry filter, but I prefer a natural set up! Do you think this set up (ONLY Live rocks + Caulerpa) is able to handle that large bioload? <With the aforementioned caveat on maintenance, it is entirely possible, in my experience. Any macroalgae should be harvested regularly, if you intend to use it as a "filter", as you are removing nutrients from the system completely when you harvest. As with any system, use common sense when stocking and feeding.> Thank you for your advice. Best regards Lorenzo <Well, Lorenzo, I think that you are on the right track. Give your system time to cycle and mature, and I'm sure that you'll enjoy it for many years! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

How Much Sand and Filtration for a 1300 Litre Tank? Hi Guys, << and gals, although not here right now >> I'll be as quick as I can.  I do really have to ask these questions as you are the only people I will listen to.  The LFS are no help.  My 1300 litre main tank and 500 litre sump have just been delivered. << Excellent >> 1) I have read all the DSB FAQs but need a little clarification. I have bought some aragonite 1mm - 2mm size as I couldn't get sugar fine size (I'm in South Africa). << I don't like sugar size, so I think you got what you want. >> My aim would be for natural nitrate reduction.  Do I add a 5-6 inch deep sand bed to the main tank or  to the sump and how deep in the sump if so?  << I like about 4 inches in the main tank, and in the sump. >> A DSB in the sump only may be sufficient as I only have 3 Tangs, Niger trigger, Coris wrasse and a blue ringed angel plus LR and no corals.  << Actually the more corals you have, the less sand you need, as the corals are helping to filter the water. >> They are all around 4-5 inches at the moment.  I don't plan on adding anymore fish. In my 300 litre tank which is there current home my nitrate ranges from 0 to 10. 2) Is it better to add 2 x Turboflotor 1000 or 1 x Turboflotor 5000 shortly? AquaMedic is all that's available here? << Sorry, I'm not familiar with them.  Basically the more filtration and the more water motion the better. >> 3) If I put a glass cover on top of the tank to stop dust, evaporation etc. would it not stop oxygen getting in and gas exchange? << Yes, and no.  A glass cover isn't bad, unless it is like a tight seal and doesn't allow gas exchange.  A better idea is a glass shield right under the bulbs, but not all the way across the tank. >> 4) I have read sump FAQs as well, but do I add bioballs and those round ceramic things to begin with, or just more LR? << I would stay away from bioballs, and just go with more live rock. >> Thanks so much.  I've just been reading the "Goodbye to Powerheads" article so I'm away to build a water return manifold.  My fish are going to love me for this.  I don't know how people can swap their fish around, I have gotten so attached to mine. << Me too, good luck. >> Kind Regards, James. <<  Blundell  >>

Re: 375g setup Hi Anthony, <Out till 12/12> Thanks for the tip - I will follow up with him. When you commented "you don't follow", I was asking if switching the 2 DSB's would have any effect or make a difference (i.e. Thalassia in the refugium with sugar fine sand and the Chaetomorpha with fine sand in the tank). <Might indeed make a positive difference> Also, I wondered if this was going to be quite enough tank turnover...other than sea-swirls is there anything else that can perform their function? With their 1" max input it's going to take a lot of them ($$$$). Would I just plumb some of the additional returns as "direct" and aim them away from any specimens to avoid uni-directional flow ?            thanks,               Greg <Best to make, place a manifold of a few discharges... with one through-put to a few, or even an "over the top" arrangement to return water from a strong pump source outside this size system. Bob Fenner>

Plumbing a 275 gal Tank I want to thank you all for answering questions in the past. You have helped tremendously. I built the 275 gal. aquarium attached which has artificial coral as you can see. It will look better once filled with water, some live coral and algae and fish. All lights I built consist of 18- 65 watt Catalina PC bulbs in three polished mirror stainless steel housing units for a total of 1170 watts. They consist of 3-6500K, 3-20000K, and 12-10000K bulbs. Three bulbs will come on first, then another three, then the rest and shut off with the same idea. I'll probably purchase a moon light as well. Sound OK? < Yes, but that is a lot of bulbs.  For that much light I would have just gone with halides. > I intend on using a 4-inch live sand bed. Is that enough? < Wonderful. > The aquarium measures 96-inches long by 18-inches wide by 35 inches high. What is the best grain size to use? < Standard crushed coral. > Do I simply put it right on the tank bottom? < Yep. > I will install and Ro/DI unit. Any suggestions here on type and size? < I like the Kold Steril Units. > I read where 35/gal per day is most efficient, is this true? < No idea, I don't think it matters much. > My water is well. I read I need a TFC membrane if I have well water. Is this true? < I'd only do it if the manufacture says so. > The water flows from the bottom of both the right and left sides of the aquarium into a compartment as illustrated in the other attached file (does the illustration concerning the sump seem OK?), which fills and spills over its top into another compartment which is piped to a sump. My main questions here are what do you think is the best type of sump to build? I will build one of Lucite measuring 15-inches high by 13.5-inches wide by 72-inches long. < This sounds fine.  I think instead of just Lucite, I would purchase cast cell acrylic.  Actually, you may want to look into just buying a pre-made sump, or buying a cheap aquarium to use. > If totally filled it is 61 gallons. Height and width must be this size in order to fit under aquarium. Do you know of any pictures that I can use when building the sump to use as a guide? < Lots of online searches, and visits to friends' houses and pet stores. > Or is my diagram fine? < All is fine, but I'd test it out, and compare it to other sumps you see. > I intend on putting an already purchased AquaC EV-400 in the sump. I can build the over flows in the sump at any height as required by the skimmer to maintain proper water height. Should the skimmer be first or last in the sump sequence? < First. > It requires an Iwaki 55rlt pump. I thought it should be first. I really am not sure how to install the Iwaki. Then I will have a compartment in the sump for live rock and or macro-algae, and then through a pre intake filter and out via a Dolphin 3000 Amp Master to the aquarium.  I purchased a large pre-intake foam filter for the Dolphin because the Dolphin people told me that any particles that enter the pump will damage it. The foam filter is to prevent this. I do not want nuisance algae in the display tank. Is this pre-intake foam filter going to act as a nitrate factory? < No, it will be fine. > It measures around12-inches long and is cylindrical of around 6-inches. I intend on having a return from the Dolphin pump go to a surge bucket as well for good water movement. Should I make a compartment in the sump for any future devices such as a chiller if necessary? < I wouldn't waste space making extra compartments. > I have room to place a chiller elsewhere.    What type of lighting as far as K would be best (I like PC) < A mix of 10k and blue actinics for the tank, probably 6500K for the sump. > for the live rock and should it be turned on at night when the display tank lights are out? < Good idea. > I anticipate a turn-over rate of around 11 times an hour anticipating head height. Is this Enough? < Yes, sounds great. > Finally, I see that many people recommend that water to be skimmed should come from the most upper portion of the aquarium. My water as indicated is drawn from both right and left bottom sides of the tank. < This is very bad if you are saying your tank drains from the bottom, into the sump below. > Any suggestions here? < Yes, you need some sort of pipes that go up to the top of the aquarium and are sealed very well.  The water needs to drain from the top.  If it is draining from the bottom, it will instantly flood out all over your floor when you are filling the tank. > Should I purchase another skimmer or simply plumb a siphon from the aquariums upper water and let it drain into the sump prior to the skimmer? < Yes, this is appropriate.  But that siphon is more of an overflow and can't be a continuous siphon. > Or is this a non issue? Any suggestions at all concerning this whole aquarium situation? A lot of questions I know, however I'm finally putting it all together. Thank you - Chris Drialo    ---    Oh, another question. The back of the aquarium has its own room which I enter via a door. I would imagine humidity may be an issue. I installed a moveable Lucite covering for the aquarium. < Not a good idea to have the aquarium covered.  I would leave it open, and worry about getting humidity out of the room and out a window. > It is not totally air tight and is in three pieces and is removable. I installed EPDM rubber to the entire room area and installed an exhaust fan at the ceiling. However the fan is loud, not made for a salt application, and in my opinion, probably can exhaust at a much slower rate to be efficient. Do you know where I can purchase such a device? < That I don't know, you'll have to search around. > Should I make a Lucite cover for the sump as well? I right now am thinking of leaving the over flow compartments on left and right sides of the aquarium open for air. What do you think? < Leave it all open if you can.  The CO2 build up from having the tank covered can be very detrimental.  Again I highly recommend seeing more tanks in your area (whatever that is). > Thank you again. < After looking at the picture again, I see you are fine with the overflow situation.  I think I would still prefer to take water right off the top, and not off the bottom.  This will just be a lot easier and not stir up the bottom with water moving too fast around the sand. > <  Blundell  >

New reefer - big display 2/23/05 I always thought having a wet/dry was just one of the required things for good filtration.  <a good filter... especially for heavy fish/bioloads... but not necessary> I'm not to sure what a "sump" is exactly yet. <no worries... do look into our archives at wetwebmedia.com under marine topics... especially plumbing. You'll see  illustration(s). Also, do consider reading/buying Mike Paletta's "New Marine Aquarium"> I guess it's just a box for the water to fall in to. <indeed... a reservoir for conveniently and discreetly hiding the majority of hardware> I have been trying to research some skimmers. Would you recommend external, or sump type skimmers? <whichever fits your space allowance best... seek AquaC, EuroReef or ASM brands for best value IMO> I have trying to do more research tonight on skimmers as it seems to be one of the most important items. <agreed> I have found three that appeal to me. One of these has a quick connect fitting for a calcium injector. Is this an important feature? AquaC EV400 Turboflotor 5000 twin EuroReef CS12-6 (very expensive) Worth the Money? <all good choices with the first and last mentioned being easier to tune and operate IMO> I also would like to know if you should subtract the approximate water volume taken up by all the rocks and overflow box when buying components. <not needed... oversize on estimates for filtration to be safe> For instance I have a 750 gallon tank. But have a center overflow, and plan on putting in a bunch of rock. Should I buy components rated for 500 gallons? I have been thinking I should buy one rated at 1000 gallons since they never live up to what they claim.  So to sum this up. I think your recommending all I need is a sump, skimmer and a bunch of cured rock? <yes... for a light to moderate fish load, aggressive skimming and frequent partial water changes (cannot be avoided... very good/necessary for long term aquarium health> Around 3000 watts of light, an RO/DI and mixing tanks? <DI water aerated then buffered is best> Would you recommend laying some 1 1/4" PVC on the tank bottom, then laying maybe 3/4" of live sand? <not clear on the PVC purpose here> Thanks so much again! I told a friend of mine who recently set up his first reef tank. Have a great night. Mike <best regards, Anthony>

Large System - 08/16/05 I recently acquired a 600 gallon tank that I am planning some upgrades  for.   <<cool>> The tank came with 2 - 6' VHO's.  It's a 4' tall tank, and I just want it to look REALLY nice, not necessarily try to grow anything in it (aside from healthy fish). <<ok>> I haven't gotten it filled yet, or the lights hooked up so I'm not sure how bright it's going to be, but I'm curious if VHOs can hack it or would it be recommended to bump it up to halides even though its a FOWLR. <<The VHOs will work fine for the fish (may want to add a couple more tubes), but I wouldn't expect any life to "flourish" on the live rock in the bottom third of the tank.  I prefer the look of a single-point light source myself...and considering the depth of this tank, would likely opt for the halides.>>   I want to mount my 125 above the 600 if that is possible and use it as a refugium/invert display to complement my FOWLR, so it  would be nice if I could avoid the heating issues that would inevitably arise with halides. <<A valid concern...but don't be fooled in to believing VHOs won't be hot.  The use of cooling/exhaust fans will likely be required for either application.>> That leads to my next question and that is...are there any nifty tricks aside from drilling (glass tank), and overflow boxes (the  devil) to getting a top mounted tank to overflow to a tank below? <<Not that I'm aware/would trust.  Drilling really is you're best option.>>   Third question - The tank came with two Oceanclear canisters (which I am scraping for this project), and two 1200 gph external pumps.  There are four drilled holes and bulkheads in the bottom of the tank from this, and two pumps I have no great use for.  Would it be hazardous at all to just run two small closed-loops right out the bottom - provided that I elevated the drains above the substrate? <<Employ "true" closed-loops and you have no worries.>> And would that be worthwhile? <<Absolutely!>> I'm going to plumb a Dolphin AquaSea in for a closed loop on the back so if I had to plumb them any other way it probably wouldn't be worth the hassle. <<More flow the better...whether a reef or a FOWLR.>>   Lastly - just before my dreams get out of control - assuming I have top notch water quality, and 600+ lbs of live rock how many "stocking rules" can I break in a tank this size? <<Every tank has it's own set of rules...>> Can I keep a school of Yellow or Blue  Tangs...or multiple Pomacanthus angels...or keep a Sohal with other types of  tangs...or....you get the picture :) <<Unfortunately yes, I do <G>... You don't give the tank dimensions, but at 4 feet in height I'm guessing it's no longer than 8 feet (96"x48"x30" ?).  The Sohal gets too big even for this tank to be happy/well adjusted for its lifetime...the blue tangs (Hippo?), though not quite as large as the Sohal at maturity, are so robust, active, and high strung/twitchy as to (in my opinion) require more swimming room, more flow, and more "hidey holes", than most casual hobbyist can provide...especially if more than one.  As for the yellow tangs, I might be tempted to try a trio (all same size introduced together) in this tank.  Careful selection of a Pomacanthus might prove interesting as well (two might be trouble)...tho be warned, these can/will become bruisers at maturity...choose tank mates well.  At least research your selections (fishbase.org provides good info on adult size, gut content (food), etc.) and seriously consider their requirements/needs before purchase.>>   Muchas Gracias, I always appreciate your input. Scott <<Happy to be here to assist/give opinion.  Regards, EricR>>  

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