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FAQs about Powerheads and their Modification in Marine Systems 

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Related FAQs: Powerheads 1, Powerheads 2, Rationale, Selection, Application, Problems/Repair, By Manufacturer, Makes/Models: Aquarium Systems (Maxi-Jets, Visi-Jets), Hagen (AquaClear), Tunze, Other Models/Manufacturers, Marine Circulation 1, Wavemakers, Marine Circulation 2, Marine Circulation 3, Marine Circulation 4, Marine Circulation 5, AerationPumps, PlumbingMake Up Water Systems, Sumps RefugiumsGear Selection for Circulation, Pump ProblemsSurge Devices


Sweet Puffer vs. EVIL POWERHEAD     2/6/20
:(.... Two days ago, i <I> witnessed something i don't ever want to see again.
it was so heart breaking. I walked into the living room where our 190 Gallon saltwater tank is. We have a Wrasse, a Trigger, a Clown fish and a Snowflake Eel. I look over and see this white thing attached to the center of power head and its spinning so incredibly fast. It didn't quite click that something was wrong but i knew it wasn't supposed to look like that.
So i called for my boyfriend and asked him "UH, What is that white thing spinning in the tank? Its attached to the power head." When I saw his reaction i knew it was our beloved "BP" or "Big Puff".
<Oh, poor thing!>
We immediately unplugged the power head and once he stopped spinning he was puffed up and wasn't really moving, i am assuming because of how dizzy he was.
<Why does your power head had no strainer on??>
After about 30 seconds or so, he wiggled himself free. This poor guy, both of his eyes are white, but you can still see his pupils underneath, and its moving. It almost looks like it keeps trying to adjust or focus. His spikes at the front of his face are still raised two days later. His skin has now turned white.
<Any idea on how much time it was stuck?>
My boyfriend built a small acrylic box with 1.5" diameter holes on each side so that fresh saltwater can circulate.
<Good move>
We had to put him in the box because he was trying to swim around and kept bumping into all the live rock and it was scraping up the white parts on his eye. Making it look like it was peeling. My question(s) is do you think its better to let him roam free in the tank?
<No, I think it is better to isolate it.>
Is the being in the box stressful? Is there any possibility that he'll will survive this?
<Hard to know... besides what you can see, It very likely have internal damage caused by the suction power of the pump.>
From my description of his eyes, does it sound like he can see at all or does it sound like he's probably blind? What can i do to help him? Move him to a QT tank? I'm afraid his wounds will become infected and make things worse for him.
<I suggest moving it to the quarantine tank ASAP, let it there with very dim or no lights at all. At this point, just hope for the best, but from your description of its condition, this fish may be a goner.>
I'll be awaiting your reply.
Thank you,
Paris Towner
<The best luck for you guys, please do keep us posted. Wil.>
Re Sweet puffer VS EVIL POWERHEAD       2/7/20

I just wanted to update you, Big P passed away yesterday.
<Sorry for your loss>
I wanted to let you know so that other fish owners could be responded to instead of trying to help me. Thank you anyway. I adore your website. It’s all so informative. Thank you for donating your time to help us all out!
<Thanks for your kind words. Cheers. Wil.>

Circulation Advice (Detritus Accumulation) -- 01/17/10
Hi Crew,
<<Howdy Lynette>>
I sing your praises daily. You have been tremendous help with managing my saltwater and freshwater tanks and pond. Thank you.
<<Ah! We are pleased to be of service>>
I have a year old 120 gal reef with 30 gal Chaeto algae sump. It was created with contents from tanks that were 2 years old when I set up the 120. I have a large wall of live rock in the center of the tank running lengthwise. Various corals (mostly soft) growing along it. I have not been able to get my nitrates below 5-10 ppm (mg/L).
<<Mmm, actually this level is not/should not be too problematic (though I like to see a range of 5ppm or less). A 'small amount' of Nitrate is 'beneficial' to your coral's health/color>>
I have tweaked and adjusted, and finally think that my circulation is the problem.
I can blow off the rocks with a Maxi-Jet and days later the rocks are covered with gray sediment (detritus?).
<<Yes'¦along with some fine substrate material, maybe>>
I use a turkey baster almost daily to puff off the rocks as well. I have rearranged the 3 Maxi-Jet 1200 powerheads in every position w/ no avail.
<<Hmm'¦these may be insufficient to provide enough turbulent flow for this size tank>>
The return from the sump is a Mag-12 which is also directed to blow off rocks. I cannot seem to keep the front of the "wall" and the back clean at the same time and prevent a sandstorm or causing corals to retract from too much force.
<<Indeed'¦ The 'narrow' laminar flow from the pump/powerheads can often be difficult to utilize effectively. Rather than pointing the flow down at the rock, it may work better if you arrange the powerheads near the top of the tank and position them to converge their output streams along the upper layer of the tank, providing more chaotic flow to help keep detritus in suspension>>
I have Hydor rotators that I have used but nothing seems to help. I cut way back on feeding and even with that I still have sediment. It has also caused red slime algae buildup on the rocks. I am not opposed to rearranging the rockwork if needed
<<An 'open' structure to allow flow 'behind' the wall could help>>
and I am willing to bite the bullet and purchase other powerheads if they would do a better job (like the Tunze). I looked into the Tunze but wasn't sure what model and if it would even help.
<<The Tunze Stream pumps would be a good upgrade'¦lots of flow without the damaging effects to your corals from a narrow laminar water stream (though they can still cause damage if positioned to closely to livestock). I utilize the Stream pumps in my own reef system and truly love them. But if money is an issue, and considering you already have some Maxi-Jet powerheads on hand, consider upgrading each of these with a Sure Flow 1600 Maxi-Jet upgrade kit like this: (http://www.marinedepot.com/Algae_Free_Sure_Flow_1600_Maxi_Jet_Upgrade_Kit_Accessories_for_Aquarium_Powerheads-Algae_Free_Sure_Flow_Sure_Grip-AF1551-FIPHAC-vi.html).
For about $12.00 you can triple the flow from your Maxi-Jet powerheads as well as change the output stream to a wider, more coral-friendly flow type. The added water movement will certainly help with keeping detritus in suspension to be utilized by your corals or removed by your filtration system. I have experimented some with these units on my 375g display tank, and I am quite impressed with their performance>>
My salt is pretty stable at 1.025.
I do about 10 gallon water change weekly with well water and once every 4-6 weeks a 30 gallon change.
<<Mmm, your well water may be a problem re the Cyanobacteria. Very often, well water is not as 'pure' as we like to think, due to ground contamination from heavy metals/mineral deposits and/or agricultural runoff. I suggest you at least test this'¦and consider the use of a RO/DI unit for your reef's top-off and make-up water>>
I have a 760 watt PC/MH combo light that runs 12 hours for the PC and 6 hours for the MH.
<<The MH lighting period should be of a more 'Tropical' length of 10-12 hours'¦in my opinion>>
My calcium is about 300 ish - I can't get that up. I use the 2 part B-ionic system. This was my other problem. Not sure how to deal with this.
<<These two-part products usually work pretty well, perhaps the dosage needs to be bumped up'¦or'¦maybe your test kit needs replacement>>
It is difficult to read the pH card colors but I read it is 8.4. I have a Tunze 9010 skimmer that I need to clean 2x week.
<<A nice piece of gear>>
Blue hippo tang
Yellow tang
1 clown that resides in a rose tip anemone
Banggai cardinal
Pajama cardinal
Red Hawkfish
Flame angel
6 line wrasse
2 yellow tail blue damsels
Neon goby
Bi color blenny
Lots of Nassarius snails (at least 100 or so)
Brittle star
A handful of hermit crabs
Tube anemone
Frogspawn that has not gotten any larger!
Yellow polyps
Orange sun coral that is growing leaps and bounds!
Sinularia that will not extend
Trumpet corals that look great
Candy cane corals that look great and are growing
Many colored zoos all doing well
Red brain
Various mushrooms
Star polyps
Thanks for your help and advice. Any guidance is greatly appreciated.
Lynette Olson
<<Do try beefing up the flow as discussed'¦and look to that well water as a possible (probable) source of 'undesirables''¦ Cheers'¦ Eric Russell>> 

Koralia Pump and Anemone Problem
Intake Covers   9/23/09

I recently bought a RBTA and he has been busy moving about the tank, which brings me to my issue. I have a Koralia 4 powerhead, which hasn't been running since I bought the RBTA because I didn't want it to get sucked in.
<A definite possibility.>
Is there anything that I can do to safeguard the pump and turn it back on.
<Several manufacturers sell very thin spongy foam material that stretches around this style of powerhead. However it will significantly decrease the flow created by it.>
I was thinking of putting something like pantyhose around the pump and turn it back on. Is this reasonable or is there a better option?
<As above, although the pantyhose idea is interesting, if they really are still made of nylon they shouldn't be any danger.>
Any input will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
<You're welcome,
Josh Solomon.>

Re: Intake Covers, Koralia Pump and Anemone Problem - 10/01/2009
Thanks for the quick response Josh.
<I'm sorry I took so long this time, I just got back from a conference.>
I was thinking about it some more last night and came up with an idea. What about using zip ties to break up the size of the slits? I could make the gaps as big or small as I want and this may not reduce the flow as much. Also, I was thinking the right size rubber band might work as well. Any thoughts.
<I'm afraid either of these ideas will likely cut down on flow, and the anemone can get sucked into to very very small intakes, so it likely won't solve that problem either.
Good luck,
Josh Solomon.>
Thanks again,

Another Use For Those Cone Feeders  -- 09/03/09
Hi Eric:
<<Hiya Cindy>>
Jim, my supplier wanted me to share this with your readers as he thought it was a great idea.
In addition to the airstone trick (used either in sump or behind overflow walls) as a means of raising pH, there is another handy trick I came up with out of necessity. I feed all my discus (as well as my reef) using cone feeders. I came up with the idea of buying the 3-way cone feeders and using the cones themselves on the powerhead intakes to keep the impellers/intakes from becoming clogged. The suction of the powerheads holds the cone in place and is easily removed for regular cleaning or if you only want to keep them in place when people clean their reefs. They are also great for keeping soft polyped corals and small fish from being taken up by the strong suction of the powerheads. I use cones on all my reef powerheads. I also use a handheld powerhead for cleaning my reef itself and put a cone on one to keep the cleaning powerhead running well as it pushes out all the detritus etc. from between the rock work. Just a little idea Jim and I thought worth mentioning.
<<Nifty ideas'¦ Thanks for sharing. EricR>>

DIY Magnet, for powerhead securing  9/01/09
Good Morning Crew!
It's such a relief to be able to bounce ideas and problems off of all of you wonderful people! I've had my first tank ever up and running for about 8 months now. It's a 30 gal FOWLR and I'm trying to keep enough
circulation going but my powerhead's suction cups seem to hydrophobic.
They really just don't like to stay stuck to the glass, which can create quite a mess. So I've been looking at alternatives, and I really like Hydor's Koralia powerheads, because of the magnet/suction cup combination,
but my girlfriend doesn't care too much for the price. :( Anyway, I've been thinking about just gluing a magnet on the back of the one I already have, but I can't seem to find any information on what kind of magnet would be marine safe.
<No magnets are safe unless they are encapsulated in plastic/epoxy.>
I've seen magnetic clips made for this type of project but unfortunately they cost more than the powerhead I want in the first place.
<Nah, have you seen these?
Just trying to shave a little cost here. So... 1: What type and where could I get a cheap magnet that would be marine safe, and 2: What type of glue/epoxy would work good for this application?
<For the time and expense involved creating your own, you would be better off to buy the Sure Grip magnets. The Koralia powerheads are a good buy in circulation pumps. Considering they come with the magnetic holder and are very energy efficient (Koralia 1, 400gpm/3.5 watts), make them a bargain for water movement. Compare to a Maxi Jet 1200 which has a flow rate of 295gph and draws 20 watts.>
Thank you so much for your time and valuable insight.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Attaching Maxijet 1200 to a magnet  - 03/12/2006 Hi, I have been trouble <Mmm> attaching my MaxiJet 1200 to the walls of my 120 with the suction cups provided.  Some suggest gluing/using epoxy to attach the pump to a algae scraper magnet.  In your experience, will such a setup damage the impeller (when used in conjunction with a wavemaker). Thanks <Shouldn't affect the impeller. BobF> Paint inside tank Quick question. Do you guys know if there is a paint I can use to cover my powerheads? I have these teal colored PH and if I could tape it up and make sure that after it dries it can still be taken apart I would like to paint or spray it black. I know people have painted or sprayed their PVC. Does anyone know what kind of paint that is? Thank you in advance. <You might try epoxy paints... but even they will wear given the heat generated by the powerheads. Better to "hide" them behind rock, decor. Bob Fenner> Josh

9-10 Foot Power Cord for Small Pump  11/17/05 I have a saltwater aquarium (cylinder shape) that is in the center of our spiral staircase and measures 8 feet tall and 4 feet in diameter.  <Wowzah!> I would like to purchase a small pump (maybe Rio?) to submerge in the tank, mounted near the bottom to circulate water slightly around the bottom of the tank. <Mmm, I would investigate a bit more, look for a better-regarded manufacturer/line> I have good circulation at the top of the tank, but I feel there is stagnant water at the bottom and am concerned about high nitrates at the bottom of the tank. <Need to circulate all... including top to bottom... you might "tilt" your pump/discharges accordingly> Unfortunately, I have not been able to obtain a small pump with a power cord longer than 6 feet. Ideally, I would prefer a pump with a 9-10 feet power cord, but I would settle for one that has a 8 ft cord. Any suggestions or direction to a source of supply would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!  Brett <Mmm, I would contact the manufacturers (by name) directly re... it isn't hard/impractical to splice an extension and make this water proof... but the companies actually making these units can/will make special orders (I'd get double the number you want and save the other set for back-up). Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Re: 9-10 Foot Power Cord for Small Pump  11/17/05 Bob, <Brett> Thank you for your response to my question! I am impressed by your timeliness - I work at Toyota where providing the best Customer Support is ingrained in everything we do and I appreciate your quick response. <Ah, an excellent company all the way around... I grew up in Japan, visited "Toyoda" (not a mis-spelling for you browsers), and can remember how amazingly clean everything was... no buttons, watches on the employees (lest finishes be scratched)... all working together harmoniously... And have owned Toyotas (trucks mostly the 22R engines, wife has a Prius)... And what do they "run" the co. on? Capital! Not debt! How un-American... Forget "super-discounts"... Uhh, just make quality products, supply good svc.... am sure you would say about the same...> I will pursue the advice to contact the pump manufacturers directly for a custom length power cord. Do you have any contact info for pump manufacturers? <Mmm, yes... Can be found by the distributors names (Hagen in Canada, Aquarium Systems, TAAM-Rio...> Since you do not seem impressed with Rio, I would welcome any other names (phone numbers or websites) that I could pursue. Thank you again for your cooperation! Brett <Please make it known if you'd like help finding these. Out of time for now. Cheers, BobF> 


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