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FAQs about Powerhead Repairs, Problems  

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Tiny bubbles, blowin' in the sun...

Hi Bob,

I like to keep my tank as clean as possible with everything in good working order. I try to keep all equipment free from algae and slime, so their performance doesn't suffer, so reasonably often I take equipment out to clean. When it comes to things like powerheads though I do struggle in the hard-to-reach areas near the propellers. Have you any ideas on what type of liquid solution I can use to clean the equipment in which will help to agitate the muck? Obviously I don't want to try anything that will introduce toxins to the tank. As I have three powerheads I can take one out and leave it to soak and this shouldn't have a negative effect on the rest of the tank. I have heard of people using vinegar to clean equipment ­- is this a wise idea?

Alan Stephens

Hi Alan, and I salute your diligence to cleaning matters. When it comes to really getting non-living materials squeaky clean, I am a big fan of using diluted chlorine bleach as a soak. Now, I must proffer some warning statements re this materials use. Even diluted Chlorine Bleach is toxic'¦ both to the skin and to human breathing (i.e., your lungs). Hence, all such treatments should be done in a well-ventilated area, or better, outdoors, in containers that are non-reactive with bleach, and of course have no soap or detergent residue on them. Further, one must take care in handling Chlorine bleach such that it does not splash on their clothes, as'¦ it will indeed 'bleach' whatever it touches.

            All this being admonished, you want to make about a ten percent solution, adding the stock Chlorine bleach to simple mains water, at about one unit to nine units of water. To this, gently add/submerse your aquarium gear, and leave to soak for an hour or so. After this bleaching interval, the gear is 'fished out' with a net or such, and rinsed under the tap in freshwater. If you detect a 'chlorine smell', you are encouraged to leave the gear out for a day or more to allow the free chlorine to gasify, i.e., leave via the air. If you are impatient, commercial solutions for eliminating Chlorine and Chloramine in mains water can be applied at a few times suggested concentration, and the gear soaked in this for another hour or so. IF you are still concerned re residual chlorine, there are simple colorimetric assays (test kits) for discerning trace chlorine presence.  

            I am aware of the simplest organic acid, Acetic (aka vinegar) use in these matters, but find that it is not as efficient (a favorite word as it has 'fish' in it) as chlorine bleach; and I just really don't like the residual smell.

Powerhead failure     12/5/13
Hey there Holly again,
While cleaning my tank this morning and doing a routine water change, one of my powerheads quit, and the other no longer spits out bubbles.
<Ahh... likely the venture (air intake) line is occluded, or the impeller isn't producing sufficient pressure at the junction to entrail air>
Water is flowing out the outtake but no more bubbles. I don't have any other aeration (i.e. airstones) . Is this a big problem?
<Not likely; no.>
I'm planning to get a new powerhead tonight after I get paid, but while I'm buying should I get a pump & airstones?
Just a reminder 55 gal. Marineland 400 Bio-Wheel Power Filter the 660 powerhead that's working (sort of) & the 550 that quit. Still no protein skimmer.
<I'd remove the powerhead, the tubing... and soak all in white vinegar for an hour or so, rinse and re-try. Bob Fenner>
Re: re: Powerhead failure   12/8/13

Thanks for the quick reply. I got a new powerhead. They're attached to my undergravel 1" tubes no air lines or air pump with air stones at all in the tank.
<Ahh! I'd add another "reason" for their possible failure here, given your mention... IF the gravel bed is "too clogged", the restriction on the powerhead intake/s can be trouble... these are centrifugal devices...
should not have restriction on their intake/s>

I use them for the undergravel filtration. They are both Aqua-Tech power heads. The new one is much quieter and producing lots of bubbles so I think the motor was going out of the old one. The other one is still no bubbles and again only attached to the 1" tube going into the undergravel.
<... I'd vacuum the gravel thoroughly>
Should I get the airstones and air pump?
<.... see WWM re aeration... testing for DO>
 I'm curious if this is why my nitrates continue to test zero?
<And re NO3... may be test kit issue; perhaps metabolism in/of the system...
all this is gone over and over, archived on the site>
 I had a brown (diatom) bloom that has cleared up since my last water change/cleaning. But again I have tested daily for weeks and my nitrates always test 0...
Any words of wisdom???
<Keep reading. BobF>

Fire in the tank, powerhead failure  19.01.09
Dear helpers of the fish,
I have had my 120 gallon salt water aquarium for 7 years, all has gone well for the last 5 years. No issues, until tonight. Our powerhead went haywire and exploded in a profusion of bubbles and smoke was billowing out of our tank.
We got everything unplugged quickly and got the powerhead out of the tank. Our whole living room filled with smoke and when we opened the top of the tank it reeked of smoke - we did an immediate 65 gallon water change but of our 6 fish and one starfish the only fish to survive the ordeal is the Maroon Clownfish and the starfish. The Orangehead Sleeper Goby looks very still but is still upright. I called our fish store and they said they'd never heard of anything like this happening.
<Save the burnt out unit... Contact the manufacturer...>
We have no corals, only live rock. Can you tell me what we could have done to prevent this
<Perhaps nothing... but I would have all appliances wired through at least a GFI, possibly a surge protector as well. Read here:
and the linked files above>
- all seemed in good working order until the moment it started bubbling like crazy. Also what do we do to keep the one remaining fish alive?
<Either another set-up or doing what you can to salvage the present one...>
Will our live rock be effected?
<Possibly, but worth trying to keep... Activated carbon, Polyfilter use... IF through assay (your livestock not living), I'd bleach all... and re-use>
Will we be able to add more fish or what would be your protocol to getting our tank back in order. I did take our water in to be tested and the levels all seemed ok but I'm nervous as to the long term ramifications.
What a tragic night - I greatly appreciate any and all help and/or advice you might give me. Not sure of what specs you need: 2 Magnum 350 canister filters, MaxJet1200 powerheads (had 2 now 1 but I'm nervous about leaving it in the tank),
<MaxiJets are generally very reliable... again, I think the maker would like to have this unit to examine>
we had a damselfish, a lipstick tang, a bi-color angel, and a 6 line wrasse in addition to the Sleeper Goby and the Clownfish. We had Astrea snails and some crabs as the cleaning crew.
Warm Wishes,
<I am very glad that no one was hurt, the house wasn't further damaged. Bob Fenner>  

Paracanthurus hepatus stuck in power head! 4/4/09
<Hi Mick, Lynn here this afternoon>
This is my first time writing so I hope I do this correctly.
<Oh good, fresh meat! Heeee! Just kidding, everything looks fine.>
Yesterday I purchased a very small (approx. 3/4") Paracanthurus hepatus.
<Say hello to my little friend!>
I freshwater dipped and put directly into main tank. Within minutes he was picking at algae on the back glass and rocks.
I offered a small amount of flakes and he also was eating them. The lights were turned down for an hour then turned off for the night. This morning when I checked on him he was stuck to the intake grid of my Maxi-Jet 1200 power head.
I shut the power head down and he worked himself loose. He swam quickly around the tank for a few minutes then slowed down and has been swimming around slowly. His right side looked like a waffle.
<Poor little thing>
He has been loose for about an hour and a half and seems OK but sluggish. He doesn't appear to have any open wounds.
<Ok, good>
The "waffling" seems to be getting better slowly. Is there anything I can do for him? What are my options?
<The best thing you can do at this point is keep an eye on him and make sure he's in stable/optimal water conditions, that none of the other inhabitants are picking on/at him, and that he's getting a good quality food (no frozen brine shrimp -- very little nutritional value there). If you've got any vitamin supplements around (such as Selcon), use that (as directed) with whatever food you're offering (flake/pellet/seaweed sheets, frozen formula foods, etc). If you don't have any Selcon (or similar) around, no worries, a good enriched/varied diet should suffice. Hopefully, with continued good care, your little fish will pull through just fine and learn to steer clear of intakes! By the way, if it looks like the intake is going to be a continuing problem, you can always cover it with a pre-filter sponge until the fish either figures it out or gains a bit of size. One issue though, with those, is the need to keep them clean. They can get clogged fairly quickly and significantly reduce outflow. As far as where to obtain one of these pre-filters, you might well be able to find them at your local fish store. If not, they're widely available on the 'net. Just Google 'Maxi-jet pre-filter sponge' and you'll find a list of vendors.>
Thanks very much. Mick from St. Charles, MO.
<You're very welcome. Take care - LynnZ from Everett, WA.>  

Tunze Stream question  1/4/09 Hey y'all <Hello Ed, Minh at your service.> - I have a Tunze Turbelle Stream 2 (6065, I believe) in my 75g. <Excellent line of powerheads.> It's set up opposing my return pump outlet: the flow in the aquarium is amazing and the turbulence at the surface is spectacular. However, it seems to have occasional problems restarting after I shut down the pumps for feeding. Often it starts in reverse and I have to shut it down again before it will restart in the proper direction. Once in a while, it will refuse to start at all. I've chalked this up to lime deposits (I have a calcium reactor teed off my return and a Kalk reactor on an UltraLife float switch) and I clean it every few months by soaking it in vinegar and scrubbing with a toothbrush. But even immediately after cleaning it will sometimes misbehave. Today, I had to clean it twice. Then I would start and stop it submerged in a bucket of water. About 1 in 5 times it would start in reverse. Have you heard of this before? <Yes, this is a problem that plagues some propeller-driven powerheads. This was a problem even with Tunze's precise engineering in the early models of the Tunze Nano Stream pumps (6025 and 6045). Although this is not a very common issue with the newer generation Stream 2 (6065 and 6085) pumps, worn out parts or excessive calcium build up could initiate it.> I had another Tunze Stream before (one of the squarish, older models). It did the same thing with increasing frequency until one day it just refused to do anything but run in reverse. To Roger's credit, I dropped it off at my local store (Austin) with a note and he fixed it within a few weeks. It's now stirring my freshwater reservoir quite impressively. <Roger from Tunze has a reputation for legendary service in the hobby.> But, of course, I couldn't wait for it to be fixed, and had to buy the Stream 2 to keep my tank healthy. Back then I had a cruder float switch and often saw lime deposits on the glass of my aquarium. I'm assuming my calcium and alkalinity were rising past saturation, and the deposition on the Tunze had to be pretty severe too. But this doesn't happen anymore with the new float switch. It's got a much tighter action and tops off much more frequently in smaller amounts. Is this just the price of running my reactors? The calcium is 450 ppm and my alkalinity is 9 dKH (both tested today) which doesn't seem out of line or excessive. Or is there something else going on here I'm missing, like perhaps a better cleaning method? <I suspect a proper cleaning would go a long way in solving this issue. Roger has an excellent post with some detail on why this problem occurs and cleaning instructions in this page: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1071516. If this still does not resolve the issue, a part like a break shoe may need to be replaced in which case Roger should be able to further diagnose and repair it for you with ease: tunze@sbcglobal.net.> Many thanks for your input. Ed <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh>

Powerhead vs. coralline- Coralline Remover 4/29/08 Hello to the actual "lifesaver"! <Hi. Yunachin here.> Please tell me an accurate way how to clean coralline off of power heads and in-out takes. Does vinegar really works? Is that safe for reef? Your help is appreciated! <Yes, you can use vinegar to remove the excess coralline on your pumps. Remove them and give them a good soak for a couple of hours or even over night. Then give them a good rinsing with clean water to remove any vinegar before placing them back in your tank. An old credit card can also help scrape algae off of surfaces on your tank. --Yunachin> Sonny

Noisy Powerheads, Wavemakers  3-13-07 Dear Crew, <Hi Guys.> As always, thanks for your help! <Of course.> We have a 72G reef tank (see photo). <Neat.> For circulation we are running 3 MaxiJet 1200 power heads linked to a Red Sea Wavemaster Pro.  This set up creates lots of turbulent circulation. <Yes.> However, we notice that the power heads make a noise when they turn on as part of the Wavemaster timing sequence.  We hear this and the fish jump. <Mmm...yes, the constant stopping and starting of the impeller, especially over time can lead to diminished efficiency.  Furthermore when is the last time the pumps were taken out and cleaned?> Is this sound normal? <If they are old or in need of a cleaning yes. I would take them out and disassemble the intake grate...check it for debris as well as clean the impeller area. If there is calcareous algae build up, remove it.> Is this bad for the fish? <If the noise is sufficient enough to lead to stress, it's not a good thing.> Is there a better way to achieve circulation? <Personally I like closed loop systems better as they can be designed to be more aesthetically appealing and not impart heat into the display area.> Thanks in advance for your help. <Anytime.> Jan & Ellen <AJ.>

The Killer Hickey...Guard Those Powerhead Intakes - 01/27/07 Morning Crew :) <<Howdy Lisa>> I have two Seio power heads and two Maxi-Jets with venturis.  So far we've lost several sea hares and slugs to these intakes and I'm trying to figure out ways to stop this. <<Ah, good...the unguarded intakes on these devices wreak havoc on these soft-bodied slow-moving creatures...as do unguarded heater elements>> I note you mentioned a foam block for the intake, I've no idea where to get one. <<Most any pet/fish shop should have some type of "replacement" filter that can be adapted for this purpose.  The large course "pond filter" foam blocks would be particularly useful here...easy to cut to size/shape and the course matrix won't clog as fast as the smaller/finer aquarium filter blocks and pads>> What can I use to fashion a foam block around the intake for the Seio units? <<Mmm...an "Exacto Knife" to cut/shape the block and nylon zip-ties to secure>> I think I can cover the intakes on the Maxi-Jets with screen. Thanks so much, Lisa <<If you find the foam clogs too quickly, you could fashion a filter "cage" for the pumps from plastic eggcrate material and fiberglass screen.  This provides a much larger filter surface that won't clog as fast...won't be pretty but is effective.  Regards, EricR>> Re: The Killer Hickey...Guard Those Powerhead Intakes - 01/29/07 Morning Crew - <<Hello Lisa>> Ya'll are awesome and I thank you for the info. <<Quite welcome>> Sounds like the plastic screen material and some long tie wraps will cover the Seios. <<Indeed>> You mentioned unguarded heater elements. <<I did, yes...I have seen more than one Aplysia specimen fried/burned to death because they were on the heater-element when it kicked on.  These creatures move so slowly they cannot escape quickly enough to avoid damage>> Is this something I can wrap with plastic screen as well or ..? <<Hmmm...a "cage" made from eggcrate/screen would be better/provide more "standoff">> What's the best way to protect the livestock from the heater without causing damage to the heater? <<Mmm, place it in a downstream sump...if possible>> Thanks so much! Lisa <<Always welcome.  EricR>>

Re: Juwel Compact Filter Powerhead Pump   11/26/07 A brilliant response Tim and it was the one I was looking for but just didn't have the courage to commit to without some advice. <I am very happy to hear.> The filter compartment has actually come away from its silicone anchorage therefore a complete withdrawal will be easily achieved. <Oh good - that will be very helpful.> My next step, if I am correct in saying, is to create suitable water movement. I have a couple of Fluval filters Fluval 2 & Fluval 3 which I am thinking of using to create my water movement, would either of them be acceptable ? <If you use these, I would suggest using them just for the actual pump i.e. remove any filter media and let them run empty purely for the circulation. However, having said that, I think in a Juwel 180 you are already somewhat pressed for space and the introduction of large filters will unnecessarily further reduce that space. I would suggest you instead acquire some actual powerheads such as MaxiJets or, though more expensive, the brilliant new Tunze Nano Stream pumps. These produce much more flow than the filters, take up less space, and are much simpler to position in the tank, allowing you to create ideal water flow with a large filter blocking your view.> Thanks Dorian

Equipment/Power Heads Killing Fish   2/26/06 I got up this morning and found my beautiful large purple tang sucked into a powerhead. <Yuk.> Two weeks ago, I lost a clown in the same way. <Yuk again.> I've placed the caps <What do you mean by caps, the plastic screen?> on but it seems like it's not working.  What should I do?  I have 5 powerheads and at this point, I want to throw them all out!  What do you guys recommend as internal pumps? <These power heads must have some awful suction power.  I'd get some Hagen Aqua Clear Quick Filters to hook on to your power heads.  They come with a filter insert but wouldn't have to use it.  I've used these when I had anemones to prevent getting sucked in should they decide to move.  Drs. Foster & Smith sell three packs for about $19.00.  James (Salty Dog)> Please help. Nilesh Bad Pump?    6/4/06 I've got a Maxi-jet power head, and can't seem to get the water flow started.  Is there a trick to this? <'Tis a plug and play product...if it's new return it, sounds defective.> Pete. <Adam J.> Rio Aqua Pumps... in need of customer service I am hoping you can help me. I set up my first marine tank in April this year. On professional advice I purchased 2 Rio 400 power heads and one system 2000 controller with the thought of buying 2 more power heads at a later date, but after just 3weeks both power heads started to make a terrible noise while still working. I have tried to contact the suppliers which were Aquatics Unlimited but have received no reply. I feel they have taken my money and now don't want to know. Could you please give me any advice on this matter. I still have my original receipt .I have offered to return them in replacement for new ones as I feel they must be faulty but I get no replies to my emails Thank you Mick Blake. <Cheers, Mick... my advice would be to e-mail the manufacturer and cc the vendor in your message. One last request for service, so to speak. The Rio folks would/should be interested to hear and help. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Nitrogen Cycle and Powerhead Weirdness, II >Hi there, >>Hi. >I hope you had a real good weekend. Thanks very much for your reply. >>You're welcome. >I have checked as you said, there is no whirlpool effect anywhere near the powerhead.  I had  also previously blocked the air inlet tubing and submerged the whole thing below the water so there is no chance of any air getting in from there.  One thing I forgot to mention is that if I turn the powerhead off there are streams of bubbles that get released from the gravel, there are so much of them that it looks like some one turned on an air pump , this lasts for a up to about half a minute and then it stops.   >>Wow.. now THAT is weird.  I've never seen that in a system that hasn't got anoxic regions.  And if *that* were your problem something tells me you WOULD smell it. >If I turn on the powerhead immediately then the whole cycle is repeated i.e. the gas spitting intervals, till I get a continuous flow.  Yesterday there was so much of gas trapped in the pipes that when I turned the powerhead on it would not pump because of that, there was not enough water in the pump passing through the impeller (even though it is completely submerged) for it to start pumping.  No water can get in from the outlet as I have sealed it via a pipe that discharges into a canister outside and above the tank water level that discharges the water by waterfall over a plastic sheet back into to tank to release the bubbles.  I had to finally use another pump in the canister to get it going. >>How frustrating! >I have been keeping fish for over 25 years and I have never seen anything like this, if there is any light you can throw on this it will help.  Incidentally when I first bought this tank about 7 years ago I had exactly the same pump installed in the same position, I had no problems, later on when that pump got busted I replaced it with pump that was slightly less powerful, and now I have switched back to the more powerful version.  Kind Regards, Jorell >>I'm at a loss myself, Jorell.  I can see NO way that this is being caused by the powerhead from your description, it makes no sense that a more powerful powerhead would or could get air or whatever it is trapped under the gravel.  Yet that is the only change to the system, yes?  My only last suggest would be to use a reverse flow, but personally I've never really liked them (O2 saturation issues).  I would HATE to have you significantly disturb the substrate in such a well-established system, but I would be very curious to see what in the world is going on down there.  I'm sorry I'm not of greater help, maybe another reader or crewmember will see this and may have some ideas.  Marina

Bubbly Bubbles and the Bubbly Powerhead, Pt. III >Hi Marina, >>Hello Jorell. >Thanks again for your reply. The flow of bubbles continue but it does not affect the tank as 98% of them get defused in and while flying out of the canister.   >>Alright. >The reason I suspected it is Nitrogen is because it odorless and I have a substrate of 10 inches (I just measured it) and as my powerhead had failed I was not using one for about 3 months.   >>Wow!  Now THAT's a deep bed!   >(The Bioload in my tank is significant with 3 small clowns about 2 inches each two Damsels about the same size a Dottyback and a maroon clown about 3 inches.) I believe that there must have been a lot of waste something that my external filter cannot handle, I then had an outbreak of hair algae.   >>Indeed, nutrient export issues abound here. >Also the way the spurts of bubbles started I figured it was because the population of bacteria slowly started to grow as O2 reached the lower levels of the substrate. >>Could be, and now I understand why you think nitrogen, yet, with the circulation happening so deeply (as I recollect), it doesn't make sense that you would still reap the benefits of anoxic regions.  Clearly, though, you must be.  Now understanding that this is a salt system, and being a bit more clear on the setup, it does indeed make sense that it would be nitrogen. >I have just one coral in my tank that is doing fine, I am not upgrading the system as I will soon be purchasing a new 400 gal tank so that's a major investment there. >>Absolutely, and I do hope you continue with the deep sand bed, but leave out the undergravel filtration bit.  I'll instead encourage you to research (if you haven't already) refugia methodologies.  Thanks for writing back.  Marina

Re: Nitrogen Cycle IV and the Funky Little Powerhead >Dear Marina, Thanks again for your reply. >>Very welcome, Jorell. >Your words are like song to my ears (er... flowers to my eyes:). Sorry I should have explained in more detail the first time. I am quite fond of the under gravel filtration process but you obviously know what you are talking about, so I will take your advice.   >>If it works, it works, right?  In other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  But since you're considering an upgrade, do look into use of refugiums. >Can you tell me what are the reasons that an under gravel filter is undesirable, I have read a few articles saying why not but never been fully convinced.   >>I can't, because I'm not convinced either.  I actually find them to be a pretty decent, simple technology for achieving biological filtration.  This is also why I like refugia.  However, I've never used a 10" (!) gravel bed on EITHER.  :D >Where can I read up on "refugia methodologies" must admit I have never come across this term before.  Appreciate if you could point me in the correct direction. >>Indeed.  The EASIEST methods are to go to our "marine aquarium articles" section, and I believe it's under "set-up".  There we have information and FAQ's on refugia and plenums (a more complicated, but proven as well, method of natural nitrate reduction). >The reason I have a deep sand bed is because I am in the habit of siphoning the very top layer of sand (about one grain high) about once a week when I make a water change and I add fresh sand into the tank about every month, I put in slightly more than I take off. So the layer has gradually built up.  (There are a hell of a little critters in my sand bed but I am sure casualties are none or minimal). >>It seems to be working quite well for you, especially if you're getting what I read to be excellent "pod" growth. >The only reason I do this is so that the top of the bed looks white and clean. >>Yet you've accomplished SO much more!  Good on ya. >Kind Regards, Jorell

Bubbles or no bubbles? (8-4-03) Dear WetWeb Media <Howdy, Cody here today.>    I hate to ask such a basic question but can you tell me whether I should have venturi attached to my powerhead to add more air  to my reef tank. I thought I should but there are so many articles talking about the problems that bubbles can cause I don't know what to do.<I would leave the bubbles out and just make sure you have plenty of surface agitation.> Many thanks, Mark

Powerheads Hi, <Hello! Ryan with you today!> I have a 50G marine tank and use 2 opposing power heads to create adequate circulation in addition to my filter and skimmer inflows.  I decided to experiment with 2 different brands, an Aquaclear 3000 and Eheim 1000 compact. Over the course of about 6 months since I "plugged" the power heads in I keep getting inverts and fish sucked up through each one. In total I have lost about 5 Turbos, 3 Nassarius Snail and finally my 1 inch Honeycomb Puffer last night. They are all sucked up alive, trapped then die. I have managed to pull a few away that I have noticed but I was really surprised about the puffer. Is this a common occurrence with power heads? do you have any tips to prevent this occurring? <Yes, it is a common occurrence if you don't cover the intake somehow.  My favorite method is to use a bio-ball to cover the opening for the intake.  Sponge covers are also available.  Best of luck! Ryan> Thanks in advance for helping

MICRO BUBBLES! Hi Guys, Thanks for the help in advance. I have a 55 with a Emperor Bio wheel and a Aqua C Remora Pro (Mag).  I have 3 fish in the tank for about 4 months now, The tank has been up for about 7 months. I have  A clown, Yellow Tang and a Cleaner Wrasse .  All seem to be doing fine.  I added a Pink Tipped anemone about a month ago and He wasn't doing so good so I did some upgrading. I upgraded my lights to Power compact 130 watts and then I wanted to add some water movement and I added an AquaClear 802 with the filter.  For some reason I always had those damn Micro bubbles in my tank and now that I added the AquaClear that seams to be spitting out even more.   What is the deal?  Most tanks I see don't have this.  <you could try putting a filter of some sort in front so that the bubbles cannot make it up in to your main system. also you might try adjusting the water level> With the Emperor if I adjust the flow I have to almost set it to nothing to get no bubble and with the remora pro I had to put a sponge on the water output to reduce to bubble out put.<yes this is what I used to do> My first try with a power head was a Power sweep 226 but that was not enough GPH and I was getting crazy amounts of bubbles.  (I also read were you said It was a waste of money!)<yeah it is>  I went out and bought the Aquaclear 802.  Seams to be giving me good water moment but its putting out those damn micro bubble.  Every once and a while it will spit out a glob of them.   Any suggestions?  <you could try the filter idea. That's pretty much all I can think of off the top of my head.> Also, I enclosed a picture of my tank.  What to you think of the placement?  Should I attach that hose to the top of the Pump with the water filter?  <I have seen many people do it the way you have been doing it with little problem or not problem> Thanks Again and I look forward to hearing from you.<good luck, IanB> Michael Ristagno

Powerhead issues - Superfine Bubbleation >Hi Bob, >>Marina today.  Bob's trading smooches with Ahnold this weekend. >Hope this email catches you well and in a good mood!  I have a 50 gal reef tank with about 6 - 8 inch coral sand bed,  I use an under-gravel filter with a powerhead that sucks water through a network of pipes under the gravel and discharges it into the tank. I also have an external filter and a skimmer.  A couple of months ago my powerhead got busted so I did not replace it as I kept using the external filter. Just a week ago I bought a powerhead that is more powerful that the one I had and installed it. >>A'ight. >After a couple of days, it started spurting gas in short bursts say every 4 - 5 hours intervals, then the intervals shortened till they were every few minutes then seconds and now it is a continuous flow of gas.  My guess is that it is nitrogen, am I right? >>Actually, it sounds more like cavitation to me, just like with boat propellers.  I've never encountered this with a powerhead that wasn't very close to the surface (always the kind with that venturi opening above the outlet).  Check the water level against the powerhead and it could very well be creating a bit of a whirlpool effect just above this opening.  When it does this it spits air.  The water level dropping would explain the increasing frequency.  Good way to stop this is to stuff a bit of airline with a knot tied in it into the opening (just use the tubing it came with). >If I am,  it is really quite amazing to watch it in action. (there are no leaks from where outside air can get into the powerhead)   >>If this is truly the case, then again, it seems like plain old cavitation to me. >Secondly because the bubbles are so fine (they can compete with the best of skimmers) and so many (the water was almost cloudy with bubbles), it was upsetting the coral and fish so much the fish all started swimming only to and in one corner of the tank where there was no champagne....the coral shut and refused to open. >>Not surprising.  If you can't sort out fixing this, I'd suggest trying a different powerhead. >Any way, I have now connected a pipe to the outlet and run it into a canister and drip that back into the tank, the life in there seems to be happy, however all those connections are making the tank look unsightly, wondering when it will stop and if, will it ever. (do the words how long is a piece of string come to mind?). >>I can't really say, as I've never experienced this problem.  You could also try feeding the output over a waterfall of some sort, allowing the bubbles to diffuse into the atmosphere. >Kind Regards, Jorell

Shocking Tank (a tale of leaking potential from an appliance) Hi All, No question, just want to relate an experience that may help someone. <Please go ahead> I have a canister that trickles water into my main tank.  I have the habit of feeding my fish with a toothpick or fingers and I wash the feed residue in the canister flow or the main tank.  About a couple of months ago I noted that if I had a small cut on my finger tips or cuticles it burned like crazy when I washed my fingers in it.  Attributing this to salt water burning the cuts I ignored it.  Yesterday the skin over my cuticle peeled off.  When I fed the fish I washed only the print side of my finger tips but the cuticle burned like crazy.  I got suspicious and thought there may be an electrical leak in the water. So I took a tester and ran the tip into the water, and guess what it lit up!!  The tank was, well...alive.   The first thing I did switch off a powerhead one at a time to try and eliminate the faulty one this did give me any result as the tester lit up anyway.  Then checked the chiller, still no result. The last thing that I suspected was the lighting but sure enough that was it,  the plug point which connects the lights was faulty.  I am surrounded by wood except where the canister is so when ever I put my hand into the water I was not grounded.   I am no expert on electricity, but I would just like people to know that if they experience anything like what it did please check for leaks.  Run a test it may save your life. Faulty Power heads are not exactly rare in the hobby. Kind Regards, Jorell <Thank you for relating your experience. Bob Fenner>

It's a Noisy Ocean (12/10/03) Hmmmm, interesting. I wish I could remember where I read about the noise bothering the inhabs. I thought it was at your site, I guess not. I guess I should unpack all my powerheads now because my tank could use the movement. Thanks for your input, Pam <If you think about it, the ocean (at least near the coasts) is a pretty noisy place. I'd be more concerned about the effects of stray electric currents than the noise. Even this is unclear, though many have reported untoward effect on fish. Worth considering a titanium grounding probe. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elecmarfaqs.htm Steve Allen>

Air Bubbles Hello all! <Howdy!  Sorry for the delayed reply.>I feel bad asking such a simple question but you guys are my reference. Here goes, do small air bubbles everywhere in the display pose that much of a threat?  I use powerheads to power my UGF and use the venturi on the powerheads to add extra air but they add tiny bubbles everywhere no matter what position I place the nozzle and I hear that this can cause problems due to the bubbles attaching to the gills and lowering surface area. Should I really be concerned about this?<You should be fine if you just have fish.  If you have corals the bubbles can agitate them though.> thanks so much for any and all time spent on this question, your response will go a long way in manifesting my worries about the well-being of my fish.<Thank you for writing! Cody> thanks  Tristan

SCWD Leaking <hello> I'm running a quiet one 4400 (about 700 gph) to a SCWD.  Actually, I have 2 pumps and 2 SCWD.  My problem is they (both) keep leaking on the inlet side.  I have tried wrapping some Teflon tape around the "wannabe" barb fitting and using a hose clamp...but no matter how tight I make the clamp, I keep getting a little leaking.....any ideas, suggestions! <Sounds like the tubing you used is a little to big. There are 2 models 1/2 & 3/4". Make sure that the tubing you used says either 1/2 or 3/4 ID NOT OD. The tubing should be hard to get on, if it slips right on it's to big (heat a cup of water and place the tubing in for a minute or two .It will soften the tubing and go on easier. I am using one of these and have had no leaking problems. MikeH> Dave

Quick coralline Q Greetings Crew! A thought occurred to me when I was doing my weekly water change and pondering temperature maintenance in these warm summer months.  I have no idea what the answer is so I decided to ask the oracle of all aquarium knowledge (aka WWM crew).   In a marine aquarium that has coralline algae growing like wildfire over everything (like mine), does it affect the in-tank pumps and powerheads if they get coated with coralline algae?  I am thinking more along the lines of overheating rather than impeller performance (I clean mine monthly). Once again, I thank thee for thy divine wisdom regarding the upkeep of Neptune's creatures. -Ray <As you seem to surmise, not much trouble if the coralline is only coating the outside of these devices. Water is the standard for specific heat, conduction... Bob Fenner>

Ray poisoning from fried powerhead? - 9/8/04 Please help, I have a 150 gallon saltwater tank. I recently had a powerhead (pump) burn up very bad (submerged) and now my ray is very sick. <Crap! Sounds like copper poisoning. Have you checked copper levels? If you have a quarantine tank move the ray. Massive water changes need to be in effect here. I would change more water ASAP!!! Likely there is some copper used in the sealed portion of the powerhead. So if it cracked, there could have been some exposure.> I have tested all I can on water quality and can find no problems. I am changing my water 10 gallons at a time as we speak. <Excellent> I am in Florida, in the middle of a hurricane, so I can not contact my local aquarium shop. Please advise or let me know if you need more info. <Not sure what else it could be> Any suggestions to save my baby would be a great help. <Be sure to supplement your rays diet with vitamins as well. You could try vita-zu from Mazuri. (www.mazuri.com) Sorry for the delay, Wes. I hope your water changes have helped. ~Paul>                 Thanks, Wes

- Tunze Skimmers - Hello Anthony! <Anthony is actually in Tonga, no doubt having his skinny self wrestled to the ground by a large Tongan woman.> I bought a Tunze Comline automatic 3130/2 and I have difficulties to make it work correctly and SILENTLY so I have been reading the Tunze skimmer FAQs on the WWM. I don't have any experience, this is my first skimmer. Before reading the FAQs I already tried by myself to unscrew the white air regulating screw completely (screw felt out and was removed) noticing that this made it quite silent. Of course it then produces much more foam. The day after I decided to screw it on again because of the excessive amount of very clear yellowish skimmate. I then went on the WWM FAQs and seen that you did advice to open the screw completely but maybe to place the skimmer higher. I also wrote to Roger from Tunze USA and here is what he answers me so I don't know what to think and what to do now: "The screw should only be open 2.5-3 turns.  Opening it more will be just as bad as not opening it enough.  The bubbles will get bigger and not skim." <With hardware like this, there is no exact science - only trial and error. I'd experiment with something in between Anthony's and Roger's advice and see how that works for you.> Thanks in advance for your always helpful assistance! Dominique <Cheers, J -- >

Tunze Stream microbubbles and water circulation around Euphyllids. 7/22/05 Hi Anthony (or else...:), <Hi Dominique, Ali here (please don't kill me)> I bought two 6000 Streams and a 7095 controller for my system. <Great pumps, great choice, great investment> I have a 90 gal reef tank (48"x24"18") with sugar fine DSB. I have only Euphyllids (torch and hammer corals) and pulsing xenia. Will add some Montipora digitata at some point. I reduced the power to 30% on the streams. On the multicontroller I use the interval no 1 mode with around 30 seconds of interval and the flow is also pulsing from 30% to 100% on each of the two streams each 6 seconds. This means going from 167 gal (2X per hour) to 555 gal per hour (6X per hour) on each pump alternatively. The two streams are symmetrically positioned to have their flow hitting the middle of the back panel. I placed them quite near to the surface. Also there is a 3X per hour from the return pump from the fuge. -Now there is some particles in suspension: dust or air bubbles I do not know (?). There is good agitation at the surface so could be air bubbles. <Microbubbles are generally caused from your return pump or possibly your refugium output, turn them off and just run your stream pumps. If the microbubbles continue, then you'll know 100% that they are coming directly from the streams. Additionally, if you have the streams too close to the water surface, they will create a 'vortex' causing water and air to be sucked down, thus producing an occasional jet of bubbles. Here is a direct quote from Roger 'Tunze' Vitko himself regarding the microbubble issue: "Just my experience here- if your pump is making bubbles and it is not from vortexing you really should double check the hole in the magnet rotor for obstructions, your KH and your light intensity/duration. If the bubbles get worse as the day light hours progress it is definitely a gas saturation issue and removing excess algae, cutting back on lighting and lowering KH are the remedies. If the pump has any obstructions to the cooling system, the internal vacuum increases and more degassing occurs."> -Could this be too much current for the Euphyllids? Is it ok when the polyps are bending from time to time (not just curling but really bending at a 90 degrees angle...). The polyps are still well extended tough. <Don't sweat it. They're happy. Unless you see total tissue retraction and/or tissue literally being blown-off of the skeletons this is not something you should worry about> I am only a beginner and I worry about those corals now... < :D 90 degree bends, you don't have to worry about, it's those dreaded 45 degree angles that you should keep an eye out for,...only kidding of course.> -Same for my new anemone (green Heteractis crispa with purple tips): some tentacles are sometimes completely twisted because of the current (giving the tentacle an hour-glass shape...). Can this cause problems? <No> -Do you have any advice for the settings of the multicontroller and placement/direction of the streams that would be good for my set up? <For further advice on how to get the most out of your pumps/controller set-up feel free to browse Roger's Tunze forum, here's the link: http://reefcentral.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=92 >   Thanks a lot! Dominique <No problem friend, enjoy your reef.>

Powerhead repair Hi crew- I have always appreciated the information you provide, and I contribute my "findings" whenever I can so you can pass them on.  I was upgrading to a closed loop system to replace powerheads.  I tightened the inlet to the  pump a hair too much, and it cracked, causing the good old tiny bubbles.   It was far from a hairline crack.  I covered the entire inlet in plumbers  epoxy- it solved the problem 100%.  I don't know if this is new to you- just  thought Id share it. James P <Thank you for this input. Bob Fenner> Noise in aquariums... from powerheads... harmful?  9/2/05 Hi, <Hello there> I can't find any research on the internet to answer my question.  Does a loud powerhead in a tank, stress fish through excessive or extreme vibrations (i.e.. like tapping loudly on the glass).  My 1000 litre reef tank has optimal water quality, temperature etc. but old really loud powerheads which do appear to be stressing my fish and they seem to relax more if I turn them off, <Bingo> but not decisively enough to take the plunge and spend $1000+ replacing them all.  They dart around, white spot has now broken out.  I've had these fish (namely blue/yellow/purple tangs) for almost 5 years now, so it's nothing to do with acclimatization or my ability to reef keep etc. Thank you! Regards, Andrew. <I would look into some Tunze, Hagen, Aquarium System powerhead products... You've answered your own question... Underwater it is rarely quiet... but your tank/system is way too noisy to be healthy. Bob Fenner>

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