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FAQs about Bubble Trouble and Aquarium Systems 4

Related Articles: Plumbing Marine Systems, Plumbing Return Manifolds, Refugiums,

Related FAQs: Bubble Troubles 1, Bubble Troubles 2, Bubble Troubles 3, Bubble Troubles 5, Bubble Concerns, & FAQs on Causes/Fixes: Diagnosing Sources, Intake/Overflow Issues, Plumbing Issues, Pump/ing Issues, Discharge Issues, Biological Issues, & Solved Cases, & Marine Plumbing 1, Marine Plumbing 2, Marine Plumbing 3, Marine Plumbing 4, Marine Plumbing 5, Marine Plumbing 6, Plumbing 7, Plumbing 8, Plumbing 9, Plumbing 10, Plumbing 11, Plumbing 12, Plumbing 13, Plumbing 14, Plumbing 15, Plumbing 16, Plumbing 17, Plumbing 18, Holes & Drilling, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Plumbing Noise, Make Up Water Systems, Pumps, Plumbing, Circulation, Sumps, Refugiums, Marine Circulation 2, Gear Selection for Circulation, Pump Problems, Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Water Changes, Surge Devices,

Closed loop... pb issue; cavitation from too large pump, too small pb     8/11/14
I have a closed loop on a drilled tank, bottom has 5 inch bulk heads, i drain
<Wish there were two>
and 4 returns, i have a Iwaki rated at 1900 gph , 1inch in/out. Out is plumbed to pvc manifold that has flex to the 4 returns. I also have union valves on inlet and outlet.
<Good>
When i try and run wide open it cavitates and produces lots of bubbles, if i back down it is fine. Question , would increasing the pipe size on the inlet to 1.5 inches help?
<On the intake side; yes>
It would still have a 1inch bulkhead and pump inlet ( just between a larger pipe)
<... need to re-drill the tank... Enlarge the bulkhead as well. Bob Fenner>
Thanks
Mike
re: Closed loop
    8/12/14
<What I'd really do is to change the pump on your current arrangement to something smaller flow-wise (like by half), and instead provide circulation within the system... via pumps, even powerheads... See WWM. Closed loops are for the most part passé nowayears... for a few good reasons. BobF>
Re: Closed loop     8/13/14

If I back it off I do not get bubbles , I do have some streams in side tank Thx
<No sense spending the money on electricity to throttle-back, nor the added waste heat of a too-large pump. B>

Micro bubbles from return line       8/8/12
I have recently set up my new 25 gallon tank and have been battling micro bubbles from the return since almost the beginning. I know that there are no bubbles in the final chamber with my return pump but once the water gets to the display tank small bursts of bubbles are released periodically into the tank.  I am running a Mag 5 pump that has been plumbed to a 1/2 union and 1/2" barbed fitting. The barbed fitting is connected to 5/8" i.d. clear tubing with a plastic hose clamp. All of these connections are submerged in the final chamber with the water line being at least 4" above the last connection.
<No place for air entraining there>
 This the leads to a barbed T fitting that allows me to throttle the output of the pump which I have closed.  After this connection it continues up to another barbed T fitting that splits my return into two.  These two lines continue up with 5/8" i.d. clear hose until it is connected to another barbed fitting attached to a 1/2" ball valve to control the flow from each return separately.  From here the line is plumbed with 1/2" rigid pvc up to my slip-threaded 1/2" bulkhead into my coast to coast overflow. Once inside the overflow box it turn into a 10" run of 1/2" Loc Line up and over the overflow wall into the display tank.
I have looked through the clear tubing for bubbles forming but have yet to see any and have no idea where the air is being introduced.  I have checked over all the unions and they seem sealed with no small leaks or weeping, but just to be sure I applied a ring of plasticine
<Mmm, I'd remove this... and remove the plastic clamps, place some silicone lubricant (as for camera o-rings) on the barbs and replace the clamps... and do the same (silicone) over the thread to thread connections on the FIP/MIP fittings on the pump volute, AND the volute/pump connection/face as well>
 over the joints to try and see if this would stop the bubbles due to and unseen micro leak. I then replaced some of the Loc Line with rigid glued PVC in case the exposed Loc Line was introducing air
<Shouldn't... low pressure at this point>
and so far it has not eliminated the bubbles.
There are still three links of Loc Line that have the top portion exposed to air.
<Again... this isn't the source. Has to be some place of higher differential pressure. Likely the fittings on/of the Mag pump>
I have yet to replace all of this Loc Line with two ridged pvc 90's up and over the weir into the tank.  I will try this next but was wondering if my problem may be that the pump is either plumbed with too many valves/unions or inadequate diameter plumbing. I hope this is not the case because the overflow was only drilled to except 1/2" bulkheads for the returns.  Do you think the size of pipe could be causing my issues?
<No; not likely>
 and if so could I just run larger plumbing up to the bulkhead and adapt it down leaving only the last 10" or so in 1/2" plumbing? Or do you think it is the exposed Loc Line that could be introducing the air.
<Not likely at all>
I really would like to solve this problem but as of yet have no solution.
I have attached a few images to show the plumbing. If there is anything that needs to be clarified let me know.
Thanks,
Dave
<Thread out the intake and discharge threaded fittings on the pump, take off the Teflon tape, plumber's putty... whatever is on there now, and just use 100% silicone to re-nestle their connections, and the other barb to flexible connections as mentioned above. Likely you would not hear (with a length of tubing to your ear, the other end applied near the possible leak source) or see (with water applied to the junctions) the source of this air entrainment... but you will likely be able to solve it w/ the silicone connection applications. Bob Fenner>
Re: Micro bubbles from return line, now flow rates... tank, sump        8/8/12

I forgot one more thing. I have read a lot about the best gph to run through a sump and it seams that this is about 4-6 times. 
<Sumps can be higher... refugiums, these biological areas are not high volume though>
I have a 20 gallon sump on my 25 gallon tank and run about 170-180 gph after head height unions etc. on the Mag 5. Is this enough flow though for my system.
<Mmm, better by far to have most of the flow inside the tank itself... use of powerhead/s, water moving pump/s there>
My coast to coast overflow runs the entire length of my 24" wide display and has a toothed 1/8" toothed weir.  The flow seams fairly slow over the weir but I am getting about 4 times my entire system volume per hour. Do I need to increase this?
<Depends on the type/s of life you're keeping, what you intend... but yes, in most cases you'd want more water movement>
I ask now because this may affect what I need to do in remedying my bubble problem if I need to up size the return pump.
Thanks again,
Dave
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/circrate.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Micro bubbles from return line     8/13/12
Hi Bob Fenner,
<Dave n' Jenn>
I listened to your advise on resealing the clear tube to barb fitting connections with silicon grease and c clamps
<Mmm, not C's... I would just double up on panduits, zip-ties per connection/barb>
and also replaced and sealed the threaded barb and 1/2" slip to threaded connections on my 1/2" ball valves.  I unfortunately still have air bubbles entering my display tank.
I have not yet sealed the Mag 5 pump with the silicon grease
<I would definitely do this... and the MIP/FIP fittings in the volute. This is THE most common source of air-entraining>
 but it is continuously submerged under 4-6" of water so I can see no way for air to enter the line here.
<Ahh, I agree>
Maybe I am wrong but there appears to be no vortexes forming in the return chamber down to the pump or the 1/2" union and threaded barb connections which are all also submerged.
I replaced some of the clear hose tubing and can now see into the line a lot better and have seen no bubbles forming before the 1/2" ball valves. I did notice that when I open and close the ball valves a short stream of larger and micro bubbles is forced out of the Loc Line of my returns.
Maybe the air is entering here and these should be removed. You had said before that it is not possible for air to enter into the exposed Loc Line sections so it seams that the ball valve may be the problem.
<Perhaps>
Although I have not seen bubbles forming in the clear lines I did at one point see a few clouds of bubbles being shot from the pump but have not been able to witness this again. Could the 1/2" lines of the output for my Mag 5 be causing cavitation.
<Not likely, no... unless there is some substantial restriction on the intake side... as with all small centrifugal pumps, there should only be dialing down on the discharge side>
 I don't think so because the input is completely unrestricted and it is my understanding that this is only caused by restricting the input side of a pump.
<Yes>
I am at a loss of what to do know. I could remove the ball valves entirely or use all hard plumbing to my dt but this may not solve the problem.
<It should>
If you have any further insight it would be greatly appreciated.
<I wish I did... perhaps having another, some other advanced aquarists come out, look at the set up...>
Thanks for you time.
Cheers,
Dave
<And you, BobF>

Microbubbles 12/27/11
WWM Crew,
I emailed a couple weeks ago about a Royal Gramma that appeared to be ill. Well this morning I noticed what appears to be PopEye. I'm assuming it's from trauma as it is in one eye and seemed to develop overnight;
<And only one-sided... unilateral?>
he also has been rubbing against plants and rocks. I added some Epsom salt today in hopes that it might relieve him. My 2 tank- bred Ocellaris clowns also seem to be acting strange. They were hiding and both the clowns and the Gramma were not eating as usual, while my Yellow Wrasse and 2 PJ Cardinals are acting normal<ly>. I am concerned that microbubbles could be a problem. My tank is nothing fancy, a 36 gallon bow front with an Aqueon Quiet 30 filter that came with the tank.
<Not likely a source of bubbles of trouble>

The bubbles are very small and are not very noticeable but still concern me. Would I benefit from upgrading my filter and a protein skimmer, I plan on adding live rock sometime soon so I feel like an upgrade would be beneficial. Hope you can help.
<Yes, yes, and yes>
Thanks!
<This clone hang on filter doesn't produce sufficient pressure to cause such troubles. I would not be concerned w/ it as a source. Bob Fenner>

One pump or two... standpipe noise, bubbles NRR... Not Reef Ready plumbing -- 10/07/11
Hello All,
Thanks for all of the terrific information! Have spent many hours looking through a good number of the sections. Just a quick question. I have an All Glasss <Snake tank?> 120gal dual overflow tank currently being setup for a marine tank. Plan to start as a FOWLR and then possibly convert to a reef tank. I built my sump out of a 38gal tank with both overflows coming into a chamber on the left, then flowing into a skimmer chamber with a Bubble Magus NAC 6, then flowing through a bubble trap to a return chamber. There is also a final right side chamber for a refugium that will overflow back into the return chamber. I have two Eheim 1260s (recs from you guys)for my return pumps. When both are running (each returning through one of the overflow compartments) the return is terrific.
The problem is it's so good it's extremely loud.
<Mmm, what, where is the source of noise?>
I plumbed the returns to the sump so they come in under the sump water level, which helped, but still extremely loud.
<Are these "vented"? Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/dursopipefaqs.htm>
Also this still gives me quite a bit of micro-bubbles in the main tank.
<And the end/s here... do they terminate in a/ filter bag/s? See here for example: http://www.cpraquatic.com/pdf/sockitcombo.pdf>
I then tried using one Eheim as the single return pump, with the returns coming off a T connector from the pump. This is much quieter, with significantly less turbulent water flow in the sump, but much less forceful water movement in the main tank. So, my actual question. Is the single pump enough, or should I just use both and deal with the noise.
<I'd use both, fix the noise issue>
(BTW, the pump is pumping against ~4ft vertical head and returns are 3/4" with the overflows each 1")
<I know... disappointing. Bob Fenner>
Thanks
Chris S.

Microbubbles Problem 7/14/11
Hi WWM:
<Hello Lynne>
I'm perplexed as I cannot find the source for microbubbles in my 55 gallon tank. I only have 1 IWAKI 30 RLT pump that circulates water up from underneath the tank and through 3 output pipes.
I also have an Aqua C EV120 protein skimmer running and it is not a new skimmer.
I have also done the soap bubble test on all of my plumbing connections underneath the tank with no air escaping those spots.
<Air bubbles are generally caused by air getting into the intake of the pump.>
So, do you think my IWAKI is too strong a pump for my size tank or could it be my skimmer?
<Not too strong, it puts out 510 gph at 0 head and I'll guess your actual flow into the tank is no more than 400gph.>
There is just a constant supply of microbubbles spewing into my tank that I cannot figure out the source?
Any clues?
<Lets start by shutting down your skimmer and see if that clears it up. If not, ensure you have no whirlpool effect at the pumps intake and make sure all your hose clamps are tight.
Might want to scan through our FAQs on bubble trouble here.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm
James (Salty Dog)>
Lynne
Re Microbubbles Problem 7/14/11
Thank you James for your response and taking the time. I try doing what you suggest.
<Sounds good Lynne, and do let me know your results.
James (Salty Dog)>
Lynne
Re Microbubbles Problem 7/14/11/7/15/11

Hi James,
<Hello Lynne>
I tried shutting off my EV 120 skimmer and the large bubbles on the front of my aquarium stopped BUT the microbubbles are still coming into my tank.
The water coming from the Iwaki pump is exclusively supplying these outputs into the main tank. The Iwaki is a sealed pump with no intake in water so I guess that means there is air getting in the lines somewhere else right?
Your thoughts? And if I cannot or do not do anything, are these teeny bubbles really harmful to my 3 fish? I've had my tank running a good 4 years now and they have not harmed my fish yet so is it really worth worrying about?
<Lynne, can you take a couple of pics of your sump showing the Iwaki and the EV-120, resize the photo to a couple of hundred KB and send to me? I believe I
can help you much better if I can actually see your sump and plumbing.
James (Salty Dog)>
Lynne
Re Microbubbles Problem 7/14/11 7/15/11

Hi James,
<Hello Lynne>
I have attached some photos of the underside of my tank. In my 10 gallon sump I have two Mag 5 pumps, one pumps water into the skimmer and one pumps water out of the sump up into the tank. The outlet in the tank from that one Mag pump does not spew out tiny bubbles.
However, as best I can tell, the two outputs in my tank powered by the IWAKI green pump are spewing out the tiny bubbles.
<I see the Iwaki set up and it appears to me that this pump is used for circulation only, likely a closed loop system.
If this is the case, I would ensure that the bulkhead fittings feeding the Iwaki are snug. With the length of the hose going into the inlet of the Iwaki, it wouldn't take much of an air gap in the intake line to create micro bubbles and I believe this is what is causing the problem.>
The large bubbles in the picture on the inside of the glass are from my skimmer and I'm not sure how to stop those.
<Your Mag 5 is likely taking in the bubbles coming out of the skimmer drain. Your sump is really too small to have all this action going on in such a small area. One experiment to try is to put the foam sleeve on the intake of the Mag 5. These pumps are furnished with foam sleeves and a plastic strainer which keeps the foam from collapsing.
It should act as a bubble trap although will not be a permanent fix due to the close proximity of the skimmer drain to the pumps intake. If this helps, you may want to separate the skimmer's drain from the return pump by placing a large piece of coarse foam between the two which will act as a bubble trap.
Since you have little room in the sump to accomplish this, another alternative would be to mount your EV-120 outside the sump.
As long as the highest water level in the sump is below the top of the skimmer box itself, there will be no flood problem.
In that regard you can plumb a 90 off the skimmer drain so the return water enters the sump near the opposite end of the tank return pump.
This would allow plenty of room for a foam bubble trap placed between the skimmer drain and the other pumps. I run an EV-180 outside the pump very similar to this. See attached photo.>
I hope the pictures help! I could not reduce my photos with my Comcast email so I hope they still come through!
<Came through fine.>
Thanks for all of your time, I sure appreciate it!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Lynne

Re Microbubbles Problem 7/14/11 7/15/11 7/16/11
James,
<Lynne>
Thank you so much for your time and great information.
<You're welcome.>
I will be sure to try these things. I never thought of putting my EV 120 outside of the sump.
I appreciate your thorough answers and not just relaying me to a link on your site!
<There are many times where a link can have much more information than I have the time to say/write. James (Salty Dog)>
Lynne

Microbubbles 1/3/11
Hello WWM Crew! I finally finished my fish system at my new facility. It consists of 6 sections of 3 tier tanks all 33gallon Long. Anyhow, I just started working on lighting these tanks and I noticed a pretty big issue here. With the plumbing I decided to return the freshly skimmed water at the very top row and have them drain/return into the next row of tanks and again into the last row(hope that makes sense) which drains into the sump.
<Mmm, it does, but I wouldn't do this... not controllable "enough"... not able to shut off a section... for various reasons>
The middle row and bottom row of tanks have a huge micro bubble issue. The reason I went with this style of plumbing is because the size of the facility, no basement and I wanted to stick with one pump and one large sump. I cant figure out how I can reduce the amount of microbubbles being produce from the drain. Any ideas?
<All sorts>
The return/drains are 1" and the bottom row drains into a large diameter pipe that runs across from one side to the other which drains into the sump.
_ ____ _ ____ _ ____
|_|____|_|____|_|____|
|_|____|_|____|_|____| ____
|_|____|_|____|_|____| |SUMP|
| | | | | | | |____|

Hope the diagram helps! :)
<It does indeed. I would attach "dissipaters" of some sort to the discharges... bags, sections of tubing attached with elbows, drilled holes in the pipe... Bob Fenner>

Bubbles, noise, and flow that won't flow 12/7/10
Hey WetWebMedia crew!
<Hello James.>
Thank you for your impeccable knowledge of the trade and consistent information to all of us amateurs and novices alike! My system is a 135 Clear For Life acrylic with a corner overflow with half of the teeth
removed, 1 1/2" bulkhead, 8" of 1 1/2" PVC up from the bulkhead with numerous 1/4" holes drilled and a 90 at the end incase of a fish or snail getting sucked in, and bio-balls filled up to the 90. Under the tank is 1 1/2" PVC running straight down with a 45 just below water level, this flows into a filter sock. My sump is a 20 gallon Eshopps reef modified into a refugium with an extra baffle, and a ASM G1x doing the skimming. There is a Rio 2500 running my JBJ Arctica 1/10th chiller with 3/4" I/D tube to a 3/4" bulkhead in the back of the tank 1/3 of the way from the overflow to the other side of the tank. There is also a Little Giant 4-MDQX-SC plumbed with 1" I/D tube (for vibration) from a 1" bulkhead in the side of the sump, out of the pump is also 1" I/D tube to a ball valve and flap style check valve, to a 1" bulkhead on the other 1/3 of the tank. Inside the tank is a 1" Tee and 2 45's for flow direction. Sorry for the long detail but with all of the information I know it will be easier to diagnose my problem.
<This is good, all the info is here!>
My problem is the noise from the over flow box, micro bubbles, and if I open the ball valve all the way my tank fills before it can drain into the overflow but the water level in the over flow does not rise at all.
<This is too much flow for this line. Opening the pump all the way is making this line siphon, a dangerous situation.>
I have purchased an ABS wye and all of the other pieces for a modified Durso standpipe because I cannot find Flex PVC or a PVC wye at any of my local plumbing or hardware stores that are the right size. Is it ok to use ABS in place of PVC for the standpipe?
<Sure.>
Is a Durso the best unit for my application?
<It is, just fabricate one yourself as you are doing. Make it taller, just a few inches below the top of the overflow. With an 8" tall line in your current setup I suspect much of the noise you are hearing is water falling down into the overflow.>
What can I do in regards to the bubbles and flow rate?
<You simply need to lower your flow rate. See:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BulkheadFloRateArt.htm. Lowering the flow rate will decrease noise and bubbles and put the rate at a much more reasonable level for your sump to handle. With a 20 gallon sump it does not give bubbles much chance to dissipate at such a high flow. I would simply just use the Rio as your return pump and either feed the Little Giant out of the tank for a closed loop or use powerheads for in tank flow. There is no need or advantage to running all of this flow through the sump.>
Thanks for all your answers and hard work
James in sunny California
<Welcome, Scott V. in the same area!>

Micro Bubbles 9/15/10
<Hi Gene>
I just disassembled both of my pumps (return and skimmer) for a thorough cleaning. It hadn't been done in 2.5 years (my bad). Frankly, they didn't look too bad, just a bunch of gunk. They cleaned up nicely and are running well (Blueline pumps are excellent).
<Yes, they are. Were designed and built by an ex Iwaki engineer.>
I've noticed in the past - when I do a really good job of cleaning my equipment - I tend to get micro bubbles in the display tank. Is this common? If so, how long can fish and corals handle the excess O2 in the tank.
<No such thing as excess O2 in saltwater, it does have a saturation limit.>
It's been about 2 days now with some decline in amount - but, if needed I'll take whatever corrective action needed.
<Is not uncommon and is likely the result of an "O" ring not sealing tightly. It's a good idea to apply Lifegard Silicone "O" Ring Lubricant to the "O" ring after cleaning it, will help to ensure a good seal.>
Thanks for your feedback,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
-gene

Micro bubbles 4/20/10
I have looked thru your website and can't find an issue like mine. I have a 55 gallon reef tank with a 15 gallon sump. I have a mixture of live rock and bio ball in the sump. I have a protein skimmer and a phosphate refractor <contactor?> in the sump, neither one has an air leak. I have an external Iwaki pump returning the water all of the fittings are air tight.
I can see the micro bubbles being generated in the bottom of the intake section of the sump with a flashlight.
<Likely a leak on the discharge side of the pump, at a fitting in the plumbing there from... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/BubblesDiagF.htm>
I had this pump system in a 92 corner tank I had, I down sized to this 55 for economic reasons 2 months ago. Everything was working perfectly until this started about 10 days ago. I placed a filter sponge in the bottom of the return tube with no effect at all. Do you have any suggestions or recommend a product I can use to stop this madness?
Thank-You in advance........Tony
<The reading referenced, and as much of the linked files above as you deem sufficient. Bob Fenner>

Re: New pump, tiny bubbles... reading 4/26/10
I read the section you directed me to and tried the Vaseline for air leaks, nothing. I took apart the pump and found the front rubber cap and shaft jammed into or glued into the front cover. I could not get it out. Would this affect the pump?
<Possibly, but not to a great extent>
I put a new o-ring and put it back on the sump. Still micro bubbles. Could it be to powerful for my tank?
<Mmm, yes... you are experiencing air-entrainment... Do you know how to use WWM? The search tool? Indices? Read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/BubTroubF4.htm
and the linked files above>
Then I spoke to the person whom I got it from and they informed me, they had the same problem with it on a 180 gallon with sump. Would/Could it be a Bad pump?.
<Perhaps a bad/leaky gasket (volute)... but not likely...>
Would I be better putting the 950 back on? I would like to add a powerhead. Could you tell me, would a 3200 gph be too big? Or should I go with 2 1500 gph?
Thank you Again.
P.S. I have a ball valve on the end of the pump with a 3/4-1" barb on the end of that. Is the 1800 gph too powerful for this reduction that quick?
Thus creating the bubbles?
<Have just skipped down. Enjoy the reading, learning. B>

Micro Bubbles Mystery -- 11/18/09
Hi,
<<Hello>>
I am experiencing high volume of micro bubbles being ejected into the tank causing a fuzzy/hazy appearance in the tank. I can confirm that the skimmer, calcium reactor, chiller returns, anything else in the sump are not causing the problem because I turned them all off for a few minutes...ran only the return (GenX pump 1500gph) and still seeing bubbles, no micro bubbles are entering the intake bulkhead to the pump, only coming out the returns in the tank.
<<Ah'¦>>
How is this possible?
<<It would seem that air is being drawn-in somewhere along the pump return line>>
Have things grown on the impeller of the pump to act as a needle wheel?
<<Not likely to such an extent'¦and would still need some type of air infusion>>
Is that a possibility?
<<An unlikely one'¦though cleaning the pump's impeller and volute can't hurt, and will likely improve its performance/efficiency>>
Somewhere along the lines of the return lines is the problem,
<<Yes>>
I'm using a 1" SCWD too, maybe that is chopping up bubbles...not sure...
<<No'¦ The mechanism 'within' the SCWD is not the problem, although the line connections may well be. Try removing the SCWD and see what happens>>
at this point I'm thinking of exchanging the pump for a brand new Pan World instead in hopes of eliminating the problem which has been going on for maybe a month now.
<<This would be a better pump in my opinion, but just exchanging pumps is not likely going to resolve your issue here. You need to check 'every' joint/fitting along the return line for a possible air leak (and it probably won't be visible re any leaking water). Utilizing something like a silicon grease to smear-on and seal the joints will help. Do this, one joint at a time, until you find the culprit'¦and then make your repair. Or simply rebuild/replace the entire pump return line if not to extensive a project>>
Thanks for your input,
Matthew
<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
Re: Micro Bubbles 11/18/09

Yeah i think we're on the same page here. The air must be coming in somewhere along the return line connections. I was looking for any signs of salt creep that might indicate a bad connection. but these bubbles are soo small that they are being "sucked" in along the lines from a tiny tiny hole somewhere, probably wouldn't be any salt creep because the inside pressure would not allow it to leak out but only draw in small air instead im thinking. Guess I have some tinkering around to do. Will try the replacement pump first since i need a backup anyway and this Genex is pretty noisy, then mess around with connections.
Thanks for your response.
Matthew
<Mmm. Do read re others adventures with these sorts of issues: http://wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaq2.htm
and the first linked file in the series above. Someone here placed your resp./query in my in-folder, but am going to send to EricR for his input as well. Bob Fenner>
Re: Micro Bubbles Mystery -- 11/21/09 (Eric's go)

Yeah I think we're on the same page here. The air must be coming in somewhere along the return line connections.
<<Is often the case (see WWM re)>>
I was looking for any signs of salt creep that might indicate a bad connection but these bubbles are so small that they are being "sucked" in along the lines from a tiny tiny hole somewhere, probably wouldn't be any salt creep because the inside pressure would not allow it to leak out but only draw in small air instead I'm thinking.
<<Yes'¦such small leaks are very often visually undetectable>>
Guess I have some tinkering around to do. Will try the replacement pump first since I need a backup anyway and this Gen-X is pretty noisy,
<<A good place to start>>
and then mess around with connections.
Thanks for your response.
Matthew
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>
<Mmm. Do read re others adventures with these sorts of issues: http://wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaq2.htm
and the first linked file in the series above. Someone here placed your resp./query in my in-folder, but am going to send to EricR for his input as well. Bob Fenner>
<<Thanks Bob'¦and my apologies to you and Martin for the delay in my response. A family emergency has resulted in a hectic couple of days>>
<No worries Eric. First things first. I hope/trust all is well now. BobF>
R2: Micro Bubbles Mystery -- 11/21/09

Hey Eric,
<<Hey Mathew'¦and sorry mate, I just realized I referred to you as 'Martin' in my last response>>
The problem was the pump. I switched it out with an older spare pump GenX 1140gph. Surprisingly the older pump was quieter and moved practically the same amount of water.
<<Ahh'¦is likely 'cleaner' too!>>
Apparently the GenX 1500gph pump had accumulated so much dust buildup on the fan cover and pump itself that it basically became so hot you couldn't even touch it without burning yourself.
<<Indeed'¦ These pumps are not 'install and forget' pieces of equipment. Twice annual cleaning'¦inside and out'¦is always recommended, regardless of how the pump is performing>>
That had to have been related to the micro bubble problem somehow because after the switch, no more micro's.
<<So it would seem, yes>>
Always a good thing to keep your main pump clean and in good condition or heat problems can occur and oddly enough, micro bubbles.
<<Indeed>>
Guess this proves that there were no problems with the return line anywhere or SCWD.
<<Always good>>
-Matthew
<<I'm glad you were able to resolve the issue so quickly and easily. Cheers, Eric Russell>>

Microbubbles -- 10/28/2009
Hi Crew,
<Jill>
I'm emailing from my home address so I'll try to refresh on my system.
I have a 125 gallon FOWLR, wet/dry with 2 BioWheels, 20gal sump, protein skimmer. Sorry, it all came from my LFS through Marineland so I am not sure the makes/models. This is what I have below:
I have 80 lbs of live rock along with about 3" of live sand. I'm having trouble with tons of microbubbles. <Mmm, how long has this system been set-up, running?>
From what I have read on the FAQs, Anthony Calfo suggested using Vaseline to try to locate where the bubbles are coming from and once that is narrowed down, sealing it. He also mentioned in another person's query that a person can put bioballs in the overflows to help decrease the flow.
<Or a filter bag on the discharge/s to help coalesce bubbles, reduce splashing>
I have to shut off my pumps during feeding as the majority of the food gets sucked into the overflow too quick.
<This/these can likely be easily modified... directed downward... with plumbing... to prevent such>
One overflow keeps gurgling and it trickles too fast and runs over the back of the mechanical filtration unit
<Ugggghh! No fun... this too can be fixed. Please read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/pbnoisef5.htm>
down into my sump. Is there a way I can slow that down on one side and will this help with the gurgling
noise?
<Yes... but likely better to aspirate this/these... see the link>
Sorry, I don't know technical terms. Wish I had a quick class in plumbing before I started this.
<Heeeee!>
My porcupine puffer got popeye last weekend ending in his demise. It came on quick and by the time my LFS started antibiotic treatment in one of their spare tanks (I didn't have a hospital tank set up at home), it was two late.
Could the microbubbles have caused this?
<Could be a contributing cause>
All my other fish are well. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 10 ppm.
Another thing I noticed is the clamps that clamp the hose onto the pumps in my sump are metal and rusting.
<Mmm, I would replace these with plastic>
I imagine this can't be good so when i shut my pumps off, I take them out of the water so the metal isn't touching it. Do they make plastic clamps?
<Yes. See the larger etailers (Fosters & Smith, Custom Aquatic...)>
Maybe a dumb question but hey....What do I know? Thanks so much guys and gals!!
Regards, Jill
<Please do write back if this isn't clear, complete to you Jill. Bob Fenner>
Re: Microbubbles 10/29/09

Hi again Bob and Crew ,
<Evening Jill>
Bob, thank you so much for your always timely and quick response. I found that it is my skimmer that is causing all the microbubbles. I currently have it shut off tonight and will remove it tomorrow for a thorough cleaning. My LFS guy suggested attaching a piece of sponge or filter material to the intake and trying that out. Any thoughts?
<Yes... on the discharge side... not the intake>
I haven't addressed the gurgling noise yet but I see that it is coming from below in the sump area. Still lots more reading for me to do yet.
<Mmm, yes... again "Emperor Aquatics" bag/s may be your salvation here... and cutting/terminating the discharge/s slightly above water if you can't aspirate the line/s properly>
Seems air is getting in there or something. Like everyone else....I wish I had read this site thoroughly before starting on this mission. Anyway, everything that I've read about wet/dry filters seems to be true. My nitrate's went up from a normal (for my tank) 10ppm to 80ppm. I did a 40 gallon water change 1 1/2 weeks ago. I brought my water in to have it double checked and it's still showing high nitrates. Phosphate is almost undetectable. Being as my system runs with two BioWheels, would it be possible to remove one of them and just keep the filter material there instead?
<Yes>
I am slowly increasing my live sand bed with CaribSea live sand.
<Good>
When I get my 180 gallon, I would like to eventually convert my 125 to a reef tank. I can definitely see why a newbie should start off with just a FO or FOWLR.
<Agreed>
My freshwater aquarium is loaded with plants and I never have an algae issue or anything. Could I just grow some macroalgae down in the sump to help with nitrate reduction?
<Ah yes... one of a few approaches>
My heater is currently housed there but I'm sure I could find someplace else to put that. I have a spare 10 gallon...would that even be worth converting into a refugium for a 125 or is it way to small?
<Even this helps. Just make sure to rig it where it won't overflow>
By the way...last month my LFS suggested I use de-nitrate from Seachem for my nitrate issue. You
see, 10 was even too much for me. Even though I don't have a reef system yet, I still want the best
for these critters. Anyway, I put this in and now today, approximately a month later, my nitrates shot
up to 80. Could this be a case of too much of a good thing??
<Is about "par for the course">
My system is still relatively new....4 months old and I'm wishing like heck that I put it together myself
instead of letting my LFS do it. At least then, I would know how everything works!!
Stay safe and happy diving to all of you!!
<And you. BobF>

Re: Micro Bubbles -- 10/31/09
I've attached pics of my sump/refug set up. I can't put a sock on the overflow since the two PVC tubes are connected to the side of the sump. I do, however, use a filter pad -- and as you'll see, I added one more to minimize the splash (I've never needed it in the past).
<I do think this polyurethane pad is working to prevent the bubbles>
It appears to me (and the pic of the refug macro algae seems to confirm) that the bubbles could be coming from this source.
<I concur... rapid photosynthesis is occurring there>
However, as the water spills into the baffles before being returned to the display tank, the bubbles don't appear to be present. The bubbles in the refug were my initial concern -- but since they seem to dissipate before getting into the return lines -- I concluded they were not a problem.
<Not likely so if not too numerous>
The pics don't show it well but the there are 2 PVC inside the sump; one for the skimmer (shown in the front) and the other just like it toward the back that feeds the return lines, the chiller, and the refug.
<I see these>
Thanks so much for your time to coach me along with this issue.
-gene
<Welcome Gene. There are other approaches to reducing bubbly-ness... Do you utilize chemical filtration media? Have you investigated ORP/RedOx? The use of Ozone here will likely be of great benefit all the way around. BobF>

Re: Micro Bubbles
Thank you, Bob.
<Welcome Gene>
I don't know what ORP/RedOx is actually. I'll do some research on the topic.
<Is a very useful "window" to water quality, and it's supplementation, manipulation a sure means of reducing organics... likely the source of "bubbles" here>
What I have in the sump at this moment is a bag of something designed to reduce phosphates (mine are at about 0.5). I also have one other small bag of carbon only.
<Worthwhile>
I have ordered from BRS their GFO kit and media. It should arrive in a day or 2.
<Also worth trying>
What do you mean by "rapid photosynthesis is occurring there"? I have been running the lights on the refug 24/7 to prevent the macro algae from going "asexual"
<Actually sexual>
-- as I've read this could be dangerous and constant lighting and thinning help prevent this. Should I change the lighting scheme to reduce the rapid photosynthesis?
-gene
<I would likely overlap some (an hour or two) of the main displays lighting regimen... and have the lights on the refugium algae otherwise when the main tank is dark. B>

Re: Micro Bubbles -- 11/1/09
Thanks again!
Can I safely assume that these micro bubbles are NOT causing any harm at this time to my fish or corals?
<Mmm, no>
I will continue to work at removing the bubbles but don't want to become overly concerned unless necessary.
Regards,
-gene
<... no way to tell from where I am. B>

Re: Micro Bubbles 11/10/09
Update.
Discovered that the micro bubbles were coming from the overflow area of the sump. The drop from 10 feet was creating too much turbulence for the baffle design I had. Thus, I have added new baffles and eliminated the problem.
Just an FYI.
-gene
<Ahh! Congratulations and thank you for this update. BobF>

Tiny Bubbles (Not in the Wine) 4/24/09
Hi Folks
<Brian.>
I got "Thee a Fuge"
<Great!>
I have a 130 gal reef tank which has been running 1 year, I took out all the bio balls slowly over a period of 3 months and filled that compartment with live rock, so in total I have about 260 Lbs of rock between the tank, sump & Fuge.
<Wow!>
I recently set up a 30 gal tank beside my main tank which I had drilled for inlet & outlet to act as my fuge. I ran a small pump from the sump to the fuge & a siphon hose back into the fuge which runs at a small water flow back into the sump, tried pumping from the main tank but because of the height of the fuge, even when I turn off the pump the water still siphons (obviously not high enough) so I was worried about power outage & you got it major flood, so ran the siphon back into the sump.
<Uh oh.>
The siphon hose just goes into the sump was not plumbed into existing lines. So I am getting tiny bubbles coming out of the sump pump into my tank, will plumbing the hose into the return line to the sump help?
<I do hope we have just a difference in terms here. The drain from your refugium is not a actual siphon line is it? If so you will be in for another flood soon, the siphon will fail sooner or later. You could indeed tie this into your tank drain line to the sump, but the extra water in the line will reduce the capacity to drain the tank. Run the line over to the same chamber in your sump, get filter foam or creative with baffles if you need to. Just make the bubbles' path to your return pump as long and difficult as possible.>
Thanks
Brian Macdonald
<Welcome, Scott V.>
P.S.
I have lots of Chaeto in the fuge & pods are going wild, I had to put a Blue Spiny Lobster into the fuge as he has grown quite large since I got him he is about 5" long, I hand feed him frozen krill & squid.
What other critters can I put in the fuge as a clean up crew?
<See: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marscavart.htm and the linked files above.
All the answers are there.>
Would really love to get a couple mango's
Thanks Everybody You guys are awesome!!!
Re: Tiny Bubbles (Not in the Wine) 4/26/09

Thanks Scott
<Welcome Brian.>
Actually my fuge is not siphon fed it is gravity fed so no chance of flood as soon as I turn power off the fuge pump it drains to the level of the fuge outlet.
<Ah, good, I just wanted to be sure.>
Also thanks for the info on my bubbles used some filter media and it stopped the bubbles.
<Great!>
Thank you so much Scott.
Brian Macdonald
<Welcome, have fun!>

Micro Bubble Problem 3/17/09
<Hi Jayne>
I have a newly set up marine tank. It is freshly plumbed but I have tons of micro bubbles. I've checked (1) water level in the sump (2) water level in the overflow (3) blockage of the intake port in the submerged
pump (4) my vision. I can't find a source for all of the air and wonder if pumps can have a problem on their own and maybe I need to replace the pump? It is not new and I've used it for about 5 years but not for the
past 2 years. It previously had been attached to a protein skimmer so I had no reason to notice any previous issues.
<A few things to check; is the pump completely submerged, the return line from tank is not near the pump intake, no bubbles in the sump, and, no vortex present near the pump intake.
Check your overflow, generally many bubbles are produced here and will find their way back into the sump and will be inhaled by the pump. These are the most common causes of micro bubbles. Let's see if one of the above may be the problem.>
Thanks for your help,
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Jayne
Tucson, AZ
Re Micro Bubble Problem 3/17/09

James,
<Jayne>
Thanks for your reply.
<Welcome.>
The pump is completely submerged, the return line is not near the pump intake and there are no bubbles in the built-in overflow. I guess I have bubbles in the sump because I have a refugium system and the "waterfall" into the final portion of the sump where the pump is located is pretty vigorous but not to the
point of a vortex.
<What I meant by vortex is a whirlpool effect near the pump intake created by the suction of the pump.>
I tried to move the pump further from the waterfall and the plumbing came apart and I got an early shower.
<Sweet.>
I've turned everything off while waiting for some help from a local enthusiast. Since the system is only days old I have only live rock, some algae and copepods in the water. I assume all of that will be fine until this problem is resolved.
<If you have circulation in the tank by means of a powerhead, you should be fine. Is it possible for you to take a pic of the sump and send to me?
May lead to an idea or two.>
Thanks again,
<You're welcome, Jayne. James (Salty Dog)>
Jayne

Definitive Cause of Microbubbles....? 3/12/09 Hello to the WWM crew, <Hello Steve> We have been designing and installing large aquariums throughout the Northern California Bay Area for a number of years (even with the current economy we are managing to stay busy.... fingers always crossed!), As we serve largely upscale clients, one of the most common requests is that the system be QUIET (and I mean QUIET!). We have adopted Red Dragon pumps as they are extremely energy-efficient, move a LOT of water, and are almost 100% silent. Amazing beasts these; A problem that comes up seemingly randomly are microbubbles. I have done a TON of research on your site (and just about everywhere else) and find a whole slew of testimonials about fixes but no definitive information about what REALLY causes them. As they are not buoyant, any baffle system is useless (I have observed this personally over many painful hours). I have heard about the possibility of a pinhole leak but in my experience, when one observes a very fine, barely visible stream of whitish "stuff" coming from all the returns, a pinhole leak seems very unlikely. I have used filter socks (which help) and leads me to believe they are formed somehow and somewhere between the overflow into the sump. It also seems that if they are coming into the sump, any mechanical attempt to get rid of them is futile. It seems it would be far smarter to stop them before they form but I cannot understand how this happens. I have a friend who is a civil engineer and very experienced with water flow and is convinced the problem is due to "super-critical" flow, where the water, as it flows vertically via gravity, mixes with air and the chaos of vertical flow (as opposed to a "sloped" flow) creates the problem. We have used Durso's, Gurgle-busters, and it's really quiet but still microbubbles.......AIIIYYYYEEEE!!!! If I had any hair left, I would pull it out! <You are balding:)> Any input? <My thoughts would be...are the Red Dragon pumps submerged in your systems? If not, you may want to remove the end cap and apply silicone lube to the entire "O" ring and also ensure no debris is present on the inner side of the end cap which could cause a pin hole leak in the intake. If they are installed submerged, then this possible fix could be eliminated. I have had a problem such as yours with a new Little Giant pump and lubing the "O" ring cured the problem. More than likely, the problem is coming from the intake somewhere. If a protein skimmer's outlet is near the pump's intake, the pump may be drawing bubbles exiting from the skimmer's return. Are the tank's returns to the sump a good distance away from the pump's intake? Low water level in the sump can create a vortex near the pump's intake causing micro bubble problems, but I'm sure you are well aware of this. Other than what you have read on our site, I can't offer any more suggestions. Hopefully this may be of some help to you. James (Salty Dog)> Steve Steve Bicker, Designer & Owner Nemo Marine Systems, LLC: "Exquisite Aquarium Design"

Another Noise Issue In 90 gallon, and bubbles, addended 2/9/09 Good morning! <Hello Heidi> I have been reading all last night and this morning trying to find the answers for my problem. Same issue as many others in that the water coming into my sump sounds like Niagara Falls. The water is so turbulent that it's causing millions of micro bubbles. I bought the tank used. It's a 90 AGA RR with 3/4" return bulkhead and 1" overflow. Yep....the dreaded 1 inch overflow. I have an acrylic sump/fuge that I believe is 30 gallons with baffles and bubble trap. I have read all the tips to quiet this baby down and nothing has worked. I am wondering if my issue is that my tank is being powered by a Mag 12 pump. And since I only have a 1 inch drain it's being overwhelmed. I use flex tubing on both return and overflow so I have no way of restricting the pump at this time. So IS it that my pump is too strong? <Yes, a 1 inch drain cannot keep up with the Mag 12 pump.> And if that is the case I could either buy a new pump or somehow rework the plumbing so I can add a gate valve into the return line. <Cheaper to add a valve. Regardless of what pump you use, the valve allows you to set the optimum flow rate for your drain size.><<... Umm, on the discharge side of the pump... NOT the return from the tank... The much better advice here IS to add more drains, drainage. RMF>> I know more flow is better but how do I calculate adequate gph for my tank? <Is generally recommended to provide a 10X tank volume flow rate. In your case, about 900gph. This can be accumulative and can be supplemented with the use of power heads. It's not necessary to provide the entire 900gph through your sump.> Right now the Mag 12 provides 1130 gph at 4 feet. Or am I completely going down the wrong path here and should be looking at ways to disperse the water going into the sump? Overflow is draining into 1" PVC that is 2-3 inches below water surface. I was also contemplating bringing the PVC farther down (almost to the bottom of sump) and using an elbow. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I have to admit if it stays like this I think I would end up taking it down. That is how loud it is! <You need to control the flow from the pump. Do install a gate or ball valve. Right now, I'm sure your pump is cavitating, and that is what is causing the noise.><<Lowering, submerging the discharge is a good idea. RMF>> Thank you! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Heidi

Strange Microbubbles...11/20/08 Hello, a friend of mine is having a problem with his tank producing micro bubbles. It only happens during the daylight hours... <Likely only noticed during daylight hours.> The tank is located in a dark room with NO natural light. The problem began when he moved his supply pipe from behind the tank to over the tank "under the lights", he is running about 1100-1200 watts MH and T5... First I am a plumber I checked all of the fittings and they are good. <Great, big concern solved!> He said that the pipe is lined with sponge, so my thought is that during the night hours the sponge picks up the "normal" every day micro bubbles and collects them, they get stuck in pockets and what not. <I have never seen nor heard of piping lined with sponge. A prefilter?> Then when the lights come on and heat up the pipes it causes them to release the bubbles. <Would be released at night too with buildup in the pipe, if this were the case.> That is all I can think of, it is none of the normal problems, we are very experienced keepers, so if you can think of anything off the wall that might be causing this please explain. <Do inspect the sump very closely, with a flashlight. There is a good possibility the bubbles are not dissipated completely as the water travels through. The baffles/sponges may need a bit of tweaking to prevent this. Otherwise, do make sure there is no restriction on the pump intake, can be a factor.> Thank you very much, Luke Hines "FishworksAK" <Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

New tank plumbing questions 9/19/08 To WWM, First off, thank you for all of the information you provide. <Great to hear, thank you Ed.> It has been a big help. Now some details, I have just finished an upgrade from a 60 gal. reef tank to a 125 gal. reef tank. The new tank has two 1.5 inch drains and four 3/4 inch returns. I am using a Sequence Dart for the return pump with about 18 feet of head pressure when you account for all of the tees and elbows. Both returns are fitted with Durso standpipes. Now for my problems, when I tested the system there were no issues with micro bubbles. Then salt water was introduced, the bubbles appeared. <This happens, you can never tell about bubbles until the salt is added! You can experiment with different baffle configurations, make the path of the water to the return pump as long as possible. This can be tough with a Dart return, this is quite a bit of water to have to manage through a sump. Even filter socks on the overflow drain lines can make a huge difference here.> I am currently adding u-shaped pipe to the bottom of each return to try to diminish the bubbles. Secondly, and more of a concern at this point, I am still getting a bit of gurgling noise from the air hole at the top of the Durso. When I throttle down the pump, the noise diminishes as well as the bubbles. Obviously I want to maximize flow to the tank so throttling down the pump would not be my first option. The air inlet on the Durso is 3/16 in. If I increase the size of the air intake, will that decrease the gurgling sound? <If it is 3/16' inner diameter this should be enough. If the outer diameter is 3/16, I would increase the size. Two 1.5' bulkheads will struggle to keep up with the flow from a Dart, even with all the plumbing. Do increase the size of the airline, but the amount of flow is likely the culprit here. Even if the airline does solve the issue, realize that these drains will be running at their absolute maximum with no margin for safety. 750 gph is about the safe maximum for a 1.5' bulkhead without siphoning (the source of the noise). If you are just now setting up this tank, I strongly encourage you to take it down now and drill for another drain or even two.> If so, to what diameter? <1/4' inner diameter or so.> Thank you for your help. I look forward to your response. Ed <Welcome, congratulations on the upsize! Scott V.>

Bubbles and Silicone Grease 9/15/08 Hello, <Cheri> Thanks for taking your time to answer my questions. <Not a problem.> I read through the questions regarding micro bubbles in the aquarium and got a bit confused regarding the use of Silicone Grease and Aquarium O-Ring sealant (are they the same thing?). <Yes, there are other specialized silicone greases/lubricants out there, but the types used for plumbing, diving, cameras, o rings in general are fine to use.> In my case the bubbles are not a constant stream, they pump out a very short , light burst every 10 seconds or so. The pump is a Mag 7. I am so paranoid about using any type of chemical around my tanks....so here goes. To start, there are no bubbles in the return area of the sump. So, I want to try and see if the bubbles are coming from air getting in around the unions and/or the pump face, so would it be OK to use the silicon grease on the O-Ring in each, or is there a specific type of product I should use? <Any silicone o ring grease will work for this, the variety found in the plumbing sections in hardware stores is generally the cheapest.> Also, I plan on putting some of the grease around each joint in my return system to see if one of them may be the problem. Is there anything else you might suggest I try? <Hmmm, I would use plumber's putty, clay, or even just regular old silicone for this. Using the grease to diagnose a leaky joint is going to get messy and the stuff is virtually impossible to clean off.> Again, thank you for all of the information you provide. You are a great help. Cheri <Welcome Cheri, thank you. Scott V.>

Microbubbles in Sump 7/24/08 Greetings and salutations WWM crew, <Hello.> It's an honor to speak with such experience. I am having a serious problem with micro bubbles in my sump flowing to my display. I know this is covered many times in the FAQs, but I think I have tried most if not all solutions to no avail. <Microbubbles can be very frustrating at times.> I have a 90 AGA RR mixed reef with a 29 gallon DIY sump that has been running for over a year. I have redesigned the sump a few times by changing the gap of the bubble traps to adding more, adding LR, trying different media, even running the sump w/o the skimmer (Urchin Pro). The micro bubbles all come from the inlet/skimmer section. It seems that with the water/air flowing into the sump from the display creates most of the bubbles, then the skimmer adds to that. Closing the valve on the return is only effective if I turn it to a point where it is barely pumping. I installed an elbow on the return pump pointing down, but that was ineffective and has been removed. I have attached a crude drawing of my current setup, the flow to the sump is ½'-1' below the sump water line. <I would start by lowering these lines into the water a bit more. At such a shallow depth the incoming water may suck down some air from the surface at times.> All the lines between the display and sump are PVC hard plumbed with valves and unions everywhere for easy maintenance. I have had this problem since the tank was setup, but have found no leaks. I know some would say a Mag 9 is too much for the current overflows, but I know of others who run Mag 12's w/o issues, I have followed their sump designs, but still no favorable results. <It is not so much that the overflows won't handle the pump as a return (once plumbing and head pressure is accounted for), it is that you will be pushing the limits of these overflows with no redundancy/safety factor with this.> The Mag 9 return is split off and feeds my display refugium as well, there are bubbles in there too. I know for fact that the bubbles are coming from the sump as I can see them passing through the bubble traps. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your valuable time. <If you have tried everything in the FAQ's, then you experimented with the most tried and true solutions. I would move your refugium overflow line as far away from the Mag 9 as you can. I understand wanting to keep it away from the skimmer pump, but a drain line next to the return baffles will be an issue re microbubbles. Filter socks on your drain lines can make all the difference weeding these bubbles out. You can also fabricate baffles of a sort for either the overflow lines, the return pump, or both. For the overflow lines you will want something as simple as a cup. Have the overflow pour into the cup with the top of the cup 3/4' or so below the water level in the sump. This will force the bubbles to the surface, eliminating many of them before the water even transits the sump. With a pump baffle, it is the same basic principle, just in reverse. You will want something the pump can fit into such as a cheapy Gladware or something similar (I used a plastic tea pitcher with a Mag 7). You will want the top of the container to be out of the water with the bottom sitting on the bottom of the sump. Then, you will need to drill several 1' or so holes in one side of this container near the bottom. You do not a high water flow through any one hole. Now you can place the pump in the container and rotate the container until the holes are in a position that takes in the fewest bubbles possible. These both seem like hokey solutions, but they do work and work well! If either of these 'baffles' work out, by all means, find something nicer if you wish to use. Acrylic is easy enough to fabricate and make your own manufactured looking baffles. The name of the game here is to make the bubble work hard to get to your pump. Just get creative! Welcome, I hope this helps out, Scott V.>

Re: Microbubbles in Sump 7/26/08 Thanks for the quick reply, hope this follow-up finds you bright eyed. <2:30 a.m., can't sleep, so sure!> You are correct in that a sock helped reduce the amount of bubbles, but elsewhere on WWM I read not to filter the water before the skimmer, as it effects the skimmers efficiency and also adds to the PO4 and nitrates. <Really of no consequence if you clean the socks frequently. I recommend buying a dozen or so (relatively cheap compared to other equipment). This way you can change them out every day or two and then just wash the whole lot at once. If the socks do the trick or even just help, by all means use them! They will keep your sump a bit more tidy also.> I adjusted the drain everywhere from about 1" from the bottom of the sump to about 1/2 way to the surface, not much change. I added a pitcher to the drain in the sump, this had a limited effect. <Every little move you do adds up/has a cumulative affect. If you have such a big bubble issue with the baffles you already have, no one thing will likely solve it, it will take a combination.> I am working on finding a suitable container for the pump. I also moved the refugium drain to just after the skimmer pump. I am seeing about 1/2 the amount of bubbles now. <Half way there!> Do you think a different sump design with taller/lower baffles would be more helpful? <Your design is sound, but you could perhaps add another baffle or two to make a longer path for the bubbles if you have the room.> I have looked at the designs of the off-the-shelf sumps, and they seem inferior to what I have now, by having smaller and less baffles, so why am I having this issue? <The X factor! I just helped an LFS setup a 40 gallon sump with 2000 gph+ flow through. There are no baffles in the sump, a large (10' diameter, 26' tall) skimmer and no bubble issues. Some have high flows through small volumes with no bubbles, whilst others have low flow through large sumps with major issues.> What could possibly be different in my system that causes me to have these bubbles while others can basically run w/o baffles and not see a single bubble? <For good measure do check your return line for any small leaks. These can introduce air into the line rather than leaking out water. Also, do realize that certain additives, foods and/or vitamins can increase the suspension of microbubbles much in the same way they make a skimmer go crazy.> Water quality is great, and 10% water changes are done every 10-12 days using RO. Could a certain coral be causing this? <No.> I dare not list what I have for there are 50+ pieces, none seem affected by this, but for esthetics I would like clear water. Thank you in advance <I understand my friend. Short of finding anything that may actually cause the bubble issue, back to the creativity part of it. Make as long and brutal path you can for the bubbles to reach your return pump. It is a challenge and will be rewarding once you accomplish your goal here. Do let us know how it all comes out, very welcome, Scott V.>

Gas Bubble Disease? Exophthalmia f' also -- 6/17/08 Hi crew, I recently purchased a flame angel and placed him my 20 gallon quarantine tank. I was using two Whisper 10 filters. The next morning i discovered what i initially thought to be popeye. However after reading your site i found that if it occurred only in one eye it was likely the result of trauma. <Actually... can be bilateral... one-sided is often mechanical/damage in origin, both-sides from environmental, pathogenic causes> Therefore i added some Epsom salt and hoped for the swelling to go down. However, the next day, i found the flame angel to have a clear (air bubble) right above his eye (not on the eye, but more like the eyelid), It seems to be gas bubble disease. However, I'm not sure what may have caused this and what I need to do as far as treatment. <Very likely this bubble is derived from collecting damage... being brought to the surface too quickly...> I replaced my two whisper 10 filters with a Emperor 280 hoping that the GBD was a result of lack of aeration. (Please note my emperor is a 280 gph and adds lots of surface agitation-not sure if its too much because i am getting air bubbles-is this also harmful? <Not likely at all> I read about microbubbles causing bends in the fish-but not sure if this can be caused by a hang on the back filter) <Again... not the cause here> Please let me know what i can do to help the little guy? <Really, just time going by, good care. The area around fishes (and our) eyes is highly-vascularized... The "trapped air" will be re-solubilized in time.> Also please let me know if the Emperor 280 microbubbles will cause problems? <Have... Not a problem. Microbubbles are much smaller, produced by mixing air and water tog. at high/er pressures> not sure if surface agitation bubbles from a hang on the back filter are dangerous or that that microbubbles only apply to canister and return pumps? <No> Thank you. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Noise Level and "Micro" Bubbles 4/29/08 Thanks for your guidance in the past in setup. <You're welcome.> I have two questions about my still lifeless tank. I have a used Dutch AS 75 G flat back hex tank which I restained and varnished, drilled for two 1.5 bulkheads in the top corners. 90 pounds of very cured Live Fiji rock. I have installed it with two overflow PVC 1.5 pipes running from L's at the bulkhead. Each L has a 1/4 inch John Guest Air valve to allow air suction into the 90s and prevent "burping". <Is the airline run down into the drain line?> The pipes run down to a 30 gallon 30X18X12 sump/refugium, which is turning out to be too tall. One pipe goes directly to the 12 inch ASM G2 skimmer chamber (right side of sump); one passes the 9 inch refugium (left side of sump) with a teed 3/4 inch ball valve dropping a few gph into the fuge, and then continues to the skimmer chamber. Middle chamber is a 6 inch pump chamber housing an OR6500 pump. Bubble trap baffles between the skimmer and the pump chamber, although I made these too narrow and may be promoting too rapid flow. <This can be a problem with not enough dwell time through the baffles to allow the bubbles to escape. Foam between two of the baffles can make a huge difference.> Exhaust enters the sump below the waterline from the 2 1.5 drain lines but is dropping a lot of bubbles. <They will, this needs to be managed.> Some appear to be making it past the trap and back into the tank. I did not build a bubble chamber for the skimmer section, and I have not employed socks, because the sump is so tall I would have a hard time accessing/changing them, and would turn them into nitrate sources. <This too can be a big help for you. You will need either a filter sock (even if it is a pain to change) or to fabricate something your drains can dump into forcing the water and air to come back up before transiting the rest of the sump. I used to have my overflow dump into a 1 liter bottle with the top cut off for this purpose!> OR6500 pumps 1.25 line out through 6 inches of flex, threaded connection, union, ball valve, 2 45s, 3 foot rise, tees at the top of the tank into two 1s and drops water into the tank about an inch below the surface. Both sides are blasting microbubbles. <Frustrating.> In order to reduce bubbles I have tried vaselining pressure-side joints to check for any venturi above the sump waterline and found none. I have damped flow down from the refugium and seen minimal impact. I suspect the problem is with the volume speed through the baffles. <It is sounding that way.> So much for background: 1) Short of reengineering my sump, which may be inevitable, what other suggestions can you offer to reduce bubbles ?2) I have not seen much foam or skimmate in my ASM. I only have a few hermits and snails aside from the LR so there is not much to skim. Is it true that fresh salt water takes some time to "ripen" and reduce surface tension and that the skimmer and bubbles will improve over time? <Yes, more of the components in the tank being new with manufacturing residues floating about.> 3) I don't have overflow boxes, just two 90s acting as drains which are currently level with the waterline. They are loud. Is there any trick to minimize their noise level? <First, be sure the open end of the elbow is pointing down into the water. This will keep the inside of the line from being exposed to the atmosphere and your ears. Next you may need to experiment a bit with the air inlets on the elbows. John Guest fittings are nice, but you will need to be able to run the airline down into the elbow a bit. How far down for your case it the experimental part, you will need to play with this distance until the overflow is quiet. Generally 4' down in from the top of the elbow will get you fairly close for this amount of flow. Your drains are sized well for this pump, you can get these quiet.> Thanks, as always, John. <Welcome John. You have a bit of playing to do, but this flow can be managed through a sump this size. It is just all about directing it, making the bubbles work around obstacles to get into the return pump. Keep with it, good luck, Scott V.>

Re: Noise Level and "Micro" Bubbles 5/6/08 Thanks for your guidance in the past in setup. <You're welcome.> I have two questions about my still lifeless tank. I have a used Dutch AS 75 G flat back hex tank which I restained and varnished, drilled for two 1.5 bulkheads in the top corners. 90 pounds of very cured Live Fiji rock. I have installed it with two overflow PVC 1.5 pipes running from L's at the bulkhead. Each L has a 1/4 inch John Guest Air valve to allow air suction into the 90s and prevent "burping". <Is the airline run down into the drain line?> {no, just a gate valve on the ell. I will extend the line down into the pipe 4 inches} <<This will make a big difference.>> The pipes run down to a 30 gallon 30X18X12 sump/refugium, which is turning out to be too tall. One pipe goes directly to the 12 inch ASM G2 skimmer chamber (right side of sump); one passes the 9 inch refugium (left side of sump) with a teed 3/4 inch ball valve dropping a few gph into the fuge, and then continues to the skimmer chamber. Middle chamber is a 6 inch pump chamber housing an OR6500 pump. Bubble trap baffles between the skimmer and the pump chamber, although I made these too narrow and may be promoting too rapid flow. <This can be a problem with not enough dwell time through the baffles to allow the bubbles to escape. Foam between two of the baffles can make a difference.> {Wouldn't foam slow flow further? } <<No, it will just serve the purpose to trap bubbles. Use the coarser filter type foams.>> Exhaust enters the sump below the waterline from the 2 1.5 drain lines but is dropping a lot of bubbles. <They will, this needs to be managed.> {OK..........} Some appear to be making it past the trap and back into the tank. I did not build a bubble chamber for the skimmer section, and I have not employed socks, because the sump is so tall I would have a hard time accessing/changing them, and would turn them into nitrate sources. <This too can be a big help for you. You will need either a filter sock (even if it is a pain to change) or to fabricate something your drains can dump into forcing the water and air to come back up before transiting the rest of the sump. I used to have my overflow dump into a 1 liter bottle with the top cut off for this purpose!> {My space is cramped with a gate valve modded G2 but I will see if I can squeeze something in. } <<Even a small cup that forces the air back up before the water is allowed to flow through the sump can have an impact.>> OR6500 pumps 1.25 line out through 6 inches of flex, threaded connection, union, ball valve, 2 45s, 3 foot rise, tees at the top of the tank into two 1s and drops water into the tank about an inch below the surface. Both sides are blasting microbubbles. <Frustrating.> {Yup} In order to reduce bubbles I have tried vaselining pressure-side joints to check for any venturi above the sump waterline and found none. I have damped flow down from the refugium and seen minimal impact. I suspect the problem is with the volume speed through the baffles. <It is sounding that way.> {Yup.} So much for background: 1) Short of reengineering my sump, which may be inevitable, what other suggestions can you offer to reduce bubbles ?2) I have not seen much foam or skimmate in my ASM. I only have a few hermits and snails aside from the LR so there is not much to skim. Is it true that fresh salt water takes some time to "ripen" and reduce surface tension and that the skimmer and bubbles will improve over time? <Yes, more of the components in the tank being new with manufacturing residues floating about.> {Actually only the Sedra is new. Everything else including the g2 body is used.} <<Even that can impact skimmer performance, or you just don't have much to skim as you mentioned. You're water tests will tell you which.>> 3) I don't have overflow boxes, just two 90s acting as drains which are currently level with the waterline. They are loud. Is there any trick to minimize their noise level? <First, be sure the open end of the elbow is pointing down into the water. This will keep the inside of the line from being exposed to the atmosphere and your ears. > {Are you saying facing the tank bottom? Thant would place my overflows 8 inches below the waterline? Or are you simply saying 45 degrees from vertical like 10:30 and 1:30? } <<However far you need to rotate them so the open end is underwater. Without boxes you may have to construct a little standpipe to get the desired water level. Be creative!>> <Next you may need to experiment a bit with the air inlets on the elbows. John Guest fittings are nice, but you will need to be able to run the airline down into the elbow a bit. How far down for your case it the experimental part, you will need to play with this distance until the overflow is quiet. Generally 4" down in from the top of the elbow will get you fairly close for this amount of flow. Your drains are sized well for this pump, you can get these quiet.> Thanks, as always, John. <Welcome John. You have a bit of playing to do, but this flow can be managed through a sump this size. It is just all about directing it, making the bubbles work around obstacles to get into the return pump. Keep with it, good luck, Scott V.> Thanks for your help. {Thanks. I will try these suggestions.} <<Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>>

Plumbing/Battling Micro Bubbles 4/10/08 Hello to the crew, <And good day to you, Jeff> I was hoping someone could help me with a closed loop issue. I am using the design from Melve's reef site where the water is drawn out of the overflow chamber in the tank. I have a 72 gal bow front with the standard overflow kit probably about 2 to 3 gallons (the tank is drilled for overflow 2 holes on bottom of tank, but not for closed loop). I have a Durso in the over flow so the chamber stays pretty full. I have a 20 gallon long sump with 3 chambers. I am using a Gen x mak-4 external (3/4" in/output) pump located under the tank. The loop is plumbed with ¾" PVC and the outputs are ½". I currently have 3 outputs set up for the closed loop. I can get the pump primed and it works well aside micro bubbles. My issue is with micro bubbles. There are so many it is hard to see the back of the tank. I had 4 outputs, I went to three and I still have micro bubbles. I went back and made sure I had all the plumbing sealed that is not underwater. I used airline tubing to listen for leaks and could not find any. I wrapped filter media around the intake pipe on the system and placed filter media on the inside of the overflow so the water entering the overflow is not splashing but I am still getting tons of micro bubbles. They seemed to get worse when I resealed the plumbing. I am out of ideas and can not figure out where the bubbles are coming from. I was wondering if you had any other suggestions to get rid of the bubbles. If not I guess I will have to settle for power heads and sue the pump as a fancy door stop. Thanks for all your help and again great site!!! <Your sump is more than likely full of bubbles from the overflow. I would isolate the section where the pump intake is located with a piece of foam whereby all water must pass through the foam to get to the pump intake. See if that doesn't help the matter. Also ensure the sump water level is high enough so a vortex isn't created above the pump intake.> Kind Regards <Thank you, James (Salty Dog)> Jeff

Re: Plumbing/Battling Micro Bubbles 4/11/08 Hello again, <Hi Jeff> I think there was some miss understanding on my set up. The intake for the closed loop is located in the overflow chamber in the main tank. The intake is a 6 inch section of PVC with many holes drilled in it. It pulls water out of the overflow box in the tank, down to the pump and back into the main tank. The sump is not involved. <Will be difficult here to completely eliminate the micro bubbles. Are any of the holes in the 6 inch section exposed to air? All holes need to be completely submerged.> As I mentioned I have wrapped the loop intake with filter media, it is blue on one side and white on the other, so all water entering the loop has to pass through the filter media. I have also placed some filter media along the inside of the overflow box so there is no splashing as the water enters the overflow. You mentioned using foam, would this be any different then using the filter media? Would the foam be denser and stop more bubbles? Any special foam or will home depot have the right stuff? <There are round foam sleeves available that slide directly over the intake tube will should reduce the micro bubbles a great deal. The availability will depend on the diameter/size of your intake tube. Example here. http://www.premiumaquatics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=PM-F46B&Category_Code=GFI In your particular set up, I believe it will be difficult to completely eliminate the micro bubbles. You may also want to try throttling down the return from the pump. You may be trying to pump out more water than is available to the pump. This will cause pump cavitation which will cause this problem. Try the foam sleeve for sure, will help.> Thanks again for all your help. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Jeff Amato

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles. 2/28/08 Good Morning WWM Crew! <Hello Mike.> I have a filtration issue I was hoping to get some input on. <OK> In my 125g FOWLR tank I am currently using two Aquaclear 110 filters along with two Hydor Koralia 4 powerheads for circulation. The issue is with the Aquaclear 110s. The water return, being the "waterfall" type of return, is creating massive amounts of bubbles from both filters upon return into the tank, which are then sent shooting all over the tank by the two powerheads. <Not a good thing to have.> It's really just an aesthetic issue really (I hope), and the tank just doesn't "look right" to me. Also, is there any issues for the fish and/or my inverts (hermits, peppermint shrimp, starfish) with these bubbles? <It can be, see http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm and the other related FAQ's for more info on this.> I have raised the water level to the limit (just slightly under the return flow), and it has helped a little, but it is still a big issue. <Can you raise it up to the return flow to prevent the drop/splashing?> I was wondering if there was any way to modify the filters to change the return water flow and cut down (or in a perfect world eliminate) the bubbles? I was hoping to not have to go to a new filter, and be able to make the existing filters work somehow (with less bubbles). <Some hang on the back skimmers use boxes inside the tank to prevent these bubbles and they are fairly effective. You just find a small plastic container that will capture the water coming out of the filter and cut the bottom out. Then replace the bottom of the container with some filter foam. This will drastically help your bubble issues. Do be sure the top of this box is lower than the top of your tank, giving the water somewhere to go should the box overflow.> I would appreciate any help and suggestions you could provide. As always, thank you for the help and your time. Mike P. <Welcome, do try raising the water level a bit more first, this should really do the trick. Good luck, Scott V.>

AquaC EV240 Producing Microbubbles 2/16/08 Hello Gents - and thanks again for the fantastic resource. If only we all followed all the advice you give us! <Heee'¦and if gas were back to $1 a gallon!> Here's my dilemma - I have a 150XH fish only tank with a large wet dry and a Living Color coral insert. I run an Aqua C EV 240 on my reef and have one for this tank as well. I installed a new wet dry this week. Problem is that the skimmer is putting a tone of micro bubbles back into the display. <Was it doing this before the new wet/dry? The same manufacturing residues/oils that can cause a new skimmer to spit out microbubbles are present in the new sump. You may just need some time.> The sump is as follows - 40" long. From right to left, the tank drains into a 26" area of bio balls. I don't have enough room in the cabinet, so I use a submersible Mag9 as the return pump. Due to the fact that the last area of the sump is the only 'open' area, it's crowded. I have the Mag 9 tank return pump, the Ev240 and the Mag 18 that feeds the 240. <According to the AquaC website this pump overdrives this skimmer and may need to be throttled down a bit. This could be playing a factor in bubble return.> The skimmer water returns right to the area where the tank return pump is. <Tough situation, even the slightest amount of bubbles will be returned to the tank.> Unfortunately, I have VERY little space in that open area so I'm hoping to solve this problem. Any ideas? I can call Jason Kim on Monday as well. Thanks J <I would definitely contact Jason Kim for his input. In the meantime, you may want to try either some filter foam or filter sock types of materials between the skimmer output and the return pump to help catch the bubbles. Welcome and good luck, Scott V.>

Micro-bubbles/gas-bubble disease 2/15/08 Hi, <Hello Ryan> I've been breeding marines for a while and I recently set-up a 10 x 55g system to house the majority of my common broodstock (clowns, Dottybacks etc.) and I have been having a bit of a problem with micro-bubbles. I have tried many things to try and rectify this problem and am starting to suspect that I purely have too much flow going through the system. I have 30,000 LPH at 2m head height, coming from a large Onga (Aussie brand pool pump) magnetic drive pump. <Mmm... I would use something else... you don't need the pressure this device produces, nor to pay for it> I am going to order another smaller (23,000 LPH) <Again, I'd look into something with a different flow/pressure profile... see an outfit that sells pumps for other purposes than pools> to see if this fixes the problem but in the meantime I am concerned about the broodstock I have already added to this system. How serious is gas-bubble disease for marine fish <Very> and what kind of exposure to micro-bubbles over what kind of period of time causes this? <Just a small exposure in a period of minutes can be deadly> Are can't seem to find a definitive answer. Even on your 'bubble trouble' FAQ's one person is told that micro-bubbles really are anything to be concerned about where another is told that they could kill your fish. <Have seen the latter on a few occasions... There are papers written on the topic, gear devised to out-gas water...> I can't see any obvious physical problems with my fish. The micro-bubbles seem to come out different returns depending on what I fiddle with and while it doesn't seem to bother some fish in others it seems to really disturb the fish, decreasing their appetite and causing them to withdraw into their tanks/decor. Thanks in advance, Ryan. <Do look for "college level" general texts on aquaculture... both the issues of gas embolism/disease and aeration/gas saturation. Bob Fenner>

Re: Micro-bubbles/gas-bubble disease, ScottV, your input as well please re Pump sel., pb 2/17/08 Hello Bob, Thanks for your time, it's much appreciated. I have turned this system off for the moment and just added a few hang-ons filters/skimmers to the occupied tanks to keep them running and added smaller pumps to keep the systems filters alive. I know it wasn't an great idea to put fish in before I had all the kinks worked out but as some of my original tanks were originally in the area where the new system is now located I had to play 'musical tanks', setting the system up around the old tanks etc, moving broodstock into the new systems tanks while I plumbed and completed the system around it. So far only one fish (of course a wild-caught spawning black ocellaris female :() is still 'sulking' from this bubble problem, I'm hoping she improves, any advise on this front? <Really, only time going by... unfortunately. Stable, optimized conditions... hope> To be honest picking a pump for this system was the hardest thing I have had to do in that set-up. It's not something I have had personal experience with and was not something I had any luck researching in the usual places. The Onga pump I did purchase is one recommended by one of the biggest aquaculture companies in Aus and seemed comparable to a pump used in a similar system in a LFS I frequent. <Mmm... much to state here. Perhaps the gist of what I'd like to made known is posted here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdpumps.htm and the Related FAQs link re above> I am having a hard time understanding the difference between some of the flow rates of these large pumps, one persons 30,000 LPH at 2m head height seems very different to someone else's, is the best way to compare them purely by the power consumption of a particular style of pump? <Mmm, no my friend... Am wondering where we should start in this discussion. "Power curves" are available for most all pumps... But generally just knowing the approximate volume of flow at a given/stated total dynamic head suffices... My concerns are that you get good value in terms of what pressure you really need (likely little, and are paying a premium for much higher pressure) along with the usual need for chemical inactivity, long-life/service... The higher pressure coefficient too often figures into induced air-entraining issues (e.g. microbubbles) as well... Do read the above citation... and we'll chat further> Would something like a ReeFlo Hammerhead pump of 335w rated at 22,040 LPH at 0 head height be more what I am looking for, that brand is the only one I found reasonable info on but I thought they size was too small. <Mmm, for what application/s?> The system is set-up on two levels with the top level being around 7ft off the ground and the bottom about 3ft. I am using 40mm pipe for the incoming lines and 25mm-50mm for the of the outgoing. Other pumps available to me are the Lifeguard Seahorse's, RK2's, <Ahhh! These I am very familiar with... re-packaged Baldor's... from some friends/associates from many years back... I do strongly encourage your looking into this line. VERY reliable, quiet, energy-efficient (this last is extremely important)> and LINK's, none of which I was able to find much info on, if any. I had hope to put a reasonable amount of flow through this system, I plumbed it to take it <Mmm, actually, some of the returns/drains, at 25mm, are not all that large> but even in a system like this is it better to follow the general rule of reef tanks and have the majority of the flow in the tank coming from internal pumps and the like? <Mmm, no... definitely not. Commercial concerns almost never rely on these secondary systems> Thanks again for the help, I was so tempted to ask a few of these questions while I was doing this but they seemed like things I should have known. <An excellent idea to check ones assumptions/understandings with others of similar background, interest... who can/will help. I do hope our Scott Vallembois will chime in here, as he and Eric Russell are most up to date in terms of these issues> On another note, I'm not sure if you remember but a while ago I sent some pics of my Mccullochi Clownfish to include in the clownfish section, <Ah, yes> I think you replied at the time. Since then I have had some small success and raised some offspring, if pictures of the first tank-bred Mccullochi's are of any interest I would be happy to send a few over. <Thank you for this kind offer. Unfortunately, due to so much travel, I only keep freshwater nowadays> I could also replace the original pic with a nicer one with a nice anemone backdrop:), I sent a couple of examples, maybe not the best ID shots but a couple of my personal favourites. Kind Regards, Ryan Dwyer. <Am going to run this as our pic of the day. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: Micro-bubbles/gas-bubble disease, ScottV, your input as well please re Pump sel., pb 2/17/08 Hello Bob, Thanks for your time, it's much appreciated. I have turned this system off for the moment and just added a few hang-ons filters/skimmers to the occupied tanks to keep them running and added smaller pumps to keep the systems filters alive. I know it wasn't an great idea to put fish in before I had all the kinks worked out but as some of my original tanks were originally in the area where the new system is now located I had to play 'musical tanks', setting the system up around the old tanks etc, moving broodstock into the new systems tanks while I plumbed and completed the system around it. So far only one fish (of course a wild-caught spawning black ocellaris female :() is still 'sulking' from this bubble problem, I'm hoping she improves, any advise on this front? <Really, only time going by... unfortunately. Stable, optimized conditions... hope> To be honest picking a pump for this system was the hardest thing I have had to do in that set-up. It's not something I have had personal experience with and was not something I had any luck researching in the usual places. The Onga pump I did purchase is one recommended by one of the biggest aquaculture companies in Aus and seemed comparable to a pump used in a similar system in a LFS I frequent. <Mmm... much to state here. Perhaps the gist of what I'd like to made known is posted here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdpumps.htm and the Related FAQs link re above> <<This pump can work, but is unnecessarily expensive to run. I have walked into many the LFS that could save upwards of $400+ per month in my estimation solely by choosing different pump than the use.>> I am having a hard time understanding the difference between some of the flow rates of these large pumps, one persons 30,000 LPH at 2m head height seems very different to someone else's, is the best way to compare them purely by the power consumption of a particular style of pump? <Mmm, no my friend... Am wondering where we should start in this discussion. "Power curves" are available for most all pumps... But generally just knowing the approximate volume of flow at a given/stated total dynamic head suffices... My concerns are that you get good value in terms of what pressure you really need (likely little, and are paying a premium for much higher pressure) along with the usual need for chemical inactivity, long-life/service... The higher pressure coefficient too often figures into induced air-entraining issues (e.g. microbubbles) as well... Do read the above citation... and we'll chat further> <<I have added a few links with examples of the flow charts mentioned at the end of this correspondence.>> Would something like a ReeFlo Hammerhead pump of 335w rated at 22,040 LPH at 0 head height be more what I am looking for, that brand is the only one I found reasonable info on but I thought they size was too small. <Mmm, for what application/s?> <<I would encourage you to invest in two smaller pumps for redundancy's sake. If one goes out you will still have one up and running while it is repaired. You will also likely manage to get more flow for less power consumed this way.>> The system is set-up on two levels with the top level being around 7ft off the ground and the bottom about 3ft. I am using 40mm pipe for the incoming lines and 25mm-50mm for the of the outgoing. Other pumps available to me are the Lifeguard Seahorse's, RK2's, <Ahhh! These I am very familiar with... re-packaged Baldor's... from some friends/associates from many years back... I do strongly encourage your looking into this line. VERY reliable, quiet, energy-efficient (this last is extremely important)> <<The Baldor based pumps are hands down my favorite for high flow vs. power input (very quiet and reliable to boot). Also consider looking at the Dolphin line of pumps, they do offer a great variety of flow biased pumps. Keep in mind what you have going on is not what would be considered a high pressure application from a pump's point of view. You will want to look toward the more flow biased offerings rather than pressure biased. As Bob stated, you will just waste power and money using the pressure rated versions here.>> and LINK's, none of which I was able to find much info on, if any. I had hope to put a reasonable amount of flow through this system, I plumbed it to take it <Mmm, actually, some of the returns/drains, at 25mm, are not all that large> <<A 25mm (inner diameter) drain will only accommodate around 1150 LPH safely. The larger 50mm up to about 4600 LPH, there is a huge difference. You will want to cut your cumulative flow down to about 12000 LPH or drill more/larger drains.>> but even in a system like this is it better to follow the general rule of reef tanks and have the majority of the flow in the tank coming from internal pumps and the like? <Mmm, no... definitely not. Commercial concerns almost never rely on these secondary systems> <<This brings my attention back to where all this flow is being processed. How large is your sump/filtration tank? Regardless of how much flow you run through it you should be able to set it up to not return micro bubbles to your tanks. If it is simply too small to disperse the bubbles, cutting the flow back roughly 25% will likely not do the trick. You may need a larger sump area or need to rework whatever you have to keep bubbles out of your return. Something as simple as a filter sock over the drain lines can work wonders in getting these bubbles out. Also be sure that the end of each line is submerged, if it is draining into the sump above the water level it is just adding to the problem. Also be sure that all your plumbing connections are actually watertight. A return can appear watertight (not leaking) because it is actually introducing air into the line rather than leaking water out of it. The closer to the pump, the more likely this scenario is to be playing out, at the pvc/pump joint in particular. Do also be sure that any pump's intake is unrestricted. If you need to control flow from the pump, do so from the output end.>> Thanks again for the help, I was so tempted to ask a few of these questions while I was doing this but they seemed like things I should have known. <An excellent idea to check ones assumptions/understandings with others of similar background, interest... who can/will help. I do hope our Scott Vallembois will chime in here, as he and Eric Russell are most up to date in terms of these issues> On another note, I'm not sure if you remember but a while ago I sent some pics of my Mccullochi Clownfish to include in the clownfish section, <Ah, yes> I think you replied at the time. Since then I have had some small success and raised some offspring, if pictures of the first tank-bred Mccullochi's are of any interest I would be happy to send a few over. <Thank you for this kind offer. Unfortunately, due to so much travel, I only keep freshwater nowadays> I could also replace the original pic with a nicer one with a nice anemone backdrop:), I sent a couple of examples, maybe not the best ID shots but a couple of my personal favourites. Kind Regards, Ryan Dwyer. <Am going to run this as our pic of the day. Cheers, Bob Fenner> <<I hope this helps out, the links below should help also, there is much good information regarding pump flow and how to choose/apply on the Reeflo site in particular. The RK2 offerings are very similar to these. Good luck, Scott V.>><Thank you Scott. RMF< http://www.reeflopumps.com/flowbiasedpumps.html http://www.azponds.com/new%20sequence.htm#Dolphin http://www.reefaquarium.com.au/index.php?p=productMore&iProduct=112

Re: Micro-bubbles/gas-bubble disease/Pumps and Plumbing 2/18/08 Hello Bob, Scott, <Scott with you again.> Thank you both for your help, and your quick response, it's not every day you get two experts helping you out. <Very welcome Ryan.> My black ocellaris female I mentioned seems to becoming more outgoing but still hasn't got her appetite back, I'm just hoping an unrelated problem isn't the cause of this behavior and that I should be treating her with something. <It does sound as though she is improving, give it time.> Out of my options for pumps it seems as though the RK2 range seems the best one, it's just trying to work out which one is the best for this situation. <OK, these are good pumps.> I should have been more detailed in my description on my system but felt like my reply was too long as it was. When I said my outgoing plumbing is 25-50mm I meant that it came out of 25mm bulkheads into 50mm pipes, as seen in pic 1. <I see, in this case it appears you will be limited by the cumulative flow in the 50mm.> This pic shows one side of the system, the 6 other 55g tanks run along the wall to the left. One thing I am going to change to the plumbing in that pic is to add a 'breather' to each side which can apparently help with my issues. <It will prevent the drain lines from siphoning. I would also drill put a siphon break on each individual drain. Looking at your setup it would be easy enough to drill through the top of each screen just tight enough for a small piece of tubing. Run that 3-4' down (you may need to slide it up and down to find just the right spot) into the drain line and it will break the siphon in the line. This is not necessary at low flows through the drains, your setup will aspirate itself to some extent since the drains are exposed to the atmosphere.> The incoming pipes run in a similar way, through 40mm then to 25mm with a ball valve on each tank to regulate the flow. I had also plumbed a couple of lines to supply a couple of bio-ball chambers in the sump, a DSB and an extra output to bleed any extra flow back to the sump if the flow was too much. <OK> My sump was originally 6ft by 3ft in size; its main draw-back was it was only 14 inches high. I had a real hard time tracking down anything in the dimensions I was looking for. I had a spare 6ft by 2ft tank and I kind of wish I had used that now, but it was a little too tall for my liking. I am going to be setting up a number of systems like this one (once I get this one working well) and for them I think I'll have to get something custom made, just wish I had been patient enough to do that for this system. When I started to suspect the size of the sump was the cause of my bubble problems I plumbed another 3ft by 2ft by 20inches tall tub into the 6ft one and ran my outgoing plumbing through this first, to hopefully baffle the problem. Each line running into the sump is submerged. I do have a lot of pre-filter baffling the flow but if I still see bubbles after downsizing the pump I'll try and attach filter socks. I originally was a little concerned about trying to block so much force directly. With both of the tubs joined together is this still considered on the small size for the amount of flow? <No, we are dealing with a fair amount of flow, but the bubbles should be able to be dispersed over this run through the sump. I would skip the filter socks, bad communication on my part. I threw that out there as a fix for most home aquarists. In your case I would consider something mechanical such as foam on the return end of your sump to catch any bubbles that make it through the run of the sump. Of course a thorough bubble trap towards the return end helps too!> One of the first things I tried to do to solve the problem was to find a possible air holes drawing water into the incoming lines, concentrating around the pump. I very carefully plumbed the incoming lines with high pressure pvc glue so I couldn't see how any air could get sucked in around such a seal so I suspected the pump itself, or the bulkhead from the sump where this glue wasn't used. From what I could tell this wasn't the problem, I even sealed these fittings with silicone and saw no difference. <All are possible causes and were worth mentioning, it sounds like we are on the same page.> With all this in mind would you think a RK2 2120 (23,100 LPH) would be too powerful? <No, not when head pressure/plumbing runs are accounted for. These pumps also do well with throttling back if need be (on the output side); they will even use a little less power this way.> Is the RK2 214C (13,500) a better option? Any other major problems with my design? <Do drill the siphon breaks/install the 'breathers'' . This will help your situation. You may also consider replumbing the drains. The way the four tanks appear to be configured in the picture you are going to be limited to 4600lph through them, the flow capacity of the 50mm line gravity fed, likely less with the run and fittings. You will want either a larger line to combine the drains coming off the tanks into or limit each 50mm line to input from four 25mm drains. This will double the flow capacity in these four tanks, follow the same principles in the other six.> Thanks again for your help. Kind Regards Ryan Dwyer. <Welcome, do keep us posted on how things go, Scott V.>

Re: Micro-bubbles/gas-bubble disease/Pumps and Plumbing 2/20/08 Hi Scott, <Hello again Ryan.> Things seem to be improving here. My female black ocellaris is now eating hungrily again, which I am very happy about. I got extremely lucky getting a wild-caught black ocellaris pair in the first place and I certainly can't replace them. This has seemed to have put this pair off spawning, but at least they are alive. <Great to hear the situation has improved.> Thanks for your input on my system design, I was concerned I may have made some major stuff ups but it seems I didn't do too badly. Makes it much easier to plan for my future set-ups with your advice on board. I have added one 'breather' to each arm/stand of the system, should I have added one to each side of each arm/stand? <You will want to aspirate the line in some way anywhere the gravity fed lines travel down any significant amount to keep the system draining consistently.> This has improved things considerably, I started the system back-up just to see what difference it made and for the first day I got minimal bubbles, like what you would see if you added a new hang-on skimmer to a tank. Today after running for a day the amount of bubbles are increasing, I think it must be an accumulative affect. I have ordered the RK2 23,100 so I am figuring with this drop in flow I should see the last of these nasty bubbles. <Can you throttle your current pump back to test this first?> Thanks for the advice on the siphon breaks, I saw it mentioned in the FAQs and tried to just cable tie the hose to the side of the screen, you way works a lot better. I think I might have to re-plumb the drains, I am getting a bit of water bubbling up through the bottom standpipes if the total flow through that line is too great. I'm not sure if I should wait to see how the new pump goes, or just re-plumb it while I swap the pumps over. <Either way, replumbing is not the most fun thing in the world, but at least it is not too difficult.> Thanks again for your input. Kind Regards, Ryan Dwyer. <Welcome, do let us know how it all sorts out, Scott V.>

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