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FAQs about Bubble Trouble and Aquarium Systems 1

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

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


  Emphysematosis, Gas Bubble Disease & FAQs

Foam at discharge to coalesce bubbles, baffling for same... Filter bags attached to discharges in sumps... checking all intake plumbing and pump volutes for air entraining leaks... Aspirated downspouts... Large diameter plumbing...

Bubble in Tang's Eye...GBD? - 08/27/06 Hi, <<Hello Deb>> I have a tang who had tiny air bubbles in her eye, then the next day the tiny bubbles became two larger one then the next day they merged into one big bubble. <<Can't say I've ever seen this before...still, is possibly the result of an injury or environmental condition>> Is this the same as POPEYE, or is this something different? <<Something different, as stated.  Popeye infections generally affect BOTH eyes>> Also I see that Epsom salt is recommended for Popeye, <<Mmm, not really...a true Popeye infection would require an antibiotic treatment, but the Epsom Salt may prove beneficial in this case>> if this is what she has can the Epsom salt be added to my tank with the other fish or should she be put into a smaller tank. <<Separation/quarantine would likely make it easier to observe/treat this fish, but the Epsom Salt can be added to the display tank if you so wish (a level teaspoon per ten gallons actual water volume is recommended)>> Also how long can you use the Epsom salt? <<As long as perceived necessary...will not need to be re-dosed until you perform a water change>> She is eating but her balance seems off and she looks like sometimes she bumps into things. <<Indeed...peripheral sight/field-of-view is affected, though the loss of "balance" may indicate another problem...emphysematosis, Gas Bubble Disease>> Can tiny micro-bubbles in tank cause this or is this just something that fish just get? <<Ahh, yes...is this an issue in your system?  If so, definitely remove the tang for treatment...and see here about rectifying the bubble situation in your display: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bubtroubfaqs.htm >> I thank you in advance for your help. <<I'm happy to assist>> I Love this fish and will try anything I can to help her. Deb <<Remove the tang and treat as described...and fix your bubble problem.  Regards, EricR>>

Yucky Surface Scum! 8/24/05 I have a 55 gallon reef tank; and do weekly water changes of 10%.  But after a few days a film covers the top of the water trapping in air bubbles and the things.  What is this film that keeps appearing and how do I get rid of it? Thanks, S. Montgomery <Well, it's hard to be 100% sure, but the surface film is probably some sort of collection of organics, which tend to accumulate at the water/air interface. This is one of the best reasons to employ an overflow that pulls water from the surface down into the sump and into a protein skimmer (drawing "raw" water from the surface helps increase protein skimmer efficiency). You can employ some sort of surface skimming (depending upon the type of filtration system that you employ), as well as aeration or a water return that disturbs the surface, to help displace this material into the water column for easier removal. Hope this points you in the right direction. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

A Baffling Problem... (Stopping Microbubbles) Hello, <Hey there! Scott F. with you today!> I have been running a marine tank for over ten years (45g w two whisper 3's on back). Recently, my wife bought me a 75g w/ built-in overflow. Sump was sufficient for low stand (22''). I wanted my tank to be visible at eye level. Built a stand to accommodate. Soon found that the return flow not sufficient enough for 5 foot lift, so I upgraded pump, and it's still not sufficient. My overflow gurgles a lot. <There are a number of ways to counter that; Durso Standpipes, etc.> Turned 29 gallon into my sump and placed 2''substrate under gravel filter with 2 power heads to aid in flow. Then added around five pounds of live rubble to bottom (still trying to get more). Then protein skimmer constantly purged air into tank leaving visibility hazy. Now the protein skimmer has been removed, which improved visibility- but not all bubbles are gone, not to mention less than desirable flow. If I added another return pump would it help? <If your goal is to increase flow within the tank, you could use a pump on a closed loop, power heads, such as Tunze Streams, etc., or external power heads, like Gemini, Hi Tech, or Tunze Turbelle. If you need the power to run equipment, then a single, more powerful pump seems to be the most simple answer. Ball valves used to control flow should do the trick.> I will purchase a "closed" bottom protein skimmer to manage bio-loads (6" blue spotted grouper, yellow tang, and 10" zebra moray). <That Grouper is gonna get mighty big...Do think about a much larger future system for him!> Love the tank, but just can't tweak the filter to where I want it! It comes over the overflow to about 12" thick of bio-balls to two layers of fine filter padding, than 5" of foam block, under tank 1" PVC travels 18" to a hard 90, then 1' to another hard 90, down 6" to a tee, then forks out in two 15" arms with holes drilled in different directions covered by foam sleeves. Return pump sits on bottom with pre-filter sleeve and travels around 5' to a preformed 90 than tees to 1" PVC angled fittings. With all that filter padding, I still have visible debris being discharged via return (mostly air bubbles, very fine bubbles). <I think that acrylic baffles in the sump might be more advantageous than all of the filter media that you're talking about. Do consider that simple solution...> Can you help? If not advise me of another "efficient" filtration method. I am to receive a 180 in a couple of months and fear of what a task that will be to get set-up if a 75 is so taxing now. Thank you for reading this JB <Well, JB- it sounds like you have some good ideas, but the issues that you're having might be solved with a more efficiently-designed sump. Baffles make a very easy and efficient solution to micro bubble issues. Do look into sump design on sites such as ozreef.org, etc., and you'll get some great ideas as to how to do this more effectively. Sorry that I couldn't give you a concise answer to your problem, but I think that this will point you in the right direction! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Help! bubble trapped in fish! Hi crew! <Rebecca> I want to thank you in advance for your help! Y'all are a life-saver for those of us trying to hone our skills as novice aquarists. <Welcome> I have a serious problem! I just hooked up a Aqua C Remora protein skimmer to my 46 gallon tank. As predicted, the skimmer is putting out a small amount of microbubbles, but nothing unbearable (I think). All of my fish are doing well except for my golden goby, who seems to have taken a liking to eating the bubbles! He has a visible air bubble inside of him and I'm afraid that he's headed for fishy heaven if I don't intervene in some way! My mom told me to try to feed him a pea because they make her fart, but I'm fairly certain they wouldn't have the same effect on a fish! <May work, worth trying> Is there anything I can do for the little guy? He's still eating and hanging out on his various perches on my live rock. <You might try adding a bit of Epsom Salt (a level teaspoon per ten gallons of actual water volume) to the system to see if this too will "move him"> How can I help him?  <Not much else to do... hopefully "this too shall pass"> Thanks!! Becky <Bob Fenner>

Micro-bubbles Hi, I have been reading the great info on your site for some time now, I really get some good help. I do have a problem I hope you can help with. I have a 29g tank with a CPR Bak-Pak II, a bio wheel 125 and 3 power heads. The Bak-Pak is not the reef version but the one with the bio bale. I have a bad problem with micro bubbles coming from the Bak-Pak and was wondering if you had any suggestions to get rid of these pesky things? <Hello, CPR sells a bubble trap that can be attached to the outlet of the skimmer. It usually goes for about $20, so it is not too expensive. Good Luck. MikeB.>

Micro-bubbles and Beyond... I was wondering if since I have about 45lbs of live rock and 3 inches of crushed coral, could I remove the bio bale and possibly fill the cavity with floss or would that cause me other problems? <No, that should be fine.>  I'll also check out that bubble trap you mentioned, is it one that is inserted into the Bak-Pak or on the discharge line? Thanks. <There are two types I find the one inserted on the discharge works the best. But, it wouldn't hurt to have them both. Good Luck. MikeB.>

Air bubbles and fish spots... Hello crew! I just want to say thank you for all the time and support that you and your crew provide to these questions.   I've been looking online for the answers to these questions, but I can't find the answers to my specific questions.   First, I have fine air bubbles returning to my tank clouding the water.  I know, don't say it; I have spent days reading the past FAQ's.  My particular problem is that periodically (every 20 minutes or so), a surge of bubbles enters the tank.  It's like the air is building up in the pump, then it spits it out. <Yikes, not good... can be dangerous to your livestock... there is an intake leak... somewhere... that you should look, listen for and fix... a spray bottle of water, a length of tubing... for spritzing on lines, fittings, the pump volute... and the tubing for listening for intake "hiss"...> I have siliconed all my joints before and after the pump and still microbubbles.  I don't have bubbles entering the sump so it is not coming from there.  I'm really out of ideas as where this air is coming from and how to solve the problem. <With someone helping, try pressurizing the line (blocking the discharge/s...) you may see water seep to shoot out of the intake source... otherwise try wicking a napkin/paper towel along the entire intake line... for water>   I have a 150 gallon with 100 sump below.   Second question is not a problem, I'm just curious if you have seen this before and what it is... At night, I often use the flashlight to see all the different life forms emerging.  I have six green Chromis and when I shine the flashlight on them, they have large 1/8 inch spots on the fish.  During the day, they have no spots and they are healthy.  Disease free for months.  Have you observed this before?  Normal?  Should I be concerned?   Thanks for your input in advance.   Dan <Likely what you observe, describe well here are "nocturnal markings"... changes in the fish themselves that may aid them in the wild in avoiding piscivorous predators. No worries. Bob Fenner>

Micro Bubbles Dear Crew, <Steve> I'm having problems with micro bubbles. I have a PanWorld 40PX dedicated to a chiller and a sea swirl and I'm not having any problems. I also have a Gen-X Mak4 that is dedicated to 2 sea swirls and that is where I'm having my problems. I have siliconed all connections, placed a sponge in the sump and I'm still getting the micro bubbles. I notice at times that I will get a surge of bubbles that will shoot out both of the sea swirls, could it possibly be the pump? <Yes... you may be able to detect a small air leak... with a length of tubing placed near the pump... and your ear... or a spray bottle of water spritzed about the volute... or simply turn all off, secure the intake, discharge lines, take the volute off, clean and re-lube the 0-ring... and put back together. DO check all flexible connectors on the discharge side up to where the lines enter the water...> This is a new set up and I do not have any corals as of yet. Will this be a problem if the bubbles do not stop? <Possibly... sometimes such problems "solve themselves" (mainly through gentle salt creep)...> Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Steve <Maybe have another aquarist mystery solver come over and look your system over carefully... Good hunting. Bob Fenner>

Bubbles Hello and thanks for taking the time to read my email...<Hi Anthony, I've had your email for a day or so but have been trying to do some research for you.> Problem is I refuse to put powerheads in my new reef tank. <Ahhh don't like that powerheads hanging everywhere look, I do understand.> I also refuse to cut the flow (for my corals sake) I am running dual Blueline 200's (Iwaki 70 equivalents 1600 gph each) one for each side of the tank two outlets per pump. 120 Gal. Standard tank dual 1 1/2 " inch overflows and 4 3/4 " inch returns, 65 gal sump. <I understand.> My problem is when the water enters into the sump the bubbles that are created are extensive and most of them find their way right into both return pumps intake. Without redoing the plumbing is there anyway I can remedy the thousands of microbubbles that are being created.<You need to put in some kind of baffle plate for the water to land on and not cause so much splash. The idea is that you need to knock down the amount of turbulence.> currently there is nothing but saltwater in the tank as I am doing the testing on everything. Is there any downside to having bioballs submerged in the overflow part of the sump to catch the bubbles or do bioballs even though SUBMERGED cause nitrate problems. <Bioballs that are submerged will hold detritus, unless you have some type of prefilter to catch the detritus, but its not in the same manner.> Also if any of you live in the NY Metro area what would it take to get one of you guys to come over and critique the set up?  I hope the pictures I have attached went through..<They did come through Anthony and thank you.> Thanks for your help. Anthony

Bubbles in reef Hi there,  <Hi Sarah, MacL here with you this fine and lovely evening.> I just upgraded my 75 gallon reef to a 180 gallon with a 100 gallon sump with refugium. I am using a mag 1800 in the sump as a return which is working great. Because of my hatred for powerhead suction cups and such, I decided to do a closed loop circulation system using a mag 1800. I then plumbed it up from 3/4 inch to 1 inch hoping to increase flow. The pump is external. In the main tank there is a PVC input for the water which then goes through the pump and back into the tank via PVC tees. There are a ton of tiny bubbles coming into the display. Could this be from an air leak at pump and PVC fittings? I tried the Vaseline trick around the pump fittings, which did help a little. If so, would I fare better gluing the PVC to the pump? Or, could it have anything to do with going from 3/4 to 1 inch pipe? <The way I understand it, it is air in the line so if you make like a plumbers loop it should get rid of the bubbles> I hope this makes sense. Let me know if I need to send a picture to accompany this description, Thanks for the help!  <Hopefully I made sense as well Sarah, take a look under your kitchen sink, that's supposed to be something similar to get rid of the bubbles and the noise. Let me know if that helps and if not we'll think of something else. MacL> Cheers, Sarah

- Don Ho sings... Tiny Bubbles... - Hi there, I just upgraded my 75 gallon reef to a 180 gallon with a 100 gallon sump with refugium. I am using a Mag 1800 in the sump as a return which is working great. Because of my hatred for powerhead suction cups and such, I decided to do a closed loop circulation system using a Mag 1800. I then plumbed it up from 3/4 inch to 1 inch hoping to increase flow. The pump is external. In the main tank there is a PVC input for the water which then goes through the pump and back into the tank via PVC tees. There are a ton of tiny bubbles coming into the display. Could this be from an air leak at pump and PVC fittings? <Quite possibly.>I tried the Vaseline trick around the pump fittings, which did help a little. <Not familiar with the Vaseline trick and would recommend strongly that you do not use this in/near/around your fish tank - it is a petroleum product and can cause big problems.> If so, would I fare better gluing the PVC to the pump? <I wouldn't glue it per se, but instead use 100% silicone adhesive which is strong enough to make the seal, but flexible enough to remove the joint should you need to service the pump.> Or, could it have anything to do with going from 3/4 to 1 inch pipe? <There's a chance, but it's a slim one.> I hope this makes sense. Let me know if I need to send a picture to accompany this description, Thanks for the help! <Makes perfect sense. No need for a picture at this point.> Cheers, Sarah <Cheers, J -- > 

- Someone Call Don Ho - HELP.. this would be the 1st time I have asked for your help - I have the nightly ritual of reading your Q&As and website and can usually answer my questions and solve my problems from that... but I can't seem to tackle this problem and you guys and gals are a wealth of information! I have recently set up a 125 gallon FOWLR tank with a 75+/- sump (15 gallons attached fresh water holding) - both custom acrylic - with bits and pieces designed by your website... I am migrating over from a 55 gallon FOWLR that was set up about 9 months ago.... I learned my lesson with the Tenecor "all in one" setup quickly!!  The new tank has a coast to coast overflow with (2) 2" overflows and a corner holding reservoir that dips down the tank about 3/4  for the huge overflow - a slanted "Y" plumbing that enters the 1st chamber of the sump - over live rock and rubble (there is about 90lbs of live rock and 5-5 1/2" of live sand in the display and about 10 lbs in the sump) the raw water exits thru a wall with (4) 1.5" holes - the wall is about 3/4 the height of the sump for overflow... into the large skimmer/heater chamber (EV 180 - mag 7) over a 3" baffle to a filter media area and under a wall with a 1.5" open bottom to the return pump holding area - Dolphin AmpMaster 3000 - I increased the return plumbing to 2" straight up to 1.5" bulkhead with only 1 elbow  to the 1" return manifold with 6 loc-line segments each with 3/4" dual spray nozzles. I am fighting massive amounts of micro bubbles in the display originating from rush of water from the overflow (single 2" flex braided PVC)... I have done the following... 1) checked for air leaks in all plumbing and at the return pump - nothing - all good.. no Venturi action from the pump. 2) gated down the overflow to reduce water pressure entering sump.... restricted the pump  - too much fluctuation between overflow siphoning and pump - drilled 2 small holes on the outflowing elbows to reduce air siphon and noise - works great - but can't restrict to much pressure at the gate valve or it will leak out holes... 3) added poly-filter, sponges, sock of crushed coral in the filter media area to diffuse bubbles.... - bubbles still coming thru. 4) added more live rock to 1st chamber to diffuse bubbles - made it worse 5) added pre-filter tray to 1st chamber - clogged filter quickly, foamed, overflowed and restricts pump 6) extended plumbing to 3" below water level when entering sump, added filter bag to the end... nothing 7)just drilled many holes about the size of a pencil from the sump water level down to the end of the flexible tube to release the  water - drilled small pinholes above water level in sump to release air 8) last resort... I added a few of the bio-balls that I had in my old tank ( still up and running - my QT tank) completely submerged on top of the live rock/rubble - I was told that these can act as diffusers for the bubbles in the sump - I didn't want to use them - but if it would work, I was going to try. the water enters down - about 1-1.5" off the bottom - then up thru live rock and then the bio balls - bounces down thru the 4 holes in the wall.... I tried a drip tray and sponges everywhere.... I was told by Jason K at Aqua C that the skimmer does produce micro bubbles the first few weeks of operating  - but I have been fighting this for about 4 weeks now - and it is not coming from the skimmer.... Still have micro bubbles in the display - any ideas of what to do next?? Your input would be much appreciated!! I just want this hurdle to be over with. It has been nothing but hurdles setting this tank up - but I think this would be the last one in the race. Thanks again for your time. Michelle <Well... it's my guess that this problem is exacerbated by the high flow you have in your circulation loop. It's not the overflows per se, but the amount of water flowing through them. I personally try to get as much circulation going in the tank via powerheads as I do via the return pump rather than trying to accomplish all with one pump. Jacking up the size of the return pump really just puts bulk quantities of water into circulation and a large(r) sump with many baffles would probably be the only way to address this short of throttling back the Ampmaster. Hope that helps. Cheers, J -- >

- Someone Call Don Ho, Follow-up - Sorry, I was time pressured when I responded... Thanks - I had a feeling that more baffles would be needed.... right after I wrote to you, I added a baffle wall with 1" ground clearance right after the 1st chamber and then a bubble trap right after the skimmer and before the return pump. An over, under, over and then under to the return chamber. The baffles are spaced 1" apart with the center wall with a ground clearance of 1" . It seems to be helping - I think I will just wait until the insides of the plumbing and tank is coated with algae and film. Maybe that might help some... I have been messing with the plumbing and sump for so long that nothing has been able to grow. My first hurdle was with the return pump not able to push the volume of water I needed for the return manifold and the 3' spray bar. It was restricted with the 1.5" reducing to the 1" just before the bulkhead - at the elbow. I had to increase the size of plumbing. Now the flow is perfect - not a hurricane for the fish - just enough to create movement in the tank and loosely blow out the sand junk. If I do have to restrict the pump I am considering the dolphin pre-filter assembly as a last resort - I had a couple of sea-swirls on my last tank - they worked great - but I didn't want any external powerheads on this one. The return manifold with 7 loc-line tees - "y" with 2 segments and a nozzle on each along with the spray bar have good circulation with the coast to coast overflow skimming the surface from the rear have an excellent turn-over, debris removal with no turbulence... but nothing can be simple as that... the bubbles, although still there, are fewer than before and just may dissipate over time - hopefully!! <Results are most often the end product of choices made.> Thanks again and keep up the good work - you guys are great!! Michelle <Cheers, J -- >

- Pumping Air - Hello crew, Let me start by thanking you guys for such a great site with tons of info. I am looking to get some additional clarification on a response posted by Anthony to another e-mailer. I am looking to replace the 4 power heads in my 120 gal reef tank with a closed loop system.  The tank is 4x4x2 with 2 corner overflows each having a 1" drain.  I have tried pumping directly from the sump but "surprisingly" the overflows can not handle the additional flow.  I do not have enough courage to drill additional holes. <Is something that should be done when the tank is dry.> I have an extra Mag-drive 9.5 that I was hoping to use as an external pump to power the closed loop.  I wanted to place an intake just below the water line, plumbed to the Mag-drive sitting on a shelf (outside and above the sump to reduce head but below the water level in the tank) then plumbed directly back to the tank.  In reading through the daily FAQ'S I found this exact setup described, which I have attached for reference.  I have tried this setup and I can't get the pump to prime itself or gravity feed up an over the back of the tank without a manual siphon. <I think perhaps you misread Anthony's intent. The inlet for the pump AND THE PUMP must be below the water line. By running the intake line up and over the tank's edge and above the water line, you've essentially put the pump above the water line. There are very few pumps out there that self-prime on a dry line or will suck water up hill.> The pump works fine when it's submerged but won't self prime. <Pumps of this design do not "self-prime" in the typical sense of the word. If they are already full of water, they will move that water, but they will not pull water through a dry line.> I have researched these pumps and the claim is that they can be used in-line or submersed. I am assuming in-line means external. <Yes, but at or below the level of the water... if you had a bulkhead in the back of your tank at or below the water level, this pump would work fine.> In Anthony's response to another reader on this very question he states; "with an inlet sufficiently below the running water line, the pump will be gravity fed and self prime (if kept clean... service quarterly or better) after interruptions of power>".  I am not sure what I am missing. <Putting a hose up and over the edge of a tank is not the same as what Anthony describes.> As long as the intake is below the water level inside the tank why does its elevation matter? Is the elevation of the pump itself critical? <No, it's all about the air in the hose, and the fact that the position of the hose essentially requires the pump to pull the water up hill.> Or can this type of pump just not be used for this application? <This pump will not pull air if that is what you are wondering.> Any help or further clarification would be greatly appreciated as I would love to get rid of the power heads and make use of this spare pump.  Thanks for all help.  You guys are the best. Marty <Cheers, J -- >

-Tiiiiny bubbles (insert rest of cheesy song here)- Ok, I've read through the FAQs many times now but still can't find what I'm looking for.  The return line from my sump to my tank is making many tiny bubbles go into my tank.  I read that most of the time this is caused by a small air leak some where in the return line. <I've never encountered this, although I'm sure it has happened. Most of the time, bubbles going back into the tank from the sump are either from the skimmer or from the water splashing down into the sump from above.> My system is a 29 gallon tank with a 10 gallon sump.  I just added a 10 gallon tank not too long ago (both systems tied into the same sump).  So I bought a new Mag 7 to run both tanks.  I thought my bubble problem was due to check valves and split offs.  So I decided to take it all out and return back to my original Rio pump and only have one return line to my 29 gallon tank (so the new 10 gallon was no longer apart of the system).  Before you say anything about my Rio I will tell you that I wasn't happy going back to it! <Hehe, I don't know if I believe the myths about all the oil and stuff. At worst they're not reliable in a short power failure event.> Anyway, I still have the problem.  My return line is sealed.  I doubt it's the skimmer but I'm going to shut it off for awhile and see if the bubbles go away.  Assuming that isn't it, what's next? <I'd wager it's the skimmer. You can remove most of the bubbles by using a sponge under the outlet, but you'll need to clean it VERY frequently.> The fish don't seem to mind (so far).  However, it makes me feel uneasy about it and it doesn't look great. <Aside from aesthetics, there's nothing wrong w/ bubbles besides the tendency for them to accumulate on the undersides of some types of coral and cause necrotic patches.> At certain angles you can't see the bubbles, but at other angles they are very obvious.  Please help.  I feel if I do anymore to my system at this point I will totally stress my fish out. <I bet it's the skimmer. If not, it's just from the water pouring in from above. You can't do much to prevent them coming in, but u can do something about getting them out before they hit the return pump. Play around with 1 or 2 acrylic baffles that you could position in the sump to make the water go over them (encouraging the bubbles to keep rising and pop). Give it a shot! -Kevin> Thanks for the help.... again... and again... and again!  Steve

Tiny Bubbles- Big Troubles? I have been reading about skimmers, etc. making tiny bubbles in tank..... How big of an issue is getting bubbles in your tank (apart from aesthetics')..? I can't seem to find any reference as to problems with bubbles, and I would think that it would not do any harm to have some in your tank.....in fact, right before lights out (for my fish), I turn on the venturi to create bubbles for approx: 10-20 minutes....it seems to create a nice "wave" effect in the tank and stirs up debris etc.... Is this practice bad...? Jess <Well, Jess- the practice may not be bad, but the big concern about microbubbles or other bubbles in the tank is the potential for them to become "trapped" in sessile inverts and corals, potentially irritating or damaging them. The "danger" of this happening may be somewhat overstated, but it is a good practice to avoid activities that could cause irritation to inverts. I'd make sure that you don't see a lot of bubbles accumulating on your inverts. If this does not appear to be a problem, then I wouldn't be overly concerned. Just use your good judgment, and all should be fine! Regards, Scott F>

- Bubbles and Noise, Please Help! - Hi all, Thanks for all your help in the past! I have a problem with bubbles and noise in my drain line. I looked in the FAQ's and tried the vent hole T technique and it did improve the gurgling but I still get massive amounts of bubbles, and it is LOUD. I really don't want to decrease my flow rate as the my future SPS won't appreciate it. Also, I am using a Durso standpipe, and have included pictures to help.  Do you have any suggestions to improve this drain? <Well, you can try a couple of things... you can put a small length of PVC into that T-fitting to extend it - it looks to me like you've got water coming out of there at the moment - that might help. You might also try substituting a Y-fitting for that T and putting it a little farther up the line. You can also try what I have done which is put a small length of air-line tubing from the standpipe down into the drain line, perhaps about 3/4 of the length of the entire drain. This takes some fiddling to get it right, but provides an air source to stop those backwash gurgles that occur every so often. There's no way to reduce to noise to absolute silence, but you can certainly get it to a tolerable level. Regardless of which solution you try, you're going to have to go through a trial and error phase with each. Be patient, you'll get it.> Thanks a lot! - Ryan <Cheers, J -- >

- Noisy Bubbles - Thank you very much, I tried moving it up and it let out more air and less water. I wanted to make sure that I am not trying to accomplish the impossible. Is it possible to stop most of the bubbles that come crashing into the sump? <Hmm... I don't think so. Just the action of the incoming water entering another body of water will induct air - you can try this with a hose and a bucket of water.> If it is I will find the right combination, but if it is not is there a way to trap them other than baffles? <Depends on the size of your sump - a large settling chamber in the sump will eliminate some, but likely not all.> Thanks again for your help. -Ryan <Cheers, J -- >

Bubbles in the water column Hi all, What is the best way to seal non permanent joints on sch.. 40 PVC pipe? I've assembled a closed manifold for my sump return and have sealed some of the joins with Teflon tape for easy disassembly and cleaning. Evidently I'm getting some small leaks since there are tiny bubbles coming out of the manifold. <The best way I've found (we used to do this in our service division) is to smear a thin layer of silicone sealant (the 100% stuff) on the threaded side right before assembling (the sealant makes a water-proof nesting that comes apart (though not that easily at times)> Could this be caused by a pressure difference at the pump? I'm using a MagDrive 18 with a 3/4" output into a 1" pipe and wondered if that could be the problem. <Mmm, yes... as in there is going to be pressure difference here (hence centrifugal force effects). If really concerned and you want a "removable" feature (a good idea to facilitate removal, replacement of pumps) you might look into "unions" (either coupler or valve types)... especially "true" unions that will allow you to "take apart" the plumbing w/o having to pull apart rigid tubing. Bob Fenner> Dave

- Plumbing & Skimmer Bubbles - Hello crew, <Hello to you.> I have a wet dry/sump that houses the skimmer in one of the two parts. My skimmer is an "ASM G1" skimmer which it's supposed to be like Euro reef. <Ok.> Because of the size of the sump the skimmer fits snug. I have bubbles coming out of the "leveling" tube and this ends up going into the pump and up to the tank. I have tried putting a sponge at the bottom of the skimmer but made no difference. What I am thinking of doing is to build a bubble trap (baffle). Since this does not fit the sump, I thought of building it external. My sump has a 3/4" bulk head that is connected to the main pump, I want to build the baffle so it's connected through this 3/4" bulkhead, and then drill another one on the other side to connect the pump to it. Would this work? <I think so, but I'm not sure from the description how this will affect the bubbles.> While I'm at it, I need to increase the flow to the tank so I thought that I could actually drill another hole on the baffle to connect another pump, but I do not know if the two pumps will dry out the baffle since it would only have one connection to the sump... <Possible... might need to increase the size of that bulkhead.> Hopefully you can understand this. Or any tips to eliminate the bubble on this skimmer? <Really sounds to me like you have a mismatched set - the skimmer and the sump - would be better perhaps to redesign and build a new sump altogether that had a settling chamber, perhaps some baffles to allow the bubbles to settle out. If I understand your description correctly, space is at a premium, which means your baffle idea will likely be undersized, and may not be effective - very hard to predict.> Thank you <Cheers, J -- >

Bubbles in a New Set-Up - 9/24/03 Hello Great Wet Web Crew;) <cheers, Joe!> First off, really enjoyed Anthony Calfo's article at reefs.org ( http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/sept2003/short.htm) it was especially helpful since I'm setting up a new system with a problem. <good to hear> It's a 75 gal, gallon tank with a built in return box. It's plumbed to a 15 gallon sump with 1.5 inch PVC and returns through an external 970 GPH mag drive pump. <FWIW... the sump is rather small. Going to be tight to work in, and too dynamic to serve as a refugium, settling chamber, etc in the future> Here's the problem, at full flow I'm getting what look like superfine air bubbles from the articulated return. This did not occur when I ran it with only fresh water to test the plumbing once adding the salt (Red Sea) the bubbles popped up. I've siliconed everything in creation from and including the sump connections up to and in including the pump connections. There does not appear to be any to be any bubbles in the flow tube (clear) coming up from the pump. After reading many of the articles and FAQ's on air bubbles I was wondering if it could be that at full power the pump is pulling air into the line from the sump and chopping it up? Some kind of pressure differential? <hmmm... I'm not convinced of that> Could this kind of air be pulled in on the output side of the pump? <yes... much more likely. And surprising to many folks that would expect a pinhole leak to spray water (which it rarely does) rather than aspirate it like a venturi (you guessed it!)> Anyway your thoughts would be helpful before I pull all this plumbing apart. <yes... temporarily disconnect the articulated aspects... or even the entire return structure... from the pump, and run a single hose return up to the tank. Assuming that the single connection off the pump is a good seal... this will tell you if some aspect of the original articulated return has a pinhole leak or not. Take the ball and run with it from there> Could the pump housing itself be pulling air in? <indeed... even the fittings on the inflow side. If not silicones... consider, or test with Vaseline> On another note, in Mr. Calfo's article he mentions his dislike of "reef-ready" tanks which is exactly what I have (Oceanic Systems)!!! <they are a nice thought... but grossly under-plumbed> Any thoughts on improving the return flow in such a system. <yep... short of drilling more holes... use all drilled holes (2 drains and 2 returns) for drains. Then simply return the water up the back/side of the aquarium like described in the manifold article> Sorry to be long winded and thanks in advance for your help. <no worries... our pleasure> Is you new book available in the big book stores yet or only through you? <I believe/hope it has begun to trickle down through the chains of distribution. Amazon.com has it... and I have an extended list of dealers and distributors of our books at readingtrees.com> Thanks and be well, Joe <with hope for you in kind my friend, Anthony>

Closed return manifold bubbles 9/29/03 Ok, I understand that micro bubbles are from the pump eating air or small leaks in the pipe joints. Where would large bubbles come from in a closed manifold? All of the tees are blowing 1-5mm bubbles into the water column of my tank. The tee to nozzle join is sealed with silicone and I have double checked all of the other plumbing joints. Dave Lockwood <there are a couple of possibilities... the most likely being a venturi like action from outlets placed just slightly above the water surface (or half submerged). If instead your outlets are all submerged but you are still getting bubbles... there is clearly a leak in the plumbing somewhere that is aspirating air (pinhole in fittings, pump housing, etc). Do consider. Best regards, Anthony>

Microbubbles...Big Trouble! Hello <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> I recently added a downstream refugium to my sump for my 75 gal reef ready tank. I realize I need to remove the mechanical filter items like all of my sponges so that beneficial copepods & such can pass through to my display tank. I mainly used these sponges in the past to keep out the micro bubbles from entering my display tank. I also added 2 baffles and one bubbles trap which is about 2 inches off the bottom of my sump and 2 inches above the water level in my sump. This helped but I am still getting a ton of micro bubbles in the display.  What can I do correct this? <A couple of thoughts here: First, I'd search your plumbing for the obvious...any loose seals or connections that are not 100% airtight. Even the smaller break in seal can admit air, which causes microbubbles. Another step that works is to employ large chunks of live rock (which is quite porous) to help "catch" some of the stray bubbles, or you can use a dense growth of prolific and beneficial macroalgae, such as Chaetomorpha, which forms a dense, yet permeable matrix, allowing some microfauna through, but perhaps trapping bubbles in the process.> I have tried adjusting the PVC pipe where the water enters the sump so it is below the water level, above the water level and I even tried drilling a couple of holes in the PVC pipe to let out air before in dumps into the sump but I continue to get a lot of bubbles. I should mention , when the water comes from the display tank, it comes down & enters pool hose which links directly to some PVC pipe in my sump. The pool hose dips in the middle (from the wait of the water) where it suspended in the air and then rises about 4 inches because the hose needs to connect to the PVC connection on my sump. This pool hose is constantly shaky from the force of water flowing thru it but also it gurgles & hick-ups quite a bit. I think this is from to much air getting caught in it. <Sounds like it...Exactly> I am just not sure why this is happening. I hope I am explaining myself clearly.  Do you think this is the cause of my problem? <A very good possibility> Do I need to find a way level off the hose (eliminate the dip) to make the water not rise & essentially flow smoother? I am not sure if this will eliminate the gurgling/air in the hose or not. <I think that this adjustment is certainly worth the experiment on your part...try it and see> I also have a question about mushrooms. I recently purchased a mushroom rock that has about 10-15 mushrooms on it. How can I transfer these mushrooms to my main rock in the display tank. Is it best to break this rock into several small pieces & glue them to the rock in the display tank? <If you don't want them all on one rock-yes> I don't think I should pry them off the rock they are currently attached to. <No, you shouldn't> Is there better way to get them transferred/attached to the large piece of rock in my tank? Please let me know- thanks for your time -Anj <I like the idea of carefully chipping off small pieces of rock on which the 'Shrooms are attached, then carefully gluing the rock in place where you want them on your Reefscape. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Micro bubbles from closed loop 10/7/03 Dear Reefers, <I prefer it in brownies instead, if you must know. Mmmmm... brownies> Firstly a big thank you to Anthony and Robert ( not to mention Messrs Gonzalez ) <ahhh, Messr.. and Madame Gonzalez <G>.> for penning Reef Invertebrates. I have just finished reading, and it is a 5 star book with no equal in its field. <an outstanding compliment taken with thanks. Please do tell a friend :)> Please help me with a problem relating to micro bubbles. I am nearly there with my set up but have hit a dead stop again and am running out of steam. <microbubbles are a common problem... if you have the energy, it has be writ about at great length in the archives here at wetwebmedia.com> I have a 90 US Gal tank with a 7" square corner overflow box, bottom drilled to take one 1" and one 3/4" connector. The 1" drains a modified ( to optimize siphon effect) Durso which comfortably balances an Aquamedic Ocean Runner 6500 ( i.e. 1,670 USG/h nominal - excellent pump) from the second of 2 daisy chained sumps. The return is via 1" hose teeing to a 1/2" pipe work loop round the top of the tank with 8 x 1/2" mid water nozzles and 2 bottom spray bars. This all works very well, but there is not quite enough turbulence.  In your pbfaq9mar.htm - item headed Closed Loop System - you advise in response to a question " Would it be possible to place the intake [for a closed loop circulation pump] in the overflow box" answer  "< Ideal as long as the box itself can handle the flow>". I have therefore followed this advice and plumbed the 3/4" overflow box connector ( with a short stub and inlet screen inside box ) via 1" hose to a Dupla Turbo 5A pump ( 82w, 620 USG/h nominal, 2600 rpm, 14 feet max head ) and fed this into the other end of the same return loop. <interesting/good> This now provides the necessary turbulence/circulation, as far as I can tell. However, the Dupla is creating micro bubbles - so I have come to a dead stop again. <understood... the (overflow) well is too shallow and we need to baffle the bubbles. It could be as simple as installing an inline coarse prefilter (like a tube cartridge with a foam block) and only need to compromise with the additional servicing (monthly/quarterly?) of this media> The Dupla is the source as I can hear the characteristic snapping sound from the impeller housing, and no it's not venturi effect. <understood> Unfortunately, the overflow box is black glass, so I cannot see whether bubbles are being sucked down into the inlet. <seems likely... else it is an aspirating breach (pinhole) on the pump housing or intake plumbing (unlikely)> The overflow seems to work fine and I have tried adjusting the Durso to bring the box water level up to the tank level and avoid bubbles being created, and I have covered the outlet with a 2" dia. pipe and cap, to draw water from nearer the bottom, but with no effect.  Is it possible to pull bubble free water from the bottom of my overflow box handling this flow rate? <yes... as described above with a coarse prefilter... Or... you can even plumb the prefilter on the outflow side of it all (in a place that is easier to service)> The Dupla only has a 3/4" inlet connector. I have used 1" hose (4 feet) to connect to the box outlet, with one 90 degree bend. Which is the more likely cause of the bubbles, the pump cavitating, or bubbles entering from the overflow box? <in this case... I'll put my money on overflow influx> If the former is it worth trying a restriction valve on the return hose from the Dupla? <an inexpensive option to try indeed... use a gate valve if you do> If the latter, is it practical to make an in line vessel to vent any bubbles without losing the head - i.e. by venting at tank level? <complicated... some flow will be lost indeed as per above res> If neither is possible, do I have to run the 3/4" outlet into the sump and use a second sump outlet to feed the Dupla? <not ideal> This would mean pumping against a 4 foot head, which I was specifically trying to avoid by using a closed loop. Given the choice, is pumping against a 4 foot head more or less efficient than restricting the output in a closed loop? <I cannot say without seeing/working with it> Finally, in general is there a better way to set up a circulation loop using an external pump to enhance flow/turbulence but at the same time avoiding micro bubbles or risk to the inhabitants from intakes? Many thanks, Eric Brightwell FZSL <the simple closed loop manifold works well and easily with properly sized sumps. The problem for most aquarists is that their sumps, overflows and refugiums alike are grossly undersized. Public aquariums for all of their success with fish longevity can ascribe much of it to stability in the standard of having as much water behind the scenes as on display. Does this mean that aquarists need a 100 gall sump for their 100 gallon tank - no. But it does mean that a 20 gallon sump is too small/turbulent. In this case, your problem is not that your overflow box is too small/turbulent (or  rather... it is a by-product of the real problem... which is that the sump is not large enough and/or the drilled overflow holes are not large/numerous enough to handle a single and proper large return pump to single power the manifold. It sounds like the modifications you'll need to make here though are minor. No worries! Anthony>

Bubbles in tank--plumbing question >Hey there, >>Hey there yourself, fella. ;)  Marina tonight. >I have a question for you. >>A'ight. >I recently turned my 125g fresh water tank over to a mixed reef which is to be stocked with the contents of my 75g. with the new tank I wanted to use a sump based filter system so I got a bs2 sump with a CPR cs102 overflow. I don't seem to have problems with bubbles from the over flow I think because of the media bags included with the bs2 but I am getting bubbles in the main tank from the return pump. I use an Iwaki Welshman wmd40rlxt this pump is rated at 1200 gph with 1" in and out. The overflow is supposed to be 1400gph but the return pump is draining water too fast from the sump which creates a funnel in the water and sucks air into the pump. I have a valve between the sump and the pump but I think its not the right kind because if I turn the valve the pump seems to suck harder and drains the sump faster. >>Do you know if you're using a gate valve (the correct type to use to adjust flow) or a ball valve (best when using at quick disconnect points)?  I suggest using a gate valve. >right know I am using vice grips on the return tubing to slow the rate which works but there has got to be a better way. >>Agreed! >I've been reading the other posts and it seems that most have split the return into two which seems to be a good idea that way I can get some more circulation to the tank. >>Again, yes, agreed, it diffuses the flow, as well as allowing more of the tank to receive freshly filtered water. >I haven't added sand yet but with the return the way it is the sand would be all over with the force that the return is at currently. would the split in the return tubing slow the water so I don't have to use vice grips? and should I be using 1" tubing? I have a friend that thinks the bubbles are from my protein skimmer. >>It's hard to say whether it's the skimmer or the pump (a picture would help), but it does sound as though you've got cavitation happening within the overflow, that pump must really be kickin' butt! >I use AquaC ev180 w/ dolphin dp-800. I also have a Korallin ca reactor injecting effluent into the skimmer. some other considerations I have is that I have the pump connected directly to the bulkhead on the wall of the sump. I was thinking that if I ran something between the two would it quiet it down some? >>A short bit of flexible tubing, perhaps?  It *might* help, but I can't guarantee it.  I'm going to point you to http://www.reefs.org you'll have to register to post, but there are many there who can help as well.  In my opinion it seems you need to adjust the flow going into the pump just a bit, and a gate valve would help you do this.  If your friend is familiar with plumbing setups like yours, and, since he can actually look at it, he feels the issue may be with the skimmer, go ahead and pick his brain as well.  Does the water coming out of the skimmer seem to be holding bubbles in it?  If that's a problem one way to tackle it is to simply let the water from the skimmer fall into the sump, instead being part of a closed loop.  Again, without seeing how you have this set up it's bit tricky to offer definitive advice. >Thanks for your time any suggestions would help. Scott Ballantyne >>I'm forwarding this message to a couple of others who I think are going to have much better experience than mine, if they have anything to add hopefully they'll email one of us.  I do hope this has helped a bit, and good luck!  Marina

Troubled By Bubbles! Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> I have spent many hours reading over the articles on your site before plunging into the world of reef keeping, its a great resource. <So glad that you enjoy the site! We're glad that you enjoy it! We sure have a great time bringing it to you!> I am setting up a 75gallon tank with 20 gallon sump/refugium. I built a DIY overflow using the Durso standpipe design to reduce noise, it works great with one problem (that I know about). I am getting a huge amount of air going from the overflow to the sump. The large bubbles aren't a problem as they just stay on the surface but the microbubbles are entering the mag 9.5 return pump and pouring into my display tank. They look almost like dust and make visibility terrible as well as possibly causing problems when I decide to put fish or corals in the tank. <They definitely can be a problem...We need to find the cause and eliminate it, or at least, create some sort of barrier to keep these bubbles out of the tank> This happens even when I am not running my Berlin style airlift skimmer. I hardly ever have it on as I have nothing in the tank yet. I have one baffle in the sump to prevent sand from my DSB entering my return pump. Would putting in more baffles or removing the deep sand bed in the sump help? <I'd recommend the idea of additional baffles, or perhaps a sponge to help "absorb" them> Could I put foam around the return pump to cut down on bubbles? <I'd give that a shot, myself> I have just put in my live rock and sand but have nothing else yet so this would be a good time for any major changes. I know it can cause gas exchange problems in fish but don't know if it causes problems with corals or inverts. It also causes bubbles to collect on the walls and plumbing. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks <As we both have concluded, constructing some sort of baffle is really the best way to deal with the existing bubbles. As far as tracking down the source of the bubbles- I'd check all connections on your plumbing. You can use the old trick of some soapy water placed over the connections to see if you have a good seal. Hopefully, with a little diligent detective work, you can find the source of the microbubbles and eliminate them. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Microbubbles Hi Bob: I'm a bit confused with regards to the term "Microbubbles" are these the same that are produced by my venturi skimmer?  They are smaller than those produced by an airstone (which I unplugged due to salt everywhere) but not to fine to see easily enough - they fill probably 50% of my tank - I hope they're not dangerous because I can't seem to do anything about them - I only run the skimmer at night now but it pulls very little skimmate that way. My thinking there is at night the fish are in the rocks where the bubbles don't penetrate. <Is this a new tank and skimmer? If so this will go away in time. Sometimes bubbles are caused by high wastes (only running the skimmer at night is BAD, run 24/7 no matter what) or improper water chemistry/ionic balance/pH. Check these too. Also, if the skimmer is pushing too much water through and destroying the dwell by pulling the bubbles through the skimmer and into the tank, adjust the pump/skimmer to slow down the flow, increase dwell/contact time, and reduce bubbles by floating them out where they should....in the skimmer cup.> I even tried hanging a bag of Chemi pure under the exhaust of the skimmer to dissipate them a bit - no avail. then I turned a powerhead at the exhaust and this created a bit of a "whirlpool" effect and kept the bubbles at one end. but are the bubbles themselves really the problem or the amount of oxygen they create in the water?  (By that I mean that the oxygen levels are the same regardless if the particular area is suffused with bubbles or not because the oxygen is dispersed equally?) David <The bubbles are a problem for fish because they can act like the bends in humans, forming bubbles in their flesh or systems that are as problematic as they are for humans. Do check your skimmer set-up/adjustment and water chemistry to find out why you are getting so many bubbles.  Craig>

Bubbles from hell Hi all! Well, after about 3 months of reading your site to find answers to the many questions I've come up with in putting together my 75 gallon reef set-up,  I've got a question that I can't find the answer to anywhere.  The only hope of getting an answer to this question, I believe, is if there is some funky aspect going on here which will be familiar and immediately recognizable to more experienced aquarists.  I have bubbles from hell in my tank coming from my return pipe.  I've read all of your "I've got bubbles" posts and responses.  These are not standard, "you've got an intake leak . . . find it and seal it" type bubbles, these bubbles apparently exist independent of air and physics.  I have a 35 gallon sump with a PM bullet 100 skimmer.  Irrelevant since the sump is BUBBLE FREE at the point of intake to the return pump.  I've checked this with a magnifying glass and even run specially designed "air releasing" pipes into the sump from the tank drain. I've pulled the skimmer. The bubble aren't coming from the sump.  I started out with PVC from the sump to the pump with flex tubing right at the pump intake fastened with hose clamps.  I've reconfigured the intake pipe shape, length, etc. . . and even removed the hose clamps by hard lining the pipe right to the pump . . .with a no washer connection, just a coupling that has threads (to the pump) on one end and receives the 3/4" pipe cemented directly on the other.  That line is air tight and solid!  Pretty much the same story on the return line to the tank.  Thought it might be a venturi so I removed all flex tubing, quick connector and a ball valve.  It's solid 3/4" PVC from pump to tank.  That leaves the pump.  I took the main cap off, examined the washer, etc and tightened the screws which seemed a bit loose when I removed them.  Still had bubbles.  The pump btw is a 1200 gph Gen-X.  I have the exact same pump running my skimmer.  I switched these pumps to see if maybe it was something I wasn't seeing when I took the first one apart.  Still have those damn bubbles even with the second pump.    The possible key that hopefully one of you may recognize is that the bubbles at this point come in "waves".  While there is a constant stream of some very tiny bubbles coming from the return pipe, about once every three minutes, a pulse of TONS of bubbles will burst from the pipe.  They stick on the rocks and on the back of the tank. They are hugely apparent under the metal halides. They smoke my cigars and drink my beer.  They kick my dog.  I hear them laughing at me when I walk into the room. I want them punished in the most painful way. The tank has 85 lbs of live rock, two fish, lots of snails, hermits, 1 coral banded, 2 peppermints, 2 sand sifters, 1 brittle star.  It's a very fine white sand bottom.  I really want to begin adding corals, but I don't feel like I can proceed until this is resolved.  Any suggestions?  Am I missing something? JIM <Hmmm, I suppose the Gen-X has a 3/4" inlet or even 1", but I'll bet it doesn't really put out 1200 gph with 3/4" pipe (inlet), and thus produces what would be known as *cavitation*, like a boat prop that can't get enough water to drive in and thus, sucks air. Increase your pipe size and bulkhead to keep up with your pump. Any valves should be after your pump. With such a valve you could turn down the output to test the cavitation theory. With it turned down the pump won't need to pull in as much water and thus shouldn't cavitate, or produce bubbles. Hope your dog is alright. You can always buy more cigars and beer! You should get the last laugh!  Craig>

Micro Bubbles I need your guidance once again. <Okay.> I have a simple 40G glass aquarium serving as my sump, containing my BioWheel, UV sterilizer, and protein skimmer. The chiller and mechanical filter are on a separate closed system. My current problem is the micro bubbles that are in my display tank and I believe that they are from my protein skimmer (bubbles from it are being sucked into tank). <Your skimmer should be near the inlet to the sump from the overflow, the return pump at the farthest end from the skimmer, thus avoiding any bubbles as they disperse to the surface over the length of your sump. If not, add baffles, a skimmer box (a simple five gallon square bucket, cut-up will work nicely) or a pump box with baffle or sponge to stop bubbles, but this should be overkill. Is your return pump external? If so you should check all plumbing connections as well, it is more likely than skimmer bubbles.> The skimmer deposits onto filter media to help disperse these bubbles, and has been working fine until recently. I know these micro bubbles can be harmful to the fish. <Perform complete water tests, this could cause persistent bubbles.> My question: if I move the mechanical filter from the closed system to the sump system, after the pump (i.e. water flow: overflow/BioWheel/sump/pump/(filter)/tank, will this help trap / eliminate / stop the micro bubbles from reaching my main tank? I doubt it, More likely to gather in cartridge and blow out in bigger blasts than they are now.> I don't have the funds to change the sump itself (not to mention the time/effort to take down my display to do so). Always appreciating the help! Craig <Shouldn't take much if anything to separate skimmer and return enough to allow bubbles to rise to surface. Space, sponges, baffles, boxes all will work and are inexpensive to free.  I still would check water first.  Craig>

Tiny Bubbles- Large Headache Hello to all <Hi there! Scott F. here!> I have finally gotten my 55 gal corner bow and 20 gal sump up and running. It was a long irritating struggle, but I think I have won. The Iwaki md30rxlt is in the basement and after a lot of experimenting the noise from the 2 - 1" overflows is down to a mere trickle.  You hardly notice the noise at all. <Sweet! That's a great accomplishment!> The last issue that I have been dealing with is bubbles. After I got it running there were tiny bubbles everywhere. You could hardly see through the water.  I changed the design of the sump slightly and now most of them are gone.  How many of these micro bubbles would it take to be harmful to my future inhabitants.  Do I need to do some more experimenting before ordering my live rock?  I can actually live with it the way it is now.  I just would like someone else's opinion on whether or not it is harmful to the fish.  The water is clear, but you can still see these micro bubbles all through the tank. <Well, excessive microbubbles in the water can potentially be a problem to sessile inverts and corals, by settling on them and interfering with their feeding and elimination processes. I would not be overly concerned about the potential for problems with the live rock, per se, but I'd look for the source of the bubbles to try to isolate them and eliminate that source. Often, microbubbles can be reduced or eliminated by re-checking all plumbing connections, creating a baffle to reduce the spread of the bubbles, and re-evaluating the circulation within the tank.> Thank you and good night Bryan Flanigan <Good luck, Bryan! Keep at it! Regards, Scott F>

Tiny Bubbles- Big Headache Scott F or whoever may be working (not me today. snow day...yah.) <Lucky you! Ya gat Scott F. again today!> Well I got everything done last evening but as you said expect a glitch or two.  I am having a bubble issue in my tank now.  Lots of little bubbles.  My configuration now goes something like this.  Overflow drains in skimmer chamber, which overflows into refugium, which overflows into another chamber  | | | 3 pieces of Plexi  with the 1st and 3rd being higher than the 2nd piece to help reduce bubbles before the return pump.  Well obviously that wasn't enough.  So this morning I took the old finishing block from the wet/dry and sliced off some pieces to place in the last chamber to reduce the bubbles.  And it has helped a lot.  Is there a better solution for that config to get rid of the finishing block seeing I am about out of space in that thing?  The blocks will be cleaned daily with the skimmer since they are easy to get to and in the same general area. <To be quite honest, I would have recommended the same thing that you did...Just keep messing with it until you get the desired results...> Also my tank is hazy today.  Looks like a smoggy day in CA.    Just part of disrupting the tank a little yesterday?  Will this clear up?  Readings are all normal. 0's for what I test.    <Yep... you'll see some residual cloudiness for a couple of days until some of silt or other suspended matter settles out...Normal> Also added a 60 watt plant bulb above my refugium (are these ok?) <Should work...You may want to experiment with other bulbs if you don't get the desired results...> I cut a hole in the white plastic top and used a work light fixture to provide lighting to the refugium which now contains a 6" DSB, about 3 lbs of live rock, just some extra from other tanks (will add more when I come across it) and a few strands of Caulerpa.  Will that bulb be enough for the leaf Caulerpa to grow?   <Probably...this is a remarkably tenacious and adaptable macroalgae> And is that a good thing for the refugium?   <Personally, I don't like Caulerpa...to invasive, to prone to "crashing", and there are some chemicals given off by the algae that have been (arguably) shown to impact coral growth negatively...I like other, less "nasty" macroalgae, like Chaetomorpha and Gracilaria..> I have a very hard time finding algae strands or starter samples of things around here.  Have 3 LFS in the "area" (about 30 minutes away).  Nothing other than mail-order besides that.  The downfall of living in a corn field.  Any advice on getting or finding this type of stuff? <I love Indo Pacific Sea Farms....They offer a variety of macroalgae, as does Inland Aquatics...check them both out on the Web> I would really a good algae or plant start for down there.  I really need to get to this one LFS (about 1 hour away). Their reef tank sump has a severe overgrowth and would think they would sell me some or just give me some. <If you're willing to make that drive- they should do better!> One note on Mr. Fenner's book.  I currently do not have this and have looked in the library but they are a hillbilly library and carry no such books.  (I am a teacher) and had our school librarian check other libraries for it...no luck.  So she said she would order it for our library.  Not that my 11 year old students will have much use for it, but I will have it checked out quite a bit I'm sure. <Well- you might just start some kids on a positive life-long addiction! A great addition to the library, IMO!> Will keep you updated on the tanks progress and with more questions I am sure.  This site was an excellent find.  Thanks again. Matt <Glad to hear of your progress, Matt...Feel free to shoot us an email any time. We're really happy that you enjoy the site! Good luck! Scott F>

- Gas Bubble Disease? Restocking after Tragedy - Howdy y'all! I recently lost a 5" Saddleback Butterfly, 3" Coral Beauty Angel, 4" Lyretail Anthias, and a 3" Firefish Goby. <I'm sorry to hear of your losses.> I moved about a month ago and went from a 55g that had been running for a year to a 125g. The move went rather well, and I managed to have the 125 running for a week prior and moved all the water from the 55g into the new tank along with LR and the inhabitants. All the critters were doing super UNTIL last week when  I started running a sump I created using an old 50g with acrylic dividers that created a sump and refugium area. From the start my tank was filled with micro-bubbles. I spent all that day attempting to correct the problem, and did to a certain degree I thought by the time the lights turned off. Low and behold the next day the bubbles were back with such a fury there was barely 6" of visibility in the tank. After another day of trying to correct the problem I succeeded, but I believe it was too late. Within 5 days I lost 4 fish with the Butterfly holding out the longest. All fish showed rapid gill movement, frayed fins and a slight bloating of their entire bodies. I am assuming this was GBD and not poisoning from something in the sump, as both my shrimp survived and molted a week later (it was due) and my Bar Goby also made it through and seems to be doing fine although a little shy lately. <For GBD you should also see actual bubbles that look as if stuck to the fish, these are actually gas bubbles under the skin.> I let all the PVC cure over 24 hours and rinsed it thoroughly...any ideas? <My guess is combined stress along with perhaps too much 'air' in the form of bubbles complicated things in the tank, in a way rarifying the water making it difficult to breath, but perhaps not the actual gas bubble disease.> While still in mourning I have begun to plan the restocking of the tank and would either a Passer Angel or Maculosus Angel as the centerpiece. I'm really at a loss for what other medium/small species I should be considering. <Many choices.> It's a 125g with Tunze skimmer, 75lbs of LR, 50g sump contains mechanical/chemical filtration and 25g fuge with 4" DSB and various algae. No wet/dry or other biological at this time. Was considering adding another 50lbs of LR or getting some type of wet/dry system within the next few months. What might you recommend? <Go for the live rock, skip the wet/dry.> Thank you very much for your time, you guys are such a tremendous help! E <Cheers, J -- >

Tiny Bubbles.... Greetings and well wishes... more importantly a heartfelt thank you to each and everyone of you for your patience and assistance to us novices. <Thanks for the "props"! We're so glad to be here for you! Scott F. here today> My BakPak2 has been running for about 24 hours.  But I am still getting a lot of tiny bubbles from the Bio Chamber into the tank.  I am assuming this probably has some negative effect on the damsels and shrimp.  What negative effects?  How soon?   <well, generally, the negative effects of tiny bubbles are the possible irritation that they can cause to corals and sessile inverts. I would not get overly worried about the bubbles as far as their effect on fishes. I had hoped that it would clear up after 24 hours - no luck.  I have adjusted the air valve (even to the point of removing it).  I have tried the piece of sponge provided by CPR Aquatics in every conceivable orientation/position.  I have supplemented the provided sponge with additional pieces of polyester filter material.  I can slow the bubbles down but I can't stop them.   <CPR does make a "bubble trap" specifically for the BakPak skimmers. These gadgets do work, and cost less than 20 bucks. You may want to purchase one for your unit> I did do a 10% water change before introducing the skimmer and adding the Eheim ECCO 2233 filter.  The specific gravity is at 1.022.  The make up water had been aerated for over 72 hours.  I did add a small amount of Stress Coat during the water change.  My understanding is that the bubbles should have cleared up after 24 hours.  I am considering compressing the bio-bale media into a more compact mass.  Good idea in your opinion?  Any other ideas? <Personally, I wouldn't use the bio-bale myself. I definitely would not compact it, because I think this could create potential "dead spots" within the filter due to impeded flow through the medium. Doe try the "bubble trap" as mentioned above.> Possibly something from the Eheim filter pads is messing with the surface tension?  Possibly the inexperienced aquarium owner has overlooked something? <A possibility could be that there is a loose connection somewhere in your plumbing, allowing some air in. Do re-check all hose fittings, connectors, etc. just to be sure. Don't get too discouraged; you'll eventually get rid of these tiny bubbles!> Over the last couple of months all of the crew has been especially helpful - I and my aquatic pets are most grateful. Rex Merrill <Always glad to be of help, Rex! Feel free to contact us any time! Good luck in your "bubble battle"! Regards, Scott F>

Tiny bubbles Hi WWM crew! This is me from Guatemala, the land of eternal spring! <cheers! Carlos> This is my question. Often the main pump in the sump capture little bubbles originated in the sump due the internal turbulence... when the pump capture this bubbles, the pump brake it in myriads of tiny bubbles that you can see in the main tank... those bubbles can affect in some way the life in my tank? <yes... called "microbubbles" the aspirated air is whisked through the impeller and can cause some problems with animals in the system. Stuck to invertebrates they can be irritating and in rare cases they cause supersaturation of oxygen and a condition like Nitrogen "bends" in divers for the fishes. Prevent the bubbles by installing a baffle of glass before the pump intake or keeping a large coarse foam block on the pump intake (and clean weekly)> Thank you! Carlos Díaz <best regards, Anthony>

Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere!?!?! Dear Bob, <Steven Pro here this evening.> Love your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist", couldn't get by with out it! <I agree. It is an excellent reference. Have you by chance seen our new work at http://wetwebfotos.com/store/nma-ri.html? It will be out this March. We are taking preorders now.> I am having some troubles with my tank and don't know where to turn. I have a 75 gallon (Corner Over-flow) fish only system. Equipment: SeaLife Systems Wet-Dry 60, LifeGuard Quite One 700 gph external main pump, a Supreme Mag-Drive 9.5 in sump pump powering an ETSS Revolution 500 protein skimmer, a Coralife turbo twist 3X UV, 2 Ebo-Jager 125 watt heaters, and 2 power sweep 228 powerheads for in tank circulation. Everything other than the circulating power heads is jammed into my sump. All this is crammed under my tank stand for a 55 gallon tank, the extra 4 inches in depth for the 75 gallon tank I built into a wall for the "see through" effect (Pictures included for reference.) <Looks pretty good> I can't seem to get the bubbles out of my tank and its driving me crazy! I just purchased the skimmer which was a big upgrade from my SeaClone. I plan on converting to a reef tank at some point, so I know this was an essential piece of equipment to have. I know the bubbles could lead to Popeye, not to mention how unsightly it is. (Bubbles sticking to my faux corals and on algae build up....yuck!) I think my problem is the skimmer, although I do get a small amount of bubbles with the skimmer off as well. <This is an important clue.> Checked and resecured all connections and fittings three times: no leaks. I think the high flow pump draining water down into the sump is creating bubbles as they hit the sump water. That maybe bad, but when I turn the skimmer on it becomes ten times worse. <In the tank or in the sump, the problem becomes worse?> I mounted the Skimmer up high and have it dumping into the Bio Tower to help break up the bubbles, additionally I have a 300 Micron Filter Media Bag over the skimmer inlet to help further. They do make better bags i.e.: 800 micron but were not in stock, could this be the cure? <Unlikely> I have filter pads both above and below the bio tower as well as Carbon and Ammonia pad in the drip tray. There is a foam filter pad placed in the baffle area in between the sump section under the bio tower and the open sump area. <I see in the picture.> With the system running I notice a barrage of bubbles in the sump directly below the bio tower. <I have no problem with this.> I have played with the flow rates of both the main pump and skimmer pump ball valves over and over to no end. <I would leave the main pump on full throttle and adjust the skimmer pump to maximize skimmate, not to correct this bubble problem.> Additionally, I don't like inhibiting the overall flow rate of the main pump. Like to keep it at approximately 600-650 gph for a 75 gallon tank. <Agreed, even a bit more circulation would be fine with me.> The micron bag, bio balls and foam pad in the baffle area doesn't seem to be working very well, because they must be getting through to the main pump and into the tank. <Not necessarily> I have played with the baffle as well. I cut a new baffle out of 1/4 inch Plexi-glass mimicking the original but drilled 2 holes for the heaters and placed grommets around the heaters to prevent bubbles from passing through. In addition I cut different height baffles attempting to raise and lower the baffles, but that doesn't seen to help either. All I seem to do is inhibit flow and raise the water level in the bio tower and half the balls are submerged, not good. <I am guessing that the crashing of water forming bubbles under the bio tower is not where your problem is originating.> My first thought is that my sump may be to small, but I don't want to shell out $150-$250 to find out I am wrong. <Agreed, there are other things to rule out first.> Is there anyway to eliminate these micro-bubbles with out having more water in the sump to work with? <I will give you a few things to check once I finish reading your email.> Is there an formula to determine sump size? <I like about one third to half the main display tank volume for a sump. My 55 has a 20 gallon sump, my new 120 has a 50.> If my sump is the problem how do I determine what type to purchase (i.e.: manufacturer, size??) <I think we are jumping ahead just a bit.> Have considered building my own, but don't know if the aggravation is worth the effort? <I strongly prefer to use a glass aquarium and silicone in additional glass panels to create chambers and baffles.> Although it may be worth looking into if I don't have to build the "Bio Tower Area". I have read where the effectiveness of a high end skimmer eliminates the need for a bio-chamber all together, <In addition to live rock and live sand> but I believe this is in a reef system rather than a fish only system. <No, it will work beautifully for a fish tank.> Do you agree? <Wholeheartedly> ETSS has a "Berlin" style sump on their web site with no bio tower. I may consider mimicking that model if it will work. <I took a look at the pictures. Not much I can see/tell from the angle, though I was surprised to see www.WetWebMedia.com does not have a link to A.E.Tech's webpage, http://www.superskimmer.com/ We will have to add it to the manufacturer's links.> Having read through some of your FAQs as well as on the ReefCentral.com site where some people place egg crate containers in their sumps to help with the bubble issue. Does this help or will it restrict flow as with my "baffle experiment". <Most times the eggcrate stuff is to hold sponges or carbon bags for a forced flow through.> This is a concern to me because they don't just come in "blue" or "red", there must be some dye used, especially for the labeling which I don't want to introduce that to my tank. Do you agree? <I have only ever see plain white or the stuff with the silver coating.> I would really like to progress into a reef tank at some point, but unfortunately until I cure this problem I don't even want to go there. Also I'm afraid of introducing more expensive and delicate angels and butterflies until I solve this issue for fear of health concerns. <I agree.> One other quick question. My Mag-Drive 9.5 had stainless screws holding the impeller housing to the main body. I thought only plastic screws would come with it for fear of corrosion. The sales person told me there was nothing to worry about. Do you agree? <The newer models come with a inert screws. Having said that, I have a Mag-Drive 5 operating submerged in my 55 for the past few years. It has stainless steel screws and impellor shaft and has yet to rust.> Any help you can suggest with my "champagne" tank would greatly be appreciated. <There are three possibilities for your bubbles forming; the return pump is drawing in air from the sump, the return pump plumbing has a pin hole leak in it acting as a venturi, or photosynthetic is causing bubbles to form on the surfaces in your tank. If you can see the bubbles emerging from the return pump discharge, you can rule out the third possibility. I see from your pictures that your return line is vinyl tubing, barb fittings, and hose clamps. My best guess is this is your problem. My first step would be to replumb in PVC pipe. If that does not correct the problem, try minimizing bubbles from the bio tower migrating to the return pump. I would use the sponge block you have to force the bubbles to the surface of the sump. I would also raise the water level a bit. I would establish the maximum fill line for your sump/system. Shut the system off and allow the water to back siphon completely. Once all the water levels are stable, top off the sump. Now turn everything back on and mark the water level in the sump. That is your maximum fill line. If you ever change the plumbing again, you have to retest. I would try to keep the sump level filled to near that mark.> Any web sites or books you recommend that has in depth diagramming of sumps known to work? <Anthony's "Book of Coral Propagation" has some interesting illustrations.> This is becoming extremely frustrating. I fear you are my last hope. <Have faith!> Thank you for your time, John from Cape Cod <Good luck to you! -Steven Pro>

Tiny Bubbles Hi, My sump is up and running, but I have one problem. Both my return outtake "pipes" put forth lots of tiny bubbles into the tank. Do you know what's causing this? <It could be several things, most likely your pump is sucking in air from the sump or there is a pin hole leak in your return plumbing that is acting like a venturi. There should be more specific information regarding in the plumbing FAQ's.> I have a brand new Lifereef Protein Skimmer, so could it be the break-in period from that? <Not really.> Right now I have both of the pumps in the same sump, not separated, which I'll have to do eventually, but the tiny bubble thing is sort of irritating. Help! Thanks much, Mike <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Re: Tiny bubbles (Reply to Steven) Good Morning, Steven! Your reply to my second message came through garbled, with half of it in italics, and some of it missing, so I had to wait to see it on the web site ;-) <The web is both great and mysterious at times.> The <>< is an IXOYE, or "ichthus" of the Christian faith - Christians make this sign to recognize each other....but it works for this site just as well! <I do remember, having had twelve years of Catholic education.> A fish, yes indeed! Better go get that coffee. wink wink. Say hello to your wife and baby for me, and if you want some Texas BBQ, let me know! We are going hunting for bubbles today, you may get several email from me, trying to track down the cause - you've been warned, and Anthony can attest to how often I have asked advice! Scott is going to redo the plumbing, and I'm going to work on the skimmer. wish us luck! -Cathy in Texas <>< <You guys do not need luck. I am confident that you two will discover the cause and correct. -Steven Pro>

Re: Tiny bubbles  Howdy! SUCCESS!!! There are now no more bubbles in the tank, except for every once in awhile a cloud emerges from the spouts. No where near the amount we had before, and it may be the skimmer "breaking in" - right? <Perhaps just a bubble or two slips by your baffles every once in a while. Nothing to be too concerned about.> The skimmer has green stuff in the tower, but the bubbles haven't risen to the collection cup yet. Though this may be due to the off again, on again of us messing with the tank, how long should it be before those bubbles get to the top? <With stability, just days more than likely.> I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to you guys - hopefully without the mushy part - for all the patience you have had with me and mine. We wouldn't have learned so much in so little time without your patience and guidance. And I know my "fishies" are much better for it! <You are quite welcome.> Now I get the fun part of putting in more animals and coral - once everything stabilizes, of course! So, what do you think of a snowflake eel? (wink) -Cathy in Texas <>< <Some of your crustaceans would be in jeopardy with the addition of an eel. Have a lovely day! -Steven Pro>

Tiny bubbles Howdy! Good Morning! <Good morning Cathy! Steven here this morning feeling a bit of a longing for the Texas food.> Ok, we checked all the pipes - found one that hadn't been glued properly. Yes, Scott did the cleaner, primer, and glue thing, but missed one, but we STILL have bubbles. They must be from the brand new Aqua C EV 180. <Quite easy to check, unplug the skimmer for a while and see if the bubbles cease. Then you will know for sure.> The manual says that this is normal?!?! Won't it kill my livestock before it settles? <It is really best to eliminate them from making their way into the display.> My Red Sea Xenia has already lost it's "feathers" and has stark fingers. The rest of things aren't looking too good. I've scanned and scanned for articles on how to fix the bubbles, but the Google search leads me to a page, then leaves me there :-) <You can start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm and follow on through the FAQ files. The bubble problems are scattered throughout the plumbing FAQ's.> How do I fix those bubbles? <The only thing I can tell you is to systematically go through until you find the source, then eliminate it.> We've tried to fiddle with the water spout, and the air, to no avail. Yes, I leave time between adjustments to see what each one does; about an hour. Still bubbles. Aye yi yi! Thanking you once again - and where's that call? <blush> <That would be Anthony.> Getting pushy in my old age. -Cathy <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Tiny bubbles (2nd time) Hello Steven! Thanks for the link - we had printed that page before we started; going to see "the list" of things to check - my goodness! Something to think about - make a list on the site for things to check, as reading all that mail kinda makes one Google. <I have a big list of ideas and half started articles to point people to cut down on emails. One for trouble shooting bubbles, another on trouble shooting protein skimmers not working, one on refugium styles, etc. With work, the wife, the baby, the new book, the other things get done, but slowly.> Ya know, like: 1. It may be the brand new skimmer - turn it off awhile to see. 2. It may be a hole in the piping - check each joint. 3. It may be your return pump is too powerful (?) 4. You may need filter media on the overflow piping to break up the bubbles. Any more that you can add? <That about covers it, I think.> Thanks again for all the advice, I'll be reading -Cathy <>< <I just got it, "<><" is a fish. I need to start with coffee in the morning before emails. -Steven Pro>

Air Bubbles Hi Bob, I wrote to you earlier about pressure I was getting from a new Iwaki pump I installed on my 300 gallon reef tank. That problem was solved. Here is the latest one: It pumps out a copious amount of fine bubbles into the tank.  <A very bad situation... as you might know... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bbldisease.htm and the accompanying FAQs file> I checked your FAQs and only found some passing comments about baffling. The sump does have bubbles in it from the wet-dry returns, skimmer return, etc. etc. So, what exactly is baffling? Using glass-glass to separate the pump intake from the bubbles? How would you recommend setting that up? <Better to arrange some open cell polyurethane foam intake area (large as possible, two or more layers better than just one large one... to exclude the bubbles) as your sump is not likely large enough to configure a baffling system that would work... with such a large/flow rate pump... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dale M.

Re: Air Bubbles Thanks so much for the input, Bob. Now, here's the stupid question: What is "open cell polyurethane foam ," and where do I find it? Thanks again! Dale. <Mmm, usually that real spongy yellow foam you see about in "blocks"... that and "batting material" (Dacron polyester) sold in various fashions as aquarium filter matter can be bought for little money at yardage and crafts stores. Bob Fenner>

Re: Air Bubbles OK, I know exactly what you're talking about. In fact, being a collect-a-holic, I have a bunch of it in my garage. I'll wash it out and give it a try. Now, tell me, do I just put these blocks around the pump intake in the sump?  <Mmm, no... need to fashion a sort of "support"... a "cage" of more solid material to support the "foam area" above and away from the pump intake...> You said two or more layers are better than just one. Do I just stack this stuff out, up, and over the intake? <Stacked yes... but as I state, a few inches from the actual intake... so as it gets a bit clogged, it doesn't get sucked in, restrict the inflow> You are a god-send. Sometimes, these aquarium issues get mind boggling. <One of the reasons, properties we enjoy... Bob Fenner> Thanks! Dale.

Vaseline, Tiny Bubbles and Don Ho nowhere to be found... Dear Steven/Bob, <what the heck... I'll step up to the plate... Anthony Calfo in your service> Thanks for the help. I checked all my connections and refitted everything with new Teflon tape, still having the problem, though. Tiny buuuuubbles, not in my champagne but in my tank!! T <the best trick is to smear a bit of Vaseline on each joint one at a time to see what stops Venturi action... its foolproof if there is a tiny aspirating pinhole leak> he guy at my LFS is trying to get me to buy a whole new pump i.e.: drop $179.00. He maintains that the mag-drives are notorious for this and that I should upgrade my pump while I'm at it????  <really... I didn't know that your LFS guy is a crack addict?!?> He claims the supreme mag drives are best suited for in-sump (submerged operation), even though my directions say they can be used in sump or in line.  <so I guess that he is <wink>> I do have a sponge pre filter on the bulk head fitting. as you had suggested.  <which should eliminate the possibility that bubbles are being aspirated from the draw side of the pump> Also are there any other issues in regards to the health of my marine fish that these bubbles might effect?? The guy at the LFS claims the bubbles may cause Popeye??? <Ehh...sort of. Fish can get oxygen poisoning from supersaturated O2 just like we can get nitrogen narcosis. It bubbles out of the blood stream> Is this just a ploy to get me to spend my cash????.  <mostly he sounds like an ambitious salesman... or a crack addict that needs money> The "O" ring on my pump seems in good shape (no cracks or tears). Additionally there is no salt creep on any of my connections which I felt would be a sure sign of a bad fitting.  <not a sign at all... on the upstream side, a fast flowing pump will draw air and not leak water if there is little resistance> The outer housing of the mag drive is simply screwed with 4 plastic screws into the main unit with an "O" ring for a seal. I'm tempted to put some petroleum jelly/aquarium sealant or something of that nature around the "O"-ring for maybe a better seal if that indeed is the source of the problem (and save 200 bills),  <use the aquarium sealant for the rubber... petroleum jelly breaks down rubber> but my first inclination is that would definitely contaminate my system??? Any suggestions?? <I wouldn't use a garden shovel to apply it... but a little bit  won't hurt>  Also I just noticed today that the areas where light algae is building up on my glass (mainly at the lower portions of the tank near the gravel and along the corners), <areas of weak current> I have small little white (for lack of a better word) "bugs" scurrying around on them. I cant seem to see them any where else. <good guys... likely copepods> Although they are very hard to see. I just finished cycling three days ago. Tonight I added a Marine Beta and an Atlantic Toby Puffer when I noticed these "bugs" because the obey was eating them off the glass. I wished I had noticed them prior to adding the new fish of course.  <good food for him> My other fish, a snowflake moray, fire goby and an Ocellaris clown are all eating well and showing no signs of stress, labored breathing, scratching....etc.  <wow! strange mix in the long run... it looks like the eel and Betta will be eating good down the road until one hits the toxic puffer> PH; 8.4, SAL; 1.021, TEMP. 78 Nitrites; 0, Ammonia; 0, Nitrates 20ppm. Did a 10% water chance upon introduction of the new fish. I have been feeding frozen (blood worms and greens), dried (Tetra Marin) and live brine shrimp, all with doses of Vita-chem in their food. Have never introduced water from the LFS to the system either. <a very good habit!> Appears to be ick of the tank?? But I do not think ick scurries??? <no...no worries at all. They are from the live rock or live sand and so beneficial that people set-up in line refugiums just to culture them> Nothing on my fish either. Everything I have read in regards to disease starts with symptoms of the fish not the tank. Seems strange to have this problem only 45 days into the tank system??? Hopefully I've caught this problem early. Any idea of what these may be???, are they dangerous?? and if so, should I treat with copper (fish only system)???  <Aiiiieeeee! Never dose a main display with live rock, gravel, etc for ANY reason. The copper is not effective in this manner and it ruins all of your calcareous media! You really need to invest in a Quarantine tank my friend for all new fish to enter first... especially with the reliability of the advice you are being given. Please archive quarantine procedures on this site> Keep reading about this Hyposalinity treatment on your site as well. Does it work if this is ick???? I forgot to mention in my previous e-mail how much help your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist has been. Thanks a lot, John Carrara <Bob has done this industry a great service in so many ways! Anthony Calfo>

Help! almost ready to give up (Micro bubbles) Many months ago, I wrote to you about a problem I was experiencing with my 72 gal reef tank Oceanic) with a wet-dry filter. At that point, the tank was only running for about 2 months and I was concerned because my water had very fine particles floating in it- almost dust like. I was afraid I clean the substrate crushed coral) good enough. You told to be patient and not to clean the filter pad as often as I was- Basically let it build up. I then learned that the problem wasn't dust or dirt- It was bubbles, very fine micro bubbles. For the last 6 months I have tearing my hair out trying to get rid of them- unsuccessfully. In the wet-dry (Amiracle PL -2000) I have insert a ton of foam blocks and the bubbles are so small- with flashlight I can watch them float right through the foam blocks.  <wow...that is surprising indeed> I have tried putting a elbow joint on the end with the water pump (MagDrive 700) so it sucking water from the bottom of the filter and not air from near the top of the water. I gone as far as calling Amiracle themselves- They feels as though a lot of water is bypassing the drip tray. <that is very doubtful! Micro bubble are created through pressurized dynamics (aspiration of large bubbles through a pump, or a pinhole Venturi on the outflow side of a high volume pump)> I can tell you my wet -dry inflow gurgles and bubbles quite a bit- and a lot of water does overflow down the sides of the drip tray and misses the tray completely.  <this is because the pump is oversized for the application (which doesn't mean that the pump is too big for the display... just that the overflow is likely inadequate)> but this particular model filter has a capacity of 75-150 gallons- My tank is 72 gallons with a 700 GPH pump with almost four feet of elevation- I cant understand why the water flows so ruff into the filter.  <above... a common design flaw on many tank and filter overflows... they are undersized for high flow reef applications. Cheaper to produce, I suppose> I have even tried to run the system with a 500 GPH water pump which is insufficient for this size tank).  <wise experiment> With the 500 GPH more water seems to hit the drip tray but I continue to have the bubbles.  <indeed... the flow volume is the cause of the gurgling... not the micro bubbles. Again, micro bubbles are created in pressurized situations> The inflow does enter the filter on the side near the top then runs over a lip & over the drip tray & through the bioballs. The reason why I mention this is because a lot of other filters seem to have their inflow on top of the filter directly over the bioballs and really no water submerges the bioballs.  <no matter... gravity drops will not create such fine bubbles... it can only carry them from upstream at best> My filter seems to submerge the bioballs about 2/3rds in water. I have read where you don't think this is a problem.  <I personally believe that it is a significant compromise on the potential and performance of the filter. Little or no bio-balls should ever be submerged. Many reasons for this not the least of which makes the bio-balls completely dependant on dissolved O2 in the water rather than performing in a proper "trickle" filter style with unlimited O2 from the atmosphere as thin water trickles over the media> Insert a threaded 90 degree angle where the water inflows to slow down the gurgling and this still hasn't helped.  <again... the overflow path is too small or the pump is too large... a design flaw in my opinion> I have even paid someone who is in the industry of servicing aquariums and he could really offer any suggestions. I also have chgd the tubing I have for the inflow and outflow of the filter thinking may they were crimped or had a very small hole in it. <reasonable deduction, yes> I have searched your site per your suggestions. I have your books and have learned a lot & really enjoyed them. I thought about replacing the filter completely but really cant afford to & really not sure at this point if it would help me. I know what you are going to say- search your web page under bubbles& wet-dry- Which I have found some articles that are related but nothing that that has made a difference. I am pledging with you to offer me some specific suggestions that may make a difference for.  <This problem really should be simple to deduce, my friend. Systematically unplug electric pumps one at a time (skimmer, return, etc) to determine which is creating the bubbles. Then isolate the origin of the bubbles ( outflow of skimmer by aspirated water, Venturi pinhole on outflow side of return pump sending micro bubbles up to the display which overflow right back down to the sump and are aggravated by running through the return pump, etc.). I am honestly certain that if you have micro bubbles, they are not created by a drop from a simple gravity overflow. Yes... lets find out their origin first. Did you try my suggestion from earlier about running petroleum jelly on each of the joints on the outflow side of the pump? One at a time until the bubbles stop and then reglue that joint...> I realize this a hobby that take patience- I know this- I have done aquariums before but never have experienced this type of problem. If I didn't have such a appreciation for the oceans & SeaLife I would have quit a long time ago. Please help me. <indeed... hang in there my friend. This should be an easy fix. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Help! almost ready to give up Thanks for responding! I have isolated the problem to the water pump.  <excellent!> I don't ever recall the suggestion about the petroleum jelly but sounds like a good idea.  <yes... an old trick. Just lube each joint and then wait 10-15 minutes to see if bubbles stop. Continue with each joint/union until you discover the culprit. This is the most common source of micro bubbles. If it isn't a fitting, sometimes it can be a seat/seal on the pump housing itself. Rare though. I believe you said you had a mag drive pump. They are not likely to have this problem... more so a problem with direct drive/shaft pumps> So if I understand you correctly- You are even thought the over is inadequate- it is not my problem. because when I shut off my water the problem goes way- it must be one of the connections on the water pump line back to the display tank. Is that correct? <yes... the inadequate overflow causes the gurgling sound but cannot cause micro bubbles from gravity overflow no matter how hard the crash or fall of water is. Micro bubbles are definitely coming from aspiration through a pump or more likely a Venturi from a pinhole leak in a fitting or union of some sort. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Bubbles from outlet... Bob- I truly appreciate all the advice you have given everyone in the hobby, including myself. My problem is one I haven't seen in your column. I recently replaced the sump/refugium in my 125 FOWLR. At the same time I installed a new pump (the T4 from FFE) and plumbing. The first part of the sump has several baffles to help dissipate the bubbles, which works great. I have quite a bit of filter media in both the inlet and outlet portions of the sump. There are no bubbles that I can see in the refugium portion of the sump. The problem is that from the outlet in the tank, I am getting 100's (thousands?) of tiny bubbles. The only source I could think of would be somewhere along the plumbing lines or that the inlet at the pump might be sucking a small amount of air. However, wouldn't a small leak cause either a water leak or salt creep? <Not necessarily... and the source of these bubbles should be found and fixed ASAP... you should read through the "Emphysematosis, Gas Bubble Disease" piece in the Pond Section of the www.WetWebMedia.com site... applies to marine/aquariums as well> If so, I haven't seen evidence of either. I used flex ABS for the plumbing and with the exception of the pump, all fittings are glued. The pump fittings have clamps on them and the fit from the pump to the ABS was extremely tight. Any suggestions? Thanks, Andy <Yes, I would try using a length of tubing, one end on your ear, the other applied near all the joints,,, bit by bit and/or a wet hand towel/paper towel applied at each junction, one by one to locate the source of intake... Look especially to the MIP and FIP fittings installed in your pump intake/discharges and any/all gasket joined areas connecting the volute (pump housing) to the motor, trap (if any), unions... Find this NOW!  Bob Fenner>

Dangerous Bubbles in a Marine Circulation System I just began running a 135 gallon fish only saltwater tank and it has been running for 2 weeks. The water that is being pumped back into the tank from the sump tank is cloudy as a result of millions of tiny bubbles. When I turn it off it is crystal clear. What is the problem and how can I fix it? The pump is a Sedra 12000 and it is outside the sump tank. Thanks. <There are a few ways to reduce to eliminate the "bubbliness" of your set-up... The most important aspect is actual function... it's dangerous to have air and water getting mixed together in your pump... gas embolism problems can result. Please read through the following parts of our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/bbldisease.htm and the FAQs and the Marine Plumbing FAQs: http://wetwebmedia.com/pbfaqsmar.htm You want to eliminate the possibility that you have a plumbing leak on the intake side of your pump, then next the possibility that bubbles are getting into the intake via the sump... then lastly the issue of coalescing, collecting the bubbles that are just being produced at the discharge side (into the main tank) via a piece of filter media, a catch sump there... Important to understand this and cure it now. Bob Fenner> Dave

Bubbles in tank (for Brad) Hey Jason. <<Greetings.>> I have been reading the daily FAQs every day and noticed that Brad was having trouble with all those bubbles spitting back into the tank. I have a 125 All-Glass with dual overflows and had the same problem to begin with. I should be able to turn over 1200-1400 GPH. I am using a Iwaki MD30RLXT, which ends up being about 950 GPH at 4'split between the two. The problem ends up being that since I'm not filling the drain pipes up with 1400 GPH of water, it sucks in a lot of air, which ends up as bubbles in the sump. My sump is 55 gal, 4' long, and still had a problem. I thought those white floating things should have been made to adjust the amount of air flow into the plumbing. Anyway, I'll tell you what I did to fix the problem. I have ball valves on all the plumbing supply and return lines under the tank. If you restrict the flow from the tank (the 1" in the overflow) instead of throttling down your pump, it will take care of most of the bubbles. In essence, what you would be doing is throttling down your overflow to only handle what the return pump will supply it. Obviously, you would want to leave some slack in case something were to get sucked into the drain pipes. But with the All-Glass prefilters on the standpipes, I personally don't think there's much to worry about. What this does is allows your overflows to fill with a little more water. This will cause the white floating thing to rise more that normal because the water is not as free flowing as when it was wide open. I'm sure some people will not agree with this because it is restricting the flow from the tank. I just see it as matching up the standpipe capacity to the pump output. I have been running my set-up like this for about 10 months with no problems. I don't have any bubbles returning to my tank, and I'm running my Iwaki at full throttle. I also have a closed loop in the tank with another Iwaki MD30RLXT for more circulation. Hope this helps! <<we will see - will post in the usual style and we'll hope he's reading/keeping up.>> Jason
<<Ahh... Cheers to you. J -- >>

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