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Related Articles: Plumbing Marine Systems, Myth of the One Inch Beast (Why Relying on One Inch Overflows... or Overflow! Is foolhardy) by Scott Vallembois, Plumbing Return Manifolds, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Marine Plumbing 1, Marine Plumbing 2, Marine Plumbing 3Marine Plumbing 4, Marine Plumbing 5, Marine Plumbing 6, Plumbing 7, Plumbing 9, Plumbing 10, Plumbing 11, Plumbing 12, Plumbing 13, Plumbing 14, Plumbing 15 Plumbing 16, Plumbing 17, Plumbing 18, Plumbing 19, Plumbing 20,  Plumbing 21, Plumbing 22, Circulation Plumbing, & FAQs on: Plans/Designs, Parts: Pipe, Valves, Back-Siphon/Check-Valves, Unions, Tools, Solvents, Use of Flexible Tubing, Leaks/Repairs, & Holes & Drilling, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing Noise, Make Up Water Systems, Pumps, Plumbing, Circulation, Sumps, RefugiumsMarine Circulation 2, Gear Selection for Circulation, Pump ProblemsFish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large SystemsWater ChangesSurge Devices

Durso standpipe arrangement

Re: Bulkheads and return flow Hi guys have some questions regarding bulkheads and my return flow.  I have 2 1.5" bulkheads drilled into the back of my 75 gallon tank.  Can you possibly tell me how many gph I am getting thru each bulkhead?  B/f I had it drilled I ran by WWM about 8 months ago and they said a 1" bulkhead can handle 300gph.  Reason I am asking is b/c I have run into a little problem. I'm finishing upgrading my tank and have the 2 bulkheads going to a sump @25-30gallons. return flow is by way of a Velocity T4 (about 6' of head) BUT....when I fill tank and turn everything on, my 2 bulkheads are draining more than my pump can pump.  Each time I have to turn everything off and drain part of the water so my sump doesn't' overflow. This is my 3rd pump (I love how quiet the T4 is...had a little giant 1st)  I may have to go with a dolphin Ampmaster pump (2100gph) and try to adjust the flow on the return w/ a gate valve.  <Bryan, regardless of the pump, you should be able to put a gate valve on the output side of the pump on the return line. Use this to govern flow Don> Thanks Bryan

Drilling a tank I have a 2 month old Reef Ready Oceanic 58 gal tank with a 1" bulkhead in the bottom.  The tank is currently set up with sand, live rock, fish, etc.  I would like to re-drill the tank for a 1.5" bulkhead to accommodate a larger pump (MagDrive 1800).  My question is, can I drill the tank if I drain only the overflow box or does the whole tank need to be drained? Thanks, Randy <The whole tank... needs to be taken down, drilled while empty. Bob Fenner>

Re: Gluing Bulk heads?? Hi Crew, Just one quick question. I read were Bob said that when he worked in the trade, they would put silicon on both sides of the bulk head gasket. Could you put some also on the threads at the top of the bulk head so when you tightened the plastic nut it would help seal it to.? Or maybe some Teflon tape?, for a really good seal. Appreciate all of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    Charlie newbie <The silicone on the threads is a very good idea. Don't trust Teflon tape. Bob Fenner>

Plumbing and pump help please? WWM Crew, As always thank you gentlemen for all the help! If I might ask another question ... I promise to leave you all alone for a month or two... hehe. <No problemo, ask away!> 90 Gal LeeMar Diamond Edge 2 2" Bulkheads 2 1.5" Returns 40 Gal Max Capacity DIY Acrylic Sump Head height from Sump to Tank is roughly 5 feet w/3 90' elbows (3 elbows will be used so I can create a siphon break on both of the returns) - the horizontal runs would only be about 1.5 feet with the vertical runs of roughly 5 ft.  I would like a healthy-to-heavy turnover through the sump but not enough to blast out the sand (although I have a double baffle system in place on both sides of the main chamber of the sump) -- What pump would you suggest for this application? <Try the cool plumbing head height/back pressure calculator on Reef Central. The flow through the main should be your consideration, the sump should be designed to handle that flow rate. The baffles should work to control the overflow current. Any of the pumps designed to put out 900-1800 gph with the stated head height/plumbing will work just fine. Make sure your return plumbing is sized properly to handle the flow rate and volume you have in mind.> For further turnover (I want to avoid the use of ANY powerheads) I was very interested in creating a closed loop system similar to the one at Reef-Eden ( http://website.lineone.net/~espsrg/diy_6.htm) -- With this same layout in mind with 4 3/4" lines w/5 feet or so of head and a desired total flow rate of about 1200 gph can you make a suggestion on a pump for the closed loop please? <Same as above, choose pump to move the desired flow rate and volume. Any of the pumps designed for this output will work fine.> Does having a drop in each line on the return side of the loop from where the line comes over the top of the tank to the bottom effect the amount of head? <The plumbing and any elevation the pump must overcome will add backpressure/reduce pump output. See the RC calculator.> The previous recommendation on plumbing that Craig made was to run a manifold on both sides of the pump for the loop. I am curious why a manifold on both sides is suggested instead of one large diameter pipe for the intake to the pump and then the manifold after the pump to 3/4" returns? What diameter would you suggest for the connection to the pump or does the manifold truly make more sense? <This depends on your inhabitants and the intake design. IF the closed loop can be run off the same overflows as the sump/filter system, then one large pipe will work fine. If this is a closed loop run off it's own intakes, then the size and number of intakes needs to match the desired flow rate/volume *and* if this flow would be damaging to any critters crawling by a large single screened intake as opposed to the lower flow rate (and safety) of more intakes. Please feel free to ask further questions if this isn't clear.> I had thought of going with two IWAKI 40 WMDs -- 1 for the sump and one for the loop -- do you think this would do it or besides the IWAKI brand is there another brand that has your Crew's wholehearted recommendation? As always thank you so very much! <I don't know the output of these pumps at the desired head, flow rate and backpressure. You will need to determine your requirements and pick your pumps from their respective flow chart. Hope this helps!  Craig>

DIY overflow box Real quick one here.  I have 2 1.5" bulkheads on the back of my tank, and about 3" or so from the top of tank.  I have added some 90 degree elbows to function as overflows and surface skim.  I got to thinking tonight.  I have a lot of extra acrylic from my sump I made, and thought...maybe I could make some overflow type boxes to put around the bulkheads.  What do you think?  can this be done?  Main problem I'm having is how to attach around the bulkheads so flow only comes over the top of overflow.  any suggestions? << Hi Bryan, Oh YEAH this is a good idea. Make a slotted dam/weir along the back wall deep enough to accommodate the bulkheads, elbows. Quite beneficial. See here for ideas http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm. Note on the diagram that you can extend the bottom of the internal skimmer box and make a shelf for coral, etc to help hide the box. You say 'around the bulkhead'. You want to skim as much surface as possible. A small 4-5" box around each bulkhead is not going to do nearly as much good as one the length of the tank. Gonna make a leap here, the tank is also acrylic? You can try silicon, may not hold acrylic. If not, me thinks the next step is 'gluing' with acrylic solvent.>> Thanks Bryan <<My pleasure, Don>>

Overflow Prefilter Greetings, <<Hi, Don this afternoon>> Always a pleasure to read this web-site.  It is great to see that you have some more "Pros" other than Steven helping out. yuk yuk yuk! <<uh, Thanks, I think, Oh, Pro, now I get it;)>> I have a overflow box that has a coarse sponge pre-filter.  I typically rinse this about once a week.  It always has some decaying food and mulm attached to it.  I think that it needs to be cleaned more frequently maybe even daily.  For a lot of reasons like travel and procrastination, daily cleaning of this pre-filter won't happen.  What are my options?  The overflow feeds into the sump where I have a protein skimmer.  Should I remove the coarse pre-filter to provide more "raw" water to the protein skimmer?  <<Recommended course. See here for more http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marmechf1.htm>> Knowing that food gets caught on the pre-filter....will the protein skimmer collect the food or will the decaying food just get moved to the next coarse pre-filter just before before the return pump? <<Ahh, maintenance never stops eh? You can try a micron bag on the end of the overflow into the sump to catch crud, but it too will require regular (every other day if not every day) maintenance. Maybe best to go without either and try to get to the other filter more often. >> Also, I would like to drill the 40 gal glass tank for a 1" overflow.<<Just an observation as I don't know what your intentions are, but maybe two holes? easier now than breaking it down, again, later>>   My understanding for this procedure if you do not want to remove everything from the tank and there is adequate space to drill the hole is: 1.  Drain the tank well below the overflow - add filtration and heat to the lowered water 2.  Clean the inside surface where the overflow box will be mounted 3.  Silicone the overflow box 8"W X 5"H X 3"D in place 4.  Drill the hole using the overflow box to catch debris on the inside of the tank 5.  Install the bulkhead in the hole ensure that the bulkhead id is at least 1" 6.  Attach plumbing to the bulkhead to the sump 7.  Ensure that the silicon is dry (6-8 hrs) <<I would wait 24 for any silicon job>> 8.  Re-fill the tank and restore heat and filtration in the sump. Where is the best place to get the glass bit and lubricant?  <<I used water>> Is the above too risky?  I do have a 20 gal tank that would be ready in case of a serious (i.e. crack) situation.<<While the above may work and for others successfully, I  would not advise to drill anything but an empty (completely) tank. I got the first hole drilled in a 20H for a refugium and about half way through the second, BOOM, well, lets say I then waited for the glass shop to get a replacement cut for me. I got a bit locally, but there are many web sites selling them. Google search? Also, see if you have a marine society in your area, they may have some you can rent/borrow>> Again, thanks for the help. << Happy glass drilling Don>> Kinzie

Re: DIY bulkhead overflow HI guys, Don thanks for the support about my bulkhead overflow idea.  <<My pleasure, glad you were able to follow the ramblings of an old man>> I had thought about just placing a box around each bulkhead, but then Don made comment, and I remember Anthony touched on in his book, that an overflow the length of the back of the tank is a lot more efficient.  So...I did some measuring today tostart making plans.  This is what I have so far.  I have a glass 75 gallon tank w/ 2 1.5" bulkheads about 3" from the top of tank on each end.  I want to make this out of acrylic.  The overflow about 44" across to each side, roughly 5.5" tall/high and the top lip of overflow about 3/4" or so from the top of the tank. This is where I need a little help.  How wide/ deep should this thing be?  <<Obviously, enough to handle the elbows. 4x4 or 5x5 I would think. Unless I am missing something here>>I remember my CPR siphon overflow and even though it hung on the tank the overflow part was probably 1/2" or so wide where the water flow was.  So I was thinking between 1/2" and an 1".  This is the big question.  How to attach to the tank?  Right now I'm thinking about adding/connecting 1/4" to 1/2" edges/strips to the back of the overflow that I described above, so that now, I only have to silicone 3 edges to the tank (2 sides and the bottom)...(hope you can follow) instead of a whole big piece the length of the tank.  How does this sound? << Sorry Bryan, can't say I have ever read/heard positive thoughts about using silicon to attach acrylic to glass. I would think you would be better off using glass. Or, figure a way to support the acrylic overflow with brackets>> any suggestions/comments?  See any problems or change anything?  Thanks Bryan <<Sorry I didn't have better news, Don>> P.S Craig, the elbows on my bulkheads worked.  I filled the tank like you said and everything leveled out. sump and main.  Thanks for your help. <<Ain't he something :)>>

Re: DIY bulkhead overflow (part III) Don thanks for quick response about my DIY acrylic overflow for my bulkheads.  <<Glad to help>> Let me run a couple more things by you.  <Walk please, I'm an old man and can't keep up>> I forgot to add that I 'm not going to use the 90 degree elbows on the bulkheads with my overflow. <<OK>>  I thought that this would make it not as wide/big.  Have the bulkheads open or bare and let the flow go over the acrylic overflow and down the bulkheads to the sump.  <<Ahh, good>> (this way I can make it say 1/2" to 1" wide and won't take up a lot of room or be that noticeable.)  Does this sound fine or are there any problems you foresee? <<IMO it is better to over design than under. Last thing I want to do is tear down/redo stuff. Experimentation is good though too. Let me know how this works for you>> I was a little disappointed that people don't have luck with glass to acrylic silicone contacts, sooooo, back to the drawing board. OK I'm at the drawing board, <<Quick Trip!>> what about this?  Add or put brackets to the overflow so that its main support is by the brackets on the tank, then use silicone around the edges of the overflow so that flow does not seep in around the sides  (only over the top) and that way if in the event of a power outage there is no flooding of water seeping through the sides of overflow down the bulkheads and into the sump.  Does this sound like it might work? <<Again, hate to be the devil's advocate, but remember Murphy? Well, when the thing misfires, if it ever does, it is gonna be while you are asleep or at work. At least that is my luck :(>> Oh yea, last thing.  I posted this overflow idea on reef central and someone thought I was crazy for wanting to do this b/c I should be getting enough surface skimming from my bulkheads and elbows, what do you think?  <<To each his/her own. Different folks, different experiences. Maybe you should try the open bulkheads first and see if that works for you. Make sure to screen for livestock benefit. Add the overflow later if the open bulkheads are not to your liking>>Thanks Bryan <<Forge on, and let me know how it comes out, what you decide. Don>>

A plumbing question... Hello all, First, I would like to say that I've learned many things reading your articles that I haven't learned in my 3+years working in a fish store, thanks.  Anyways, on with the questions. I'm setting up a reef tank, in doing so, I have some questions which deal with water flow.  INFO: I am building a corner (triangle shape) overflow into my 60 gallon Plexiglas tank the overflow takes up approx 3264 cu. in.  This is a standard 60 gallon (4'x15"x18") and the overflow "gate/teeth" are about 1 inch from the top of the tank and 1 inch deep.  The bulkhead is a 3/4" diameter.  The 3/4" diameter hose travels about three feet to reach the 20h gallon sump (24"x12"x17").  I plan on introducing a variety of different kinds of corals into this tank once it has been cycled with liverock and I hear that 10-14 times turnover is good.  Just in case you're concerned about the angle where the Plexiglas sheet meets the Plexiglas tank, it is a 45* (dad let me use his mill, good for the overflow teeth too!) QUESTIONS: Will one bulkhead do the trick or should I drill another?  I purchased a MagDrive 12 which claims 1150 gph@ 3ft, will that be overkill?  Should I cut deeper teeth into the overflow? <You need to match the plumbing to the desired flow rate/pump. These bulkheads don't drain as much passively as needed. 3/4" won't pass 1150 gph passively. Surf over to one of our sponsors and shop siphon overflows to match plumbing/flow rate, then oversize it! It's hard to tell if the teeth need to be deeper or the box larger for your flow rate of 1150 gph. You may want to set it temporarily to see if it can feed the bulkhead enough water. Sorry about the paragraph structure/length, but it's a lot of info to provide! Any information you could provide on this subject would be appreciated including (but not limited to) some math formulas.  I look forward to your input. Thank you very much, Cory <Hmmm, try all the DIY sections at WWM and Reef Central for more info.  Craig>

Bulkheads and return flow Hi guys have some questions regarding bulkheads and my return flow.  I have 2 1.5" bulkheads drilled into the back of my 75 gallon tank.  Can you possibly tell me how many gph I am getting thru each bulkhead?  B/f I had it drilled I ran by WWM about 8 months ago and they said a 1" bulkhead can handle 300gph. <300 gph easily> Reason I am asking is b/c I have run into a little problem. I'm finishing upgrading my tank and have the 2 bulkheads going to a sump @25-30gallons. return flow is by way of a Velocity T4 (about 6' of head) BUT....when I fill tank and turn everything on, my 2 bulkheads are draining more than my pump can pump. <Um Bryan, how can your bulkheads be draining more water than they are being fed by the pump?  This isn't possible, UNLESS the overflows/bulkheads are under water and siphoning?  This would be very wrong! The overflows should be at the top of the desired water level (or just below it) so they only drain whatever the pump will pump.  When the pump stops, they stop draining!!!> Each time I have to turn everything off and drain part of the water so my sump doesn't' overflow. This is my 3rd pump (I love how quiet the T4 is...had a little giant 1st)  I may have to go with a dolphin Ampmaster pump (2100gph) and try to adjust the flow on the return w/ a gate valve.  Thanks Bryan <This isn't your pump Bryan. The overflows are gravity fed and are to be AT water level when the pump is off. They should only be able to drain the capacity of the pump returning the water. When the pump is turned on, the bulkheads SHOULD be capable of carrying more water than the pump is returning OR the main will overflow and flood! The sump and main water level should be SET when the power is OFF and the water in the main is at the top of the overflows (it's lowest possible level) and the sump level is NOT overflowing but still at it's highest desirable level.  Then, when you turn on the pump, it will pump water from the sump to the capacity of the pump and overflows and stay at a constant level. If it doesn't work this way, you have a siphon through the returns or overflows.  Please let us know if this helps!  Craig>  

Re: Bulkheads & Return Flow II Hi Craig, <Alright Bryan! The eagle has landed!  Cool! Glad you found the problem! Yeah, the elbows will fix your siphon and draw water from the surface.> Again, thanks for all your help with my bulkhead problem.  With all the reading and researching I have been doing about other aspects of this hobby, I seemed to have overlooked a very important detail...HOW to fill my tank correctly.  My first FO tank had a CPR package wet/dry, siphon overflow and Rio.  I just put it in the tank plugged her in and there we were going. But when I had the tank drilled for 2 1.5" bulkheads I didn't grasp the whole concept about fill levels. Like you said, each bulkhead is about 3" or so below the top off tank, so when I would try to fill the tank at the level I had my first with my setup, I kept flooding my sump ( I did know that I would have a problem in the event of a power outage)...i.e., my bulkheads were creating a continuous siphon.  So, I am going to add a 90 degree elbow into the bulkheads so now they will act as an overflow and hopefully get everything worked out.  I do have a question though. I have included s/t I believe Steven wrote me about a year or so ago regarding filling a tank, but at the time It didn't matter. Here it is: "When you first fill the tank up, only add enough water to get the return pump to operate.  After it is working for a few minutes, shut everything off.  This will allow the water to back siphon down (simulated power outage).  Once water has stopped, fill the sump.  Now turn the pump back on. When it has reached an equilibrium, mark that water level.  That is now your maximum fill level."  Then I talked to a rep at Dolphin pumps (very nice and informative) and he said to "Fill the tank till you start getting flow to the sump, once the water has filled the sump to the level you would like, turn on the pump, this is your fill level.  This is a little different than Steven's.  What do you thank Craig? IYO/IYE what seems to work the best? Again, thanks for everything Bryan <They both will get you to the same place, more or less. Steven's way is a little cautious (the consummate aquarium professional) has a built in test to see if the siphon actually breaks and stops in his "simulated power outage".  You could do the same by filling according to the Dolphin guy and then unplugging the pump to make sure all is well in the event of a power outage. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Now, go forth and have FUN!  Craig>

Almost made a big mistake (big tank plumbing) First off I'd like to say that today was the first time I've visited your site and I'm totally blown away by the wealth of information offered.  I will definitely make this my first (and quite possibly ONLY) destination when posed with aquaria-related problems. That said, I am building a 300gal "freshie" tank to house my ever-growing Clown Knife, and would like to bounce my ideas off someone who knows their schtuff. My original plan incorporated a CPR Overflow Bow with two 1" outflow bulkheads rated at 1400 GPM. <Mmm, do make this two overflow boxes... just in case one fails... you are likely familiar with how "frisky" Clown knives can be during the night... One unlucky swipe at the single box might knock it out of commission... the pump/s below will continue pumping, overflow the main tank, drain the sump/s...> The 1" lines would run to two separate 30gal sumps, each containing a Quiet One Pump (an okay choice for freshwater I'm assuming). <Yes... but please do check around re this pumps reliability... and consider other makes. The bulletin boards are great here for input. Ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/> The pumps(2) are rated at 750GPM at 4' head height, so with my head height of 5.5' I was counting on getting that down to under 700GPM per pump so that the CPR would keep up. <Best to tie those sumps together (thru-hulls, pipe) in case of mechanical failures... am an old worry-wart with plenty of water damage clean-up experience...> Now my problem: I've read over and over that siphon tubes (especially the CPR models) are nothing but trouble waiting to happen.  I am re-designing my setup to incorporate holes drilled into the back of the tank just below water level to allow gravity flow to the sumps (which will be easy as my tank is of mostly wood construction w/glass front).  Since the CPR box has two 1" bulkheads, and claims a 1400GPM flow rate, am I wrong in assuming that two 1" holes drilled in my tank will provide the same flow? <Please oversize them... 1 1/2" inside diameter is much better... easier to arrange to not make a bunch of noise> Also, if the holes are below the water line, and I make them too big, wouldn't that cause more water to enter the sumps than the pump could remove, causing sump overflow? <Mmm, no... at least if you don't "overfill" the sumps... the amount of water "in play" is all you're concerned with. Start the pumps with the sump and main tank full, mark the sumps at the level they drain down to with the pumps on, and never fill the sumps beyond this level... the transit volume of water is the difference in starting, pumping levels> Would using ball valves on the line to the sump and the line to the return head allow me to achieve a balance? <Don't count on this... or even float valves... count on gravity and what sources of blockage, trouble you can anticipate. Bob Fenner> Thanks for your help, Brand Smith - Anderson, Indiana

Re: Skimmer Box / Overflow design Hello WWM Crew! I'm pondering an approach to get water out of my tank and into the sump without using a siphon-based design and without drilling the bottom of my tank. I've attached a design in both PDF and JPEG format and I'm hoping you can give it a sanity check. The goals are to achieve a good flow and to minimize noise.  A couple of points I'm wondering about are: - Is the (downward pointing) elbow in the skimmer box necessary, desirable, or irrelevant? (I borrowed it from the Durso design without really knowing why) <It's not necessary, but reduces sucking air sounds at water surface, esp. if the skimmer box has enough capacity to feed bulkhead flow. Box size should be large enough to accommodate flow, plus. The deeper in the box the bulkhead is placed, the less this is needed.  They sell bulkhead with screened intakes which could/should replace the filter/screen/light grid idea which will cause problems. Install a drip plate in the sump if you want this.> - Is the tee with vented cap necessary, desirable, or irrelevant? <Absolutely, this is where the venting/air will come from with a submerged bulkhead skimmer box/intake, so the water can drain into the sump.> - Should the tee w/ cap extend above the top of the skimmer box teeth? <It should rise above tank water level/skimmer box teeth by a few inches or water will drain out of the vent.....> - Would fixing an air valve into the cap to allow adjustment of airflow be a good idea? <Nope, you want a 1/4" hole that will allow air to enter and exit at will. The air must pass through this hole to equalize the pressure in the drain.> - Should the outtake, tee, & drain pipe be the same size or should there be a reduction/enlargement somewhere? <These can all be the same size, as long as they are sized for the desired flow rate.> - Is having a pre-filter here a good idea? I like the idea of keeping gross objects out of the sump & drain line with the understanding that the pad or piece of foam will need to be rinsed frequently. <Try a micron bag or drip plate in the sump instead.> - If so, is a simple piece of light diffuser (egg crate) resting on >small ledges inside the box a reasonable choice for supporting the >filter media? Is this material generally considered to be aquarium-safe? <Yep, as above.> - Assuming a bulkhead sized for a 1.25" opening, how deep would you make the skimmer box and where in relation to the top of the box (waterline?) would you make the centerline of the outtake pipe? <Many make these full tank depth. The depth is related to overall skimmer box size/capacity to feed the bulkhead water without sucking air at water surface or outpacing the box capacity. This is also true of bulkhead depth. The large the box and deeper the bulkhead, the better.  Some skimmer boxes run the full length of the tank. I would prefer a deeper box and bulkhead near the bottom. In the event of power outages, the water will stop siphoning at the bottom of the box teeth. You don't supply tank size or flow rate, just oversize box and plumbing to accommodate needed flow rate. Shop siphon type overflows to see what plumbing sizes/capacities they use.> Well, that's it. Any other thoughts or comments you might have are highly welcome. Thanks as always, Tim <Looks good Tim, have fun!  Craig>

Sand and Tank Setup Question Ok Anthony, this should be the last question regarding the overflow setup...I hope!  Do you know how far from the top can one drill the holes for a bulkhead in an acrylic tank.   <I could not possibly say bud... this is a question for the manufacturer that knows the tolerances of the acrylic, the thickness of the panes, strength of bracing, etc> For a 1.5" inner diameter bulkhead, the hole ( for the bulkheads I have ) needs to be 2 3/8".   How close to the top can I make the hole?   <you will likely go down several inches conservatively and turn up the interior elbows or better yet have an internal horizontal overflow box to skim surface extracted water to feed the bulkheads> I read  something about 1.5 times the size of the hole diameter is the distance that you could be from the center of the hole to the top, in my case that is a bit more than 3", <sounds reasonable in this case, but the rule is bunk without a reference to acrylic thickness and presence (or not) of bracing> do you have any info/experience on this?   <nope... I use white Starphire glass and like it much better than acrylic> Also, on you overflow design, the one area that I will have some problems with is the front wall of the overflow would need to be removable.   <no worries... seal the floor and side walls of the over flow in place and have a slotted dam for the front> If it leaves about an inch or so from the top, I will have no easy way to get my hand in there if I have to clean something out, etc. <understood> The aquarium only has the small slots open in the top/back, not much room to get a hand in... <I know... just one of the many reasons why I don't like to use acrylic tanks (thick top bracing). But I also don't live in California> I wanted to make the front of the overflow screw on so I can remove it and because it needs to tighten up pretty good so it doesn't allow water to leak in from the sides and defeat the purpose.   <not necessary... and over engineered. A slotted dam will still skim all you need and the sump doesn't need to be much bigger to catch the excess in a power outage (that is regulated by the upturned elbows of the bulkheads... mere liters at best here)> You have anymore insight on this?  And finally, should I go with 3 or 4 1.5" bulkheads?   <more is better... see mfg specs for bulkhead flow rates and compare to the pump you want to use at head> I know more is usually better, but 4 is quite a "cluster" of pipes going to the sump.   <sure... but its nowhere near as ugly as all of the extra powerheads you will need in the display when the sump return pump is throttled back because you don't have enough overflow holes> I still plan to have the separate closed loop circulation pump. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. <OK... its surprising that the Lakers aren't dominating this year. Maybe they are fat and happy> Much thanks Paul T <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Plumb me up! Bob Fenner Esq. & most knowledgeable crew, <No Esquire magazine subscription, but used to get Playfish> I'm still trying to get my 90 FOWLR set up.  I have purchased an Amiracle SR-100 wet-dry to use as a sump, (no bio-balls) and will return the water to the tank with a Mag 9.5.  I have called virtually every glass shop & aquarium shop in town, no one will drill a glass aquarium.  They're all afraid it will break. <Much better to drill the glass ahead of assembling> So, that leaves me with the dreaded over the back overflow, until I can convince the wife of the wisdom of a new reef-ready tank. (See honey, I'm doing it for you!) <Keep practicing that spiel> is it possible to modify the overflow to a Durso or Stockman drainpipe to reduce noise?   <Yes> Since the Mag 9.5 will only put out about 700 gal @ 4" of head, (less with plumbing restrictions) I am planning on some type of closed loop system for flow.  I have a Mag-12  (3/4" in/out) for this, and am wondering how best to plumb it.  First of all, will a standard 1inch "J" tube with strainer be enough flow to the pump? <Should be.> Should I try to draw the water from some type of overflow to remove the water from the surface, or from the mid to bottom area of the tank, since the skimmers will be drawing from the top? <I encourage you to use two overflow "boxes" with both drawing water from the surface, and rely either on the return pump to keep the water moved about or add powerheads, small submersible pumps to the main tank> For the return, I'm thinking about teeing the return near the top of the tank, and running the lines to the bottom, under the substrate, and popping up with 45's and nozzles.  Good idea? Or too many headaches? <Not under the substrate, or even too near it... too messy> I know (from hard experience) that I have to drill a anti-siphon hole in the return line for the wet-dry, and will probably just put a nozzle on the end of that return, although maybe a spray bar would be better? <Usually unnecessary... you can fashion a manifold or maybe just a tee on the discharge>   The tank will be skimmed at first with the Bak-Pak dual, and a D&D Titan, but may replace the Bak-pak or both with a Remora Pro later. <Good idea> Ice Cap 430 1 50-50, 1 .03 actinic VHO's for lighting.  200 lbs of Southdown for DSB, and will have about 100 lbs. Fiji rock. Your responses to earlier questions have led me to make several changes in the way I was going to set this up.  No Fluvals, no Magnum 350, except for occasional carbon.   Thanks, Neil <Be chatting, scheming. Bob Fenner>

Sump questions...Flooding? I e-mailed you a few days ago with skimmer questions and have since ordered an AquaC Remora for my 72g bowfront. <<good move in my experience/opinion. I have the pro on my 75 and works very well>> Thanks for the tips! Now I am interested in setting up a sump/refugium for this tank. I have a 29gAll-Glass that is not being used and would like to use this as the sump/refugium. I would like to do this without drilling the tank and have some ideas but I'm not 100% positive that they'll work and am still at a loss on a couple of things. I've checked out all of your sump FAQ's and have also checked http://www.ozreef.org/diy/index.html but none of the designs there look like they'll work and they don't address my concerns. I've attached a drawing of my basic design, this is a front view at approx measurement of a 29g. I'm figuring on just using a tube with gravity siphon to get the water from my tank to the sump which will be located in the stand below my 72g. This way the siphon can be set so that if the water in the tank gets too low it would drop below the end of the tube and would stop the siphon. << What about when the pump comes back on??? >> The first section would be 6" wide and is where the water would enter the sump. It is also where I would place the heater and possibly the skimmer but I ordered a HOT type skimmer so am not sure if it will work here. << YES put the skimmer here, it needs to be the first to 'touch' the raw water from the tank>> The first divider would be glass or plexi positioned 3" from the top (this is to provide an overflow in case the water level gets too high) and3" from the bottom of the tank. The second section would be 3" wide and would be a place for filter floss/carbon/etc and would have a plastic mesh top at a height of 8-9" to prevent the filter media from overflowing into the refugium part. The second divider would again be glass or plexi but positioned flush with the bottom (sealed) and 9" from the top of the tank. The third section would be 15" wide and would have a sand bed with liverock and Caulerpa. The third divider would be the same as the second in position and composition. The fourth section would be 6" wide and would be the area for the return pump. <<You could make this smaller, just big enough to house the pump (if you are going to use a submersible) So far, does this sound like it would work? Are there any things I should change? My major stumbling block is what to do about a return pump. I'm not sure how to do this without risking the pump pumping too fast and overflowing the main tank. <<A simple gate/ball valve on the return line and you can adjust the flow. Never put a valve on the overflow line >> Any suggestions? Are there any pumps on the market that have an auto shut-off so that it would shut itself off if the water in the return area dropped below a certain point? << Not that I am aware of, that doesn't mean they don't exist though ;) You can get float switches that turn off the electricity when the level gets so low (or so height)>> Thanks for all the help! I look forward to hearing/reading your thoughts on this. <<Ronni, I and I think most here, would never rely on a siphon overflow. It is not a matter of if it fails, but when. Then you have 60+ gallons of water to deal with. Ruined carpet, drywall/plaster, and it gets worse from there. Have the tank drilled and sleep easy. BTW, your picture did not come through but you might check here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sumprffiltfaqs.htm Somewhere in this set of FAQs there is a 4 chamber diagram that is very similar to your design. Don >> Ronni I am a nobody, and nobody is perfect; therefore I am perfect....

Plumbing... Craig and the rest of the Wet Wizard and Masters Crew! As always let me thank you most sincerely for your help. You have been an invaluable resource and unlike my LFS have kept me from getting discouraged by the amount of learning and researching that getting into this hobby requires. My praise is not mere flattery but in response to the genuine enthusiasm the WWM crew seems to have for everyone associated with this hobby. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! <Our pleasure!> I have moved to the plumbing phase of the setup of my 90 Gal reef and I had a few questions for the crew. For a 90Gal with a decent to high flow rate through a refugium/sump using two back wall weir enclosed bulkhead inputs and two rear wall 90ell style outputs what would you recommend for flow rate, diameter pipe and pump? <I like em' big, 1 1/2" - 2" overflows. Pump and turnover dependent on inhabitants. Softies, etc. 10X turnover, LPS/SPS up to 20X. Pump depends on head, needed flow rate, plumbing restriction, etc. Very individual. You need to oversize substantially for your needs.> >My idea was to use two 2" bulkhead inputs Teed together into a 2" pipe which would empty into the input chamber of the sump (should the combined pipe be a large diameter than before the Tee or is the 2" to the sump ok?). <Absolutely or use two separate bulkheads and lines to the sump. (2")> On the output side I was planning on using 2 Mag-Drives for return with a float switch on both pumps and anti-siphon tubes on the return lines which I thought would be 1.5". (Comments, suggestions?) <No need for float valves or two pumps. One well sized pump and a gravity fed overflow/sump will work fine. Use siphon breaks in the refill lines at water level (same level as the top of the overflows) so the amount of water that can siphon into the sump is fixed. I prefer gravity to float valves, etc. but sometimes it requires more work as it is less automated.> I thought that this would give me a reasonable flow rate, protect the pumps and provide some redundancy in case of a pump dying or a bulkhead to sump line clogging. The anti-siphon and the reason for the weir style upper back wall mount is that I do not want to deal with the typical overflow ... in that my sump does not have a large amount of empty volume in case of power outage. I designed it to run mostly full with about 7 gallons of spare capacity. <Make sure only 7 gallons is in the lines, above overflows. Bulkhead lines flow pretty good, they don't tend to clog. What if one of the float valves gets some gunk in it and doesn't shut off?  I hate that! Best to design around it.> For further water flow (I want to avoid the use of ANY powerheads) I was very interested in creating a closed loop system similar to the one at Reef-Eden http://website.lineone.net/~espsrg/diy_6.htm) -- Except (and here is where my question is) -- is that I would like to be able to drive like 3-4 3/4" lines off of one pump. Would you use 1 large diameter pipe as the intake and then split the lines up with a manifold on the output side of the pump or would you keep the lines separate with a manifold on both sides of the pump? Do you think an Iwaki 40 could handle roughly 4 3/4" line outputs with about 4 ft. of head or would I be better off using single pumps on each line? <You can drive it with one pump and manifolds on both sides, but oversize the plumbing, especially on the intake side. The pump required depends on too many factors not included. You need to know head height, plumbing size, etc. I advise over sizing substantially both pump output and pipe size.> Once Again I would like to thank the Crew for so much help and such a wonderful site! <Hope this helps out.  Craig>

Re: Overflow Question Thanks! Just to clarify, there won't be any no problems (noise or otherwise) with having the 3 2" bulkheads installed on the back wall of the tank, at the water line. With this configuration, no overflow will be set up. The water will free flow through the bulkhead into the vinyl type pipes behind the tank, into the sump below. <Should be sweet, esp. with vents (similar to Durso) just above the vinyl pipe fittings. A tee with riser and a drilled cap (1 - 1/4" hole) works great. I like ells in the tank, but they can introduce water noise. Will 3 2" free flow piping handle 3000 gph? <Sure. To double check look at the overflow rates of aftermarket boxes with 2" pipe. My vats use 2" overflows and they handle around 1400-1500 gph +/- .  Craig>

Overflow via Durso vs. Back Wall.... Greetings to WWM, If you were setting up a new tank which would you go with... Either 2 1.5" overflows w/Durso standpipes or a couple of bulkheads at the top back of the tank? <Either will do the same thing. One is less expensive than the other unless you use overflow boxes in which case they are roughly equal in cost/flow/noise, depending on size (of box and plumbing/bulkheads), depth (of overflow box and how far, if any distance, the water falls into the boxes.> Rather than personal preference I am looking for the configuration which will A. minimize the amount of overflow in the case of power outage and B. minimize the amount of noise. <This depends on how the boxes are set-up and the height of the overflows/Durso pipes. The water will only drain as far as the top of the overflows unless it is designed differently AND if there are holes drilled in the *pump returns* just below regular operating water level so the pump return doesn't also siphon water into the sump, backwards through the pump.> Is there an inherent problem with having your gravity fed overflows high on the back of the tank? <No, unless you want to make them adjustable, in which case having a 90 degree ell (coming out of the bulkheads) and perhaps a threaded screen/pvc fitting will allow you to raise and lower them to the desired height.> I built a sump/refugium this weekend of about 18" in height and my first baffle is 14" tall so it doesn't have a lot of room in case of power outage which led me to the back drilled idea... any comments, suggestions? Thanks Guys! You're invaluable! <Just remember, gravity and siphons are very reliable. Make it work for you!  Let us know if you need more assistance.  Craig>

Overflow Question I'm looking into replacing my current 180 gallon aquarium with a new one. Would like to know the differences between the standard corner in tank overflow versus using standard 2" bulkheads (x3) drilled into the back wall along the top at water level. Obviously both will serve the sump below the tank. The main thing I'm concerned with is the noise level. The corner overflow in the current tank uses a Durso stand pipe, so it's relatively quiet already. Sincerely, Craig <There is no real difference between the two. The bulkheads can also be enclosed in a skimmer box like the corner boxes if you wish. The noise depends on how the overflows are vented and the size of the overflows/boxes, and how far the water falls into the overflows/boxes, if used. Hope this helps you out!  Craig>

Re: Overflow modification Hello again... <cheers> I have a question about one of the FAQ's I read in regards to the overflow described in Anthony's book.  The person wrote that he wanted to set his tank up without the overflow box on the upper back wall, just have the bulkhead holes with screens over them.  My question is, won't this keep the water level too low?   <Well... it could be too low for aesthetics IMO and it would at that point have none of the benefits of the horizontal overflow described in my book. It would simply be a traditional bulkhead application. Those bulkheads  could simply have an elbow with a screen strainer turned upwards to raise the water level (and in fact give control over changing that level by swiveling the elbows higher or lower... some advantage there)> If you have 4 1.5" holes about 3" to 4" from the top to the center of the hole, the water level will never climb much higher than that, right?   <correct if screen only are used... but elbows with screens can correct that (raise water level)> If you do fabricate one of these overflows, I assume then that it should only touch the back wall, <capturing the bulkheads yes> hence your reference in my prior email to it being almost 48" in length.   <indeed.. thinning the overflow water and improving proteins collected> Then I don't have to worry about the tank bowing and the overflow separating from one of the walls, correct? <correct... the flow of the long horizontal overflow is a tremendous support... prevents bowing> Thank you! <Best regards, Anthony>

Skimmer and pump recommendations Thank for the input, What would you recommend for a skimmer and return pump. My tank is being built its 24x24x24 with a free standing 6x6 center overflow. <I would size to your tank/inhabitant list/return head height. the favorite skimmers here are Euro-reef and Aqua-C. Both are excellent. A simple submerged Mag-drive sized for your desired turnover would be ideal. See the WetWebMedia.com sponsors for sizing.> My plan is to have a 1" bulkhead for a drain and a 3/4" bulkhead for the water output. Both in the overflow. Then run the 3/4" up to the top of overflow, and connect to 2 or 4  loc-line outputs, to handle the total circulation for the tank. My stand is going to be about 24x24x30 so room will be tight, I was thinking of hanging a skimmer off the eco sump in the #1 chamber. Any help on skimmer and pump and any other ideas would be great. Thank Dave <This will work Dave, but I would go oversize on the overflow, up to 2" and run larger returns as well.  Depending on desired inhabitants, 10-20 times turnover is needed. See Anthony's illustrations in Marine set-ups on WetWebMedia.com. Sounds like a lot of fun!  Craig>

Marine plumbing Thanks for the clarification Craig.  I'm still not 100%, sure of the "vent the overflow" part, but I do have the Oceanic reef ready system, and I have heard of and seen the Durso pipe that you mention, I so I think I'll just try my standard Oceanic setup, and investigate the Durso pipe If the gurgling noises are there, and a problem.  Once I get things going and see it working, a light bulb will probably come on in my head. <Good plan!> As for the Siphon Breaks...WOW!, now that I believe I under stand it, that would really suck if I didn't do something to prevent it!!  What you're saying, is that the holes I would cut, would be at the bottom part of the adjustable plastic return spout, just barely under the water surface at the top of the tank.  If I understand this right, then that means then a little of the return water would always be coming out of these holes during normal operation, but I don't see that being a problem at all.  And....the reason the holes don't come pre-drilled, is that not all pumps have this problem. <Yes, more or less. I don't trust one-way valves, gravity is so trustworthy! The reason they don't drill them is different water levels for different set-ups. A little water will squirt out but it doesn't affect anything.> i.e.- Some may have a one-way valve of some kind, or something like that, but the Mag 9.5 does not.  Does that sound right? <I don't know of any pump that comes with a foot or one-way valve. Best to cover this on your own. No floods for you my friend!> Thanks for having patients with the pneumatically challenged person like myself. ;-) Eric <No problem Eric, hope this keeps your living room dry!  Craig>

Plumbing references hello I was wondering if you could steer me to a good reference for the plumbing of a system.  My dilemma is that I have set up a 200 gallon FOWLR tank using PVC pipe and have the micro bubble problem.  I have asked written you many times and you have given me good suggestions into trying to solve the problem, just seems I've tried everything a number of times and can't >solve it.  I still wonder if somewhere on the return line there may be some small air leak, I've smeared with Vaseline on the joints but see nothing. My piping is dry, if there is a hole wouldn't there be some type of water leakage??  I'm at my wits end and ready to redo the entire plumbing for the system therefore wanted to know if you had any good resources? <Thereefweb.com-click on article-then "How To". These types of problems are frustrating and aggravating. We've all had these experiences. Reefweb.com is the source I used when I plumbed my first tank. If you have a bubble problem, rest assured that air IS getting into the return at some point before it enters your tank. I would examine the overflow lines. Do they make bubbles in the sump that are then sent up into the tank? Are you sure about your answer to this question? If you have determined there are no leaks in your plumbing (if you used pvc with cement, a joint leak is hard to imagine), the bubbles must be traveling from your sump through the return lines. Let us know how this turns out. David Dowless> Joe

Re: 3/4" Durso standpipe I wrote: Ok, so now I put the 1" Durso standpipe on there and the flow is much much better.  I drilled a 1/16" hole and farted around with the return flow and overflow discharge ball valves to get them sort of in sync with one another.  Things seem ok, although now I'm having one problem with air shooting out of my return fitting that's about 2" below the surface of the water.  Air is shooting out under the water when I "power up" the system and the pump shoots a wad of pressure out all at once.  So water and trapped air shoot out of the tank and go about 2" high and I'm afraid it will splash on my 250w Metal Halide bulb. You replied: <Use a valve to turn on the water after you turn on the pump. Purging of air and such is normal. Just get up to flow slowly.> Craig. everything is on a timer.  So many things going on/off at different times.  I cant be there when a power failure occurs.  Remember, this problem only occurs when the power goes off and then back on in my absence.  I wanted to know a way, perhaps, down in the sump. over the pump where I can install some type of air release PVC uplift section where air escapes as water is drawn down into the sump.  Please advise. <Ah yes, sorry. I see. Honestly, it's best to shield your bulb from any possible splashing. The air in the lines really can't be helped that I can see. If water vacates, air will fill the void. When the pump comes back on, it will be expelled pretty forcefully.> Regarding the tiny hole drilled in the return line: You wrote: > <You want this, although the hole should be below water level when running, and above when the power is off. This is to break the siphon between the main and the sump or your tank will siphon until the sump overflows......> The water in my overflow, when tank is running, is about 3" lower than the main tank water.  When I turn the power off, that level remains the same in the overflow, as the tank water slowly siphons down thru the overflow's skimmer slots, yet the overflow level remains constant at 3" below main aquarium.  It doesn't rise/lower.  So where should I drill the hole in the return?   <Yep, you have those lovely All-glass overflow boxes... Think camels, beer and e-lax.  Anyway, the holes go in the PUMP return lines to the tank if they go below the running water level or below the level of the all-glass overflows. In the event of an outage, the water is going to drain to the top of the all-glass overflows no matter what. If the *pump* return line is below this level, *it* will than siphon water through the pump, unless the return lines have small holes at the water level of the all-glass overflows. Phew! I hope this is clear! If not fire me another post...!> Thanks again. I just need clarification. Steve <No problemo, dude! Just let me know if you need more!  Craig>

Thanks Craig!  I quick follow-up question if I may. <No problem Eric.> I've re-read your answer at the bottom a few times, but I'm not sure I understand exactly what to do.   I want to make certain I understand what you mean. 1. I do (will) have a mechanical filtration filter at the base of the overflow tube (inside the overflow box). The one they give you with the Oceanic overflow kit.   Is that what you mean, and is a micron-bag more or less the same thing? <Probably. These are usually at the bottom of the overflow lines in the sump.>   >2. When you say "vent overflows", I'm assuming you mean cutting holes somewhere is the overflow system (pipes and flexible tubing.  Where exactly are we talking here?  Up on the overflow tube itself?  On the plastic overflow piece inside the overflow tank?  Am I confused? <You or me! If this is an Oceanic *system* with an overflow system, stick with it. If it's a drilled overflow or overflows, then look up "Durso pipe" at wetwebmedia.com, google or yahoo. This will give you the idea. As an example, when you flush your toilet or run water down the sink, there is a vent on the roof that allows air to fill the vacuum created by the falling water. The same will be true of your overflows if they are vented. How's that for an explanation?> >3. And when you say "drill siphon breaks just below the water level,  I'm assuming you mean on the overflow hose itself, where it enters the water in the sump, just below the water level. Is that correct?  I'm thinking I must be wrong, as I can't think of a situation where that would prevent a flood. <NO! In the *pump* return(s) into the tank. If they extend into the water as usual, and they don't have small holes drilled below the water level of the *main/display*, which is *above* the sump, it will siphon water in a power outage until the return pipes suck air.> I'm also assuming that you are suggesting that I do all these things, so that I can put my overflow hose directly into the sump water (or close to the surface), and avoid the noise of the trickling effect.  Is this correct? <It will help.  The water can flow into deeper water (say a skimmer box in the sump to maintain proper skimmer water level) and there will be less noise.> You never really touched on my concern for the possible lack of oxygen in this situation, but more on the noise.  Will this setup we're >talking about cause any problems with lack of oxygen in the water.  I was under the impression that the trickling part contributes to oxygenating the water? <No, more to turning the trickle plate into a biofilter and producing nitrates. There is no need, a bag will do nicely and is easy to remove and clean. The skimmer will put all the oxygen you need into the water as will proper circulation at the surface of the display.> Sorry to be such a pinhead on this topic, but I'm just not getting it so far. At least I don't think I am. Thanks again Craig! Eric N <No problem Eric, I hope this helps explain it! Have fun!  Craig>

Garden hose use Any reason why I should NOT use a new clean garden hose (with the ends cut off) to transfer salt water to my display tank when I do a water change? Thanks, Michael <Some have a "funny" vinyl smell and taste to them when new, but all I've ever seen were labeled as safe for moving water for human consumption, so I don't see a difficulty. Bob Fenner> Garden hose toxicity Thanks Bob! I noticed that most garden hoses have a Calif Prop65 warning that they contain chemicals known to cause cancer in humans.  But I suspect I would have died as a child if that were truly a big issue. Michael <Ha! I suspect I would as well. Also, if one reads, writes on the Internet (long enough), am very sure they will die! Bob Fenner>

Re: 3/4" Durso standpipe Dave, Wanted to thank you so much for the advice, although it came two days late. <Darn. It took me that long to answer your email? Sorry about this my friend. I'm normally much faster...> I was able to remove the 3/4" pipe from the overflow and install a 1" diameter pipe instead. <YeeeHAW!!!!> I drilled the hole in top of standpipe just a tiny bit larger, and everything is now quiet, as well as adjusting the ball valves on both the return and overflow lines to slow down the flow, decreasing gurgling noises even further. <Ah yes...silence. What a wonderful state of being...> The tank is up and running.  Now I need to plum in the refugium.  A few more 6 packs and I should be there. <HAHA!> I'd like to send you a photo of my tank, when it's completed. <I'd love to see it. Do send> I just don't know when I email ya's, who exactly is going to be replying. <Put my name in the subject line> It seems there are many many people volunteering? <Au Contraire...7 total including myself and some WWM crew members only answer very specific questions. We get 50+ emails a day, sometimes many more. It's not a small task, but enjoyable> This is volunteer work no? <Yes. But we do meet wonderful people and we are helping to save critters lives! A worthy goal IMO. WWM also gives aspiring publishers ($) such as myself contacts within the industry> Is "wetweb" an actual place where people work? <Not exactly. The name and website is the vision and creation of Robert Fenner, who owns the name and company... but there isn't a building called "WetWebMedia." For all intents and purposes, WWM is a publishing and content provider company that exists in cyber space only. The cost of the website, and it is expensive, is paid by the advertisers that you see on our pages. The profits from this venture are then sent back through the company to pay for our publishing efforts (Have you seen the new WWM book?) and other "company" related things. While it may be hard to believe, each of us answering questions reside in different parts of the country: I'm in Las Vegas, Bob lives in San Diego, Anthony lives in Pennsylvania (I think) etc. The wonders of the web!>. Another question....the black plastic separator at the top of all glass tanks.  It's casting an ugly shadow in my tank from the halide lamp above it.  The plastic seems flimsy and I'd love to cut it off.  Has this been done before?  Is that flimsy piece of black plastic in the middle of the glass tank top, a structural piece?  I just thought it was there to support a lid and some flimsy lights. Please ask around if it'd be ok to cut the piece away so the entire top is unobstructed. <If you must, proceed with caution!> Thanks again for all the advice. <My pleasure! It's a relief to know the problem is solved. David Dowless> Steve

- Plumbing and Circulation - <Greetings, JasonC here...> Attached is a rather silly bitmap (Paint sucks) depicting my plans for a closed loop circulation system for a 75 gallon reef tank I'm planning. <Ahh yes, I got the image this time.> The pump will be an Iwaki WMD40RXLT rated at 1200 gph at 4' of head.  I should get a few more gph since I'll be using it at about 2.5 ' of head.  But with all the plumbing..... The PVC all around will be 1", modified at the tees to 0.75" to accommodate the flares and SCWD's. The outlets will be setup at different angles. <I think I get the picture...> "The SCWD (pronounced "squid") is a revolutionary device designed to provide alternating currents without the use of electricity. The SCWD mounts inline with 3/4" tubing, the two ports alternate the output, the bottom port is the input. A great alternative to expensive electronic ball valves. The SCWD will run on any pump with a minimum output of 50 GPH and a maximum output of 1400. The switching speed and current duration is dependent on the volume of water flowing through the SCWD. We have tested the SCWD with a mag 7 (700) gph and the port rotation was every 10 seconds. You can control the duration by controlling the flow going through the SCWD. "  From Champion Lighting (page down on their home page and there they are.) <Yup, I just went and checked it out.> What are your thoughts on this arrangement? <I think it will most certainly 'work' - how well is hard to say, but I think it's a good plan.> Also, will 2 SCWD's be sufficient (at ~$50 each) to randomize/break up the flow? <If they work as advertised and don't break too often, I'm sure they will do fine.> Thanks for your input, you guys are great! Mike <Cheers, J -- >

Overflow- undersized as usual Quick question I keep forgetting to ask.  I have 2 1.5" bulkheads drilled into the back corners of my 75gallon tank. I am wanting to surface skim by putting 90 degree elbow attached to the bulkhead in the tank. (also help in the event of power failure/siphon) But... I can not get rid of the water swirling/sucking into the elbow.  Looks like a tornado sucking into the 90 elbow and in sounds terrible.  Any suggestion on what I can try? Thanks Bryan <this is a common problem bud... the overflows are simply too small in size or number. A common problem. What is happening is that your "oversized pump" (really not too big... just too much for the lack of holes/size) is pumping faster than they can gravity overflow and a siphon is being created (the sucking noise). Put a gate valve on the outflow of the pump and slowly restrict its volume returned topside until the noise stops. How ironic... you'll have to restrict the pump and then add power heads in the main tank to compensate for the lack of water flow (adding heat, electricity, eyesore, etc). Bummer dude... but a common problem from bad advice and poor overflow design by the manufacturers of tanks. Best regards, Anthony>

Marine plumbing I want to thank Craig for all his help as I get the return plumbing finished on my tank. <Anytime Bryan!> I do want to ask about the Zoo Med power sweep powerheads.  I was thinking about getting a couple of them.  IYO/IYE are these good PH's.  I was thinking about putting one on each end of my 75 gal. tank and sweeping the current back and forth towards each other. <I would avoid these Bryan, they don't last long, most die within a few weeks. Perhaps utilize a couple of the nicer sweeping returns designed into your closed loop spray bar? They are more expensive but super-reliable.> I was also wanting to know the best way people utilize a spray bar.  I am going with a reef, mainly soft coral setup. aquascaping as in "The Reef Aquarium Vol 1" the spur and groove fashion, w/ LR on each side and open space in the middle.  Thinking of taking 1" return pipe, going to 3/4" and making a spray bar along the entire back of the tank.  Small holes all along the bar, some going across the top, some toward the middle front and some going down.  What do you think? any suggestions. Thanks Bryan <With judicious placement/size of the holes and perhaps a couple of rotating/sweeping returns, wonderful. I would experiment with the holes in the spray bar starting smaller/fewer and working up, depending on pump/plumbing capacity. I like to design in that added bit of capacity, just in case.  Have fun!  Craig>

Re: great plumbing article Hey folks, Thought I'd pass this along. Advanced Aquarist's Online Magazine has posted its latest issue, with a number of good articles, including "An Engineering View of Aquarium Systems Design: Pumps and Plumbing," by Sanjay Joshi, Ph.D., Nathan Paden & Shane Graber. It can be found here: http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/jan2003/featurejp.htm I only scanned through it, noting that it has a lot of equations and tables, and is based on fluid dynamics and hydraulic engineering references. Should be great for those with technical circulation questions that I see pop up in the dailies from time to time. Hope you can pass this along to those who need it. Later, Jeremy M. Dawson, Ph.D. <Thank you for this lead. Will post the link. Bob Fenner>

- Plumbing Considerations - Hi Guys, <Greetings, JasonC here...> I have been renovating the reef tank lately and have decided to upgrade my sump.  An old glass tank of mine fits the bill perfectly, it is 38gal and fits snugly beside the main tank.  The only thing holding me back is the potential loss of tank water turnover due to the plumbing involved.  I am running the return line on a via aqua 4900, giving me 1056 gph (I'm converting from metric to give you guys a break, in litres that's 4000 lph I think). The via aqua has given me reliable performance, and is a quality piece of aquatic machinery, but I sense the head pressure may take a dive if I re-plumb the sump.  Maybe not. <Well... do avoid 90 degree elbows like they were plutonium. You might even consider using flexible tubing to avoid sharp turns in the plumbing... would help that pump be all it can be.> Could you please advise me if the new sump is worthwhile considering the plumbing situation ?  I would love the extra capacity and room to arrange my components. <If I'm reading this diagram correctly, the overflow into the new sump looks a little scary... would be easy to break that siphon... and maybe even harder to start without gravity doing any work for you. There doesn't seem to be enough height differential to have a proper siphon.> Would be better for you to have this sump below the tank.> To assist you in your considerations I have provided a schematic diagram of the tank and proposed changes (excuse the quality). Current length of return line : 3ft 3"; 2 PVC elbows to spray bar Proposed length of return line : 5ft (approx); 5 PVC elbows to spray bar Thank you for any help Andrew Hough     <Cheers, J -- >

The Shadow! A few questions.. <Hope I can provide a few answers! Scott F. here tonight!> I have a 55 gallon all glass tank with an all glass internal overflow in left hand side. I'm running 96 watt pc's and a 250watt metal halide bulb that's in the center of the tank.   <Sounds like a nice setup!> First question. The tank has a hideous black separator at the top in middle of tank, I guess to support those cheapie light hoods.  It's quite flimsy and doesn't seem to be providing much support.  Anyway, my metal halide bulb is about 4-5" above it, and the black partition casts one hell of an ugly straight line down the center of my tank (a shadow). <Yuck...> Can I remove this black piece of plastic?  I mean, is there a "rule" saying that the plastic is for structural integrity of the tank and shouldn't be removed?  I just thought it was to support an acrylic or glass hood, in the middle. <Well, I wouldn't remove it...No way! uh-uh...Anything that holds together a large glass container of water stays intact, as far as I'm concerned!> Next question: After a power failure recovery, my return line shoots out quite a bit of air mixed within the water.  This causes a burst/splash at the surface of the water and it splashes up a few inches.  My metal halide bulb is perilously close to this splash when the power comes back on.  I'm afraid the bulb will burst when the cool water hits it. <Valid concern> I need to figure out a way to prevent the return from sucking in so much air when the prime breaks to prevent reverse siphoning of water into my sump.  Is there a modification I can make down in the sump above my main pump (where the water heads up to the tank), that allows air to escape upwards while allowing water to gravity feed downwards?  Some sort of pvc elbow perhaps with a vertical tube like 8" long to allow air to go into it as water bypasses it on the siphon way down into the sump? <That sounds like an interesting idea..> I'm just guessing that may work but wanted clearer instructions on how to correct this problem. <I'd give your idea a shot...it might just work!> Thank you all , once again, for your time and patience in answering all my questions. Regards, Steve <Good luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

- Closed Loop Plumbing, sans image - Hi Guys, <Hello, JasonC here...> Attached is a rather silly bitmap (Paint sucks) depicting my plans for a closed loop circulation system for a 75 gallon reef tank I'm planning. <I hate to say it, but for whatever reason the image didn't make it here in a form that I can open... perhaps the Internet goblins got it.> The pump will be an Iwaki WMD40RXLT rated at 1200 gph at 4' of head.  I should get a few more gph since I'll be using it at about 2.5 ' of head.  But with all the plumbing..... The PVC all around will be 1", modified at the tees to 0.75" to accommodate the flares and SCWD's. <I'm not sure what an SCWD is?!> The outlets will be setup at different angles.   What are your thoughts on this arrangement? <Without the image and a little more explanation, I'm afraid I don't have many thoughts...> Also, will 2 SCWD's be sufficient (at ~$50 each) to randomize/break up the flow? <Are these like Sea Swirls?> Thanks for your input, you guys are great! Mike <Please do try again, perhaps send yourself a copy first to make sure the image is making it through. Cheers, J -- >

3/4" Durso standpipe Dave, I still haven't slept a wink.  Just came back from Home Depot with some ball valves. I put a 3/4" ball valve right after the main pump in the sump, headed up to the tank (the return line).  I closed the valve a little bit to reduce water flow by maybe 20%. I then installed a 1 1/4" ball valve on the drain hose leading from the overflow into the sump.  The ball valve is about a foot away from this hose's exit onto my filter padding, etc.  I closed this valve about 40% and that seems to have quieted the gurgling sounds coming from the overflow hoses, so far. <Great!> You aren't going to believe this, but right now the 3/4" pvc tube that I temporarily am using as my standpipe, is STUCK, in the bulkhead and I cannot get it out.  I am afraid I may break the tank bottom glass. <IMO this is a possible scenario. Handle with care!> I already tried to pull the tube out about 10 times and used every method under the sun.  During one of my test tries, I must have put it on too tight and now cannot remove it. <I assume this 3/4" pipe is screwed into the base? I have also had difficulty removing this item on occasion. Twist from the top and try not to favor either the left or the right side. Apply the pressure evenly and gently. As long as your not rocking the pipe or pulling on it I can't imagine that it would break the tank. No rocking, no pulling...Just apply even pressure as you turn. It will come loose> So right now I'm using the 3/4" standpipe configuration.  I drilled the smallest hole u ever seen, on top of the unit and it is still making this sucking sound and the water in the overflow area keeps going ALL THE WAY UP , right up to the hole, then I hear it gurgle, then it comes down real fast to  the lowest point where it nearly loses it's prime. <Exactly. This is familiar to me and to be expected. The problem? The siphoned hole in the top of the pipe isn't large enough. Use a series of drill bits going from small to larger. Drill one (like you have done) then if it doesn't solve the problem, get the next size bit and widen the original hole. Then replace the pipe and see if that works. Continue this process until you find the right size hole for the pipe. You will know instantly when you get the right size. Suddenly you'll go from hearing Niagara Falls to sweet silence> It's the "back and forth" water movement that I can't seem to figure out.  What causes that? <Not getting enough air so that siphon breaks. When the size is correct you will have a constant water level in the overflow...no seesawing> I'm going to drill a tiny bit larger hole now, then I have to shut down and go to sleep....long frustrating week with this tank. <Tanks can be and often are frustrating, exasperating and will make you say words that you never thought you would say! When people visit at our house, they frequently comment on the tank and how they have often wanted a saltwater tank. I always tell them that it's a lot of work (there are NO maintenance free systems and I don't care who tells you otherwise), and there are no inexpensive systems. In order to succeed you must love/enjoy what you are doing. Kind of like golf: The tediousness is pleasure to some and pure pain to others...depends on the personality. Take a break, get some sleep, have a beer, etc, things will get better!> Please feel free to forward this mail to anyone u think may be of assistance. Sleepless in Florida, I remain <If it makes you feel any better, I've had the strep throat for 3 days and it's 4 in the morning. I can't sleep either! Let me know how this turns out please. Feeling your pain in Las Vegas, David Dowless>

Bubbles in tank Hi again Anthony if you are to be my advisor again... This moving 115 gal tank is for the most part settling out well (now day 10, NH3 spike over, diatoms beginning).  Starfish died, no other casualties.  Still having problems with temperature - chiller needs fixing, would like to cool with fans anyway.  But that's what I don't need help on.  I do need some advice on my bubble problem.  The tank is filled with fine bubbles and has been from day 1.  I have tried a lot of things already, and haven't really made any difference.  It wasn't like this in the other guy's house I swear.  I saw it!  I am drawing a picture which I will send from work using the very cool scanner/emailer machine in the morning.  I will include interventions I have already tried in the picture.  Any advice would be extremely welcome. Tracy :) <its not clear to me why there are bubble in the sump to begin with. Can you see where they are coming from? Do they seem to be carried fully from the tank above which is infused with bubbles (as opposed to clearly spouting from th 'fuge or skimmer). If this is the case... you may simply have a pinhole aspiration on the outflow side of the pump (or even the section between the sump and pump sucking air through a pinhole). Test this by taking Vaseline and starting at the outside of each fitting starting from the return pump and working your way up to the tank. Coat a union/joint and then wait 15 minutes to see if bubbles stop. If not, continue on to the next joint. Repair/reseat the culprit when you find it (glued or threaded). Its a common cause for bubbles... pinhole aspiration of air. Let us know! Best regards, Anthony>

Pumps and plumbing Hi guys do have quick question.   <Hi Bryan> After doing some research I am thinking about buying a CSL velocity T4 pump.  Have you heard anything about or seen these pumps in action?  Good/Bad. >No, I haven't.  The best place to find out is the WetWebFotos forums.  You can ask there and someone or several will share their experiences. http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/index.jsp> Last few things.  I have decided that I will go with using some powerheads in my 75 gal, mostly soft coral display.  I want to plumb my return from sump to tank this way.  I want to run 1" return going to 3/4" pvc spray bar across the entire back of tank.  The flow or drilled holes will alternate flow going down towards the front middle and straight across the top.  Use the power heads on the sides flowing towards each other and another powerhead at the bottom behind the LR.  See any problems or anything that can be done better? <Sized properly it should work fine. Not as adjustable as individual nozzles unless you start with few holes/smaller holes and proceed until you get the flow you desire.> Do have one last thing.  What do you think of the Zoo Med power sweep rotating power heads are they good or bad.  Thanks Bryan <BAD, very BAD.  A total waste of money. There are much better methods/equipment available. Enjoy!  Craig>

Re: Return plumbing Real quick, just thought of this. I am wanting to run some flex tubing/pvc from my sump bulkhead to my return pump.  I was looking at some pics on the web and see that when people are plumbing the sump to pump that they are using an slip elbow on the pump intake (d/t the way the pump fits in the allotted space they have).  I would like to use an elbow to connect my pump to sump, things would fit much better, but...what effect would this have on flow and pressure and would you recommend? Thanks Bryan <An elbow or a straight slip union will work. Bigger is better for maintaining flow rate and pressure if using the ell. Don't forget valves for disconnect/cleaning/servicing.  Enjoy! Craig>

Re: Return Flow Doing some finishing touches on my plumbing and have a quick question.  I had wrote earlier about the use of say, a 90 degree slip elbow on the intake side the pump running from the sump's bulkhead.  Would there be any adverse effects if I were to use the 90 degree slip elbow coming right off of the sump's bulkhead and the using pvc to run straight into the pump's intake. Thanks Bryan. <Nope, should work fine as far as water flow, etc.  Craig>

3/4" Durso standpipe Dear Craig or Steve or ?? <How about David> I am losing my mind.    :-) <Prozac may help> Ok, that being said... I managed to  ditch my 55 gallon acrylic tank and archaic J-tube siphon overflow. I replaced it with a 55 gallon all glass tank that was pre drilled at the bottom left side with a 1" gravity fed drain and a 3/4" return. I got "hosed" when I fell for the trick and paid $59.99 for the  "kit" to hook the bulk heads up and the overflow.  The "kit" basically had two bulk heads, 2 barbs, some pvc tubes and a float (which is the biggest piece of crap I have ever seen). <Yep. I know what you're talking about> It made so much noise when installed that I had to remove the float assembly altogether.  There weren't even any adjustments that would quiet it down. not unless you know of any. ??? <Typical scenario for these package deals> Ok, so here's where I stand now.   I basically have the tank set up with sand and live rock...all fish are back in quarantine tanks as I had a case of ich one day prior to swapping tanks. >My overflow is making horrendous toilet flushing sounds, so I built a Durso standpipe for it tonight. <Ahhh...I built and use a Durso on my tanks. It don't get no better than a Durso!> It's now 5:10 and I haven't slept a wink yet, trying to fine tune this thing. <Yeah but once you get it working you will never need to do this type of adjustment again> I drilled a tiny hole in the very top of the stand pipe. on the end cap.  My hole is about the size of a toothpick. maybe a tiny bit larger, however the sound of the air being sucked thru that hole is atrocious, and if you don't have the hole "exactly" the right size, the flow in the intake bobs up and down and sounds like toilets flushing over and over. <Correct. Here's what I did: Start with the absolute smallest drill bit that you can find and gradually increase the size of the drill bit until the hole is perfect. Time consuming? Somewhat...but it works> I have a 1" pvc stand pipe, however due to the small dimensions of my overflow internals, I had no choice but to downsize to the "dreaded" 3/4" so the >U-configuration would fit, and it barely does.   <Uh Oh...I don't know what the ramifications of this move are. You're a canary in the mine on this one> My question is "Why am I hearing so much noise at both the overflow as well as the drain hose leading down into my sump?"   <My guess is the 3/4 ain't workin'. Are you absolutely sure that you can' make the 1" work? That would be the better option> I have a 55 gallon tank with a Mag Drive 700.  It's in the sump beneath my tank, connected on a 3/4" line shooting straight up thru the bulkhead and out to the return side of the overflow. <I follow> The intake side of the overflow/skimmer area has the typical Durso standpipe configuration but I had to use the 3/4" fittings going all the way down to the 1" bulkhead where I had to put a coupling to connect 3/4" to 1". I've been reading on the net that that could be my problem, the fact my drain tubing is narrower than 1" in the overflow area. <Well, from recent experience (the last 5 years) I can tell you that the Durso was amazingly easy to assemble and install. The whole process including going to the store, getting the parts, assembly, installation, and fine tuning took about 2 hours. The operation has been almost perfect since that day. You just need to clean it occasionally> It is evident that my sump pump is blowing air bubbles into the tank because it's pumping more water out of my sump than the overflow is flowing into the sump. <Sounds like your pump is too strong.  Does this occur with or without the Durso? I suspect that 3/4" fitting is too restrictive for your pump. You may need to look for another design > Should I purchase a ball or gate valve for my pump so as to reduce water flow to the tank? <That would be one way of dealing with it> ..hopefully slowing things down enough for the 3/4" overflow standpipe dealie to catch up? <I won't guarantee success but it's worth a try...and not very expensive> Man...I'd appreciate ANY info you can give me on my specific problem.  I have a "standard" 55 gallon tank with the "Standard" left corner overflow siliconed in black all the way down the corner of the tank.  It's too tight to use the 1"+ pipes and fittings called for in the Durso stand pipe config, so I used 3/4" Was wondering what I can do to reduce-eliminate noises from both the overflow and the drain tubes which are 1 1/4 sump type black hoses. <Yeah...I'm afraid your problem is the relationship between the plumbing parts. This 1 1/4" is adequate for your tank it's the other plumbing parts that are too small...especially the Durso. If you don't get this problem solved soon, email again and I'll forward the message on to another writer that might be of more help> Good lord I babble too much. <Don't we all> It's late and I'm delirious. <It's now early and I'm delirious!> Please help. Steve <David Dowless>

Pre filter/skimmer J-tubes losing prime [AKA... you can't polish a turd] Jason C, could you please forward this email to a few of the other members of the organization? Perhaps they may have an alternative method to fix this problem that you may not be aware of.  I mean, it IS possible. <at your request, your message has been forwarded to me, bud. Anthony Calfo in your service> I was thinking that perhaps extending the J-tubes by about an inch or so into the intake compartment may help keep them deeper, so that when the power fails and the little intake drains to a certain point, the J-tubes would still be below the surface of the water. <J-tubes are inherently flawed and inferior devices. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I would not sleep in a house with this application. In ten years I have heard of numerous failures by siphon overflows, and two of them caused house fires. Better designs may carry you a year or two... even three before a failure. But then again... maybe not. There are modifications of the design that include drilling and tapping the top of the tube with a check valve and airline. This is then connected to the venturi of a powerhead to help prevent the siphon from breaking. It is helpful but hokey. It relies on the power head restarting after a power outage, and some do not. The venturis clog fairly quickly and often. And even when the best modifications and performance of a siphon overflow are in place, it can be wrecked in an instant by a low running sump that throws bubbles into the main display or even the literal addition of an airstone or PH venturi in the tank. Any bubbles that reach the surface can be overflow and overwhelm the j-tube... breaking siphon. The moral of the story... "You can't polish a turd". I would rather not have a sump or trickle filter than be forced to live with a j-tube. Sorry, bud... it is what it is> It's things like that that I'd like confirmation on. <understood and agreed> I'm just guessing that it might work.   <I'm sure it will fail in time. I have yet to see a modification for three years without a catastrophic event. Most don't even make it to one. Case in point, how many overflows have you had already?> Please don't reply "Well try it and see".   <no worries here... I'm suggesting you drill the tank or drill the sump/trickle and treat it like an upstream refugium (mount it above the display and pump up to it, letting water overflow down and the display becomes the sump> I just wanted a few more opinions from the staff on your end.  Maybe they've encountered similar problems with the J-tube <yep... about 15 years worth including an investment into a commercial j-tube set-up for about 1000 gallons worth of breeder tanks> arrangement and KNOW what seems to remedy the situation. <yep... remove it ASAP my friend> Thank you for all of your assistance. Steve


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