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More FAQs about Plumbing Marine Systems 3

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 4Marine Plumbing 5, Marine Plumbing 6, Marine Plumbing 7, Plumbing 8, 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


Don't you wish you had one of these at home? Not Bob, the floor drain! Here at Pacific Aqua Farm's new facility in Los Angeles

Plumbing and algae bed Buenos tardes! I wrote you a few days ago and my situation has changed so I have more questions about plumbing. I am in the middle of plumbing a 135 gallon tank, 70 gallon sump, skimmer, etc. I have come across a good deal on a 1/4 HP chiller and need to plan ahead for the additional plumbing it will require. I have an Iwaki 55 RLT pump that I would like to use for both the skimmer and the chiller. The skimmer can handle the 1080 GPH this pump puts out but I am concerned about overskimming at this rate so I figured adding a T with a ball valve to adjust the flow to the chiller 200 GPH is what West Coast Aquatics recommends) would reduce the flow to the skimmer and feed the chiller. How can I measure the rate at which the water is going through the chiller to get it near 200GPH? <There are a few ways... actual direct volumetric measuring (with a bucket of known capacity, a watch... pumping water into/through the piping...), good/all non-metal in-line flow gauges... But I would not use the same pump here. I have some other suggested changes for plumbing/pumping as you have so well-diagrammed. I would not share the pump, but instead dedicate the one pump to just running your skimmer (either throttle it down with a gate or ball valve ahead... or get another smaller volume, decent pressure pump in its stead)... too hard to control otherwise... trust me> Second question is probably the result of too much (or not enough) reading on my part. I have recently read up un the benefits of an algae/mud bed. I plan on having a refugium with macroalgae (Caulerpa?) in it for algal scrubbing but was wondering if the algae bed or mud would be more efficient at removing nutrients. I could put one in over my sump that drains into it. <This is a good idea... I might reduce the flow through this area... by diverting most of the water flow from the main tank just to the main pump intake area... or simply supply the area with the overflow water from your refugium sump> I am sending you a crude drawing of my current plumbing plan. Let me know what you think. Thanks. <Other than the suggested changes above (reduced flow to the algal sump region, dedicated pump to the skimmer... I would discharge the water from the skimmer in the general/main pump pick up area, and rig the chiller on this main pump on its discharge side... on the way back to the main tank. Comprendes? Bob Fenner> Gerardo Gomez

Re: Plumbing and algae bed I've had some trouble sending you emails this evening. They have all been returned either because the attachment was too big or email address wasn't recognized.  <no problem on your end, my friend... just very heavy e-mail traffic today and a lot of pictures and diagrams with said mail... server/box got bogged down but we have caught up now :)> In any case, I got two responses to an earlier question, from Anthony and Bob. Thank you guys. A couple of follow ups for both of you if you don't mind. The sump is baffled but that is not marked in the drawing I sent you previously. Since I will be skimming the tank approximately 7X per hour should I be all that concerned with algae filtration?  <I will be publishing an article shortly with citations to follow detailing the darker side of Caulerpa... heehee. Truth be told, I have gone years without complaining about Caulerpa because most aquarists kept relatively small amounts. With the trend towards culturing large masses of it, though... I cannot help but mention the demerits of it all and some alternatives. Indeed, my concern is not at all with marine plants and algae species... in fact I love them and am fascinated to cultivate many species.> Won't the high skimming rate remove the excess nutrients anyway?  <not at all my friend... you are assuming that a skimmer automatically removes all bad compounds to make your/this system work. Skimming in fact removes mostly bad and some good but none to exclusion or without limits.> I do like the idea of using the refugium as a zooplankton reactor but if my system would benefit from algae filtration would I be better off building a separate algae bed or just putting some plants (NOT Caulerpa! got it) in the refugium?  <that depends... if you expect a nutrient problem in your tank because you want to enjoy a heavy bio-/fish load, then perhaps the need for vegetable filtration is greater. But if your tank is like most, you will benefit by plankton culture more than another nutrient export mechanism. Skimmer, water changes, corals and turf algae in the display, carbon, etc... all remove nutrients as well or better than plants in refugia. However... none produce plankton. The point of course is that you have many options already for nutrient export, but none that produce plankton well... not even the rock in your display because the fishes in most tanks exploit that source heavily to the extent that it cannot produce as significantly as a fishless refugium acting as a plankton reactor, so to speak> Since I am in the middle of plumbing all this I figured I better do it now. Bob, shouldn't the skimmer drain into the chemical chamber for carbon filtration?  <as long as carbon is inline upstream between the skimmer and the return pump, it makes little difference where it is placed. It is still pre-treatment before return to the display. Only a UV and the need for specific clarity could change that path> I like the idea of using my main pump (Iwaki 100 RLT) to feed the chiller but can I just let that empty back into the sump or would that not cool the water in the tank properly?  <a bleeder loop right back into the sump would be just fine... if not it is a sign that the tank needs a better turnover> I have a single 1 inch return line to the tank and no room for more. Please see attachments and notice chiller hook up.  <attachments did not make it through, bud> Thank you again for sharing your expertise and good night from Chicago! Gerardo ~~~~~ <with kind regards, Anthony>

Re: Live Rock & Large Predators Thank you Steven for your quick response, especially about the two-pump/two-sump idea. Man, I guess I would have messed things up. Two follow-up questions, and please forgive my lack of plumbing expertise: The two sumps are of necessity moderately sized as they are both squeezed underneath my tank in its cabinet. One is a Rubbermaid-type 18 gallon container, while the other is a former Amiracle 300SB wet-dry. If I follow your lead and run a line between the two sumps (feeding one sump's water into the other), does the water have to "fall" downward into the second sump even if it is being pulled through by a pump that is stationed after the 2nd sump? <It depends on what you want to do, but no they do not have to fill one to drain to the other. They can both be drilled a few inches up from the bottom of each and have bulkhead fittings connected by PVC pipe. This will create, in effect, one large sump where the water levels will fluctuate in both "sumps" as per evaporation. If you wanted to create a static level for a refugium in one sump, it would be best to elevate one have it fill and drain into the second.> I assume not, but I am a plumbing dunce, after all, so I ask... Or can the line simply be (for example) a level one that is 1" off the bottom on both sumps? <Yes, that will work.> Next, will my new Iwaki MD40RLXT (1200GPH at zero head) do a very good job pulling all this water through these two sumps from underneath my cabinet and back over the top of my 180? <Use at least 1" bulkheads or larger if you can get them, but they should be fine.> FYI, I will add some other pump or powerheads) for more circulation later on down the road. <Ok> Thank you again, & have a great week. Steve (I'm not Pro, just Amateur) <Very funny. -Steven Pro>

Durso Standpipe Hi Guys I have an Oceanic 105 reef ready tank and have the usual problem with the overflow box. I filled the box with bio balls and foam blocks and while I had my old pump it was nice and quiet. I switched to an Iwaki 30 and the noise began. The return line to the sump has a continuous air/water mixture noise. To combat the noise I constructed a Durso standpipe. I drilled a 1/16th hole in the end cap and lo and behold, the noise continues and the water level in the skimmer box is as high as the tank water. I made a 5/64 hole and the situation got worse. When I closed the hole, the sucking noise got worse. I now have the pipe with a 1/16 hole and the noise is driving me crazy. What am I doing wrong. <I suggest you check out Durso's personal page. He has a few suggestions and potential pitfalls listed. The "Build Your Own Standpipe" page had some good info. He uses frames, so I cannot give you a direct link, but start here http://www.rl180reef.com/frames.htm and look around. One thing that stuck out to me was his recommendation to use 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" PVC pipe into a 1" bulkhead drain.> Thanks as always. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

DIY Overflow Hi, <<Hello,>> I've been reading your FAQs since I started my first marine aquarium this year. It's just a 29 gallon tank with a couple fish, some crabs, and just recently 2 anemones. I figure that this is my learning tank before moving on to something larger. I have a Prizm skimmer, Penguin Bio Wheel power filter with a Fluval surface skimmer attached, and a Zoo Med powerhead behind the rocks for extra circulation. Anyway... I just added a new 200 watt Ebo Jager heater (also behind the rocks), and a CustomSeaLife SmartLite to the mix, and I realized that space is getting tight... Because of the light I can't reach the skimmer to adjust the flow without removing the light, and I don't like the heater laying across the bottom of the tank. I realized that I have several 10 gallon tanks collecting dust in the garage, so my natural thought was that it's time to add a sump to my learning experience. That would allow me to move all the mechanical devices below the tank except for the power head (which is the only piece I've really been able to conceal well anyway). I've been looking at overflow boxes, and the ones that are available are way too big for this little tank, and too expensive to boot, since when I do get a larger tank it will be drilled for a sump anyway, so why blow $70 on something that I won't be able to use on a new tank down the road. After looking through the DIY plans online I just had an interesting idea about making an overflow box, and am seeking an opinion as to whether it would be a good idea. I read one of the plans where a person used an old power filter as the outside box. all the parts were gutted, and the hole where the pump goes was used to place the bulkhead for the plumbing. My thought was... Why gut the filter??? Add the overflow box onto the front leaving the filter tube in place so that it's inside the box (cut down if too long), and why remove a perfectly good pump??? Just add a piece of acrylic to divide the media chamber drilling the opposite side from the intake for the bulkhead. Now you have an overflow with a priming pump built in... Just plug it in until the siphon starts, and then unplug... If the siphon breaks you can just plug it in to re-prime it. Any problem with this that I'm missing? <<Only if you forget to unplug the pump... the pump mechanics would also reduce flow when the pump is shut off. Although this is a neat idea, it's probably not optimal.>> Aside from the fact that it would be limited by the diameter of the intake tube, but for a small tank it could be just the thing, and who doesn't have an old power filter or two laying around wasting space? <<True.>> Thanks, Jeff Cowles <<Cheers, J -- >>

Sump for Eclipse System 12 Bob, <Steven Pro here with the follow-up.> Thank you for your help. The project went well! The Eclipse 12 tank is drilled, plumbed, and my new CPR SR2 is already producing some high quality "gunk". <Great!> I do have another question though. My drain line seems to develop some sort of "air lock" which is limiting flow. My 3/4" drain as plumbed right now is as follows... a strainer connected to a slip coupling to a 45 degree elbow (entire assembly can be rotated to adjust the tanks water level) to a bulkhead fitting to the bulkhead's elbow to flexible tubing which drains open ended into the sump. Oddly enough, the water level in the sump effects how the drain line "behaves". When the open end of my drain line is above the sump's water level, the discharge valve of the return pump (Rio 1700) must remain throttled down for the drain line to keep up. However, when the open end of my drain line is below the sump's water level, the drain line is able to drain the pump's full capacity (noisily though as the strainer slurps air from above the tank's surface). Although I would love to understand the actual fluid dynamics relative to this problem, I am most eager to find a fix. Ideally, I will be able to utilize the pump's max flow rate in my tank and drain the water back to my sump quietly. Although I probably could modify the cut in my tank and upsize my drain line to 1" to solve the problem, I suspect there is a simple way to eliminate the problem by modifying my in tank drain line plumbing? <Yes, remove the bulkhead elbow on the outside of the tank and replace it with a T assembly. You will need the T, two short (1-2") sections of PVC pipe of the same size, a slip to female thread fitting, and a male thread to barb fitting. Assemble these pieces such that you can insert the T so the side part goes into the bulkhead and the straight part is up and down. This will allow air to escape from the drain line and for the water to flow down quicker.> Also, I can't find where my original question is posted on your website, can you tell me where it is? <They all get posted on the daily page for one day. Then get filed under one of the FAQ's. Your previous question could have been filed in the FAQ's for plumbing, skimmers, sumps, etc. I am not really sure. You could try searching for it using the Google tool. Try the key words Eclipse, skimmer, and any other words that stand out to distinguish your question from all the others we get.> Thanks again for your help. Corey Marker Lynbrook, NY <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Water flow for SPS tank First let me add my name to the list of those who you've helped countless times with your wisdom. The number mistakes I have avoided by reading this over the past year is shocking ;-) <our purpose indeed! thank you for sharing> I am setting up a new 60x18x24 acrylic tank which will eventually be home to mostly SPS with some LPS corals.  <do try to avoid the mix as much as possible... better to feature one group for better success in the long run> The tank is from Advance Aqua Tanks (who generously label it a 125R ;-). I have read many comments in the daily Q&A about water flow and most recently in Anthony's book, and I am attempting to heed the advice. I suspect that even though I "upgraded" the tank to include a second corner overflow, that it remains inadequate.  <indeed a common flaw with many tank designs for reef purposes> Before I reduce my options by filling the tank I would like your advice on how to improve. My current setup consists of two Iwaki MD30RLT, pumping from the sump, with each dedicated to one of the two returns (one will also pass through a chiller).  <do confirm with chiller specs that this flow will not be too high... else tee a bleeder for the chiller on a sump loop and send the rest topside> The returns are through a 3/4" bulkhead in the bottom of the tank in the overflow chamber and then piped finally to a 1/2" bulkhead with a loc-line Y and fan nozzles.  <wow... that is a somewhat significant reduction on the return (down to 1/2")... you will gain some velocity but lose some volume I suspect> The overflows include Durso standpipes <excellent> connected to a 1" bulkhead and then to the sump. The manufacturer says the overflows will each do "300-750 gph flow rate" which seems to match up with the pumps.  <hahahhahhaa..... er, I mean. I think the manufacturer meant to simply say 300pgh. A 1" bulkhead on a silent (relatively) gravity overflow runs about 300gph when the lines are new, clean and have very few elbows to impediments (valves, fitting, etc). Operating at dangerously high capacity (creating a siphon and making a sucking sound louder than cash coming out of Enron execs portfolio)... a 1" bulkhead MIGHT run near 600pgh. Quite frankly... it would be ironic to see you apply two Iwaki pumps and reduce their flow in half to keep up with these two 1" bulkheads when one Iwaki would suffice (unless you drill more holes for overflows)> This gives me about 1000 gph combined. I had planned to use 4xMaxijet 1200 powerheads with a wavemaker in the tank, but would rather consider supplementing or replacing these with a closed-loop. <heck ya! powerheads suck for many reasons... a necessary evil at best. When ever possible, use one or two large external water pumps with a topside manifold to do most of the work> I have done much research on how to create more natural flows for the SPS, but admit I have come up with no solution with which I am comfortable. It seems to me that devices like Sea-Swirls will do very little to create random, non-laminar flows anywhere but the top of the tank. <agreed... quite frankly... most of the wave-maker/timing devices are just toys and IMO do not serve the tank well. Strategic FULL time flow (producing random turbulent patterns) is much better than the on-again, off-again motion of so many clever and overpriced devices. Just another toy, expense and burden on the electric bill (not to mention a contribution with the powerheads to making the power strip in back look like a Rasta's dreadlocks)> Finally ;-)) the questions: 1. I am thinking about drilling four new holes in the tank, to keep the holes in the existing overflows (and protect from fully draining the tank in case of a bulkhead leak),  <excellent and agreed!> I would be limited to 4 x 3/4" bulkheads, two in and two out for a closed loop driven by another pump (similar or same Iwaki). Will this be sufficient in terms of volume, or should I ignore the risk of a future leak and drill the bottom outside of the overflows with larger diameter? <not sure I follow here... are you talking about a third pump? Please reply with total number of overflow holes, total number of return holes, and total number of pumps> 2. Do you have any specific advice on what to do with the output of the closed loop, in terms of orienting the flows, or use of hardware such as Ocean Currents to make the flows more random. I intend to return the output of closed loop somewhere near the middle of the tank depth. <yes...simple and very effective. Have four to six outlets at the surface of the water with a small length of adjustable lock-tite tubing. The adjustable tubing will allow you to change directions as corals grow, get removed, etc. Direct all as necessary (opposing) to converge and simply create dynamic random turbulent water flow... your goal is of course to reduce or eliminate the possibility of dead spots or decidedly laminar flow (unless keeping special animals that need it...sea fans, black sun coral, etc)> Many many thanks, Michael
<best regards, Anthony>

Re: water flow for SPS tank Current: Two 1" overflows (one on each side of the tank) with two 3/4" returns, reduced at final point to 1/2" bulkhead, one Iwaki dedicated to each return. Proposed: Keep above, but change 1/2" bulkhead to 3/4" (will fit in existing hole). Change such that current returns and chiller (it will handle the flow) are driven by only one of the pumps. This would (more realistically, I take from your advice) deliver around 500 gph which would only require 250 gph from each of the returns. I would then drill new holes for the closed loop. I cannot put bulkheads into the back of the tank (for reasons of available real estate), so my choices are to drill the new holes in the existing overflow space, or drill them into the bottom of the tank. Because of how the bottom of the tank within the overflows has already been drilled, I am limited to using one or multiple 3/4" bulkheads in that space. (drawing attached). I do not know how much volume I can expect to get from each 3/4" input in a closed loop. With this solution I would have 2 or 4, 3/4" inputs, and would then return this outside and over the top of the tank into your suggested output configuration.  My other option for the input-side of the closed loop would be to drill holes in the bottom of the tank, outside of the protected overflow area, and then I could do however many 1" or larger holes you suggest.  <for fear of weakening the overflow chamber with extra holes... and the fact that we are talking about a closed loop... my vote is for drilling more in the tank proper (outside the overflow towers)> I could switch the second pressure pump to a circulation model and drive the new closed-loop, or replace it with a larger model. Ultimately I'm trying to get to 2000 gph, and with the current setup I'm far away. <agreed> I would welcome any additional advice you have to offer. Thanks!
<you are doing fine! Keep on rocking... Anthony>

Plumbing problems My first attempt didn't seem to get through <MSN did have a few problems for about one day a little while back.> Hi Guys, I finally broke down and bought an in-line chiller and thought that it would be easy to plumb. Wrong again. The inlet and outlet for the chiller is above the level of the sump and the pump. Needless to say I can't get the lines to fill with water and pump back up to the tank. How do I get a siphon and will it last when the pump is shut down? <You really do not want to have a siphon.> As an add on to the last e-mail concerning the plumbing of the chiller, I have an Iwaki pump which pushes 1200 GPH. The chiller inflow port is 2' higher than the sump. <Ok> I have 1" I.D. tubing going from the sump, through the chiller, back down to the pump and up 4' to the tank. <Wait a minute. Are you attempting to suck water from the sump through the chiller and then up to the tank? That is what it sounds like and that is not the way to do this. Very simply, have your Iwaki pump suck water from the sump through a bulkhead fitting. Then pump through the chiller and then continue up to the tank.> I hope that this clears up the situation better. How can I obtain and retain a siphon? <A siphon is the wrong way to go.> Thanks as always, Joe <Talk to you later. -Steven Pro>

Marine Set-Up WWM Crew, <Howdy> I think I have decided what to do with my Aquarium, and I am just looking for a touch more feedback. <Okay> I am going to keep the display tank the way it is, but include a sump(30 gal) and refugium(20gal) in the stand under the tank. I am hoping to use a self-leveling siphon to overflow from my display tank into the sump, and then pump it back up from underneath, do you know if these systems work alright? <Can... always dangers... of inadvertent plugs... overflows... best to build in redundancy (pans under tank stand... cheap carpets, renters insurance... not have the siphon extend all the way to bottom...> Image from http://www.thekrib.com/Filters/overflow-skimmer.html And then run a refugium off of the sump for lower flow rate, I was also planning on remoting all my equip to the sump (heater, chem. filtration, skimmer) if this would work out. <Should... though I like other constant level "box" designs. Please see the graphics on CPR's site here: http://www.cprusa.com/products/overflows.html> In the refugium I was planning on having a deepish sand bed, live rock, and all the fun algae and critters etc, and keep the sump for all the mechanicals (is there a better way to do this?) <A bigger sump, sub-divided... or more than one sump... added lighting... Please read through the numerous FAQs, links on the topic posted on WetWebMedia.com> in my display tank I am planning on keeping the current setup with the crushed coral, but adding live rock and some powerheads for circulation, since it will be a FOWLR system, how much circulation do fish enjoy? <Different species... quite different amounts... almost all systems are less-circulated than wild environments...> Anyhow, I would love to get any input you may have Thanks, Chris <Read through WWM and enjoy, share my friend. Bob Fenner>

Water level My tank has a corner overflow. The water level in the tank is too high, brushing up against the glass cover. This is a minor annoyance more than a big problem, but I want to get around to finally fixing it. The simple solution seems to be cutting deeper (lower) water access grooves into the acrylic overflow,  <agreed> perhaps doing so carefully with a metal file. Is this my best bet or is there a better way that my simple little mind is not seeing?  <alas, no... agreed. The high dam of the overflow is an obstacle> I obviously don't want to goof up and crack the overflow. Thanks for your advice. Steve The Dimwitted Aquarium Repairman. <best regards, the vertically challenged aquarist, Anthony>

Plumbing Hello there. <<Hello.>> Had a couple of questions regarding my sump size and return pump size. I have a 125 gal. fish-only tank with a 35 gal. sump (using only about 16 gals.), and a RIO 3500 with about 6 feet of return. The system is currently running fine and I kept it running for about 8 months now. However I've been reading your FAQ's and I'm thinking about going bigger on my sump and on my return pump. So the following is what I have in mind: Changing the sump to a 55 gal. (using about 30 gals.), Also, getting two Lifereef models that feature the "U" tube, (Instead of just one). And having two Rio 3500's as return pumps. Will this much overflowing be too much? <<No... more is better when it comes to circulation.>>  Should I stick with only one overflow? <<If you want more circulation, you'll need this additional overflow.>> Will this much return pump be too little/or too much? <<The tank will only overflow as much as you pump into it, so it will match up just fine. As for too much/little - there's really no practical way to duplicate the currents of the ocean so... as long as you're not blowing things out of the tank, all is fine.>> And would you recommend getting a single pump, but bigger, like a Little Giant or something that can produce over 1000 GPH? <<Is your choice, having two separate pumps pretty much guarantees that you will have some flow should one of the two pumps fail.>> Keep in mind that its only a fish tank, but in a couple of years I am thinking of going to a full reef system, (if this makes a difference). Your help would be greatly appreciated, thanks. <<Even in fish only, the fish really appreciate high circulation.>> mulletboy, Riverside, California <<Cheers, J -- >>

Plumbing Hello there. I had a couple of questions regarding my sump size and return pump size. I have a 125 gallon fish-only tank with a 35 gallon sump (using only about 16 gallons), and a RIO 3100 with about 6 feet of return. The system is currently running fine and I kept it running for about 8 months now. However I've been reading your FAQ's and I'm thinking about going bigger on my sump and on my return pump. So the following is what I have in mind: Changing the sump to a 55 gallon (using about 30 gallons). Also, getting two Amiracle overflow box models that feature the "U" tube. And having two Rio 3100's as return pumps. My questions are as follows; 1. Will this much overflowing be too much? <Should be approximately 1500 gph, just about right.> Should I stick with only one overflow? <This depends exclusively on what the Amiracle overflows are rated at. I am not familiar with they as I exclusively used drilled tanks.> 2. Will this much return pump be too little/or too much? <Just about right.> 3. And would you recommend getting a single pump, but bigger, like a Little Giant or something that can produce over 1000 GPH? <I prefer to use two external pumps, in case one ever breaks the other is still working.> Keep in mind that its only a fish tank, but in a couple of years I am thinking of going to a full reef system, (if this makes a difference). <Depending on corals kept, you may still need additional current.> Your help would be greatly appreciated, thanks. Riverside, California <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Overflow drain size vs. flow rates I'm finally doing it, converting my FO tank into an SPS tank. After exhaustive research, I've pretty much settled on my final tank parameters and equipment list, except for one thing: flow rates. From reading through the correspondence on your website and checking various other sources, I've been convinced that I need more than 10X GPH flow rate for a successful SPS tank.  <agreed that VERY dynamic water flow is necessary.... please save your money on silly wave timers/oscillators. Simple and strategic random turbulent flow from converging outlets grows coral VERY well> Since I have a 180, this translates into at least 2000 GPH, which I would like to achieve without the use of powerheads.  <agreed on both counts> The tank only has a single 1" i.d. bulkhead in the corner overflow, however.  <wow!!! that is staggering and a fraction of what you need> Am I correct in assuming that this single overflow is not going to be sufficient to handle 2000+ GPH?  <more like 300 GPH!!! without a siphon or sucking noise> I can't seem to find a chart or any other hard data on overflow size vs. flow rates. Do you know where I can find this information?  <yep... Rainbow lifeguard and any other manufacturer of bulkheads> What are the maximum gravity fed flow rates through a 1", 1.5", 2", dual 1", etc. bulkheads? What do you recommend?  <no more than 300 GPH per 1" drain. I have 4 holes (!!!) in a 50 gallon getting 1100 GPH and that is barely working> I appreciate any help/advice you can give. Thank you, Will FYI - my tank/equipment list so far: 180g acrylic (already had it) 3 - 250w MH 6500K 2 - 140w 60" Super Actinic AquaC EV-180 skimmer <excellent lights and skimmer> Korallin reactor 1/3hp chiller DIY sump return pump(s) tba <I recommend Iwakis> <best regards, Anthony>

Need help with plumbing Hay Bob : We have just got a Mandarin 1 Biological filter from a friend and it came in a lot of pieces. Would you have any plumbing diagrams for the mandarin 1? <Sorry, I have never even heard of it. I would search for the company using Google or Yahoo.> Is there any way to run 2 reef tanks? We have a 55gallon reef tank setup and are starting another 45 gallon. Can it run both tanks? <It is possible to run two tanks, or more, off of one sump. We may have some diagrams of this in the business section. Otherwise, I know Martin Moe has written and drawn about systems such as this in his "Marine Aquarium Reference" and "Breeding the Orchid Dottyback."> Thanks, Steve Barry <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Plumbing reef aquarium diagram Hi all, <cheers, mate... Anthony Calfo in your service> I found the diagram at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm and have a question. If I do not use the surge device, then where should the return go (yes I know, IN THE TANK, approximately WHERE <G>) <heehee... yes, my friend. It is simply unnecessary if you choose not to employ a surge device. Bypass it entirely> thanks don <best regards, Anthony>

Overflow Tube Size Hi guys/gals- <<And hello to you...>> I am looking for your guidance once again. I am setting up a 125 AGA salt tank & 2 corner overflows with fish and live rock. An upgrade from a 5yr old 55gal set up. <<Interesting, just moved my 54 into a 180... have fun!>> I have been told that the 1" bulkheads will move about 600gph each. If I stepped the 1" pipe up to a 1 1/4" right after it is connected to the overflow at the bottom of the tank ,will this improve the flow rate at all? <<Not above and beyond what you can get through a 1" bulkhead, but I think that is actually higher than 600gph - I think this specification may be that of the overflow.>> I would still have the 1" bulkheads but I thought the larger diameter would move more volume from that point on. <<The bulkhead is the limiting factor, even though it's not really limiting you.>> I have a 2 magdrive12 pumps and am not sure if I need both or not. If I used both I think would need more overflow than the 1" bulkheads can provide. correct? <<Well, I think this pump is rated at something like 900-ish at a 4' head, and even this would be more than 600-gph per overflow. I'd try it when you do your leak test, and just plumb in valves on both pumps so you can dial them back a notch. More flow is always better if you can do it.>>  I am keeping Tangs (Naso, Sailfin, regal blue and yellow) ,live rock and 2 Condy anemone, lots of snails/hermits. Plus an arrow crab. I have a 30 gal refugium and a 20 gal sump. Do you think that my tank would benefit from the increased flow from two mag12 pumps? <<Oh yes.>> Could I use both pumps and close down the shut-off valve a little bit on both without damaging the pumps? <<Any restriction/valve placed on a pump should be done after the pump... if there is a valve in front of the pump, use this only to shut off the line and remove the pump for service.>> I am not sure if this idea is nuts or not...... <<nuts... you mean like true-unions? These are excellent - use them everywhere you hard-plumb. Or do you mean the nuts on the bulkheads? If these make you nervous, smear some aquarium silicone on the gasket and put it together. It will be fine.>> Could I tap off of a overflow line with a T and run some water into the refugium and have the overflow from the refugium tap back into the same overflow line farther down line? No pumps involved. Both T's would be before the sump. <<You could - might be best to try and arrange the refugium above the sump so that it could overflow into the sump. Is this what you were thinking?>> The reason I ask is that I am hoping I can keep the refugium under the main tank on display but sump, pump, skimmer, etc.. would be on the other side of the wall in the room next door. <<Oh... sure. If you are taking the time to do a built-in with separate room, for certain.>> Thanks and have a good weekend!!! Den <<You too. Cheers, J -- >>

John Guest Speed fit fitting <<Greetings... >> Hello friends, I'm curious if any of you are familiar with this John Guest Speed fit fitting? <<I am. It is a brand name and unique type of fitting for small tubing that does not require a collect or retaining nut - hence the name, speed-fit.>> I have a calcium reactor and was looking into changing out my ETSS skimmer for an AquaC EV-120, and noticed this fitting called the John Guest. <<Is just a place to plug the effluent [output] tubing of the reactor into the skimmer. You could as easily use this for an ozone input. The large quantity of air in the skimmer would help blow off the excess CO2.>> I also have seen an item called a calcium reactor pressure adapter to fit the John Guest fitting. <<I am not familiar with this piece/part.>> How does all this work? What is the difference in these items versus using an inline pump or gravity fed line to the reactor? <<The way you feed the reactor shouldn't affect the passage through a JG SpeedFit fitting. As an aside, I'm on the side of inline plumbing or a dedicated pump to feed the reactor. I'm not a fan of siphons for this purpose.>> I'm just guessing that is what this is, a type of method to feed aquarium water to your reactor. <<see the above comments - let me know if it's not clear.>> Any information on these items would help me a lot in choosing the right skimmer. Thanks, Paul <<Well - this SpeedFit connection should not be the single reason you buy a new skimmer. The presence of this fitting doesn't make a calcium reactor work better or worse... it's just a way of dealing with excess C02 if that is a problem for you, and in fact it may never be. I'm a big fan of the AquaC line of skimmers and believe you would be quite pleased with the results - JG SpeedFit or not. Cheers, J -- >>

Overflow Question Greetings, I have been experimenting with different ways of quieting my overflow before I complete the setup of my pre-drilled, 72 gallon, bow-front All-glass fish & live rock aquarium. I purchased a magnum 950 pump (following your advice -Steve) as my return pump. I tested the flow rate and this pump is pushing 540 gal/hr in my aquarium which I am very happy about (I collected the return water in a bucket and measured it out). After reading many posts regarding insufficient drain rates, I modified the All-Glass overflow kit to allow a 1.25" ID tube to drain into my sump. Needless to say my tank sounded like a flushing toilet and washing machine all in one. I was experiencing a huge siphon noise, a noisy waterfall effect in my overflow, and a very noise sump with lots of air bubbles. I also cannot increase the diameter of the drain hole or add another one because the bottom of the tank is tempered glass. After reading through hundreds of posts I came across someone who put a gate valve in the drain line and closed it just enough to exactly match the return pump's flow rate. I decided to duplicate this today (but with a ball valve for now) and the results have been terrific. The siphon noise is gone because the water level is far above the PVC drain pipe (I stopped using the all-glass float), the waterfall noise is gone because the overflow water level is only a few inches below the overflow lip, and the sump is very quiet because very little air is siphoned into the sump (also few air bubbles). I have read numerous times that you guys don't recommend any type of valve controlling the gravity overflow. <Yes> I don't understand this reasoning though, besides it being very difficult to exactly match the drain rate to the pump rate. Are there any other drawbacks by restricting the drain rate to match the pump rate that I can't think of? <There is a possibility of clogging the valve and causing the water level in the tank to rise to the point that you have a flood.> This seems to good to be true. I have been agonizing over my setup for 2 months now and desperately want to get the tank running. Your advice in the past and this website as a whole has been indispensable. <I think you would be safer with a Durso-style overflow modification. See his webpage here http://www.rl180reef.com/> Thanks, Jeff <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

PLASTICS IN THE AQUARIUM Dear BOB and WWM Crew, <Good morrow> I am constructing my fist marine aquarium, I have the tank, the sump etc. But up to this moment in time I am reluctant to purchase any pipe work and start commissioning the tank. My problem is the usual; ask 100 people a question and you get 100 different answers. Do I use ABS, PVC, Polypropylene or other pipe work. People say to me get food grade piping, well that's all very well until you ask the retailers, they don't know. From my aquatic stores I get different answers as well. <I have used "regular" (generally schedule 40, but at times some 80 for valves, unions) PVC tubing with success for many years> Basically I would like to know which plastic material is the most chemically inert. I don't want to poison my fishy guests. Also I've been told that pipes from builders merchants are not safe because they put some kind of fungicide/pesticide in the pipe during manufacture to keep algae etc. at bay in the pipes.  <Not... the material is used in all sorts of "human-impacting" applications... it is safe enough to carry water for your use...> I have also been told that some plastic's fail mechanically when in contact with salt water for long periods of time ( My girl friend would kill me if she came home and found 150 gallons of salt water on the carpets). <This last part I do believe... make sure and prime AND solvent each joint... and test before she's there> I have been sold some grey polypropylene pipe by my local aquatic store. It is standard 32mm (1 1/4 inch) pipe that is sold in the builders merchants as sink basin waste pipe. Also I read on a KOI carp site that you shouldn't use polypropylene, no explanation why? <More money, no better in all respects than PVC...> Could you please help ? Many thanks, JON <Get around to other hobbyists' set-ups, maybe call and chat with some folks in the aquarium service business in your area... PVC is fine, what I would use. Bob Fenner>

Return Pump on 72g Hello, <Howdy> In an attempt to reduce some powerheads (and heat) in my 72g tank, I'm considering upgrading my Mag 7 pump to a Mag 9.5. My tank has one corner overflow and there is 5 feet of head pressure from the sump. My current pump is pushing only around 375 gph with this amount of head pressure. Would a 9.5 be too much for my overflow to handle? I believe it would actually push about 700 gph. If it is too much, would a ball valve work to reduce it slightly? <Mmm, there's a few questions to ask back... what's the diameter of the present plumbing? You may well not be able to force much more through this line due to induced drag. Do you intend to add another discharge line? Will there be problems with linear flow through these lines... i.e. can you direct the flow such that it won't dangerously blast the livestock about? The overflow, will it supply the desired intake water? You may need to rig a transit-volume sump of a sort to accommodate the excess water in play (this can be a surprising volume once spread out on a floor with the power off, pump failure.). I would not rig up a plumbing/pump configuration with the intent to have to throttle it down much (like with a ball valve) if I could avoid it... due to waste heat, electrical consumption considerations. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Karen

http://www.wamas.org/meeting_summer_2002.html Hi Anthony, Thanks for the quick reply -  <my pleasure> I certainly wish Pittsburgh was somewhat closer to Albany!.  <yes... we should all buy an island so that reefkeepers can live in peace and near fellowship... how about Australia. Lets start a fundraiser to buy it> I am planning on designing the circulation setup to work without powerheads, using two strong pumps (Mag18's or above), and tee'd lock lines to do the job. There certainly is some controversy up here in regards to attempting complete circulation for an SPS/Clam tank running through the sump.  <agreed as with most anything among SPS keepers> Getting that kind of volume (2500 - 3000) gph down twin drains, and running all this through a sump scare some.  <yes...true, in fact. My top shelf recommendation is not to d this at all. However... not everyone can afford top-mounted Tunze Turbelles water pumps on solenoids for the main display at $200-300 each <G>> The thought is that the sump is used primarily for filtration (skimmer) and some circulation, the rest coming from water circulated through powerheads.  <I have many criticisms with powerheads" heat generating, interior noise (for fishes), stray voltage, poor longevity, few with grounded plugs, etc> But I want to try your "nirvana" plan, as I do not like powerheads for many reasons.  <yes... a directional manifold overhead (swivel nozzles) can be quite inexpensive, fun and effective> Given that, in a twin overflow 150gal tank, what size drains would you recommend?  <At least 2-2" drains perhaps more. Lets consult Rainbow Lifeguard or like bulkhead mfg for specs to compare against your pumps and head pressure> I will try your open topped tee's also to muffle noise - thanks. <good... not perfect, but inexpensive and simple if you are not a perfectionist> My concern regarding the 2500-3000 gph hitting the sump was not so much noise, as I will release the output under water, but turbulence causing bubbles. Not sure if this is even a problem...( I keep thinking of those jet boats that use water thrust instead of propellers on our lakes up here!). <not a problem at all as long as they are not aspirated through the return pumps for lack of dissipation/baffles. Even then not always a problem> Without getting too technical and taking up more of your time, why is discharging a calcium reactor's low PH output into a highly aerated skimmer box not a good method for off-gassing Co2? I figured this would be similar in theory as when one aerates fresh RO/DI water. <no sir... RO water is demineralized (no Calcium, etc) and aeration essentially just off-gasses the carbonic acid. A reactors effluent however is rich with calcium, and aerating such water will produce insoluble calcium carbonate (!) much like the "skin" on the surface of a vessel of Kalkwasser exposed to air. No aerating limewater or Calcium reactor effluent <smile>!> Thanks again Anthony. Steve <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

Plumbing Question Hi Anthony, <Cheers, Steve> I would like to direct this to you again, as you answered a related question recently of mine regarding mechanical filtration. I am in the early stages of putting a 150gal reef tank together (already have a 75gal reef tank up and running fine for the last two years, but bigger is better !). My concern is with the dual overflows processing water at 15-20 times tank volume, all "crashing" into the planned 55gal sump below the 150.  <sound is very easy to dampen... a open topped tee on end (extended if necessary) at the top of the tank for each/any drain... output in sump released under water and filter batting/pad in top of tee above to muffle noise. Crude but very inexpensive and effective> The 75gal uses a 25 micron bag to catch bubbles, and probably slow things down somewhat. Based on your earlier thoughts, I know you do not like the 25 micron bag setup.  <wow... I really never liked this idea for general purpose (but I love it for the maniacs <engineers...same thing> that will rinse this bag almost daily)> From a plumbing perspective, would you have the water coming from the overflows piped directly into the sump, or would you set up some type of baffling system, like a stand pipe, to catch it and then overflow into the sump? Otherwise, it seems that a lot of water will be entering the sump, and at pretty good speed.  <Others would argue that this is a great opportunity for aeration/O2 saturation. Is your concern noise or something else?> Right now the two overflow drains are planned for 1.5 inches each. Do you think this is enough to handle the volume of water necessary to keep SPS and clams happy (was planning on 15-20 times utilizing twin Mag18 pumps) ? <not even close to being able to handle that kind of flow if your goal is to reduce/avoid powerheads I the main display (which I love/agree with... powerheads are awful for so many reasons!!!)> Another quick question if I may. I am considering the new Aqua C EV240, or the Euro Reef CS 8.2 as my skimmers. Putting you on the spot - how would you choose?  <For a substantial savings in cost and only slightly more maintenance/supervision if any at all... the Aqua C is a better deal. However, I am reticent to adding even the tiniest extra maintenance chores to my already busy schedule. So... I would spend the extra and Buy the Euroreef. Which is your situation? Too busy to care or more sensible than I am? Ha!> The EV240 has a fitting for calcium reactor discharge directly into the skimmer. Do you see this as effective in raising the PH of the reactors output, possibly giving an advantage to the Aqua C product? <actually a disadvantage to off gas it this way. Advantage: Aqua C. A better route for the calcium reactor is a second inline chamber to raise the pH. I think most every Ca reactor should run two chambers inline> Finally, the marine club you guys are in in Pittsburgh sounds like a place I would love to be.  <its a great gang!> Do you have members living some distance from Pittsburgh who still find it "works" being a member? I live in upstate NY, near Albany. Would it make sense to look into joining, even with my distance from you guys? <we've recently lost our journal editor and don't have anyone filling in just yet! So... truthfully, until we get a quality newsletter back on par... perhaps not <G>! Heehee... still, looking forward to chatting more with you> Thanks Anthony. Steve (who has your book - # 364) <outstanding... thank you, my friend!>

A tough Plumbing Problem Dear Bob and Friends, My 90 gallon reef is now 18 months old and I have had very few problems thanks to Bob's coaching, books, the web site, and an almost daily reading of other peoples problems and solutions. One thing I have never solved is the cloud of tiny bubbles from my incoming filtered water. A 40 gallon (net) two chamber filter sump with Turboflotor, carbon, auto top off, valved optional Ocean Clear, and U/V and an in-series 30 gallon refugium full of rock and Caulerpa are in the basement. Also an R/O/D/I unit feeds a 30 gallon salt mix tank and a 10 gal. Kalk mix tank feed the system. A High pressure Iwaki pump with 1 in. intake from a chamber in the filter sump moves 700 gph upstairs through a one way valve and into the show tank by way of a manifold with three 3/4 in. outlets moving water from right to left on the surface. The sump chamber is absolutely free of any bubbles as the Turboflotor, etc. all discharge into a separate chamber. The bubbles must either originate in the Iwaki or in the 1 in. PVC line. All pipe joints are well glued with an outer coating of silicon for good air tightness. I give up on stopping the source of the bubbles and am hoping you might suggest something that can be done at the outlet into the show tank?  This is a living room acrylic tank and I can't put any thing above or beside it. I can build most anything from acrylic and PVC. <Perhaps an internal "hang on box" of dark material (black Plexi?) with an open cell foam, filter matting... to 'catch' the bubbles, coalesce them... With slots cut into the upper lip of the box to let the water out...> Except for this ongoing bubble problem, I feel that I have a perfect system -- never had a chemical problem or any disease process whatsoever. I keep a variety of fish, soft and hard corals. No anemones, I lost one probably due to the air bubbles. Howard <Do check out "Oz Reef" on the marine links of WetWebMedia.com for more DIY possibilities, ideas. Bob Fenner>

Ball Valve Questions Hey Guys- I've read that you're not a fan of a ball valves on the drain lines from tank to sump...I wanted to put 2 true union ball valves on the two drain lines on my tank so things could be disconnected w/o water spilling everywhere... Is this going to be a real problem as far as these valves causing blockage? <Possibly, better to allow the drain lines to flow freely.> Is there no need to adjust drain line flow? <Not usually.> thanks for the help, Craig <Ball valves with unions are good to use before and after pumps for ease of servicing, but not for regulating flow. They only work well full on or full off. -Steven Pro>

Calcium Reactor Plumbing Hi Bob Thank you for your previous help and hoping that you can assist me again. I have searched the web about calcium reactors and have enlightened myself to some degree, but I still have a very basic question. How do you plumb these out of a sump? Branch it off of a T from your return? Separate whole drilled for CA Reactor pump? Please help and thank you in advance. Mike <The best arrangement in my opinion and experience is simply to arrange plumbing "over the side" of the sump for both the intake and return of the reactor... all real units are equipped with their own pumping/circulation mechanism. Bob Fenner>

Overflow sizing Hi Bob! First let me say that your book is excellent, I just finished reading it and your site is packed with great info. <Thank you for your kind words> I am setting up a 100g acrylic tank and I am building a 30g sump for it. I will build an overflow box on one side of the tank with a standpipe in it. I am using a Turboflotor skimmer with an Eheim 1060 pump feeding it and an Eheim 1060 pump for return. <Very nice gear> The question that I have is on sizing the overflow. I am planning on making the standpipe 1 1/4 in the box and then from the box to the sump 1". I will then use a "T" with valves controlling the flow to the skimmer and the sump. The return will be 3/4" on the opposite side, and all of it will be with flexible pvc. Do you think this setup is ok and do you have any suggestions. <Mmm, just to be on the "safer" side... I'd increase the diameter of the lines stated to 1 1/2 and 1 1/4" respectively... Bob Fenner> thanks in advance Jim

ABS pipe. Hi Bob, firstly I would like to thank you for enlightening me on the amazing world of marine life/biology/chemistry etc, through your excellent book the conscientious marine aquarist. <You would do the same> secondly my question, are there any special requirements for the pipe work used in marine aquariums??? or can ordinary abs plastic fittings be used? <Yes> thanks for your time in answering all these questions, you are a true scholar & a gentleman. thanks again Brent......UK. <As we aspire to be. Bob Fenner>

Re: abs pipe. Dear Robert, thank you for your speedy reply to my last letter, but I'm afraid I have been left a little confused to your reply. when I asked the question 'are there any special requirements for the pipe work used on marine aquariums??? or can ordinary abs plastic fittings be used? your answer was yes. was that a yes to normal abs pipe or yes to a special grade pipe work. <Sorry for the lack of clarity. The response is indeed "yes" to both. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbfaqsmar.htm > sorry for the confusion and your great work is much appreciated. Brent.....UK <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Schedule 80 Dear Rob, Hope you can help me with this. Went to a hardware shop looking for schedule 80 piping. The guy offered me one with the same thickness but with the designation AWG or AWS <Mmmm, why schedule 80... rated for 800 PSI pressure... in pet fish (let alone fire hydrant construction) you don't need this> he said that schedule 80 was double the price and is useful only for chemical environments. Should I be on the safe side and specify schedule 80 or the one he offered is sufficient. <Schedule 40, even 200 is fine...> The reason why I wanted a thicker diameter is I will be laying the pipes under concrete floor, so need a stronger walled pipe, that will not flex. The smaller diameters are fine... they're strong enough... and cast in concrete, very unlikely to have problems. I would use schedule 40. Bob Fenner> Thanks in advance and a Happy new year to you!! John Http://www.marineangels.com

Schematic Bob, What is the best/most convenient way for me to get a plumbing schematic to you for a once-over? I am concerned with delivery rates and the sump setup the schematic has all pump and pipe specs). Would a Word or PowerPoint attachment be acceptable? <Sure... or a fax, 858-578-7372, or mail: 8586 Menkar Rd., San Diego, CA 92126... if you're as handy as I am with such programs... or? Bob Fenner> Thanks, Mike Stewart

Faxed Schematic ****Faxed it out today, peruse it at your leisure and let me know what you think; no real hurry. Thank you. MLS **** <Got it... good to see you have sufficient space all the way around... good volumes, placement, construction on both the sump and refugium... I would place a "pad" of batting material (Dacron filter "wool") in the Bioball splashdown area and leave out the plastic media. Do opt for the larger (model 1250) Eheim pump. Not shown, but want to mention to add some internal pumps (powerheads are fine) for inside the tank for additional circulation, aeration. Nice to see some images once you've got all of this together. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: Faxed Schematic Thank you!!! I will send some pics when completed. <Real good. Looking forward to them. Bob F> Michael L. Stewart


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