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FAQs about Holes, Drilling for Plumbing Marine Systems Fittings

Related Articles: Plumbing Marine Systems by Bob Fenner, 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: Holes & Drilling 1, Holes & Drilling 2, Holes & Drilling 3, Holes & Drilling 4,  & FAQs on: Rationale/Use, Designs, Sizing/Number/Placement, Tools & Processes Themselves, Related Plumbing, Troubleshooting/Repair... Marine Plumbing 1, Marine Plumbing 2, Marine Plumbing 3, Marine Plumbing 4, Marine 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, Make Up Water Systems, Pumps, Aeration, Circulation, Sumps, RefugiumsGear Selection for Circulation, Pump Problems Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large SystemsWater Changes Surge Devices

A too-common cause of breakage... plumbing stress at a through-put

Finishing touches on refugiums, pipefish, and holes oh my...3/7/09 Hello Bob, Scott, Eric, or whomever is there... <Scott V. with you this go round.> After probably reading this 100 times a day, I must also say you guys/gals are great!!!? <Happy the site has helped you!> A job well done and don't pay one bit of attention to my wife being jealous or disliking you...;]!? <Uh oh.> I can only begin to guess the time given by the whole crew for newbies like us!!!? After many countless hours of studying WWM am going to make my first purchase in two weeks....MY TANK...Yaaayy!!!? <Congrats.> I would like to ask a few specific questions if I may, so I can take the leap!? First off, Im purchasing a custom 72/75 gallon tank, I was going to have {2} 3" holes drilled for 2" bulkheads and a single 2 3/8" hole for a 1.5" bulkhead. The guy building the tank for me said that those sizes were for sch 40 and that they were junk. Instead he said I would need for them to be sch 80 or they would end up cracking or wearing out. Said every customer who had em...had problems. <There is no need for schedule 80 in aquarium applications, the pressures involved come nowhere near warranting this. I personally have thousands of customers out there using sch 40 with no issues...the fact that he has makes me wonder what is being done wrong.> He also said instead of 3/8" glass I need 1/4" for the size holes im having drilled. Do you feel I need the sch 80 bulkheads?? <Nope.> Would you agree with him on the glass as well?? <If I am reading this correctly, to go thinner? No, 3/8 minimum for this tank.> Reason I ask is im sure with those upgrades there's an extra buck in there somewhere for him. <Possibly.> I was thinking all the holes on back wall, the 2 inch bhs near the top by the corners and the 1.5 inch bh near the center at top. Would it be better to have these clustered together rather than spread apart like that?? <No real difference, put them where you want them.> The 1.5 will be for the closed loop, is it ok to be at the same level as the 2"s?? <I would place it lower to keep it from drawing in air/air bubbles near the top.> Speaking of closed loop...hehe...will my outputs {swiveling els/LocLine} need to be the same length to provide even circulation?? <Nope.> I'd planned on one or two being longer to reach middle tank level. <Will be fine.> Sorry for being so sporadic, I feel im so close to actually putting my plan in gear that I've gotten a little nervous...; [ ! I'm wondering how noisy 750-1000 gph will be coming through a 40-55 gallon sump?? Can you weigh in?? <This can easily be managed. You may have to play around with the baffling a bit, see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i1/Baffles/bafflesart.htm, this technique works great.> When I hear about not maximizing flow capacity to save on noise etc, does that mean just having a smaller pump than what the overflow holes can actually handle?? <Part of it, ideally you will flow the overflows at 1/2 or less than what they can handle, this way you will have a backup should one fail.> Ok last two ?s... I'll be using flex pipe for my plumbing, I will need to put a valve on line going to the refugium to control flow. <OK, but if (just incase) you are drawing this off of an overflow line you will want to have a T before the valve leads to the refugium. This way when you choke the valve a bit the overflow line has a bleed off, still has its full flow capacity.> For that and connections to bulkheads and pumps, will I need to form some kind of hard pvc union for the flex to clamp on?? Does that make sense?? <Hmm, yes, plastic hose barbs. If you wish to use flexible material to plumb do also consider the flexible PVC, sold as SpaFlex in many hardware stores. This piping is forgiving, flexes, and can be solvent welded into PVC fittings just like regular PVC. You do need a PVC solvent rated for flexible PVC, but if you read the fine print on many solvents out there they are actually rated for flex.> Ok last one! For the refugium, I'll have to make it a display refugium or the wife will go crazy {she doesn't have the slightest interest in my "obsession"} so I plan on having a 55 gallon set up beside and below the display. I will going for a DSB for NNR, and LR with Chaeto for a good pod population. It would be awesome for a pipefish/seahorse or two to reside in there!? Given the refugium setup would that be ok for syngnathids?? <It could work, sure.> Also do you feel they will demolish the whole pod population?? <This is the concern with adding these, ideally a refugium provides the pods a place to grow without impediments like being eaten!> Whew. For some reason I feel a lot better now...hehe. By the way, can anyone tell me how I can get my CMA, RI and BOCP autographed ; ]? <We will see what Bob has to say here, but one way would be to meet him at a trade show/club meet sometime. They are worthwhile to attend for many reasons.> <<Agreed Scott... and rather than mailing books about... the much better way to meet us, other folks of similar interests. RMF>> Thanks again for the wealth of knowledge you so greatly pass out. By the way I kinda get bummed out when I have completed the entire section of whatever im studying at the time, I mean c'mon, you couldn't have made the refdesfaqs go to 20 instead of 13....totally just kidding!? <All the sections are constantly growing!> Thanks again, J J <Welcome, have fun.>

Re: Finishing touches on refugiums, pipefish, and holes oh my...3/9/09 Thank you Scott for your reply! <My immense pleasure!> Got Mr Fenner's comment as well... <Ahh, good.> I live in Louisville, KY, If there were ever a venue near, I would gladly be there. It would be greatly beneficial to me, as seeing knowledge is easier than reading it sometime ya know! <There will be in time, I am sure'¦.keep an eye out!> It'd be sweet to meet my "idols" too ; ] ! I'd like to ask a couple follow up questions if I may? <Sure, but I do assure you, there are no 'idols' here LOL.> Thank you for clarifying I can go with sch 40 bulkheads <Indeed you can!> and I didn't catch it the first time but I believed I mistyped, I meant to say 1/2" on the glass. <Oh good, that is what I had hoped.> 1/4" would make no sense would it hehe! <Nope, the 3/8' can do, but thicker is better here.> I'm thinking of having it built somewhere else but I want to know what is the "norm" wherever I go. <I would at least get a quote from another builder.> I confirmed that with the sch 80 size holes and thicker pane, price is due to increase! Ugh. <No doubt!> He tried to sell me under the whole " you get what you pay for" ! <You do indeed to a point, but there is no reason for Sch 80, unless he is actually doing the install and something wrong here.> Know of any reputable online custom tank companies or any near KY? <Glasscages.com, I have not personally dealt with them'¦but all I have talked to says the product is functional and nice for the money, just not top notch finish work. They are out of Tennessee I believe.> Ok Mr Scott, if it makes no difference where I have the holes drilled as long as the closed loop is placed lower, can I put all three holes in the same overflow box? <Sure you can, I do this all the time! Just keep the holes reasonably spaced out, the general rule is one hole diameter away from the next hole.> I thought of just using just screened 90's turned towards the top of the tank to adjust water level. <Be aware that this can be loud, ideally you will want the elbow facing down to keep things quiet. This will make for a lower water level without a box.> If I don't I'll use the overflow box so I figured I'd ask. Knowing what gph the {2} 2" bh's are capable of....what size {plug a brand too} pump would you recommend to not maximize flow but still be efficient and quiet? Probably about 4-5' head. <The two 2' bulkheads can flow about 2400 gph combined, you were planning in the neighborhood of 700-1000 gph, so this leaves you with plenty of redundancy here. I would personally look at the Eheim line for the return pump, likely a 1262. For you closed loop the Reeflo line is hard to be for efficiency and noise. Since you are at the planning stage still, do reconsider the use of powerheads over the closed loop, it can save you big bucks on your power bill!> Thank you for linking Josh's article, it will come in handy no doubt! <It is.> I will be using one overflow to the refugium, should the "bleed" side of the tee just be going back draining into the sump? <Yep, just give it a place to go.> Do you know of something, article or diagram what have you, that illustrates/explains the hose barb connection for the flex pipe or spa flex you had mentioned? <Just something like these for vinyl tubing: http://www.flexpvc.com/cart/agora.cgi?product=PVC-Barb-Fittings-Slip-Spigot> And just to be sure, flex pipe and flexible pvc are 2 different things? <We may very well be talking about the same thing'¦but flexible PVC needs no hose barbs, it solvent welds into PVC fittings just as normal pipe does.> Sorry for the ignorance! I think if I continue with the plan of pipefish in the refugium, I'll divide it in half so the pods have some protection, that will still give them roughly 25 gallons a piece, does that sound ok? <It would be cramped for the fish in my opinion.> My wife thinks I might as well be working for you guys with the amount of time I spend on WWM, heee :}. <In time maybe you will!> Thank you once again and it would truly be a pleasure to meet you or Bob at a show! <Yes, do come out to one when you get the chance, there are many people to meet!> Without WWM in general, many of our enjoyments wouldn't exist! Maybe one day everyone will venture near the bluegrass and let Bob know to have his pen ready if so : } !!! <I am sure he will!> Scott, thanks and have a great night! JJ <Welcome, talk soon.><<Am ever more anxious to see ScottV out on the petfish talk circuit... RMF>>

Oceanic Reef Ready...Bulkhead Hole Size Problem?? Something awry with this resp.   8/3/06 I ordered a 215G oceanic reef ready aquarium, which was delivered  about a week ago.  I was just starting to put things together when I  noticed that both the drain and return holes were drilled at 1 3/4" one each of  the two overflows.   From the overflow kits provided, it seems to  me as though the return hole should have been drilled smaller, as the  bulkhead for the return line is only 3/4" compared to the 1" drain  bulkhead.  I did not order any custom drilling on this  tank.  Do you think a mistake was made here, or would it be reasonable to place a 3/4" bulkhead into a 1 3/4" hole?  If this was a  mistake, is there any problems, such as noise issues, with using a return  line the same size as the drain line?  I'd appreciate any available advice  and suggestions, I'm really at a loss here.    <Kevin, I suggest you contact Oceanic on your question, being a warranty is involved here.  You may have a problem, as most 3/4 in bulkhead fittings require a 1 7/16 to 1 1/2" hole in the tank. <<? RMF... usually 1" O.D.>> I'd see what their reasoning was in this regard.  James (Salty Dog)> Kevin  

Re:  Oceanic Reef Ready...Bulkhead Hole Size Problem??   8/4/06 Hey James- <Kevin> Thanks for your reply. <More than welcome.> I did contact Oceanic after having sent this question to WWM.  There response was that on the larger aquariums, they drill 1 3/4" holes for both the drain and returns.   I guess I need to take their word for it, how can I say they don't? <Agreed.> But I'm not comfortable fitting the 3/4" bulkhead, supplied in there <their> overflow kit, into a 1 3/4" hole, even though it may work if it were fitted precisely. <Have you asked them about this?> Do you see anything wrong with using 1" bulkheads for both the drain and the return, and then reducing the drainpipe down to 3/4" for the return after the bulkhead (within the overflow), so I can still use the supplied 3/4" end fittings for dispersing the water back to the tank? No problem here, very common practice in this regard.> Oceanic told me this would work out fine, but then, I would imagine that they don't want to have this tank returned!   Would this cause me any potential problems that come to mind?     <No, just use the larger bulkhead and reduce as you mentioned.  I erred in mentioning the 3/4 bulkhead would require a 1 7/16 minimum hole size.  I believe, although it was not mentioned, that this bulkhead was a schedule 80 unit with a much thicker wall.> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Kevin Re: Bulkhead fitting   8/4/06 Bob, Checked several sites on this.  Here is one example.    3/4" Dbl Threaded Bulkhead (Rainbow) You Pay: $ 4.29 In Stock: Yes * Item Number: RL0183 This bulkhead requires a 1 7/16" - 1 1/2" diameter hole. <... very strange James... I/we sold and installed thousands of these... of PVC and CPVC construction... they will fit a 1 1/4" hole... and not much larger... Perhaps you're thinking of a schedule 80 (for whatever reason someone would pay for such... rated fro 800 PSI...) fitting? A bit "thicker" in the throat> For proper seal, the gasket must go between bulkhead flange and tank wall. <Best to use two gaskets... one in, one out... both with a light smear of 100% Silastic on both sides... BobF> Regards, James

Re: Bulkhead fitting   8/4/06 Thanks, Bob Could very well have been 80, but didn't search for such. Would you have a link to a distributor handling schedule 40 PVC/CPVC? Thanks, James <Is what most everyone handles... Made by Spears, Dura... sold by All Seas, likely Marine Depot... BobF>

Hole, bulkhead size Hi I just got a 2inch hole drilled in my 135 gallon tank. what size of bulkhead would fit in here. I have a 1 1/2 inch but it doesn't fit. The base on that bulkhead in 2 1/2inches. Can you get a 1 1/2 inch bulkheads with a 2 inch base? hope this makes sense Tristan <Yes to the last statement. Look around... there are "thinner" outside diameter bulkheads (the ones for spas/Jacuzzis for instance) that have 1 1/2" inside diameter and less than 2" outside diameter. Spears makes these... and a few places (try MarineDepot.com) offer them for sale online. Bob Fenner>

Stand integrity, Hole cut-outs around and tightening of bulkheads 7/23/05 Hi guys, and thanks for all of the great advice so far. <Hi Randy, Ali here> I am ready to cut the top of my diy tank stand to accommodate the bulkheads from my tank.  I have some questions about how much room I'll need around the bulkheads.  Here is a picture of the bulkhead nuts sitting on top of the stand http://home.cfl.rr.com/homebrewed/fish/180-039.jpg .  The stand top is about 1" of plywood, then there will also be a 3/4" layer of Styrofoam under the tank, so the bulkhead nuts will be stuck way up inside the part I cut out.  Can you picture what I'm talking about? <I think so...> I was planning to start with at least 1" of clearance around the bulkhead nuts. <1 or 2" of clearance would be fine, I doubt cutting the top of the stand to create a 2" of clearance would hurt the integrity of the stand. Additionally, it sounds as if you have a frameless (Lee-Mar style) tank, if this is the case then as long as the tank is fully supported on the corners, then the bulkhead cut-outs won't matter as much, go ahead and start cutting :) >   But do I need to get some type of tool on the nuts to tighten them down?  I don't think I'll be able to hand tighten them very easily since they'll be surrounded by plywood. <No tools necessary, good ol' fashion hand-tightening them would be fine. Even if it's just using the tips of your fingers to tighten them, drink some Gatorade and flex your muscles - YOU CAN DO IT!> Just make sure the I don't want to cut out any more material than required, since I'm concerned about the tank top bowing in the area around the cutout. <As long as the tank is properly braced at the top, bowing shouldn't be a real concern> Thanks!! Randy <No prob, good luck Randy. - Ali>

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