Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Holes, Drilling for Plumbing Marine Systems, Troubleshooting & Repair

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, Fittings, Sizing/Number/Placement, Tools & Processes Themselves, Related Plumbing... 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

Many problems aren't obvious until actually encountered...

50 gallon Glass Tank... Plugging Hole 8/22/08 Hi I want to start out by saying that I love your site. I have been reading almost everything on your site, it has been very helpful. <Great! Thank you.> Ok now to my situation. I have a 50 gallon 36L x 18W x 17 1/2 H. The tank was purchased as a reptile habitat originally. It has a sliding screen lid and a plugged hole in the bottom of the tank. Now I know that on your site you have told others that a reptile habitat can't be used as an aquarium because they don't use thick enough glass, but we have checked this site http://www.garf.org/tank/BuildTank.asp and according to them a tank with the dimensions like mine should have 1/4" thick glass which mine does. <An enclosure built just for reptiles may not be suitable for holding water, if your tank is ¼', it is likely it was built for either.> So since the glass thickness is what it should be, this is what we planned to do but I wanted to get your opinion on it. We plan to replace the top black frame with one with a center brace (I have read your site about how to replace, and making sure all old silicone is gone). <For the trouble and cost, do consider the 'Euro Bracing', running the 2X36' strips along the top described on GARF instead. This will make a much stronger tank for about the same price and work. This tank will really be fine without either, but making it that much more bulletproof certainly does not hurt.> The next thing we plan to do is take 2 sheets of glass that will be larger than the hole in the bottom of the tank. We are going to silicone one sheet on the outside to the bottom of the tank and let that cure for 24-36 hours. Then we plan to turn the tank over, and fill the remaining hole with silicone, and silicone the other sheet of glass over that. We plan to let all of that cure for about a week before filling with water. When we are ready to fill with water we plan to do so in our bathtub incase there is trouble. <The entire tank perimeter will need to be supported doing this.> Do you think this would be a good idea, or do you have other suggestions? <This can work, but how big is the hole? Likely it will be the size of a commonly available bulkhead. If it is you have two better options. First, you can get the appropriate bulkhead and a PVC plug and just plug the hole. This will leave the hole usable should the need arise in the future. The second option is to use the hole as an overflow drain if you have any desire/need to run a sump filtration system. If the hole is larger than this your fix can work.> I appreciate your help in this situation and look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, Tonya <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: 50 gallon Glass Tank... Plugging Hole 8/22/08 Thank you so much for your fast reply. <Very welcome.> I have a few more questions if you don't mind. First I want to say that we took things a little further and went to PetSmart tonight and looked at the 50 gallon tanks that they had there, and my husband took a pen a paper and marked the exact thickness of the glass, and came home and used that to measure ours and it is the exact same thickness. In your previous reply you said the following (<The entire tank perimeter will need to be supported doing this.>) Can you please explain what you meant by that I am a little confused? <Just that filling it in the bathtub without the tank properly supported can break the tank.> Also my husband wants to stick with the 2 pieces of glass fix for the hole at the bottom, can you tell me if the 2 pieces of glass should be a certain thickness, or will it be ok if the when the 2 of them are put together they are at least 1/4" thick? <One piece on the inside will work fine, I would use ¼'. Even if you use two pieces, ¼' a piece it is.> Again thank you for your time in this situation. Tonya <Welcome, Scott V.>

Plugging Hole 8/11/08 Hello, I am in a bit of stress due to a sump hole in my acrylic tank Are there any plugs that will plug it on the market? Or I also had the idea of taking to pieces of acrylic and gluing it on either side of the hole. Please help me any info is welcome searching on the internet has been a wild goose chase. Thank you very much. Ivo Fedak <This is just a matter of getting the appropriate sized bulkhead to fit the hole and then using a PVC plug that will fit the bulkhead. Using a threaded bulkhead and PVC fitting with silicone will leave the bulkhead usable in the future. Welcome, Scott V.>

Trying to Get a Tank Drilled'¦What a Disaster! -- 05/27/08 Hey Eric...Linda here in Perry, GA. <<Hey there Linda!>> Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend? <<I did indeed'¦thank you>> We did...swam in our pool most of the weekend with family. <<Hmm, I worked on my home renovation/remodel project'¦though I did enjoy a libation or two in the evenings on the deck. And any day I don't have to get up at 5am, and then make that drive to work, is a GOOD day>> I hope you keep the emails we all send you to help with the memory factor on what we've talked about in the past, <<I 'do' keep all'¦though finding a particular one may prove challenging [grin]>> but remember you and I talking about me getting a 90 gal. tank drilled with two 1.5" holes in the back or side panels and a 1" hole for the return? <<I do recall this, yes'¦ (Hey! Maybe that Ginkgo is starting to help this failing 50yr-old memory afterall!>> I bought a used tank in great shape that could be drilled on the back and side panels. Made a big mistake and called that little fish guy I've told you about, who says he's drilled over 30 tanks! <<Mmm, yes'¦I recall this as well'¦and I'm sensing an unhappy ending to this chapter of the story>> I've tried giving him the benefit of the doubt and giving him a chance and handed it over to him. (I hope you remember me telling you about him...young, has a Dad who owns his own pet store and this young guy is still learning but has started a business going around to business's/homes setting up tanks? I've seen his pictures of him actually building a stand and setting up a couple of tanks.) <<I remember'¦ >> Well, this used 90 gal. tank that I asked the little young dude to drill the back of for me, chipped the mess out of one of the two holes I asked him to drill. (1.5" holes for larger bulkheads). <<Is easy to do'¦usually from being in a hurry, in my experience>> Instead of him calling me telling me he goofed up, he called me telling me he was coming by with my tank. <<Uh-oh>> So, here he comes by the house with two tanks on his trailer...told me then that one is my tank and another is a premanufactured drilled tank that was bottom drilled in case I would accept that in it's place because he chipped my tank around the hole he was drilling, but thought he might could just add the bulkhead to it and maybe it would be okay. <<Mmm'¦>> (what???) I told him No, I won't accept that and I don't want the new bottom drilled tank either. <<Ah'¦a little lesson for him here too>> He said, "no problem...I don't blame you.' I repeated what I wanted and what I expected and he was fine with that and said he could order it for me free of charge. <<Very good>> To make sure he understood what I wanted, I even emailed him so that there would be absolutely no question. I also told him I would even pay extra to have it done like I wanted and also have the manufacturer install the correct size overflow. <<Ah!>> He emailed me back saying it wasn't going to cost me a dime. <<Surprising'¦and rare, considering most any LFS 'will not' guarantee drilling on a 'used' tank>> Two weeks later he said he had my tank as specified but was waiting on the bulkheads he ordered. <<Um'¦didn't you just say you wanted them installed by the manufacturer?>> Fine...I keep patiently waiting...the next week he called me saying he was bringing over the tank and pvc but would not be able to install it yet. Fine....so, he brought over a brand new 90 gal tank but...get ready for this...with the corner bottom panel drilled behind the corner overflow. The bottom corner drilled! <<'¦hoo-boy>> But, I don't notice until we get the tank inside the house and remarked, "It's drilled on the bottom!" I asked him, 'Does the manufacturer not drill the back panels?" He says, "No, they come bottom drilled from the manufacturer but I got the size holes you wanted." <<Mmm, even if this is the case, he should have consulted with you before placing the order'¦sloppy>> I just stared at him knowing darned well that is not the truth and said to him, "Well, yeah, if you order it bottom drilled, it's gonna come that way!" I don't say a word and started looking behind the corner overflow to look at what they had done I see there are 3 holes drilled: one is a 2" hole with the bulkhead already in place, the other two are 1.5" holes, without the bulkheads...scary part is there is only 1" separating the holes! <<Yikes! This was drilled by the manufacturer? As the little kid in the commercial says 'I'm suskeptical'>> I don't know whether this guy is on crack or what. He then says he thinks he's gonna have some problems with the PVC pipes inside the corner overflow but he says, "don't worry, I'll figure it all out." <<I really doubt it>> (If I was allowed to write this in caps, I would...I've never met anyone like this guy. I thought he was a pretty nice guy until I started doing business with him and now I would not recommend him to anyone, especially if you are in a hurry for something that is out of the ordinary!) <<Sad thing is'¦what you requested is not really 'out of the ordinary'>> So, anyway, he leaves saying he'll be back Sunday to install everything. <<So'¦you have a generous nature, eh? I would have sent him back with this tank too!>> Sunday came around, and guess who didn't show up or call? <<Note the 'not surprised' look on my face>> He calls me today, it's Tuesday, and apologizes but he's been asleep all weekend! <<Hmm'¦maybe your question about him being on something is closer to the truth than you think>> hahahah LOL Oh, for cryin' out loud, is this guy for real or what? <<Unfortunately, it would seem he is>> I'm so tired of it all, it makes me want to put it all up on eBay and sell it! <<I'm sorry for your troubles my friend>> My question for you is this: even though it's not drilled where I want it, would holes drilled like this be workable? <<It doesn't sound like it from your description. The two 1.5' holes are too close together'¦the bulkheads won't fit I fear'¦aside from there just being too little glass between the holes for safety-sake, in my opinion'¦and especially on a bottom-frilled tank. But'¦all may not be lost'¦ You might be able to silicone a glass patch (using the same thickness as the tank bottom) over one of the smaller holes that are too close together and get by with the remaining two holes>> I think I could do the PVC underneath the tank, but I have no clue as to how to build up the PVC inside the corner overflow without one of those kits. <<Do a search on the net for Durso and Stockman standpipes. Read up on them/their installation and much will become clear'¦and as always, we can discuss those areas/items that are not clear to you>> I researched to try to see if anyone sells the overflow kits for larger holes, and I haven't seen anything. <<The standpipes I mentioned can be easily fabricated from any diameter pipe necessary here>> I went to another fish store in Macon and they said they could try to plug one of the holes and try to make it work out, but they needed to have a look at it but the owner plus his two sons are entirely all for those premanufactured 1" and 3/4" drilled tanks. <<Ugh'¦>> I would have to go to Atlanta to order a tank and have a company there come down here to install it and I've already checked it out and they would charge approx. $350 to come down and install the tank. I can't afford that. <<Mmm, I see'¦ Hindsight is always 20-20 [grin]>> I'm tired...it's my birthday and I am feeling my age today! haha <<Ah! A big Happy Birthday to you!>> Take care and hope you found this very entertaining! Linda <<Is more 'disturbing' than anything else'¦ Having someone you can 'trust' there to put their eyes/hands on everything would be best for sure'¦I can try to walk you through making the repair and installing the plumbing if you wish to take that step. It isn't all that difficult if the 'damage' is not too great already. We can start by you getting me the exact 'dimensions' of the holes/bulkheads and overflow tower involved, as well as their exact 'spacing' from the tank's walls, the other holes/bulkheads, and the walls of the overflow tower. Be chatting, mate. Eric Russell>>

Re: Trying to Get a Tank Drilled'¦What a Disaster! - 05/28/08 Hey Eric and thank you <<You're quite welcome, Linda>> ...how I wished you were my next door neighbor! <<Would make this much simpler'¦>> By the way, sounds like we're both in the same "neighborhood" as far as age. <Oh?>> I can't believe I'm in my 50's, but still act and feel like I was 30 and that's all that matters. <<Indeed it is>> On some things I have the patience of a saint and do try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and to be honest, I'm not even that mad with the little fish dude...he has told me in years previous about his medical problems but never knew how bad they were until now. <<Mmm'¦missed the 'red flags' did ya?>> However, now I understand and am catching many things he has said about "customers and friends" that he has not had a great experience with and when going to the "other" fish store, when I mentioned who was trying to install my tank, all 3 guys stood there and said "oh no!" <<More than a reaction to a little friendly competition, eh>> So, I do appreciate your helping out and hope I can solve this tanks dilemma because it is a perfectly great tank...just needs a few tweaks and with your help, hopefully, I can get it done. <<Time will tell [grin]>> I've told you before, I'm very visual, <<Ah yes'¦as am I>> so having someone talk me thru it may be difficult but we can sure give it a try. <<Okey-dokey>> Good thing I am pretty much a do it yourselfer, good mechanically and if I understand and can actually see it, I can do it. <<Excellent'¦should be a tremendous advantage>> I have heard of the Durso standpipe but thought that was something to add to what was already existing to help with noise. <<Mmm, helps with noise AND water flow/drainage'¦and will 'plug right in' to the drain bulkhead>> I will read more on it. <<Very good>> In the meantime, I'd best get back to work. <<Me too!>> Great talking to you again. <<Likewise'¦>> Will get back with you later this week. Thank you good buddy! Linda <<Be chatting. EricR>>

R2: Trying to Get a Tank Drilled'¦What a Disaster! - 05/30/08 Hey Eric! <<Hiya Linda!>> Looked up lots of websites on the Durso & Stockman standpipes...what a relief...it looks really easy. <<Indeed>> I am sure I could make them. <<Yay!>> (Wonder why no one has manufactured them?) <<Hmm'¦I believe both namesakes have/do offer kits on their respective websites>> But, what type of connection would I use to screw into the bulkheads to attach the standpipes? (The bulkhead I do already have installed in the tank is threaded at the top.) <<Then a 'threaded' adapter you will need>> Got some dimensions for ya whenever you have the time to figure these out, although it would be a lot easier if I could fax you a diagram of what I'm trying to explain! (hint, hint, with a grin.) <<Mmm, don't have a FAX handy'¦I'll bet we can make do [grin back]>> Draw a circle, quarter it and put my 3 circles (drilled holes) crowded into one side/corner inside the overflow tower and there ya go! <<Hee! Already figured this much'¦>> I guess the main thing I need to know is whether or not the holes are drilled too closely together. <<Yup>> If they are, then I'll order another tank from Atlanta. <<I like to keep at least the diameter of the hole'¦between holes'¦understanzee?>> Good luck at making sense out of all this and thank you ever so much: <<I'm on my second rum and coke'¦that should help [big grin}>> Overflow tower is rounded and fits in the back left corner of the tank. It is approx. 10-11" from panel to panel and is 21-1/2" tall. Has two grid openings, one 8" from bottom and one on the top. Has two places on each side to pop out for returns. <<Okay'¦pretty 'standard' thus far>> Three drilled holes: One drilled hole, w/ already installed (size?) bulkhead and two drilled 1.5" holes without the bulkheads. <<Mmm'¦I'm starting to think these were drilled for ¾' bulkheads'¦(heavy sigh)>> These holes were supposed to be all for draining the water down into sump and having a 1" pvc return coming up and over the back of the tank. <Ah'¦that will help>> Maybe this needs to change. <<Depends on the size of that 'installed' bulkhead>> 1st hole w/ bulkhead: Size? I believe it is larger than the other two 1.5" holes. I can slip a 1-1/2" PVC pipe inside the bottom of the bulkhead, so I bet you'll know what size that would be. <<A fairly snug slip fit? Sounds like you have a 1.5' bulkhead installed'¦a definite plus'¦considering'¦>> Located in the very corner of tank and was already installed in the tank. The bulkhead is threaded at the top. <<I prefer 'slip' fittings'¦but we can certainly work with the threaded fittings>> This bulkhead sits 1" behind the 2nd 1.5" drilled hole and 1-1/2" behind the third drilled 1.5" hole. There is 2-1/2" of space between it and the back of the overflow tower and 3-1/2" to where overflow tower meets glass. (There is a lot of space between all three holes and the front left corner of the overflow tower.) 2nd hole: 1.5" drilled hole is 1" from back tank panel, 1" between it and overflow tower, 1" to the left side of the 3rd hole, 1" in front of the 1st hole (with the bulkhead). <<Mmm'¦>> 3rd hole: 1.5" drilled hole is 1" to the right side of the 2nd 1.5" hole, 1" between it and overflow tower, 1-1/2" in front of 1st hole (hole with bulkhead). Leaves 4" between it and side tank panel. (This hole is 3" from back tank panel). In a pie shape, there would be 3 holes clustered together, leaving approx. 3-1/2" - 4" of space. The only hole that is centered is the one with the bulkhead. The other two are in front of it and towards the back tank panel.) If I plugged one hole, in my opinion it would probably be the 2nd hole. (The one that is only 1" from the back tank panel and 1" in front of the hole w/ bulkhead.) <<We are in agreement>> I don't see how I would be able to fit PVC into three holes in the overflow tower, but you are the master. (hee hee) <<Mmm, well'¦more like a Jack-of-all-trades'¦although Bob does think I have a good grasp on aquarium plumbing>> Forever your pain in the hinny...LOL...Linda <<Ouch! [grin]'¦ I think patching over the hole with the 'least' glass between it and everything else will strengthen this area greatly (let me know if you need assistance with this). The combination of the 1.5' drain and the 3/4' drain (if this is what it is) will give you a combined 'gravity' drain capacity of about 1200-1300 gph'¦and honestly'¦you really don't want the hassle with any more than this flowing to your sump. Any extra flow needed for the system can be handled in another manner. Eric Russell>> R3: Trying to Get a Tank Drilled'¦What a Disaster! - 05/30/08 Hey Eric, <<Hey Linda (strange, I feel like we just talked [grin])>> After reading up on our past emails and figuring out what size bulkheads I'm gonna end up with, I think I have figured out what my little fish dude was trying to achieve with my tank. He was trying to get me the two 1.5" bulkheads for the drain lines that I asked for. (even though they are on the bottom and not the side.), but found there wasn't enough room within the corner overflow tower, so he had someone drill three holes, one being the largest, and the other two being only a 3/4" bulkhead. <<I see'¦he needs to bone-up on his fluid-dynamics if he's going to be 'in the biz.' Two ¾' bulkheads DO NOT equal the flow capacity of one 1.5' bulkhead'¦not even by half>> By drilling three holes (which two of them will end up being only 3/4" bulkheads) plus the bulkhead that is already in place (guessing at the size, it may be a 2-3/8" bulkhead seeing as how I can fit a 1-1/2" pvc pipe inside the bottom part of it.) <<Mmm, I'm doubting it'¦how 'tight' is this fit? A 1.5' bulkhead means it will fit 1.5' PVC. Try using some threaded fittings'¦ If you are 'really' lucky, this is a 2' bulkhead>> I'll bet ya that he found out it would cost a lot more by custom drilling the tank, and seeing as how he messed up my first one and offered to pay for a new one to replace it with, but wasn't willing to pay for the cost of custom drilling, he ordered the tank and had it drilled locally, but found he could not fit the two large 1.5" bulkheads inside the overflow, so drilled for one 1.5" bulkhead and two 3/4" bulkheads. <<I think there is more to this story'¦>> (Still, all of this could have been avoided had he just drilled the back panel of the tank as I asked. I had even offered to pay extra to have it drilled the way I wanted. my, my, my.) <<Yup>> Well, a-n-y-w-h-o...too late. Now, that you have a better idea of the placement of the holes in the overflow tower for water drainage from my previous email and seeing how close two of them are (the largest bulkhead being an inch from the back and side tank panels and one of the 3/4" bulkheads closest to the back tank panel will be within an inch of the back tank panel and one inch of the largest bulkhead, what do you think? <<As just stated in my previous correspondence'¦but do get back to me if any of it is not clear>> As I said before, if need be, I can just order a tank from Atlanta and be done with it all. <<An expensive lesson>> After all, the original tank I wanted him to drill was used and it only cost me $100! <<A real bargain'¦or'¦upon reflection'¦maybe not! [grin]>> (thank goodness it wasn't a new one...well, I doubt I would have allowed him to drill a new tank.) <<uh-huh'¦>> Thanks loads...Linda <<Happy to help my dear'¦do let me know if I can be of further assistance. Eric Russell>> R4: Eric please- Trying to Get a Tank Drilled'¦What a Disaster! - 05/31/08 Good night Rhett, and have a wonderful weekend. <<Always do!>> Next week will be a bummer having to work 5 whole days...geez, how I wished I was back on the plantation sippin' those mint juleps under my very own magnolia tree! haha << 'You go into the arena alone. The lions are hungry for you.' (Rhett Butler) >> Well, a margarita is more like my style! (evil grin) Bye bye for now. Scarlet <<Hee-hee! EricR>>

Drilling a 20 Long-Broken! 5/27/08 The other day I drilled a 3" hole in a 20L for a coral propagation tank. I had my bulkhead in the tank and I was working on the stand, which was being constructed of 2x4's, and a 9" piece of 2x4 fell on bottom of the tank opposite the hole but didn't break the glass. <Hearts stops for a moment!> One would think I would have learned my lesson and moved the tank farther away after this incident, but I didn't and a moment later an identical 2x4 fell on the side next to the bulkhead and cracked the glass. <Oops!> Now to my question: I realize it isn't advisable to drill such a small tank as the glass is thin, but if the hole is drilled without incident, can we then assume the bottom glass is strong enough to hold water? <No.> If not, how long would you let it sit with water in it before you could then assume it has the strength to hold the water? <I would not assume this at all with a crack in the bottom.> This troubles me because when the wood hit away from the bulkhead the glass was fine, but it cracked when hit next to the bulkhead. I had planned on testing the stand and the tank together overnight to make sure everything was structurally fine, but I worry that this may be too short a time period. <It very well will probably hold for a while with a smear of silicone, but this will eventually fail. You could perhaps repair it by siliconing in a pane of glass on top of the cracked pane, but this is likely not worth the time/effort/money compared to the price of a new tank. Drilling such thin glass is a bit trickier. The drilling very often goes fine, with breaks due to incidental events such as this or pressure on the plumbing. This can be done without any problems, but I would simply buy a new tank on this one.> Thanks, yall are always a lot of help. <Welcome, good luck, Scott V.>

Need help with a tank stand--can't tighten bottom bulkheads due to wood center brace  6/20/07 Hi there, I'm hoping you can help me. I have a Perfecto 150-gallon glass aquarium whose dimensions are: 48" long, 24" wide and 30" tall. The tank has plastic center braces on the top and bottom. The stand for the tank is wood and supports it fully around all edges; the top is fully open but with a wood center brace running vertically through the center. Recently I had the tank sent out to an aquarium company to have the glass bottom drilled for two bulkheads along with an internal overflow box installed. I just got the tank back today, and they did a beautiful job. However, when the tank was set back on its stand, the wood center brace on the stand was too wide to allow me to fully tighten the bulkheads underneath. <Doh!> I asked the company who did the work what I could do to rectify this--they said I could notch a cutout in either side of the wood center brace to accommodate the bulkhead fittings. <Mmmm> However, I'm worried that this will compromise the integrity of the stand-- <Yes> I don't want it collapsing and spilling 150 gallons of water on the floor. Could you guys help me out as to what I should do--should I consult with an engineer first or is it okay to do this modification? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. <Well... likely a "thinner" nut can be found... or the through-hull/bulkhead fitting reversed (with the throat up, perhaps shaved, cut down...) and an extra gasket found for both sides... and a smear of Silastic on both sides... that will do here... Perhaps with some shaving of the wood twixt the tank and stand to accommodate... If push comes to proverbial shove, you might need to consider adhering the (likely PVC) fitting directly onto the tanks glass... and dedicating yourself to never jarring it... Otherwise, the worst... giving up on the present holes, sealing over them (with glass panel/s and Silastic) and having the tank re-drilled. I agree with your NOT cutting through the manufactured stand support... UNLESS you feel comfortable (YOU!) with replacing this support (and losing the manufacturer's warrantee) with two new ones, placed on either side... Which is really what I'd do... Cheers, BobF>

Re: Need help with a tank stand--can't tighten bottom bulkheads due to wood center brace   6/21/07 Wow! Thanks so much, Bob, for your kind reply!! I really loved your book, by the way; it really helped me get started with my tank! Plus I've learned so much by reading through all the articles and FAQ's from WetWeb Media; you guys are great! I think I've come up with a plan for my stand. I'd really rather not mess around with the bulkheads; I only really need to notch the wood 1/4" on either side, but leave the center brace in place, and I think I'll place two new boards on either side, like you advised. I really don't want to have the tank re-drilled: it took the company forever to get the work done; I'd consider getting a new stand before doing that. Anyway, thank you so much, Bob, you've really helped me out! <Ah, good! Cheers, BobF>

A little freaked out ... drilled glass tank worries/worrier   7/26/06 Hello Crew, well to the point.... I'm literally days away from setting up my new 180, beautiful stand/canopy done, Lifereef sump/skimmer, 6 *80W T5 with 2 * 250 MH HQI retro,  etc etc etc. I got great stuff and took my time buying and planning, reading and asked lots of questions (a few here).. Well I'm just about ready to go and I was on Reef Central tonight only to see a picture of a 180 show like mine that cracked on the bottom that was drilled!!! It has freaked me out a bit. My tank was built by a local guy with 1/2 inch glass, I got All-Glass to send me their braces for the top and bottom and siliconed in custom built acrylic overflows. The bottom pane has 8 holes in it. 2 in each overflow and 4 in the corners for Oceans Motions device. The tank I saw on RC cracked because his holes were in the middle from the weight of the rock. So I would like some reassurance or some pointers 1) Is this not safe? <Should be fine> 2) I plan on a 4" DSB with 200 lbs of live rock so you have idea of weight. 3) Can I support it better to be more strong along with the All-Glass brace? Maybe Styrofoam or something. <A good idea to assure the tank itself is on a support that is complete, strong, level and planar... Have you read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/aqstands.htm and the linked files above?> I can provide pics if needed, the stand is solid and custom designed buy a contractor experienced in aquatic design and is lipped so the bottom of the tank slides nice about 1" inside. Hopefully I am OK here and you calm me, but better safe then sorry. Thanks Jeff <Likely all will work out here. Bob Fenner>

- Can't Drain the Tank Quickly Enough - Good evening, I was recently given a 75 gallon tank and wanted to set it up for saltwater. It had 2 holes drilled into it, a 1" bulkhead and a 3/4" bulkhead I was told that the 3/4" should be used as the return to put the water back in the tank. <Is pretty standard.> Now the 1" should be used to drain into my wet dry, right? <Yup.> I put in my surge 6000 (600 gph)  pump and it pumps the water out of my wet dry faster than gravity can drain the tank. All I have on it is a stand pipe (in other words just a pvc pipe up to the top of the tank). Do I need to have an overflow box? (it sure would take up a lot of space)   Should I just drill another 1" hole so the water would drain faster? <You might want to, if only for redundancy, but it occurs to me that something else may be wrong. I ran a 75 gallon tank with the same outlet and intakes as you describe and ran a pump in the 750 GPH range on the tank all day long. Do look to eliminate any 90 degree elbows or restrictions in the 1" line coming out of your tank.> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Armando <Cheers, J -- >
- Can't Drain the Tank Quickly Enough, Follow-up - So is an internal overflow box necessary? <No.> I think that since I don't have an overflow box, that it could be the problem. <I don't think that is the problem.> Or is it ok just to have the PVC pipe all by itself the top of the tank? <I would install some type of screen onto that pipe so that no fish get sucked in.> I also attached a picture <Cheers, J -- >

Bulkhead Frustrations... Good morning crew. <Hi there! Scott F. here with you!> Thank you again Scott for your invaluable advice and by boy, do I need more now!! <I'm ready!> To re-cap. I am/was moving my 6x2x2 mainly fish and live rock display, evolving this to a fully blown reef tank and doing away with most things mechanical. Two sump/refugiums with Caulerpa racemosa in one and DSB in the other. <Ok- I'm up to speed here...> Well, today (make that 3 weeks ago. I wrote most of this then and today is an update. If you see what I mean?) was the moving day!  Only had to move the tank eight feet! Anyway, after moving it across the room I started to fill the tank with fresh water for a practice run. And?......Drip, Drip, Drip, from the tank connectors on both sides of my bottom drilled tank. Each side is fitted with down pipes to help surface skimming. I don't like this setup but due to finances (or lack of them) I am stuck with it for the time being. <"Drip" is not a word that I like to hear...> The tank connectors have soft rubber seals on the top (the water side) of the glass and hard white plastic seals on the underneath side. (They are made by Aqua-Medic and to make matters worse they are metric, all my other pipe work is imperial) Is there anyway you know, that I can prevent these from leaking? Can I put a soft rubber seal on the top and the bottom? or is this not good practice? Should I use silicon? <I'm thinking that you'd want to use something like plumber's putty (on the outside, of course). You may need to experiment here (gulp...). I highly recommend that you consult a hardware store or a good "do it yourselfer" who has encountered this problem before. When you're talking about the potential for serious water damage, you cannot afford to take chances!> <<RMF would try first tightening (gingerly) the nuts to these fittings... with large Channel-lock pliers, a strap wrench... not much... with water in the tank... just cinch them up a skoshe>> Should I do them up from underneath or the top of the tank? I know these are supposed to be hand tight couplings but have now tried hand tight and also hand tight with a quarter turn with a tool, as you cannot grab hold of much of the top nut. Maybe a quarter of an inch it makes life difficult. (I have read of Bob's horror story of the helper who took a tool to a hand tightened seal) I have taken these apart twice now and cleaned them but somehow they both just continue to leak.) Just to make matters worse, I have around twelve not too small fish and all the live rock and corals plus BTA all in a 40gallon tank with just a small trickle filter (I am keeping feeds to a minimum) but the Majestic Angel is scratching! Even worse is I kept the seawater, in airtight containers, thinking this would all be done in a day or less, and is now getting on for three weeks! Should I still use this old seawater? <I don't see too much problem with the use of "older" water, as long as it's been aerated and kept free of external contamination> Perlease ! I need some advice on how to seal this tank connector. The underside of the connectors are also hard to reach, as the tank itself is on poly tiles, then a half inch thick mdf, then more poly tiles, then a pinewood board, so to get at the tank connector under the tank is still very difficult. Can't get a spanner on the two inch nut if I wanted to!  I cannot take the tank off the stand as all the rigid pipe work is glued (solvent) in place and is very rigid indeed. <Grr...> I have now been trying for over three weeks to seal these without success. Have you guys any ideas on what I should do next?  Hope some-one can offer some ideas as I am at a loss now as to what to do with this tank. Many, many thanks you guys. Simon. <Gosh, Simon- I'm sorry that I don't have any really great solution to this predicament...It's kind of tough to develop a plan of action without seeing these guys in person...My best advice is to enlist the hope of a qualified aquarium service technician in your area....Money really well spent, IMO! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Bulk Head Draining Noise 7/16/03 Hi Anthony, How are you doing?  Wish you still had your store in Cheswick.   <wow... good to hear from you my friend!> Love the new book by you and Mr. Fenner.  Great job.   <thanks kindly :)> Anyway, I read the questions and answers on the web site and am baffled on how to correct this problem.  I just purchased a new 120 long for a reef setup (upgrading from a 55).  The trickle filter is a 30 gallon sump filled with live rock and a Berlin Turbo Skimmer.   <do consider replacing this skimmer or adding another/better one on the future. Mediocre at best IMO> The return pump is a mag drive 1,200 gph flow (4' height).  There are 4 bulkhead drains drilled into the tank for drainage to the sump (according to my receipt, they are 1.75" bulkheads).   <likely 1" bulkheads (which require a 1.75" hole)> The noise from the bulkheads is unbearable.   <indeed... four 1" holes is borderline IMO for 12OO GPH. A siphon is being created. I have 5 holes on my 50 gallon mini-reef for the same sized pump> Sump noise is okay.  The water draining at the tank level is the problem.  I tried a couple of different drain setups and the T got rid of the sucking noise.  I am now dealing with a raging flow that sounds like Niagara falls in my living room.  The only thing that seems to quiet it down to a reasonable level is cutting the flow in half.  This seems insufficient for a reef display.   <absolutely> After reading all the postings, it seems like 4 drains should be plenty (which from a flow perspective, it is). How do I get rid of the noise?  Should I have a couple more drain holes drilled to lower the flow per hole?   <would be a good remedy... or even have just two drilled in the display wall to install the 1200 GPH pump on a closed loop. Then add a smaller pump for the sump return> The only other solution I can think of is to let the pump rip wide open all day when we are not home or are sleeping, and turn it down to half when we are there.  Is this a bad idea? <hmmm... interesting. Not thrilled about it, but can't really argue well against it if it is a minority of the time. You can get solenoids and put them on timers to do this for you if you like (timed restriction during your eve/viewing hours)> I am concerned about stressing fish and corals by constantly varying the flow like that.   <arguably it could be good for variety/feeding opportunities> Everything I read says that 1,200 gph should be good, and I think the setup should handle it, but I cannot stand it.   <in terms of total flow it is on the low end of the good range. Most reef aquaria require 10-20X flow per hour> Ready to return everything and stay with the 55.   <no worries... not that bad <G>> I have broken it down and set it up 4 times already and am pretty frustrated.  If you are still located in Pittsburgh, do you do any in home consulting services?   <I am still in the burgh... but at a loss for time on the consults. We have several good professionals in the area though. Our (WWM) old friend Steve Pro would be good to start with at Pro Aquatic Services: dspro@sgi.net > If I can't get this resolved soon, I am giving up (my wife will go crazy). Thank You, Andy <truly not that bad mate... easily resolved. Do consider the closed loop and/or chatting with Steve for a visit. Best of luck, my friend! Anthony>

Taking The Plunge! (Cont'd.) I would rather go with the internal drilled overflow but am not sure if I'll be able to get the tank drilled. If I am unable to get my tank drilled will these 2 things reduce my risk of flooding the room? The LFS doesn't drill tanks here. I haven't checked with glass companies yet, but my thought is they won't guarantee it. <Well, the potential for failure is higher on the over-the-side overflows. If the siphon breaks, you can burn your pump out. And it is true- some LFS's and even glass places won't drill aquariums. Perhaps the dealer can return the tank to the manufacturer for drilling there?> 1.  My sump is large enough to hold the amount of water that the overflow could siphon into it if the return pump fails. <Good. That takes away one major concern right there!> 2. Put a float switch in the sump so if the water level gets to a low point, which means the tank is getting really full, it shuts off the pump until the water level has returned to a 'safe point'. <Float switches are favored by some, but they are not foolproof, either. They can clog with debris or coralline over time, and can fail. Much better to rely on a well though-out plumbing scheme...> The only problem I could see happening then is the float switch failing. <Yep!> Then Again, I could set the return line at a level in the sump so if the water level went below it, air would just be pumped.... Not good on the pump, but would save me from a flood. <True...But could lead to a fire...! Sheesh- I'm painting a grim picture here, huh?> Am I missing any scenarios that could make me think I'm on Noah's Ark when I wake up in the middle of the night? <I think that you pretty much covered them!> Thanks. Bill <My pleasure. Regards, Scott F>

-Plumbing... 12/19/03 hi, <Hi Pete, Adam at your service.> I have a 5' tank, about 100 gallons sump included, the return from the sump is from an Eheim 1060 so ~ 500 gph but prob much less after 4ft head height and several bends: <I agree you are probably getting much less than the rated flow.> the problem is that it takes ages for the level in the main tank to reach its proper level after the 1060 has been switched off and then back on again, e.g. after a water change. <you can calculate the actual output of your pump by calculating the gallons per inch of tank height and then timing how long it takes for the water level to rise and inch once you restart your pump.  A little arithmetic, and you can calculate GPH or GPM.> It fills the tank until the sump is empty and the pump is taking in a water + air mixture and the bracing bars in the main tank are submerged, <Yikes!> then eventually a siphon begins and the water level falls to the level of the hole I drilled in the sump intake pipe in the main tank which breaks the siphon (with a big gargle), the level is now stable. <Whew!  A relief it does not flood, but as you know this is still not right!> The pipe taking water from the tank to the sump has an internal diameter of 1 1/4'', I've read on this site that these pipes can take a flow rate of  >600gph, presumably without emptying the sump first and siphoning to the point where the siphon break is. <I agree 1.25" pipe should easily handle the flow you are achieving.> The pipe going from the main tank to the sump comes through the side of the aquarium and bends 90 degrees down, it has a half inch diameter hole in the top of it on the part inside the tank before the 90 degree bend which I've blocked otherwise the siphon never occurs and the water level won't come down, neither does it when the hole is partially open. <You have essentially created a Carlson surge device.  I am surprised that a hole above the desired water level does not cure the problem though.  Try the following to see if any solves your problem:  Turn the elbow inside the tank sideways or upwards so that it acts more like a stand pipe.  If that doesn't work, try replacing the elbow outside the tank with a "T" to create a "chimney" on the top of your drain line (picturing the "T" fitting as the letter "T", it would be sideways).  You may have to extend the "chimney" with a piece of pipe to ensure that the top is above the top of the aquarium.> The pipe taking water to the sump is currently slightly submerged in the sump to prevent noise, though having it above the sump water level makes no difference to the above problem. Though the many answers to the problems I have read on this sight have been informative I haven't found anybody else with this problem yet! <please do let us know which if any of these suggestions solves your problem.> many thanks, <my pleasure.  Adam> Pete

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>

Bulkhead placement and noise 2/16/03 Hi guys real quick one.  I have 2, 1.5" bulkheads drilled in the top back of my 75 gallon tank.  I decided to add a glass overflow (like Anthony describes in his book) about 1" wide along the entire back of my tank.  This has been siliconed and really looks good.  So I filled my tank up (again) w/ tap water to test everything out.  Well....I don't think the overflow works quit like I hoped.  Don't get me wrong, it pulls a sheet a water directly from the surface, and works great w/ a simulated power outage, but the problem is the water going into the bulkheads. I don't know how I thought it would work, but here is my problem.  As the surface water runs over the overflow there is about a 1-2" space at the top of overflow where there is no water and the bulkheads are sucking the water in, in fact the very top of the bulkhead is not in/under the water so I am getting a sucking noise.   <if I understand correctly... the top of the bulkheads are actually slightly higher than the top of the overflow? If that's the case... no worries... drain the tank slightly and silicone an extender piece of glass to the overflow> I have been told b/f that this could be from a pump pushing more than the bulkheads can handle <almost certainly the case... not a problem even with your high placement of the bulkheads... that has nothing to do with creating a siphon> (pump is CSL velocity T4) but I have tried turning down the return w/ a gate valve and it doesn't help (turned the flow almost off even). <Doh! you fit the bill, bubs. A common problem where aquarists don't drill enough holes or put too large of a pump on. The ratings for bulkheads are a joke. What they can run under pressure (or creating a noisy siphon like you hear) and what will run safely and quietly (half filled pipes) are two very different things. The common 1" bulkhead is rated at 500-600 GPH per hole. But at that rate... it is noisy as all get out! 1" bulkheads really should only handle about 300 PGH each to be safe and quiet. Thus... to run a 1200GPH pump, you need 4 bulkheads! With your 1.5 inch holes... I'd guess you could only run about 1000PGH trough them quietly. If your pump is pushing more than that... you have your answer IMO> I always read that the best way to have tank is drilled for bulkheads, instead of built in overflows w/ bottom drains to pump.   <not much difference in flow here... just noise (the floor holes/towers are much louder)> But it seems almost everyone has these and builds a Durso standpipe and everything is quiet.   <this is just an engineering issue, my friend. Holes drilled on the back wall and sized correctly for the pump do not require a modification like the Durso. You just don't have large enough holes/bulkheads> I don't have this type of set up, my tank is drilled on the back w/ bulkheads and I can't hardly find anything about how to get flow from the tank/bulkhead to the sump and the quietest way to do it ( Nightly I read over WWM, reef aquarium guide, reef central and reefs.org) Please Help.  I'm ready to get the tank going again but have been dealing w/ this issue for about a month or so.  I might even rip the overflow off and try 90 degree elbows again and try to rig something else up.   <will not solve the problem bud... cut that pump flow back to 1000GPH and you hear it quiet down> I even tried the elbows b/f, but again had a terrible sucking noise, and yes tried turning the pump down, still did not help.  Any suggestions, I'm just feed up.  Thanks Bryan   <no worries bud... a miscalculation. Easily corrected. Best regards, Anthony>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: