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FAQs about Plumbing Marine Systems 2

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 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, 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, 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

Pumps (Still Confused Help) I have been reading for weeks all of the FAQs on this site, but I still a couple of questions. I looked and looked and have still not found what I need so here we go. I have a 70-gallon tank with 90pds of live rock and fish and soft corals. I am building a refugium/sump underneath in the cabinet. The tank underneath is a 40-gallon tank. I ordered a CPR overflow box that says it flows at 1400 gph.  <ughhh... how dreadful! A drilled tank overflow is always better, safer. I have always said that I would not take a siphon overflow for free. A decade of watching them fail or be tedious to maintain at best> I ordered a Velocity T4 that says it will pump about 1200 gph at 3 ft.  <quite frankly I would call that moderate flow for a reef tank. Good to strong flow if it was fish only> Okay for the questions, the 40 gallon tank underneath is not drilled for the return pump, what effect will their pump on the pressure and volume if I put the T4 pump on top of the 40 tank and put a tube into sump, so basically the water level will be 10 inches below the intake valve, or should I try and have the tank drilled?  <that is insane my friend. You cannot make a dry pump suck water up from a dry vantage point. With the first power outage or interruption... the pump will lose its prime and you will burn it out. Buy a submersible pump instead if you must> Second, for the return valve, it is 1 inch; can I put a t connector and reduce the flow into two ? inch outlets into the tank so that I can use them for circulation within the main tank?  <sure... and place a gate valve on each line to regulate flow> Will the 2 smaller outlets reduce the pressure and flow volume, or will it not matter as long as I have the same amount of overall exit diameter?  <nope... will actually increase head/pressure...possibly reduce volume slightly> Or should I send the T4 back and get the Iwaki MD 70RLT?  <the Iwaki is my hands down favorite> Some day I hope to move this sump to a larger tank that is why I am trying to do everything large scale. <very wise> Thanks for your help; if you have already answered a question like this, I am sorry. Thanks Ryan <no worries, my friend. Best regards, Anthony>

Cementing braided pvc Dear WWM Crew: <cheers, my friend> Can you recommend an appropriate cement for solvent fitting braided pvc tubing? Is an all-purpose primer/cement sufficient? <yes but remember that you should always use separate cleaner/primer and cement solvents. The all-in-ones are a recipe for leaks><<Look for solvents expressly made, labeled for flexible PVC use. RMF>> Thanks in advance for your help. Samantha <very welcome my dear>

Re: STILL PLAYING CATCH-UP! (marine plumbing) Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Well, I took the plunge! Found that a 10 gallon was too big to fit under the stand, so I bought myself an Aquaclear wet/dry 125 filter to set up as a refugium this weekend (just the right size!) --  <excellent!> I took the drip plate and bioballs out and put in live sand (3 inches) and a ton of live rock -- have some algae to put in but my hubby needs to rig the light first. Put 4 tiny hermit crabs as well . . . Having a problem with the flow being too powerful, the pump puts too much into the tank so quickly that it's a mad dash to get it unplugged! They had told me that the overflow would handle 400 gph, and sold me a cap 1200, which with a 3 feet line up should push 350 gph. Hubby and I ran up the street and bought a pump from Lowe's (meant for outdoor but other stores were closed) that is 200gph adjustable down to 115, and it is still doing the same thing. We thought it was adjusted correctly , but this morning found a tiny drip over the side -- it is just slightly too fast still. Is there a way to calculate the gph on an overflow box to check whether it is really what they told me?  <undersized overflows are extremely and frustratingly common...we get weekly e-mails about it. There are mathematics somewhere for this... but generally...a 1" overflow can handle up to 300 gallons per hour comfortably without creating a noisy siphon><<Maximum, under perfect conditions... RMF>> Is there some magic adjustment that I am not understanding?  <nope... you are correct... the overflow is way too small for the necessary pump/water flow most likely> I tried searching the internet for the filter, but I can't find the specific one that I have. I was planning on using the refugium and skimmers (assuming I can get it to work) instead of my magnum 350, BioWheels & skimmers -- do you think this will be OK or should I continue to use the magnum? Tank is a 55,running a BakPak and remora pro skimmers on it, reef with lots of live rock. <hmmm... really depends on the current and expected bio-load. Either way.. focus on aggressive skimming (daily product) and tons of live rock. Hard to go wrong with that recipe. Kindly, Anthony> Thanks!! Cari

Water Noise in Sump Thanks for the answer.  <glad to be available> I had put a 45 deg connector and even that helped a lot. I used the sponge from the original standpipe to slow down the water. I tried your suggestion. I got a length of 3" pipe and put it around the 1" pipe going into the sump. The 45 deg pipe was a little quieter. However, I then tried putting the foam from the standpipe around the 1" pipe and also added the 45 deg bend so that it was inside the foam cover. That did the trick.  <good to hear!> The tank is now pretty quiet. Just the hum from the pumps and the trickle out of the waste valve from the skimmer. The Durso standpipe helped too. That was extremely easy to build, and cost me about $10 in parts. <yes.. a crafty invention> My tank is an Oceanic tank, supposedly top of the line among the ones you can buy locally. It doesn't seem like it would make hardly any cost difference having a 1 1/2"or 2" hole, vs. the 1" hole that is standard. For what those things cost, I'd rather pay a couple of $ more and have something that works well. <yes... agreed. It defies explanation to me as well> Just for the record, though, the siphon effect only occurred when I placed a straight pipe well into the water line of the sump. When the water was free flowing,  <yes...air escaping> dropping into the sump, there was no siphon noise but a loud splash form the water flow. Thanks for your help. Your suggestion got me going in the right direction. Enrique <all to your credit, good sir. Best regards, Anthony>

Water Noise in Sump Hello my wet webbed friends! <Cheers, my friend. Anthony Calfo in your service> I am coming to you again in search of your wisdom. I just filled up my new 75G reef-ready tank and I am having a noise problem with the water falling into an Oceanic sump. The tank is connected to the sump via a 1" flexible hose. It hose is connected to a bulkhead in a piece of glass at the top of the sump. The sump is about 17" tall. The return pump is a Mag Drive 7, rated to pump about 420 gph into a 5' head. Water is returned to the tank over a 3/4" vinyl hose. The water falling from the bulkhead into the sump (maybe a 10-12" fall) causes a lot of noise. I thought I could quiet this by adding a length of 1" PVC from the bulkhead to about 1 inch from the bottom of the sump, well below the waterline. However, this results in just as much noise although the pitch changes. There is also a "siphon" noise that ensues when I do this. That is, there's a sucking noise that comes and goes in the overflow of the tank. The issue seems to be that there is a lot of air in the water. <rather a common problem with these and many such tanks... the overflows are undersized for the return pump. If you have doubts... restrict the pump in attenuation (slowly) and notice that the noise disappears. Sucks... it irritates me that manufacturers continue to pump out these overflows without educating the many consumers likely to put a healthy sized return pump on the sump> When the water exits the pipe, there are a lot of air bubbles released into the sump water. <try a larger diameter pipe to catch the drop and act like a slow overflowing well inside of the sump> I then tried drilling a lot of holes in the PVC pipe, all at once, above and below the waterline I thought this might let some of the air escape, but there seems to be just as much noise as before and there are still perhaps the same amount of bubbles released into the sump by the returning water. Do you have any suggestions for eliminating this noise?  <the 1" pipe may just be too small> The tank is in a family/TV/Stereo room and the sump sounds like a washing machine filling. I need to correct this quickly. <yes. indeed!> I am also going to build a "Durso" style standpipe but I assume this will not have any effect on the water exiting into the sump, only on the water leaving the overflow. <agreed...but a nice touch> Thanks for any help/suggestions you can provide. Enrique <best regards, Anthony>

Plumbing and Powerheads. Mr. Fenner, <Anthony Calfo in your service> In the overflow of my 75 Gallon RR Oceanic tank, there are two holes. One is a large hole for water to drain down to the sump, for which I'll build a Durso standpipe.  <very cool> The other one is a small hole for the supply line (from my Mag 7 lying the sump). Do you think it would be a good idea to reverse the flow in this smaller hole? I'd build a smaller version of the Durso standpipe for it, if necessary.  <yes... very much agreed. It is quite likely in most aquaria that more drainage is needed to afford a better/appropriate circulating pump> In essence, I'd then have two holes that would drain the overflow compartment. Perhaps, the large hole plumbed down to the sump, and the smaller hole plumbed to a refugium and then to the sump.  <indeed fine/wise> The smaller hole would allow for a lower flow-rate through the refugium. Good idea (Y/N)? <Yes! a nice benefit> Also, I was thinking of placing two Otto powerhead/pumps on a wavemaker in the overflow compartment (if they fit), in order to keep them out of view. Do these pumps do well with on-and-off cycling (Y/N)?  <none really do in the long run> I would have gone with the MaxiJets, but I think their flow-rate are too small for what I'd like to do.  <agreed for this and more reasons> From one of the powerheads, I'd like to run PVC piping (hidden by the sandbed) to the two left-side corners of the tank. From the other powerhead, I'd like to run PVC piping (hidden by the sandbed) to the two right-side corners of the tank. Each corner outlet would extend about 5 inches up from the bottom of the aquarium and end in a 45 degree angle piece pointed towards the center of the tank. With a 3 inch sandbed,  <more sand please for better denitrification (5+inches)> only about 2 inches of the PVC would be exposed at each corner outlet. Have you heard of PVC piping (hidden under the sandbed) used like this, in place of those conspicuous powerheads? <sure...many variations on this theme. A bit unpredictable and limiting if the path/flow isn't ideal from go. Perhaps a waste of time. I prefer pumping up to PVC piping mounted just at or above the water level with numerous swiveling tees for the ultimate flexibility in the path of the water flow as corals grow or are moved> I'd also attach the supply line coming from the Mag 7 (in the sump) to a Sea-Swirl, which I understand is good for upper level "current making"/"water movement". <yes.. and excellent product> Finally, I'm trying to decide if it is better to slightly elevate live rock on PVC piping base(s) or just let it rest directly on the sand bed? I've heard conflicting opinions on this. <if on the sand bottom, use a few large foundation pieces to build the reef off of. I prefer as little rock on the sand floor as possible myself> Thanks again for all your assistance. I'd like to do all these thing correctly from the start, to save myself headaches later! :) -Russ <best regards in your endeavors! Anthony>

Drainage question (fish tank) Good evening guys / Anthony (my mullet friend) <heehee... that mullet site was so funny! I'm still laughing to think about it!> I've set up my 75 gal. reef aquarium and just finished testing the plumbing. the two bulkheads that I have in the overflow box I made into drains for better circulation. I made 2 "Durso" style standpipes and the noise is quite better...Is there anything in particular that I should be careful for with these types of drains?  <yes... overflow adult parrotfish will impede its performance> Although the noise is better with 2 Durso pipes one pipe seems to handle all the flow well. should I leave the other drain as an emergency standpipe near the surface?  <only if you are sure that the current drains are sufficient. The standpipe is nice redundancy but overkill for most setups> Thanks for all the help. Craig <best regards, my friend. Anthony>

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

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

Overflow murders Perhaps you can help me out. I have a 125 Gallon salt water tank and just upgraded to an Amiracle sump filter but the overflow is sucking my smaller fish along with shrimp etc. Is there any method to prevent this? I've been to a couple of per shop in the local Jersey area but they don't offer any good suggestions. What can I do. Thanks very much.... Peter <if the overflow is an internal skimmer box then simply fill it with submerged bioballs. This will not impede water flow but will prevent air bubbles and fish from making it through. Kindly, Anthony>

No plumbers crack here! Hope all is well with the WWM crew. <I am doing well and hope you and yours are too.> Have enjoyed your site for many months and wish to thank you all for such an in-depth, informative, and humorous resource for the aquatic hobbyist. Hats off to all at WWM for your "labor of love". Just have one question. I am replacing a Mag 7 return pump with a Mag 24 to increase turnover and enable me to remove powerheads from my 125g reef tank. <Do be sure your overflows can handle the increase.> I will be installing 1 1/2" discharge from pump and will "T" this off to two manifolds (one on each side of tank). Each manifold with terminate with two nozzles returning into tank (one front, one rear). After searching FAQs on this and other sights I haven't been able to find my answer so, finally, here is the question. What size plumbing should I use from the first 1 1/2" "T" to the manifolds <I would probably continue with the 1 1/2". You have to buy 10' anyway, you might as well use.> and what size discharge nozzles would you recommend to maximize flow? <I would use 3/4" for the nozzles. Maybe try to get some of that modular/adjustable black pipe. I know Champion carries it.> (Guess that's really two questions!). Thanks for the help, Jim <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Drilling Question Hello again, WWM crew ! This is Luis Santos from Portugal, do you read me over...? <Loud and clear, over.> I have this 65gl already established marine tank (8 mm glass). Since I'm waiting for a new custom built steel stand (not only for the weight, but also to get space for a future sump), I'm beginning to think about getting the tank drilled. But what would be, in your opinion, the ideal drilling diameter, and also where to drill, side or bottom? <I would drill the tank to fit whatever bulkheads are available. If you can get 1" I.D. bulkhead fittings (the most common), I would get three to four holes drilled in the back spaced out and about 4" from the top of the tank to the center of the holes.> Also I would like your opinion on return pump size and... <A pump capable to 650 gph at whatever head pressure you have as a minimum.> Yes I know sump size the bigger the better, right? <Yes> Thank you again! Luis Santos <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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

U-tube overflow modification Hello, I use an overflow box with a u-tube. Every week it seems that I must re-siphon the u-tube, otherwise air enters the tube and tends to decrease water movement to the sump and increase the water inside the overflow box, causing less flow and less water movement. Is there any fix to prevent this? Thanks, Rob <the best solution is to not use an overflow at all... they hold you hostage in fear of the inevitable overflow from a siphon break... even the best designed ones can fail. Do have the tank drilled for a gravity overflow when you can. In the meantime, there are many DIY solutions on the net to help with this... simply do a keyword search with the pertinent terms. Also look on the DIY link at www.ozreef.org... I think a saw plans there for a better mousetrap. Essentially, what you need to do is drill a small hole at the top of the tube, glue a rigid airline stem in place and hook it up with the Venturi of a nearby powerhead. This Venturi will constantly siphon air bubbles that collect (with water) and prevent the siphon from breaking. Best regards, Anthony> Rob Cook

Aquarium cover and overflow size I am building a 90g partial wood tank and was wondering if I should put a piece of plastic or glass over the top opening even though I am putting a 6" canopy on it just not sure what to do here. And any help would be appreciated.  <a glass canopy may still be necessary if for example you are using metal halide lamps that need UV filtering and protected from splash> Oh one more thing I put in a overflow box for my trickle filter and was planning on using 11/4" bulk head fitting will this be enough for say a flow of 600gph or so I'm sure it will but any thoughts. Thanks, Eric <that will be close or not big enough if you actually get 600pgh to the top of the tank. If you are only getting something closer to 400gph to the tank because the pump max is 600 against the head pressure on return from the sump, you may be just fine. Anthony>

Link in Reply Thanks, but your link to the diagram doesn't work, can you recheck it please? "There a simple diagram illustrating this from my book on WWM at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm. Best regards, Anthony" <The link worked for me. Maybe try navigating your way through the WWM site to get to the page in question; 1.)Marine Aquarium Articles, 2.)Set-up, 3.)Plumbing Marine Systems -Steven Pro>

Prefilter Size Hello there WWMCrew! <Cheers, my friend... Anthony Calfo in your service typing between cartwheels now that Bob has announced his return from Australia to run this ship...hehe> Hope all is going well with your new team structure. I certainly enjoy your web site very much. <thank you... of course, tablespoons of Xanax and Paxil help us move it along smoothly> I am planning on getting a 125G tank, 60x18x24 with a built in overflow/prefilter. My question is should I go for 2 overflows or 1, and how does the size of the overflow affect performance? Tenecor offers 5x5, 6x6, and 8x5, and then the trapezium ones too. <the size of the overflow if not of so great relevance as the size of the drain hole(s) in the overflow tower. In both cases though... bigger is better (quieter)> Thanks a bunch! Brian <very welcome, Anthony>

Plumbing in the Turboflotor <<JasonC here, filling in while Bob heads out diving.>> I am currently in the planning stages of a FO 90 gallon tank. I would like to plumb a Turboflotor 1000/RIO 2100 combo directly from a continuous siphon overflow with no by-pass. My question is, is there a recommended flow range/limit for the Turboflotor? <<you should really check with Aquamedic on this.>> I am planning to use my Little Giant 3MDQ-SC as my return pump from a sump/plenum so my flow rate through my overflow/skimmer would likely be 500+ gph. Do you think that this flow rate is acceptable for the Turboflotor or should I plan on plumbing in a by-pass ? <<bypass would be wise, if only so you could take the skimmer out of circuit for cleaning, etc.>> Also, are there any good tank mates for an Undulatus Trigger in a 90 gallon tank or am I nuts. I would like to add a puffer (Dog face or Long-spined). <<a puffer if a good choice, can endure most of this triggers bullying>> If an Undulatus is too aggressive, is there any trigger/puffer combo you could recommend? <<I am a huge fan of the Huma Trigger - Rhinecanthus aculeatus, myself >> Last question....Are all triggers bad tank mates for P. volitans or is there a workable combo out there? <<check out those Humas>> Thanks much, GR <<my pleasure. Cheers, J -- >>

Painting the Overflow HI <<Hi, JasonC here, filling in for Bob while he's out diving.>> Can I spray paint the inside of my over flow box ? Thanks Mark <<I would not recommend it. Cheers, J -- >>

Pumps/Returns Question - I am considering purchasing a 360 gallon tank. However, the tank is drilled (reef ready) with overflows already. 4 x 1.5" bulkheads. Three are for drains, one is for the return.  <I'd recommend that all four be used as drains... this still may not be enough to handle the pumps> I'm wondering, rather than having one larger pond return pump, can I use the two Iwaki 70's I have (both are 3/4") and have them both go into a 1.5" pipe that returns through to the tank.  <cannot/should not merger direct drive pumps into a tee (wear on pump)... only mag drives will tolerate this> Rather than having another return from to the tank (external to the current plumbing), I can use the extra wide pipe that is on there now. Will this work ? I know the 1.5" return pipe can handle it, just wondering if it will 'screw up' the pumps ability to output water ?  <better to return the one or two return lines from the sump up over the back/side and enjoy quieter drains for it> Will one pump essentially create backpressure on the other pump and this is self defeating?  <yes... somewhat unnecessary> Thanks <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Pumps/returns II Mr. Calfo, Thanks. I wasn't necessarily thinking a 'Tee'. I saw these 'Y' pvc piping, where two pipes come in at a 45degree angle going into one direction. The 1.5" pipe should have significantly less 'pressure' since the Iwaki's drive out of 3/4". And obviously a 1.5" can push more water than 2x 3/4" hoses.  <agreed, but still a bad habit/practice. In this case, the velocity of the water on return through such a large pipe will be diminished and in the event of a single pump failure will require that the other pump fill a 1.5 inch pipe (under duress/ voluminous head) just to make it to the top. Best results will be obtained simply by following mfg design/engineering intent a 3/4" return that could be stretched at best to 1"...separate lines> I'm not too worried about the 3 x 1.5" drains. Each 1.5" drain looks to be capable of about 1400 gallons/hour, so we're looking at 4200 (conservatively at 3500) gph from 3 drains. You have a point that it may be quieter at 4. Just have to figure out how to run it back - as someone else wants it against the wall (one of the pre-conditions for acquiring this beast) and everything plumbed internal. . . <Hehehe... yes, the "project manager"> Guess my choice is to buy a few large mag drives, or one large pump that can handle the 1.5" pipe.  <agreed... and appealing to me as I dread multiple pumps or power heads. I'd rather have a manifold topside (just at or above the surface) plumbed in a loop with tees and adjustable nozzles for tweaking flow as tank rockscape changes or corals grow over time> I was hoping for some redundancy, but do you think its better to buy a large dolphin pump, or two mag drives pumping at 3/4" 45 deg angles into a 1.5" pvc pipe return ? Jim <a 1 1/2 return is huge... but I really like the idea of a single pump. Some personal preference here for sure. Best regards, Anthony>

Overflow Q's Hello Mr.. Fenner- <Anthony Calfo up at bat this time, my friend> Thank you for your prompt response. I have an idea and wanted to have your input on it. I have a 75 gal. tank with one overflow box. In the overflow is a 1" drain and a 3/4" return. In order to maximize the drainage from the tank (IYO) would it be ok to make the two holes in the overflow both drain lines going to the sump and have the return lines go up the back of the tank?  <a very good idea in my opinion. More drainage is always advantageous when gravity overflowing (simple and safer). A return up the back is fine and makes no difference). Do look at Friday's posted FAQ on a similar topic that I responded to title slips me right know).> Any potential problems with this design and do you think it is advantageous? Thanks so much! Craig <no problems at all... and improvement indeed. Kindly, Anthony>

Iwaki and overflow Thanks Anthony for your continuing help. <very welcome, indeed> Is my overflow the problem or is it the diameter of the bulk head?  <depends on what we are calling an overflow drilled bulkheads through a tank wall, internal bow, external box, etc. Bottom line really is how big/how many lines feed the sump from "whatever" above> It has about 23 1/4 inch wide 3/4 inch tall slots cut into the overflow. I can easily cut through some of the holes on my overflow to increase water drainage if needed.  <this will not change the reality of the drain line behind it... if it is a one inch line, then it can only handle so much from upstream> The internal diameter of the bulk head drain is about one inch. How much water drainage can a 1" export hole handle?  <realistically 300 gph per one inch line, but at a noisy siphon, toward 500 gph> The Japanese Iwaki MD-30RXLT is rated at 960gph at 4' and given the prior information, would I be pushing the limit with my Oceanic Reef Ready tank if I modify it a little. Could I use a pump with this much flow?  <in what sense? Does a reef need it... absolutely and then some, or... does a fish tank need it, probably not> I simply cannot believe Oceanic would make such a lame reef tank.  <believe it... it is very common among manufacturers in general... extra overflows drive the price higher and bump them away from price conscious beginners (the staple of the market: newbies)> I do not know if the information I got from Oceanic is to be believed. Seems like it should handle it well but I can not afford to be wrong. <nope, I believe it... most tanks have weak overflows and are forced to use powerheads. Do look into Gemini top-mounted pumps (Aquarium Products distributes them.. a less expensive version of the German Tunze Turbelles... all great pumps but very expensive> Zimmy <regards, Anthony>

Refugium Plumbing Hi Bob, <Steven Pro this afternoon.> Thanks for publishing all the great advice on your web site. I have learned a lot. I am in the process of adding a 20 gal. refugium to my existing 55 gal. setup. I do not have a sump. Do have 70+ lbs. LR, Penguin 330 BioWheel power filter, and Prizm HO skimmer. I don't have any water problems now but like the increased water capacity and many benefits of a refugium setup. What I have done is setup a 20 gal. tank right up against my 55 (not quite touching). The 20 is approximately 1-1/2" higher at the top than the 55. I am feeding the 20 with a 170gph powerhead with 3/4" PVC and have a 1-1/4" PVC U-tube made from a typical drain trap as a siphon return. When the pump is on at the current water level (20gal 1/2" from top 55gal 1-1/2" from top) every thing seems stable. When I shut off the pump the water levels in both tanks equalize within a few seconds. This lowers the 20 a little more and still leaves 3/4" or so room in the 55. What I am wondering is am I cutting it too close here? Maybe I should get a smaller powerhead? If I install a ball valve in the 3/4" line to reduce the flow will it likely hurt the powerhead. I can't think of what might go wrong the way it is but I may be missing something. Any comments or thoughts on this setup are appreciated. Mike Mahoney <Your current configuration seems OK. The only suggestion I have is to locate the powerhead as close to the surface of your 55 as possible. That way, if your siphon tube looses suction and begins to overflow onto your floor, the powerhead will only pump out a few inches before running dry. You may loss a powerhead in this situation, but you will save most of your animals and minimize damage to you floor. -Steven Pro>

2 plumbing questions Hi again Bob, <Anthony Calfo with the follow up, my friend> Thanks for all your previous help. Two quick questions. I just bought a drilled 90 gal all glass aquarium, so there is only one overflow.  <how dreadful... is there someone locally that can drill more holes for you or are you handy? You can buy a diamond tipped hole saw to keep for not much more than 2-4 more holes will cost> I am going to use a Turboflotor T1000 in a roughly 30 gallon sump, which it appears must be gravity fed when set in the sump (won't suck water from sump),  <correct but I still wouldn't rely on that overflow or Rick backing it up.> preferably directly from the overflow drain with a ball valve  <never use ball valves for any marine application... always gate valves: much finer control and safer> to adjust water flow. My question is, should I also install a tee (and extra hose into sump from the tee) in between the skimmer and drain to prevent overflow to the skimmer?  <most folks just buy a small extra power head fountain pump (maxi-jet/Rio type) and force feed the skimmer in the sump from the unrestricted overflowing water> I am not sure how much water flow the T1000 could handle or if the tee will take too much away. <agreed> This feeds directly to my second question. What would be a good choice for a submersible return pump (to the main tank from the sump) with about a 4' head for this size tank. Or is it necessary to use an external pump (I am not overly concerned about heat buildup where I am located)? I plan to supplement circulation with a power head placed behind the LR. <in that case you can save money and buy an energy efficient Supreme brand Mag-drive pump (or the like) to accomplish this. Your problem is that one overflow hole is ridiculously small and will only accommodate 300-600 gph by spec (and I'm certain that you won't come near 600gph without an overflow). Without extra holes, you are looking at a tiny return pump and some ugly power heads in the main tank for extra water flow. Not pretty... get the tank drilled with at least three more holes> Thanks for all your help, Mike <good luck, my friend. Anthony Calfo>

Re: sump filter (balancing flow rate arrangements) hi Robert sorry to bother u again if I'm feeding sump via overflow and the feeding beast (tm) skimmer with Eheim 1060 pump which in turn flows into trickle tower and other media will a 1060 at other end be to powerful and dry sump up or do I need a smaller pump as I also have a Eheim 1025 spare Thanks for your help Craig Brown <Mmm, the only sure way to tell re the relative water heights, volumes of these containers, plumbing between, and size/flow rate of pumps is matched is to try them out... Bob Fenner>

Marine Plumbing Mr.. Fenner, I bought your book (CMA) and loved it!! Read almost every fact possible and naturally began the process of self-doubt that reading this much info can produce! Allow me to run over my intended reef system (in the making) ..Oceanic 75g reef ready with 1 built-in overflow.. "Berlin" style sump that holds 35g ..120lbs live rock with 4x's 96 watt custom Sealife power compacts 2 6,700 and 2 actinic...T3 pump that has 800 gph.. return plumbing matches pump outlet @3/4" split to two returns.. one sea swirl and one flex pipe...my questions are as follows. 1. Do you base the watt per gal. mantra on total volume i.e. tank & sump or just display tank volume? Is the light I have too much light? <Like your word usage... not much of a mantra to me... many factors involved in choosing light fixturization. Please read over the article, many FAQs files on these issues posted on WetWebMedia.com, perhaps starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marindind2.htm> 2. With only one return line will I be restricted with max flow and should I use an addition hang-on overflow/return to augment this flow? <I would do so... better to be "safe than sorry"...> 3. Can regular PVC cement be used to solvent weld flex PVC pipe? I cannot find the elusive "flexible" PVC cement.. <No, not the same formulation... Are you sure you're using, or want to use this material for piping? I suggest either hard plumbing as much as you can... or using polyethylene where you currently are seeking to use flex PVC... with barbed fittings, plastic clamping...> 4. Is a submersible Rio pump for my CustomSeaLife UV sterilize really a "time bomb" as so many people seem to believe? <No... not "that" bad... do put on your scheduled maintenance (weekly), to pull it out, give it a look over in the sink, running tap water over the components in the volute (impeller, etc). Most Rios do work just fine...> 5. Besides a check valve; is there any other type of valve i.e. a true union ball valve needed or helpful on my drain line from tank to sump? <Not really. Either on/off is about all one is looking for... You can always just lower your water level to effectively "shut off" the water flow here> Thanks in advance for your time and advice. Your expertise has been of great benefit for all of us who have been "infected" with this salt water syndrome!! Regards, Craig <Glad to be of help. Bob Fenner>

Brass valve Hi Bob <Steven today.> I just finished setting up my 100g tank that I will be stocking with coral and fish. I stocked the tank so far with 150lb of live rock and 2" of live sand about 5 days ago. Everything is going great, I am now waiting for the tank to finish cycling. Last night I panicked after reading about the effects of copper on reef tanks and realized I had installed a brass electric solenoid for my top-off water between my RO unit and the sump. When I installed the valve I knew that copper and reefs don't mix but I did not think that brass on the top-off side would have any effect, especially since a lot of people use tap water that probably runs through copper pipes. I removed the valve immediately, do you think I will have any problems with copper in my tank with the top-off running for the past 5 days? I am planning on getting a copper test kit today and I was thinking of doing a premature 20% water change. <Jim, I am unclear about something. Was the brass valve submerged or even near the saltwater or was it merely connected to your RO unit far away from the saltwater? I think it was the latter. In that case, you are probably OK, but I would definitely get another valve and test the tank water. -Steven Pro> Thanks, Jim

Pump Return Hi guys, Bryan again, about to get everything together and I won't be asking so many questions. Today the question I have is about the return from my sump to my tank. Return will be from a MAG 9.5 1" PVC till the "T" 3/4" from here. Return to the tank via PVC on both ends. The PVC will run the length of each end w/ tiny holes drilled the whole length to allow for water to circulate/blow across the top. The PVC will face each other on the ends and blow water toward each other. Does this sound fine? Or is there a problem w/ the turbulence created as the water flow meets in the middle of tank. Also adding a couple maxi jet 1200 PH at the 2 back corners. Thanks again Bryan. <What you are describing sounds like spray bars and that is fine. In fact, the turbulence you are concerned about is in fact good. Sounds like a plan. -Steven Pro>

Tank Drilling Bryan here. Real quick question. I'm in the process of getting my 75 gal glass tank drilled for 2 1.5" bulkheads. When my wife heard of my idea she thought it was an accident waiting to happen as far as leaking all the time. And that has been a small concern for myself. | The bulkheads are coming from the Marine Depot. I'm wanting to do all I can to prevent leaks around the bulkheads. Do I put silicone on both sides of the bulkhead and let cure or am I overlooking something? Thanks again Bryan. <Yep. This is exactly what we used to do in our service companies. Do place the gasket that comes with the fittings on the inside of the tank... and lightly smear both faces with 100% silicone... about a day to cure. Bob Fenner>

Tank Modify Anthony thanks for the help. Follow up to previous questions. I called the manufacturer of my 75 gal tank (ALL GLASS) and they said that the sides were not tempered glass so I think I'm going to have it drilled for overflow. One concern I have is a prefilter, should there be much of a problem if I have just a filter pad in the sump? any suggestions here? <Emperor Aquatics makes filter socks that attach to PVC pipe and catch everything that drains down. Here is a link to their description http://www.emperoraquatics.com/mediafelt.html Emperor Aquatics calls them "Filter Enhancers Super Filter Felt Bags". Another question is how many gph would a 1.5" bulkhead handle, I was told a 1" would handle @300 gph. I was thinking 2 1.5" bulkheads on each side of the back glass about 2/3 the way up... sound alright? <I would put them as high as possible to fit the bulkhead in with the tank trim. I just had a 120 drilled to house three 1 1/2" bulkheads and I expect to run 2400 gph through them. This was an educated guess I my part from other people I had talked to. I will also be venting the drain pipe, so that when the water rushes in, the air pulled along will have a place to go.> Since I don't want to "T" them together how should I make the flow to the sump...2 separate lines to the sump? <Separate lines to the sump is best.> Thanks again Bryan <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Tank Modify Bryan Here, Great info guys, w/out this site I would be lost. Trying to piece everything together on the modification of my 75 gal Tank. I want to run this by and see if it sounds good. For overflow I'm having the tank drilled for 2 1.5" bulkheads on both sides of the back of tank towards the top. 1-1.5" PVC/flex line down to the sump (separate lines/ emperor aquatics filter bags. In sump have mechanical and chemical filtration. Small submersible pump (@250 gph) to a small 20 gal refugium (raised higher than sump) contain a DSB of 4-5" of Carib sea special grade <I have this sand in my 55 and have not been very impressed. I have seeded it numerous times, but the critters do not seem to like it and its coarseness allows detritus to settle between the grains of sand. Go with the Aragamax or other similar fine grain sand.> and LR w/ a 1" bulkhead allowing for gravity to flow back to the sump. External Mag 9.5 for return flow to the main tank w/ check valve after pump. Possible "T" off to 2 PVC returns of 3/4", <Start with 1" pipe off of the Mag-Drive and then at the T go to 3/4".> to each side of tank for circulation/return w/ water blowing towards each other. 3 maxi jet 1200 PH in tank..2 at the back corners w/ flow to the middle front and 1 PH located more towards the bottom of tank. Aqua C remora hang on skimmer. 1/2-1" of special grade sand in the tank and LR added. Hope not to hard to follow. Any suggestions? <See above> My concern is placement of valves to limit flow in any area, and what to do to prevent an overflow of sump from the drilled overflow in tank if s/t happens to pump. Thanks again Bryan <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. Best of luck. -Steven Pro>

Tank modify follow up <Anthony back again> Bryan again, Thanks for the very speedy response Steven. Couple of follow up questions on earlier e-mail. I'm having trouble on how to tie in 3 overflow holes to the sump. Would some type aft" work? <never use "tees" on an overflow... an accident waiting to happen> Need a little help on this issue. Also in what part( or configuration) would the bulkheads be located on the back of tank. On each side and middle and how high on the tank should they be placed.  <no on has ever demonstrated an advantage to any specific distribution of holes that I am aware of> One last question Steven. Would going to 2 bigger bulkheads, say 1.5 to 2" work w/ as far as gph instead of 3 1" bulkheads.  <possibly, but check fitting specs to confirm> Thanks for great info Bryan. P.S Is putting a ball valve after each bulkhead a good idea or not? <very dangerous...please don't...risks clogging/overflow and flow can be controlled on outflow side of pump with a gate-valve (restricting water that will overflow eventually. Anthony>

Tank Modification Hey Bob, Bryan here. <Hi Bryan, Steven here.> I am in the process of redoing/upgrading my 75 gal tank. The last few days I've been coming up w/ some ideas. The main one I want to run by you is this. I was using a CPR overflow down to my sump. I would like to drill a hole or someone else) in the glass tank, attach a bulkhead with PVC and let gravity do the work, plus it would clean up the inside of the tank. I was thinking about a hole to fit 1" bulkhead w/ 1" PVC to the sump. Does this sound fine? Big question is how far up on the back should the overflow hole go. clear towards the top or about 2/3 of the way up going to use a Mag drive 9.5 for main pump. Last and most important question.. can my glass tank even be drilled, I believe it is tempered glass. Thanks again Bryan <Tempered glass cannot be drilled. Check with the manufacturer as most do not make the entire tank out of tempered glass. Most times it is just the bottom or the long sides, but it varies by brand and model. Each 1" bulkhead can comfortably handle about 300 gph. I have and would recommend drilling 3 holes in a 75. -Steven Pro>

Need Plumbing advice for refugium, will this work? Hi Bob, <<Greetings Gary, I'm not Bob, but JasonC here visiting with Bob.>> While cycling my 125 FOWLR tank, I got interested in adding a refugium. I remembered that I have a 38 high tank in storage that pretty much matches up with the height of the 125. I'm planning on putting it next to the 125,and enjoying the expanded display. I have 3 different pumps going out from my 125,so I figure the return from one of them would be perfect for transferring water to the refugium. <<Mmm, without reading on, I can tell you quickly this plan is flawed. You should always rely on gravity to move water from one system to the next, rather than using pumps. If one of the two pumps were to fail, you would end up emptying the one system into the other and then on to the floor.>> My main question is how to flow the water back into the 125. I was looking at overflow boxes, but they seem to be designed mainly for sending water down to a sump, so they don't seem like a viable solution for returning water to an adjacent tank. <<and for the design you've laid out, they would mean certain disaster.>> Then I started thinking that an overflow is nothing more than 2 boxes with a siphon tube between them. Would I be able to just put a couple of U tubes between the tanks and have the tanks equalize the water, and return the pumped water back into the original tank? <<Siphons rely on gravity, so with the two tanks side-by-side, this wouldn't work so well, you would need to maintain a lower-than-normal water level in the second tank to keep the siphon running.>> If this works, should the tanks be the same height or should the refugium be slightly higher? <<the refugium should be on the floor, and you should rely on gravity to fill it.>> If this won't work, can you suggest an alternative method? <<it's already in there.>> Also, what is the ideal turnover rate for a refugium. <<most often the flow through would be the same for the system, but the design of the refugium would allow a settling area for detritus to fall out of suspension.>> I'm all pumped about the refugium, but get a little confused with siphoning setups. <<Well, I hope I've helped.>> TIA for any help! Gary Enmity <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Multi-level System Planning Hi Bob, <Lee... friends Anthony Calfo and Steven Pro answering Bob's mail while in absentia...which I believe is north of Illinois (smile)> Thanks for the insight, the more I read posts & your e-mail to me, the clearer some things become...not all though. I've attached a drawing of my system. If you have time, look it over & edit. Here is my thinking so far...I'd love your input. 1. return pump size...not sure??? Eheim, Iwaki, emerged out of water. How do you figure pump size, take into account tubing id size, line distance & 90 degree turns from sump to tank, ???? (Lee... I have written about this topic in a bit of detail in the Book of Coral Propagation... the short story: external pump for heat dissipation and convenient servicing, many good pumps out there... I love Jap. Iwaki's, a 1" outflow would be in the ballpark, 3/4" is possible, 1/2 inch is too small...pump volume depended on the animals in your system and their specific need's) (please elaborate on your hit list)... add 1' of head to every 90 degree angle, valve and 10 foot of horizontal run in addition to the actual vertical head> 2. 1" to 2" PVC flex for tank to sump/return sump to tank. I guess bigger to better??? Not necessarily... but a complicated dynamic to explain in less than 1000 words. You will be well served by a 1" line on a 55 gallon display with secondaries> 3. refugium in parallel, tee after pump to refugium/main tank...almost all flow back to main tank & adjust gate valve after tee to refugium @ a much slower flow. <I'm not clear on your intent or purpose... but there are many pros/cons to the dynamics of refugium placement. I prefer in-line after sump and above the display for most applications> 4. gate valves on all lines. <excellent, always gate valves...never use ball valves! Very course and unreliable control> 5. Check valve 1 will prevent flow back from refugium to sump through motor or to main tank. 6. Check valve 2 will aid in preventing any flow back from refugium & main tank. 7. Check valves 3,4 will save siphon from refugium to main tank, then will re-engage when refugium begins to fill backup???? 8. Check valve 5 will prevent any flow back from main tank to sump. 9. Check valves 6&7 will save siphon from main tank to sump, then will re-engage when main tank begins to fill back up.????? <a lot of money and aggravation can be saved on redundant check valves with an adequately sized sump and some simple calculations. No check valve is fool-proof, and the good valves will cost you a fortune the way you are distributing them. Seems partly unnecessary> 10. The sump max fill line will be so that the sump can handle some water from refugium & main tank until siphon stops from both refugium & main tank if lose of pump power. <why not biggie-size the sump for all, bud?> 11. Question, what is the best way to prevent flooding if siphon does not re-engage or lose of siphon on main tank or refugium when pump power returns???  <good contingency planning> use float kill switches to shut down pump...do they make things like that??? <absolutely...check around the links for marine specialty dealers like Premium Aquatics, Custom Aquatic, etc. Write back if that doesn't pan out. Many models that are reversible/programmable for high or low water shut-offs... very common> Bob, this is a very interesting project & can't wait to see tank improvements. Please, your input would be great, & thanks a mill... Owe, I just installed heavy duty shelving to support my refugium. <best of luck, Lee... it sounds like you are prepared to appreciate the beauty of the sea evermore... Anthony> Lee Harris Dallas TX.

My crazy clowns (and overflow boxes) Mr. Fenner, I just wanted to give you an update about my 2 true clowns. I wrote to you about a week ago asking for advice about my clowns fighting their reflection in the glass. I am happy to say that they have given up this behavior and have adopted my Green Frogspawn. :) <Ah, good> I have a question if you have the time to look over the attachment I've sent. I have a Del-Ray sump that came with an over flow. It is the box kind that is attached with suction cups and uses a J tube to go down to the sump. I am having problems with it staying attached (the box inside of the tank that is.) <Yes... a poor design> My LFS does not sell these sumps anymore and does not know where I could find out the information about the suction cups used. On a totally different subject I want to purchase another overflow (so I can have one for each corner) and now I cannot find the manufacture (looked on the net and could not find it. I am not a surfer.) Could you please take a look at the picture I have attached and tell me if you know this sort of overflow. and where I might be able to find on like it? <See it... and not made by any extant company as far as I'm aware. Do look at the CPR units... Link on WetWebMedia.com> Also I thought that since I am moving and I will have to take my tank apart, could I use aquarium sealant and glue the box to the wall of the aquarium? <Absolutely... this is what I would do if satisfied with the unit... if not cut, drill the tank otherwise...> I don't ever intend to have them removed, so this seemed like a good idea. What do you think? I haven't found anyone who has done it so I am weary. Have a great afternoon and thank you for your time. ((sorry for the first picture being so blurry)) <No worries... have many more that are much blurrier. Bob Fenner>

Re: My crazy clowns (and overflow boxes) Hello again Mr. Fenner, Sorry to give you two emails in one day but I did want to thank you (yet again) for you help. About the overflows, I would like to ask another question. I have heard very bad experiences with the CPR overflows, losing there siphon and other scary things. <Mmm, actually, these makes/models are about as trouble-free as available, and reliable IMO> I have not had a problem with the one I am using now. I would keep using it because I thought drilling a glass aquarium when it has already been assembled is a disaster waiting to happen. <Can be... I wouldn't do it yourself... check around with the glass shops in your area for their opinion) I have heard it has a greater chance of cracking while being drilled and that it could loose structural integrity. <Crack, yes... a possibility. Loss of structural integrity? No, not if done correctly.> The tank I have now is 1 year old and does have a center brace at it's top. Do you think it is possible to drill for overflows and not have problems?. <Yes... this is a "stock procedure" in aquarium manufacture...> I will read over your web site and see if I can find anyone who has done this. I am just very weary at the idea of drilling glass. Best wishes <And leery. Bob Fenner>

Plumbing in a 50 gallon sump & 25 gallon refugium... Hi Bob, Now that I'm in my new home with all the extra room!!!! yes!!!!, I can get serious about expanding my salt water system. This is what I'm wanting to do. <Okay... am about to add a couple of tanks to our new/used place as well> I have a 55 gallon salt aquarium currently in my office setting next to the office closet...in the closet I'm mounting heavy duty shelving to support my 25 gallon refugium above main tank level to gravity feed main tank in office. Below shelving on the ground in closet, I'm placing a 40-50 gallon sump for skimmer, heaters, dosing, water changes etc...so, the sump & refugium will be hiding in closet, sounds great, yes!!! <Yes> Sorry to say, but the plumbing for this is pretty confusing, & the more I read your web posts the more confusing it gets.  <Mmm, let's try to make all less-confusing... In fact, because "aquarium plumbing" pieces/articles aren't there, please take a look at the "Pond Index" articles on the subject (Plumbing, Check Valves, Pumps...) as the terminology, concepts, purposes are the same> Seems like everybody has a different way of plumbing. (use pumps here, gravity feed here, refugiums above/below main tank, use these valves & check valves here, this size of tubing...Holly God help me, my head is spinning!) sorry. <As long as "it works" doesn't matter what design is touted, used... "All roads lead to Rome"... > Bob, I just need a little bit of your time & wisdom on how to approach this project, the first of many more to come. Because I realize how important it is for good water quality management to succeed with a salt aquarium. <Okay> This is what I'm thinking & please correct me If there's a better way. Can I gravity feed from main tank to sump, use a pump to move water from sump to refugium & then gravity feed main tank from refugium... <Mmm, you could... but no way to match flow rates between/amongst non-pressurized systems... you would have to rely on float switches in the sumps below... and/or siphons to equalize water heights in the sumps as you state... and/or divert some of the water from the main sump (below) with a tee/manifold returning most of the water directly to the main/display tank... and only a bit of it in/through the upper sump/refugium. Do draw out what you have in mind, send here or via fax (858-578-7372)> also valves & check valves on each leg of system with some sort of a electrical shutoff valve on each leg if lose of power. <Again... I wouldn't get involved in this "balancing act"... Instead... devise a flow path that will not dump water on the floor given total power or individual pump failure... and test with a given volume of water in the system to see if this can/will occur... It will> Would this work or is there a much better way. Please, please I need your input to send me in the right direction. <Count on gravity...? As always, thanks so much for helping us green boys in this wonderful hobby. <Please do "pencil" out what you have in mind, including pumps, plumbing, valving, fittings, and send along. We'll hammer this out. Bob Fenner> Lee Harris

Pumps, Pipes, Valves...Oh my (sorry oz flash back) Hello Mr. Fenner. Here I am writing with another idea. No design attached but that will be coming your way this weekend I think. I am asking about my thoughts on plumbing. I am rather dim witted when it comes to plumbing. I've done a lot of research and so far this is the ideas I have come up with. Could you let me know if I am on the right track? <Sure> 1) I would like the over flow to run down to the sump using 1 1/4" PVC piping. The outlet of the overflow box 1". <Okay... not too much need/sense to making the drain line down on a gravity feed more than the diameter than the line of the overflow box... and you may well want to fit the overflow line with an "aspirator"... a length of small diameter tubing (rigid or soft) to quiet the "downdraft" gurgle noise... This is fit into the overflow line, down a distance into the 1 1/4" in your case... and open above the height of the overflow box...> 2) I just got in the mail yesterday my new AquaC EV120 2002 skimmer (doing a happy dance here!) It was recommended that the pump I should use would be a Rio 2100 (not confident in theses pumps), Mag5, or Iwaki 20. I checked the g/h on these pumps and the range from 440-692 (the higher being that Rio) I thought, using the crazy mind of mine, that I could do something different. Could I use a Eheim 1060 (10' of head and I think 600+ g/h) to power not only my return (about 4 1/2' head) but the skimmer as well?  <Yes, could be tee'd off, valved...> Just a thought I need your guidance on. 3) The return would use 3/4" PVC...or would going to 1" to 1 1/4" be wiser? <No... once again, best to stick with the size of the discharge on the pump line itself.> Or could I use 1 1/4" PVC and tee it off to two returns using 3/4" PVC for both of those? <Just stick with the 3/4"> 4) Forget ideas for 2 & 3 and use a closed loop for the return and a separate pump for the skimmer. hehe <Sometimes this works out best... as "adjusting" flow/pressure to a device on a manifold can be the Dickens... 5) I am confused about gate valves. Should they be used instead of the ball valves? For controlling flow rate I thought the gate valve sounds more, ah.. sound. :) <Gate valves are better in your case... easier to do finer adjustments on> I think I have bothered you enough with my questions! I hope to hear back from you soon, and with your permission, I will send another diagram of my plumbing design. Do take care and thank you in advance. Josh <No worries. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Filtration (marine, plumbing) It is amazing, that I fall upon your website, and now all of a sudden I am just so full of questions after looking at everything. (great source of info. by the way!!) <An amazing world... open to all who would look> So here it goes. I just started up my 135 gal aquarium (as stated previously in another e-mail regarding lighting and Hides) and the current filtration that is on it is as follows. I am using a Marineland S.O.P. overflow box that is rated at 600 gph that feeds through 1" flexible pipe to a 20 gallon sump (glass - germ should have gotten plexus - the skimmer just barely fits into it). <Could another sump be fitted? Elsewhere?> there is a small chamber for w/d that contains roughly 2 pounds of bio bale. Skimmer is located in sump (Berlin turbo classic) and then feeds back into the tank via a magnum 9.5 (950 gph) through 3/4 inch PVC. <I would fit a larger return line/fitting here... maybe with a valve to adjust water level in the skimmer contact chamber> In the tank itself are two AquaClear 402 powerheads at either end for water movement. I have on the way a Magnum 350 that I am going to use just for water polishing purposes. <Okay> Ok, here is one of the main questions. I currently have a ball valve regulating the return flow for my Mag 9.5 set to roughly half open, otherwise I drain the sump and the overflow just can't keep up with the pump. The output to me doesn't seem all that high in the tank, but I do see water movement. Aside from adding a second overflow, is it possible to "modify" my current one to increase its flow rate?  <Mmm, yes... a "tee" could be fitted to the Magnum's discharge line, routing the flow (instead of backing it up) to the sump, even back to the main tank... And you could rig a larger overflow... gingerly cutting, or having cut the area around the existing discharge... fitting it (maybe with a bit of silicone sealant) with a larger line/fitting> (that is if you are familiar with this particular model) Also, I have notices that over time it tends to get air in the siphon and I am wondering the best method from preventing this. <Positioning of the source of the bubbles, screening (even with just a bit of cheesecloth, PVC fitting, pipe with slots cut in it... extending the intake toward the bottom...> Lastly - for now :) - I have read, with intrigue, about the MUD filtration method in your FAQ section, but I probably wasn't looking in the correct area because I was unable to locate how one would set something like this up properly.  <The indices and article listings here need serious skull-sweat and rearranging> If I was to go with something like this, would my 20 gal sump for an aquarium be sufficient in size to convert it into, or what sort of dimensions am I looking at here to effectively create one for a 135 tank? <Could be... but I would search around, fit a forty gallon or so container... Please join our chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ for lively and diverse input here. Bob Fenner> Again.. thanks.. Andy

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

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

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

Screen Material Hi Bob, Here is a quick question for you. I want to make a screen to one of my intakes on my saltwater aquarium. I went to Home Depot to see what they had. I take it aluminum will not work. What about fiberglass screening? <What they sell as "fiberglass" screening is fine.... other ideas include cutting slots onto a piece of threaded or slip or barb (using a small piece of flexible polyethylene tubing as a union... they sell this up to about 2" inside diameter at HD) and caps, tees... Bob Fenner>


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