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More FAQs about Pump/Plumbing Noise, Prevention, Abatement and Aquarium Systems... or Save My Sanity, PLEASE! 4

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:   Pump/Plumbing Noise 1, Pump/Plumbing Noise 2, Pump/Plumbing Noise 3, Pump/Plumbing Noise 5, & Marine Plumbing 1, Marine Plumbing 2, Marine Plumbing 3Marine Plumbing 4, Marine Plumbing 5, Marine Plumbing 6, Plumbing 7, Plumbing 8, Plumbing 9, Plumbing 10, Plumbing 11, Plumbing 12, Plumbing 13, Plumbing 14, Plumbing 15, Plumbing 16, Plumbing 17, Plumbing 18, Holes & Drilling, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Make Up Water Systems, Pumps, Plumbing, Circulation, Sumps, RefugiumsMarine Circulation 2, Gear 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

Pump Noise 11/2/08 Hello (all): <Brandon.> I have a 72g bow w/ overflow, freshwater planted aquarium. Has been running about 2 years, established, etc. Using a wet/dry, coupled w/ a Mag7. My question is this: For about the first 10-12 months, the pump was very silent (it is submerged in the wet/dry). Around the 15 month range, the noise began to increase (as did the size of my plecos). The substrate is sand, so the plecos (who love to dig) have been pushing sand into the filter on a steady basis. <Hmmm, I see.> I clean it out as often as possible (only sand, not the media pad), but naturally some sand is getting sucked through the pump. The noise the pump has started to make is unruly, almost a grinding noise. Tricky part is, though, is that it isn't consistent. After having pump off for feeding, turning it back on usually presents with a loud grinding. <Not unheard of with the Mag series.> Very rarely, it is almost whisper quiet. My thought is that perhaps sand has wore the magnet down, creating a balance issue for the impeller? <Possible, or the ceramic shaft has broken too.> I plan to replace the impeller, but don't want to replace the pump unless I have to. I have implemented extra mechanical filtration to help trap stray sand, so the pump won't be seeing any more of it. Any help you can provide is certainly appreciated. <Do check the impeller. If sand is the cause you will see noticeable wear/grooves on the magnet (even then it should still be reasonably balanced). Do also check for breaks or shift on the impeller itself. Also make sure the pump has not migrated to a point of touching something, such as the side of the sump. One other source of the noise could possibly be an obstruction in the intake line do check this too. Otherwise, these pumps do have a usable life on them. If it is indeed time to replace, do consider an Eheim.> -Brandon <Scott V.>

Re: Pump Noise 11/3/08 Back again. Disassembled pump once more; was not in contact with any area sides of sump, plastic shaft of impeller has grooves on one side, and the shaft is broken in half :-( ..... My LFS does not have the impeller in stock, though, which presents a problem. Time to start hunting I guess. I appreciate all of your help! <My pleasure, happy you found the issue.> I believe my plecos will soon be finding new homes, for as much trouble as they cause. <Do reconsider here. A few years on one of these impellers/shafts is fairly normal.> -Brandon <Scott V.>

Re: Pump Noise 11/3/08 No avail on finding an impeller. Will running the impeller w/ a broken shaft be damaging to the housing, or just annoyingly loud? <90% of the time it will just be loud, without major damage to the pump.> I plan to buy a couple once I find them, but would 2-3 days with the damaged one hurt? <Will be fine, these are not exactly super tight tolerances we are talking about.> I fear my bio-balls will die w/o water flow for that long, and I have no secondary pump, nor money to buy spare. Thanks! (and those plecos, they just destroy everything - plants included. They're getting a bit big for their home, around 11". They deserve a larger home, right?) -Brandon <Most of the larger etailers on the net should have this in stock, ready to go. This is one of the most common pumps in the industry. Oh, here is one http://www.customaquatic.com/estore/control/product/~product=WP-DM12585. Have fun, Scott V.>

Re: Pump Noise 11/7/08 Scott: <Hello again Brandon.> For a heads up, I discovered a large part of my problem with my pump (the Mag7). Once you remove the shroud, there is a small (but most definitively problematic) tab where the injection mold formed, and this tab actually rubs on the impeller! <Yikes! Playing card in spokes!> I looked carefully at the old one - it was grooved. I looked at the new one, and after 60 seconds of use, it, too, was becoming grooved. I filed this tab off, and it is the quietest I have EVER heard this pump. <Good to hear.> I'm not sure if this is a common problem, but I thought I would share what helped me out. <Not to my knowledge, I do hope not.> Thanks again for all of your input earlier on! -Brandon <Welcome, happy it worked out, Scott V.>

Plumbing noise and micro-bubbles 10/27/08 To WWM, First off, thank you for all the information your crew provides. It has been a big help in setting up my new reef system. <Great!! Thank you.> Now to my issues. I have a 125 gal reef tank with a 30 gal sump / refugium combo below the tank. There are two 1 1/2 inch drains, one on each side of the back of the tank. Each fitted with Durso standpipes. My problem is that I am getting a whistling sound coming from each air hole on the top of the pipes. <Can be annoying.> If I aspirate each pipe with air line tubing will that help with the noise? <It can, but not usually.> If so, do I run the line down the existing air hole? <Yes, you will likely need to make the hole larger.> In addition, how far down the return do I run the line and to what diameter? <3/16' inner diameter will work for an 1.5'drain. The outer diameter will be dictated by the tubing.> Obviously, a larger size tube would require drilling out the existing air hole on the Durso if my assumption is correct. <Yes.> Finally, would the air line help to eliminate some of the micro-bubbles forming in the returns? <No, a whole separate issue that needs to be addressed by baffles, socks and flow rate in your sump.> Thank you for your time. I look forward to your response, Ed <Going with a larger diameter line can take the noise from a high pitch whistle to a lower pitch gurgle (I would still go larger). You may need to fabricate a simple silencer for the lines. Take a small length of PVC and cap both ends. Drill a hole in one end for the airline coming off the Durso and a hole in the other end for a separate piece of tubing, making sure the two pieces do not meet in the middle. This works much like a car muffler, and works very well. Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Plumbing noise and micro-bubbles 11/4/08 Scott V., I wanted to send you an update on my plumbing noise problem. I constructed the muffler as you suggested. First I used two pieces of one inch pipe about six inches long with end caps on both ends. I drilled a hole in each end to 3/8" o.d. as well as the top of the two Durso standpipes. I then attached the 3/8" o.d. tubing to each end and then one end of that tubing to the Durso and was pleased to hear nothing but the calming trickle of water entering the returns! Thanks for the tip! Secondly, I added a sock to the returns and the micro-bubbles have vanished. Another success! Once again thank you for the help, Ed <My pleasure Ed. Thank you for the update, good the hear all work out so well.>

Tank plumbing/ water flow 10/22/08 Good evening all at WetWebMedia, I'm writing to ask a few questions before I under take a large tank re-plumbing job on my 75g. mixed reef tank. <Okay, good evening to you too.> I have been experiencing a fairly bad case of BGA and need to fix some flaws in my setup to hopefully eliminate it or at least keep it under control. I'm looking for some advice to avoid mistakes I have found that come quite easily and frequently in the aquarium school of hard knocks. First some background of my system, obviously I have a 75g. tank with a 20g. sump and an Iwaki MD55RLT return pump that is piped to a manifold loop at the top of the tank with 6 nozzles. I'm guessing flow is about 800gph with head loss @ 4 feet, draining through 2 1-1/2 drains drilled at the top of the tank. <Realistic estimation.> The drains consist of 90* fittings plumbed through bulkheads with tee's on the outside of the tank. These are plumbed down to the sump where I have a PM Bullet1 skimmer running off a Mag 9.5 in-sump pump. The water then exits the skimmer and returns to the tank. This setup is noisy to say the least and I find the TV getting turned up louder and louder because of it. <Not fun!> This besides the BGA, is the main reason for doing what I'm about to propose. Also the amount of water flowing between the tank and sump means a huge amount of evaporation not to mention high humidity in the house, which is not good here in the northern climates in the winter. I probably have to top off 1-1/2 to 2 gallons a day. <This really will not change much with the changes you are making.> Now for the advice, my plan is to eliminate 1 of the drains and plumb it directly to the Iwaki pump as a dedicated recirculation loop back up to the manifold for maximum flow in the tank and avoiding 800 gph through the sump. I want to replace the return pump with a Mag 5 piped external to the sump. This should return about 250 - 300gph to the tank and I assume should be quieter while having tons of flow with the recirc. loop. Is this enough turnover through the sump for the skimmer, or will I need more through the sump and skimmer. <It will be fine.> I may replace the skimmer because I haven't been satisfied with its performance poss. with an Aqua C EV120 but I have heard they can be noisy. do you have any experience with these ? <Hmm, yes. They do of course aspirate air, there is some noise. I find the pump used to drive the skimmer being the larger noise factor than the skimmer itself.> I know they are great skimmers but back to the noise issue. This will probably be done at a later time anyways. <Do also look at the EuroReef line, a bit quieter IMO.> The tank is full of residents and they will all have to be removed for this and I will be rearranging the live rock in the tank at the same time. They consist of 1 each; Coral Beauty Royal Gramma Tomato Clown Exquisite Wrasse a small Naso that will be finding a new home when he gets much bigger a couple of Convict Blennies a Toadstool Leather a Frogspawn a couple of Colt Corals and a small Xenia These will be removed and segregated in buckets and plastic tubs while this is re-piped and rearranged. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. does my re-piping plan look sound? <Yes, though you will lose the redundancy of two throughputs for your overflow. You could keep both drains and just drill a new hole for the closed loop.> Will 250 gph through the sump be enough turn over? <Yes.> Is 2000gph through the recirc. loop overkill? <Not if tweaked, properly implemented. A ball valve on the output of the pump will allow you to throttle back a bit if needed.> How long should the PVC cement cure before I refill the tank and put the livestock back in? <Technically 24 hrs.> Also as a side note I am also looking into some sort of refugium like a hang on for the tank for macro algae production against my BGA problem, Is there any certain size you would recommend for a 75g. tank? <No, just the bigger the better.> Thank you so much in advance, you fine folks at WWM have helped me keep many fine things alive a lot linger than they would have without you. I really appreciate all you do for me, everyone else, and the hobby in general, thank you! John P. <Thank you John. I do wonder, what in particular is so noisy in your setup? What you propose should be quieter, but what you currently have may just need a bit of tweaking to quiet down. How is your overflow setup, do the drain lines go into the water in the sump, are they aspirated? Is it a flushing noise you are hearing? Write back with some details about what/where the noise is, we may be able to save you quite a bit of work. Scott V.>

Re: Tank plumbing/ water flow 10/23/08
Hello Scott, here are some answerers to your questions. The noise may or may not be able to be reduced. I do accept that there is going to be a certain amount of noise with an aquarium no matter what it consists of.
<Of course.>
The drains consist of 90* fittings piped as overflows through the back of the tank about 2" from the top. These are piped through bulkheads into tee's on the vertical with a bushing and small piece (4") of 1" PVC and a vented cap. The noise I'm talking about is just the gurgling noise and the sound of the water falling the 2'-3' down to the sump. One of the pipes goes right out the back of the tank straight down to a 90* fitting into a bulkhead into the sump. Inside the sump I have vertical tee's to allow some entrained air escape to help prevent micro bubbles. The other drain is the same except that this side drops down about 16" and 90's over towards the sump and down another foot or so into the sump. I have done a decent job with splashing in the sump with a micron bag to deaden the sound. The problem noise is just the water draining, traveling and falling in the pipes. I have tried to insulate the pipes with commercial thick insulation like you would have on your air conditioning piping. It didn't help much and looked terrible.
<Been there, done that! A losing battle.>
I am not experiencing the sucking/ siphoning that many have from trying to put too much water down the drain.
<The rundown of my previous questions.>
As far as loosing the redundancy I'm not too concerned about that because I would be going from 800gph down two 1-1/2" drains to 300gph down a single 1-1/2" drain. My logic is that 1 gurgling overflow would be quieter than 2 slightly faster flowing overflows.
<It can be, usually not in reality. You should not have any gurgling. Are the elbows inside the tank pointed up? If so lowering the flow will make little difference, the opening needs to be submerged; the opening on the elbow facing down.>
As far as allowing the cement to cure for 24 hours that will be difficult for I have a young child that loves disorder in the house and a wife doesn't, at all. Is there a reasonable time period for it to set up before the VOC's will harm livestock. If it's got to be 24 hrs then that's what it has to be but it won't be fun. if you are married then you know what I'm talking about. ha ha.
<I am, to a very understanding woman!! 24 hrs is playing it safe. Many, including myself do put the plumbing into service much faster, sometimes a matter of minutes. The educated choice is yours.>
Aqua C skimmer- noise from aspiration will not be a problem-I run tubing outside for the skimmer air for the PM. no asp. noise none! Would you recommend an EV_120 or 180 for the load I have listed plus the couple shrimp, snails , hermits I forgot?
<I almost always favor a larger skimmer, room and funds permitting.>
Any hang on refuges you would recommend?
<None in particular, all are basically just a hang on box. If a pump is included this may guide your choice. Some of the lower end pumps can be noisy.>
Also the Iwaki pump has union ball valves on either side and the outlet is closed off slightly slowing flow and making the pump slightly noisier. Will this cause excess heat to be transferred to the water?
<No, this will not effect the heat transfer in any significant way. It is fine to throttle the pump back on the output side, never on the suction side.>
My summer time temps approach 84* when I keep the house temp at 76*. winter temps are around 79* in winter with the house at 72*. The only heat sources are the Mag 9.5 in the sump, the Iwaki return pump and a 260W PC light fixture. I haven't used a heater since day one and would like to bring down the summer temps without having to evaporate more water or invest in a chiller. The tank has been set up like this for about a year and a half.
<These wet rotor pumps do account for quite a bit of heat. You could possibly run the skimmer pump externally to eliminate a bit of this. The wattage used by a pump will in the end become heat, consider this while looking as skimmers. Also a thought, if you are not adverse to the look of powerheads this may be your answer. Running the smaller pump as your pump return and powerheads in lieu of the closed loop. This eliminates the big, power hungry pump and the heat that comes with. It will pay for itself in a short time, you will see an impact on your power bill. One more note re the drain noise in the pipes. Running the overflow drains at a slight angle, not completely vertical, can lower the noise radiating from the pipe itself quite a bit. Also, using flexible PVC (sold as SpaFlex at many hardware stores) will virtually eliminate the noise radiating from the pipe itself.>
I look forward to you answers / more questions if needed, thank you once again,
John P
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Noisy Pump 10/17/08 Hello--First I want to say thank you for running this site. It is a great help to me. <Glad you have found it of use!> I have learned more from this site than any other source. I am in the process of setting up a 210 gallon Hawaiian-themed FOWLR tank. <Nice, I am throwing around the same idea.> Right now I am having some serious issues with my return pump and the noise it generates. I have gotten several ideas for dealing with it from reading your FAQs. The pump is still very noisy however. Here is the setup: In our basement family room I have the 210 tank up against a wall. The overflow plumbing runs through a hole in the wall into the utility room, where I have a 50 gallon Rubbermaid container as the sump. The return pump is a Mag-Drive 24. It is quite noisy in the utility room, which is to be expected. However, you can hear the pump quite clearly from the family room as well. In fact, you can literally hear the pump running from every room in the house, including the upstairs bedrooms (our house is a split-level). So you can imagine my frustration and my wife's irritation. <Gee, I can imagine.> The noise is not a vibrating or a rattling, nor is it any sort of water-related sound. It is the sound of a motor running. Here is what I have done to attempt to quiet the pump. First I put a silicone pot-holder under the pump. This did a good job of quieting the pump's vibration against the sump. However you could still hear the motor running. Other things I did include: adding a second silicone pad, removing the pre-filter from the pump (an idea I got from your FAQs), restricting the flow with a valve and then opening it up again to try to flush out any air pockets (also from your FAQ), I also stuffed towels around and through the hole that was cut in the wall to muffle any noise escaping through the hole, and finally I went so far as to install that pink fiberglass insulation in the utility room walls, but even that is not muffling the pump much. Each of these things seemed to have a positive impact on the noise, but unfortunately it is still really loud. Is it possible my pump is defective? <Possibly, in a way. Do take the pump apart an be sure your rotor shaft is not broken, it sure may be and an easy fix (replace it!). It is also possible you just have a rotor that is plain out of balance, but these large MagDrive pumps are not the quietest things anyhow.> It seems to run fine, but with noise like this the situation is not going to last. Right now I am looking into buying a different pump. <I would, for the noise and power consumption.> I thought Mag-Drives were supposed to be reasonably quiet, but mine definitely is not. This is not my first sump return-pump, so I have some experience in quieting them, but this pump is beyond my abilities. So I have two questions: First, do you have any other ideas to quiet the pump? <The one thing I would try is some flexible plumbing. This can have quite an impact on transferred noise, but if it is the pump noise itself it will only help a bit. Look for flexible PVC, sold as SpaFlex in many hardware stores. If you do use this, make sure to use a solvent rated for flexible PVC, such as Christy's Red Hot.> Secondly, can you recommend a quiet pump? Obviously I still need a decent flow rate, but I am willing to sacrifice some of that in order to quiet the noise. <No need to sacrifice, in fact you will gain with lower power consumption!! Do look at the Reeflo line, the Dart or Snapper for your application. They are the exact same pump with different $25 impellers, this gives you cheap options for flow. These pumps offer great flow, relatively cheap power consumption, and are virtually dead silent.> Thank you so much for any help you can give. Tom <Welcome, this is a completely solvable problem. I do urge you in this case to seek the new pump. Scott V.>

Plumbing noise and breaks at night? 10/16/08 Hi, <Hello there Doug.> I've got a 120 gallon saltwater, fish-only tank with a 20 gallon mature refugium with constant lighting along with a skimmer. I have a light bio-load with no plants, no corals, only 20 inches of fish and about 80 lbs of live rock. My question is whether I may turn off the pump for 9 hours at night to allow my child to sleep more soundly as the tank sounds keep her up at night. <You very well could get away with this depending on a few things. If the room the tank is in does not get too cold (I assume any heater is in the sump?) and you do have another form of aeration in the tank itself (again, I will assume the skimmer is in the sump, not the tank). I urge you to look into why this is so noisy. Is it the overflow, the plumbing or the pump itself? There are ways to manage these noises, you can have the best of both worlds!> Thanks, Doug <Welcome, do write back with some details, together we can figure out a solution that keeps your system up and running. Scott V.>

Re: Plumbing noise and breaks at night? 10/16/08 Hi Scott V., Tanks for the response. ;-) <Very welcome.> Well, the skimmer is in the sump. I live in Florida which means the temp is usually around 78F. A heater can be used in our "winter". I have a small acrylic box in the tank that acts as the collector for water that is pulled over the lip of the tank via 1" U tube. From there, the biggest noise is the sucking sound as the water is pulled through the tube filter and down a 1" pipe into the wet/dry below, where it sprinkles through the blanket filter. <I suspected this, a common source of excessive noise.> The other noise is the pump. I can deal with that. It's the sucking noise that's loudest and the problem. <Indeed.> I don't mind putting the pump on a timer. I have the system balanced to where the water will settle out when the pump is turned off. I suppose the biggest thing would be the wear on the pump by being turned on and off daily. <This does take a toll on these pumps in time.> As far as I can tell there may be something that can dampen the sucking noise, or perhaps that I can learn from you. <Well, the noise you are hearing is due to a siphon that is commonly created with these boxes. A 1' line can only handle 300 gph or so before this starts to happen, hence the 600 gph (which still will not be reached) rating that most manufacturers use inevitably leads to a siphon and this noise. The bulkhead on the drain line should have a small tube that goes down into the line. I happened to have a pic from my testing I have attached. This serves to break the siphon, but with limited effectiveness. Do check to make sure this is in place. If it is, sliding this up and down to find the 'sweet spot' can help your noise. The all too common story is just too much flow for the line size. If you wish to fix the issue it leaves you with two options. First, you could just add a second overflow box of the type you are using. This will give you less flow (and noise) through each box while adding redundancy. These boxes can fail with water ending up on the floor, having a second is a good idea anyway! The other option is to actually drill the tank. It is a fairly easy project other than the need to tear the system down for the drilling. The advantages to this are extremely high reliability and larger flow capacity (with large enough throughputs), leading to a much quieter overflow. I will include a link to my company below that can fill you in on the drilling process if you are interested.> Thanks for your time, Doug <Welcome, the drilling link below, Scott V.> http://www.reefercentral.com/drilling_video.html Plumbing noise and breaks at night? 10/16/08 Hi, <Hello there Doug.> I've got a 120 gallon saltwater, fish-only tank with a 20 gallon mature refugium with constant lighting along with a skimmer. I have a light bio-load with no plants, no corals, only 20 inches of fish and about 80 lbs of live rock. My question is whether I may turn off the pump for 9 hours at night to allow my child to sleep more soundly as the tank sounds keep her up at night. <You very well could get away with this depending on a few things. If the room the tank is in does not get too cold (I assume any heater is in the sump?) and you do have another form of aeration in the tank itself (again, I will assume the skimmer is in the sump, not the tank). I urge you to look into why this is so noisy. Is it the overflow, the plumbing or the pump itself? There are ways to manage these noises, you can have the best of both worlds!> Thanks, Doug <Welcome, do write back with some details, together we can figure out a solution that keeps your system up and running. Scott V.>

Re: Plumbing noise and breaks at night? 10/17/08 Great video!! Thanks! If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning. ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~ <Very good, I strongly urge you to do it!! Have fun, Scott V.>  


Another Noisy Plumbing Question... -- 10/08/08 Hi, <<Hello>> I have read through just about everything that has to do with noise of plumbing overflows but my situation is a little different. <<Okay>> I attached pictures to help you visualize what I am doing. <<I see these'¦thank you>> Tank is 135 gallon with a 2' bulkhead and drain and 1' return spray bar (specs per my Quiet One 4000 return pump). <<Okay'¦so about 900 -- 1000 gph (depending on exact model'¦'HH' or otherwise) before headloss. The 2' drain should be able to handle this'¦though it is maxed out (if you take siphoning/safety in to consideration) at around 1100gph so you are close to capacity re. Probably part of your issue>> Sump is a 29 gallon Rubbermaid tub. <<Kind of small for 'processing' that much flow'¦and another factor with the noise>> My design is based on the fact that water will always level itself in two different points...Out of my 2' bulkhead I have a 90* going up, then to a Tee where I split it off on the side, then to a 90* going down to the sump. <<Yes I see'¦and very similar to the design of my own bulkhead drains, except rather than 'raising' the water lever outside the tank and the releasing it to the sump as you have done, my design comes straight out and then turns down with a short run of vertical pipe at the apex of the downward bend (3-way tee w/90-degree sweep) to allow aspirating of the drain>> I have a 2' ball valve half way between the sump and the bulkhead for maintenance reasons. <<This will cause some restriction/loss of flow rate>> I then drip into a filter pad for mechanical and then bio media. It is then pumped back into the tank via a spray bar with a siphon break hole in case I lose power. <<Risky'¦ What if the hole clogs? Better to position the return (and drain) such that the sump will hold all transient water volume without having to rely on a siphon break>> As expected my drain is extremely loud, not only with water rushing but the common gurgle too. <<I have no doubt>> I have tried putting on a cap and drilling a small hole (started with a #60 bit) and many combinations of hole sizes. <<Not enough in and by itself'¦needs tubing run down in to the drain to release entrained air from the rushing water. And even then, this is no panacea'¦sometimes you have to either position the sump in a remote location (like a basement, if possible), or more easily done'¦reduce the amount of water flow going through the sump>> It was interesting to see the water in the sump raise and lower according to the hole size but it did little for noise. <<Indeed>> I then tried using the airline tubing in the drain trick, again to no avail. <<This much water and this size drain likely needs something larger in diameter than airline tubing. Gather a collection of caps and drill for and utilize different diameters of tubing'¦the 'length' of tubing slipped down the drain also affects the outcome. There's no set recipe for success'¦it just takes some time and experimentation to find the tubing diameter and length combo that produces the best result>> With just a small hole in the cap the noise is a little better however the level fluctuates and the noise is quiet then gets loud then quiet and loud, etc. <<Yes'¦is surging because the drain is starved for air>> Also, I found that with just a small hole it is possible for my system to create a siphon and drain super fast through the 2' drain. <<Mmm, indeed'¦and always dangerous to push a gravity drain to the point that it creates a siphon. And though not the case in this particular instance'¦this is generally what is happening when hobbyists tell of flowing the maximum volumes as depicted by most of the 'drain size calculators' about>> My return pump obviously cannot keep up with a siphoned 2' pipe. <<It can once the water level reaches the bulkhead and is able to draw air'¦though the sump probably doesn't have that kind of capacity, nor do I think you want the 'working' water level in the tank to be this low based on the position of the bulkhead in the pictures. One option here is to add an upturned ell fitting to bulkhead on the inside of the tank. You can cut one end to set/control the working water height of the tank, and though not especially necessary, you can even cut notches/teeth in to the drain to help keep critter out. Doing this should allow the working water height fall to the point where air can enter the drain yet keep the water at a reasonable height in the tank as well as keeping the extra volume from overflowing the sump>> Therefore, if a siphon was created it would drain all the water down to the bulkhead until air was introduced, <<Exactly>> this would overflow my sump big time and leave me with a pool of water on the floor. <<Not the desired result'¦>> If I drilled enough holes in the cap that would break any siphon that may happen, the level in the sump was too low and the noise was still loud. <<Agreed'¦back to experimenting with different diameters and lengths of tubing>> Right now I have the system running with no cap and the Tee is open to the air. This makes the level in my sump too low, <<A few things working against you here, not the least of which is a sump that I consider too small for the pump/flow rate your are utilizing. Aside from allowing the turbulence from the drain more room to 'smooth out''¦a larger sump would allow a higher working water height because of the increased transient water volume>> the level in the tank too high, <<I think the upturned bend immediately after the bulkhead is creating enough backpressure/resistance in the drain to allow the pump to overwhelm it. You can easily test this by installing a gate-valve on the output side of the pump and 'cranking the flow back' to see what happens. This is also a good way to determine the 'optimum' flow rate for your drain configuration>> and the noise very loud but at least I don't have to worry about a siphon starting in the drain. There has to be a way to make this thing quiet and introduce enough air into the drain so a siphon will not be created. Any ideas? <<Yes'¦ Merely installing a 2' bulkhead and pipe doesn't mean you can always flow 1000+ gallons through it'¦the 'configuration' of the plumbing has a large effect on the efficacy of the drain. The more I think about it the more I think your plumbing configuration is a mismatch for the pump you are using. I'd bet that if you were to reduce the flow by half that your problems would be greatly reduced if not alleviated altogether. Another option is to change the plumbing configuration and see how that works with the existing pump. My recommendation would be to change the upward bending 90-deg ell to point downward and use another 90-deg ell inside the tank to control the working water height from within'¦and you may still need to aspirate the drain to help with noise so you might want to consider a fitting like mine over the plain 90-deg ell fitting. Or it may come down to a combination of several/all suggestions to get where you want to be. Lots to consider for sure'¦feel free to write back if you want to break it down and discuss further>> Thanks a million!
<<Happy to share. EricR>>

Re: Another Noisy Plumbing Question... -- 10/14/08 Thanks for your reply. <<Quite welcome'¦I hope the information proved helpful>> I re-plumbed the drain to the following... Angled the drain going down and raised the part where it starts to angle to go into the sump. This helped with the fluctuating levels. <<Very good>> I then experimented with hole sizes and air tubes in the drain. This is what I ended up with... (3) 1/8" holes and a hole big enough to fit 2 common size air line tubes that extend roughly 1' into the drain. Doing all the above made it pretty quiet, <<Sometimes just takes a bit of trial-and-error>> I then put fiberglass insulation around the tube and then foam pipe insulation around that. <<Ah yes'¦another useful strategy for quieting noisy hard plumbing>> The tank is also getting a canopy hood that I am building to cover the top which will quiet any surface splashing. Finally, we are going to put a fabric skirt around the metal stand that will cover the sump and hopefully further absorb noise. <<Indeed'¦ My own system is built in to a wall, which does much to 'muffle' the operational noises. Sounds like you have it under control'¦excellent!>> My next question for you is stocking the tank. I leave on business trips for a week fairly often so I want the bio-load pretty low; my wife will feed while I am gone but not clean :) <<I see'¦ You may want to consider making up pre-measured packets of food for this purpose to make things easier for her and safer for the tank>> Right now I have a Lab Electric Yellow Cichlid and a Hypostomus plecostomus. I am thinking about giving the Plec to a friend since they are a huge bio-load and get big. My main fish I want to be either a Jack Dempsey or a Green Terror. I cannot decide on which one though, what is your opinion? <<Both reach about the same adult size, but for the mixed tank you have planned I would probably choose the temperament of the Jack Dempsey over that of the Green Terror>> The rest of the fish will be 5 Silver Dollars, a Senegal Bichir, Acei cichlid, and my yellow lab. I know the Acei and yellow lab may not be a good mix with the JD or GT but the footprint of the tank is pretty big and 5 silver dollars for distraction will help too. Do you think that would be ok? <<Though not a peaceful mix it does seem reasonable, for this 135g tank>> If not, can you recommend some acceptable colorful replacements for the Acei and Yellow Lab? <<I must admit that Cichlid compatibility/stocking (am more a saltwater kinda guy) is not my forte'¦I would recommend you write back and ask for Chuck or Neale to get some excellent and more specific advice re>> With these 9 fish in my 135 gallon I would think the bio-load and keeping Nitrates under 20ppm would be pretty mediocre, do you? <<Perhaps not as much as you think. These will be fairly large and messy feeders'¦much will depend on the efficacy of your filtration system>> Can you guess on my expected water change routine once full grown? <<I would suggest a minimum of 25% bi-weekly to start'¦water testing will determine if this needs to be increased>> Thanks for all the help! Dan <<Happy to share. EricR>>

Thanks! Silencing pb overflows  10/8/08 Just wanted to say thanks for your wisdom regarding silencing Durso overflows. After I moved my sump to the basement, the overflow rumble was very noticeable. By adding two ¼" ID airlines into the Durso head, each about 2' below the top of the water, the overflow is now silent except for the waterfall into the box. <Glad you found what you needed!> Much thanks! <Cheers, Mich>

Plumbing Options/Overflow 9/19/08 Hi crew- <Hello Jim> Many thanks for such a high value resource/community! <Thank you!> I recently had to move my 75g reef tank to install some floors. To do so, I purchased an extra drilled 75g, plumbed it inline in my basement next to my sump, and the job went relatively smoothly. Now, I am ready to move things back, and here is my dilemma... The old tank is a reef ready system with a corner overflow and custom pipe/float system which works well (and is absolutely silent). The temp tank is NOT reef ready, but was well drilled (one IN and two drains, all with nice bulkheads, 1.5", etc) - nice... I have been trying to figure out how to make this temp tank work, since I'd like to buy back the corner overflow space (given the fact that a 75 isn't all that large). <Okay, I hear you!> I haven't been able to find much on how to configure the drains so that they will operate SILENTLY (my sole requirement). On the outside of the tank, the drain plumbing already has an upwards facing T with some removable pipes that serve to vent the system. I have found that they gurgle a bit. I am SURE it must be possible to address this, but am not entirely sure how to do so. Here is my plan: cover the vents with caps that have small holes with airline tubing with valves on them, then adjust until silent. <If the noise is coming from the airlines there is a simple solution, not so simple to explain in text, but I will try. Take a 1-2' length of PVC pipe and put a cap on both ends. Next, on one end, drill a hole just large enough to slip your airline into. Then on the other end drill the same sized hole and slip another piece of the tubing in there. This acts as a muffler, much the same as used in cars. It sounds idiotically simple, but it does work very well.> Will this plan *completely* address the noise issue while also responding well to any possible fluctuations in pump output? <The above will fix any noise issues with the airline. If you are getting noise from the drains themselves, you need something inside the tank to keep the drain from being open to the air in the room. Something as simple as a PVC elbow in the bulkhead, with the open end facing down into the water. Pump fluctuations should not make a difference in anything but the water level.> I have a Poseidon PS3 one floor (and ~45 feet) away from my display system. If it will NOT completely address the noise issue, do you have any alternate suggestions for how to configure this drilled tank (or should I just use my reef-ready tank with the corner overflow)? <Try the above, run from the 'reef ready'!> many thanks! Jim Gray <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Plumbing Options/Overflow, noise f'  9/22/08 Thanks for the tips- <Very welcome.> I have a follow-on question- <Okay.> I am finding that I have some noise by introducing air via airline hose. The noise is primarily in the plumbing and in my sump. I can add some pipe insulation around the flexible hose the noise is coming from, and I can probably live with the noise in my sump (but I'd rather do it the RIGHT way). <Pipe insulation does help. If it is the turbulence within the pipe itself, a rubberized undercoating (spray or roll on) on the pipe will help this too. Also just anchoring/attaching the line to the stand or wall will cut down on this noise. With a properly set up overflow, this line noise is typically all that is heard.> I am presuming that I'd really rather go full siphon, if possible (this would be the quietest situation, right - no turbulence at all?), but either of my drain hoses running full siphon beat out my pump. By that, I mean that the tank will drain down to bottom of an elbow in one of my drains. I am thinking of adding a valve inline to my main return and trimming it back a little until I can run it at full siphon, keeping the other return dry, as a pure emergency line. Doing this seems a little fragile (as does this whole system, to be honest). I guess it presumes that my pump output will be relatively constant (which I suppose it should be) and that I have an emergency drain (which I do). <This will not work, you have made half my point for me here! The problem is twofold. First, the siphon will inherently change or fail. The pump output changes (clogged or dirty) or the overflow line has buildup inside, maybe becomes clogged altogether. The pump fails or slows and you end up with a maddening flushing noise, the overflow line has the slightest issue and water is on the floor. The second problem with this 'overflow overclocking' is the idea of a safety drain. If this safety drain relies on a siphon it assumes the siphon will start. Many times it will not. If the safety drain is gravity fed it will not keep up with the flow from the full siphon drain if the first overflow fails. Take a 1.5' bulkhead. It will flow 750 gravity fed, over 1200 siphon fed. This is quite a margin to account for.> At any rate - does this sound like a good idea? <Nope, not in my house.> What do others with this problem do? <Take the steps mentioned above to cut down on the pipe noise.> thanks- Jim <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Plumbing Options/Overflow 9/23/08 Ok - I will try to make this my last question on this topic - appreciate your help/patience! <Heee, no problem.> Turns out that the noise in the sump (or pipes) is NOT going to palatable. <Does your drain line(s) run under the water in the sump?> The sump is right under our bedroom, and the air traveling through the line and into the sump was not subtle (not a good night's sleep, unf). So, I am going to have to work a little harder to solve this problem... Let's start at the beginning- I actually have 1" bulkheads (sorry for the previous misinformation). <Quite a difference, plan on 300 gph per quietly/safely. The volume through these is likely the culprit, a 1' bulkhead makes little if any noise with the correct amount of flow through it.> Each of them exits to a T, pointing up to provide a vent, then they elbow down. I have been experimenting with capping those vents and drilling various size and numbers of holes for airline tubing. <You should, 3/16' inner diameter at the most for the flow that will work through these.> This clearly helps a lot... This supports the gravity fed approach, but forces me to introduce air into the lines, which is noisy in the plumbing and upon exit in the sump. <To a point.> I am (just like everyone else, right?) looking for a silent, safe solution to getting water from my tank to my sump (which is, again, in my basement, on the other side of my house). <Yes, this is what most want.> My previous solution worked pretty well on this front - I had a reef ready system which had a custom standpipe that someone had worked up - it had a large pipe that slid over the stand pipe, and had a Styrofoam top on it, such that it would rise and open more holes as the water rose. It worked very well - was completely silent and (I believe) operated at full siphon. <Sounds like the case.> There was a backup pipe in the same chamber in case it needed it. There was also a valve beneath it to adjust the output. I guess this is similar to what I was thinking of doing, perhaps you are saying that my previous system was fragile/risky. <It was, a modicum of luck here.> May well have been - but it did run well for 2 years without any issues. Key question: Is there any way that I can rig a reliable system that will not have air in the lines? <One siphon line to two gravity fed emergency drains, but this really should not be necessary. Even then you will be tuning here and there.> Not having air in the lines appears to be required for a quiet system, unless I am missing something (entirely possible). <Hmm, no, we have covered the bases between the two emails. It does sound to me you either need a larger drain or less flow. Otherwise soundproofing or the siphon, the choice is yours.> thanks- Jim <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Plumbing Options/Overflow 9/24/08 Hi Scott- <<Hello again Jim.>> <snip> Key question: Is there any way that I can rig a reliable system that will not have air in the lines? <One siphon line to two gravity fed emergency drains, but this really should not be necessary. Even then you will be tuning here and there.> Not having air in the lines appears to be required for a quiet system, unless I am missing something (entirely possible). <Hmm, no, we have covered the bases between the two emails. It does sound to me you either need a larger drain or less flow. Otherwise soundproofing or the siphon, the choice is yours.> </snip> This been very helpful! Based on our conversation (and the many things I have been reading lately), I have decided to implement the following system- 1) add a gate valve to one of my returns and run it at siphon, tweaking/constraining it a fair amount to match the output of my pump note: did that already and it works well - easy to adjust and totally silent 2) use the second return as emergency only, elbow tube pointing up, gravity fed (cap to minimize noise, but with several wide airline hoses to allow sufficient air). note: I am doing this because you indicated that the siphon might not start (which I did not know - what will happen if it doesn't?) <<It very well may not.>> 3) given your cautions, and for safety's sake, I will add a float valve that shuts off my return pump if the water level in the main system gets too high. 4) I will probably add (at some point) an internal overflow so that the water level in my tank is constant and I am skimming off of the surface. I believe this combination of steps solves the problem and meets my requirements: 1) totally silent (once I fix the fact that some air is leaking through the stem of my gate valve) 2) safe (once I add the float valve shutoff switch) 3) no additional draining/drilling required 4) don't have to reduce system flow (hard to believe I am getting too much turnover with so much head!) I would much rather solve this by dialing back my overflow, not dialing back my pump's output... I know this isn't quite what you are recommending, but I believe it to be the solution that best meets my (growing) set of requirements, based on our conversation. <<All I can do is educate you on from my experience, the end choice is yours. This sounds like a unique solution that is workable.>> thanks again for your help! Jim Gray <<Welcome, have fun with this, Scott V.>>

New tank plumbing questions 9/19/08 To WWM, First off, thank you for all of the information you provide. <Great to hear, thank you Ed.> It has been a big help. Now some details, I have just finished an upgrade from a 60 gal. reef tank to a 125 gal. reef tank. The new tank has two 1.5 inch drains and four 3/4 inch returns. I am using a Sequence Dart for the return pump with about 18 feet of head pressure when you account for all of the tees and elbows. Both returns are fitted with Durso standpipes. Now for my problems, when I tested the system there were no issues with micro bubbles. Then salt water was introduced, the bubbles appeared. <This happens, you can never tell about bubbles until the salt is added! You can experiment with different baffle configurations, make the path of the water to the return pump as long as possible. This can be tough with a Dart return, this is quite a bit of water to have to manage through a sump. Even filter socks on the overflow drain lines can make a huge difference here.> I am currently adding u-shaped pipe to the bottom of each return to try to diminish the bubbles. Secondly, and more of a concern at this point, I am still getting a bit of gurgling noise from the air hole at the top of the Durso. When I throttle down the pump, the noise diminishes as well as the bubbles. Obviously I want to maximize flow to the tank so throttling down the pump would not be my first option. The air inlet on the Durso is 3/16 in. If I increase the size of the air intake, will that decrease the gurgling sound? <If it is 3/16' inner diameter this should be enough. If the outer diameter is 3/16, I would increase the size. Two 1.5' bulkheads will struggle to keep up with the flow from a Dart, even with all the plumbing. Do increase the size of the airline, but the amount of flow is likely the culprit here. Even if the airline does solve the issue, realize that these drains will be running at their absolute maximum with no margin for safety. 750 gph is about the safe maximum for a 1.5' bulkhead without siphoning (the source of the noise). If you are just now setting up this tank, I strongly encourage you to take it down now and drill for another drain or even two.> If so, to what diameter? <1/4' inner diameter or so.> Thank you for your help. I look forward to your response. Ed <Welcome, congratulations on the upsize! Scott V.>

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