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FAQs About Sump  Pumps/Plumbing/Circulation 1

Related FAQs: Sump Pumps/Pb/Circ 2, Sump Pumps/Pb/Circ 3, Refugium Pumps/Circulation 1, & Sumps/Filters 1, Sumps/Filters 2, Sumps 3, Sumps 4, Sumps 5, Sumps 6, Sumps 7, Sumps 8, Sumps 9, Sumps 10, Rationale, Design, Construction, Sump Components, Maintenance, Refugiums, Plenums in Reef Filtration, Marine System Plumbing Holes & Drilling 1, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Bubble Trouble, Plumbing NoiseMake Up Water Systems, Marine Aquarium Set-Up, Algal Filtration in General, Mud Filtration 1

Related Articles: Pressure Locking Sump Baffles; Welcome to the World of Versatility! By Joshua McMillen, Refugiums, Marine Filtration, Reef FiltrationMechanical, Physical, 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, Fish-Only Marine Set-up, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large Systems, Refugiums

You don't want to be blasting sedentary life! Mespilia globulus (Linnaeus 1758), the Blue Tuxedo Urchin.

Questions about Sumps and glass tank seams and chips      10/11/16
Dear WWM Crew,
<Hit it Eddie>
It’s me again, and I have a lot more questions to ask you. The test fill went great. The tank and the stand did fine. I’m still working on the siding for the stand, so in the meantime, I’m trying to finalize my filtration plans. The plan all along has been to have a sump and a refugium/DSB, but I had to wait until the stand was built so I could know exactly how much room I would have.
<I see>
The 75 gallon tank has the typical overflow with the 1” drain and ¾” return.
<Ugh; a one-inch through-put is too small... DO plan on doing most all your water (re)circulation inside the main tank... with submersible pumps, powerheads...>
However, I intend to use both holes for drains and run the return over the back of the tank.
<Mmm; well, the 3/4 inch won't do much good. See HERE:
The plan is for the drains to empty into the skimmer chamber of the sump.
<Mmm... better later... in a chamber that has about constant level>

The skimmer is an Aqua C EV-180. Then there will be the typical baffles to the other chamber of the sump that will have the return pump. Also in this chamber will be a power head that will pump water to the DSB/Refugium, and the water will then gravity feed from there back to the return pump chamber of the sump. That’s the general plan. Now to the specifics and the questions . . .
I have had a difficult time finding two containers that will fit together in the stand to use for the sump and the DSB/Refugium. I know I can use either smaller tanks or plastic storage containers. For cost reasons the plan was to use storage containers (trying to do this on a budget), but I can’t seem to find the right size.
<Mmm; even online? Container Store, Amazon...?>
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I went by a LFS in a nearby city (hour and a half away) that was going out of business. They had a stack of 20 gallon glass display tanks that they were selling for $5 each. They were each drilled with a 1” bulkhead about ¾ of the way up the back, and were painted blue on all three sides. Because they were so inexpensive, I picked one up, thinking it might work really well for the DSB/Refugium—since it was already drilled I thought I could use this throughput for the gravity feed back to the sump. I took it home and put it in the stand and measured the remaining space for the sump.
Then I made a vain search for a plastic container that would fit with the 20 gallon tank, but couldn’t find one. That left me limited to using a 10 gallon aquarium for the sump.
<Too small; I'd use the 20 for the sump, the ten for the 'fuge>

(The space is too small for a 20 Gallon. Is there a common 15 gallon size? I’ve never seen one.)
<Oh yes; 24" X 12" X 12" if memory serves>
I happened to have an old 10 gallon that might work (see below), and if it doesn’t they are not expensive. So the plan is now to put baffles in the 10 gallon dividing it into two chambers. The water drains into the skimmer chamber and flows through the baffles to the return chamber. In the return chamber are two pumps—the Mag 7 pump
May well overdrive your over-flows.... Again... I would NOT drive this much water through.... IF one of the too-puny overflows becomes occluded... water on the floor>
which will return the water to the display, and a power head which will pump water to the 20 gallon DSB/refugium. From there the water will gravity feed to the return chamber through the 1” drain. To make this work I will have to build a platform to elevate the 20 gallon tank several inches, but I have plenty of vertical room in the stand.
So, now here are the issues/questions:
1. I am test filling the 20 gallon tank, and there are some bubbles in the seams (see pictures
—these are from the two front corners. The back corners also have bubbles, but not quite as many). I have no idea how old the tank is or how long it was used as a sales tank by the LFS. In my purpose it will not be full at any time—only up to the drain, so about ¾ full—but it will contain a 5” DSB and perhaps some live rock. In your estimation is it safe to use for this purpose? I can continue to test fill for as long as necessary. Also, in test filling it I have filled it over the bulkhead (by turning the elbow fittings up I have filled it a couple of inches higher than it will be in normal use). So it has a couple of inches more water in it now than it will have normally.
<I wouldn't be concerned w/ these air bubbles>
2. If the 20 gallon tank is safe to use, what GPH should I look for in the power head to feed the water to it?
<Small; as in 3-4 turns per hour>
3. In regard to the idea to use a 10 gallon tank for the sump, will this be large enough to handle the amount of flow and excess water in a power loss?
<Not likely NO. For SURE you want to "test" here... FILL the tanks up, turn on the pump/s and then turn them off... see how much water "runs down hill", MARK the sump as to MAXIMUM depth (with a permanent marker, tape) and DO NOT fill it any more than this>

I know the 1/3 display tank size rule for sumps, but I am counting the 20 gallon DSB/Refugium too, so that puts me at 30 Gallons.
<Mate; ALL the water above the overflow of the main tank PLUS refugium will have to be accommodated in the SUMP. USE the twenty or keep looking. You've configured a disaster in the making here>
Also, I am going to put a valve on the return line so that I can throttle back the return pump if necessary.
<Not a good idea really. Just get/use the size (pressure, flow) pump that will be on full all the time>
Most circulation will be accomplished through circulation power heads in the display.
<Ah, good>
4. If a 10 gallon tank will work, how much minimum space needs to be between the baffles?
<About... Oh, see this below. Yes to gaps that allow getting a siphon, cleaning tools into>
I did a WWM search and found somewhere that someone put 1.5” to 2” between baffles. To fit the skimmer in the sump I need less than 3” between the baffles, but the EV-180 can be put outside the sump if necessary. I have space behind the sump, just not lengthwise.
<I'd place this IN the sump for sure>
5. Finally, the 10 gallon tank I have has a small chip in the glass (see picture). It is a seashell shape with no cracks, but it is at the very bottom of front panel on the edge. Under normal operation, it will be half-full or so. Is it safe to use for this purpose, or should I pick up another 10 gallon tank?
<I'd at least fill in the chipped area with Silastic. Won't help strength-wise, but will save someone from a nasty cut>
Thank you SO MUCH for continually answering my questions. I don’t want to be a pest, but I don’t really have many other people to ask for advice.
<We're happy to assist your efforts>
I live in a small South Alabama town, and I know of no one else here who is into saltwater aquaria.
<Perhaps a posting on CraigsList? Starting a "Meet Up" group in your area....? Easy, fun to do>
I have a friend who owns a LFS, but he is almost 2 hours away. I trust your judgment. I have CMA and have read it twice. I read WWM FAQs constantly. Yet often my questions are so specific I feel I need to consult the experts. I just hope that it’s not TOO often.
Thanks again,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Return Pump Flow--How Much Is Too Much? -- 02/18/08 Greetings WWM Crew, <<Hello Bill>> Here is my situation. I have an AGA 180-gallon RR tank with the 'MegaFlow' system--sort of. <<Mmm'¦>> The ¾-inch return is now 1-inch, and the drains are 1 ¼-inch instead of 1-inch. The 'MegaFlows' have been replaced with Durso's. <<I see'¦ I do hope this means you increased the size of the holes/bulkheads in the tank'¦not just an upsizing of the pipe>> I drilled out the 'teeth' in the overflows and siliconed black plastic gutter guard in its place. My tank has an Ocean-Motions 4 way Closed-loop plumbed according to Paul's suggestion. This all drains in to an 85-gallon 'fuge, <<Sweet>> and then to a 90-gallon sump. <<Really sweet>> My skimmer is in the sump. The return I was using was a Mag 1800, and up until last Tuesday it worked fine--then BAMM. <<Hate it when that happens'¦ I have used these and do think the Mag-Drive pumps usually serve pretty well, for the money'¦but I made the 'switch' to Ocean-Runner a while back and have been very pleased with the result'¦and when/if you can get them big enough, Eheim is even better>> A friend of mine that owns/runs an LFS said he had a 'new' (used for 5 minutes) pump he would sell me, so OK, I'm good to go right. The pump is an Eco-Plus rated at 4950gph. <<Yikes! Much too much flow for your overflows'¦or are we talking 'closed-loop' here?>> New plumbing was done--ball valve etc., etc., and I turned the pump on--(now don't get ahead of me, I know what you are thinking--but the ball valve WAS turned to 1/2 to start) <<Mmm'¦okay'¦>> Oh, I forgot--I installed a "Calfo Manifold" around the top of the tank in 1 inch PVC in place of the double returns already in use. <<Very nice>> I'm figuring my flow at about 3800 to 4000 gph--just from the return. <<Not with 'two 1 ¼-inch drain bulkheads' my friend (would only safely drain about 1000gph en toto). I must assume this is a closed-loop>> With the 1-inch return manifold--it has 12 outlets around the top--I can turn the valve to 3/4 open with no problem. With ½-inch reducers in the outlets, and with capped 45 degree pieces drilled with a small hole attached, I can open the valve all the way, without overflowing the tank. <<Okay, this 'must' be a true closed-loop then'¦no way you would be running this much water through your sump/through two 1 ¼-inch gravity drain lines>> I also have 2 Koralia #4--1200gph each in the rear corners. My 'buddy' at the LFS says it can never be enough flow. Is this too much flow ????? Thanks in advance, Bill Fletcher <<Well Bill, that depends much on your livestock's requirements/placement and how this flow is 'arranged' in the tank. A common rule-of-thumb for marine systems is to have a water-flow rate of at least ten-times the tank's stated volume. For your tank of course that would be 1800gph. I have heard of some hobbyists with flow rates of 50-times and more their tank's volume. I believe 'lots of flow' is very beneficial if applied properly'¦my own tank boasts more than 30-times the tank volume in water flow. I also believe the majority of hobbyists 'don't have enough' flow in their tanks. So to answer your question'¦if the animals in your system are not having their flesh blasted from them'¦if the animals in your system exhibit health and vigor, and the corals are not 'closed-up' all the time as a result of the flow'¦then no, this is not too much flow. Regards, Eric Russell>>

Re: Return Pump Flow--How Much Is Too Much? - 02/19/08 THANKS for the reply Eric. <<Happy to assist, Bill>> To start, the pump in question IS the tank return pump. On my OM 4 way, I have a DART. <<Ah, thank you for the clarification. I must say I think either there is something I have missed, or the pump is encountering a 'bunch' of headloss as there is no way two 1¼' gravity drains handling the flow volume you mention (4,000gph+)>> Each return has 6 one inch "T"s around the top of the tank, into which a 1" to 1/2 " reducer is placed, with a 45 degree PVC piece placed into that, and then capped and drilled with a small, not real small, hole drilled in the end. <<So'¦the water is returned to the tank via these small holes in the caps? Well, that would explain how the drains can handle the flow with the valve from the pump wide-open (the 'holes' are GREATLY restricting water flow)>> This allows me to swivel the 45's left or right, and raise or lower the "T"s as needed. The drain and return tank bulkheads were re-drilled to accommodate the tubing upgrades. <<Excellent'¦too bad you just didn't go a little larger on the drains [grin]>> I did forget to add/state that ALL plumbing is in the basement which is just behind the wall that the tank sits in front of. <<Cool'¦does make plumbing/dealing with some associated hassles a bit easier>> As of now, everybody--all the animals in the tank--- appear to be doing very well--I did tweak the 'nozzles' initially so as not to blast anybody--so all is well. <<Very good>> THANKS again for ALL you do for us in the hobby--where would we be without your help and knowledge. Bill <<Rewarding and encouraging to read'¦We are pleased to be of service. EricR>>

Sump and Refugium Hello Guys, <Gary>             I have a 200 RR aquarium and I am using a 75-gallon tank as the sump and refugium, under the 200-gallon aquarium. The aquarium will be FOWLR, mostly angels and triggerfish. The protein skimmer I am using is the Euro-Reef's CS 12-1, with the two Sedra pumps. I will be using two Mag-drive "18" pumps to return the water from the refugium to the aquarium. My concerns are the heat associated if all of the components are housed in the 75-gallon aquarium and the space that will be devoted for the DSB and live rock, which is about 20" and 17.5" wide. Is this enough space for the sand bed? <You'll see... depends a good deal on the amount of livestock, foods/feeding...> Should I set the skimmer in a Rubbermaid container outside of the 75-gallon aquarium? <If you have room, I would... if not... in the 75> If so, how do I get the water from the container to the refugium? <Best to cut a good sized "equalizer" line, with through hulls twixt the two sumps... allow gravity to move it over to the 75> If I am to use the Rubbermaid container, should it also have a sand bed? Thanks, for you help. Gary <I wouldn't place sand there, no... best to keep sand/substrate away from, out of the Sedra. Bob Fenner> Sump review/tutorial I am in the process of adding glass baffles to a 30 gallon aquarium to serve as a sump for my 55 gallon FOWLR tank. I have spent countless hours sifting through the archived FAQs on sumps, circulation, pumps, filtration, etc. and have a few last minute questions or ideas to rum by you before I put my plans to action.  My sump will have three compartments with the first being raw system water for my Aqua-C skimmer to process, the next to serve as a refugium, and the last compartment will house the return pump.  I unfortunately have to say my tank is not drilled so I will have to go the route of a hang on the tank CPR overflow.  I understand from the archived FAQs that it is hard to have too much flow in a system and have seen acceptable tank turnover rated from 10-20 times per hour.  Should I go with the CPR overflow box that has 1 one inch drain rated for 600 gallons an hour or the CPR overflow box that has 2 one inch drains and is rated for 1400 gallons per hour? <I would go with the larger... much more unlikely to fail> I would like to use a Supreme Mag drive pump for the return pump and was thinking of going with the Mag 9 for the one drain overflow or the Mag 12  for the 2 drain overflow. <Either would do... I would likely choose the larger not seeing how you intend to plumb all, and provide a mechanism for throttling, diverting flow if it proves to be too much> My tank sits on top of an Oceanic stand so the head for the return pump should be about 3 feet making me think the Mag 9 and Mag 12 would be matched to the overflows stated above with a valve plumbed on the outlet side of the pump for fine tweaking if needed. <Oh. I should read all before making commentary> I read that it is good to have more than one drain line in case it becomes clogged but didn't know if 1400 gph of flow would lead to a noisy situation. <... if necessary, adding an overflow, aspirator/s, making a "splash down" area with foam... can help here> I also read in the archives the Mag pumps can add 4 degrees to the tank temperature.  Is there another pump out there in the same price range that is better for heat output or is the 4 degrees about standard for a submersible pump moving that volume of water? <There is a wide range... with Eheim's pumps being near the low-heat end of the spectrum> And I like Anthony's idea of the closed loop manifold for circulation where you have PVC piping along the entire perimeter of the tank with various outlets via 45 degree fittings and was wondering if the Mag pumps mentioned above would be able to be plumbed that way or if they are not strong enough. <They are both volume and pressure "strong enough"> The Mag 9 and 12 state the outlet to be ¾".  Should I plumb all the way from the return pump back to the tank in ¾" and then make the nozzles smaller to increase the velocity of the water being shot into the tank or just use ¾" 45s on the return manifold? <I would make all three quarters> As  I would like to get away from using powerheads in the tank, will I have sufficient flow if all 4-6 of my return nozzles off of the manifold are just under the surface of the water or will I still need to add powerheads to stir the water on the bottom of the tank? <Likely not> I know there were a lot of questions crammed in here but I want to make sure I purchase the right components the first time top make for a positive upgrading experience. <No worries.> My main goal was to see if the CPR overflows were matched close enough to the Mag pumps to prevent the overflows from being noisy or having the pump make the sump go dry all the while having enough flow to eliminate powerheads all together. Thanks, Amy <It is obvious you have studied, thought about this... I would go forward with your plans, install, and work on ameliorating noise if this occurs, is a concern. Bob Fenner>

- Sumps, Pumps, and Plumbing - Hello to all the staff at WWM! <Hello.> First off, MAD PROPS and HUGE THANK-YOUs to the entire crew! I wouldn't want to think what the hobby and industry would be like without you folks!  Late in 2003, and early 2004 I spent some time building a very nice custom stand, canopy and sump for a planned 90 Gallon rig. In 2004, I was laid-off and my expensive project was put on hold and I settled myself by enjoying my then current 40gal tank. Recently, I moved from one state to another and destroyed the old 40 gallon tank before moving. However, all the life, rocks and some sand from that tank are currently living in my new home office in a Rubbermaid container awaiting their newer, nicer, roomier home.  I figured it is only fair since I got one. At this point, I have 200 pd.s of very fine sand, have re-poly'd my tank and canopy, looked at integrating the 440W VHO light system into the canopy, have the custom sump leak-tested, have 88lbs of Tonga Kaelini LR curing in the garage (Thanks Walt and ReeferMadness.us!), and am currently in the ordering process for the tank (90 Gallon Acrylic). I posted some pictures in my user profile here of the rock on receipt. I also plan on adding pictures through-out the whole project. Anyways, I can't seem to get a solid opinion on the boards and I am at the scary part (for me) which is the plumbing and pump selection. This seems to be the hardest area to research in tank construction due to the overwhelming number of configurations. I was hoping someone might answer a few questions and tell me If I am on the right track. Ok, here goes! <Ok, I'm wearing my seat belt.> I have already purchased 2 -- 2.0" diameter bulkhead fittings for the tank output to the sump and 2 -- 1.5" return bulkhead fittings. In your opinion is this a little bit overkill for a 90 Gallon or is my planning sound in that I wanted to run 1000gph (quietly/ish) to the sump through the outputs and that I thought that the larger the size the better in terms of clogging, noise levels, etc? <It is a bit of overkill, but not something that will cause you trouble - just takes up real estate.> Due to the stand and sump design I created, I have now figured out that I will have to mount those fittings high up on the back pane of the aquarium as my sump does not allow much in terms of extra holding capacity (the internal walls are high relative to the total height of the exterior sump walls) and I don't want to take a chance of flooding.  I won't make that mistake in design again but I still want to utilize the existing sump, darn it! It is, relative to the tank, at least, a high capacity sump (45 gallons filled) and I custom built it to the stand so that when the main door is open you will be looking at the refugium area of the sump. Considering this do you have any recommendations or suggestions for placement of the bulkheads on the back pane?  <Evenly spaced along the back wall.>  How close to the top can I safely go in the standard 1/2 Acrylic they use in 90 Gallons?  <On acrylic, you'll be fine fairly close to the top - you do realize that with the two inch bulkheads, you'll have a noticeably low water level in the tank - the outer diameter of that bulkhead will determine its placement on the back wall, meaning the lowest part of the inner diameter will be almost three inches from the top... you may want to reconsider the use of these bulkheads.> Since I will have to use the back pane I planned on using a weir built around the strained bulkheads to control the maximum amount of water that can evacuate the tank.  <Ahh yes... this would help, but how would this work with the returns?>  Also, I plan on using an anti-siphon run in my return line in conjunction with check valves to avoid flooding! Does that sound pretty bullet-proof?  <I'm not familiar with "an anti-siphon run"... but the check valves should help with this issue.>  Did I mention I have a fear of flooding?  <Think I noticed this theme, yes.> Besides the sump I also plan on building a closed loop incorporating a SCWD or similar on the system for circulation, so as to avoid powerheads and provide a higher turnover rate and a healthier environment for future denizens. Do you have any favorite devices in that arena?  <SCQD is a fine device. SeaSwirls are also widely used but much more expensive.> Since I am at the point that I need to look at ordering the pumps, I had hoped for some further input. What 2 pumps (matched if possible) would you use to drive the 90 gallon system while achieving a 10x turnover in the sump (900+gph) and a 10x in the closed loop (900+) given that: A. The sump return would be pushing 2 1.5" diameter lines to the tank with each having at least 3 90's in them and the runs would be at least 4-5 feet. --Would that roughly equate to 11 to 12 feet of head pressure?--  <I think much less... 6-7 I think.> B. The closed loop would feature 3-4 1" lines with approximately the same number of 90's and length in runs. -17 to 18 feet of head?-  <Think you're giving too much credit to those 90's - I won't deny that they are an impediment to direct flow, but I don't think they knock off even a foot for each bend.> Would 2 Iwaki 30RXLT or 2 Dolphin Ampmaster 3000's be appropriate?  <The AmpMaster would be a significantly larger pump than the Iwakis. Depending on where this tank is placed in the house, you may prefer the AmpMaster for its quiet operation, but you could likely do fine with the 2100.>  Would you use two different spec pumps? Do you have a favorite between those two or any other favorites with the newer manufacturers that might be a little less hefty in price?  <Both are excellent, I use Iwaki pumps, but they run outside in the garage where I don't have to hear them. Have many friend who use the AmpMaster and am impressed by its silent operation... is supposed to be kind to your electric bill too.> Also, for pump output plumbing, where is the appropriate place to go up in size in pipe diameter to match the return bulkhead size if the outputs on the pump is smaller? (for example, say if 1.5" bulkheads and 1"output on pump)?  <Right after the pump.> For the plumbing itself, should I use a ball or gate valve directly connected to the bulkheads or should I have a slip union between each plumbing device in the system?  <Ball valves only - and slip unions everywhere there is a device you might want to remove from the chain for replacement or maintenance.>  From what I have been able to research on my own (assuming a union between each) does the following sound ok?  Tank Output side: strainer/tank bulkhead/union/ball or gate valve/union/pipe-run/sump Sump Output: strainer/sump bulkhead/union/pump/union/manifold or tee/return pipe-runs/union/check valve/union/ball or gate valve/union/tank return bulkhead <Unions around things like pumps, check valves... not so important directly after bulkheads unless you think the connected item might have to come out at some point in the future.> In closing, I want to thank you so very, very much for all the help and at the same time apologize for having so many questions on specifics. Having someone trusted, and willing to answer some questions is so very appreciated. I promise to continue to buy at least one of each book! Thanks so much! The Drunken Monkey <Cheers, J -- > 

About plumbing multiple sumps Hi :-) <Hello there> I think I've spent tens of hours researching your wonderful site- perhaps too long because I still don't have water in my tank!! Arrgg!! Lol  I appreciate all the ideas and help really.  You guys are wonderful. <Well, thank you> Oceanic 75g reef ready with one overflow(¾' and 1' bulkheads both for drains) 2 sumps( awesome 30 gal(28'x18'x15'deep) heavy duty non-bowing Rubbermaid 'strong boxes' rated for 500 lbs each! :-) Insert Tim Allen gorilla grunt here!) <Hee hee! I remember seeing a David Horowitz consumer show years back in which they tried the Rubbermaid ad of running a "Brute" (tm) trash can through a compacting trash truck... sure enough, it popped back (repeatedly) into useful shape/condition> Sump#1 (DSB, macro algae) Sump #2 (auto-top-off) 1' spa flex through wall down to sump #1 in separate fish room. <Hopefully not too far a "run" (distance), as the one inch diameter line really does not conduct that much water...> Connect sump#1 and #2???? With bulkheads and spa flex? <Could do...> 1' bulkhead in sump #2 for return (little Giant with 1' outlet) How do I connect these sumps? <IF they are at about the same level (height-wise), they can/could be interconnected with a good sized (like 1 1/2 or 2" inside diameter) thru-hulls and a section of rigid or flexible PVC pipe...> 1)   At what height do you recommend I drill the hole(s) for the bulkhead(s) between sumps? <Down at least four inches from the top... think about the issue of "transit volume" here... what amount of water will "seek its own level" if/when the pump/s are shut off? Can be calculated, but basically, the water from the upper/main tank is going to collect below in the event of power or pump failure... you don't want this water to overflow your sumps> 2)   What size and how many bulkheads? Do I need more than one in case of clogs? <A good plan to have more than one, though not necessary in general in this application if the one is of over-size and screened> 3)   Do I need to connect elbows to bulkheads to keep everything underwater to keep from sucking air like annoying overflow noise? <Not likely unless the pump/s are large flow-rate or the fitting/s too small or placed too high...> 4)   The water level in Sump #2 will always be lower than sump #1 ,right? <Yes... unless the pump/s are off.> Sump #2's water level would drop if not for auto top-off? <...Mmm, yes> Also, my skimmer is part of a combo wet/dry unit(CPR-192) 7 gallons.  This will sit on top of sump#1 on shelf.  Is it OK to drop a small pump into sump #1 to feed the CPR and let the CPR gravity feed back down to sump #1? <Yes> This is temporary- I'm saving for the Aqua-C skimmer- does the Aqua C have a certain water level it needs- should I take this into account when drilling the bulkheads in sump#1?? <Yes and a good plan... to either build/make a shelf to support the skimmer or a baffle/panel to back up the water to about the right depth/height in a dedicated part/section of sump #1> Thanks for any help you can give- maybe I'll actually get water in there soon :-) Sincerely, Jennifer <No rush... you are wise beyond most aquarists in figuring all this out "on paper" before cutting, dedicating funds. Bob Fenner>

- Sump Questions - I have a 90 gal reef system. There is a 20 gal AMiracle sump.  Coming into the sump is 1 1600gph CPR overflow and 1 800gph CPR overflow. Also coming into the sump is a 3/4" return from a chiller. Leaving this sump is 1 3/4 inch line feeding a little giant md2 pump, 1 1" line feeding a little giant md3 pump and 1 1" line feeding a little giant md4 pump. I did this to try and increase, on a intermittent basis up to a 2000gph flow. The problem is with this size sump (there is also a protein skimmer in this sump) when I have everything running it generates way to many bubbles getting back into my tank. I do not have enough room directly under my tank for a bigger sump. What I want to do is to take the 2 1" lines that are feeding the little giant MD 3 and 4 pumps and have them feed into a 30 gal sump about 10' away from my current 20 gal sump. From this new 30 gal sump I would have 2 1" lines coming out and feeding the md3 and md4 pumps which would then feed into my main tank. My questions are: would this eliminate my bubble problem as all the overflow and turbulence would be going into the 20 gal sump while all the tank return would be leaving from the 30 gal sump? <Probably.> The second question is: would the 2 1" lines between the 20 and 30 gal sumps allow for: the same level in each sump and would the 30 gal fill up quick enough if both pumps where on and taking water from the 30? <That part is harder to predict - I'd consider a single two inch line between the two - need a margin for error.> Thanks for your help <Cheers, J -- >

- Circulation and Sumps -  Hello Crew at wet web.  Can someone answer a question or two for me? <I can try.> This is my plan. The aquarium is 280gal empty fish only with live sand, maybe some live rock. I have a dolphin amp master 3000 with a head pressure of seven feet. With displacement I should be able to turn the tank water over 10 time an hour. I have ordered an aqua C ev400 skimmer. I plan the following: water from display into a sump to a compartment which may house activated carbon if necessary, then to skimmer, then to live rock, then out to display powered by the amp master. Will the water flow be too much for the live rock resulting in nitrates which I do not want? <I don't think so... good water flow over the live rock is what you want/need.> Will water in have too many bubbles for the skimmer and if so, is that OK? <Hard to predict - may be a lot of bubbles, but this will likely not adversely affect the skimmer.> Is this series of events logical? <It's not illogical.> The level will hopefully be around 8 inches. This is what the EV 400 needs. <As long as it stays consistent, you should be all set.> Lighting for the live rock will be a fluorescence like Doro- Test Vita light. What wattage should this be? <If you're looking for Vitalites, then you're committing yourself to 40 watts.> Is this lighting sufficient for the live rock? <Probably... live rock really can go unlit, but the coralline algae will likely die out if so. The amount of lighting is really up to you.> I intend to turn it on when the display lights are off at night. Did I say two questions??? I could try - in a few more!  Once again - Thank you  Chris  <Cheers, J -- >

- Remote Sump - I am in the process of constructing a small fish/equipment room in my basement below the display tank which will house my QT, RO/DI unit, top off water, supplies, etc.  Another reason that I was anxious to make this move was that I wanted to expand upon my sump and add a refugium.  There simply is not enough room in the cabinet as it is.  I'm assuming that this will help cut down on the noise as well. <Yep.> My first question is, how do I figure out the size pump I will need to push the water back upstairs (probably 8 feet vertical)? <Probably more than that - the normal head height for tanks placed on stands is five feet - then you've got the distance from the floor of the main tank to the floor of the basement tank - I'm guessing that will end up being at least 10 feet, if not more.> The Mag pump that I have now with the sump was provided by the LFS when I purchased the tank does a fine job but I'm sure that it won't be enough for the new design. <Probably not.> I am currently doing the necessary research to set up a good refugium but need help with the pump. <Add that to the research - you'll need something that can deliver whatever circulation you want/need at the head height resulting from the basement installation. Would take the time now to figure out roughly what that will be.> Current set-up:  105G RR with sump (40G?) below.  In the sump, all I have is a heater, sponge filter, and skimmer.  The Mag pump is mounted outside of sump but I do not know the size.  Thanks. <Cheers, J -- >

- Remote Sump, Follow-up - Thanks for the response.  You're right about the head height.  Mine will probably be around 11 feet since the sump will be installed on a work bench about 3 feet off the basement floor.  The pumps that I have looked at indicate the GPH based upon the height.  How do I figure out what rate of circulation I need? <Take the volume of your tank and shoot for 10 times that in recirculation - is usually a good goal to aim for.> Is there a standard calculation? <Five to ten times the tank volume turned over per hour is pretty typical.> Are there pumps that you can adjust the flow? <Probably, but there are also valves... will accomplish the same thing.> Mark <Cheers, J -- >

Sump Configuration 7/28/04  Hi Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> This is Dave G here from England. Firstly great site, so much info from you guys and the rest of the world, PRICELESS. I have had my 50G FOWLR for a couple of years and am looking to upgrade to a 120G with 60G Sump once I move house.  <Sounds pretty cool!> Sump is basically 3 sections, one overflow from tank to skimmer, second overflow to live rock (with lighting) and then third section will be return pump and heaters. <Good configuration> My main question is, I plan on having 2 overflows and I figured that 2 x 1 1/2" (ID) overflows will give me 1000 - 1200gph (based on what I have read on your site) but I have seen conflicting info saying 1" overflow would give 500 - 600gph. Which is correct? <I think that the 1- 1/2" overflows will do a better job> I also plan on using a T1000 as it is readily available over here. I have read that the overflow needs to go directly into the skimmer but the inlet on the T1000 is just over 1/2". Do I reduce the overflow pipe at the skimmer and put a valve on to control flow into it or do I T off just before skimmer into the LR section of my sump.  <I'd keep the flow going at its "natural" rate, without reducing it. You want a constant water level in the area from which the skimmer draws, for maximum performance...> This is my first time so please be gentle. <No problem! You sounds like you put a lot of thought into this system!> By the way Bob I would be useless without my copy of CMA, I also have Reef Inverts essential guide on the way. <I'll pass the compliments on to Bob!> Many thanks and keep up the good work. Dave G in sunny England - NOT ;) <Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Plumbing a Sump for a 180 gal. Well, I have found someone about an hour from me who drills glass aquariums. So, I want to drill a 180 gal tank for use with a 55 gal sump. It will be a FOWLR set-up, so I guess I'm shooting for a 2000-3000 gph turnover right? << That sounds fine. >> How many 1.5" bulkheads do I need to do this? << I would say four. >> Is it ok to just plumb the overflows with a basket inside the tank and 90 deg. elbow on the back of the bulkhead? or do I need to build some sort of box to collect water right from the surface for better skimming. Is it possible to have too much overflow? << You can't have too much overflow, because it will be controlled by your pump.  I don't think you need a box, but I like them.  However, I like to have the box on the outside of the tank, but it does prevent optimal skimming.  I guess it depends on if you are willing to put up with seeing the box in the tank (which most people do and would recommend to you. >> I want to keep the set-up as simple as possible. I am planning to have the return water plumbed to go up over the tank, and not drill return holes in the tank and weaken the glass any more, is that ok? << Yes, I too would have the return lines run over the top. >> I thought about using 2 big Sea Swirls for the returned, but I'm not sure it's at all necessary in a FOWLR? << That is tricky, because you need to have the return lines return right at the water surface, or at least have some sort of hole drilled there.  Otherwise in a power outage those return lines will become siphon lines. >> <<  Blundell  >>

How much flow should I have for my sump? Hi Crew, << Blundell here this afternoon. >> I hope this finds you well.  I just completed a move that has me a bit down now -- 180g reef tank with many fish, corals, LR and sand'¦ I NEVER want to do that again!  But now to my current issue'¦ Prior to adding mandarins to my aquarium, I added a 20g refugium with Gracilaria, Chaetomorpha, DSB and live rock.  The intent was to gain NNR and a healthy 'pod population.  The result was a Cyanobacteria outbreak like I have never previously experienced.  My main tank has never had Cyano nor hair algae (tangs probably keep the latter in-check) but the refugium was out of control.  I could siphon out all Cyano, only to have it re-appear within 2 days.  To make matters worse, the 20g refugium was kept in my tank stand so I had only about 3 inches of clearance to work with when cleaning so each cleaning required a few hours. << The key here is to increase water flow in the refugium.  That will take care of Cyano most of the time. >> In my new house I have drilled holes through the floor beneath my main tank stand to route plumbing to a 50g refugium / sump / trickle filter in my basement -- which should greatly facilitate maintenance as well as move the main leak risks out of the main floor.  My dilemma now is the flow rate through the refugium / trickle filter.  You see, I had initially thought (and read) it would be wise to have a very slow flow rate through the refugium since plants' uptake rates and the rate of NNR from a DSB is very slow. << True, but in this case it appears to slow.  Also, the pH benefits of a refugium are increased if you increase the flow. >>  I originally had about 100 gph flow through the 20g refugium.  Bob had commented that this was probably even too much flow for this size refugium. << He's right if your goal is to grow pods. >>  As Cyano overtook my red Gracilaria, I wrote to WWM asking for advice in battling Cyano and keeping Gracilaria alive in my refugium.  The responses I received indicated I needed to increase my flow through the refugium to eliminate Cyano and to keep the Gracilaria gently tumbling. << Awesome!  That means I'm giving you advise that matches that of my fellow crew members. >> I increased the flow to 240 gph but this did not help with the Cyano problems. A WWM crew member advised that I needed to increase the flow further and that the Cyano problem would eventually pass.  Well, the Cyano problem remained until I finally added isolated the refugium from the main tank and erythromycin to the refugium for a week.  This kept the Cyano at bay for a few months but it was even beginning to return again just before I moved the tank. << It isn't really total flow through the refugium that will help.  It is flow within the refugium where the Cyano is that is the trick.  So you don't need to increase flow pumping water into the refugium, but just add a powerhead in the refugium along the bottom area where the Cyano is. >> Now that I am setting up a new refugium and incorporating my trickle filter in the same 50g container, I want to do all I can to avoid such problems again (while still creating an effective algae scrubber / NNR / 'pod source).  Since I think a large source of nutrient for the Cyano was due to detritus settling in the refugium, I am going to first pass all overflow water through a 5' height of 4' pipe.  Water from the 1' overflow will enter near the bottom of the 4' pipe and flow upward through the pipe to exit the top.  My hope is that the low flow rate through this large pipe will allow gravity to settle much of the detritus to the bottom of the pipe.  I will then open a valve at the bottom of the pipe as needed to flush-out the settled detritus. << Good Idea >> I am also considering making this pipe also function as a skimmer by either adding limewood airstones (and reversing the flow) or adding a Beckett venturi to the inlet water.  These details still need to be worked out.  From this 'settlement chamber', water would then flow over bio balls from my trickle filter and into the 50g container.  The 50g container would contain about 5' of aragonite sand and macro algae (probably begin with Caulerpa until I am comfortable that nutrients are low enough that I am not going to have another Cyano outbreak, then replace with Gracilaria and Chaetomorpha). With this setup, the flow rate through the refugium / filter will probably be around 2,000 gph.  I will be using a Mag 18 in series with a Mag 36 to overcome the 10' height from the sump to the main tank.  This meet the tank circulation requirement of at least 10 tank volumes circulated per hour but I do not know if this flow is too much for the refugium.  Maybe this is a good way to avoid Cyano or maybe this is too much flow to allow effective NNR. << Should be fine. >> On the other hand, even if water does not remain in the sump long enough to fully react with the DSB and plants, since this water is being returned to the sump many times per hour, possibly the net effect is the same -- little nitrate is removed on each pass through the sump but, after so many passes through the sump, as much nitrate would be removed as if the water would have remained in the sump to react with the sand and algae during the same time period?  Does this make sense? << Yep, I say just go for it. >> I apologize for the lengthy email but hopefully this explains why I am questioning the 'correct' flow rate to use.  If this is too much flow for a refugium, I guess the refugium must have to be separate from the trickle filter, since I understand the trickle filter should process at least 10 tank volumes per hour. Thank you for your advice!  I will be working on this setup in the morning so I could really use your guidance. --Greg << Trial and error.  Not what you wanted to hear, but it is my best advise. (oh yah, and the more water motion the better)  Blundell >>

Sump and Pump Question 10/8/03 I am currently in the initial stages of setting up a 125 Gal FOWLR.  I was given a W/D filter (about 32 gal) from a friend that was using it on a 200 Gal at one time.  I am planning on removing the Bio Balls and using the LR for my filtration.   <good> The tank has a built in pre-filter.   <a hindrance if it is small and inline with the overflow> I have a couple of questions.  If I was to add some LR to the sump would it need to be completely submerged?   <it would be better/best to do so> Also and probably more importantly I am looking for advice on a pump.  I have read that you really like the Iwaki Water Pumps and since it seems that they are of good quality I will look into purchasing one of them.   <correct... time tested, reliable, quiet and very durable> I need to know which one.  I have read that you suggest turning the water in the system aware form 5 to 20 times an hour, which does not seem unreasonable.   <indeed... and some hardcore reefs with shallow water corals actually take towards 40X per hour. Your flow will depend on the needs of the animals you keep. ID them first before picking your pump> My main question is how much GPH and will the pre-filter and sump cause any reduction in the flow rate if I was to get a bigger pump that pumps more GPH?   <there are calculations for this (some handy ones on reefs.org and reefcentral.com). Its rather long to explain in a brief e-mail here... do seek these online calculators for operating head/pressure on pumps. Use the search tool on their pages> I do not want to by a bigger pump like a 40RXLT and have it dry out the sump because it can pump more that the pre-filter and sump can handle.   <you are missing the big picture here my friend... please do see if you can find a local aquarium society and aquarists to see and learn from their set-ups. Else a good LFS that will let you peep their systems> The last question that I have is about the Iwaki pump themselves.  I notice that they have one that have American made Motors and ones with Japanese made motors.  Do you know if there any significant difference in performance and quality because there is a large price difference? Thanks for all your advice and what a great site. Todd <the Japanese pumps have enjoyed a long reputation for being well-worth the added expense. Their advantage is durability and pump life. Anthony>

Sump and Pump Question II 10/8/03 Dear Anthony, Thanks for the information.  I will look up the references that you gave me. As for the built in pre filter (Overflow box) it is 6" by 6".  Is this what you mean by a hindrance? (not large enough).   <yes... quite so. Remove the prefilter in it and run it unrestricted. This will be much better for a skimmer too (receiving raw water)> As for my pump question, the reason that I ask about drying out the sump because I have read several posts in the FAQ on your site and several time I have seen references to dry out the sump because of a pump that has to high a GPH for the Overflow and sump. I guess my question is can you dry out the sump?  If I am still missing the point please let me know.      Todd <no such thing as drying out a sump if the system is designed properly. In this case... as long as you don't exceed the max flow through the overflow (cal this by the number and size of drainage holes/bulkheads). After that... no worries. It really is as simple as it seems sounds. Anthony>

- Draining into the Sump - Ok, I'm confused!!! <Oh?> Should vertical drain lines going into the sump be an inch or so just below the sump water level, or just above the water level??? <I'd do this just under the surface of the water, would keep the noise down a small amount.> I have mine about 2 inches below, and am getting a ton of little bubbles in the sump (some making their way back into the display via pump) please advise/clarify in your opinion Thanks! <The bubbles are actually not from having the outlet below the water but from the process of water coming down the pipe in the first place - you can tweak the plumbing somewhat to reduce this but it's almost impossible to eliminate.> Blair <Cheers, J -- >

Re: OVERFLOW & SUMPS Good day: Now that I have read all about the perils of siphon overflows, I want to get a tank with an built-in overflow.  However, now I am reading that a pre-drilled 55 gallon All-Glass, for example, has 1 overflow, which is rated at 600GPH, but actually flows only 300GPH in reality?!?  WHAT IS WITH OUR $%#%$# SOCIETY THAT EVERYTHING WITH A RATING IS ALWAYS OVERRATED?!?  WHERE ARE THE CONSUMER WATCHDOGS?!?  Ahem, sorry.  Okay, so I only have a FOWLR at the moment, but I want a tank that can handle the future possibility of a reef.  Your site says 20X flow for corals is good, right? <The more the merrier generally>   What about just FOWLR?  Will the 300gph (5.45X) be enough? <Likely so, yes> If I have to drill, I can't on the bottom because of the tempered glass.  But I don't want the back drilled, because I need to have the tank against the wall for lack of space. Can I special order 2 overflows from the All-Glass (or other) factory? <Contact them and ask.>   Do I want a tank without a tempered bottom? <... not really>   It does not sound like a good idea. And what's with sumps "rated" for a certain flow?  I am going to take a wild guess and say that they are overrated flow-wise too, right? <I suspect these ratings are "generalizations" as the physical restriction (for transit volume... the amount of water pumped up to the main/display tank) will be a matter of how fast the pump is able to pile water up above... in the surface area, drain configuration of the system>   Why can't they handle as much as you push through? <Think about this... the water accumulates "on top" of the tank being pumped to... if/when the pump/s go off... that water will flow back down to the sump/s... It's a good idea to have as long, wide of sumps as possible, and to "practice" with filling all with the pumps turned off, turn them on, and mark the lowest level of the sumps achieved, mark this on the sump/s and never fill them more than this... to provide for the inevitable power, pump failure. Bob Fenner>   anyway, thanks for being there!  Rich.

Sump Circulation and Aqua-C Skimmers How much tank volume should I run through my sump on my 125 gal reef?  I run a Mag 5 unrestricted, do you think this is enough? Regarding the size of aqua c to use, they say the ev120 or the ev180 will handle the 125 gal tank which do you recommend and where can I purchase one?  Thanks for your quick response. <Flow through your sump is irrelevant, it is tank circulation/volume/flow that is the issue. Reefs require 10X to 20X times total tank volume turnover, or 1250-2500 gph for a 125, so a Mag 5 (500 gph) is completely inadequate. The recommendations of the manufacturer are accurate, I like a larger skimmer myself, plus the 180 can be set-up for ozone. You can find them at several of our WetWebMedia.com sponsors (Quality is one) and you can also find out more about them at the Aqua-C link on the marine section of WWM.  Craig>

Re: Ick & new tank, should I replace gravel? Bob, thank you for your quick reply !     I have taken the water volume into account. My LFS mentioned I could drill a small hole under the bend at the 90 where the return enters the tank, and this will stop the siphon, are you familiar w/ this method? does it work? <Yes, and generally> my sump holds 12 gal & the tank is 48 x 20 x 24, when I had my 80 gal & took about 8 gal out for water changes it usually brought the h20 level just below the return. Any other thoughts on this ? <Yes... start the system pump/s with the sump full and mark how low the water level is drawn to... and do not fill the system beyond this mark. This will save you from overflowing the sump in the event of a power outage or pump failure.> PS - Thanks to you I now use a QT after years of not knowing these idea's. I got into the hobby back in the very early nineties, pretty much before the internet became SO popular & books were not nearly as informative. Boy isn't technology great ! Thank you for your contributions to our hobby ! Darrin Mack <Agreed and thank you. Bob Fenner>

Noisy overflows Greetings to all I have been searching all over for information on quieting sumps down and would like to know if there is anything else I can try.  I have a 55 gal corner bow with a 20 gal sump.  I had 2- 1" bulkheads put in. On the inside of the tank there is a 1" service elbow pointing up with a coupling on top with slots in it. (that is my makeshift strainer)  On the outside of the tank I have a Tee attached with hose running down to the sump.  In the top of the Tee there is a short piece of PVC with a cap on top.  The Cap has two holes in it.  One is to vent the line and the other has a piece of 3/8" clear vinyl running down to the bottom end of the 1" line to vent the bottom.  The hoses are just under the surface of the sump water when it is running.  I tried having them above the water, but the noise and splashing were extremely loud.  I have an Iwaki md30rxlt pump returning water to the main tank. <Look at Durso pipe overflows to figure out how to vent these quietly. I don't think the 3/8 line helps. may hinder venting. Also, run water over splash plate w-filter pad in sump to quiet bubbles and splashing.> The two noises I am trying to deal with are the constant waterfall noise from the water running down the hoses and the hum coming from the pump. The waterfall noise has me pulling my hair out. The Iwaki is mounted to the bottom of the cabinet and has a piece of 3/16" rubber under it.  It is lagged down and I think that the cabinet is amplifying the hum. <Yep, bolting down to cabinet makes it part of cabinet....and it's larger vibrating hum.> Any ideas? <As per your new post, you moved it downstairs for noise and heat. 10 degrees increase in heat isn't good.....is the pump too big?> One more totally unrelated question.  We have put in a Deep sand bed and I am going to purchase a detritivore kit as well as 44 lbs of live rock to reseed the rock I already have.  Which should I add first?  The rock or the critters? Thanks Bryan and Dana Flanigan <I would add the rock first.  Hope this helps!  Craig>

Overflow (good kind) and overflow (bad kind) with sump Hi folks! I've been reading here furiously on sumps, 'cos I want to add one to my 37g FOWLR, but I have two questions I can't find answers to. The tank has - for better or for worse - an Eclipse hood, and is not drilled. I need a hang-on overflow to get water out to the sump. Now, the primary reason for the Eclipse was that it is quiet - my wife doesn't like the living room sounding like a babbling brook. It also minimizes evaporation, which helps keep this small system stable. Is there a quiet, effective solution to feeding a sump, or am I SOL (highly technical term ;-> )? <Not the best option overall, but in your case show on of our sponsors for overflow boxes, either U-tube or CPR. These require a venturi powerhead to pull the air out of the overflow in the event of a power failure, etc.> I've already taken out the bio-wheel, so the hood is now relegated to providing mech/chem filtration and light. Am I going to have to pull it off altogether in order to put a hang-on overflow on the tank to feed the sump?  You may have to get out the Dremel tool and cut a space or ?> Secondly, what happens if a hang-on overflow loses its siphon and stops refilling the sump? How does one stop the return pump from pumping the contents of the sump over the living room carpet? Do I put a partition in the sump to create a fixed, low quantity return section? I think I'd rather lose the return pump than my head ;-> Thanks! <No problem, see above. You may find yourself moving out of your Eclipse and using the existing tank as a sump! Have fun!  Craig> Sumps/Prefilters Hi Bob <Craig here for Bob while he travels to St. Thomas...) I have your book and I'm finishing my 150g here in Rhodes Island Greece, do I need to say anything more there ? No LFS for 45 minutes by plane !!! ( talking about impact ) <Egad, someone who has to go through more than I do!!!  Wow!) All my equipment are the best I could get ( all from States ), but problem is I made the tank before I knew about built-in overflow's. <Common...> My problem is now (after reading ) that I'm afraid if something happens to the siphon effect.. Although is from Lifereef which is probably the best sumps and prefilters out there. I read about this modification of making a hole on the top of the siphon tubes (mine is a double prefilter box) and add a rigid airline to the venturi inlet of the closest powerhead. That will always pump water/air out of the siphon tube. Good idea? <Absolutely. If the power fails, so does the powerhead. It comes on, the powerhead does too, and restarts your siphon.> Also I added one float switch for an Auto Top Off system, but what happens if it gets stuck?  So I added another one which operates an extra  pump if the water in the sump raises too much  then it pumps the water out to the waste line (used for water changes.) I'm also thinking of adding another one on the main tank ( float switch with pump), so If accident happens with overflow then pump will drain to a point the main tank, preventing overflow. Depended too much on pumps though (but keep in mind they will only operate on emergency.) How does all this  set-up sound? Take care, Kostas <If you just install an overflow (passive water change line instead of pumped) into your sump and limit the amount that is in the top off container, all is well. Five gallons in the top off is adequate, and then all you can overflow is five gallons...into a container next to the sump of course. If you want the same thing in the main, use the float switch to shut off the return pump (to open contacts if overflow fails and water level is too high).  Fewer pumps and float switches, same result. All in all you have the right idea. Use gravity as much as possible, pumps and power are unreliable!  Craig>

Sumps & 'fuges Thanks for the suggestions. They bring up a couple of additional questions. If I were to use a sump, how would I best get the water to it? <always drilled overflow holes (back wall, not floor- preferably). Avoid siphon overflows at all costs... they can break siphon easily/eventually> The 80G tank is already set up and is not drilled. <I would personally rather go without a sump than deal with a siphon overflow. On the other hand... a sump is a tremendous help... well worth draining and drilling your tank> I think that the biggest sump or refugium I could fit under my stand would be only about 10 (maybe 15) gallons. <rather small... don't bother with the 10 gall. Or perhaps have a custom sump build to maximize volume> How would you recommend setting up an upstream 10G tank and what are the reasons for this being a wonderful idea for me? <simply a 10 gallon on a shelf above the main display (can have a cool mangrove seedling coming out of it with a spotlight to make it even sexier <G>>. This refugium can be fed by a small mag drive pump or a bleed off from a sump return pump. The benefits are numerous and well defined in our archives... do browse the refugium FAQs please. One outstanding benefit though if you have the discipline to keep it fishless is that plankton will gravity overflow every night without having to travel through a pump like plankters from a downstream 'fuge would> Thank you so much for all of the great advice you are constantly providing through your wonderful website! Steve Allen <Thank you, my friend... Merry Christmas. Anthony>

Sumps????? Hi! I'm gonna set up a sump and put a skimmer in it. I have an old fish tank (10 gallon) that I am going to put on the stand underneath the saltwater tank (4 foot). I do not have an overflow yet but is it ok to put some pipe into the saltwater display tank and siphon water into the tank underneath (sump) then return the water to the main tank via a pump? <No, my friend, siphon overflow systems are not that simple.> I have found many DIY sumps that the overflow just works by siphon with a cap so that if the power goes out it won't keep siphoning. I do not know if this type of overflow will work but if you know of any type of reliable overflow piece of equipment which works by siphon could you please tell me about it or where I go to find the DIY plans! <Check out the projects on www.ozreef.org> Thanks very much, Brendan P.S. Could you also tell me how you would do it because I'd rather take advise from a pro than some 15 year old kid like myself who would try anything! <I strongly prefer to have the tank drilled with a bulkhead fitting. -Steven Pro>

Sump Flow Robert & Friends, (180g with 40g sump) I have two Mag 9.5 running the returns to the main tank, this puts a lot of flow through my sump - not sure if this is a big deal but the drain pipe (1.5") sure kicks around the water in the sump... often not allowing the small bubbles time to rise up to the surface. Is there a pro / con to allot of flow through the sump?  <not the sump per se, but generally the more the better through the system if appropriate for their species (laminar for many gorgonians or random turbulent for most other reef inverts)> I have read through many of the FAQ's on your site but can't seem to get a good understanding. I designed it this way so that I could avoid the use of powerheads in the tank  <excellent!!! I recommend this to most everyone... powerheads have soooo many disadvantages> (both return lines are tee'd to provide 4 returns at the top of the tank, two are positioned in the front corners facing the middle/bottom of the tank and two are at the back of the tank directed across the top to the front) do you think this is enough circulation for this size of tank - eventually building a reef set up. <look for dead spots where detritus accumulates but overall it sounds good. Without wave/surge action (fairly inconvenient) most aquarists can have a fine display with very dynamic random turbulent current such as this> Thank you in advance for your help, Regards, Mike <always welcome, my friend. Anthony>

Sump Flow II Anthony - this is the third time I've contacted you and I am still amazed - you guys are awesome, keep up the good work! <wow... that is so relieving to hear after the entire WWM crew just got giant "S"'es tattooed on our chests... and one of the crew members is a lady <wink>... I wonder if Barb is paying attention?!> One more piece of advice regarding the returns (I am sure I will ask more in the future),  <was that a threat? .hehe> in your opinion would it be better to send the returns on the back of the tank aiming straight down - this way it would force water down along the bottom (through the rock), across the bottom and up the front of the glass. <there really is no possible rule for this application as it is influenced by the dynamic of each unique rockscape. Generally, converging paths (as with from opposing nozzles... i.e., Back left aiming to front right and vice versa) will produce a reasonable good random turbulent flow in the tank. Do consider tees and nozzles that are adjustable to tweak the flow after your tank is set up. This will help avoid dead spots (where detritus accumulates) and allow for necessary changes as rocks are moved or coral grow. I discuss the idea of a single pump on a manifold at length in my Book of Coral Propagation. If you have a local aquarium society, I wouldn't mind donating a copy of the book so that you/they don't have to pay to hear me ramble <wink>. E-mail me hear or at the book's web page (www.readingtrees.com) with an addy or link to their site> Currently, I have it plumbed across the top so it hits the front glass and travels down and across into the rocks - perhaps I am working myself up over small details  <yes.. a moot point as the flow with be adjusted many times over the months/years> but I originally thought that it may be better to agitate the surface but in hindsight the overflow boxes will likely do that... It may be better to pass the water down, through the rocks, to the front so it would essentially push the crap out instead of pushing it in... What's your thoughts? <it is very important that detritus be kept in suspension and that lower water is always raised to the surface for gas exchange> Increasingly grateful for your services! Regards, Mike <increasingly nervous with all of these ducks around here... Anthony>

Sump and powerheads Dear WWM Crew: Hello.  <Greetings, Samantha... Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob travels Australia and shows the Crocodile Hunter how its really done! He's only been there a week and already he has thumb-wrestled a wallaby into submission and gave a koala a nasty brush burn.> I am in the planning stages of setting up a 60 g Tenecor tank and I'm looking for a little advice. I'd like to place a sump in the stand (the tank has a bottom-drilled hole) but space is fairly limited. I would also like to keep things simple (I just really want the sump as an out of sight place for the skimmer (AquaC Urchin), heater, and possibly some occasional chemical filtration. I realize that there is a ton of information out there regarding DIY sump plans, but I'm having some difficulty finding basic plans/photos/ideas to get started with. My question is whether you could direct me to any good articles or links showing simple sump setups? (I'm sorry if this is a rather redundant question). <no worries at all on the nature of the question. Although you may want to peruse the WWM archives with appropriate keyword searches through the engine on this site. The type of sump that you set up really depends on your needs/preferences. Based on what you have said, a simple sump that acts as a reservoir for filtration equipment only has no real design. It is as easy as you might guess and my preferred type of sump (I prefer to have refugia above my display instead of under as many do). So I'm wondering now if you can and are willing to drill through the floor to the next room downstairs to put this sump for your tank with a cramped stand. This will require a larger pump to handle the head, but give you more control with heat issues and more room to work on a larger sump. With a drain nearby you could even have a standing overflow drilled into the sump for automatic water changes or at least have a thin water line run to a float switch on the sump for automatic water changes. I have a diagram of an automated system with this sort of set up in my book. If I can figure out how to convert the AutoCAD drawing into a jpeg I'll post it <wink>.> A second question that I have is regarding powerhead placement, not in as much as it relates to good flow since that will be a top priority, but as it relates to aesthetics and how to camouflage the powerheads. <my preference is to have absolutely no powerheads in the main display and drill the tank with an adequate overflow so that you can have a big enough water pump on your sump to take care of most all your circulatory needs. PHs are poorly made, throw heat, short lived, aesthetically detractive, etc. A large external water pump is my strong preference> Ideally I'd like to minimize their contribution to the aquascape since they can be distracting and unsightly at least until they become covered over with coralline algae. Any ideas you have would be greatly appreciated. Finally, is Lorenzo still part of the "Crew"? He was very helpful about a year ago when I wrote in with another question. <yes. he is a very important part of the crew! Bob can't get rid of him <smile>. With Jas, they are slaving/developing a whole dimension of the WWM site...coming soon! Much more too.> Thank you for your time. <very welcome, my dear. With kind regards, Anthony Calfo> Samantha

Sump overflow I am trying to size my sump overflow pipe. I will be using a Rubbermaid (tm) 100gal tank, and will cut an opening about 6 inches from the top of the tank using a bulkhead fitting. The aquarium is 200 gal. with a projected 1000 gph flow. Is 2 inches enough? Thanks. Charles Jones, Franklin, GA <if I understand you to be asking if a 2" PVC sized overflow from the main display down to the sump will handle 1000 gallons of water gravity overflowing: Yes. A 2" pipe will handle the flow, although likely noisily. And for what it is worth... 1000 GPH circulating through a fish only tank is dangerously weak flow (likely to allow detritus to accumulate and feed terrible algae blooms down the road). If the tank is also going to house invertebrates... then it simply will not work at all. The old ratios of 4 to 10 X turnovers were dramatically understated we know now... and even by those standards you are on the lower end. Adding extra powerheads in the display top compensate adds heat, excess risk of shock, clogging, failure... they are less long lived, and so many more complaints. The best is to have a good strong external inline sump pump running most of the flow. Best regards, Anthony>

Sump Flow Dear Bob et all, I have been working out the bugs of my new set up (180 gallon / Dual Overflow) - thanks again for previous help, you guys have been great support. I am in the process of removing the "scrubbies" and pre-filter media from my overflow chambers, they were put in there for added filtration and to quiet the water as it pours into the chamber. After much reading through the site & FAQ's I realized that this was a serious design flaw... perhaps would explain why my skimmer has never really produced dark skimmate? <Yes, quite likely.> Anyway, I have assembled a "Durso Standpipe" which has taken care of the overflow noise however the design allows for air to be "sucked" down the pipe, allowing for self priming and to prevent a siphon from occurring - the difficulty from me is that the air causes the plumbing further down the system to generate allot of noise and to produce an extremely large amount of bubbles in the sump which eventually get pumped back into the display. I have a ball valve on the drains which I could close enough to restrict the flow thus backing the water up enough to prevent the air from entering the drains however, I don't believe this is good practice. <Agreed, a bad idea.> Do you have any advice? <You could use baffles or vent the air from the drain lines.> I have read a lot about using baffles to help manage the air bubbles - can you refer me to a diagram or picture that shows how to design such a baffle system? <Anthony had a very nice drawing done that has been posted here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/plumbingmarart.htm> Respectfully yours, Mike <Good luck. -Steven Pro>

Sump for Eclipse System12 Bob, <Steven Pro here with the follow-up.> Thank you for your help. The project went well! The Eclipse 12 tank is drilled, plumbed, and my new CPR SR2 is already producing some high quality "gunk". <Great!> I do have another question though. My drain line seems to develop some sort of "air lock" which is limiting flow. My 3/4" drain as plumbed right now is as follows... a strainer connected to a slip coupling to a 45 degree elbow (entire assembly can be rotated to adjust the tanks water level) to a bulkhead fitting to the bulkhead's elbow to flexible tubing which drains open ended into the sump. Oddly enough, the water level in the sump effects how the drain line "behaves". When the open end of my drain line is above the sump's water level, the discharge valve of the return pump (Rio 1700) must remain throttled down for the drain line to keep up. However, when the open end of my drain line is below the sump's water level, the drain line is able to drain the pump's full capacity (noisily though as the strainer slurps air from above the tank's surface). Although I would love to understand the actual fluid dynamics relative to this problem, I am most eager to find a fix. Ideally, I will be able to utilize the pump's max flow rate in my tank and drain the water back to my sump quietly. Although I probably could modify the cut in my tank and upsize my drain line to 1" to solve the problem, I suspect there is a simple way to eliminate the problem by modifying my in tank drain line plumbing? <Yes, remove the bulkhead elbow on the outside of the tank and replace it with a T assembly. You will need the T, two short (1-2") sections of PVC pipe of the same size, a slip to female thread fitting, and a male thread to barb fitting. Assemble these pieces such that you can insert the T so the side part goes into the bulkhead and the straight part is up and down. This will allow air to escape from the drain line and for the water to flow down quicker.> Also, I can't find where my original question is posted on your website, can you tell me where it is? <They all get posted on the daily page for one day. Then get filed under one of the FAQ's. Your previous question could have been filed in the FAQ's for plumbing, skimmers, sumps, etc. I am not really sure. You could try searching for it using the Google tool. Try the key words Eclipse, skimmer, and any other words that stand out to distinguish your question from all the others we get.> Thanks again for your help. Corey Marker Lynbrook, NY <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Sumps, water on the Floor Hi Bob...I just set up my Knop calcium reactor, and I set up a home made sump to drip the reactor into...I'm using a Tidepool SOS prefilter draining into a 20 gallon tank, and using a pump to return the water...I put a valve on the return hose to regulate the flow from the pump back to the tank, so I could match up the exact flow between the overflow and the return pump (any other suggestions on this??, am I doing this right?)...my main concern is doing water changes...I finally got to a point where I don't want to mess with the pump or the overflow because I got the ratio between the 2 just right...if I shut the pump off and left the valve in the right spot and stopped the overflow siphon, when I start everything back up will it be the same? I'm just concerned that every time I do a water change now, I'll have to spend hour monitoring the overflow / return pump ratio...any suggestions??...thanks....Jeff <Can't be done Jeff... rely on gravity... BobF> Sump info. Hi bob, let me explain my sump situation more in detail...first of all, if I were to go and buy a wet/dry unit, it would come with an overflow, which, via a siphon and using gravity, would flow water into the wet/dry unit, the water being returned to the main tank from the wet/dry using a pump...I have the same set-up but I didn't buy a wet/dry, I just bought the overflow for a wet/dry (the Tidepool SOS), and a 20 gallon tank, instead of a wet/dry, the amount of water in the 20 gallon tank is about 8 gallons, one third of the tank filled), I am returning the water from the sump back to the main tank using a pump, as would be in a wet/dry unit...the pump was obviously slightly stronger than I thought so I have a valve on the tubing so I can regulate the flow, so it matches the amount being brought into the sump via the overflow unit, are you following so far?. is this wrong?...if it is tell me how and what I should be doing?....I thought that in all wet/dry situations, there is always the threat of flooding due to power outages, break in siphon, pump failure....is there something that could be done to avoid this? >> Ah, thanks for the illumination. What a relief (and I do know Bobby Sherman's product names... i.e. Tidepool.>, the valve on the discharge side should be fine... and the eight gallons in the sump sufficient to accommodate transit volume... still, do this old pet-fish ichthyologist a favor and turn the power off, allowing the sump to fill at wherever it does, top it off, turn the pump back on, and mark the absolute highest point the water should allow to be when the pump is going, the valve set at its maximum aperture you'll be using.... This is how to avoid floods... Bob Fenner I do hope I'm understanding you here, and that you've employed a "constant level" overflow mechanism that simply relies on gravity and water level in your main system to deliver water to a lower point, i.e. the sump, and not some "matched" flow drainage and return pumping mechanism... If you turn the pump off, does the transit volume sump overflow? Does the siphon break? I do trust you understand what I'm getting at... the answer must be no to all. Otherwise, disaster is predictable. Bob Fenner

Sumps Overflowing? Hi Bob, I might have to go oversea on business on the weekend, so I am trying to sort out some teething problems before I go. Things like noisy overflow, and small things like this. I also installed a 1060 Eheim pump to return the water. The 1250 just did not move enough water for my liking. <A good choice> It's a strange feeling to have a sump. I always have in the back of my mind that the tank or sump could overflow! <Could, but not likely if set-up properly> Hope you have had a good Easter break! Many thanks for your help and I will email you again (hopefully before the weekend) when I put some pictures up on the net. Warmest regards, Lucien <Bon voyage my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sump/Pump Size Greetings Bob I am setting up a 55 gal reef tank, following the Berlin Method of filtration. How large should my sump be - I am currently planning on a 10 gal aquarium. <As big as you can fit... really. A ten would be a minimum... as you can understand given the need for not filling it completely to accommodate transit volume (should power, the pump fail)... and the myriad of things you might want to "do there"... make it a twenty or more gallon if you can, believe me> Also, what should my pump size (gpm's) be? The sump will be directly beneath the tank, by about 24". <At least five times the tank by the rated volume per hour... better to be ten> Thanks Bob!! <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> David Hacker

Sump/refugium I am trying to build a sump/refugium (about 30 gallons) for a 100 gallon tank. <Okay> I am thinking of using a 15 gallon Rubbermaid container for the skimmer and heaters. Then using 2 x 1''  <Make these at least 1 1/2", I'd choose 2"...> bulkheads to plumb the 15 gallon to a 30 gallon container that will contain a plenum/refugium/liverock arrangement. From the 30 g. container the line will be plumbed back to the display tank. My crazy scheme is to plumb the 2 bulkheads from the smaller container higher than the bulkhead in the refugium. This will keep the water running "down hill". Right? As I think this through. . . <This "running downhill" doesn't generally go all that well unless you have very large diameter conduits, and/or a good slope/run of difference in height... use large thru-hulls, pipe> 1) How do I drill holes in the containers? I mean, if I cut it with a knife the bulkheads will never seal. <Use a hole-saw set like for cutting doors for handles... these come in a few varieties... and drill slowly... no need for speed here... and use the gasket that comes with the thru hulls on the inside of the tank AND in addition put a sufficient smear of silicone (100%, like the type made for putting glass aquariums together) on BOTH SIDES of the thru-hull and hand tight, LEAVE to set for a day...> 2) In order to achieve a flow of at least 1000gph from the display tank, how big does my built in overflow in the display tank need to be? Is 1'' enough?  <No... at least two inch... ideally two-two inch ones> ( I know. . .you really want me to have two overflows). If possible, I would like to get by on one overflow which will be shunted to the T-1000 skimmer. <Not worth the risk here... if the single overflow fails, you could pump out the tank in about six minutes... on to the floor...> 3) Is the 2x 1'' bulkheads between the sump and refugium enough?  <No> How about the return line from the sump. . .Is one inch enough combined with a high quality pump that rates 1200 gph or thereabouts?  <Likely yes... use whatever size the outlet/discharge from the pumps volute is... that is, don't downsize the diameter from the pump... if it's one inch, go with one inch> I am thinking this will be the only pump that I use except a small one to feed the skimmer. Do you think this will work? <Should> I'm quite nervous about this plumbing stuff. Lots of room for novice errors. While I'm thinking about it, thanks for listing thereefweb.com site in your links. It really has been lots of help to me. <Have someone with experience review your plan, help by looking over your shoulder while doing the work... ask at the local shops, a club if you have one in your area... even a plumbing company if need be> On a more personal note, since I discovered your website about a year ago, I actually (for quite a while) kept thinking, "Gosh. . .I wish Bob would find a way to make some REAL money. It's sad this guy works so hard answering questions and posting information on the internet for free! <Nah! There isn't much money per se in this field, but there are many important ways for folks to "get paid"... Not lost on me that there is a difference between what people "do for work", versus what they "do for a living"... this is a living, for sure> He must have a heart of pure gold!!" Well, all this traveling you've been doing this past year. . .checking out properties in Hawaii, diving all over Asia, etc., has changed my mind! Now I'm thinking," How DOES this guy make money? I want to do what he's doing!!!" You lucky dog. . . HAHAHAHHAHAHAAAHAAHAHAAHAHAAA. <Ah, my friend, come and join us. Really. What material wealth I have is from (relative to human life times of course) a long-term investment result... saving part of my income (Please do red Clayson's "The Richest Man in Babylon" here... s/b required at HS level or even sooner> In all seriousness, anybody that spends as much time helping others as you do, deserves any and everything you get. Your efforts are appreciated and I'm sure you have friends all over the world . . .at least one in Vegas. <Ah, thank you.> I play the piano in the casinos . . .lots of intrinsic reward (frequently), but the extrinsic. . . (sometimes)?  <The lyrics of "The Piano Man" are drifting through my mind> Although there is almost always a beautiful fish tank nearby. If you ever want to establish a business in the City of Lost Wages or just need a weekend host, the wife and I will oblige. . . Keep up the good work!!! David Dowless (Who wishes there was a good fish store in Vegas) <Perhaps you will build one. Bob Fenner>

Sump mechanics I wanted to thank you for your help with my Aiptasia questions the other day. I'm still attempting to catch the elusive black crab!! <You are welcome.> Since that time, I have been investigating the possibility of adding a sump to my set up. I believe I could probably fit a 20 gallon sump, though not with a lot of extra room!! I have been investigating sump set ups through the web and believe I have an idea of how I wish to proceed. I am though still stuck on some of the mechanics surrounding the project. I have looked far and wide for an explanation of how the volume of flow from the tank is equalized with the return flow of the pump. I will have to use a siphon overflow since I do not have a 'reef ready' tank. What I can't quite fathom, perhaps I'm just thick, is if I get an overflow that is putting 800 gph in the sump, and a pump that is pumping out 1000 gph, won't the sump eventually run dry, or the main tank overflow? <In this hypothetical, both would happen.> Conversely, If I get a 600 gph pump with the same overflow, won't the system eventually shut down when the sump fills up and the level in the main tank dips below the overflow level? <All overflow systems operate up to a maximum level. If the overflow is rated to operate up to 800 gph, it is capable of siphoning water up to 800 gph, but will perform fine at 600, 400, or anything up to 800.> I'm sure there is an obvious answer I am overlooking so I wanted to thank you in advance for your patience! <No problem. The labeling can be misleading. -Steven Pro>

Re: Sump mechanics Thanks for the prompt reply! <You caught me at the right time.> Just to make sure I've got it right.....I take it that I need to make sure that the pump which I choose has a gph rating that is below that of the overflow. What changes the rate of flow from the overflow box to match the pump? I can't believe I manually adjust some valve to try and match the return flow. Therefore there must be another controlling factor. Still confused! <No, there is nothing to adjust with siphon overflow box systems other than the adjustments for leveling them and for the water level in the tank. The more water that is pumped up, the more water the siphon drains up to its maximum point.> Also, what determines the water level in the sump? <The water level in the sump is determined by how much you fill it and evaporation.> Is it the positioning of the inflow tube into the sump? <No, see above.> Regards <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Pump it up Hi Bob, I have a question regarding my sump/refugium. I would like to buy a Turbo floater T1000 which requires a pump and also I would need a second pump for the return to the main tank from the sump. Is this a correct assumption or can these be combined. <Better by far to have two separate pumps here... hard to adjust the flow, pressure for the skimmer...> Ideally, I would like the skimmer in the sump/refugium. I don't know of anyone with such equipment to view, and I would need to mail order the skimmer, so I'm not sure how the setup would be configured. Your input would be appreciated. <Configured? Mmm, maybe take a look through Oz' Reef, champion DIY site re our field: http://www.ozreef.org/ and elsewhere on manufacturers sites (Our links page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/links.htm) for ideas on layout. Bob Fenner> Thanks Roland

Closed loop and sump questions Greeting & Salutations, < Good morning. > I just read a couple of articles Anthony has written about closed loop systems and water flow and would like to ask your opinion on a couple of items.< Go right ahead. > a) If I use a an external canister filter e.g. Rena Filstar XP2 (I will also use it for chemical filtration) and "extend" the return outlet across the perimeter of the tank using elbows would I have effectively created a manifold closed loop system. < Yep, you would have.  The only downside I can see is that it will be quite weak.  You would be better with a large pump. > b) After much deliberation I have decided to create a separate refugium which will have a gravity fed outlet into the sump. I have 2 options of getting water to the refugium a) have a small pump to feed it from the sump. b) Attach a Y piece to my hang on overflow box and a attach 2 flexible hoses, one the  sump and the other to the refugium. I am leaning towards option a due to flow rate. What is your preference? < Tough question.  First I would make sure they new refugium can handle a very large overflow.  If you "T" off your return line it is possible a lot of the water flow will go to the refugium. Okay as for the two options, they both seem fine to me.  I would probably prefer to not add another pump in the refugium system.  I would rather T off the return line.  If you do add a pump I would add another pump in the sump to the main tank. > c) One of my wet dry filters will be converted into a sump for my tank. Will I get extra denitrification capabilities if I place some live rock in the bio chamber area? < Absolutely.  This is a very good idea. > Can I grow macro-algae without a substrate - creating a second mini refugium (I know I can get algae on the rocks) < Without substrate?  Well with some Chaetomorpha you may be able to, but substrate would certainly help. > d) Do you know when Anthony & Bob's new book will be out and where I can order it? < I do not know.  I'm thinking October and I'll bet Amazon will have it. > e) I plan to incorporate an auto top-off system. Should my reservoir be filled with RO/DI water or saltwater? < RO/DI water!!! > f) I looked through the FAQs and even though there is much on addressing noise issues I could not find any advice for softening the noise in the sump after the a wet dry filter has been converted into a sump/refugium and the drip plate has been removed - I still would like use the filter covers. Any advice on this or please point me to the right link. < Hmmmm, not sure.  If you can extend your return line all the way down into the sump water (so it doesn't splash down) you shouldn't have any noise problems. > Finally, I have spent a lot of time reading the FAQs and it seems that - especially in regards to a FOWLR- weekly cleaning/maintenance, weekly water changes and patience e.g. using quarantine tanks, proper acclimation/cycling/curing etc. can get me around using most water additives/supplements and commercial substrates and avoid most of the issues being discussed. I believe in the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) methodology. Now, I know reef systems are a different animal- or  am I simply missing the boat i.e. the complexity of this wonderful hobby (and expense)? <To me, a reef tank is much easier to keep and far less trouble than a FOWLR tank.  The filtration issues and stress to the fish are just not as important in my opinion.  So I don't think I would ever set up another FOWLR tank. > Thanks with much admiration < Good luck. > <  Blundell  >

Bulkhead - 07/01/05 actually transit volume in tank/sump... mis-matched Good day, <<Hello!>> Once again I have only one place to turn to for help. (Thanks again for all your support and advice). <<Our pleasure.>> I have been struggling with this for days, read a multitude of FAQ's and still can't figure out what I'm missing.  I'm busy setting up my new 150 gallon tank and I just can't figure out how to make the bulkhead overflows work properly. <<Okay?>> I have 2 x 1.5" (or 40mm) bulkhead fittings high up in the back wall of the tank.  On the inside of the tank nothing is connected (its just 2 holes with "tank connectors) <<Intake screens?>> and on the outside it's connected to 90-degree elbows which connect to the pipes going down to the sump. <<Sounds fine so far.>> The inside diameter of the bulkheads and all pipes is 40mm (or 1.5"). <<Good to hear...bigger the better.>> I was under the impression that these 2 simple holes in the tank will easily drain 1000gph, so for the return pump in my sump I bought something that pumps at 1000gph. <<Yes, I too would expect the pair to handle 1000gph.>> Now, when I switch on my pump in the sump, the following happens - as the water level rises, it starts flowing into the two drain holes an down into the sump. However, the draining starts slowly at first and only increases in tempo as the water level rises. <<Yes...takes some water pressure to overcome the air pressure in the lines.>> When the water level becomes high enough so that the overflow holes are about halfway submerged, the overflow starts matching the rate of the inflow from the pump.  The problem is, by this time the return chamber in my sump is empty and the pump starts sucking in air. <<Simple matter of your sump not being large enough my friend.  The sump should be big enough to hold a "working" level/quantity of water IN ADDITION TO the "drain-off" from the tank when the pump is off.>> Now unless I'm making a really stupid mistake somewhere it seems that with these bulkhead overflows you have to push quite a lot of water into the tank first before the overflow "kicks in". <<Laws of physics at work here.  You might ease/help things a bit by aspirating your return lines.>> Can you perhaps give some advice here ? How do you normally set up these bulkhead overflows?  I believe that the inside of the bulkhead is sometimes connected to an elbow that bends up, but unfortunately this is not an option for me (because the holes are quite high up on the tank wall).   <<A bottom drilled tank with overflow box "might" require less water volume to get things going due to rapid build up of water height (weight) in the overflow box...but you haven't done anything wrong here, you simply need a larger sump volume of water.>> Am I just missing some simple concept here or do I just need a much larger sump to cater for the initial "kick off" of the overflow (Really didn't think my sump was too small)? <<I think for this application your sump is too small.>> Your help will be very much appreciated. Thanks Chris <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Re: Bulkhead - 07/02/05 Thanks a lot Eric, I don't know where some of us would be without your help. <<Always a pleasure to assist <G>.>> Have a good weekend. <<And you too.>> Chris
<<Eric R.>>

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