Jump to content
John Freas

Full siphon drain on non-drilled tank?

Recommended Posts

Greetings all, new member here and I need some help with a noisy overflow.

Confessions up front:  I didn't do enough research, trusted my LFS too much, and ended up with a beautiful undrilled 150 gallon tank and a stand with no side opening.  Needless to say, setting up any sump was a bit of a task, but I managed with a small Trigger 26 fed from an eshopps PF-1200 HOB overflow.  I have the overflow plumbed to the sump via 1" flex PVC, with one side going to the built-in sump drain and the other going to a Sock-It in what was supposed to be the skimmer section of the sump but is now just for the return and maybe for a small refugium in the future.

The issue from the start has been noise.  Doing some research I put together a pair of Stockman standpipes which individually work quite well.  The problem is that with two of them sharing the overflow, it's almost impossible to get them to drain evenly and when they do not I get the flushing/surging effect complete with loud belches of bubbles into the sump and a nasty sucking sound from the overflow when the overflow's water line drops below the entry of one or the other.  Not great for the living room where the tank is set up.

Through trial and error and a great deal of luck I've managed to get everything mostly stable and now it just sounds like your standing at the beach (most of the time).  I can live with that.  However, it is incredibly finicky; it will go for a couple of days and then flush and slurp again.  The water level in the sump will be steady and then it'll change when the overflow changes and drive my skimmer and ATO crazy.  I can play with it and get it to behave again, but I as it is I can't leave it alone and I just don't want to have to keep fiddling with it.

My wife recently asked why not a full siphon from the overflow tubes.  I think the answer is that if the return pump stops, the overflow will drain until it breaks suction and then won't restart when the return pump comes back on, is that correct?  Otherwise obviously it would be the "perfect" solution for a quiet system.

Another option would be a return with a single, large pipe rather than two smaller ones, but I don't see any that are that big.  My return is 1.25" diameter, so 2x1" is overkill, but 1" is smaller than I think I should go.  Could I drill out a larger hole in a single drain overflow?  Would that make sense?  Again, I don't know enough to answer the question.  I'd like to not have to throttle back the return pump too much (it's a Varios 6 set at about half speed right now) just for water flow and oxygenation.

So, what do you all recommend?  I know that if I could go back in time I'd have bought a drilled tank for one, but that's not a practical option at this point.  What can I do with a HOB overflow for a 150 gallon tank that will be reasonably quiet?

Thanks.

    John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, I would tear it down, have someone drill the back of the tank for an overflow. Two holes would be better. The main reason is sooner or later you will have a flood. Trust me, I have been there with a non drilled tank. If you plan to make the frag swap, stop by, we can discuss it more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, puffdragon said:

Honestly, I would tear it down, have someone drill the back of the tank for an overflow. Two holes would be better. The main reason is sooner or later you will have a flood. Trust me, I have been there with a non drilled tank. If you plan to make the frag swap, stop by, we can discuss it more.

 

Thanks.  Obviously not what I want to hear, but sometimes that's the way it goes.

Honestly I think before I went to the trouble of tearing the tank down and starting over I'd hook up a canister and just live with that.  I already have one that I was trying to "upgrade" from.  I don't like the idea of a flood at all though, and while I've taken precautions with a siphon tube overflow, level sensors, and sump markings I realize that the risk can't be completely eliminated with a HOB overflow. 

This was intended to be a relatively easy upgrade from freshwater.  Everyone at every LFS I've ever spoken to said "saltwater's easier than fresh".  Yeah, right, and it's cheap too :P

I'll try to make the frag swap. Thanks for the help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well you have come to the right place now to get help, sorry for your bad advise from your LFS. I would tear down and drill it also. May seam like a lot to do but will be worth it in the long run. Just ask and I am sure one of our members will help you with drilling and even loaning your containers to hold all your live rock and livestock you may already have. We have a great group here that is willing to help!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, MrsBugmaster said:

Well you have come to the right place now to get help, sorry for your bad advise from your LFS. I would tear down and drill it also. May seam like a lot to do but will be worth it in the long run. Just ask and I am sure one of our members will help you with drilling and even loaning your containers to hold all your live rock and livestock you may already have. We have a great group here that is willing to help!

Thank you, I appreciate the advice although it's the last thing that I wanted to hear.

I'm going to have to give this a lot of thought, as my investment in time, energy and money to this point is so far beyond what I had intended that I'm not sure that I'm willing to start over.  This all began when a 35 gallon freshwater tank started a slow leak.  I was on the verge of donating the fish and walking away because I was tired of water changes and upkeep on that incredibly simple tank.  I was drawn in by a sale on tanks and decided to give it another shot when the inevitable "have you ever thought about saltwater" question came up.  I figured that if I was going to continue it might as well be with something I had always admired and wanted.  The "it's easier than fresh" nonsense sucked me in.  In retrospect I should have known better; If it sounds too good to be true...  I've now spent a month of weekends setting up, measuring, cutting and gluing PVC, buying insanely expensive stuff, changing stuff, testing stuff...  All I wanted was some beautiful fish to enjoy.   I'm now spending all of my free time trying to keep this tank running.  Apparently there's a fine line between a dream and a nightmare.  I'm walking that line at the moment.

 I do appreciate the advice.  I just need to think about what I'm going to do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's tough when you learn it the hard way. Not sure what LFS you talked with who told you that salt is easier, and especially cheaper, than fresh. I've done both (as have a lot of people on here) and honestly I do find salt easier than fresh in the sense of my admiration and enjoyment of the animals and hobby in general. Definitely do NOT find it cheaper, but personally more worthwhile when I stare at my tank for hours on end (don't believe me, ask my wife). 

As others have said, your best bet is to drain it down and drill. I know it's a hassle, and super frustrating, but in the end you'll be much happier and find things easier to deal with. There are plenty of people in the club that have the knowledge and helping hands to get you where you want to be. But you do have to put in the time, especially in the beginning, to learn and grow with your tank. Don't give up if you really want a nice tank, but definitely be prepared to put in some work. And don't ever hesitate to reach out for some help. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, ryansweet said:

It's tough when you learn it the hard way. Not sure what LFS you talked with who told you that salt is easier, and especially cheaper, than fresh. I've done both (as have a lot of people on here) and honestly I do find salt easier than fresh in the sense of my admiration and enjoyment of the animals and hobby in general. Definitely do NOT find it cheaper, but personally more worthwhile when I stare at my tank for hours on end (don't believe me, ask my wife). 

As others have said, your best bet is to drain it down and drill. I know it's a hassle, and super frustrating, but in the end you'll be much happier and find things easier to deal with. There are plenty of people in the club that have the knowledge and helping hands to get you where you want to be. But you do have to put in the time, especially in the beginning, to learn and grow with your tank. Don't give up if you really want a nice tank, but definitely be prepared to put in some work. And don't ever hesitate to reach out for some help. 

Yeah, to be fair nobody said it was going to be cheaper than fresh, just "easier" to maintain.  So I suppose that taken in that context they weren't incorrect or deceptive, I just didn't get the full picture.  I've heard the "it's easier" song from multiple places so I'm not going to point the finger at one. 

From a "putting in the work" perspective, I've been willing and have done a lot of work, it just turns out that it's been largely wasted effort which is disappointing.  I've also spent a ton of money on this project and thanks to my ignorance have the wrong tank and stand (no side opening for a sump and smaller than needed doors on the front).  I have four fish, a shrimp, a star, and cleanup crew (snails & emerald crab that came with the live rock).  Caring for these while emptying the tank and making the needed changes is a big concern, though given adequate resources it's obviously do-able.

Is there an "ideal" configuration for a drilled tank as far as hole placement, etc.?  I'd like to not make any more mistakes, or revisit this process if I choose to go that route.  For example:  Bottom drain vs side drains, return via bulkhead?  How many holes, and where would be my question.  Then of course there's the risk of breaking the glass and ending up with no tank and a Tupperware bowl full of fish looking at me like WTH?

I just feel exhausted.  I wanted to be done with setting up the tank long ago and now I'm faced with tearing everything down, drilling and starting over.  I don't know if I have it in me.  And on top of that I'm not at all convinced that the day-to-day care and maintenance is going to be anywhere near as simple as my old freshwater tank was, which was part of the idea going in.  All of this is my fault for not doing my homework first.  My only excuse is that I didn't know that there was so much more to know. 

I appreciate the advice and encouragement.  My decision right now is whether to move ahead with the sump or not.  I have a large canister filter that I was using before getting the sump and I can go back to that, which would get me silent operation with minimal fuss and I could forget about all of this for awhile.  The downside is that I'd need to start performing frequent water changes on a 150 gallon tank which I dread the thought of (I didn't enjoy them on my 35 gallon tank), but at least I'd have a couple of weeks of not messing with the tank in between.

If I were to drill this tank what does the process look like?  I assume I'd need to set up a temporary tub of some sort with basic life support for the livestock and rocks.  I don't imagine that keeping the water is practical though it would be easier and faster if I could.  I also imagine that I and probably two other people would need to take the tank off of the stand to drill it (remove the sand for weight too I assume - another container).  This thing is really large and heavy.  The drilling is probably the least of the process, though obviously it's important to get it right.  Then put in some bulkheads and reverse the process, adding appropriate piping along the way.  Do I have the right idea?  How long should I expect this to take (my wife will be curious to know).

Thanks again for the expert advice.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You first have to find out if your tank has tempered glass. Tempered glass can NOT be drilled. Usually the bottom is tempered but the back is not. So if bottom is tempered then you have only one option and that is a back overflow.

Google how to drill a fish tank. There are many videos on it. If you add a back overflow you may not even need to tear the tank down but just lower the water level to below where you are going to drill. Not the easiest but it can be done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, MrsBugmaster said:

You first have to find out if your tank has tempered glass. Tempered glass can NOT be drilled. Usually the bottom is tempered but the back is not. So if bottom is tempered then you have only one option and that is a back overflow.

Google how to drill a fish tank. There are many videos on it. If you add a back overflow you may not even need to tear the tank down but just lower the water level to below where you are going to drill. Not the easiest but it can be done.

OK, so then maybe I can partially drain the tank and drill the back, if it's not tempered.  If it is, then it explodes and dumps around 125 gallons of saltwater and all of my fish into the living room...  Not loving that idea, so back to taking the tank down... or not.

I've done a little looking around at drilled overflow boxes and my immediate question is "what do I gain?"  The drilled overflow boxes look exactly the same as my present box minus the siphon tubes; they have the same fittings at the bottom where the plumbing connects, the same standpipes inside the box.  I get that the siphon overflow isn't the best choice from a failsafe perspective, but that's not my issue, and I'm not willing to drill the tank just to eliminate that (to me) small risk.  So I come back to my original problem: noise in the drain and large bubbles in the sump, and I have to ask:  Will a drilled overflow box make either of those any better, or is it just the same "maybe" and trial and error tuning as with any other overflow box?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly, the noise is more of a trial and error/adjustment issue (my experience only, others may be different or have different opinions). I had a 150gal fish only when I lived in Florida that had dual overflow boxes (not drilled). I never had an issue with flooding in the 3yrs I had it up, but noise was always worse with this setup. My setups since then, and my current 75gal, have all been drilled. I have some noise issues but it's intermittent. So it'll be close to silent for what could be months, then I can hear a "waterfall" for a few days, then back to silence. For my wife and I it isn't a big enough issue to worry about hearing it a few days out of the month (at most) so I haven't really looked into what may cause it or how to stop it. 

I would NOT try to drain partially and drill. I've seen this done twice, both failed and cracked the entire back glass. I'm guessing this is due to the added pressure from the water inside. I would suggest possibly email or calling manufacturers that sell the overflow boxes and asking about ways to quiet the current drains before making any decisions on drilling if you're on the fence about it. To me, it sounds like you want the easiest solution and that would probably be it. I don't know that I'd worry a ton about flooding. I had my 150gal up for over 4 yrs with no issue, and I recently bought a friends' 125gal that he had up for 3yrs with no issues. If sound is the major concern, I'd reach out to manufacturers, and try youtube searches on the subject. I know most people on here either started with drilled tanks or converted to drilled tanks because different issues with overflow boxes, so I'm not sure a lot of people have put the effort into solving issues with them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, ryansweet said:

Honestly, the noise is more of a trial and error/adjustment issue (my experience only, others may be different or have different opinions). I had a 150gal fish only when I lived in Florida that had dual overflow boxes (not drilled). I never had an issue with flooding in the 3yrs I had it up, but noise was always worse with this setup. My setups since then, and my current 75gal, have all been drilled. I have some noise issues but it's intermittent. So it'll be close to silent for what could be months, then I can hear a "waterfall" for a few days, then back to silence. For my wife and I it isn't a big enough issue to worry about hearing it a few days out of the month (at most) so I haven't really looked into what may cause it or how to stop it. 

I would NOT try to drain partially and drill. I've seen this done twice, both failed and cracked the entire back glass. I'm guessing this is due to the added pressure from the water inside. I would suggest possibly email or calling manufacturers that sell the overflow boxes and asking about ways to quiet the current drains before making any decisions on drilling if you're on the fence about it. To me, it sounds like you want the easiest solution and that would probably be it. I don't know that I'd worry a ton about flooding. I had my 150gal up for over 4 yrs with no issue, and I recently bought a friends' 125gal that he had up for 3yrs with no issues. If sound is the major concern, I'd reach out to manufacturers, and try youtube searches on the subject. I know most people on here either started with drilled tanks or converted to drilled tanks because different issues with overflow boxes, so I'm not sure a lot of people have put the effort into solving issues with them. 

Ryan, thanks for the perspective.  I can safely say that my issue at this point is entirely noise.  Flooding is not an issue in my mind for two reasons:  First, I have a level sensor on the display tank that will shut off the return pump if it gets too high, and second the return compartment of the sump that I'm using is too small to overflow the display tank anyway; it'd run dry before that, so I'd fry my pump but not flood the floor.  My next step will be to add a level sensor to the sump so that the pump will shut off if the water level gets too low.

I agree that drilling a filled tank isn't going to work.  I hadn't thought about the pressure/cracking possibility, but in my case the tank is too close to the wall to go at it from the outside and I don't think drilling from the inside out, with coolant and shavings and whatever else possibly getting into the tank, would end well either.  I don't like sounding lazy, but yes the easiest solution that keeps everything working is what I'm shooting for.  I've already been in contact with Lifereef and have a plan of attack on the noise.  I'll let you all know if it works.

Thanks.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John, I just posted a link to the Eshoppes Eclipse overflows (that is not the only brand out there just what I chose, I think the first one was the ghost overflows but I am not sure) on your reply post to my noise issue that I had posted a couple of years ago.  I have only been in the salt water aquarium hobby for a few years (I had only worked with freshwater tanks in the past) and remember the frustration in the beginning.  Hang in there, once you are set up, that daily routine of keeping a salt water aquarium does get better and easier.  I do agree that freshwater tanks have less maintenance, but they do not have the reward as far as enjoyment that saltwater tanks do....at least from my perspective.  If you are able to attend the April meeting, you can certainly discuss the overflow ideas with many people.  We have a huge variety of experience in our club.  I should have my new (new to me...it is a used tank) set up and "drilled" for the overflows I am using in this setup.  I can not drill the bottom since it is most likely tempered glass and would crack.  I will have some experienced people (Jeremy and Bill if they are available) assist me with drilling the back of the tank.  We will also be drilling my current 125g set-up for my neighbor since he does not want my current overflow setup due to the noise.  I agree with Ryan, the pressure of the water already in the tank even partially drained my put to much pressure on the glass and end up cracking it.  Also, I know many people have worked out the overflows to a point that they are really quiet.  The 220g that I will be setting up is currently running with traditional overflows and is absolutely quiet.  I was never able to do that with dual overflows.  As for the flooding, unfortunately I did experience that this past January....and as usual I was out of town and someone else was watching the tank.  Luckily they are a club member (tank novice - Mike) and he knew what to do to save my basement.  The Gaskets had worn on the overflow and when I replaced them one did not seal properly...of course, it worked fine for a day until I had left for vacation.

Hang in there, I really have gone through your frustration.  I am impatient and jump in with both feet which has resulted in a ton of frustration and "do-overs" since I started in the summer of 2014.  I can't believe that nearly 4 years has already gone by.  While I could have gone without the frustration of the mistakes I made, I do not regret getting into this hobby!!  I am still learning and making mistakes, but I have learned so much and made some great new friends along the way as well here at INDMAS!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the encouragement and sharing your rough start Pete.  I’m still working on it, and in fact have gotten the drains to be silent most of the time with a weird combination of eshopps’ original standpipes, a drilled 1” PVC cap with airline propped at an angle on top, and a lower return pump setting.  This temporary kluge will not work for the long run but demonstrates that it is theoretically possible to get this tank configuration to work quietly.  I’m waiting for some parts which will hopefully make it a more permanent solution and allow me to increase the flow somewhat.  It’s OK now, but It feels like I’m right on the edge of the flushing and sucking.

My fingers are crossed, but for now things are looking up.

Thanks again to everyone for the advice and support.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Time for an update.

Things are finally quiet in the tank.  The solution for me was a combination of Lifereef silencers (a tuned standpipe cover) and reduced flow.  I would like a bit more flow but it is what it is and it’s quiet, which is fine for now.

I’ll start a new thread on the next, and possibly related issue.

Thanks everyone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...