OK I need Plumbing Help Big Time...Well Help in General WIth Everything!


Turk of Budda
OK Guys and Gals,

I first want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the advice given so far. I got my 120G AGA and stand and am now in need of really detailed help. I think I have the ability to plumb this thing myself and I really want to since my LFS dropped a price tag of $900 to plumb it and setup the sump/refugium/protein skimmer and phosban reactor. That is all they will do along with "T-ing" out the return line.

OK so this tank has a left corner overflow with a 1" bulkhead drilled in the bottom left hand corner. The standpipe came with it, but now I need to attach it to my sump/phosban reactor/refugium and I'd also like to put a couple of cutoffs in place just in case I need to add a chiller or a UV sterilizer (I don't think I need these, but since it is better to be safe than sorry I wouldn't mind going that way.)

OK so where do I start? Do I get my supplied from Lowes or Home Depot, can I use plumber's glue (PVC glue). Does the order go overflow -> sump -> protein skimmer -> phosban reactor -> refugium -> return?? What do I buy tank wise for the sumps and how can I connect the two (sump/refugium)? Is this just too big of a job for me?? Where does the water return from and what kind of pump do I need for it??

The powerheads for inside the tank are covered...I am going with at least three Koralia 3s. I figure if I am going to "T" the return I can get a little larger return pump and a little extra flow that way.

Again, my sincere thanks for any and all help. I have a lot to learn, but I do enjoy doing stuff like this even though I am really intimidated.

The first thing you need to do is plan what you are going to use for a sump, I would make one out of another aquarium by buting in bubble traps and baffles. Yes you can use pvc cement it is safe.
Yeah, DO NOT fall for the LFS setting the plumbing up for you!

I'm totally not a DIY person. Hell, I get excited when I'm able to detach the collection cup from my protein skimmer by myself. And I plumbed my own tank. $900 is freakin outrageous.

Get PVC from Home Depot or Lowe's and use regular old PVC primer and glue. I let the glue dry for about a day before I put it in my tank, and I didn't bother rinsing any of the plumbing out first.

Is your protein skimmer an in-sump skimmer, or is it recirculating (sitting outside of the sump)? Either way, the sump and phosphate reactor should either be in the sump or get their water from the sump. These pieces of equipment go before the refugium, which goes before the return.

So your order seems right: sump/skimmer/reactor - fuge - return.

You will need a submersible pump for the return, unless you want your sump drilled. I don't see a big advantage to drilling your sump for an external pump, I'd go with a submersible pump.

I have used Eheim and MagDrive pumps as returns before (am currently using the MagDrive).

The size of your return pump will not determine the amount of flow. That is determined by your overflow size. A 1" bulkhead will let a maximum of 300 to 400 gallons per hour pass through it. If you get a stronger return pump (and you need to factor in the head distance -- the distance of PVC pipe from the return pump to the tank), you will just overflow your main tank, since water can only go so fast back down to the sump.

For this reason it's a good idea to get a pump that's rated slightly higher than your overflow rate, and then either use a ball valve to restrict the flow from it, or plumb a T in the return line, which 2 ball valves in it -- one branch going to the main tank and one going back to the sump, so you can control the flow from the return pump.
Here is a link to a basic aquarium plumbing page

I hate to do this but do a google search of aquarium plumbing. There are a few articles that are helpful. Look at some of the systems in the tank showcase board check out the plumbing there and on other sites. They will give you great ideas on how to build the manifold to hook in reactors and plumb your returns.

I didnt see the rediculous price the LFS gave you to plumb it all. You could hire a professional plumber for less! That is on of the most rediculous prices ive ever heard! Dont hire anyone for it, its really not that hard to do if you plan it out, my best advice is to use unions and valves to make your system as modular as possible and provide isolation when needed. True union ball valves are expensive but worth it IMO. Just an FYI if you get them from a plumbing or hardware store instead of a LFS you will save a bunch of money.
I would be willing to take you through the whole process step by step in writing if you wish. I do not have any university obligations this summer, so I have the time. Your tank system would be simple to write up, but too big for a simple thread write up. To do it within the articles section under one title I would have to, I assume, send the write up in parts, within several PM's, to a moderator and have them post it. I like tank mechanical systems, and I do quite well with plumbing systems. I do not proof read well enough though. So I do stupid things like figure the diameter of a pipes opening with the formual pi * diameter^2, instead of the proper pi * radius^2. Big difference! Of course I wait to proof read after the posting, and I can not edit an articles thread. Moderators do have their benefits that us poor commoners must do without.
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