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Plumbing A Cannister Into A Drilled Aquarium

Egmel

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OK, we're helping my future Brother-in-Law design, build and install his tropical tank (as a birthday prezzie).

He's got a brilliant space beside his chimney over a DIY built in cupboard. It's not that deep (front to back) so the plan is to put all the equipment underneath and go in through the bottom...

(image nicked from http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/Aquarium_Filtration.html)

I've had exceptional service from my eheim classic filters and my 2213 is silent which is a big deal for him so we're going with 2 of those with inline hydor heaters.

This is where my expertise starts to evaporate. I've spent quite a while searching the web for information, usually going through reef forums. I've found a few gems namely:
  1. Don't rely on the rubber seals in bulkheads - use silicone instead
  2. Use threaded fittings with PTFE tape where possible so that you can easily fix leaks.
  3. Isolate the tank with ball valves under the bulkheads for if you need to fix anything.

But I'm still none the wiser as to where to actually find or buy any of this stuff - all the recommendations are for local shops and usually they're in the USA.

I know I need:
  • Threaded bulkheads (with threads on both sides) x 3
  • Ball valves which fit into said bulkheads x 3
  • T-piece for the outlet splitting (preferably more of a Y than a T so as not to hinder the flow)
  • Tails which connect the ball valves/T-Piece to the eheim 12mm pipe x 4

I'm completely lost for the bits in the tank though, the strainers I've seen all attach directly onto the bulkhead which will make them too low down in the tank, we need them just above the substrate. Then there's the pipe work for the outlet, ideally this should come up from the bulkhead and either go into a spade shape or a spray bar. Does anything exist for this or will we have to bodge something together from bits and pieces?

Any help, suggestions or warnings greatly appreciated!
 

ian_m

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Far too complicated and prone to leaks. OK for a 24/7 monitored marine tank, way overkill for home tank.

Why not just use a cannister filter like everyone else. No holes to drill, no bulkheads to leak, no syphoning issues when power fails.
 

ainsy

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You could just use an external - As Ian says simpler, cheaper & less chance of failure.

If you are set on the sort of design that you are talking about then you have covered many of the 'top tips'. I would add however that you would need to add a weir around the drain. This is because if your pump were to fail for any reason there would be nothing to prevent the whole tank draining all over his carpet.
 

adamgreen240

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As above - would recommend against this. Is it because you want the tank to go right back to the wall that you don't want the standard connectors behind the tank?
 
OP
Egmel

Egmel

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Far too complicated and prone to leaks. OK for a 24/7 monitored marine tank, way overkill for home tank.

Why not just use a cannister filter like everyone else. No holes to drill, no bulkheads to leak, no syphoning issues when power fails.
It is going to use a cannister filter, it's just where the plumbing enters the tank that will be different. I had intended to set it up with the height of the inflow and outflow of the filter in the same place as my more economical (standard) plumbing!

You could just use an external - As Ian says simpler, cheaper & less chance of failure.

If you are set on the sort of design that you are talking about then you have covered many of the 'top tips'. I would add however that you would need to add a weir around the drain. This is because if your pump were to fail for any reason there would be nothing to prevent the whole tank draining all over his carpet.
We were going to have the drain above the level of the substrate anyway for this reason but also so that the filters don't end up full of substrate. I don't see why it would be anymore likely to drain all over the floor during a pump failure than a standard external, we're not doing a sump tank or anything, just plumbing the cannister into the tank.


As above - would recommend against this. Is it because you want the tank to go right back to the wall that you don't want the standard connectors behind the tank?
Yup, he's only got 35cm front to back as it is.

I'm actually really surprised about the negative comments for this idea. I know it's not standard but I thought that was more because of the set up hassle and cost rather than it being considered a bad idea. The reef guys are always drilling holes in their tanks to make the flow come up in the right place or improve their systems yet for tropical tanks we don't even consider it!
 

ainsy

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Not negative just trying to save you some heartache!


My background is in marines with sumps - hence the advice. One of the reasons you may get a wet carpet is because you have the drain so low down. If this drain becomes blocked there is no way for the water to continue exiting the tank - If this happens & the filter keeps pumping the water that was previously in the filter, sterilizer, lines etc. will all be pumped back into the tank. The extra water that cannot drain anywhere then overflows the top of the tank.

You can protect for this happening by ensuring that the water level in the tank when it is running is low enough that the extra volume in the filter can be accommodated. This would, however, mean that the water level could be a few inches short of the tank but would be ok if you don't mind how it looks.


Also with the drain being so low down if there was a power failure & the seals on ALL of your joints are not absolutely perfect then the whole tank can drain out of the leak. I know this is a combination of bad things happening which makes it less likely but it is still a possibility. You could protect against this by protecting the drain with a weir - then at worst you would only end up with the top couple of cm's being able to drain if that situation happens.


Again not trying to be negative - we can help you achieve this if you want - just want you to be aware of potential pit-falls.
 

daz4321

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I have my tank plumbed similar to your idea parts I used came from online store (fish,fur and feather) 2 x tank connectors, pipe, 2 x ball valves (optional).

I disagree with the above if the outlet becomes blocked your filter will not continue to pump water in the tank and cause overflow because it is a sealed system not an open sump. BTW i have tried by sticking my finger over the drain it just stop pumping water.

No more need to prime your external it will fill up naturally.
 

ainsy

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Did you manage to completely block it with your hand? My Fluval fx5 still pumps if you close the drain valve.

Even if that is the case it doesn't prevent even the most tiny of leaks causing an empty tank during a power failure ;)
 

daz4321

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A sealed system cannot continue to produce flow if the entrance of that flow is blocked as water will neither compress or expand and as it is sealed nothing can enter to replace the moved water. Your fx5 probably still pumps because the tap is not fully closed or does not seal. you must replace the water that is moved with something if nothing can get in there then the water will not move


same as it doesn't if using a canister filter normally a leak after the syphon will cause your tank to drain there absolutely no difference in risk.
 

ainsy

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I will take your word for it as I am only used to sumps - not this config, using a sealed canister.


BUT I have lots of experience with drains, bulkheads etc.

any sort of leak in the bulkhead/connectors or lines WILL = an empty tank!
 

daz4321

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as i said before same with using an external filter normally the risk is the same.
 

ainsy

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Nope - having put bulkheads in at least 5 tanks now I can tell you that they are far more prone to leaking than a canister
 

daz4321

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Then the only thing i can suggest is you learn to do it better as i have to date fitted 43 bulkheads to various tanks and have not had a single one leak, yes i do marine too with sumps and fuges and ato's and have done for many years.
 

ainsy

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I bow to your greater knowledge, experience & ability.

Just trying to warn the OP of potential pit falls as was requested. I think I will go & let you continue to advise
 

daz4321

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Knowledge only what i have learned, experience lots, expertize only in some things

sorry if you took offense as it was not intending but was merely stating the case. A bulkhead fitted correctly has no more of a chance to leak than adding an in-line heater or in-line tap or in-line anything to a standard external filter. Same case goes for slip fitted PVC pipe or thread fitted either correctly done will not leak again i have fitted loads of both and very very rarely do i get a leak and then it is normally down to being in too much of a hurry and making a mistake almost always on thread fittings. To put the theory more into your expertise area think of a closed loop for a reef tank, pump stops = no leak, blockage occurs = no leak, inadequate silicone sealer or PVC solvent weld or PTFE tape = possible leak.
 
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