• Temporarily Plumbing a Tank to an Existing Sump

    A year ago, I had to set up the 215g to support my livestock when the 400g tank leaked. Using plumbing I had on hand, everything was cobbled together to run the tank for a few months. I figured it would be three months until the 400g would go up again, but as you probably know that hasn't happened yet.

    I also stated back then that I would showcase how it was plumbed, as it's something others may need to emulate to some degree. The decision to continue using the sump where it was regardless of the display was a no-brainer. Everything was plumbed and wired properly in the sump, and the filtration was operating perfectly, so I needed to connect the temporary tank with plumbing to the established filtration and top-off system.

    Once the 215g was on the stand in the fishroom, it had to have the drains connected and these would drain into the sump three feet away. The return line from the Dart pump had to run the full length of the room to replenish the 215g. Also, I had to be able to step in and out via a narrow gap over the plumbing until this tank could be taken down again.

    Plumbing under the temporary tank:

    Since the tank was used, it came with bulkheads and plumbing but everything under the tank had to be replaced to work with my situation. The return lines inside the overflow boxes were inserted into two 1" bulkheads, which were replaced with brand new ones that were slip/slip. This allowed me to glue 1" SpaFlex tubing into the bottom side of those bulkheads. From there, regular PVC fittings and PVC pipe were glued together with a Tee fitting in the center so the water feeding back to the aquarium would be equalized to both sides. If the Tee isn't centered, one side will have greater water pressure while the other side will be weaker.

    In this next picture, you can see the entire assembly. The upper one is the return; the lower section is the drain. All will be explained.

    The clear tubing on the left is the drain line, which was heated up in boiling water to fit over the PVC pipe glued into the PVC Tee-fitting. Zip ties were added just in case, and a metal hose clamp holds the clear tubing to the bulkhead's hosebarb connection. The white SpaFlex tubing (to the right of the clear tubing) is part of the return plumbing. The clear tubing allows me to see the water drain down, which came in handy when it was time to verify everything was flowing as it should initially. The reason I used it was because of the hose-barbed bulkheads; usually I use rigid PVC for drainlines.

    The black SpaFlex tubing (on the left) is the return plumbing. I told you I used whatever I had on hand, so color coordination wasn't a concern; after all this was a temporary setup, right? The clear tubing (on the right) fed the draining water into the PVC fitting. Again, the clear tubing was heated up in boiling water to stretch around the PVC pipe glued into that 45 fitting. If you scroll up again, you'll see how this drain line feeds to the other drain line, and combine together in a single pipe to the sump.

    Dart pump return line:

    I run two Dart pumps. One is the return pump pushing water back into the display tank, and the other pump runs all the extra equipment, the frag tank, and future add-ons like the anemone display. (The second Dart is also a back up pump in case the main one fails, and by turning two valves water is redirected to keep the system running for the time being.)

    In the back of this shot, a semi-hidden Dart pump pushes water into the black SpaFlex hose, which used to feed the 400g. When I had to set this up, I cut off the current return line, glued on those white 45 PVC fittings, and used more plumbing parts on hand to run the water along the edge of the stand on the floor and over to the 215g. (That curved white SpaFlex tubing is for adding new saltwater right into the sump during water changes.)

    The return line runs along the edge of the stand, then over to the 215g's wooden cabinet, and flows via SpaFlex tubing diagonally to the center point of the upper PVC assembly. From that point it flows up both sides of the tank at the same time, and into the tank.

    As you can see, I've not been cleaning these at all. These two Penductors create in-tank flow.

    Drain line, Return line & Step Over:

    Stepping over the plumbing was a big deal, since I use this narrow spot to get into the fishroom and subsequently into the garage as needed A LOT. Various fittings were used for both the drain line and the return line that would keep it as close to the concrete as possible. A few thin wires run across as well, like the USB cable for the Apex talking to a PB-8 on the light rack suspended over the aquarium.

    If you look closely, you can follow with your eye how the drain line (behind the return line in the foreground) elbows down to the floor, then across and the vertically back up and over the edge of the sump. I didn't want to drill a new bulkhead feeding into the skimmer section. I had serious doubts about this working correctly, but my friend Lindsey was determined to give it a shot. We pushed all the pieces together and did a water test in the bathroom, and had an iPhone ready to shoot video of the resulting disaster. As predicted, it did come undone during the test and Lindsey got soaked - it was hilarious. We were laughing so hard the video was all over the place and ended up being worthless, but to this day we all still crack up thinking about how it played out.

    Even though the bathroom needed mopping to clean up the accidental flood, we felt pretty good that this would actually work after all. So the plumbing was glued together and hooked over the edge of the sump. After a few hours of cure time, the return pump was turned on and the drainline performed perfectly. It was noisy at first because the inner walls of the PVC plumbing needed to slime over. Also, new PVC glue affects water tension. Within a couple of weeks, it broke in and has been quiet ever since.

    The drain was put into the area where a 7" filtersock could be used if needed, but I hate cleaning socks and don't think I installed one once over the past 12 months.

    After all this time, the temporary tank and plumbing have done a great job and my reef has been growing and growing. I've had corals spawn, anemones split, and frags turn into colonies. Due to the filtration gear within the sump, the water quality has done quite well. The gear consists of a large Euroreef protein skimmer, a biopellet reactor, GAC in another reactor, and a calcium reactor. The refugium continues to grow more macro algae, which I export from time to time. When the new tank arrives, everything has to be switched back, the livestock transferred, and the 215g will need to be broken down and removed from the fishroom.

    This article was originally published in blog: Temporary Plumbing started by melev