Help! Bit off more than I could chew

Discussion in 'Build Threads' started by Rgbpixels, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. Rgbpixels

    Rgbpixels Active Member BRS Member

    Hi all,

    So the old adage go big or go home......
    Well I went big on my first saltwtaertank. A 180 gallon 6' DT on the first floor and all the pump, sump, etc in the basement.
    All schedule 80 see photo.
    Yesterday was going to be the start of my 24 hour leak test. Suffice to say it is on hold.
    1: balancing a herbie overflow
    2: pump is so dang loud I can hear it upstairs (Reeflo barracuda gold) (I have a call into them)
    3: I had 3 leaks. Two that were easy fixes, and one that is at the bulkhead. I think I am going to call a plumber.

    Anyone have a similar setup that can provide advice/guidance/assistance?

    So frustrating. Spent so much time setting up and planning and was so $!##%*+> upset. LOL. My humor is starting to return this morning.

    Ps. Guess I can't upload photo from an iPad.
  2. Chris A.

    Chris A. Formally toomanyfish BRS Member

    Bulk head leaking can be the rubber split , the glue isn't sealing or the bulk head cracked. ( check if it's tight )
  3. aresangel

    aresangel Well-Known Member Officer

    I needed to tighten my bulkheads when I had a leak. If they are not tight enough after a while you can get salt creep.

    I doubt a Plummer can help in the aquarium trade. They will not really be able to do anything you can't with silicone, pvc, and some time.

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  4. Rgbpixels

    Rgbpixels Active Member BRS Member

    I have a bulk head with a thread fitting on the bottom. I originally had a leak at the thread( I don't think I used enough teflon tape). When I took it off and re tighten everything I had a leak at the bulk head and the threads. I wonder if I damage the threads or dorked something else up. Do you use silicone on your bulk head in addition to the rubber seal?
  5. Rgbpixels

    Rgbpixels Active Member BRS Member


    Fish room progress of being built

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  6. Jim Tansey

    Jim Tansey Well-Known Member BRS Member

    Please describe the type of bulkhead when you say the threads are leaking are you referring to the outer bulkhead threads or the internal pipe threads, if any. Be sure the gasket is located between the bulkhead flange and tank glass never on the retaining nut side also don't use silicone an the gasket.


    PS: That pump will be loud hard plumbed like that, a length of silicone tube between the pump and piping will help and mount it on some soft rubber or the like.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
  7. Rgbpixels

    Rgbpixels Active Member BRS Member

    Hi Jim, it is a schedule 80 bulkhead. The rubber gasket is on the tank side. There are threads on the dry side where my 1.5" pipe screw into the bulkhead. It was leaking there. Where would you suggest putting the silicone tube. I was thinking about taking out the manifold (I think it may cause a bunch of headaches with a herbie overflow balance when I start using it).

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  8. reefstarter

    reefstarter Non-member

    As for the pump being loud , it may be Cavitating due to the pair of 90 degree elbows being so close together . As a rule you need 12 inches minimum IMO of straight line piping entering the pump . I am a plumber and I generally dont work on houses . most of what I do involves very large pumps Im talking 3500 HP pumps and such that pump around a million gallons an hour The rest looks ok . tuning a herbie drain especially if you have your valves downstairs is tricky . and Gate valves would be better . you get a more fine tune using gates . Start with drain line wide open and slowly close the valve a little at a time waiting about 15 minutes between adjustments to let the drain settle in . Make sure not to close it too much or it will overflow the tank
    Aros and Rgbpixels like this.
  9. this is me

    this is me I like turtles BRS Member

    Put some plumber tape in all of your threaded fitting.
    Overflow valves should always be close to the overflow box. Having it downstairs is a PITA to adjust. Gate valves are best when using it as the overflow valves. If you have a DC pump, you can get away with a ball valve.
    I have ball valves with DC pump(Vectra L1) on my set up and I hate the ball valve, will change them to gate valves. It just that the valves are $$$.
    There's a lot of members down your way. Hope someone would take a look at your set up and provide feedback.
  10. Chris A.

    Chris A. Formally toomanyfish BRS Member

    I could swing by depending on time. Didn't realize you were from Easton, I used to live in stoughton

    CAPSLOCK Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator BRS Member

    Have you taken a really close look at the bulkhead? If it is overtightened you will get a hairline crack that is difficult to see but will leak.
    bosronrb likes this.
  12. Rgbpixels

    Rgbpixels Active Member BRS Member

    Update: Reeflo also said not to have the 90s. So I think I'll try to use pvc flex from the sump to the pump and then remove the manifold. I have a gate vale at the DT to regulate the return as well. Didn't think about the manifold causing a readjustment every time I would use it.
    Do they make a grey flex pvc? I would really like to keep the same color (my OCD lol).

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  13. gurumasta

    gurumasta Senior Moron BRS Member

    Does that 180 only have one drain?

    For the herbie it would be easier to have the gate valve under the drain near the tank. I know you stated that you have a gate valve at the DT on the return but do you have one on the drain? That is how you control the main drain in the herbie by creating a syphon with the shorter submerged primary drain that is controlled by the valve on the drain line. (you prob already know this)

    I used black flex pvc and actually have some left over if you needed a few feet. I also have the barracuda gold in my basement and you could hear the hum from the living room above but after a day or two we were used to it. I don't have any 90s near the pump on either side so maybe its not as loud.

    I also had a bulkhead leaking. It was a slip bulkhead though and once I was able to get the correct size wrench on it I was good.

    This is sort of deja vu for me.

    If you want to grab a few feet of the black flex I can show you my setup its not much different than yours as far as plumbing goes it just doesn't look anywhere near as fancy lol. I may be too far of a hike though.
  14. Curren007K

    Curren007K Well-Known Member BRS Member

    Use flex PVC for the connection from the sump to the pump, and ideally 3' of flex for the output of the pump as well.
    You'll want to use vibration pads underneath the pump itself and you'll want to use some custom padding around the pipe as it passing thru the floor.
  15. Rgbpixels

    Rgbpixels Active Member BRS Member

    Sorry for the delay in responses. I have a gate valve on the siphon drain 1.5", and emergency drain 1.5", and my return has a gate valve and 1"
    I have ordered ultra flexible 1.5" pvc to have a clean flow into the pump. I have also decided to take out my manifold and replace it with flex also.

    Would you recommend putting a ball valve back in the the flexible line from the sump to the pump or leave it out to make the flow smoother?

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  16. Wgibbons

    Wgibbons Non-member

    Yes, you can get grey flex pvc pipe from or from That will significantly reduce any vibrations in the plumbing from being transferred to the display tank (also recommend a 2' section of flex pipe between the pump and display tank).
    My first reaction was that the Reeflow Barracuda may be a bit oversized, even w/ the manifold for reactors. I'd go with the Vectra L1 (silent compared to Barracuda, and way more energy efficient; comes w/ 1.5" fittings for rigid pipe).
    I would doubt that the Barracuda is cavitating, even with the two 90s right out of the pump's Intake side. The other person who mentioned needing 12" on suction side before any 90s is correct, but I've done it more than once with no issues. If your pipe was 1" pipe, then definitely would have cavitation.
    Also, cavitation will cause tiny air bubbles to be created, and you'd see them in the tank upstairs.
    Question: Is the leaking bulkhead at the sump or on the display tank? If it's on the sump, it will be an easy repair. Sounds like one of 3 issues:
    1) Teflon tape needs to be redone. Make sure you apply in the same direction of tightening a fitting, and be sure you cover the leading threads.
    2) Cracked bulkhead: replace it w/ new bulkhead. It's easy to overtighten (I've done it too many times to count). Make sure not to over tighten when threading into the bulkhead (leaving 1/4-1/3 of threads exposed).
    3) Needs to be threaded in further (tightened more).

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  17. Rgbpixels

    Rgbpixels Active Member BRS Member

    Update: I talked with Reeflo who also suggested removing the 90's. Turns out I had a bad pump also. I decided to take out the manifold to simplify adjusting the herbie overflow. He is a picture of the corrected plumbing. Much quieter.

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    Chris A. likes this.
  18. RyReef

    RyReef Well-Known Member BRS Member

    Im from Easton if you ever need any help just hit me up 7742036390
  19. jcl333

    jcl333 Well-Known Member BRS Member

    I am really curious to know if this pump is the right size for this scenario.

    If the pump is on this page:
    - In particular, at 16' it does 1,810 GPH
    - Your setup is up off the floor 4' or so, and head is measured from the top of the water in your sump
    - Say 5' from sump to floor above
    - Say your tank is on a 4' stand, and 2.5' tall
    - So call it about 12' of rise, even adding for fitting loss you are probably pushing near or over 2,000 GPH

    wgibbons suggested the vectra L1, which looks a bit more reasonable coming in at about 750 GPH @ 12' from trying to look at the curve on the graph on the web page, and you can control it as well.

    I just posted my build design, and I am using an Iwaki 55RLT which is 1" piping not 1.5", which I expect to do about 700 GPH in a similar situation to yours. My two overflows can do about 600 GPH each, which is where I like to be so I can survive the failure of one.

    I don't know what kind of turn-over you all are targeting, as I am a new to reef aquariums, but I am thinking 5 times an hour is pretty good. And most of the current is done by powerheads in the DT.

    This is making me worried, would you all say rgbpixels pump is too large, my iwaki too small, or both?

    I was thinking of running 1.5" PVC from my sump area to the tank, so that I have room for future expansion, or if I end up swapping my pump because the one I have is too small.

    Either way, I plan to post a "physical view" of my plumbing design before building it. I was already going to have flexible lengths before and after my pump, and sitting on a vibration mount.

    So really curious about this one.

  20. Rgbpixels

    Rgbpixels Active Member BRS Member

    Hi JCL. Just saw this. When I talked with Reeflo, they recommended this pump given my setup. I also checked with BRS and they recommended the same pump. I have a gate valve under my stand so it is dialed down. How did you make out?

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