Today on the BRS 160 we are going plumb this
tank. Hey guys my name is Ryan, welcome to another
week of the BRS 160 where every week we do our best to help you guys, members of the
reefing community enjoy your tanks and find new ways to explore the hobby. We do that
by following the set up and progression of this one hundred and sixty gallon reef tank.
This week we are going we are going to talk about the four types of overflows, give you
some tips on installing a custom overflow including drilling the glass, Various plumbing
pieces, return pumps and then plumb our reef savvy ghost overflow to the sump. An overflow is used to get water from the
aquarium safely down to the sump and they come in a few different types. Your typical
reef ready tank comes with an overflow already installed; you can buy a hang on overflow
or install a custom overflow for standard or non-reef ready tanks. There are also tanks like the Nuvo from innovative
marine which have a small sump built into the back of the tank that doesn’t require
any real plumbing. If plumbing a tank is a bit intimidating or you don’t want to spend
the time or expense plumbing a tank this is a solid option which gives many of the benefits
without the hassle or expense. The easiest option for adding an overflow
to a standard tank is a Hang on option but they’re pretty unpopular these days because
they work by creating a siphon that goes over the edge of the tank which works great as
long as the siphon never breaks but as we discussed last week on a long enough time
line everything breaks and in this case when it does water is going to go all over your
floor. Some of the hang on models have a pump to keep the siphon going but there is still
room for failure here. So while some reefers do use them they have become much less popular
in the last decade as reefers have shifted to reef ready tanks and custom overflows. Reef ready tanks have the overflow towers
preinstalled; holes are drilled in the bottom pane of glass and come with all the plumbing
which makes them the most popular choice by far. Just follow the plumbing assembly directions
and you are done. however some smaller tanks like the forty
gallon breeder don’t have a reef ready version and some of us have some special desires for
our overflows on larger tanks so building or buying our own custom overflows is the
only option. CPR makes a couple of nice options for DIY
overflows, the style that uses a backing requires the use of multiple gaskets between the bulkhead,
overflow backing and glass. The overflow with no back will be silicone directly to the aquarium
glass. As to which one is best it really comes down to which one you trust to be leak free
over many years. Thousands of reefers have used silicone like this without issue but
silicone bonded to acrylic isn’t really ideal. In my option the gaskets are the best long
term solution, harder to mess up and look cleaner. This is a personal preference but I prefer
these overflow boxes to the stock overflow towers on reef ready tanks because the boxes
take up less space in the tank and look less intrusive but there is one big difference.
The plumbing is going to come out of the back of the tank rather than the bottom of the
tank. Which means the tank will have to be a few inches out from the wall unless you
do something like we’re doing here where we cut out a hole in the wall for the tank.
How important it is for the tank to be flush to the wall is a personal preference and likely
based on where it is located in your home. one other option is these newer custom overflows
from companies like synergy reef and reef savvy which have an ultra-low profile box
on the inside and the plumbing in a box on the outside of the tank. These look super
sharp inside the tank which is the most important thing to me and I am personally willing to
trade that for putting the tank a few inches off the wall if needed. There are three main ways to plumb your overflow.
All of which are designed to help make it silent, safe and prevent gurgling. All three
are named after the reefer who made it popular with the doors, Herbie and bean animal. The doors standpipe uses a single overflow
standpipe with a vent whole and adjustable air valve in the top. This allows you to fine
tune a small amount of air into the overflow. Without the air vent the pipe would pull a
full siphon which will continually start and stop with a ton of really loud gurgling. When we add the small hole with a valve we
can fine tune a small amount of air into the stand pipe to regulate the flow rate of water
and drastically reduce the amount of noise created by the overflow. This is the style
over overflow which most reef ready tanks come with pluming for. Hobbyists have worked to further improve on
that to make it safer and even quieter with the Herbie overflow. The herby uses two overflows
a primary and an emergency. Rather than use air to control the water like the doors does
it uses a gate valve to fine tune the flow of water to a complete siphon with no air
getting sucked in which basically makes it completely silent. The second emergency overflow
is required just in case something like a fish, snail or chunk of algae got sucked into
the main overflow and reduced flow. While most reef ready tanks come with plumbing
for a doors style overflow they typically have two holes drilled in the bottom so you
can upgrade to an herby style overflow if you want without a lot of hassle. to step that up one more notch the bean animal
combines both of these together to achieve something that is ultra-silent , ultra-safe
and really easy to tune. The bean animal uses gate valve on the primary overflow, a secondary
stability overflow with a hole drilled in it which is capable of accounting for small
fluctuations in water flow while never creating a full siphon and an emergency overflow which
will handle the water it something happens to the other two. The bean animal is really
the gold standard these days and what most of us want to use if we can. For a bean animal you are going to have to
get a custom tank made for you or drill your own holes in a standard tank. Drilling your
own holes in the tank which can seem intimidating but it’s really pretty easy as long as the
tank isn’t tempered glass. Tempered glass cannot be drilled and will shatter if you
try. Most tank backs are not tempered but make sure to ask the store you bought it from
or the contact the manufacture. We sell inexpensive diamond coated glass drill
bits and drill guides for drilling these holes as well as the bulkheads. You are cutting
glass so use your safety goggles and gloves. Mark your holes which should be a couple inches
from the edge and each other and set up your drill guide. We need to keep the drill bit
and glass cool so put a ring of plumbers putty or clay on glass and fill the area with water.
Even better do this outdoors and run a hose on the area while you do the work.
On the underside of the glass apply some masking tape to catch the glass disk the hole saw
cuts out. The tape makes it somewhat easier to make a clean hole as well. You should also
throw down a shop towel below to catch water or the glass disk if it does fall. You will want to run the drill on a fairly
high speed which makes a corded drill best but a cordless drill on high speed will work
as well. Start the drill and bring it down to start the cut, bring the drill down slow
at medium speed and apply almost no pressure, let the bit do the work for you. Some of you
may find it easier to apply the correct amount of pressure if you remove the springs from
the drill guide. Stop every twenty seconds or so to make sure
the bit is still cool and add more water if needed. It should take a few minutes to get
about 3/4’s of the way through. The last forth of the way you should make
sure you are not applying any pressure just let the drill bit cut through the glass and
do the work for you. This last part should also take a few minutes. Right before you
break through to the other side is the most important time to apply as little pressure
as possible so the hole on the other side is clean. This might still sound a bit intimidating
but after the first hole you will feel like a pro because it’s really a lot easier than
it looks. There are a lot of different types of plumbing
fittings, valves and methods common to aquariums starting with soft tubing and hard plc. plumbing.
Soft tubing is the easiest and most forgiving solution. Uses barbed insert fittings to connect
the pieces and these ratchet clamps to insure a water tight seal. The most popular type of tubing for this is
the reinforced braided tubing because it is much less likely to kink than other types.
It is super important that the tubing never kinks because it could cut your tank off from
the life support equipment in the sump or overflow the tank on to the floor. This braided has a natural bend to it from
being coiled which can be somewhat difficult to work with, best way to deal with the bend
is heat it up by soaking it in a bath of super-hot water. If you are careful not to overdo it
you can also use a heat gun. There are a few advantages to going with hard
PVC plumbing. It is literally impossible to kink, doesn’t have that bend to it, it doesn’t
allow any light through so algae can’t grow inside, it’s easier to manifold and frankly
it just looks a lot cooler. While aesthetics might not be critical to everyone to many
reefers it’s important that the equipment side of the tank looks just as cool as the
display itself. If you go PVC you can go white which is found
at basically every big box hardware store, schedule eighty pipe which is a reinforced
industrial grey or colored pipe which comes in blue green , yellow , red , orange you
name it. Fittings come in the typical white versions found at the hardware store. we stock
these low profile beveled edge white fittings and the reinforced schedule 80 industrial
grey fittings. Quick overview of the basic fitting names.
A slip fitting is designed to have a pipe glued directly into the fitting using a primer
and solvent. a threaded fitting is designed to have other
fittings screwed directly into them with Teflon tape. Any Teflon tape will probably work but
it comes in different densities, widths and qualities. Easiest way to identify the density
and quality is to give it a quick squeeze, if it is smooshy its probably a lower density
and quality, if it is hard or clearly states high density on the packaging it is probably
a high quality tape. We stock this three quarter inch size I find a bit easier to use on larger
fittings. Another popular type of fitting is the street
fitting which has a spigot side that is directly inserted into other fittings and valves. When
ever possible I try and use street fittings because they are lower profile, save on space
and I don’t have to cut and glue the small connector pieces. Similar to that you can find other spigot
fittings which transition into barbed ends for connection to soft tubing, spigot fittings
which transition a male threaded end and spigots which can can be inserted to change the side
of the opening to smaller sizes called bushings which come in both slip and female threaded
options. Another popular fitting is unions which come
in slip and threaded versions. These are used create a break in the pipe so you can disassemble
your pluming for maintenance, cleaning , valve replacement or even to change some of your
plumbing for new equipment without cutting everything apart. One huge side advantage of using unions is
you don’t have to be concerned about glueing the fittings on to the pipe at the perfect
angle which is pretty easy and frustrating mistake. With unions you can just loosen the
connection and adjust as needed. If you are going to go through the trouble to hard plumb
your tank do yourself a favor and put unions anywhere you can. I promise you wont regret
it and will be happy they are there when you need to use them. there are three four main types of values,
gate valves , ball valves , check valves and needle valves. Gate valves have a gate that
slowly drops as you spin a handle and used make precise adjustments to water flow and
great for applications like our bean animal overflow where we are fine tuning the flow
to precisely match the water pumped into the tank. ball valves are primarily designed as a shut
off valve for simple on off function. They can be used to adjust flow rates with bit
of trial and error if needed or create artificial head pressure by partially closing them as
well. both gate and ball valves can be found in
white at most hardware stores. These valves are inexpensive and work when you originally
install them but the ball valves in particular become increasingly hard to turn as time goes
on. Often almost impossible after a few years. these cepex valves are more expensive but
turn consistently fluidly now and in the future. They also come with unions installed on both
ends for easy removal and a key you can use to tighten the seal which means this valve
is almost certainly going to outlast the tank it is installed on. Check valves are used to prevent siphons and
the back flow of water particularly on your returns so water doesn’t drain from the tank
through the returns and overflow the sump when the power goes out. check valves are not perfect and can can fail
if something gets stuck on the surface of the seal. The best way to prevent siphoning
when the return pump is off is to make sure your returns are positioned just slightly
below the water level. So check valves are really more of a redundancy valve that protects
you if your returns were ever to get bumped lower than they should be as well as a convenience
that keeps the tank full as possible during maintenance. Check valves come in a variety of forms but
the most popular are the flapper and wye designs. The flapper versions are the least expensive
and often come with unions which makes them pretty popular but are hard to clean and maintenance. The wye design allows you to unscrew and clean
the seal and seat. Not only makes this type of valve more reliable but ability to maintenance
it also means the valve is likely to outlast the tank itself. last type of valve is a needle valve. these
are designed to regulate flow down the a slow drip. There are not a lot of needs for this
type of thing but there are some specialized applications like calcium reactors where they
can come in handy. once you get all your pluming together Glueing
PVC is pretty easy but there are some steps a lot of people skip. All this plumbing is
not cheep and fixing leaks often means cutting it all apart and we want avoid that so my
advice is do not skip steps. You can use a variety of saws or specialized
tools to cut your PVC. I like to use these cheep miter boxes to keep the cuts strait.
Once you have a cut edge take a piece of sandpaper to remove burrs and irregularities from the
edge. if you don’t remove them the burrs can create groves in the solvent when you slide
the pipe in and result in leaks. When we glue the pipe and fittings together
what we are really doing is using a solvent to chemically bond the the surface of the
pipe and fitting together. First step of that process is applying a primer which softens
the surface of the pipe and fitting to get it ready for that chemical bond. Use the applicator
to liberally apply primer to both fitting and pipe. Shortly after apply the pvc cement to both
fitting and pipe as well. When you insert the pipe push it completely into the fitting
while giving it a quarter turn. Once it hits the end of the fitting Hold it there tightly
for fifteen seconds or so. The bonding process causes the plastic to swell and it will push
the pipe out slightly if you don’t hold it in there tightly. Accurate measurements and
an ideal bond requires the pipe to be fully inserted into the pipe. After that allow the
bond to cure for twenty for hours and it is ready for water. Make sure you dry fit the entire project before
you start gluing and mark the pipe and fittings on all the elbows so you know the exact angle
they need to be glued at. The use of unions can remove the marking and angle requirements
with elbows which makes the whole project a lot easier and increases the chances doing
this right the first time. the last piece of pluming we are going to
cover today is loc-line . this is a modular tubing option most often used for returns
where the water is pumped back into the tank. There are a variety of different nozzles,
shut of valves, check valves, y’s and comes in half and three quarter inch options. Last bit of plumbing is the return pump selection.
You are going to want something quiet and reliable. Both of these things are a matter
of perspective. Every pump makes some amount of noise. How quiet a pump is is really just
a comparison to other pumps at the same price point. I would make sure to read the reviews
of the pump you are looking at because nothing is more important than real reefers experiences.
We have attempted to make this a bit easier for you by being pretty selective about the
brands we stock and only offering the ones we recommend. The quiet one from life guard is a great lower
cost option and what the team here at BRS recommends for the most affordable pumps.
The syncra silent series by sicce is probably the most trusted brand out there and what
most of us personally use whenever we can. There are some newer DC pumps out there which
have some unique advantages one of which is most are basically silent, there is almost
no chance you could hear them over the other equipment in your sump. They are often very
small for the flow size and have unique controllability options. Like many emerging technologies there have
been a lot of new DC pumps entering the reefing scene in the last couple years. We feel like
the waveline brand has surfaced as the best affordable option. Also pretty exciting is
ecotech just about to release their DC return pump which is sure to have a whole laundry
list of features never seen in our industry before. Ok so lets get to plumbing this tank. we are
going to use PVC plumbing because it is the most reliable, has the most options and simply
looks the best as well. We selected grey schedule eighty fittings and blue pipe which is my
personal favorite color combination. First step was to plumb the overflow box with
a bean animal variant overflow. Inside the box there is a couple elbows used to create
the primary siphon. The second is our stability pipe and similar to the first but about three
quarters of an inch taller and has a hole drilled in the top to prevent a full siphon.
It is important that the top and hole of the stability overflow is positioned low enough
that it would still get fully submerged if the primary overflow started to back up. The third is our emergency with an open pipe
about a half inch taller than the top of the other two but sill lower than the top of the
overflow box. the primary overflow is plumbed to the tank
with a gate valve, stability overflow is installed right next to it and the emergency overflow
is plumbed to the filtration area of the tank. We install the emergency overflow here because
it will make a lot of noise when it splashes down and let us know there is an issue we
need to fix with the primary if something clogged it. You can also see we installed
quite a few unions to make installation and maintenance is easy. For the return pump went with the new vectra
from ecotech. I have never used this pump which makes it somewhat odd selection for
a build series like this but ecotech is one of the few companies in this industry who
has a long track record of success and they have built a lot of trust with me over the
years so I am pretty confident this is going to be the best return pump I have used once
we get this tank filled with water and turn it on. I look forward to reviewing it with
you once the tank is full. noticed we installed a short piece of silicone
tubing between pump and the start of our hard plumbing. this will completely eliminate any
vibration transfer from the pump to the hard plumbing. This is more important with AC pumps
than DC pumps but a good idea regardless. Off of that we plumbed the sump to both return
points. locline inside the tank to disperse the water. You can see the check valve for
redundancy, down here we plumbed a series of valves as a manifold we can use to feed
equipment as we add it. If needed we will use the ball valves here to create some head
pressure to drive the items plumbed to the manifold. Also notice the pipe clamps we used to hold
everything securely in place. These aren’t absolutely required in most cases but a nice
added touch. The plumbing here archives all of our goals
with quiet operation, redundancy, maintainable and room to add new equipment or upgrade in
the future with the manifold. Not to mention looks pretty cool as well. Next week are going to talk about electrical
needs for the tank and install our solution which you dont want to miss. The following
week we are going to get water into the tank so hit that subscribe button. If you are interested
in learning more about the products we discussed in this weeks episode you can check them out
by clicking this link. see you next week with week 6 of the BRS 160 electrical.

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