Advice on plumbing a drilled 20 gal long

Ecotech Marine

NotoriousENG

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 5, 2021
Messages
39
Reaction score
15
Location
DC Metro
Hi Everyone, I'm a new member looking for some advice on a drilled 20 gallon long I got today. As a disclaimer, I am not into the saltwater side of the aquarium hobby. Rather I keep freshwater planted aquariums, or I used to, I've been out of the hobby for a few years and am working to get my first new tank up and running. So I apologize if posting about a freshwater tank violates any rules, not my intention, I'm just hoping for some advice on drilled tanks since they aren't very common on freshwater tanks and I have no experience with them. On to the tank.

The tank in question is a 20 gallon long drilled with a single 3/4" bulkhead close to the top, top edge of the hole is about 1.5" from the rim, and no overflow box (just a strainer). From the research I have done so far, I understand that such a setup is not ideal since it poses a risk for flooding if the drain clogs. I'm willing to attempt drilling the additional holes needed for a herbie or bean animal since I have a second 20 gallon long and can only realistically set up one tank right now. However, I am concerned on if there is enough space between the top of the tank and the bulkhead for this to even be feasible, so I would really appreciate some advice on how to handle this tank.

For the overflow box, I am thinking about attempting a diy version. Particularly because I don't think the current hole placement is conducive to using an off-the-shelf option. I'm thinking toothless would be ideal since I plan to keep cherry shrimp which can be easily be sucked up by filters. I would also really appreciate some advice on this.

I've included a picture of the current bulkhead placement as well.

bulkhead.jpg
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

lapin

7500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
9,053
Reaction score
16,220
Location
Austin
2 of a few options
Drill a second hole and you will have 2 drains. If 1 clogs maybe the other one wont.
If you have a controller you can use a float valve or optical switch to shut off in comming flow with a solenoid, or shut off the pump.
 
OP
NotoriousENG

NotoriousENG

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 5, 2021
Messages
39
Reaction score
15
Location
DC Metro
2 of a few options
Drill a second hole and you will have 2 drains. If 1 clogs maybe the other one wont.
If you have a controller you can use a float valve or optical switch to shut off in comming flow with a solenoid, or shut off the pump.
Thanks for the suggestions lapin. Personally, I don't trust float or optical switches a ton so I'm going to try to avoid that route.

As for drilling, I gave this some more thought today and now I am thinking I should drill a second, same size hole just to the left and possibly slightly lower. Once the second hole is drilled I was thinking of putting an elbow pointing downwards in the original hole for a siphon drain. In the new (possibly slight hole) I was thinking an elbow pointing upwards with a short standpipe to function as the emergency drain for a herbie style drain. Does this sound like it would work? If I'm going to have to drill another hole anyways would it be worth it to drill a third hole for a bean animal?

Another thought I had is to use the existing hole as a return and drill a new, larger, and properly placed hole on the opposite side for an eclipse s overflow. This is more expensive than doing everything myself but would definitely be simpler.
 
Last edited:

snorklr

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 13, 2017
Messages
244
Reaction score
331
drilling them like that was common in the wet/dry filter days...normally there would be a 90 inside the tank pointed straight up with a slip fit strainer on it ....search lifeguard aquatics suction screen for a pic ....then another 90 outside for the hose into the sump...i cut the top of the strainer off a little above the water line so if it clogged and the level rose it would just pour straight down the middle of the strainer...,but i think yours may be drilled too high for that...i've got 1 1/2 from the top edge of the bulkhead fitting to the bottom of the plastic tank rim...with some extra 1/8 holes drilled around the base of the strainer this keeps the water level just above the bottom of the plastic rim with a danner mag 5 pump , a one inch bulkhead and drain and 3/4 return....been running a single drain like this for over 10 yrs without incident ....but my dumb question for you is why would you want a sump for a freshwater tank? maybe just plug the bulkhead and use a conventional filter?
 
OP
NotoriousENG

NotoriousENG

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 5, 2021
Messages
39
Reaction score
15
Location
DC Metro
A sump for freshwater is definitely not needed and overkill. I actually already have an undrilled 20 long and HOB filter that I could put into use as is. I'm looking to do one mainly to try and get all the equipment out of the display tank. I could do go about this with a canister filter, inline heater, and CO2 reactor plumbed inline. However, by the time I get an inline heater and a canister with a beefy enough pump to run overcome head losses in the heater and CO2 reactor, I'll probably have spent a similar to setting up a sump. Also, there is the cool factor of sumps!

I think I'm leaning towards trying to drill the other side of the tank for an eclipse s (or similar) and using the existing hole as a return.

On a side note, does anyone have recommendations for a decent stand that doesn't break the bank? Unfortunately, diy probably isn't on the menu for a stand since I only have basic hand tools and no access to proper power tools nowadays. I originally planned to buy a stand but that didn't work out well for me (bought two used stands, one is way out of square and I don't trust it, the other one ended up being a cockroach nest...).
 
Avast
OP
NotoriousENG

NotoriousENG

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 5, 2021
Messages
39
Reaction score
15
Location
DC Metro
I'm going to give the eclipse overflow a shot and if the tank cracks it's not the end of the world since 20-gallon longs are super pricey and I already have a backup.

As far a stand I decided to go a semi diy route and got a cheap metal open stand from petco on sale. From reading reviews online I knew these stands are notorious for not being flat/level on the top. To fix this I got a 3/4" laminated spruce project board (not plywood, it's laminated on end) that I will be staining and sealing. I then plan to put a layer of foam between the wood and the stand which should self level and soak up any un-flatness in the stand top.

As far as the sump, I will be using a standard 10 gallon. Trying to decide between buying a baffle kit or making own baffles from plate glass, any advice?
 
Last edited:
OP
NotoriousENG

NotoriousENG

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 5, 2021
Messages
39
Reaction score
15
Location
DC Metro
Good news, I just drilled the tank for the eclipse S and it went well. No cracks! Since this tank is rimmed if I had used the provided hole pattern as intended it would have put the water level well below the rim. After playing around with it for a while I found that if I put the drill pattern on the inside of the tank, push it up against the inside rim it would put the overflow in what seems to be the right spot. So after tracing the hole with a sharpie I taped the jig to the outside of the tank and we were in business. I did have a very small amount of chip out which I was able to clean up with the sand paper.

jig.jpg

hole.jpg

piece.jpg

front.jpg


I am planning to paint the back of this tank and picked up some Rust-oleum professional high performance protective enamel in semi-gloss black as I read it's one people like. I am wondering if I need to tape off the area around the holes for the bulkhead gaskets or will they seal to the paint?
 

Have you ever had a reef tank with no sump and how did it go?

  • YES and it was just fine

    Votes: 376 58.6%
  • YES but it was difficult

    Votes: 112 17.4%
  • NO

    Votes: 142 22.1%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 12 1.9%
FM
Top