Multi-tank Build, could use some plumbing advice!

Discussion in 'General Equipment, Hardware, Filtration' started by BBestvin, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. BBestvin

    BBestvin Member

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    Hi all, first post on the forum, looking forward to being part of the community. Well, I need a little advice for a multi-tank project I'm working on. It's challenging for me, but has been fun (mostly) so far. I'll give a brief summary and what I'm having difficulty with.

    1) 4 - 20g long aquariums stacked, 3 DT tanks, 1 sump
    2) Original idea, which I've done, is chain the tanks together, the topmost draining into the tank below it, that into the one below it, etc.
    3) I used 3/4" bulkheads. I now know I should've gone with 1", but for how much flow I wanted through the sump (100-200 GPH) I thought 3/4" would be fine.
    4) I tried to go with the simplest setup possible...single rear-drilled drains with internal overflow box on each of the DTs. Simple in theory. Execution, not so much.
    5) Siphon occurred on startup, resulting in super loud system. Ran some airline down each tank's drain, quieted things down.
    6) However, flow is not great and return pump had to be turned down. I believe this is due to the fact that each overflow box is draining into the tank below it, and the outlet of the drain is submerged in 3-4 inches of water. Not a true unrestricted drain.
    7) Other side effect...using a single line drain between each is resulting in bubbles I will never eliminate. Starting to re-think the setup.

    Moving forward: I have received some advice, a few of whom said blow it up and start over. Drill double drains, bigger overflow boxes etc. To be honest, my budget has been basically reached for this project system. It's in my unfinished basement sitting on a floor drain, so my fear of damage from potential clogging down the road is fairly minimal.

    My thoughts are this, switch the overflow box on my middle DT to line up the drains and returns. This would eliminate the bubbles being blasted into each tank and also maximize the drain GPH rate of the drain line. My biggest questions are...if you look at return pump side drawing, where should I put control valves to effectively control flow to the 3 tanks? Above the top T and between the T's, or should the valves go to the "left" of the Ts? Also, for the drain, would I be able to run all the drains into one line with T's (T's placed similar to return line, or would that result in tanks draining into each other), or should I use Y fittings as in the drawing?

    Any advice (other than start over!) would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    Tank Setup.jpg
     
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  2. CJS80

    CJS80 Member

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    Not sure if you thought about it but you are taking dirty water dropping it into another DT, then now even dirtier water and putting it into another DT. I would run all 3 drains into 1 larger line up the back put a valve at the bottom to control flow, Do 1 line up the back for return with a T at each tank and valve at each tank to control flow into tank.
     
  3. BBestvin

    BBestvin Member

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    Yes, it's definitely something I considered, but just figured overall it would be an easier setup. This is the rookie in me talking...never tried to plumb multiple tanks to one sump before. I think what you are suggesting is that the control valve for the return lines be located to the left of each T in my diagram? Also, for the drain line, can I tee them all into one line as well? Would that cause any issues as opposed to using Y fittings?
     
  4. lmm1967

    lmm1967 Member

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    unless your flow is an absolute trickle - your water will all be the same. Things like nitrates / phosphates etc are in suspension. Your top tank is not going to be any cleaner than your bottom tank.
     
  5. BBestvin

    BBestvin Member

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    That's where my head was at too when I first planned it out, but each draining into the next is an issue from an air/bubbles/drainage perspective.
     
  6. ca1ore

    ca1ore Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor R2R TV Featured

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    It's no different than if you were draining a display into a sump. If you use a single open channel then it's going to be noisy and have bubbles. If you use a dual, herbie-style drain then it will be silent and bubble free. Keep in mind that if you drain one tank into the one below it, and so on, as you move down the tanks, each successive drain will be asked to handle more flow. Highest tank gets 200 gph from the return pump; middle tank gets 200 from the first tank plus 200 from the return; lowest tank gets 600 .....
     
  7. BBestvin

    BBestvin Member

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    Yes, I'm moving away from the setup of draining one tank into the next and am going with the option of running each tank into a drain line down to the sump. I think draining tanks into each other is never going to be a good option at this point. However, I don't believe draining into the sump is the same...maybe I'm wrong, but since my return outlets of the DT were lower in the tank, there is already pressure from the higher water level in the return line. Since that return line is the same as the drain line of tank above, a reduction in flow is inevitable. This is one of the reasons folks don't install a bulkhead in their sump, halfway down the glass and run their drain into it via an elbow. As for the other issues, they are mainly cosmetic, as bubbles draining into the sump aren't as big of a deal (to me anyways) as they would be in my DT :)
     
  8. ca1ore

    ca1ore Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award CTARS Member Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor R2R TV Featured

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    I didn't bother to study your pictures, but conceptually using an overflow/gravity drain from one body of water to another is the same .... whether the receiving vessel is a sump or not. There are certainly good practices to follow, one of which is to not submerge the drain output materially below the surface of the water as it can prevent the proper operation of said drain.
     
  9. BBestvin

    BBestvin Member

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    Yes! That's what I was trying to get at. I do know that a sump and another gal are the same thing, but in my particular case, the drain to my sump is above the water line, whereas my tanks have their output inches below the surface.
     
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