Using a return pump primarily for flow

Tangina20

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I have had a 40 breeder for a few months and coming from having nanos, sumps and plumbing are fairly new to me. I bought a used quiet one 4000(1022 gph) cut back with a valve and have a split return nozzle for my flow.

I came across some forums saying to never use your return pump as a primary source of flow and to use Powerheads, is this true? And if it is, why? I have no clue how much flow I have going in my tank I’m just basing it off of if the corals are looking happy or not with the flow they are getting.

Below are pictures of my sump layout and return nozzle.

A413BBFE-090C-408E-8306-9568661F4346.png


10C1D431-C31A-4E49-B174-A5860DA9B388.jpeg
 

jsker

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I have had a 40 breeder for a few months and coming from having nanos, sumps and plumbing are fairly new to me. I bought a used quiet one 4000(1022 gph) cut back with a valve and have a split return nozzle for my flow.

I came across some forums saying to never use your return pump as a primary source of flow and to use Powerheads, is this true? And if it is, why? I have no clue how much flow I have going in my tank I’m just basing it off of if the corals are looking happy or not with the flow they are getting.

Below are pictures of my sump layout and return nozzle.

A413BBFE-090C-408E-8306-9568661F4346.png


10C1D431-C31A-4E49-B174-A5860DA9B388.jpeg
Back in the day, that was the only flow. It all really depends on your system and how much flow you would like. Bigger system require more water movement the smaller system in different areas.:)
 

garbled

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The problem with using a return as your primary flow, is you can't easily size it up for different types of corals. Let's take your 40g breeder as an example.

For SPS, you might want 8-10x tank volume in flow. Now, that means you need a, lets say 4000GPH pump for your return, with pumping losses, that should get you 8x. Now you need an overflow and standpipe that can handle 4000GPH, this should be fun, I'm not sure offhand, but I'd guess in the range of 3" pipe diameter. The overflow would probably take up 40% of your tank. Then you'd probably need 2-4 1" loc-line outputs strung all around the tank. It quickly gets ridiculous.

Or you could put in a 2500GPH Koralia in the display, and get roughly in the same zone with way less chance of a massive tank-emptying flood.

Now if you are doing some low flow corals, maybe the return you have is good enough, not sure. But you probably want a bit more movement anyhow, so it's just easier to toss a powerhead in there.
 

GlassMunky

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Judging by your photo it looks like your tank is mainly LPS and zoanthids, so the flow rate you have now might be fine.

Another reason people say use powerheads is in case your return pump fails, you still have water movement in the tank until you can replace the return pump
 

JumboShrimp

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@garbled had a nice explanation. I would only add that your small return pipes might by OK for breaking up the surface, but probably won’t push much flow deeper into the tank. If you really want to splurge and have some fun, and have an iPhone, I use this small Aquamai in each of my nano tanks. The flow combinations are incredible. Best wishes!
 
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Another reason your sump is a like a automatic car wash the faster your car goes through the less contact time. Budget get two Tunze 6015. They last a long time and you get great C/S and get parts as well.
 
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Tangina20

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Thanks for all of the great advice! I think I’m going to end up grabbing a powerhead!
 
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Tangina20

Tangina20

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The problem with using a return as your primary flow, is you can't easily size it up for different types of corals. Let's take your 40g breeder as an example.

For SPS, you might want 8-10x tank volume in flow. Now, that means you need a, lets say 4000GPH pump for your return, with pumping losses, that should get you 8x. Now you need an overflow and standpipe that can handle 4000GPH, this should be fun, I'm not sure offhand, but I'd guess in the range of 3" pipe diameter. The overflow would probably take up 40% of your tank. Then you'd probably need 2-4 1" loc-line outputs strung all around the tank. It quickly gets ridiculous.

Or you could put in a 2500GPH Koralia in the display, and get roughly in the same zone with way less chance of a massive tank-emptying flood.

Now if you are doing some low flow corals, maybe the return you have is good enough, not sure. But you probably want a bit more movement anyhow, so it's just easier to toss a powerhead in there.
That makes a lot of sense, I have a 1.5 inch overflow and that’s still not enough for the amount of water going through I’ve been trying to find a way to silence it but I think you just solved that problem!
 
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Tangina20

Tangina20

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@garbled had a nice explanation. I would only add that your small return pipes might by OK for breaking up the surface, but probably won’t push much flow deeper into the tank. If you really want to splurge and have some fun, and have an iPhone, I use this small Aquamai in each of my nano tanks. The flow combinations are incredible. Best wishes!
Would you recommend this over the jaebo??
 

JumboShrimp

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I have a great Jebao return pump, but have never tried their wavemakers/powerheads. But I can’t say enough good things about the Aqamai, ‘provided’ we’re talking about a 20 gallon tank— maybe a 30. Two placed at each ends of a 30, with intersecting settings, would be a coral’s dream!
 
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Tangina20

Tangina20

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I have a great Jebao return pump, but have never tried their wavemakers/powerheads. But I can’t say enough good things about the Aqamai, ‘provided’ we’re talking about a 20 gallon tank— maybe a 30. Two placed at each ends of a 30, with intersecting settings, would be a coral’s dream!
I’ll have to look in to it thank you! Do you think one would be good enough and put it on the opposite side of the return??
 

Salt1972

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We've used (2) Jebao PP8 wave makers for 15 months and recently added their CP-150 gyre type pump. We also use a Jebao DSC2000 for our refugium, a DCT6000 in our mixing station, and a DP4 doser. One of the PP8's failed at 10 months, but Amazon replaced it without issue. For the price, we're very happy with Jebao.
 

Ariel V Rosa

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If you are looking to splurge and break crack the wallet open go ecotech of sicce, if you want a moderate budget go with pumps linked above or current USA, Jebao, several, Hydor. If you want to keep the buget down you really dont need a wave maker just get two Hydor Coralia pumps on opposite ends of the tank foe cheap. They are not controllable but g8ve you the random movement of water you need. Also, if you plan on getting a wave maker type that has control, size the pump to your tank, the last thing you want is a sand storm in your tanks. Some of these pumps will aquascape the tank for you if sized wrong and set wrong.

On my small tank I use the small current pumps with the controller and RFG return nozzles from vivid crative aquatics.

On my larget tank I use two larger pumps and three RFG nozzles with and internal closed loop system.
 

JumboShrimp

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Given the photo of your tank, I’d say one would be fine; I never have my set on full in my nano tank— more like 60%, max.
 
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Tangina20

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Is there anything out there like the vortech that had the wiring externally or is that only unique to them? And what is the benefit of a wave maker other than it simulates ocean effects??
 
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Ariel V Rosa

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Is there anything out there like the vortech that had the wiring externally or is that only unique to them? And what is the benefit of a wave maker other than it simulates ocean effects??
AI nero, but that places you in the same price braket as the Ecotechs. Ot many do the wet side dry side method as its hard to warranty two seperate objects. Wave makers do move than simulate ocean effects, some corals use the waters random movements as part if thuer metabolic process. I have ine coral in my tank that will not stand up unless it is hit with pulsing waves. If it is hit with a constant stream it will swell up but not stand up. So wave makers provide assistance un moving fluids and food in some corals. Check out the current eflux pumps they are great you can control two in any mode you want and a third in stream mode.
 

NotASpammerDude

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Let's take your 40g breeder as an example.

For SPS, you might want 8-10x tank volume in flow. Now, that means you need a, lets say 4000GPH pump for your return, with pumping losses, that should get you 8x. Now you need an overflow and standpipe that can handle 4000GPH, this should be fun, I'm not sure offhand, but I'd guess in the range of 3" pipe diameter. The overflow would probably take up 40% of your tank. Then you'd probably need 2-4 1" loc-line outputs strung all around the tank. It quickly gets ridiculous.
Just for the record this math is wrong by an order of magnitude... 10. It would be a 400gph return pump
 

Rakie

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I think I’m going to get the Jebao ow 10
So a little tip here... If you get a Jebao, get a BIG one. The smaller ones seize up, they don't have to power to crank through the bits of algae and slime that accumulate inside the pump. The little ones last a year or two. The bigger ones have a lot more power, and while you don't NEED to run it at a high rate, the pump has the physical torque to work through the gunk.

The big ones are a much safer bet...

Otherwise, I would suggest a few Tunze powerheads. Nothing comes close, and they aren't that expensive either. For the same price you can get Tunze 6025's.

Tunze 6025: https://www.amazon.com/Tunze-Turbelle-NanoStream-Generation-Titanium/dp/B000N0ZAWK/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Tunze+6025&qid=1552209244&s=pet-supplies&sr=1-1-catcorr
 

rockskimmerflow

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To the OP: I stopped using powerheads altogether and haven't noticed any significant downsides. In larger tanks I do use eductors to multiply the flow. That said it's hard to overdo flow so it doesn't hurt to keep a powerhead in the tank if you don't mind it. I like running urchins in glass tanks and they will much on cords occasionally, so there's that benefit to not having them in there. Also overall less maintenance- and slightly less power consumption believe it or not... The key to creating in tank flow with just your main pump is to use a restrictive nozzle or eductor to increase the velocity of the water returning to the tank. This turns over the tank less and causes the pump to use slightly less power (in AC pumps). Also it's easy to think two outlets are better than one, but it means you need a much stronger pump to push the same velocity through two nozzles vs 1. I mean a 300 gallon tank can be run off a single pressure rated 1000gph pump. It might only turn the tank over 1.5x per hour but it's like having a single 3000gph powerhead creating continuous flow from the return inlet. The easiest way to get flow everywhere is to create a gyre type loop where the whole mass of the tank moves in a circular motion constantly. This seems to be quite effective overall.

Don't get me wrong, powerheads are fantastic! And the easiest way to fix a low flow issue by far. It's also generally feasible to run most tanks off only the return pump flow - but it requires more forethought and planning in the execution IME
 

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