View Full Version : Murphy's 180-gallon tank

fish speaker
11-02-2004, 09:36 PM
Back in August, I decided to buy myself a tank as an early birthday present. My largest tank at that time was a 37-gallon tank, and I was interested in moving up to something spacious. Using the "buy the biggest tank you can afford" mentality, I decided to let my lfs help me put together a 180-gallon system. I had no knowledge of most of the components, and if I had known then what I know now, I could have done a much better job. Here's a summary of what has happened so far:
1. tank and stand delayed...received early October.
2. wet/dry filter not in stock (now, since I had paid for all of this back in August, what excuse could they have that they didn't have it after 2 months?)...arrived mid-October.
3. discovered that they had left out a few key elements, like an overflow box (tank wasn't drilled...)...
4. upon picking up overflow box, discovered that they had sold me a submersible pump, but the sump had a hole w/bulkhead, so an external pump was necessary (unless I wanted to plug the hole)...
5. they sold me an external pump, but had no fittings that would allow me to connect the sump to the pump to the return tubing...sent me to Home Depot (now I'm a plumber). I have finally gotten everything put together, and the pump turns out to be LOUD, the overflow box SUCKS (it's a fine overflow box...it just makes a constant sucking noise, which leads me to...)
6. the pump evidently pumps faster than the overflow box can drain, so the sump empties until the pump is dry, and bubbles are shooting out of the return
7. forgot to mention that this all came with no instructions: I guess all the flow rates, assembly, etc., are supposed to be intuitive (note: a Macintosh, this is not!)...overflow box was assembled by the salesman incorrectly, and I had to figure out for myself how to start the siphon in the overflow box.
8. I'll make another call to the lfs tomorrow (I'm sure they dread to hear when it's me calling)...while tonight I have another concern, which is my fault (if it turns out to be a problem): I decided to try a fishless cycling, and had found only "clear ammonia" at the stores I searched. There is no ingredient list, but it didn't foam when I shook it, so I thought it might be OK. Tonight, there is some froth in the water, although it could be from the pump sucking air (I have since shut it off, since it is not supposed to be run dry).
9. I'll never admit how much I have spent on this system so far, and I'm still weeks away from fish. If this had gone a little better, I might have ended up a good, loyal customer for years. As it is... and this store is supposed to be head and shoulders above the other local stores.

I am thinking that I'll end up closing off the bulkhead in the sump, going with a quieter, less powerful submersible pump (if they give me a hard time about taking back the external pump, I may end up in jail for the rest of the week). I'll try to determine if there is any contamination in the tank, so I may end up thoroughly washing it all out and starting over. Wish me luck!


11-02-2004, 09:55 PM
Wow... you had quite the time with that tank

i hope everything gets sorted out for you

fish speaker
11-02-2004, 09:58 PM
At least I think I'm OK with the ammonia I've been using: after turning off the pump, the water has virtually nothing resembling foam after a very short settling. I think I was just seeing the result of all the tiny bubbles being jetted into the water.

11-03-2004, 12:20 PM
I'd agree about the ammonia - really fine bubbles from filters and the like will accumulate on the surface a bit... my ACs create some bubblage. But, wow - you are a better man than I - I would probably be typing from the library in the state lockup already if all of that had happened to me... good luck! hopefully the light at the end is in sight!

fish speaker
11-03-2004, 03:24 PM
Fortunately, I just talked to my contact at the lfs (always very helpful), and he's going to help me stay out of jail. :)

11-03-2004, 09:54 PM
Originally posted by skiitswitch
really fine bubbles from filters and the like will accumulate on the surface a bit... my ACs create some bubblage.

Don't mean to change the subject, but in my 29G I have one of those bubble wand type air stones. I notice what I figure are little bubbles, and I was wondering if that is bad. The fish don't seem to mind at all or even notice, but I wasen't sure.

11-03-2004, 10:19 PM
shouldn't be a problem at all :)

11-04-2004, 07:11 AM
awsome, thanks :)

11-04-2004, 10:11 AM
I agree - I like the fine bubbles better because there's a larger overall surface area where air can adsorb into the water

fish speaker
11-05-2004, 11:42 AM
Just a quick update: I've now capped off the hole in the sump, and am using a submersible pump of slightly less power. It is so much quieter, and the pump is no longer outracing the overflow box. I have called the seller of the ammonia that I have been using, and they have promised to fax a detailed list for me of anything that is contained in the bottle. My final project will be to work on minimize the sucking sound of the standpipe. I have tons of ideas from internet searches, and am sure to get that worked out by the end of the weekend (well, I have to go out of town for part of the weekend for my daughter's soccer tournament, but should have a few hours of time to spend on it).

Wish me luck!

11-06-2004, 09:04 AM
would love to see pictures of final project !

fish speaker
11-06-2004, 05:14 PM
I'll definitely post some. Here's one that I took just after getting the background installed:

11-06-2004, 06:54 PM
If you are looking to quiet that sucking noise on the overflow, do a web search for the "DURSO STANDPIPE" It's an easy DIY project. I use them on all my tanks and swear by them. If you need help making one just ask.

here's a link for the pipe...


fish speaker
11-06-2004, 08:25 PM
I had found the Durso standpipe descriptions, but I have managed to solve the problem to my satisfaction with a simpler solution: I simply threaded a length of airline tubing through the prefilter and into the standpipe. It sticks out several inches above the prefilter at the top, and, surprisingly, has gotten rid of the loud noise. There is still a gentle trickling sound, but that isn't a problem at all.


11-06-2004, 08:50 PM
I just don't understand how this works. I have a hang on skimmer from us aquariums. The skimmer is on one side and pumps water to an overflow to the prefilter in the middle and back down to the return pump. My skimmer/filter makes a little noise too but I can't figure out how this would adapt, basically because I can't figure out how this works in the first place. Sounds interesting though.

11-06-2004, 09:09 PM
you would have to read up more on the DURSO pipe theory but basically it sends the water down the length of drain pipe in a rotating movement...like in your home with slanted drainpipes, it circles the water...i swear by them. Check out the many sites on the DURSO sytem. Marine and reef keepers have used it for years.