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A potentially dumb question about drilling and plumbing tanks


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So I'm still a novice but I noticed in watching videos of so many fish rooms and stores that many experienced aquarists drill all of their tanks. I understand the basic concept of a sump for single large tanks but I'm wondering about these systems with so many smaller tanks rigged together. Why do they do this and what's the benefit? Where does the water flow to, and how much of it needs to drain? Does this prevent the need for a regular water change in those tanks?

Maybe dumb questions but I'm super curious about this.

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Usually they drain into a larger pipe that leads to the home’s septic system or they rig a drain that leads outside. When you add water to the tank, it overflows through the drilled bulkheads. So running clean water into the tank for a period of time effectively gives you a water change of a certain percentage. Hope that made some sense. I’m not the best at explaining things clearly and concisely.

Hopefully someone else can explain it better.

Edited by OceanTruth
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so basically an auto water change system works by drilling the tank installing a bulk head at a preferred height of the water line in the tank or tanks. without going into too much detail on building the system basically your building a drain system which flows into a drain to sewer, pond, or where ever you want the water to go. next is building basically a water system around the room so you can drip or run a certain amount of water into the tank flushing out bad water or used water into the drain lines and leaving fresh water in the tanks so that makes up an auto water change.

 Are you looking for like a build structure on the total system or just the understanding?

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I think I understand the basic concept, essentially a sloped drain to remove water and then a nozzle to replace. I'm not sure if it's something I should try building when I set up a fish room as it seems complex. Is there a good place to look at the way people structure their systems?

I have an issue with my water in that it will need to be heavily treated before being used. So I'm not sure if a RO/DI system can be used with an auto water change setup.

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so you can install the filters like an RODI system to filter your water before it goes through the system to your tanks. 

I would look at deans setup and i would study it and copy most of it honestly if i had a room where i can make a fish room. I run 7 tanks in my bedroom of a apartment for breeding I honestly would always do auto water change in a fish room.

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The garden idea is a good thought as ae will have a very large yard and gardening area. I imagine that's mostly useful in summer.

Our water is super hard (think limestone quarry) so it needed a water softener, but sodium ions are no better than excessive calcium. So I'll need to have it run through that filtration before it's usable. I do worry about wasting water if I scale beyond about 10 tanks.

The good news is I absolutely will have the space based on comparing the room I'll be using to the way Dean had to finagle that furnace and hot water heater...

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The focus here has been mostly on using drilled tanks for water changes. They can also be used for a central filter system. One large sump filter can handle multiple tanks with just one system that then needs servicing. There's a greater risk of disease spreading unchecked, but that can be minimized through the use of a UV sterilizer. 

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1 hour ago, gardenman said:

The focus here has been mostly on using drilled tanks for water changes. They can also be used for a central filter system. One large sump filter can handle multiple tanks with just one system that then needs servicing. There's a greater risk of disease spreading unchecked, but that can be minimized through the use of a UV sterilizer. 

I like this idea too, although I don't have any experience with designing or building a sump system. It's a bit intimidating, especially when I use a lot of plants and sponge filters already and it seems to do the job for the number of tanks I have. At what point is it worth having a multi-tank sump?

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24 minutes ago, Fishdude said:

I like this idea too, although I don't have any experience with designing or building a sump system. It's a bit intimidating, especially when I use a lot of plants and sponge filters already and it seems to do the job for the number of tanks I have. At what point is it worth having a multi-tank sump?

A large sump system filtering multiple tanks gives you more stability. A ten gallon tank can crash pretty quickly. Twenty ten gallon tanks with a fifty gallon sump gives you 250 gallons of water which is a bit more stable. As a general rule with aquariums, the more water volume you have, the more stable a system stays. Things can go wrong quicker in small volumes of water than in large volumes of water. With every tank connected, you're dealing with a much larger pool of water. If things do go wrong, they tend to go wrong more slowly and gradually. You can still use sponges and plants in each tank also. 

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A large sump is a great way to filter large amounts of water. I had them in my 150 and 175 gallons I kept at different times in my years of fishkeeping. I loved them, would highly recommend them the only thing to remind about using them in a multi tank set up is to make sure you use quarantine tanks for any new fish so you don't introduce anything to the whole system. It;s a bear to get get things controlled in one tank, but with multiples it is simply a must; but there really is no reason to not use a set up like this in a fish room, it just makes sense.

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