I have no idea how to setup my plumbing!


New member
Alright so I am slowly getting all the equipment I need for my tank but right now I can't really do much more until I get the plumping figured out.

My tank is a 75 gal AGA with mega overflow. I have the overflow kit and have installed the drain pipe, but I still need to cut the return pipe. The drain pipe hole is 1" and the return pipe hole is 3/4" if that helps.

Here is my setup so far: (I have a canopy but I don't have it on right now. Also my pump and skimmer will be coming by the end of the week)

<a href="http://s160.photobucket.com/albums/t169/zezeta101/?action=view&current=DSC07232.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i160.photobucket.com/albums/t169/zezeta101/DSC07232.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

I know that the two options for plumbing are pvc pipe or flexible hosing. After researching a little bit this is what I seem to have found:

Flexible Housing:
- Usually easier to install and take apart to clean
- Not as sturdy as pvc and if it is not connected properly it will fail
- Cheaper

- Harder to setup but won't fail if installed correctly
- More options (valves to control flow, etc)
- More expensive

Please let me know if my thinking is right on all this. If anyone has anything to add please let me know.

If I were to go with PVC I would also need to know where to install valves and connectors.

The last part of my pluming is my sump. I got my sump from my LFS and while it will do the job I kinda wish I would have built one myself (problem is I'm not too handy when it comes to things like that). Anyway after looking at it I think I may be able to do a refugium but I'm not 100% sure. Here is a closer picture of the sump:

<a href="http://s160.photobucket.com/albums/t169/zezeta101/?action=view&current=DSC07231.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i160.photobucket.com/albums/t169/zezeta101/DSC07231.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

My plan is to put my skimmer in the left chamber where the drain pipe will drain into the sump. Then in the middle chamber I would have a refugium. Lastly on the right side I would have my return pump send the water back into the return pipe in the tank.

Does anyone know if this will work or would I just be better putting the cleaning sock (came with the sump) in the left chamber, my skimmer in the middle chamber and my return pump in the right chamber?

A big Thanks to anyone who can help me get this all figured out!


New member
I'm not 100% on the demension for this sump or the height of the buble trap but I believe your system is set up for the return pump on the left the skimmer (if you use in sump unit) in the middle (looks to be the only chamber big enough) and the water can be fed in from the right. (Unless this unit was designed for bio balls and a filter sock)

Option 1
To get a place for cheato in this thing put the pump on left, skimmer in middle run the overflow from the tank into a T and run one side into the center champer (put a shut off valve right after the T on both sides) and the other into the chamber on the right. Now seal off the gap on the bottom of the right panel and add some teeth to the top of it.
This way you could put chaeto in the right hand chamber and slow the flow to it with the valve then let it run over the teeth at the top into the center chamber with the sump all the water then had to pass through your bubble trap to get to your return pump.

There are a number of different things you can do with this but you'll need the rest of your equipment first to determine what will fit where.

Some measurements may people to suggest other ideas.


New member
Thanks Poeticlydead! I think I get what you saying and it sounds like it would work.

Alright here's the dimensions of the sump:

23 3/4" Long
15 1/2" Tall
10" Wide

Left Chamber 4 3/4" Long
Middle Chamber 11 1/4" Long
Right Chamber 4 3/4" Long

The highest baffle (i believe thats the correct word) is 14" high

The footprint for the skimmer is 4" x 8" x 18"

I don't know the footprint for the pump however, but it is a MagDrive 9.5

Hopefully this will help.


New member
I agree with the above comments. It definately looks like that sump is designed for the water to flow through from right to left.


New member
Alright well I guess I will turn the sump around so it flows the proper way. So it seems like I should have the sump pretty much figured out.

Does anyone have a diagram though of where to put valves and disconnects when doing PVC? The main concern I have with the plumbing is flooding. I know that if you setup the plumbing correctly that the chance of a flood is slim but I want to make sure that I do it correctly.

My understanding is that you mainly want to make sure that your drain pipe is always clear and able to drain into the sump. As long as the pump is going then the water will continue to be put into the display tank and as the water fills into the display tank then it will drain into the sump.

Also I've read that you need to make sure not to fill your sump all the way with water. That way if your pump is off you have room for all the water that will drain into sump from the display tank. What is the best way to figure out how much water will drain down into the sump when the pump is off?

Thanks again for anyone who can help me with this.


New member
With a prebuilt sump there is no way for you to control the fill level the baffles in the tank will dictate how high it fills since it needs to just run over the top of each.

So this means the right hand champer will be filled the full 14 inchs unless you want to modify that baffel, the middle chamber will be roughly 8 inchs and the return chamber will be roughly six based on the pictures and info provided. This leaves roughly 50-70% of the sumps capacity for over flow again hard to figure since I'm providing rough guess on the other two baffles. If you are running a Durso or some similar type stand pipe and have it set to the right height you should have plenty of room.

The only real test will be to set the system up get it running and then shut the pump down.


New member
Thanks for the info! Once I get everything plumbed I plan on doing a freshwater run for a few days to make sure that nothing leaks and to test to make sure nothing floods.

I think right now it will probably be easier for me to wait til I get my skimmer and pump before I start trying to figure out anymore on the plumbing. I still can't decide between using PVC piping and flexible hosing. Does anyone know if there is a way to use both or a way to have valves on flexible hosing?


New member
Hey Zezeta! I can't help but notice that you are located in Orlando. Being new to this hobby myself, I really need to plug the Orlando Reef Caretakers Association, ORCA, which is a great organization, and a true asset to anyone in the Orlando area. The members are extremely knowledgeable, and friendly!, and are willing to let you pick their brains! I have learned a great deal and have only been around for a month or so. I'd strongly recommend looking into this organization, you will learn so much!!

There is also a section on the forums here if you would like to get more information: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=327212

Perhaps I will see you at a meeting! Welcome to the hobby!

/edit: I like the custom-ability, I think I just made up that word, of PVC because you can add unions and ball valves which can really be helpful if you need to remove a pump for example. And I think it just looks a lot cleaner too. I'm not sure on valves for flex-hosing since usually those hoses just have the two ends and if you cut them in the middle you don't have the lip for a fitting, since they are ribbed. Unless you buy many of them but at that point it would probably be cheaper to go with pvc.
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New member
Sam2000001 I will try to make the next meeting if I can. I have been to the ORCA website and looked around but I was out of town a lot last month (most of it unexpected) so I wasn't able to make July's meeting. Thanks for the info!


New member
If you are mechanically appt at all go pvc, if solvent and glue scare you go with flex tubing or you can get flexable pvc pipe which can glue into pvc fittings.

Personally I just hard piped mine but if you look at plumbing photos you'll notice alot of people mix flexible and hard pvc pipe.
When i say flexible pvc I do not mean the ribbed stuff but actual flexible pvc which you can buy from plumbing supply stores.


New member
Hi Zezeta,

I have the same overflow as you and have similar questions (I'm a total noob, unfortunately). One thing I'm not sure about is if you go the PVC route, how will you connect it the AGA bulkhead which has a hose barb on it? It seems like it's designed for tubing. I suppose you could glue the PVC pipe on the inside, but you'd have to drop down from 1.25 inch tubing to 1.00 inch PVC.

I plan to figure out how to hard plumb the drain with PVC and then use tubing for the return. Does anyone recommend using a 1 inch return tube and then reducing it to 3/4 inch to connect to the bulkhead? This would allow greater flow?

Hopefully my comments are not completely unintelligble.


New member

After looking around some more on the internet it looks like a lot of people use both flex tubing and PVC. Right now I am thinking about using flex tubing for most of it and then connecting that tubing to some PVC valves in the spots that need them.

Also you asked about using a 1 inch tubing that would eventually go into a 3/4 return. I'm still new to all this so I don't know if my observations are correct or not but I have heard its best to use the same diameter piping all the way from the pump to the return. Using a bigger diameter that shrinks to a smaller bulkhead sounds like it would create a lot of pressure near the connection with the bulkhead. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.


New member
the eggcrate in the middle chamber would lead me to believe that the middle was designed for use with a refugium...since it would keep the critters in check.