Return Plumbing

The Problem:

I currently have too many elbows in my return plumbing which is decreasing the head pressure. This is not a pressing issue, but I would like to fix it soon. I have these elbows in my system because of a combination of center overflows and a large sump. I will be upgrading my sump sometime in the near future.

The Solution:

I spent the better part of a weekend replumbing my return pump. Prior to making this change, I had my return pump plumbed into a "T" terminating into two 3/4 inch Sea-Swirls. I modified the stand side of the return so that only 45 degree angle fittings were used. This allows for a little more clearance in the stand for a larger sump, and reduces some of the friction that ultimately reduces head pressure.

The solution consists of a one and a half inch, 45 degree elbow joint coming out of the Sequence 750 pump. This leads to a "maintenance tee" that bushes down to one inch on the branch and terminates in a one inch ball valve. This "maintenance T" will be used to perform water changes or lead to activated carbon and/or phosphate reactors. The main leg of the tee leads to another 45 degree elbow which goes to the bottom end of the bulkhead.

The one inch ball valve facilitates easy water changes. In the past, I would use a Rio powerhead to pump water out during the water changes. The old process was clumsy due to the fact that I had to power off the return pump, and use the Rio powerhead to fill up one 5 gallon bucket at a time while unplugging the powerhead in between buckets.

On the tank side of the bulkhead, a vertical one and a half inch shaft leads to two 45 degree elbows, to make a softer 90 degree turn. The elbows lead to a one and a half inch ball valve. At the end of the ball valve, the pipe is bushed down to one inch that leads into a 90 degree elbow that goes down into the tank. Within the tank a 45 degree elbow is used to gently blow into a hard to reach spot.


The tank was been up and running for over a year; as a result, a considerable amount of detritus, sand, and corraline alage had accumulated in the bottom of the overflow. When I was re-adjusting the bulk heads, some of the year old grit settled between the bulkhead and the base of the overflow. This resulted in a slow drip from the bulkheads. It took much longer than I expected to clean out the grit so that I could make a watertight seal.

Once a tight seal was made, I continued on with replumbing the tank side return, and no issues were encountered.

Tank level

Sump level

Sump level - Maintenance T