Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

By Kyle May
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Kyle May
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Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Kyle May » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:01 am

After tripping over a drain hose in my fish room for like the millionth time, I took the advice that a friend had been peppering me with for years. I began drilling all of my tanks and hooking them up to a central drain system. To finish the mini-remodel described in the last few posts, I will hook the two 75 gallon tanks (284 liters) and 6 fifteen gallon tanks (57 liters) up to the drain system.
As always, I start with a basic plan:
Image

I have a loop of 1.5” (3.8 cm) pvc pipe that runs behind every stand in my fish room. PVC is so easy to use that it’s a pleasure to install it. If you can measure and use glue, you can install your own drain system. Looking at the plan I know that I need two drains for the 75 gallon tanks on the left, so I measure to locate the height of the drains and then install a tee in the system then build a drain stack to accept the hoses from the tanks. (I’ll show you the drain hose assembly from the tank to the drain later).
Here is the completed assembly that’s been secured to my wall using masonry anchors.
Image

The 75’s have a pretty straightforward drain design. Next I have the six, 15 Gallon tanks to drain.
Their overall drain looks like this when completed and secured to the wall:
Image

I was able to find an appropriate fitting at the local home center store that will accept the drains from the top three tanks:
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I used the same fitting for the three bottom tanks, but since I have the line from above using the center drain, I had to add a tee into the system for the third tank and this makes the bottom drain assembly look slightly different from the top drain assembly:
Image

Here’s how we get from the tank to the drain. First, drill a 1.75” hole in the tank using a quality diamond hole saw. (I’m not schilling for anyone, but I got my drill at Aquatic Eco.com for about $100)
Next, install a 1” bulkhead drain into the opening, finger tightening the fitting and then slightly snugging it with channel lock pliers. (CAREFUL) Bulkhead fittings are available in numerous places and come in various sizes. I recommend using 1” bulkhead fitting so that your drain will move enough water to make it worth your while to drill your tanks. Any smaller bulkhead than this is undersized in my opinion and not worth the trouble. After the bulkhead is in, you can attach the hose assembly that we’ll make next.
Here’s a pic of the outside of a tank with the bulkhead installed in the tank and a 90 degree barbed drain adapter placed in the end of the fitting:
Image

Next, buy a package of flexible sump pump hose from your local home store. To complete the drain hose assembly you’ll also need a ¾” pvc coupling, a hose clamp that fits around the sump pump drain hose, and a roll of duct tape. Drain hose is assembled by inserting the ¾” coupling into the end of the sump pump hose and then tightening the hose clamp to keep it in place.
Here is this part of the assembly completed:
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Next, run a thin strip of duct tape around the barbed part of the drain fitting that comes with your bulkhead assembly. This will make the drain 90 fit tightly into the coupling we installed into the drain hose earlier. Here’s a pic of the drain fitting before and after the duct tape is applied:
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Once the 90 degree fitting is installed into the hose you will have a drain assembly that you can insert into the bulkhead fitting in the back of your tank.
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Here is a pic of a completed drain hose that’s assembled and inserted into the drain system discussed earlier:
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Even though you have your tanks on a drain system think about installing some accessory drains in your system so you can manually drain tanks, gravel wash, etc. I have these placed strategically around my room so that I have an accessory drain handy no matter where I am in the room. Here is a pic of one such drain:
Image

There you have the basic drain plan for this one set of tanks. The process is the same for all of the other tanks/racks in my fish room. It works well, is easy to install and is relatively cheap.

NOTE: I did not include any information on drilling tanks here except to mention the bit I used. If you join the Ohio Cichlid Association, they have a great article in one of their past club bulletins that explains the drilling process. The article includes numerous photos that will help make this process easy. For info on membership: drewluvspeaches@yahoo.com

Enjoy,

Kyle May
Kyle May
Ohio Cichlid Association
Northern Ohio, USA

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Kyle May » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:24 pm

One thing I neglected to mention in my original post is that a 1" bulkhead fitting requires a 1.75" hole in the tank.
One inch is the inside dimension of the fitting, not the outside dimension. The fitting that sticks through the tank
is just slightly smaller than 1.75 inches.

I strongly reccomend using the 1" bulkhead fittings because they can handle a larger volume of water than smaller fittings
and for a few extra bucks it's worth the piece of mind to know that a little bit of alge or an errant leaf from a plant sticking to
the fitting won't cause the tank to flood like it may for smaller fittings.

I'm all for saving money, but don't try to save it when drilling your tanks.

Kyle
Kyle May
Ohio Cichlid Association
Northern Ohio, USA

Dan Woodland
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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Dan Woodland » Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:25 pm

Nice post Kyle, thanks for sharing your work!!

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Jshakour » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:32 am

That looks awesome Kyle!

I can't wait to see it!!!
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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Big_Kill » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:40 pm

Is this for an automatic water change setup? Did you drill the tanks at the top so the water only drains when new water comes in? What about drilling the tanks towards the bottom and putting a valve on the drain?

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Dan Woodland » Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:17 pm

Yes, Kyle this is for, eventually, an automatic water changing system- when Kyle M. gets to that point in his fish room.

My philosphy was why add another valve and cost to a simple drain system, its main purpose is to drain only when water is added to the tank. Aslo I thought it could be another failure point for either the valve or human error. Like filling a tank and forget to shut off the drain valve etc etc.

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Kyle May
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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Kyle May » Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:46 pm

Yes, Dan is correct. This is the first step in making the room completely automatic, (well, as close as you can come).
The drains at the top allow me to use them currently as a fail safe for overflows as I still fill them with a hose.
If I forget to turn a hose off, I'm covered for a period of time before overflow happens. Fortunately my fish room is in
an area of my home where an overflow really doesn't present any problems...the floor would just be wet for a few hours.

Kyle
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Northern Ohio, USA

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Big_Kill » Sat Apr 16, 2011 3:21 pm

Ok thanks guys. Im going to be buying a house soon and I want to have everything well thought out before I move my tanks in. Im going to be setting up a drain system like you have shown for sure. Im not sure if im gonna go with the automatic fill part though. Im also not sure about drilling my tanks. Ive never done that before so Im a little weary. I am also on a budget with this project so I have to keep that in mind.

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Big_Kill » Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:23 pm

Are there different sizes of sump pump hose? There was only one size at my store. It is 1.25" x 24ft. The outside diameter seems to be exactly 1.5". I am hoping to use a 1.5" drain pipe as you did. In your picture it looks like the sump hose fits pretty easily into your drain pipe? Also, can you use all of the sump hose or can you only use the two end pieces because they have the smooth part? If thats the case it will cost $5 per tank just for sump hosing?

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Kyle May
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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Kyle May » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:05 pm

That's exactly the hose I'm using and yes you can use any part of the hose...meaning the corregated part of the hose.
Although the smooth part is really easy to slip your 3/4" coupling into, with patience, you can work the fitting into the
other parts of the hose. I just used this to save money in my room this weekend. Instead of buying another length of hose I used pieces left over from
other projects. I just added these two tanks to the fish room using the same exact techniques in this blog...1) added electicity 2) plumbed in the 1 1/2" pvc line for the drains,
and then put the tanks on a stand I built for under $50. I also built a light for under $30 which lights the bottom tank perfectly, and is way cheaper than a regular strip light.
As always, I use a drawing for each project and have never made a mistake yet. Here is a pic of a 150 gal tank over a 125 Gal tank on my $50 stand:

Image

Here's a pic of the finished connection where I've affixed my drain to the ribbed (corregated) part of the hose:
Image

I tested it a couple of times over the weekend and it works just fine...no leaks!!
Remember to run a course or two of duct tape around the fitting before pluggin it into the 3/4" coupling in the end of the hose:
Image

Don't be wary about drillng your tanks. It's incredibly easy and it will be the best thing you've ever done to make the hobby much easier.
If you were a member of the Ohio Cichlid Association, (they are on here in the clubs section), you could download an article that describes
the drilling process, step by step. There are a ton of pics in the article and you'll find that it's incredibly easy. It's worth the $15 to join just to get this article.
I just finished drilling every tank I own and I am so much happier as a result. The key to drilling tanks is proper set up using a cheap drill press, and using the correct bit. By correct bit I’m not referring to size, but quality of drill. Below is a pic
of a diamond encrusted hole drill or core drill bit that I used. I got this bit from Aquatic Eco Systems and it cost me just over $100. They call it a tube bit by the way. This was actually money very well spent. It can drill through the side of a 150 gallon tank in under 1 minute without any problems. Holes are perfect. Chip out is minimal and well under spec. If you buy a cheap bit, the risk of breaking tanks is high as is the time spent because a cheap bit would take 20 – 30 mins to go through the same 150. Here’s a pic of the bit:

Image

One other word about this process. Use a 1” bulkhead in your system whether you use hoses during water changes or if you build a fully automatic system. The 1” bulkheads are easy to work with because they have a generous sealing surface and are less prone to clogging due to their size. You don’t want algae or an errant leaf clogging your drain causing flooding.
Kyle May
Ohio Cichlid Association
Northern Ohio, USA

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Big_Kill » Sat May 28, 2011 11:08 pm

Thanks for your explanations. This is very helpful. Im not familiar with drilled tanks and bulkheads at all. Are your tanks able to be filled up to or above the trim? How high can you keep the water level? We have bought a home and will be moving in at the end of June. The house has an old garage that will be converted into my fish house. It is a 19' x 12' building. It needs a lot of work (plumbing, electrical, insulation) before I can move my tanks in but I am very excited for this project! I eventually plan to have:

8 - 75s
2 - 125s
2 - 180s
6 - 20 longs

Also if I have room Im gonna get one of those big rubbermaid stock tanks...

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Kyle May » Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:12 pm

I have most of my tanks filled to the molding.
This is easily accomplished using:

1 - 90 El
1- 90 Street El
Teflon Tape
PVC cleaner and glue

By assembling these two fittings at a 90 degree angle to each other you
can create a simple lift tube that will allow you to fill your tanks to the molding.
I'll post a pic tonight.

As with all technological improvements to anything there are some small drawbacks to doing this
and these have not been deal killers for me.

1) A fuller tank, i.e., one that has little head space at the top will overflow faster than one that has more headspace at the top. This means that if you are manually filling the tanks with a hose like I am, you have to be careful not to overwhelm the drain. The drain hole is 1" inside diameter, so it can only remove water so quickly. A little pre-planning and some care easily overcomes this hurdle and, if you have a completely automated system, overflowing the tank will never be an issue.

2) Smaller headspace at the top means that the incoming water has less time to mix with the established tank water before being siphoned off by the surface drain. You will lose a small percentage of the water that is mixed in, but you lose some of your new water even with an automated system anyway, so no biggie.

I like having the water up to the molding as it looks neater to me. Half filled tanks always look neglected even if they are meant to be that way. I also like to have the maximum volume of water in the tank as possible. If you actually measure the volume of your 125 gallon tank, you'll find that you are not getting near 125 gallons of water in it even when you fill it up to the molding. To get actual tank volume, use this equation: Height of water column X length of tank (inside dimension), X Width of tank (inside dimension) divided by 231 = volume in gallons US.

For example, here are some typical dimensions for a 125 Gallon tank: 72" long, 22" tall, 18 Deep (front to back)
Now using the equation: 72 X 22 X 18 = 28512. Divide that by 231 = 123.4 Gallons which is what a 125 gallon tank holds...appproximately.
If you fill your tanks just to the bottom of the molding your are removing 1.5" or more from the height of the water column which reduces
the volume of the tank by about 13 gallons. Now you see why I try to fill my tanks as high as possible. I don't have eight 125 gallon tanks in my basement, I have eight 110 gallon tanks in my basement....lol

Kyle
Kyle May
Ohio Cichlid Association
Northern Ohio, USA

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by deeda » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:41 pm

Kyle,
Any idea which back issue has the article about drilling the tanks? I'm very, very interested in reading it and I haven't been able to locate it.
Dee

OCA member thru 11/2019

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by JENN457 » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:05 pm

This post has been very helpful for me thanks you all. I have been trying to build a fish tank for ages and now I'm finally able to get a clear view to what I need.

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by Big_Kill » Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:47 pm

Ok well we are all moved in and I have began working on the fish house. It is a 20ftx12ft outbuilding in my back yard. I have gutted and cleaned the building and extended the framing out so it can hold thicker insulation. I have also completed digging a 30 inch deep ditch across my back yard to run the water line, drain line, and electrical. I am going to start my own thread so im not hijacking this one but I will still check here for help with my setup. I am very tempted to drill my tanks after reading this. Did you ever get that picture of the drain setup? Thanks for all your help Kyle.

Kyle

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Re: Why are you still dragging those hoses around?

Post by SergioB » Fri May 11, 2018 12:41 am

An old thread but very interesting for me. It is a pity that the photos do not exist. But still, it is didactic.

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