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Old 02/22/2007, 10:48 AM   #1
cartoonbear
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microbubble problem

how do I get rid of these stupid microbubbles that are gettin to my tank? My skimmer isnt on as of yesterday so I know they arent coming from it, but they are coming from the return pumps line. There is a check valve in the return line so that the pump stays primed when i go to turn it on and off for feeding. Is it somehow bringing air into the system?


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Old 02/22/2007, 11:03 AM   #2
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Microbubbles are the bane of many people's existence, including my own.

There are many ways that bubbles get introduced into your tank, the main one is from the sump. Water coming in from the display tank to the sump almost always creates a stir in the sump and hence the bubbles. The bubbles travel into the return intake and are just perpetuated throughout the tank. If you have a siphon this could also be the culprit.

You're on the right track, keep eliminating sources one by one until you figure it out. My tank has a small cyano outbreak which is releasing bubbles into the display so I'm going to wait to clamp down on my bubble problem until that happens.

Also, someone a lot smarter than me will post, so be patient.

Good luck.


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Old 02/22/2007, 11:16 AM   #3
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Is there hose clamps on the suction side of your plumbing? if so, make sure they are tight, I had the same problem once.



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Old 02/22/2007, 11:29 AM   #4
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Ok, after class I will get under there and tighten everything up.

If I add water to the sump and bring up the level that should cover the outlet into the sump so the water coming into the sump shouldn't create too many more bubbles right?


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Old 02/22/2007, 11:39 AM   #5
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Tricky question....If you put enough water into your sump that will cover the return pipe you might create another problem. It could make your drain not work properly, you would then need to add a "T" with one end facing up to release any trapped air.



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Old 02/22/2007, 02:08 PM   #6
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As you can see in the pic below I created a bubble tower to help control this problem. It is 4" pvc with "teeth" cut in the bottom and a 1/4" hole drilled in the cap to allow air to escape. Inside the bulle tower I threw in the liverock rubble. Does a nice job cutting down the bubbles from the return.

Hope this helps give you some ideas.




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Old 02/22/2007, 03:11 PM   #7
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...i didnt quite catch what this thing is, but it sounds like a neat idea, could you elaborate?


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Old 02/22/2007, 03:16 PM   #8
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Sure, So the return water from the main tank comes in through the the pipe you see coming in from the left. the water then pours into the 4" piece of vertical PVC you see there. Inside that PVC the water is breaking on a column of liverock rubble. This helps all the bubbles break and they air vents out of a 1/4" hole in the top of the tower. The water then leaves the tower through some teeth I cut in the bottom of it, think overflow teeth but upside down. I can try to take some more picture if you would like.

If you look in that picture above you can see very few bubbles from the return, and that is close to 1000gph going through there. Seems pretty effective to me.


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Old 02/22/2007, 04:27 PM   #9
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More pics.
I like this idea.I've tried several thing but nothing seems to work exept a filter sock.I hate filter socks!


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Old 02/22/2007, 06:25 PM   #10
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yea, id still like to see more pics


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Old 02/22/2007, 07:12 PM   #11
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Cartoonbear describe you pump and plumbing configuration along with the size and design of your sump. Too high of a velocity or flow rate through the sump is a possibility as are cavitation from starving the suction side of the pump or plumbing problems. I would highly recommend getting rid of the check valve ASAP, they are a mechanical device that will fail and uisually when you are not at home to catch it thus a flood. They are a false sense of security that can easily be defeated like a single grain of sand, flake of food, a snail, algae or any number of things. Never ever rely on a check valve or drilled suction break holes, both are afterthoughts and used as a crutch to prop up a poorly designed plumbing system. Always keep return lines high enough they break suction with a minimal backsiphonage and maintain room in the sump for that amount of water plus some and you never have to worry about a flood and can sleep well at night. Nothing is a substitite for a true air gap.


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Old 02/22/2007, 07:31 PM   #12
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the sump is a 35 gallon sump. The water comes from the bottom of the tank and into a filtersock on the right side of the tank. In the same chamber as the water enters the sump is the ASM G2 skimmer. Just to the right of the skimmer is a baffle that reaches to the bottom and about halfway to the top. 2" to the left of this baffle is another one but from the top down and is about 3/4 the height of the tank. In between the two baffles is a long sponge. To the left of this baffle is another chamber where the pump for the chiller and its return line is in, the heater, and the intake for the return pump. The intake for the return pump is covered by a large square sponge.

the intake line for the return pump is a soft pip connected to the pump with a switch valve so that I can keep the pump primed when turning on and off the pump. The line out of the pump is also a soft line that runs through the aforementioned check valve and back up through a different hole in the bottom of the tank. From her there is some more soft line that brings the water up to an elbow that connects to a forked black outlet to bring the water back into the tank.

the pump is 1100 gph and the line into the sump from the tank is 1.5" and the line out and back into the tank is 1"


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Last edited by cartoonbear; 02/22/2007 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 02/22/2007, 07:34 PM   #13
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Get a bigger sump this will eleviate your problem, piece of cake.


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Old 02/22/2007, 07:40 PM   #14
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how would that fix the problem? and that isnt really an option.


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Old 02/22/2007, 08:02 PM   #15
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First thing is the sponge on the pump intake is not a good idea, it restricts the flow on the sucton which is a no no. The skimmer is off so that eliminates that. If I understand correctly you have an external return pump or is it internal? If its external what size plumbing is feeding it, what fittings are in this line and how long is it between the sump and pump? I don't know what you are calling a switch valve?
If I may make a couple of informed suggestions, get rid of whatever you have on the suction side of the pump, you should never have to keep a pump primed if it is designed correctly. A pump should always have a flooded suction or what is called positive suction head on it at all times. This is accomplished by either being a submersible pump inside the sump or an extrenal pump fed through an oversized bulkhead fitting into the side of the sump with as few fittings and short a pipe as possible. Up and over suctions are a disaster waiting to happen, waht if you are not at home when the power fails? Check valves fail plain and simple.
You should never have any check valves in the return side either, any backflow should be minimal if the return(s) are kept close to the surface and you always allow room in the sump to contain that amount of backflow never filling past that point ever. Check valves and little drilled siphon break holes are prone to failure and catastrophe.


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Old 02/22/2007, 08:50 PM   #16
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the return pump is an external pump. As far as I have noticed it really doesn't need anything to keep it primed so I don't use it anymore. I will take off the check valve, but then what is causing the bubbles?

the fittings going into the pump are 1".

there is plenty of room in the sump for the water that will come from the tank.


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Old 02/22/2007, 09:03 PM   #17
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How long has the tank been set up? It seems to me my present 100G had microbubbles I just could not get rid of for the first 2 or 3 months and they jsut went away after that. I tried the same thing, I had a sponge between the baffles but I have never used anything on the suction of the pump or a filter sock. Do you see bubbles in your sump that may be coming from the overflow down to the sump. An easy way to check is to shine a flashlight through the sump from side to side and look at the light beam in between, if bubbles are present you will see them clearly. Maybe your problem is with the overflow. Do you have a standpipe inside your overflow? I really like my modified Stockman standpipe, it is completely silent and does not trap air or impede flow at all. I have a flexible piece of 1" tubing that angles down into the sump from the overflow so I get a smooth transition from vertical to horizontal flow and no turbulence or bubble problems.


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Old 02/22/2007, 09:12 PM   #18
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The micro bubbles in my tank are cause from too much flow(hate to say it)down the overflows.Literally sucking air down the drains.I've installed 5 baffles and still need a filter sock.I can't bring myself to throttled it back.
I think that bubble tower is worth a try.
Any idea if bio balls would be better in the chamber?I'm thinking they would fill chamber better but don't know if nitrates will be an issue if they are under the water line.


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Old 02/22/2007, 09:20 PM   #19
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The reason I say get a bigger sump is because I dealt with microbubbles for some time and I finely realized that the only way to get rid of them was to give them more of a water volume to dissipate them in.

If you dont give them enough water to dissipate in you will always have some microbubbles.

Also if your sump is getting even the slightest bit low it will create micro bubbles from hell


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Old 02/22/2007, 09:25 PM   #20
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Thats one reason I went with a 30 long for a sump. It gave me a greater distance between the overflow intake section and the return pump section and more room for baffles. I have had friends with taller sumps that held the same volume or more like a standard 29 or 37 gallon but they fought microbubbles. It also gave me more room in the return section so I don't have to top off as often and plenty of room for the skimmer section and a fuge on the other end.


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Old 02/22/2007, 10:31 PM   #21
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ok, well I will check for bubbles when I get home, but hearing that they may go away is a good thing. The tank is very new, it was started up in January.

I am going to be gone until sunday night, azdesertrat...could you pm so that I can contact you later b/c my subscription to the thread will run out?


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Old 02/23/2007, 09:34 AM   #22
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Sorry, I have not had a chance to take any more pictures yet. I will take it apart this weekend and post some more detailed pictures. I will be turning off the pump for a while this weekend to install the baffles in the sump as a bubble failsafe. I am getting some microbubbles into the display from the skimmer.


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Old 02/23/2007, 11:14 AM   #23
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Here is a picture of my sump during construction. It has a return section that can go down 6 gallons before adding top off water, three baffles between it and the main/skimmer section and a fuge on the opposite end.



Here is another once it was installed but early on. I tried the sponge between the baffles but finally took it out after a month or so after the bubbles disappeared on their own.




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