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Hooking up to existing water and drain

1688 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  lowrez
So we moved into a new house and at some point it was divided into two apartments. The back room was a kitchen and still has a 220 plug for a range, hot and cold water lines and a drain coming out of the wall. At first we were going to take it all out and patch the wall, but the way things have worked out this is the best place for my aquarium and I had the brainstorm I could utilize them to help make water changes super easy. I've tried to Google aquarium+plumbing and the only results that come up are for drilling a reef tank. Does anyone have any resources for guides to hooking this up? I'd be interested in a inexpensive temperature regulator so the water is always the same temp and I just flip a valve to fill. I'd love to see how someone else has set this up.
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Hi lowrez,

I am neither a plumber or a electrician but I can offer a couple of ideas. The 220 VAC outlet should be easily converted to one (possibly two) 120 VAC circuits (probably with very good amp/wattage ratings) by a qualified electrician and while that is being done I would ask that a GFI be added to the circuit(s) as well.

As for the plumbing I would keep the hot and cold faucets as they are (relocate if needed) and have a plumber install thermostatic mixer valve which will mix the hot and cold water to a constant temperature and give you an additional "mixed water" faucet.
I think your first decision is on how to keep from overfilling the tank with such a system. An overflow drain is, in my opinion, the best way to do it, and drilling the tank makes that a very easy installation. If you drill the back or end of the tank, you can just put an elbow fitting in it, pointed up, with the top edge at the desired full level for the tank. You need a strainer on that if you have small fish.

Once you have the overflow drain, you just open the inlet valve to change water, letting the water drain as it fills. You need to run the water for a fixed time, based on the flow rate you have. When I did this I kept the water on constantly, at a very low flow rate, so water barely trickled out the drain 24 hours a day. I used a drip irrigation flow restrictor to set the very low flow rate I wanted. This was a very successful installation for me.
My thread here will give you a start in one direction, but there are lots of ways to do this.
Automatic water change system – DI/RO + tap water (lots of large pics) for "aquarium automatic water change" and by definition you'll get lots of plumbing diagrams :)
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If you have cast iron drain stacks, drip and over flow is nice. If you have plastic drain stacks the noise will eventually drive you to a different solution.
If you have cast iron drain stacks, drip and over flow is nice. If you have plastic drain stacks the noise will eventually drive you to a different solution.
My system drained outdoors into a 5 gallon bucket, and I used that drained water on my patio plantings. I agree that the constant dripping into plastic drain lines would be maddening, unless you use a system that prevents drops from forming - like a wire down the bottom of the drain line to the trap.
Dang, I didn't even think about a timer based solution. I wonder if that would take all the fun out of Sunday tank maintenance day?Thanks all, this was the info I was looking for. I have a bunch or research to do.
While there are lots of high tech ways to do this, I find low/middle ground works better for me as there are fewer "oops" situations.
With water coming in from outside at temperatures that vary and not wanting to invest in temperature compensation valves, I went to a reserve water barrel. Around here 55 gallon plastic barrels sell for $15. I fill the barrel, let it set to come to room temp and then use a small pump to fill the various tanks. A remote switch on a tether makes the pump control simple and easy.
For draining with the drain already there, I would add a simple standpipe and do the syphon cleaning as normal except you don't have to haul buckets.

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The advantages of a constant dribble of water into the tank, with an over flow are:
No worry about incoming water temperature - it isn't enough water in an hour to change the tank temperature. No problem with chlorine/chloramine - I used a all house water filter with a carbon filter in it to remove most of the chlorine. Tank water level is always the same. Fish are never subjected to big changes in water parameters. No schedule to follow for water changes. If the overflow plugs you see a very slow increase in water level, so no problem with overflowing the tank.

Disadvantages include: While you can get 50% of the old water removed per week, there is never a time when that happens in one day. You never lower the water level if that would help in keeping tank clean. It uses more water per 50% change than any other method. You either do something about the constant dripping noise, or you collect the drained water outdoors, and have to empty that container daily. The fish never get the "high" that a sudden 50% of new water gives them.
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Looking at some tanks, the LFS says they won't drill a tank, and the glass shop they recommend won't guarantee their work. Will a Reef Ready Tank made for a trickle filter be properly drilled to set up an auto change system? I believe it has a overflow dam. Not too familiar with reef tanks and filters.
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