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265-Gallon: Filter Installation – Overview and Overflows

By Ted's Fishroom on

Ted: The day has finally come to plumb all the filtration on to the 265-gallon aquarium. It's going to be a bigger task than I anticipated. I don't think I realized that until I started actually planning what I wanted to do and laying all the parts out where I can see them make sure that I have what I need. This is going to be a big job. The filter that’s going to go on to the 265-gallon aquarium is the custom aquarium seen the sump filter system and all of the overflows and emitters that are designed to go with it.

I know that it is a filter system that most people are not familiar with, so before I get into the nitty-gritty of how they plummet onto this aquarium, let me show you some of the features of the system in general. The seamless sump filter is a modular system composed of three basic tubs each providing a fundamental part of sump filtration. The sock tub provides pre-filtration. Water is directed from the overflows in the tank to the filter socks that hang on brackets inside the tub. These socks catch solid waste and debris before they can enter the rest of the filter.

The socks are changed when they are dirty. The baffle tub gets water from the sock tub which overflows into the top of stacked media baskets. This is the biologic and chemical filtration portion of the system. The baffle tab also has a gas bubble barrier, the baffle that the water spills over into the pump chamber. The pump chamber in the baffle tub has a cord grommet for power cords and holes for return hoses. Many people also use this chamber as a place for a heater. The reservoir tub is an option if you want to add volume for evaporation a refugium or need a place to set up reactor skimmers or other types of equipment.

The tubs are made from a very strong HDPE material that is so inert that a permanent marker will not write on it, and it's not going to break or crack like glass or acrylic will. This plastic is also easy to drill and is smooth enough to be able to use a standard bulkhead with rubber gasket. The tubs are rotationally molded, so they are all one piece, no seams to split or leak. They are covered by heavy glass tops to contain condensation. This arrangement sock tub over a baffle tub and plumb to a reservoir tub is a standard system that 90% of aquariums use, but the modular design allows for an incredible amount of versatility. As you will see in this project.

The seamless sun filter will work with any overflow system, but it is designed for use with the custom aquariums H2Overflow. This project will use both the standard H2Overflow and the stuff box with H2Overflow external overflow box. I will also be using the siphon stopper return emitters that stop back siphoning from the tank to the filter when the power is turned off. You're ready to put this tank together? It's going to be a little bit different than the normal setup for our custom aquarium seamless sump system. Let me give you a layout of what's going to go on. These are overflows.

There's actually already a H2Overflow already installed at the back of this, there's the bulkhead for it. Then, this is going to be a stealth box, it's going to go right here. There's going to be overflows that are coming out of the stealth box. I'm going to set this aside. The way that you would normally want to set up a seamless sump system, you will take your sock tub, and this is a big quad sock tub, is set up with three socks, has drilled for a fourth. I had a fourth, [unintelligible 00:04:00] I don't need a fourth. Then, I have my baffle tub right in there like that. Then, normally you'd have your reservoir tub out here to the side of it, but I can't do that because I don't have room.

I don't want to put this filter underneath the tank. I don't want to take the sock tub and have it sit way out over here behind the aquarium that would just get in the way of walking around it. The other challenge that I have is that the returned emitters are on this end of the tank. We already get those to work with the systems set up like this as I would have to take my pumps connect them here and then I would have to run the hoses around the side. It can be done that way, it's just an awful lot of pipe. I'd rather keep things as simple as possible.

How are we going to solve this problem? We're actually going to take this entire filter system. We're going to turn it around. We're going to put the baffle tub there and the sock tub there. Yes, it's backwards, but since this system is not underneath the aquarium and I didn't have a whole lot of room underneath this aquarium anyway, I have got plenty of space to be able to get my hand in here and get the socks out. I can get them back in just as easily even when I have pipes from that stealth box coming down to here and here, then it won't be that hard to do.

Look how close the return drains are to the sock tub now. I'm going to have very, very short runs for the overflows. That's going to make the entire system pretty quiet. The water's going to overflow into the baffle tub. I have plenty of room to get in here and change the media baskets out. Then, the bulkhead right there that connects to the reservoir tub is now facing underneath the aquarium and it lines up perfectly with this bulkhead right here. All I got to do is stick this in here like this. I'll make I don't scoop my pad here. Those two bulkheads line up perfectly.

I can now pump the water back into the aquarium not out of the baffle tub. If I wanted to, look how much closer it is right here. I'm actually going to pump it out of the reservoir tub. That's just going to come from here directly to right here. Just like I'm going to have really short tubes here for my overflows, I'm going to have really short tubes for the cypress stoppers on that side, which means I can use smaller pumps because the length of line is so much shorter. Look how compact it is. It is so nice that it’s going to be really easy to maintain and not take up that much space and yet that’s a huge filter.

It's only possible because this is a modular system where I can take all those different components and I can put them wherever I want to. Time to start gluing. I'm going to start by installing the overflow systems. A single H2Overflow, one of these, is going to go on this hole. The stealth box is going to go on that hole. This is what a complete H2Overflow assembly looks like. Nothing should be glued. I would order it unglued if you were going to order it, so you can do it yourself. You don't need that to begin with. Just undo the locking nut.

Make sure that there's a rubber gasket onsite inside. The rubber gasket goes on the inside of the tank. Get that nut through down there. Make sure that the H2Overflow is sitting level, so though it can be adjusted later. That's it. It’s installed. Now I'll do the stealth box. A stealth box comes with two of the largest slip fittings in the bottom pre-drilled. You have to use those, otherwise water gets all over the place. I need a third hole, so the first thing I need to do is drill out another port with the hole saw. A stealth box is held in place by the bulkhead. There are two different bulkheads. If the tank glass is three-quarter inch thick or larger, the longer bulkhead is necessary.

The standard size is too short, so if you order one make sure you get the right size. I drove four hours round-trip yesterday because I had the wrong one. There are two gaskets. The thin round gasket in the bulkhead that goes inside the tank and the thick square gasket that goes between the tank and the stealth box outside the tank. There are spacer ridges on the back side of the box to keep the correct distance between the chamber and the tank. The square gasket should sit between those ridges. Then, tighten the bulkhead nut inside the box. Use a three-inch wrench. I prefer to use a bulkhead wrench to tighten the nut about one quarter to one half turn past hand tight. I will be setting up the plumbing on this box using three drains. Before I glue anything I dry fit all the parts to the box. The primary drain will be controlled by a Hydroseal true union ball valve because this will be the drain that needs the most precise control.

The secondary or sometimes called "the first emergency drain" will be controlled by a more standard PVC ball valve. This one does not need as precise the control. The third drain is purely a backup to the others, so it has no valve to control. Somehow, I managed to not film the gluing, so I'll have to show you that process in another part of the plumbing.

The vows are glued in place, but nothing that's going to be connected to a hose itself has been glued yet. Before I do that, I will dry fit all the plumbing for the drain hoses and glue them together. When measuring a hose, it is important that there be enough slack so that the natural bend of the hose fits the orientation of the barbs. Otherwise, the weight of the hose and water moving through it can cause the hose to pull out of the tub, which begs the question, why not hard plum at all? I prefer hose because it provides flexibility in the system.

Water mass running through plumbing has a lot of force and hose gives a little. If something shifts over time, a hose will not put as much pressure on a bulkhead or a valve or a glue joint like hard pipe will. Hopefully, using a hose will prevent problems down the road. The gluing process is pretty straightforward. I use a basic all-purpose PVC cement and primer. I also like the white, the fittings after I put them together so they look clean.


Ted: Getting a barb fitting into a flex pipe is not hard if you have the right process. I use a little vegetable oil and a heat gun first. I heat the first three inches of the hose with a heat gun until it's pliable.

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Ted: Then, I quickly wipe the inside of the hose, a little bit of vegetable oil. Then, the Barb should pretty much slip right in. Be careful to take into account the bend in the hose and how you want that elbow at the bottom to be oriented. The custom aquariums drain hose is extremely good and strong, but it does not twist well once it's in place. Once it is cool, you will need to cut the hose off the Barb if you ever need to change it. No hose clamp required.

After the hoses are built, all that is left to do is glue them into the valves and fittings on the stealth box. Make sure that the elbow at the bottom of the hose is positioned to point down into the ports on top of the sock tab. If you glue it in upside down, you'll have to cut off the tubing and try again. I could have prevented that problem by installing a universal connector under each fitting on the stealth box that does not have one. I chose not to do that because I guess I didn't want to spend the money.

A mistake I did make was to forget that when I flipped the sock tub around backward, that the port without a sock hanger ended up on the left end of the tub. I plumbed a hose to that empty hole. Thankfully, the hanging brackets are not too hard to move. You need a pair of needle-nose pliers to pinch the bottom of the nylon pens and then pull the pins out. Then just move the bracket to the other end of the tub and push the pins right back in. They go in pretty easily.

A future project will be to install a fourth sock bracket and move all the overflow hoses to the sock tub. That one hose that's going to the baffled tub is the emergency overflow that will hopefully never see a drop of water in it, but it will look better on the sock tub, but that's going to require re-plumbing all of the hoses because I measured them to those specific ports. Plumbing for the age to overflow without a stealth box is pretty straight forward. All you need to do is build it, install the drain hose. At this point, all the overflow plumbing is complete except for what is inside the stealth box. I'll go over that when we fill the tank with water and turn on the pumps.

My goal was to make this filtration video for the 265 one video to show the whole thing, but as I'm editing, I'm discovering that it's going to be probably an hour or more to get it all done and get it all done right. I'm going to break it up, but they're going to be coming out in very quick succession. We're going to stop the first video here and we'll bring it back up with the next video at the next step of putting it together. Thanks for watching Ted's Fishroom. The next video is going to come up really quick.

About Ted's Fishroom

Ted’s Fishroom shares videos about the aquarium life and adventures of Ted Judy. You will find fishrooms, how-to, DIY, species profiles, interviews, travel logs, and other interesting topics.

Ted Judy is the PR and Social Media Manager at Custom Aquariums and our sister site, Custom Cages. He has been aquarium-keeping for many years as a personal hobby and is experienced with showing pet enthusiasts how to set up and maintain exotic bird enclosures, bioactive vivariums, large saltwater tanks, freshwater tank displays, and more. The Ted's Fishroom channel is Ted's personal channel where you can get practical information on the cage and aquarium-keeping hobby.

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