View Full Version : Rack and water change/storage system

09-03-2003, 10:17 AM
Hey, everyone

I'm just starting to get serious about discus and was wondering if this rack system would work!

I used(stole? ::)) the preliminary drawing from ronrca, and modified it to what I hope will work for me! Thanks ronrca!!

The only thing I'm concerned about is using the same system to empty and fill the tanks...it seems to me that there will always be either some new or old water in the piping....should I be concerned about cross contamination between tanks and run one set of pipes to empty and another from the storage tanks??

Remember it's just an idea and I am still learning about all of this stuff!


09-03-2003, 08:10 PM
Hi Canadian guy. Welcome to the forum.

Just to answer your question regarding contamination. YES DEFINITELY you will get cross contamination from tank to tank using the system you have pictured above. Ideally if you want to prevent contamination from tank to tank you need seperate empty/fill hoses for each tank. And seperate nets for each tank and wash your hands between each tank and and and and .....the list goes on and on. Not to mention a splash or two from an adjacent tank can contaminate that tank.

So bottom line nobody is perfect and cross contamination will occur. Its a fact of life in this hobby. Do you need to "worry" about it? Just do the best you can. And remember. QUARANTINE is always your best defence when introducing any new fish or plants to your fishroom.

Now, the diagram is workable though. I'd suggest just using a drain system that is seperate from the fill system. That way anything that leaves any given tank has no chance of entering the clean water supply of any other tank. PVC Plumbing parts are not that pricey and its worth it in the long run. In your diagram, you run the risk of getting dirty water into your storage bins if you ever get sloppy and forget to turn off a valve or two. You also must have bidirectional flow on the line between the two pumps or else where will the dirty water drain to?

I'm not sure you need two pumps either. My entire system works with a single pump. I just have a hose connected to the pump that pumps my clean water from the storage barrel and I go from tank to tank filling as I go along. I also empty at the same time, since I have a seperate siphon hose for each tank. It siphons one tank and one tank only. I don't need any valves either. Just an on/off switch for the pump.

I have tried many ways to do the water empty fill routine and I have found that the more simple the better. I recently installed a drip sytem and hopefully that will help reduce the amount of time I spend changing water. But I still have to siphon daily. But at least i only need a bucket for carrying fish around. Water changes with the Bucket brigade days are a distant but vivid memory.



09-03-2003, 09:23 PM
Hey, Dan

After thinking about it for a while I agree with you about using only one pump to refill the tanks...gravity should be enough to empty them right??
Since I have so many tanks already and will be adding even more, it is important to me that I find a way to empty and refill as many tanks at time as possible...if I had fewer tanks I would definately use your method!

I'm also interested in your drip system....it has to be used with overflows correct??...how often do you have to do manual w/c with this method??...the ones I've seen seem complicated....are they expensive or hard to install?

sorry to be firing off so many questions at once...I just want to make sure my discus have the best living conditions that I can provide for them!

P....here's a reworked diagram....better??


09-03-2003, 10:40 PM

after reading your post in the thread that ronrc started about his water aging sytem, I think that I may go with the same setup that you use for filling your tanks....I didn't realize that it could be that quick....I'll just use the extra money I'll save from not having to buy all that extra PVC to get a "Big A$$ pump"....is that the brand name or the model?!?!

I'm just wondering how you tied into your water supply to fill your holding tanks....and what is a "fill pro valve" and where do I get one....also how do you heat your water?? I like ronrcas' idea of mixing hot and cold water, but I'm a little confused as to how keeps it warm for later use....the thread was a few months old so I didn't want to ask there..

Thanks again!


09-03-2003, 10:50 PM

I only have 15 or 16 tanks, so having 15 or 16 siphon tubes (one for each tank) might seem like overkill but I have a cheap supply of hose> we throw out miles of the stuff at work so I have a permanent supply. I usually start by siphoning one tank and then once the tank floor is clean of the crap I leave the siphon in there while I sart siphoning the floor of another tank. Usually I do about three or four tanks at a time. By the time I get to the third tank, the first tank is done (depending on how much water I decide to take out). Once I'm down to the last three tanks and they are draining by themselves I start refilling. I have a very large pump that fills the tanks in about 1 gallon per second so filling goes quite quickly.

Your new diagram looks good too. I only use gravity to empty my tanks and it works quite well. The lower tanks take longer, but it still goes quite quickly. You can use whatever size tube you want. The bigger the faster. If its too big it gets cumbersome. I am using 3/4 inch hose and it suits me fine.

I have only recently set up the drip system. I have seen the typical drip system many people use but I have been worried about having drippers pop off and flooding a tank with ice cold water and killing the fish. I've seen it happen enough times that I wanted to avoid that. I am still in the experimental stages, having had one dripper pop off that I was SURE never possibly could. So for now the drip is off until I find a better way to secure everything together.

"The drip store" on the 'net has many ideas on drip systems. There are also countless hatcheries out there that describe their drip systems.

This particular website is one of my favourites and is what I would like my basement to look like some day!


Yes, I use overflow technique. I drilled all the tanks and added bulkhead fittings. About 5 bucks a pop so it starts to add up after a while but its what I decided would work for me so I found a way to justify the cost of all those bulkheads. If you don't want to drill tanks you can go the overflow route. Lots of info here on that too. Personally drilling tanks is so easy that I wonder why I never did it sooner. Making an overflow from PVC fittings is probably just as expensive as buying bulkheads so the cost is about the same I figure.

Hahaha The big A$$ pump company. Do a search. I think you might find a big A$$ or two on the 'net.

Actually I am fortunate to have a used pet supply store in town. I came across a little giant (thats the name of the company) pump that is their 5MD series (md for magnetic drive). I got it for a great price and its safe since there are no oil filled seals to leak etc. I don't suggest a cheapo pump from one of the home depot type places. They pump a lot of water, but I know of at least one VERY WELL KNOW BREEDER HERE ON THIS FORUM that had oil pumped to all his tanks when it started leaking oil. I can't imagine the mess THAT must have been to clean up.

The less automation the better. Don't rely too much on electrical automation. It gets expensive after a while and what if a solenoid dies or sticks open while you are not home? Could spell disaster.

There are as many ways to do this hobby as there are hobiests. Find what is right for you and your budget and go from there. Rest assured though that once you think you have everything figured out you will change your mind and redo it all over again!

Have fun, and keep reading this and other forums to get the ideas you think will work in your situation.


09-03-2003, 11:06 PM
Thanks, Dan....your help is greatly appreciated!!

09-03-2003, 11:07 PM
no problem. :)

I forgot to answer about the fill pro.

The fill pro valve can be had from three local sources. You may have heard of them. Canadian Tire, Home depot, and Wallmart? ;)

Look for them in the toilet repair section where they keep the toilet ballcocks. They are distributed here by the "master plumber" brand. They are not that common, but I've seen them in all the homedepots and CT's in Winnipeg. It is also refered to as a compact ballcock, hush pro, fill pro, etc.

I go on at length (some might say ad nauseum :)) here....


09-04-2003, 03:19 AM
That Fill pro valve sounds great, Dan! Thanks!

I have a much better understanding of the emptying and filling systems now....I think I'm going to go with something like my last diagram...I like the idea of being able to empty more than one tank at a time with only one pipe going to the sump....one less to trip over! :P

Since I don't want to drill my tanks I was going to just use a simple J bend on the pipes going to each tank...the only thing I'm not sure of is if I am emptying a tank/tanks and I shut off the main valve on the exhaust pipe, the siphon should remain as long as the bottom of the pipe remains underwater right??....I know the water will remain in pipe up to the top of the J bend, but what about the tube that goes down into the tank....I'm worried about the siphon not being strong enough if I get too close to the end (I'm figuring that the siphon will go almost to the bottom of the tank)


P.S....I didn't think you went on ad nauseum in that thread........I only got slightly queasy!! ;)

09-04-2003, 09:54 AM
James, yes, as long as you never get air into the siphoning system it should stay "primed". The length of the tube into the tank only affects how low you can siphon the water, not the speed of the siphoning.

The speed of siphoning is affected (among other things) by the difference in height between the height of the water in the tank and the height of the water in the collection bucket. If there is no collection bucket then its the lowest level of the exit tube that matters.

I would caution you though. And I speak from bad experiences. Make sure you have some type of fail safe system to avoid inadvertantly emptying the tank should you get side tracked (phone call maybe) while siphoning. Been there done that. Lost a tank of nice adults.

A simple cure . Drill a small hole( I use 1/4") in the siphon tube of each tank at a level i feel comfortable will keep the fish alive should I walk away and forget I'm siphoning. For me thats about 4 inches form the bottom of the tank. If you forget, air will get sucked into the hole and the siphon will stop. It does not prevent you from siphoning th crap off the bottom as long as the hole is under water. Don't make the hole too big or else the siphoning power at the tube's tip will be reduced.

Regarding your last diagram. In your storage tanks you have a seperate bulkhead and valve for each barrel. Are you planning on having three different types of water? I ask because you might find it easier to link the three barrels with bulkheads and hoses and essentially make them one big barrel. ( put the links as low to the bottom of the barrel as you can) Filling/emptying one will also do all the others at the same time. This way you only need connect your pump to one barrel and all will empty into that one. Just a thought.

And the purple (pink?) part of the diagram with the siphon hose. I'm not sure i see the advantage of having it as part of your central water removal system. You might be better off having it as a seperate hose. You will find you'll get air into the main system otherwise.If you choose to keep it as is, here's a tip: when moving from one tank to the next, get in the habit of pointing the siphon UP after you take it out of the water. If you keep it pointed down the water will fall out before you get to the next tank and you might have to restart the siphon between each tank. If you try it you will see what I mean. Or you could put a ballvalve at the end of the siphon tube. I've seen some do that. I've tried it but I find it cumbersome. Better to have the valve between the siphon tube and the hose its attached to. Much like you diagram.


09-04-2003, 11:49 AM
the diagram and discussions look good guys,

I don't use drips anymore just for fry, I use "flushes" wich is really just drips at a higher rate and shorter duration.

I like Dans idea, I would take it a step further and automate the fill part with float valves like ORIENT does at his hatchery

I would strongly advise against NOT wanting to drill your tanks though, I've tried every contraption there is and sooner or later they will fail, drilled tanks with a direct line to the house drain is IMO the only way to go if you want to ad/remove water from your tanks and your not standing there staring at them.

great thread guys! keeper' goin!

09-04-2003, 12:26 PM
I agree Jason.

The idea of a lift tube or an overflow tube instead of a drilled hole to me is a problem waiting to happen. I guess the fear of dilling glass is pretty common. But it is rather easy with the right bit. You can't beat a hole in the tank with a hose to the drain for guaranteed draining. Many people use siphon contraptions to overfow their tanks, but if you get over the fear of drilling, then there is no safer or cheaper option than a bilkhead fitting IMO. A good 7/8 inch drill bit is only 18 bucks from the right source and a bulkhead is cheaper than most overflows. The important thing to consider once you decide to go with drilling and bulkheads is what size to use. For a slow drip system, a 1/2" bulkhead is fine. Anything faster than a drip should call for 1" or larger bulkheads.

I have contemplated using float valves to guide the refilling of the tanks, but can't justify the cost (yet). One day if I find myself with more tanks than I have the time or patience to refill (at 1 gal per second), I might try that. However I think I will use one for the wooden grow out tank I plan to build. I'm finding i might need more tank space since i started breeding angels to sell for money to buy discus food. :)

Jason if you find a cheap source for the float valves let me know.....heh heh.


09-04-2003, 02:39 PM
Thanks for the input guys...I'm really starting to understand alot more!

Dan....I added the siphon hose to the main drain pipe because I figured I could be draining the tanks and siphoning at the same time without having to worry about running an extra line to the sump....I do see how it may allow air into the system, but I thought the flow of water would be enough to overpower that and keep it going....the same way a python works when you put it on your tap....tho the flow rates with a python are probably much higher!...as far as the storage tanks are concerned I will hopefully have 3....one for RO and 2 for tapwater....or just one larger tank for the tapwater

Jason...you said that "drilled tanks with a direct line to the house drain is IMO the only way to go if you want to ad/remove water from your tanks"...are you using the same line to ad/remove water or do you have a hole drilled for each line?

I'm a little fuzzy as to why a drilled thank is better than just a siphon/overflow....basically a drilled tank(drilled on the side) is just a J bend that goes thru the glass instead of over the top right??
The thought of drilling brand new tanks does worry me a bit....but if it really is the better way to go then I will do it....I've spent too much time and money to start cutting corners now! :)

For now I think I am going to go with one line to fill the tanks and move it from tank to tank as I go....if I can get a large pump it really won't take very long to do....plus I don't want things to get too complicated all at once....I'd rather add a few things at a time and see how they work for me!

How does the float valve in the picture Jason posted work?.....I know ho they work, but what's pushing the water? if it was tapped directly into your water supply I see how it would work.....but what if you are using a pump...can you just stop the flow like that while the pump runs?...is there a way to rig it so that the pump shuts off instead of the flow of water??

I think I'm on here too much.....I'm starting to dream about how I'm going to plumb my system!! :o

09-05-2003, 08:09 AM
ok Dan is right on the bulkhead/hole size, 1/2" is useless 1" is just right.

I use a 1.5/8" drill bit and common pvc fittings, 1"pvc male adapter, 1"pvc female adapter and a gasket. that is the cheapest and best quality bulkhead you can get, I have some over 8 years old on water barrels and they are still going strong.

Dan I got 8 all pvc float valves from princess auto in winnipeg the year before last 5.99ea.

James drill your tanks, do it right now and you don't have to worry.

my drain lines are just for drains they tie into the drain system for the house.

for filling you have multiple options, even if you can get your fish to spawn and raise in your tap water its still a good idea to plan for a water-prep area, where you can produce-store-treat water for breeder's, or fry.

for filling the tanks for grow-outs and resting adults just use straight tap if you can, its easy and economical if you get away with just tempering it with a valve and using carbon blocks to remove chlorine.

in a situation where plain tap directly to the tanks is used, you could have a break in your standpipes to the level you want to drain too, pull the pipes out let the tanks drain, wipe walls while your waiting, siphon bottoms etc. then just replace the standpipes, turn on the water - when then water level reaches the righ height the float/valve shuts the water off. go back after and turn off the main valve.

thats just one example, try not to think in terms having everything done for you when your away. Instead think of ideas of how you can give your fish the best care in the least amount of time ;)

09-05-2003, 08:59 AM
I'm unsure of what tempering with a valve and the carbon blocks means.....what are these and how are they setup??.....for tempering do you just mean adjusting the temp?(which I do)
I just have a few adults and some juveniles right now and I've just been using straight tapwater anyways(treated of course...I use Prime to treat my water, but have never read about anyone else using it on here....is it good stuff??)

You really lost me here "in a situation where plain tap directly to the tanks is used, you could have a break in your standpipes to the level you want to drain too, pull the pipes out let the tanks drain, wipe walls while your waiting, siphon bottoms etc. then just replace the standpipes, turn on the water - when then water level reaches the righ height the float/valve shuts the water off. go back after and turn off the main valve"
Standpipes?? ??? where and what are they??

I don't want to have everything done for me....just made easier for me and the fish!!...I think one of the best parts of this hobby is caring for your fish....if everything was automated I don't think it would be as much fun!!....besides it me more time to watch all the beautiful discus....which is why I got into this in the first place!! ;D


09-05-2003, 11:39 AM
Hi James.

I can help. A stand pipe is basically a pvc tube that would fit into a bulkhead or other fitting that is drilled into the bottom (or side) of the tank. It is not glued into the bulkhead, but simply fits in snuggly without leaking. To drain water out of the tank you simply pull out the standpipe and the water falls out.

For example, if you were to put a pipe into the drain of your kitchen sink, and fill the sink, it would fill up to the top of the pipe. Varying the height of the pipe will result in various depths of water. No matter how much water you put in the sink, it can only get as high as the height of the tube and then it spills over down the tube into the drain. To empty the sink just pull out the tube.

By making the tube into two pieces, you can pull out only the top half of the tube and the sink will only empty halfway.

Mike Wells, has a very nice set of pictures that shows how he uses the side sandpipes to vary depths of water removal.

http://forum.simplydiscus.com//index.php?board=19;action=display;threadid=3267;st art=0

I'm pretty sure Jason just means adjusting the temp of the water with a valve. He could also mean that to include aging. Aging tap water overnight with aggitation (bubbling an air stone at the bottom will do) will get rid of chlorine (NOT CHLORAMINE). You don't need to buy any chemicals if all you have is chlorine.

A carbon block is a filter you put inline to the water supply for your storage barrel. http://waynesworldangelfish.com/1.jpgThe "carbon block" is the activated carbon insert that will remove chlorine and other nasties. (copper, iron etc). You may or may not need one. it depends on your water. You could try phoning your municipal water supply office and see if they can send you a detailed water report. They test the water all the time and they should be able to provide you with that. If not, at least see if they will tell you hether or not they add chlorine and/or chloramine to the water supply.

In my case, my water goes to my storage barrel completely unfiltered. I age it overnight with vigorous bubbling to aggitate (mix) it and heat it to about 84 degrees. It is ready for use the next day. My drip system on the other hand I use a sediment filter then a carbon block because the chlorine must be removed before it drips to the tnak. This water is not aged. It comes directly from the tap.


PS. Jason! Princess auto! I go there all the time. Their surplus area has all inds of usefull stuff, but I have never seen any float valves. But I will check again next time I am there.

09-05-2003, 02:19 PM
Excellent!...thanks, Daniel!!.....I'll call the water department today to see if I can get some info and post it so you can tell me what you think!


09-05-2003, 02:24 PM
what I meant by tempering is mixing hot and cold water.

if no chloramines you can go straight from the carbon block to the tanks, unless your water is full of c02 then spraying the water in or some thing simmilar to de-gas it will be nessesary.