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In-Tank Flow: Keeping things chaotic

  • surface-ripples

Flow is provided from several angles to create streams of water movement.

The more gear you see in a display tank, the more distracted you tend to be. My goal with this setup was to have limited rockwork that allowed more space for the fish to swim, with none of it touching the walls of the aquarium. During the planning stage, I thought two MP40s at one end, and three MP40s across the rear panel facing the front panel would be the best plan. However, while the tank was under construction, Ecotech Marine announced that the MP60 pumps were soon releasing. With their increased flow, I decided two of those pumps plus the penductors would probably suffice.

It was recommended I put one at each end, but I didn't want a pump obscuring the view from the viewing panel on the kitchen side (the right end of the tank). The idea of being able to see the entire reef full width and to enjoy the total depth of 84" with limited distraction from that vantage point was highly desired.

The return assembly I built does take away a little bit of the clean look of the tank, but it was unavoidable. Penductors have to be submerged three to four inches to avoid sucking air down from the surface. After a couple of weeks, the area beneath this assembly lacked motion, something apparent when observing the LPS corals. It was then that I installed an Mp40 Vortech to create some cross flow.


Here's the breakdown:

  • Two 1" penductors screwed into the return assembly. To avoid the siphon effect during a power outage, a REVERSED check valve sucks in air immediately and stops any water from flowing to the sump.  A Sequence Dart pump feeds the penductors. More info about the reversed check valve here: The-400g-is-officially-running
  • Two Mp60w ES Vortech pumps, plugged into Battery Backups.  The pumps are running in Master/Slave, where one pump communicates to the other two.  Overall, I prefer Reefcrest mode, but I do use Nutrient Export Mode twice a month.  These pumps are plugged into the powerstation.
  • One Mp40w ES Vortech pump, providing flow to the bommie section covered with LPS and Gorgonians.  This pump runs in Slave mode, plugged into a different circuit near the celing where the light rack travels.  This pump isn't using a battery backup yet.


The Vortech pumps have updated firmware, provided by Ecotech Marine. Having an extra ES Controller, I brought it to MACNA to have the guys update it in their booth, then upon my return I'm able to update all the pumps easily.  It only takes a couple of minutes, once you learn which buttons to press.  If you'd like to do something similar, have your smart phone ready and video the process for reference later. Smile

Cleaning the Vortech pumps often helps them blend in against the clean black panel as well as the glass.  When the pumps are covered in algae or coralline, their dirty look stands out.  The cleaning process allows me to inspect the parts for wear and tear.

The surface of the tank ripples strongly and the chaotic flow is visible. This avoids surface scum and increases oxygenation of the water.


Here's my video that shows you exactly how the reverse check valve works:


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400 Gallon