Day 2: Filtration


450 Gallon glass aquarium

Here is the second day of our 450 gallon custom tank build. If you haven’t yet, please check out our previous post where we placed┬áthis 1500lb tank onto the stand. Today we are going to be installing the filtration to keep saltwater fish alive. Today’s work required a significant amount of plumbing with 3 separate plumbing loops (open system, closed system and Reverse osmosis/topoff system).

Loc Line Return pipes

Below is two of the return jets from the open system. An “open system” is a plumbing loop that does not directly return onto itself. for instance, this aquarium has a tank underneath called a wet/dry sump. The water from this wet dry sump is pumped into the main display tank and then spills back over the top of the display back into the sump.

Closed System Pipes

The next plumbing system is called a “closed system” and that is what those 3 pipes coming from the bottom of the tank are for. The water gets sucked in from the 2 outside pipes and then returned back to the tank through the middle pipe.


Time to get to work underneath the tank!

Rigid PVC Drain

We decided to use 2″ rigid PVC for the open system drain pipes and black flexible hose for the return lines. The large grey unions over the sump are there in case the sump ever needs to be removed for any reason in the future. Throughout this filtration install you will notice that we have included valves and unions between every component to make future maintenance or repairs much easier.

UV sterilizer

Behind the sump you can see 2 large 2″ black PVC pipes. Those pipes are part of the 80 watt UV sterilizer unit that will make the water in this tank crystal clear. ┬áMost home saltwater tanks under 150 gallons can be kept clear using a 25 Watt UV Sterilizer.

Aquarium filtration

On the right side of the tank there are 3 pipes going to the basement. One of them comes up from the large 165 gallon reverse osmosis holding vat and the other 2 are run down to the chiller and back. The chiller is a large 1 HP monster so it can be very loud and will create a lot of heat. If you have the room, I always suggest putting your chiller away from any area you want to keep quiet. It is also very important to make sure the area is well ventilated. We try to install them outside wherever possible, or somewhere close to an outdoor vent.

clean aquarium filtration

The nerve center for the filtration. Notice that all of the electric outlets are off the floor. Too many times we find customer’s power strips laying on the floor inside the cabinet. If the tank leaks and water gets to the power strip on the floor it will probably trip the breaker before starting a fire… probably. On the other hand, if it is on the floor and there is no drip loop on the wires coming down from the display tank, the small drips won’t be enough to trip the breaker, but they will cause the electricity to arc and melt the plastic power strip or plug, causing a fire.

Aquarium Pumps

Here are the pumps and filter on the left side of the sump. The two pumps in the middle of the photo are running the open system and the pump in the back runs the closed system. The mechanical filter we used to remove small particles not caught by the filter socks or the protein skimmer was a Nu-Clear Canister Filter.

450 gallon aquarium

Overall, this was a really successful day. The plumbing looks clean, the tank is coming along nicely, and the customer is happy. I can’t wait to see this tank up and running with fish! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next installment.


-Michael Ammirati