If you have an aquarium, you’ll need a plumbing solution and the Durso method is one of the most simplistic and space-saving options available. In this article, we will discuss its benefits and how you can make your very own standpipe.
Durso standpipes are one of the most simple and reserved designs for aquarium plumbing. It was designed by Richard Durso, hence the name, and uses a single standpipe with an elbow pipe sticking out neat the top of the waterline. The design of the Durso helps to reduce the noise of water flowing to your sump and is much easier to install than other plumbing methods. Due to how little space it takes up, the Durso standpipe is a widely used method with smaller aquariums. It also features an end cap that acts as a way to control the flow of air within the pipe. The benefit of this to create a siphon for the standpipe to better flow the water through the drain bulkhead.
To properly install your Durso standpipe, you are going to need a few things. Here is a list of the preferred materials to make this overflow method work for you.
Here is a guide on how to assemble the Durso standpipe in your aquarium. Please make sure you have all the materials listed above before you start so this is a streamlined process from beginning to end. There are two common kinds of overflow boxes but for this guide, we will be using an external method. The basic premise remains the same for an internal overflow system but you will need to make adjustments to where you drill the hole and your piping might need to be moved around a little bit.
Now you are done, right? Not quite. We need to ensure that this Dusro standpipe will work for our purposes. We will want to adjust the flow rate of the tank’s system to make the most of what is possible with the standpipe. Since we used an external overflow system, we are limited by the hole and strainer that was installed into the side of our display tank. As well as the bulkhead that is attached to the Durso standpipe. These factors will be what limit the flow through your overflow system the most.
The water level in your overflow should be able to sit right at where the top of the PVC elbow. You should be able to see the top sticking out of the water a few centimeters. If you are noticing that water is moving through your system too quickly you might need to just the rate of your return pump. The level in the overflow should remain stable when it is set correctly.
The first thing your need to consider is where the noise is coming from. If the noise is emanating from your sump, then your drain line pipe is sticking out of the water. If you want it to be silent, make the piping longer so water is deposited quietly.
If you followed the restricting of the pipe’s diameter towards the bulkhead, you shouldn’t;t be hearing a noise from the standpipe itself unless the air hole is clogged somehow. Double-check that air can escape through the air hole. Durso standpipes can run quietly but they need to be designed from the very beginning with that in mind so if you altered the design to fit your own desires, you might need to make some changes to your tank plumbing.
With the current design that we built, there is still an issue that might have been bugging you. There is still a giant hole in the Durso standpipe PVC elbow. The opening can let anything that might float in from your aquarium get into the plumbing which could cause a clog down the line. To avoid this, we want to install an intake strainer into the stand pipe.
There are a few methods you can consider for your intake strainer.
If you notice that your Durso stand pipe is creating bubbles, the most likely cause is that the end cap is actually stopping the PVC pipe from creating a full siphon. The bubbles can actually be sent through your plumbing and create microbubbles that look annoying in your reef tank. ‘
The best way to deal with this issue is not to deal with it in the overflow chamber but to fight it in the sump. You can install a filter sock onto the drain line right before it enters the sump. The filter sock will help to trap the bubbles before they even enter the sump.
You can also install a refugium into your sump and begin growing macroalgae like sea lettuce to redirect the direction of the bubbles towards the surface of your sump chamber.
Some aquarists claim success using not just one Durso standpipe tube but two in the same overflow chamber. Logic would dictate that it should allow for drains that are much more effective but that often isn’t the case. However, remember that part of the issue with flow rates was the size of the bulkhead or teeth spacing that allowed water to enter the overflow chamber. Just because you have more than one standpipe does not equate to double the plumbing in this case.
A Durso standpipe that is surging is trying to siphon but failing and repeating the cycle over and over again. You can better identify this situation if there is a noise coming from your plumbing that sounds like a toilet flushing. Before you do anything double check your drain lines and the configuration of your standpipe. Remember that a Durso pipe needs gravity to work effectively and if your system is slanted or even horizontal in places, it probably won’t be very quiet. If your tank is still gurgling to being noisy, you should try is to add a little bit of aquarium-safe water to your sump and main tank.
The Herbie is actually pretty different from using a Durso design. Herbie overflow uses two standpipes: one is set at the middle of the overflow chamber’s water level while the second is an emergency standpipe that is right at where the water level crests in the chamber. The Herbie has a few things going for it. First, it can cut down on noise significantly thanks to the full siphon of the main standpipe and the trickle effect that is created with the emergency drain. Second, it has a second emergency standpipe that will help if the chamber overflows. It also allows the aquarist more control compared to using a Durso standpipe thanks to its gate valve (or ball valve) connected to the main PVC pipe.
The Herbie might be less noisy but it does take up more space in your display tank than the Durso and will require at least one more bulkhead to be installed for the emergency drain. However, in terms of sound quality and emergency preparedness for overflows, it comes out on top.
The Durso can be a reliable and safe plumbing option but it does have slightly less control than other methods over sound and flow rate. The only control you have for your plumbing in this regard is the rate your return pump affects the water level in your display tank which displaces it into the overflow chamber. However, a DIY project is reasonable and has the potential to be modified in the future.
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