45 gallon build, plumbing advice?



I'm not new to aquaria but my upcoming project will be my most complicated one, and I could use some advice.

I've been wanting to have an unheated display tank for fancy goldfish for a long while, and this will be it. The reason I haven't done this in previous years is that my house lacks central air conditioning, and it gets pretty hot in the summer. To solve that problem, I'm going to plumb in a chiller, and for various reasons that chiller must reside in the basement, while the display tank will be in the first floor room directly above.

What I already have:
A SeaClear 45 gallon bowfront tank
A Fluval 407 canister filter
A 1/10 HP JBJ Arctica chiller
An Iwaki MD-30RLT pump
Various small MaxiJet pumps
An Aqua Advantage 15 watt UV sterilizer (barb, not HOB)

So... the thing is, I want to use the Fluval canister for filtration, and (at least initially) no sump. The vague plan in my head is to put the canister in the cabinet that the tank will sit on, with intake and return on opposite sides of the back of the tank -- pretty standard. And I was thinking I could run the chiller in a closed loop, which should mean I could get away with a fairly low power pump to drive it, since I'd have the 12 feet of water pressure for the feed side offsetting most of the 12 feet of head on the return side. (Of course, there's some additional head pressure to overcome in the chiller itself, but the vertical return should be balanced by the vertical feed.) The Iwaki I already own seems like overkill in this design, and would probably push far too many gph for fancy goldfish in a 45 gallon tank. So I will either be using a MaxiJet, if I have one that can overcome the head pressure of the chiller itself, or I will have to pick up a relatively low power pump that's suitable. I should mention that the recommended flow rate range for the chiller is 240-960 gph.

If I do it this way, then I could add in the UV sterilizer on the return side of the canister filter without too much trouble. I should say here that I figure a 45 gallon tank set up this way could support a stock of four fully grown fancy goldfish without issue, though I will be starting with much smaller fish.

I also have a vague plan to deal with the inevitable desire to put more fancy goldfish in the display tank at some point in the future. That plan would increase the overall water volume of the system and the filtration capacity by adding in a significant-sized sump in the basement -- something like 20-30 gallons of water in a 40 gallon sump tank.

And that's where I run into the plumbing/logistical problem. It's a plumbing problem because, frankly, I don't know how I would plumb it. I know that opening up that chiller loop will create the need for a much higher powered pump, since the head pressure on the feed side won't be connected to the return side. I think the Iwaki MD-30RLT could handle it, if I just put the sump onto a 3-foot tall homemade platform (cinder blocks and plywood) along with the chiller. That would reduce the vertical head to the display tank to 8 or 9 feet.

But even if I do that, I have the logistical problem: my display tank isn't drilled for an overflow. So when the time comes, I'll either have to relocate the fish so I can drill the tank, or I'll have to use a HOB overflow, which I don't like due to the risk of the water bridge siphon breaking and a big overflow issue happening in my living room.

So I'm looking for advice. How should I plumb this thing? I really don't want to go whole hog on the sump idea yet; I just want to get the tank going. But if there's a way to plumb this now that would make the sump expansion easier later, I will do it.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.


Goldfish don't require a chiller. They happily live in outdoor installations in places where the temperatures regularly get over 100F. I realise you've already bought it and want to use it, but it's really not necessary.


Lilirose, thank you for your reply.

I have read that while single-tail goldfish -- like comets -- can handle really warm water, that fancies have a harder time. Which is why I got the chiller. Even if the fancies can handle water in the mid-high 80s, I will probably use the chiller anyway, to keep the water temperature in the optimal range.

But even if I don't incorporate the chiller, I still have the plumbing problem. If I want to tie in a sump later, to increase the overall volume and filtration capacity, I'll still have the same issues described above. The cabinet the display tank will sit on does not have room for a sump inside. The canister filter will fit with a little room to spare, but there's no way a 40 gallon sump tank could fit in there. So the sump still has to go into the basement.

If somebody who's good with plumbing could offer some advice, I would appreciate it. I'm trying to figure out:

1. Where should the canister filter go? Leave it on the display tank, or move it to the sump? If on the sump, where should the intake and output go?
2. Given the 8-12 feet of head required to get water back to the display tank from the basement, how should the canister filter, chiller, and (possibly) the UV sterilizer be plumbed in?
3. Should I drill the tank for the overflow now, even though it won't be used until later, when I add the sump?

I apologize for making my first post here so long... but I'd rather get this right now than have to fix things later due to lack of proper planning.

Thank you --

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