When I Add Formula To Water It Goes Up How To Quiet A Noisy Aquarium

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How To Quiet A Noisy Aquarium

An aquarium is a small, contained section of a large ocean, roaring river, or pool of water that is teeming with life. It’s like taking a tube of underwater space, and containing it so we can enjoy all the complexity, while still being able to breathe!

And realizing that the underwater environment is quiet (in fact it is very noisy, but we see it as quiet), the last thing we need in our display is a noisy aquarium. Or aquariums. I say that as we currently have 4 working aquariums set up in our room.

We are surrounded by life. Fish, plants, and a big, crazy, Peaches and Cream Tabby cat. And after 20 years of tanks, big and small and everywhere in between, I finally answered the problem that had been bothering me since the beginning – “Why is my tank so loud?!”

What causes noise?

We’ll get to the big answer in a moment. First, here’s a bullet list of things to check for your noise problem.

Spirit Equals Noise: Air stones and air tubes all provide great results for your underwater space. They add strength to those ornaments that require pressure from the bubbles to work. A small treasure chest with a hinged lid requires a certain amount of air to function properly. But load more, and all the extra bubbles that come to the surface will create a constant, loud noise.

Current noise is equal: Second to air movement, we like a lot of water flow (simulated natural currents) in our tanks. Fish want to grow, and have fun. We have one Guppy tank where you can almost paint the tread wheel on the side of the tank with a grease pencil. A fish swims against the current, sinking and rising at the same time. They love the flow. But add Powerheads, and oversize the tank, and you’ll have noise problems.

Equipment equals noise: Pumps, filters, sumps, even water pipes can all make noise. Sometimes too much noise. Many pumps are built for killer sound. But if you overcome it when customizing your system, the vibrational hum will soon appear. And not in a good way. Just as important, a safe surface, or just sitting, can easily become a culprit.

Furniture Equals noise: I built all my water stands, and built structures. As soon as I removed the top of the plywood, I noticed a terrible buzz. The rubber feet of the air pump transmitted the vibrations through the plywood skin, and the open bottom of the built-in became an echo chamber. Placing the air pump in a more prominent position in the cabinet solved the problem.

Design Equals Noise: And finally, your design can be a big culprit, causing noise. Air moving over rocks, currents and eddies swirling around equipment and decorations, and the placement of your intake and output pumps all go into the formula for reducing noise in the aquarium.

What can i do?

Lower it down: The quietest aquarium can be a simple bowl of water. No air movement, no currents. Just a bowl of water sitting still.

If you use multiple air pumps, especially small ones with one outlet, choose a larger pump with multiple outlets. Rule of thumb – the pump should supply all your air needs for this one aquarium. Not only do you have one noise maker, bigger pumps have a better dead sound.

And if your pump is more than a few years old, throw it away. Even if it still works. Old parts, especially rubber, are probably your biggest source of noise. The hard rubber feet now do nothing to dampen the sound. They may be adding to it.

And use gang valves to determine the amount of air going to your accessories. That little air stone with a single line coming from the pump is a big noise factor. And it will look good with only half the volume of air going through it. Maybe better.

Listen to the result: Most of the power tools you buy to add to your tank have some sort of adjustment element in them. Put your ear down next to the current powerhead, and listen to how quiet it is when you adjust the outlet. It could be a volume issue, or just a direction issue. It may vibrate against the tank, or rocks. Adjust as necessary.

Adjust your gang valves on your air lines in the same way. Put your ear over the water, and listen while you adjust the flow. When you find the right level of calm, see the effect it has on the appearance. Then make small adjustments to reach the happy point of the appearance against the noise.

Design with Noise Considerations: It’s easy to set up a calm tank, then try to achieve one after that. Remember the bowl of water, sitting still? Keep that in mind as you add accessories or plan the placement of your essentials. This brings us to the biggest problem I have solved after 20 years of aquariums.

Not everything works together

I love Bubble Wands on the back of my tanks. They seem invisible, but they emit large amounts of bubbles. I like oxygen tanks, so I like a lot of air flow. That circulates the food in the tank, and helps with currents so the fish can enjoy it.

But due to space and budget limitations, I’ve always relied on saddle tank filters, not the canister type. There are only so many places you can put a saddle filter, and therefore, only so many places it can sit in the tank.

The noise from my filters has always driven me nuts. They were the loudest filters of all my friends. And recently, some of my tanks. This is where I discovered the problem.

My wife set up three more tanks, and she’s not as big a fan of Bubble Wands as I am. His filters were quiet, their flow as strong as mine.

Yet my filter sounded like the impeller was coming apart. I had pulled the entire system, checked all the parts, and made sure everything went back together easily. As has often happened in the past, my filter failed.

That’s when I thought. I pulled the airline on the Bubble Wands and the noise stopped. Air from the circuits passes through, and enters the filter inlet tube. The filter was trying to fill with water. It could not because the sticks filled it with air.

And so, the filter will forever sound like a filter when we start, and we do it ourselves. Problem found! Now, to solve it. I didn’t want to take out my Bubble Wands.

I took a drinking straw (clean and fresh) and cut it in half. Then I cut the pieces lengthwise, to create an opening. I folded the straw over the Bubble Wand, under the filter. It left a little space for the air to escape, so I put the second straw on top of the first, with the hole 180 facing the first. The problem was solved, the wind stopped in that place.

And no bubbles reach the filter. I even noticed a slight increase in water flow through the filter, which means better filtration.

Less is better

In this case I found that because accessories give me the look I want in my ‘natural’ environment, some things don’t work with others. You can change yourself. But the lesson is that not all tools in your tank are good for the tank, and your fish. And especially, your ears.

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