How can I soundproof my system?


Jason Scott offers some advice to a reader with a noisy reef aquarium.

Q. I have a 900 l/200 gal reef system with fish, corals, shrimps and so on and everything is going well except for it being so noisy.

The combined din from the skimmer, return pump and various circulation pumps make the whole thing buzz.  

I have four circulation pumps, all Tunze Turbelle Nanostreams. The skimmer is a Deltec SC1455 and the return pump an Eheim. The greatest noise is generated by the skimmer.

Is there such a thing as silent skimming? If not, which model is the quietest? Also, which return pumps are known for quiet performance?

If replacement isn’t a solution how can I reduce noise levels?

C. Reynolds, Barnsley

A. Noise is a very personal perception. What one person finds quiet another can find unacceptable.

The environment of the aquarium makes a huge difference. If you live in a quiet area any noise is more intrusive than if you live by a busy road where you become accustomed to background noise.

All the recently manufactured Tunze Nanostreams, except the 6015, have a silence clamp — four blue silicone rubber mountings that fit between the magnetic holder and the pump to reduce vibration and noise.

I think Tunze Streams are among some of the quietest flow pumps. I run a 6095 with a controller and it is audible when I’m very close to the aquarium, but it’s moving almost ten tons of water an hour!

If lucky enough to have the electronic Streams, lowering output will fractionally reduce noise. Most return pumps are pretty quiet, but vibrations can occur through the plumbing or the surface on which they are sited.

If using rigid pipe, I suggest placing a short length of flexible hose between pump and pipework.

Alternatively, try using only flexible hose for returning water to the aquarium. If the pump is being run internally I find they frequently vibrate against the glass, so I place them on a piece of filter foam which noticeably reduces this. The method also works if you are using it externally.

The SC1445 is one Deltec’s newest protein skimmers and is very quiet as it has a silencer on the intake. The nature of protein skimming means you are not going to get a silent one, although great progress has been made. Sucking in large quantities of air and water and smashing them together is going to make some noise.

As some of the noise comes from the air intake hose, extending this, especially outside or into another room, may reduce the volume. It’s also worth checking that the skimmer is not vibrating against the glass of the tank or other item of equipment.

Although it seems extreme, applying some sort of soundproofing to the inside of the cabinet can help too.

Jason Scott

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