Red Sea Reefer 350 Sump Hard piping setup

The Red Sea Reefer 350 was nicely setup and done. I can’t complain about it’s craftsmanship however I wish I would have waited a few months because now Red Sea has come out with the 425XL model. This newer model holds more water of course but it’s size is what I was really after. The length is the same as the 350 model but width is a little wider which means there would be more surface area. This also leads to a bigger sump area. Regardless, I had to work with what I had so I continued with designing a compact setup that would utilize one return pump feeding water to all equipment. This leads to less chords, freeing up outlets and a cleaner sump area. I wanted the sump area to be clean and different so I opted for a manifold setup in schedule 80 pvc. There’s no real reason why I picked schedule 80 besides the gray look to it. It just looks much nicer with the white cabinet and red valve knobs. The manifold splits the water to the UV light, Carbon Reactor, Bio Pellet Reactor, Chiller and mail display tank.


The hard wiring project took some time to gather all of the parts and pieces. The plan was to use a Vectra M1 return pump, however after flow calculation, I figured it would be best to use a Vectra L1.

Flow Requirement
Red Sea Reefer 350 800gph
Bio Pellet Reactor 200-400gph
GFO/Carbon Reactor 100-300gph
1/4hp JBJ Chiller 400gph.
UV Light 100-200gph

Total flow needed: 2100gph

The max flow of the Vectra M1 is about 2000gph which would have worked however I didnt want the return pump to run at 100% max speed to satisfy all the equipment flow requirements. Plus the pump would be louder at it’s max speed. With Vectra L1 flowing at 3100gph, I’d have more flow to cover additional equipment if desired.


For precise control, I went with spears gated valves. All piping to the manifold were of sch 80. The gray just looked better in my opinion.

Here’s a break down of what I needed to accomplish this DIY build

1 x 5ft 3/4″ sch 80 pipe
1 x 5ft 1/2″ sch 80 pipe
4 x 3/4″ T fitting with 1/2″ in the center port
1 x 1″ to 3/4″ reducer since I started the manifold with a 3/4″ anticipating to use a Vectra M1 instead of the L1.
2 x 45 degree elbows because the pump output will not align with the manifold input.
1 x 3/4″ disconnect
4 x 1/2″ Screw Spear Gated Valve
1 x 3/4″ Screw Spear Gated Valve
4 x 2″ male threaded pipe to connect the gated valve to the T fitting
3 x 3/4″ 90 degree Elbow
2 x 1/2″ thread to slip for connecting the reactor to the bottom of the spear gated valve
1 x 4″ long 5/8″ green tubing
1 x 3/4″ barb
4 x Pipe bracket to mount the manifold
1 x Vectra L1
1 Oatley Primer/Cement glue combo
1 x 1.5″ tube for the intake on the pump
1 x 1.5″ 45 degree to point the pump intake to the bottom of the tank to avoid sucking in air since the water level is low in the sump
1 x 3/4″ to 1/2″ bushing adapter
2 x 1/2″ slip pigot for the return of the reactor to the sump
4 x 1/2″ male thread to slip for the reactor connector
12 o-rings for the 1/2″ connector. 3 per connector squished together to form a tight seal

It took about a week to put the whole thing together. I had to work on the reactor connector to ensure the sch 80 fittings worked. The male threaded part has to be trimmed a little to fit properly. The pipes had to be cut and all the fittings were put together without glue to test the fitment and ensure that it would fit nicely in the sump. I glued the main manifold first ensuring that no glue went inside the gated valves. I waited till it dried before moving to the next few pieces. I measured as needed. Every time I glued something, I had to wait for it to dry before I started moving the manifold around which took a really long time to put the pipes together.

I had the first gated valve setup for the GFO/Carbon reactor. The second is not used for now but it will be supplying flow for a UV light. The third is used for a bio pellet reactor. The forth goes to the chiller. The fifth valve goes to the display tank.



Use a table saw or a saw than can cut straight. I used a hack saw with an guide to make the cut. It was straight but just not that straight enough. Plus it took time cutting the pipes.

User a leveler. This would ensure that every angle is perfect. Mine is off a little. The T fittings and the elbows had line marks on them but when they lined up, it was slightly off. I didn’t notice this until I had glued one on. It was only off my a little so I left it.

Start gluing from the reactors up to the gated valve and then to the manifold. I started with the manifold first and worked my way down to the reactors which worked great however there’s a slight off-ness from one reactor to the other when placing the unit on a level ground. One can tell that it’s slightly off although you can’t really tell from looking at it once it’s hung.

Setting the pump flow:

For the Vectra L1, setting the power to the 4th LED worked great with the water only going to the display tank. Once I turned on the GFO/Carbon reactor, I had to turn it up to the 5th LED on the Vectra controller. After turning on the Bio Pellet reactor, I’m now on the 6th LED light. My assumption is what with the addition of a UV light and chiller, I would be up to the 7-8th power level LED indicators on the Vectra controller.

All in all it was a great project. It took longer than I had expect but it was well worth the wait. This setup should have came with the Red Sea to begin with.

I do want to note that I started with the intention of using the Vectra M1 for the return pump but soon figured out that the flow may not be enough for all the equipment I plan on running so I had to go with the Vectra L1 instead. I’ve bought all the 3/4″ fittings prior to getting the L1 so I had to get a reducer from 1″ to 3/4″ because the outlet of the Vectra L1 is 1″. That’s something to think about if you’re doing a similar setup. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.



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43 thoughts on “Red Sea Reefer 350 Sump Hard piping setup

  1. Hi Paul.

    Very impressive setup. Thanks for sharing. I’m currently in the process of ordering the hard plumbing for my 350.

    I’m struggling with the threaded connection on the bottom of the existing downpipe. Like you I’m going for 3/4″ PVC as I’ve bought the M1. What fitting would you suggest I use to connect the manifold to the downpipe?

    Also, please could you tell my what model your AM carbon reactor is?


  2. Ok great , do you live in America ? I’m from Australia but I think they ship internationally

  3. Great work. please can you tell me the outflow water from the chiller goes to which chamber?

  4. Hey, I would really like your help. I have no idea about hard piping. I’ve had my red sea reefer 350 for over a year and half and I know I’m ready to install a new piping system away from the tube. I have a jebao dcs 12000(38mm) as a return pump. I just want a simple pipe from the return pump to the tank. Really nothing extra for any reactors or skimmers. But again I don’t know a thing about piping and sizes. Is it possible, if you can list just the basic sch 80 pipes, sizes, elbows, maybe a valve that I would need to buy. Again just the basic connecting from the pump to the tank. Sorry for asking such a newbie question, I see you have an advanced set up. I would really appreciate it. Thanks

  5. Raul,

    You can just use standard sch80 for your setup. It’s hard for me to tell you what you would need because I dont know what the pump outlet size is and how you want it to connect. If you take a look at mine, it would be basically the same but instead of the “T” fittings to the reactors, you would just have one long pipe in place of the “T” fittings.

  6. Great design. Looking to do the same kind of thing because there isn’t enough room in my stand. Got a couple of questions.

    1. Where did you find fittings that go straight up for the aquamaxx reactors? The ones I have are a 90 deg elbow.
    2. Is there any stress concerns with hanging the reactors from the inlet and outlet?
    3. How difficult is it for you to access the back thumb screws on the reactors?


  7. What did you use to connect the new pvc to the Red Sea bulkhead on the return? Did you convert to us standard or use metric?

  8. Jaime, I left the factory barb and then added a barb on my manifold and used a tube to connect them together.

  9. Anthony,
    Thanks. The fitting is a schedule 80 1/2″ that can be bought from Lowes for a few dollars. I had to shave off the threaded part on the sch80 fitting in order for it to fit since it’s touching the inner reactor tube.
    No stress on this setup. I use large screws to hold the whole unit up. The back screws are difficult but I have smaller fingers so its not too bad.

  10. What a awesome setup! What are the two blue caped cylinders to the right of the 5 red handled valves and to the right of and just above the Simplicity 240?

  11. I used it as CO2 scrubber. It’s connected directly to the skimmer inlet.

  12. Thank you for the answer. I am preparing for a tank switch and do believe I am going for RedSea Reefer 350. I am planning everything out step by step including the transfer of my existing tank.
    If you don’t mind the questions where did you buy the parts for the CO2 scrubber? I have searched and have not found anything similar.

  13. Russell,

    It was from a 6 stage RODI unit. It held the DI. I rinsed it out and used it for the co2 scrubber.


  14. Hi Paul,
    So impressed with your set up, i’ve just got myself a Reefer 350 and want to create something similar to your design. I’m new to the hobby, but want to do everything properly the first time as opposed to constantly modifying pipework/ equipment.
    Does your return pump also supply the skimmer? or does that have its own pump?
    Also do you have a block diagram of your pipework/equipment route as I can’t make out where all the pipework goes and being new I don’t have the experience you have to figure it out myself.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

  15. YOu’ll love your red sea 350. The skimmer has it’s own pump. Because I ran a bio pellet reactor in my second chamber so the output of that reactor goes into the input of the skimmer to ensure that the out put gets skimmed. Sorry I have no drawings of the layout except for the videos of the setup on youtube. If you need anything from the US, let me know and I can get them shipped to you.

  16. Hi Paul, thanks for the reply.
    Oh great, i’m having a lot of trouble trying to source the Spears gate valves here in the UK so I can’t tell you how much that would help me out.
    I want to get the same gate valves you used,

    1/2″ PVC Threaded Gate Valve Spears 2021-005 x4
    3/4″ PVC Threaded Gate Valve Spears 2021-007 x1

    How would you want me to pay you/organise shipping them to me?
    Thanks again,

  17. hey, your whole plumbing project came out looking great! i had a question as to which thread to pvc adapter you used on the output of the turbotwist uv sterilizer? any modifications you had to do to the fitting? i had looked at my local home depot and lowes and cannot find one that works and i was getting ready to make an order online but cannot find the proper size/thread adapter for it? i even contacted corallife and they could not help me any.

  18. I had to cut the barb fitting off of the turbotwist and then I was able to screw on a schedule 80 fitting to it. I have to use some channel lock to screw on the fitting but it worked out great. Bought the fitting from lowes.

  19. Hi there, fantastic job on your sump and manifold.

    I’m in the process of setting up a reefer nano so my cabinet is even tighter so I’m looking to your design for inspiration.

    I’m hoping you’d be so kind to confirm a few things for me:

    – It looks like your reactor returns feed back in to the sump (middle chamber)?
    – How do you change the reactor media considering you’ve used pvc fittings at the top (do the aquamaxx reactors twist open? Do you simply turn off the gate valve and twist open the reactors?
    – Do you have to regularly adjust the flow (via the gate valves) on the reactors as they get clogged etc?
    – Have you had any issues with maintaining water level in the sump (and therefore salinity changes)?
    – Any other recommendations or warnings for someone planning a manifold to consider?

    Thanks a million in advance and sorry for all the questions! 🙂

  20. Thanks David! Here are the answers to your question:

    1. Yes the reactors return water to the sump (middle section)
    2. The reactor twist off at the top plate.
    3. Yes I adjust the flow with the Spears Gate Valves as needed. Once it’s going, I don’t really change it much.
    4. Water level stays constant. Salinity stays constant.

    Recommendation: do it! LOL. It was the best I could do with whats available out in the market to save space.

  21. Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly; your responses were as I had hoped 🙂

    I’ll share mine once up and running. Keep up the good work!

  22. You’re welcome David. Please do show it when you have it done.

  23. Hey Toby,

    On ur custom orange setup, what are the 3 fittings you used to connect from the factory Red Sea pipe to your orange 1″ pipe? See it’s slip to slip know there pipe is MM. What MM to 1″ fitting? Where did u buy them?

  24. You have an amazing setup and I will be implementing these ideas to my current Reefer 350 over the next couple weeks. I actually have a lot of the same equipment, but I used some cheap valves in my manifold and I’m seriously regretting it. One of them is completely stuck. 🙁

    Thanks for sharing. Your sump setup is incredible.

  25. Can you expand on the ‘O’ Ring’s for the top of the reactors. Just how do I use them?
    …..12 o-rings for the 1/2″ connector. 3 per connector squished together to form a tight seal

  26. Don’t go cheap on valves. Go with spears. You can replace parts on those if the valve goes bad.

  27. Because the clearance from the thread to the inner side wall is very thin, you can only fit a thin o-ring. If you only put one one o-ring, it barely seats it so I had to stack additional o-rings for a better tight seal. You’ll understand when you see it.

  28. Hi Paul- What size screws/double sided tape did you use to hold your UV light to the side of the cabinet?

  29. Is this still an active forum the OP replies to? I’m looking to construct similar setup in my 350 and may have questions

  30. Hi Paul
    I was watching your YouTube video and the set up is so clean. I was wondering if you can build the same manifold and I pay for it? I have the same tank also. I know it look so easy but I’m not handy at all.

  31. Kenneth,

    Unfortunately I don’t have the time to build one at the moment. I also no longer have the 350 so I would not have something to measure against as well.

  32. I honestly do not remember. It was some random screw I had laying around. Short and stubby.

  33. can you tell me where did you get the cylinders for the co2 scrubber??

  34. Hello Paul, this is very impressive, even more so that 5+ years later people are still using your design!
    I just purchased a Red-Sea 350 and am upgrading from a Biocube 32 and like many of the others would like to leave room to grow the system down the line. Can you explain the flow of the water through the system?, it is hard to follow with just the pictures. It looks to me that the overflows feed down into the filter cups and into the sump. The sump-pump draws the water from the sump and is used feed the 1st reactor, does the water flow directly from the 1st reactor to the next to the next ending in the skimmer? If I understand the threads you run the chiller independently, with it returning to the the sump, is it fed through the manifold system as well? also, where in the setup do you place the water heater? Finally how does the water get returned to the main tank, I would guess from the skimmer? I tried to follow the previous threads so hopefully I am not asking questions that have already been asked/answered.
    Great work . Thank you so much.

  35. Hi. Beautiful set up. I’ve been trying to build this for the last month and NOBODY here in Florida sells schedule 80 plumbing. Can you PLEASE (I beg) comment any parts that I can find online with links to them?? You’d be helping me and many others, too. Thank you!!

  36. Sorry I don’t have actual links to the item at the moment but will get some posted soon.

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