Basic tips for installing bulkheads

Although we usually save the meat and potatoes of this blog for beginners, we’re sure there are a few of you advanced acquarists out there – or perhaps even aspiring acquarists out there who are ready to take on a project that is a little bit more difficult.

While not too complicated, bulkhead installation can be a little intimidating for folks the first time around and as such, we’ve put a few tips together for you first timers to go by. Some things about installing bulkheads and bulkhead fittings can be a little confusing or even counter-intuitive, so we figured we’d help you navigate through the obvious. Let’s jump right in.


Always be sure to try and install bulkheads clean and dry. That means it’s probably a good idea to stay away from things like silicone, Teflon or thread lubricants. These substances often prevent bulkhead fittings from not sealing properly. The rubber vulcanization will work just fine. Over time it’ll act as a perfect seal, just like it would on a car or automobile.

Do a little cleaning

Before you install your fitting, it’s a good idea to take the time to take a file or pocket knife and try to clean off any excess flashing in both the male and female threads on the flange and nut. This is an area of a bulkhead that is often a source of leaks, so making sure the two sides are sealed properly is important.

Stay away from the outside of the bulkhead

Even though it might look inviting, it’s almost always a bad idea to screw anything into the external threads on a bulkhead. These are NOT standard tapered pipe threads and they WILL leak. They are simply there to screw the nut on. That’s it.

Always the flange side.

Always try to install a gasket on the flange side of your bulkhead. Never, ever install it on the nut side. Doing so leads to leaks largely due to the fact that the water in the tank will travel along the threads of the bulkhead and around the gasket. Make sure you tighten it up, then give it a quarter to half turn in addition and no more.


Hopefully, these tips help and we hope that this goes well for you the first time through. If you make a mistake – don’t fret! Just call a professional. In most cases, they’ll be thrilled to come over and not only help you work out of a jam, but also someone who appreciates what they’re doing. So don’t be afraid! Good luck!

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