You do not have to run any plumbing to your tank but if you can it will save you lots of maintenance time in the end.
First, if you have access to your pipes, it is a good idea to run both hot and cold lines above your tank. You need both so you can regulate temperature as you fill the tank. Pex is the easiest way to add new lines. I personally use 1/2″ Pex with the rings and crimper. Crimpers can be expensive but if you look around you should find one for around $50. I have taps on my hot and cold and then merge them into 1 line attached to a float. A float will stop your tank from overflowing. It has saved my hardwood floors more than once. Get an industrial metal float (not plastic). I purchased one from ebay.
Next, if possible run a drain under the tank. This will let your get rid of your waste water and if you make a pan around it, you can clean your filter media there without going to a sink. I have my canister filter sitting in the pan. I never have to move it and if it overflows it goes into the drain. 2″ black ABS pipe is easy to work with. The pieces slide together and bond with solvent in 30 seconds. You can purchase them anywhere.
Final note, if you run some Pex into your tank that is hooked up to cold water and another end runs to a drain. You can easily start your siphon by
- Open the water tap which clears out any air.
- Close the water tap and open a tap that goes into a drain.
I have my vacuum tube on a quick connect garden hose end that I click onto that Pex in my tank. I don’t move any tubes for maintenance. Everything is already there.
I know this may be confusing. It took me a long time to work it out before I started however the time savings is huge. I have this plumbed to a 240 gallon tank in my house that is 8′ long and it takes about 30 minutes for me to vacuum the gravel and do a water change (takes 1 hour to fill – on its own). Cleaning the canister filter takes 15 minutes and I don’t move it which is great because it’s heavy when full of water.