Cheapest ever overflow you can DIY - Filtration - Aquatic Plant Central

Go Back   Aquatic Plant Central > Special Interest Forums > Filtration

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-27-2012, 05:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 4,113
iTrader Ratings: 24
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
niko is a regular member
Default Cheapest ever overflow you can DIY

As everything cheaply put together this design is coyote ugly. But you can put it together for about $5 and fast!

The design is nothing new but I don't think everybody knows about it. I post this thread in the "Filtration" section of the APC forum because probably, as more people understand the importance of a big and well oxygenated biofilter, the use of sumps in the aquatic plant hobby will increase. And overflows will get more interest.

So. The DIY overflow video is from Joey, a guy that apparently makes money off the YouTube ads. His tutorials on DIY are put together with a very basic understanding of what he is doing. There a bunch of details that I don't think he even knows about that will make the wonderful DIY project go bad (at times very bad). Keep that in mind when you watch the DIY overflow video too - there are a few details that will not just make the overflow work pretty bad but can drain all the water from your tank one sunny day (or rather night, because things like that never happen during the day as we all know).

The video is good because Joey shows an animation of how the DIY overflow works. I wish his comments were not being read from a quickly scribbled sheet of paper but please know that finding a good video that explains this kind of DIY overflow is not easy.

Good things about the DIY overflow:

1. Cheap - $5 for even a high flow rate design

2. Put together in 10 minutes

3. The intake pipe can be rotated in any directon - does not have to stick forward. Can be turned to stick to the back glass.

Things to consider:

1. The check valve used to prime the overflow is usualy glued to the PVC in a very flimsy way.

People assume that the strong PVC glue used to glue PVC pipes together is a miracle. But it does NOT work on all kinds of plastic. Check valves are not PVC. The glue does not work very well for them. What to use to glue PVC pipe with some kind of unknown plastic - it's your guess. Screwing the check valve is the best design but "cheap" normally wants things "fast" too...

The check valve can pop out at some point and water will start to drip on the floor. Maybe the small hole will introduce air into the overflow and the syphon will stop. This is bad, very bad, read on why. And if the syphon does not stop that's bad too - there will be at least some water on the floor - until the water level in the tank gets lower than the intake end. The sump pump will continue moving water no matter if the overflow works or not. If your sump is a nice big size the tank will overflow over the glass edges until the sump is empty. Now in addition to wet floors the pump will start to run dry, eventually overheat, probably melt, and maybe have an electric short sitting in 1/2" of water. Be VERY careful walking on that wet carpet - it may be electrified. Fun, eh... As you see - a tiny detail (a check valve hole) can cause a huge problem.

2. The intake pipe must have some kind of filtering cap. Snails, algae, debries, live fish can get in the pipe if it is open ended. Protecting the opening means you have to maintain it clean on a regular basis.

3. Drain pipe must be kept open at all times. Or the standpipe will overflow. Or the tank will overfill.

4. It is not easy to find black or grey fittings. Gray PVC pipe is easy to find. So you will most likely end up with bright white fittings. Ugly. Yes, you can spray paint them black with Crylon paint from Home Depot. DIY never rests in its effort to save a few bucks

5. Overflow can be noisy. From the water going through the pipes. Sucking noise 24/7 in your living room - welcome to the world of sumps. And yes, there are ways to mitigate that problem but not guaranteed to work every single time. This problem is akin to screeching water pipes in your house - hard to pinpoint and fix.

I posted a link to the "Filtration" section of APC as a comment in one of Joey's videos about making a big, large, huge PVC canister filter out of a PVC pipe. It is a design impressive to every individual with zero knowledge of how biofiltration works. The recently translated from Dutch information about biofiltration would have been important to know when building a monster size filter. I guess Joey realy doesn't like competition with external links because he banned me from posting comments on his DIY videos altogether. 50K+ views on each one of your videos can make you grow a bit of a big head you know

Last edited by niko; 08-27-2012 at 06:02 AM..
niko is offline   Reply With Quote

Advertisement [Remove Advertisement]
Old 08-27-2012, 10:43 AM   #2 (permalink)
The Plant Whisperer
Zapins's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Harrogate, TN
Posts: 6,403
iTrader Ratings: 66
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
Zapins is a valuable member of the community Zapins is a valuable member of the community
Default Re: Cheapest ever overflow you can DIY

Looks pretty similar to the ones I made for my tank.

They work very well. I use them for my auto water change system for the last 3 years now.

You are right about filtering caps needed for the inside of the tank, I found a few guppies in my waste water collection bin (before the waste water gets pumped outside to water the bushes). I also lost an adult convict cichlid who decided to swim up the overflow pipe and got stuck.

And a diagram of what is going on:
I found that you need a small aqualifter pump ($10) connected between 1 and 2 in the diagram or small CO2 bubbles/O2 bubbles will build up there and break the siphon.

For more pics of the other plumbing parts:

Last edited by Zapins; 08-27-2012 at 10:48 AM..
Zapins is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2012, 05:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
Senior Member
mudboots's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Bryan, TX
Posts: 2,069
iTrader Ratings: 16
iTrader Positive Rating: 100%
mudboots is a regular member
Default Re: Cheapest ever overflow you can DIY

I laughed when I read the line about what can get caught in the overflow. I removed the strainer cap from my overflow the other day and forgot to put it back on. Several hours later I couldn't find my betta, Mrs. Jane in my filtration test tank. She had flipped herself into the 1/2" pipe, made the 4 turns into the drain and was picking at junk in the primary catch tray in my make-shift sump. Definitely need to keep a strainer or have some type of junk bin system on the overflow setup.

BTW - the more I look at saltwater systems the more they seem like what I imagine as the perfect setup for planted tanks (minus the saltwater toys like skimmers et cetera). The sump size, different filter areas (course debris areas, room for biofiltration...), flow rates...are about what I would like in a large freshwater aquarium.
mudboots is offline   Reply With Quote

Aquatic Plant Central > Special Interest Forums > Filtration > Cheapest ever overflow you can DIY

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:51 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1