View RSS Feed

The Mile High Reefer

A clear view of the elephant

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
Well there I was. It was a normal Saturday morning, me standing in Blue World with a coffee in one hand and a Timbit in the other(or two or three... Hey if I don't eat them Dan will!). The only difference this time, I was actually talking to people, yay for social development. Not quite sure how I got into it, but there I was explaining (or attempting to) how I designed/built my overflow. And all I got in return were perplexed looks, I knew that this was either due to me having a fantastic idea or more likely my inability to explain myself

Now I'm pretty new to all this, keeping water in glass houses in your living room type of thing, but I've had a 'rife smattering' of mechanical engineering experience of which I figure should be marginally useful to successfully entertaining Ichthyoids in my home. So I, as I'm sure every noob to the hobby, commenced in some good ol'e googling about overflows. In short, after a few hours, days, perhaps weeks, I was left unsatisfied with the options out there. You know the ones; Durso, Stockman, Herbie, Calfo, generic Overflow boxes. Don't get me wrong, all of these work just fine as they were designed, but each one has its pros and cons. Some are quieter than others some are.... well you get it, it's like Ford people and Chevy People right? Anyways, regardless of how well they work, they all have one thing in common - They look like crap. Really, has anyone been diving in the Pacific and found the overflow box? or perhaps snorkelling in Maldives and read somehting like "OEX ECOLOTUBE EGOUT BNQ 3624-130 X 0215 C P.V.C 60PSI@73 NSF-PW ASTM D1785 ASTM D2665..." down the side of a big white PVC pipe. You get the idea'r. Next to Powerheads, Overflows/Standpipes seem to be the Elephant in the Tank.

And that's where I come in :nottoosmart:

So I set to work designing something that would accommodate all of my requirements; the usual - Quiet, safe, and most importantly: INVISIBLE (or as invisible as possible).

My tank came predrilled from Hagen with a silly little proprietary bulkhead assembly, that included more parts than a swing set. In any case, I had two 3/4" standpipes to work with. After a few days at the drawing board and some calculations having to do with fluid dynamics, I came up with what I thought would work quite nicely. So down to IPP to get a length of clear acrylic tube (2 1/4" OD, 2" ID for anyone interested) with a stop at Corix on the way home for the appropriate size FPT and MPT ABS fittings. The PT fittings will allow me to remove my devilish device for cleaning, and also more importantly allow me to set the water level in the tank. After milling the slots in the top end (to allow water through of course), I attached the MPT fitting to the other end using some tank safe silicone. Following that, applied some silicon to the bottom of the FPT fitting and affixed it to the bottom of the tank around one of the Bulk Head fittings. Presto chango, a tank with a tube in it!

Following are some photographs for your perusal.
Personally I like the seeing the little bubbles at the top of the pipe more so than seeing a G.D. piece of Thermoplastic.

You'll notice that included on the menu this evening are:
-a full siphon, this takes care of the quiet part.
-an adjustable overflow (by the screwy bits at the bottom), this takes care of the safe part
-a cylindrical overflow tube, I'm not sure where it is because it's invisible.

Pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain (the black standpipe in the middle of the clear overflow. That's just one of the many parts to that silly bulkhead assembly. Next maintenance day, a Jr. hacksaw will take care of it.)




Tags: diy, overflow Add / Edit Tags


  1. NAJetSet's Avatar
    for those that asked:
    FPT = Female Pipe Thread
    MPT = Male Pipe Thread
    IPP = Industrial Plastics and Paint
  2. Newtious's Avatar
    i would love to see the bottom plumbing on this setup.. most of all how you keep water in the pipe.. is this like a closed loop but with an over flow? or does it drain into a sump? do you have it valved on the over flow side?? i have a ton of questions!
  3. NAJetSet's Avatar
    I've got a simple ball valve on the supply and the return, with a check on the supply of course. It drains into a sump underneath.
    Although a gate valve might be more appropriate for the drain, to allow greater precision in flow adjustment, I designed the size of the tube and linear weir length to; a) allow for a significantly larger return pump, and b) to have sufficient volume to allow for changes in air pressure from things like opening a window or door, or barometric pressure. All of which play a role in setting the height of water in the tank as well was the overflow tube. Subsequently, I find that the height of the water column in the overflow tube changes throughout the day +/- ~1/2", which is fine given that any deviation in that range (the allowable range is actually a lot more broad), well result in a continued full siphon. And, as long as the surface level of the water in the over flow tube never matches or exceeds that of the running level in the Display Tank, the overflow is acceptably draining (matching) flow rate produced by the return pump. In case you are wondering I am using a return pump rated at 935gph max.