Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
HOW TO: $10 DIY aquarium overflow – UPGRADED and MODIFIED TUTORIAL

HOW TO: $10 DIY aquarium overflow – UPGRADED and MODIFIED TUTORIAL

Hi, everybody Joey here again, and welcome back so in today’s video. I’m going to show you how to build a PVC Overflow now that type of overflow might sound familiar as I actually did a project on it about [4] and 1/2 years ago For those that don’t know what PVC overflow is a cheap and easy to build Overflow made from PVC and used to Overflow water from your aquariums to a sump filter below it or for any other use that you might need to overflow water from your Aquarium typically cost you about $10 to build one and saves you from buying a hang on the back overflow That works on the same principle yet cost more than ten times more a PVC Overflow also doesn’t require you to drill your aquarium and to be added to an already established Tank which many people like I wanted to revisit this project today and update and address some concerns that some of you had now in General some of you think the PVC. Overflow is ugly. Which it is some of you also found that It doesn’t get the advertised flow rate, or it eventually lose its its prime and stops flowing water which can be disastrous Personally I never have those issues and a lot of people don’t With that said others have said their fish have gotten sucked down into it, and that’s definitely not [a] good thing either so today I’m going to address all of these issues with solutions as well as some improvements You might remember that the materials for PVC overflow requires [6] PVC elbows a tee and about 4 feet of PVC pipe? Sizing depends on flow rates, but we’ll get to that later Typically this would hang on the back of the tank with two of the pipes going on the inside The exposed top could suck the fish in and the fact that two pipes forming a u in the tank Are another reason you guys don’t like it the version? I want to show you requires you to only have one pipe in the tank So I grabbed the PVC pipe twice the diameter of the overflow pipe, and we’ll be making a we’re out of it I place the cap on [and] drill the hole just large enough to squeeze the nub of the suction cup on Then I use my table saw [and] cut out [some] teeth Although a router would work better if you have one or most of you will just have a drill and in that case simply drill In some holes large enough so that your fish can’t actually swim into them place the holes where you want the water level to be in the tank the bigger these holes are teeth are the better you don’t want them restricting the flow it’s totally fine if you Get it right the first time you simply will have to do some testing and changes most likely now in this example the big pipe Is 2 inches in diameter, and it’s the height of the aquarium the overflow is 1 inch in diameter It’s important that the weir is twice the diameter of the overflow, so you again you’re not restricting flow the overflow uses 3 feet of pipe with Section length being 12 inches long and of course everything is cemented together with PVC cement the we’re simply gets placed Where you want the overflow to be and the overflow pipe goes inside it How you run it down to your sump is up to you however in this example. I attached a short pipe So you can see the water exiting to prime this you need to fill the pipe full of water and remove air now previously We added the check valve to the top to do this that check valve was also used to easily remove air But this style doesn’t need it This is actually because the inlet to the overflow is far below the water surface and any bubbles formed from falling into the weir Don’t travel far enough to get into it once we prime the overflow we turn our pump on water will start to flow [out] in The event [of] a power outage water will stop flowing as expected When the pump starts back up the overflow does as well Now because we have a weird we still get surface skimming without the worry of sucking the fish in we also have less pipe in The tank yet while we are using a single large pipe. It does look a lot better Especially if we paint it, and that’s something we’re going to get to now an interesting aspect to this style Is that it’s far [more] powerful than the previous version and a lot more quiet to give you an example? I started running 200 gallons per hour through this overflow, then added another 400 gallons per hour for a total of 600 gallons per hour the overflow handled it No problem And this is a [60%] increase Over the previous version now the sizes I tested were 3/4 inch one inch and one and a half inch and they all flowed [60%] more water than the previous version one thing to look for with a weird though is how far the [water] is falling? Into it you want to aim for it to be falling by about one inch Anything more and the teeth or holes are too small? Anything less and you might not be skimming the water Surface at all so make sure you start off smaller and do some testing now to make this look a lot better I spray-painted it with Krylon fusion for plastic. This made it look a lot better however once Krylon fusion for plastic has cured It’s also non-toxic so it’s safe if you’re still worried about the overflow you losing its prime and failing pick yourself up a [toms] Aqua [lifter] pump this is like an air pump, but it can also suck and pump water Drill a small hole in the top loop of the overflow about 5 millimeter in Diameter and insert a 6 millimeter airline You’ll want the airline to be flush with [the] inside top of the PVC wall Just like we did with the check valve in the previous version Ensure you insert the suction side because you want the pump to be sucking out air and water Apply a bit of silicone around the seal as well to ensure. This is watertight now to prime this overflow You just seal both ends turn your pump on and it’s going to suck out all [of] the air and fill it with water Now you’ll want to keep this pump on continuously And it will ensure that air cannot collect in that pipe making the overflow now fail proof This will add about [$15] to the overall cost But as is the entire overflow only cost me [around] [$10] for what you see So an additional $15 pump to make this fail proof is definitely worth it So how does any of this work and what are the flow rates well? I already did a video on this in the past and I invite you to check that out for a full explanation both versions work the same, so Information in it is still relevant the only difference is the flow rates So make sure you add an extra [60%] – what’s advised if you’re building the style from this video So you now have an overflow that looks good. It’s powerful. [it’s] silent and it’s failed proof yet You don’t have to drill your tank, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money now You can have the sump if that’s what you’re after anyways. Hope that you guys enjoyed today’s video I also wanted to [thank] you for watching and I’ll see you guys next Sunday for a new do it yourself project

100 comments on “HOW TO: $10 DIY aquarium overflow – UPGRADED and MODIFIED TUTORIAL

  1. if you have a breeding rack using a Toms Aqua Lifter to make sure its full proof on each tank can get expensive

  2. Does anyone know if you still need to put a CAP on the PVC that stands the tallest (2" above the rest), and drill a hole in it? At 5:07 he puts his palm on top to cover the hole. Does this mean we need to put a cap there?

  3. If your weir is floating up your intake pipe is probably too high. The end of it needs to be below the T on the outside so it breaks siphon in that section of pipe rather than in your weir.

  4. Hi I can't find a "TOM aqua lifter pump" for sale in the UK there is a good selection of doesing pumps can I use any one of those or do you recumended a distant pump for the overflow?

    great channel btw I'm a massive fan have to watching for years

  5. I know this is quite the old video but how well would something like this work with smaller varieties of fish? I have always been fond of freshwater communities and I normally stock various small tetra and the like.

  6. Why is that black suction cup is required on outer weir pipe? If I don't drill that hole in the outer pipe and not use that suction cup will this siphon work or not?

  7. Hey Joey, thanks so much for taking the time to put together and share your videos. I've built my overflow following your diy video. I did opt to omit the optional air tube with the pump you mentioned, primarily to keep the cleanest look but also one less thing to buy and contend with. Without it, it is performing just fine with no loss of siphon issues I will say my unit is quite loud with a gurgling noise, is that because I did not use the optional airline? Thanks again for sharing.

  8. Not to be rude… but you totally ripped this off from another guy on YouTube, way to be original… here is the guy that ACTUALLY made this overflow first: search "DIY Overflow Pipe.Take Two" created by pronster1

  9. I built this for my temp. 55 saltwater tank. Well, my old return pump failed after about 30min. So I didn't want this siphon active. I tried everything shot of pulling the unit out of the tank. It NEVER lost its siphon. After 10 days I topped off the water and this time I added enough to flow into the weir. It STILL siphoned!!! And I don't have an aqua lifter pump on it either.
    How The Heck Do You Stop This Thing!😁

  10. Must say I enjoy your DIY and have done quit a few of them. I am setting up a 160 gallon tank (keeping Koi's) planning on putting 2 on each end of the tank your corner Super Charge corner sponge filter, but also wanted to add in the center your overflow project that will go to a sump and return via pump.
    Question, is the position of the overflow best in the center since I'm planning the sponge filters. thanks for your advice.

  11. In lieu of the suction cup with a nub hole drilled… Why not epoxy a 3/4" diameter 1/8" thick neodymium magnet centered in the pipe end cap and place it where you want it to be when finally set up, then epoxy or silicone cement the other magnet under the tank bottom glass (this will work very well for framed tanks, but not in tanks w/o the frame) Second suggestion… make the weir grooves half inch openings… Use spacers to securely position the weir pipe inside an even larger pipe of equal height allowing 1/4" gap all the way around Weir and outer pipe. Pipe tops are same height meaning the weir pipe with end cap is just a bit shorter than the outer pipe/weir. Outermost pipe has smaller grooves to still permit surface skimming as a weir and also a series of two bands of equally spaced holes 3/16" ( or smaller if needed to keep fish out) near the bottom and near the midpoint to permit gathering and removal of suspended particulate for filtration. Flow pattern is through the outer pipe wall and up to the top of the weir… then down to the innermost pipe opening and up and out. I don't like the suction cup design. I'm handicapped and I want all potential problems eliminated before a large fish knocks the pipe loose from the suction cup nib or breaks it if it deteriorated – followed by a power outage… and I want better collection of the small debris that tends to sit right near the bottom and gets swirled up from time to time by the activity of the fish… Let the fish help you to clean the tank a bit.

  12. I cant get mine to prime. I built it just like this, i got to fill the tubes up and release the plug and turn on my pump and the overflow doesnt work display tank just keeps rising . pls help

  13. Hey I'm trying to set up a 55gal tank just wondering what sizes sump tank I would need and sizes of pvc to use thanks for any help

  14. Hey bro. I just want to say thanx. I made your first overflow and had hardly any flow at all and just upgraded it with this. I just drilled my holes instead of slotting it and it works exactly as you said. Thanx again!!!!!

  15. I can't get this to start I added a check valve even tried priming by dipping everything underwater to get all the air but still can't get a good siphon or overflow to restart

  16. I'm making a wet dry trickle filter sump for a 20 gallon tank .The pump that I'll be using is rated at 170 gph pump .It will be pushing the water up about 3 ft' (its rated for over 4')I'm making a straight run of 1/2" cpvc od up into the tank using a diy spray bar 1" from the surface. Since this new style overflow can handle 60% more water is it safe to use (2) overflows made of 3/4" cpvc instead of (2)1" overflows?I will be making( 2) 1.5" weirs for both overflows too.I know my pump will only be pushing around 90-100 gph when its all done.This is a planted Betta tank so I don't want it to circulate too much water or have too much current.

  17. My overflow does not start again after a long (30min+) power failure. 5-10min off it does start again What could be wrong?? Please help.

  18. Does the water intake have to be the same length as the U section on the outside of the tank? Or does the output need to be lower than the water intake?

    I have made this where the water output is higher than the input and the input slightly higher than the U section on the outside of the tank, just wondering if this is going to work the same as the video or if I will experience any problems?

  19. When you make this, you make 2 for redundancy so can you run a splitter off you aqualifter pump to sustain primes on both overflows? As long as you put a check valve?

  20. Joey, huge fan of you channel and I appreciate all you do for the hobby. I was wondering your thoughts on combining this with your diy pvc canister build? I don’t necessarily want a video but your opinion on if this would work. My thought would be the exact same setup except with an external pump. The input would go down the overflow weir or could connect to where the water pours out. I love the canister filter but want surface skimming without a pump in the tank.

    If you take the time to read and respond I truly appreciate it in advance. If not, I know you are crazy busy and hope you have a happy holiday (whatever you celebrate)

  21. hello joey I build your upgrade overflow and is working fine I use your PVC pipe measurements and I'm experiencing lots of foam excessive bubbles also when I turn the pump off to do maintenance I loose return flow. I'm not using the check valve what went wrong?

  22. Please you would check if subtitles are right perfect what zou taked about this overflow. I want just to be sure if it is really corrected. That is bec of automatic subtitles…. Thank you for sharing, greetings from Berlin

  23. First thing, this system works great. One problem that you didn't cover with this Overflow is what happens during a power outage. Yes your water will stop on the siphon side but if your return line is still below that point, it will continue on the return side. The way i fixed this problem was to drill a small hole on the return line at the same level as the siphon side. If you dont then your sump with overflow on to the floor. Might want to cover that side of this project as well if you haven't already. BTW great channel Thanks.

  24. It seems like i can always come back to your channel when i have a question and need answers quick! Currently building this for my turtle/iguana/ topper

  25. How are these comparable to those eshopps hob overflow. Diy is good if its fail proof if its not then no point. Has anyone use these diy overflow before? Fail proof on the siphon when power outage?

  26. Just an fyi to anyone making this. Do not put the bottom part on the outside at the bottom of your tank. The bottom outside elbows MUST be atleast a couple inches from the bottom of the tank or the over flow will NOT work. As Joey said pay attention to the video and scale it down or up to your tank. FYI if u purchase the book it does explain this 😁

  27. I tried this. As a result, I am covered in water and I might put my sump on Craigslist for free. How do you figure out flow / gph from the weir. My pump keeps running dry and my tank is against a wall and removing everything takes so long

  28. Howdy all, so i built one out of half inch (15mm) PVC.

    I had problems priming (solved by simply submerging entire unit and capping in and out. I simply took off the weir bottom (never glued it) alligned the overflow and poked off the cap, works a treat :p but would prefer the priming method in the video but as my unit is smaller may be the problem.)

    Anycase im using a small 850 LPH (225 GPH) pump in a 20G Planted Catfish tank, at this current point the overflow DOES handle the flow but it makes a large gurgle here and there. Essentially i want it as quiet as possible all times so i can realize to options
    1. Second overflow (probably most recommended
    Or 2. Build a larger overflow to accommodate all flow thus making it quieter right?

    Let me know your thoughts if anyone replies

  29. Well, I made this and it works great, but it sounds awful. The gurgling gives me anxiety! (Not to mention I can't sleep)
    I already have the endcap on the air tube with a little hole. I also put some filter floss down the tube, but it just got sucked down.
    I've been reading all these replies in the comments, but some of the naming I don't understand.
    Does anyone have a simple, working solution to the gurgling?
    -Does it have to do with the pipe that goes in the weir, the air tube, or the tee joint, or something else?


  30. Anybody with gurgling problems on the weir & overflow itself, do yourself a favor and get a ball valve and put it on the exit from the overflow.

    This silenced the gurgling both from the weir and the tall pipe on the overflow. The ball valve lets you adjust the flow rates, too high of flow rates from the weir (or too low from the return pump) is why it remains so loud.

  31. Love your work and vids.
    They have become crucial to my next big sump build for 2x2ft and 2x4ft tanks. All plumbed together.
    If I may add. The only addition I have looked to make, at the top of the overflow, where you drill in the air pipe, drill the other end into the inlet. Creating a venturi, so the airlift pump isn't required

  32. Well I had my doubts. It didn't work well at first, BUT after I figured out that my issue was air leaking in (during dry fit testing) and I played with the tubes to get a better seal…… Whoosh! Serious flow bro! Thanks!

  33. Thanks for this. I combined your Overflow Weir, with the guy who makes drift wood out of pvc’s Technique.
    You almost can’t tell it’s a filter.

  34. I set this up today – works – but got a very loud gurgling sound coming out of the high pipe in back – any ideas?

  35. Dude! I built this and added a check valve for the aqualifter. It works great! Thanks for making this video!

  36. I made the Overflow you show in this video but it's very loud any suggestions on what I could do to quiet it down ..

  37. Any suggestions from the internet world on how to reduce the noise from the water going over my weir and down the oversized pipe? I made this setup using 3/4" and my stand pipe is 1 1/2" (double the size). I'm doing a good job on the balanced water level (about 1" above the base of the notches in the top of the oversized pipe). But I'm getting a lot of noise from this part of the overflow. Do I need more notches, bigger notches, less notches? Should the oversized stand pipe be full of water or is it always a waterfall effect across the weir and down to the suction location? Thanks in advance. Oh… and from experience make sure your suction cups on the oversized stand pipe are sealed watertight into the hole. I unplugged the system, went out for an hour and had a spill because water was getting in through the suction cup location. Live and learn 🙂

  38. How far can this lift the water and stay primed? I'm trying to make a tidal system and it needs to pull the water up 25cm before the first bend.

    And i plan to put a bell siphon over the intake to drain 15cm water out of it

  39. Hi Joey, are you presently still running your overflow with the Toms aqua lifter pump? How has it been working for you?
    My overflow keeps losing prime and my tanks are overflowing every other week or so. Tried everything and this is the only thing left for me to try.
    Drilling my tanks is not an option as I have only been able to successfully drill 3 out of 6 55 Gallon tanks.
    Let me know

  40. Anyone know how low of a water line this will work with? I rather not drill the tank for my Emydura subglobosa if possible… TIA

  41. anyone have any tips to get this primed i have the tee at the same level followed everything to the letter but it just wont siphon

  42. Thank you so much for this idea. I followed your instruction to the letter and it works awesome. Quick question however. How am I able to make the vent pipe quieter?

  43. Instead of using an electric pump to purge the overflow of air/water, why not plumb it using small tubing to the venturi on a powerhead? It would always be drawing a small amount of water/air from the overflow tube and prevent any air accumulation

  44. Holy moly this thing is a beast I built my own and it does more then an extra 60% the pipe I used I should only be able to do about 600 gallons but all i had was a 800 gph pump and that bad boy can hardly keep up with this overflow!!!!

  45. Great idea! but theoretically this hole for suction cup can cause water leak if it will be ill-fitting and pump fail. It will be better to avoid this hole for suction cup, but it was noticed before. Really good job, easy and eficient.

  46. I built this last week.

    Just got around to installing today.
    Once setup it does make an awful loud gurgling noise from the weir.

    Like many people have said just put a ball valve on both the return pump and the exit line going into the sump. Once you dial in the ball valve the noise is completely gone. You can't hear a thing from it.

  47. Just like to say thank you for this video King of DIY! Just finished the upgrade for my 120 gallon oscar tank- The return pump is 700 gph and after some tweaks is handling the flow no problem – saved me from drilling the tank – Thanks again! Keep 'em coming!

  48. I just made one of these thanks Joey ! Had it flowing at 225gph approx when I tested it. Will post a pic when I have it in the tank!

  49. Anyone know if this works for larger builds? I'm currently starting a new 90 gallon and want to give this a try. Also, any size PVC suggestions?

  50. Made one of these almost identical to this but cant seem to make mine work without capping the primer spout? How does he get his to work without it?

  51. Can I use this overflow using a 5 gal bucket bio filter trying to set up to where I don’t have to worry about if power goes off I’m not gonna be flooded

  52. Hi !
    I have a 1 inch diameter for the tubes, but for the big tube it's in the aquarium, I have a 4 inch tube, can I use that??

  53. I have made one myself with your instructions, and it works perfect. Thanks for the idee and keep up the good work 💪👍

  54. An awesome design…My 75 gallon main & 20 gallon sump build prototype works great. Can't wait to get it all finished. Love the weir. Can't say enough about it. – Road Dog 1

  55. Hi Joey,
    I just built this overflow but I’m struggling to get it primed. Would you have any instructions for me please? I cap it on the bottom, fill it with water and when I uncap it it stops.
    Thank you

  56. Hey Joey, I know this is an older video and I'm sure you're busy as can be, but am working on my own set up. I am curious as to length of piping in between elbows. I have 1in piping for the overflow, will be running a Rio 2100 692gph pump through a 10gallon sump attached to a 60 gallon tank.

  57. I love both of your videos. Now this video is showing that I can get 60% more flow form the new style. I have a 265 gallon tank and was told I would need about 1,200 to 1,500 GPH. So using the numbers from your first video and with the new style I guess would need to use one 1” pipe and one 1.1/4” pipe to get 1,528 or one 1 ½” pipe to get 1,344. If I did my math right. Another question is does the overflow pipe have to go so far down the weir pipe? I want to keep the overflow pipe a couple of inches below the water line just in case something happens and I don’t drain my whole tank out.

  58. Would this still work without glueing the pipework to test it?
    I’m assuming not because of the air leaks etc but trying to find out if this is the case?

  59. hey need help!! I have made this and it won't work!! only thing i can think is that I'm using 2" inch for the larger pipe and 1¼" inch pipe for smaller pipe? would the outer need to be exactly double??

  60. Is it possible to use furniture grade pvc tubing for this application? I found some clear pvc tubing I'd really like to start plumbing all my tanks with this. Max PSI is 45. Thanks in advance.

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