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Cheap Overflow


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My cheap overflow.

Here's a view at an angle from the front.



I will post a diagram later, depending on how many people request it.



-From LFS-

1 Lee's medium specimin container (intake)

1 Lee's Large specimin container (rear)

1 U-Tube (for siphon action)

-From HomeDepot-

1 scrap pice of plexi (to hold the intake box)

1 acrylic bolt/wingnut (to attach the intake box to the piece of plexi)

1 PVC 1" male adapter

1 PVC 1" female adapter

1 rubber gasket to fit under the rear box through PVC



Dremel (play dentist and cut them teeth)

Acrylic glue (any strong bonding acrylic adhesive)


Take the smaller of the containers and dremel off the overhang arm. Then play dentist and cut some teeth out of the front and sides. You will also want to drill a hole in the back near the top center of the container (just big enough for the acrylic bolt to fit through).



Drill/dremel a hole at the bottom of the larger container to fit the PVC piping (instant bulkhead) and install the PVC/gasket.


Take the piece of plexi (wide as the smallest part of the overhanging portion and as tall as the intake box), and glue it to the small portion of the overhang of the rear box (larger container). Then using the dremel, cut out a strip from the bottom of the plexi to the desired maximum height of the intake box. You want this gap to be as wide as the acrylic bolt so you can slide the intake box up and down.

After removing this strip, you should be able to connect the intake box to the rear box using the acrylic bolt.


Throw it in your tank! place the U-Tube in there and siphon out the air. Adjust the height of the water by sliding the intake box up and down the grove you cut into the plexi.



Closup of the intake box. The wingnut is holding the intake box in place.







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Gorgeous. If I hadn't already drilled the crap out of my tanks I might have tried this method. Draining the larger container from the center (or higher) would even allow for a mini fuge. :P

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That's so sweet. I've just spent about an hour searching for an idea just like this one! How about a diagram. I'm trying to get a 10 gallon tank set up as a fuge just above my sump and this would be much better to me than drilling the 10g.

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Should flow between 200 and 300 gph safely.


We used to build these all the time in the 90's.


I ran two on a 74 gallon custom I built and it worked great. I put a piece of airline attached to a check valve at the peak of the u-tube then attached it to the venturi input of a power head. That way, if the power went out, the siphon started automatically.



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I ordered my stuff to make the cheap overflow. Should arrive today via FedEx. I've got an extra 3/4" bulkhead that I"m not using. What did you do to the smaller box? Looks like you cut the top off? Also, how did you attach everything using the wing-nut?

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okay fellas, here's some quick 1st grader diagrams for you.


top view of intake box:



side view of rear box:



side view of setup:



IMPORTANT - the U-Tube DOES NOT feed into the bulkhead. If you do so, you will lose your siphon.

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The overhanging black u-tubes that I use with my SCWD for circulation, was ordered from http://www.premiumaquatics.com . Search for Utube. The longer portions of black piping was bought at Home Depot. They are 1/2" in size and come from the sprinkler dept. I wish I visited the sprinkler department earlier because I could have avoided buying the black uTubes and created similar contraptions using sprinkler elbows.

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Melcolm: The longer portions of black piping was bought at Home Depot. They are 1/2" in size and come from the sprinkler dept.


Thanks Melcolm. I think I looked everywhere BUT the sprinkler supplies. Appreciate your help.



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Kick ass. Thanks for the diagrams! I was pretty sure that's what you did, I just needed some reassurance before I busted out my power tools :)

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Looks good, maybe someone that is doing this project could paint the internal part of the overflow and show use what that looks like. I would like to see a complete tank shot so that I could get an idea on how exactly a DIY overflow like that one would look.

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I wonder if those boxes are acrylic? Then I could use my #4 or #16 to glue them together. I suppose I could just use glue. LOL


I'm going to set up a 10G fuge to drain into a sump via this overflow design. I just need a pump to feed the fuge. How many GPH would you guys recommend?

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Wow! NICE SETUP!!! may I add a note...:


make sure the bulkhead in the rear container sticks up HIGHER than the outlet of the Utube back there. ..so that some water remains in the rear container and the tube stays full of water...


siphons suck!:P i just drill the tank:P

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Are there any "in-tank safe" paint you could use to paint the inside acrylic box? I really like the overflow, but I would like it to match the back of the tank (I want mine to be black somehow).

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i used krylon fusion spray paint... it doesn't chip and it's made for plastic... i've had a peice of painted PVC in my tank for about a month now... everything is still peachy...

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I have also heard success stories of using RIT dye to dye pvc pipe etc. That might be an idea... anybody here ever done that?

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good idea, but I was thinking about just using the first box, then directly connecting it to the fuge, same thing, without the back part, would this work?

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