So for my new 75 gallon I will be building a wet/dry system out of some rubbermaid containers that I have lying about. My question though is about overflow boxes. The guys at the lfs told me that I need one, but I don't understand why? What is wrong with just pvc pipe with holes drilled(spray bar) and a siphon break in it? My idea was to have a spray bar at each end of the tank. One for intake, and one for output. Is the lfs just trying to sell me an overflow?
I'm not sure but the lfs probably just wants you to buy the overflow, my lfs does this to me constantly. Normally if you want to do something a certain way you can find a way to make it work (although the lfs would have you think otherwise). Also be careful with the rubbermaids, they lose a lot of integrity when completely full of water, I use them as qt tanks sometimes but they get really flimsy when they're full (unless you bought some really nice ones). If you fill them only half full they are a lot stronger, still, never try to move it when it has water in it, wouldn't be pretty if that sucker broke on you, especially if you live in a 3rd floor apartment like me (people downstairs wouldn't be too happy about their ceiling...).
An overflow is going to add a bit of safety to your tank. A simple siphon tube is going to suck water down regardless of what's going on in the rest of the system. It'll also suck it down pretty hard. You'll never get a balanced flow into and out of your sump. Your return pump will always be pumping water out too fast, or the siphon pulling it in to fast. Eventually you'll either drain the sump dry and burn your pump out, or you'll overflow it. You'll never get the flow between the siphon and the pump balanced because its a constantly moving target.
An overflow box as a device helps to ensure that water is pulled out of the aquarium at the same rate the pump is returning it. As the pump returns water to the aquarium it raises the level in the tank. The water raises and then starts to overflow into the box. The key is that it overflows at the same rate water is being returned to the tank. It'll balance out and you won't get a dry or overflowing sump.
So yes, you need an overflow box.
I have since re-thought that, and due to not wanting to lose the siphon if the power should go out, I decided to do an overflow. Then Ty also made some good points. I still want to make one rather than spend $200+ on one that will do more than 600gph. Would it still be ok to make a spray bar as the intake? I would then run it over the edge of the tank to a specimen container with a downpipe set just below optimum water level. That would be about $15 vs $200. One more question... is 1" pipe going to be big enough to achieve 700-800gph? If 1" wont be large enough, should I do bigger pipe, or dual downpipes?
BTW...I'm not actually doing "pipe", but really flexible tubing.
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