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20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I didnt start out with this project in mind... at all. My 9yr old niece has taken a strong
interest in the hobby so I built her a small planted tank out of a surplus 5gal tank. I had a
Whisper 30 HOB, 100 watt heater and the light that came with my 30gal. I turned
the 30 into a pretty satisfying planted Biotype aquarium and these accessories were
not up to par with what I had in mind for the 30. But... these tools sure would come
in handy in a 5gal planted with a few neon tetras and about 4 or 5 amano shrimp and
a mystery snail.

IT was a succes with a very strong filter.... I thought, great. Fast foward 1 month. Im
at my LFS and am in love with this little 2.5 inch white crawfish. Now, I dont know much
about this hobby yet, but Im soaking it up like a sponge. Im now in the midst of a complete
DIY 15gal Reef Tank. Making it all, from the Tank, to the filter, to the protein skimmer
and the light. Gotta buy the Heater, return pump, and PHeads.

Anyway, I already had the 5gal I was gonna make the sump in. So I ask my local
employees at the lfs, one was an owner. How will he do in my 30gal planted?
LOL.... this is where it gets fun... THey said "Ahhhhh, well, he will burrow a bit but,
won't destroy your plants."

Anybody out there keep or breed these lil curious, outgoing veggie lovers?
This was his 1st home, my fairly new 5mth old currently very succesfull and
thriving 30gal heavily planted tank....

Even asked again before shelling out $34.00 fot the great
oppurtunity to take this lil weedEater with claws home to a lush, green and blue oasis
of all you can eat plants and mosses.

"No way man, he'll be ok. He's a scavenger. Probably won't even bother the plants"

28 hours later I awake to a floating salad. Had just hand planted micro sword that takes
forever to root and establish.... gone! No... he left one. But managed to eat a scary amount
of the plants in additioin to just plain going ape crap and seeing how many things he could
cut through with his probably never before used claws.

So..... he was promptly put on eviction notice and as soon as he was chowing down on that
last micro sword. I snuck in and took him by surprise....

Hello new 5gal, Pure slate stone, WHite sand, black sand, black gravel and a few plastic
planted home for the very NOT shy white crawfish.

Goodbye 5gal sump pump for my future Reef tank... ah, too small for a sump anyway. I'll
just get a strong cannister.

I didnt have a filter and fashioned one from a plastic water bottle. cut in half. I then removed about
3 inches of the middle material, filled it with FIlter floss, carbon, and bit of filter material from the
30 planted. Pushed the bottle all together and made a bunch of holes in the bottom with
a hot fork. Causing the water to be forced through all the media before leaving. I used a 105gph
pond pump to force water thru it... It was very effective. I took the filter cartridge from the
Whisper 30 that had been running for months and squeezed it into the crawfish tank in an
effort to force the pump to pack all this bio material into the new filter. It totally cleared the tank in
less than 2 hours.

The Idea
Then it occured to me, as I watched this lil crawdad in his new abode. Watching me, and munching
on a green bean. Im using this filter that did a really good job in a 30gal tank, in a 5gal tank?! Why not
use it to filter both of them? PLenty of power, use the same heater, thermometer.

Easy enough... right? Well actually it's extremeley easy and foolproof. And as far as power outages
Forget about it. The siphon WILL NOT break unless you phyiscally pull the pipe out of the water.

But I went about it totally wrong. I had the bright idea of pushing the two tanks together, end to end. Took
the WHisper 30 and made a v cut between the uptake pipe and the return spout. IT was really easy
with a marker i used to make an estimated pattern holding the filter in position. and then a pair of tin
snips. Soft plastic. Cut like butter and luckily it fit betwen the 2 tanks, snug and perfectly. Best of all
it didnt hinder regular use.

My idea, draw up water from the planted tank, filter it, and expel into the crawdad tank, which is then
returned to the planted via a 105gph pond pump and a vinyl hose. Dont laugh...

It was a logistical nightmare. Impossible. No way you could sync the filter pump with the return pump
and have the levels perfect and adapt to changes in water flow.... or any other numerous occurence
that could cause either pump to slow.

So I started thinking I could just let the craw tank overflow into the planted, and I could not find anything
that would do it the way i needed. So Ultimately I took the design for an overflow box that drains into another
box on the back of the tank, and then into a sump, and altered it to fill my needs perfectly.

I just raised the craw tank about 2 inches above the planted, put an overflow box on the side of the crawdad
tank, then connected the overflow to the planted tank with a PVC syphon pipe I made for $2.

But instead of syphonig into a box, then dropping to the sump, I just drop it right back into the plantedtank.

I changed the valve in the syphon starter hole a check valve and apparently
silicone doesnt adhere to this plastic and these suction cups. Just added a
black one from a heater. SMall hole in the bottom, then force the nipple end
into the hole... it'll be water tight.

Thats it. If the power goes out it syphons down until the overflow stops filling and the vacumn is contained.
POwer back on, water starts to fill the overflow, and the syphon flows. Levels resume. You can turn the
flow on the Whisper 30 filter, all over the place. No matter what, the syphon speeds and slows to keep
the levels constant.

Overflow installed in the crawdad tank:

Attached a suction cup to the return pipe. Don't need it all jiggly:

Here's a shot of both tanks, the whole thing working without flaw: (so far)

While waiting for the silicon to dry on the real overflow box i quickly made
one just to use as a prototype.

Here you can also see the manual screw valve still
installed before switching to the check valve. You can see where I made the
cut on the filter so it'd accommodate the 2 tank setup.

I centered the light for the planted tank. The crawfish gets enough light
from the spillover: I also have it almost right on top of the tank as well.
It's raised here to view the components.

I m not ging to go thru the entire bulid process. I think its self explanatory in the pics. Just make sure
you use a check valve glued into the starter hole and not a manual turn valve. The turn valve will work,
Just more work and harder to get a solid tube of water with 0% air. Which is optimum. You have to close
the valve by hand once you get it going good and you usually lose a lil pressure, and water from the tube.

The check is well known, I just didnt have one when I built and subbed the screw valve.

So what do ya'll think?

6,186 Posts
Nice read :proud:

Had this setup for ages.
The original 55g has an Eheim 2215 on it. Simple siphon link between each tank with a small power head returning through a hose over the center 20T and discharging back to the 55g creating the flow loop. No problems with pump balancing using 1" siphons between tanks


20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
wkndracer - Wow... Yours is a lot more "involved" than mine is. Luckily I picked the right
size pipe 3/4, and all I need is gravity. Great looking setup.

PinoyBoy. - I'm sure it would, but I think you have to do a bit more engineering than I did
How exactly were you thinking about doing it?

20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One thing I need to make clear. This design is made for 2 tanks the same size.
There has been a ton of confusion on another forum I posted to. As long as
both tanks are the same size, and the water levels are about equal then there
shouldn't be any worry of overflow.

Unless, the pipe is removed while the filter is on. Otherwise, I really can't see
this design causing problems. It can, I'm sure be used for 2 different sizes,
but some other fail safes should be implemented.

1,357 Posts
@wkndracer, are those stuffed birds on your wall?

PinoyBoy. - I'm sure it would, but I think you have to do a bit more engineering than I did
How exactly were you thinking about doing it?
It was just a joke :icon_mrgr but would be great if it's possible. I'm guessing the 2.5 would have a turn over rate of that I have in the 20, or else the 20's flow rate wouldn't be adequate. Also it's a 20 long, it will have too much dead spot in the opposite end.
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