Reef Tank Plumbing Guide

Welcome to gmacreef!

Whether you’re an absolute beginner or someone looking to set up your next tank, this site is designed to educate you. All the components of a reef tank like Sumps, Returns and Overflows all are all explained with clear language and helpful diagrams.


Overflows allow water to be collected from the surface of the tank which keeps the display water level constant at all times. Weirs and plumbing methods are covered in these posts.

Herbie method for Dual Overflows - Tanks with 2 overflows can be set up for a siphon-based drain method like the Herbie or Bean design. There are essentially three ways to do it correctly, and one way to avoid. A few general guidelines for whatever size tank you have.
Herbie Overflow Method Reef Tank Plumbing Guide - The Herbie method can completely silence your aquarium drain and eliminate microbubbles. The guide includes helpful diagrams, explains each component, and helps you troubleshoot problems with your setup.


Return pumps are the center of the life support system on a reef tank and should be installed properly in the sump. Info about selecting equipment and properly plumbing the line is in these posts.

What is the right turnover rate for a reef tank? - A reef aquarium's sump and equipment is affected by the turnover rate. This article goes over "the 10X rule" and how it came to be. This info will help you make the best decision about how much water needs to pass through your system.
Selecting the Proper Return Pump for your Reef Tank - Things to consider when buying a reef tank return pump like flow, turnover rate and cost. Includes tips on reducing noise and useful links to calculate flow.
How to plumb and install a Return Line from a Sump to the Tank - How to install a return line from a sump to your display aquarium. Covers design and specific examples of plumbing and mounting to the tank.


Using a sump has many different benefits and can be set up many different ways. Info about both sump construction and best practices to follow is covered.

Reef Aquarium Sump Tank Design - The optimal sump will allow water to be filtered and processed by your equipment, while performing all the duties you ask of it quietly and safely.
Common Causes of Flooding on Reef Tanks - Some of the more common causes of Floods and smaller leaks in a reef aquarium system. This article covers some pitfalls and oversights with ways to avoid them.

Other Reef-Related Articles

Creating Flow in the Reef Tank - The basics of what you need to know about flow in the reef tank. How it differs from turnover rate and some things to take into consideration when looking at powerheads, designing your return line and aquascaping your tank.
Plumbing a Reef Tank – What Pipe Material Should I use? - There are a few options of what pipe is suitable for plumbing aquariums. This short guide goes over many common types like rigid, flexible, PVC, tubing vs. pipe and others.
Plumbing Assembly for your Reef tank - Selecting the right tubing and materials to use on your system, and some handy tips on how to best measure, cut, and glue your reef tank plumbing fittings.