Reef Tank Plumbing Guides

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 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.
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.
Common Aquarium Overflows – Durso, Herbie and Bean Setups - Several common overflow methods are explained in this overview. Each of the components are broken down so you can understand what is going on in the more complicated methods.


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.

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 Display 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.

40 Gallon Breeder Reef Sump Plans - This is my DIY Sump. It is installed under my 150 gal reef tank in a cabinet stand. This design has been in use for over 3 years now, and there isn’t really anything I would change. It is about as simple as it can be. I recently removed the sump from the system to […]
Reef Tank Sump DIY Glass Baffles Guide - Assembling a sump is covered from the perspective of a DIY build of a 40 breeder tank. Techniques on how to measure, cut and prepare glass pieces and how to secure and silicone the panels into the aquarium.
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.
What is the ideal Flow Rate of Turnover through the Sump? - 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.
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.


Reef Rock Aquascape: How to Drill and Cement your Live Rock - You can easily build a permanent custom rock structure for your tank. Using cement or putty, I go over how to drill your rocks and secure them with plastic rods to create a stable reef tank aquascape.

Other Reef-Related Articles

Reef Tank Stands – A Design Guide - Aquarium Stands come in all shapes and sizes, but in the reef hobby there is a lot of customization that goes on. You often find yourself buying more equipment for your tank, and as you add more things to your tank setup you might find yourself running out of room to put it all.
Drilling Holes for Bulkheads in Glass Aquarium Tanks - Drilling an aquarium tank is accomplished with a special bit. This post covers how to set up the tank and drill and what technique to use for a clean cut, as well as how to make sure your tank is suitable to be drilled.
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.
Suitable Pipe Materials for Plumbing Reef Aquariums - 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 Reef Tank – Cutting and Gluing Pipe, Mounting Bulkheads - How to measure, cut, and glue your pipe and fittings. Also covers how to mount bulkheads to the tank and how to reduce the physical stresses on the tank caused by plumbing.