PVC Overflow with Multi-Level Intake

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The extra materials and effort needed for this design provides the added benefit of multiple points of water intake over a more basic design that draws water only at the surface.

For aquariums with a heavy bio-load, the mid-level and lower-level water intake holes will help remove heavier free floating debris that is inclined to stay in the lower areas of the water column.

Cement the 3" PVC Test cap to the bottom of the 3" PVC pipe. You may find it easier and less messy to apply the cement to the rim if the 3" diameter pipe instead of applying directly to the cap. Set the cemented pieces aside to cure.

* Using a 1" drill bit, cut a hole in the top of one of the 1½ PVC slip caps. You can offset the hole from the center a bit to allow more room on one side of the cap for water intake, but the cut hole should be at minimum 3/8" from the the edge of the cap. The hole is for a 3/4" pipe with an outer diameter of 1".

* With the hole drilled, trial fit the slip cap on the 1 1/2" pipe and insert a 3/4" pipe thru the drilled hole. The temporary 3/4" pipe should fit snugly. Do not cement the 3/4" pipe into the 1" hole.

* Cement the 1½ PVC cap to one end of the 1½ diameter pipe.
* Immediately press down firmly while the cement is still soft.
* Cut several water intake slots into the cap using the cutting tool of your choice. A Dremel rotary tool would have been ideal for this step, but in the absence of one, a jigsaw was used. An alternative and possibly easier option to the slot design would be to drill a series of holes instead.

* Cement the second (non-drilled) 1½ cap to the other end of the 1½ diameter pipe. Just as with the top cap, immediately press down firmly while the cement is still soft.
* After the cement has had a few minutes to cure, insert a 3/4" PVC pipe thru the 1" hole but do not cement. The 3/4" pipe will be used as a temporary aid to help position the 1½ pipe assembly inside the 3" pipe.

* Apply a quarter sized amout of cement to the back of the upper and lower 1½ slip caps. Take care not to get any cement on the 3/4" pipe since we'll want to be able to remove it later.

welcome to
do-it-yourself aquarium and semi-aquatic background designs beyond the traditional
Dramatic AquaScapes
Disclaimer: Exercising reasonable safety precautions when performing the steps described in this article are the responsibility of the individuals building the background. is not responsible for personal injury or property damage as a result of following steps outlined in this article.