DIY Overhead Sump Filter for Freshwater Aquariums

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Here is the front view of the Overhead Sump. It will mount to the existing stand that I have above the aquarium currently. Within the last 6 months I have added 4 new fish and all have pretty much reached full growth so I have upgraded the water pump from 300gph to 560 gph and designed this new overhead sump filter to keep up with the increased waste the fish are now producing. This new open system filter will enhance both the bio-filtration stage through improved water oxygenation and the chemical filtration stage with lots of activated carbon. This new filter will also be very easy to clean and maintain along with endless space for upgrading if need be.

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Above is an overhead view of the sump and below is a brief explanation of how the pump works.

From left to right:

1)560 gph pump shoots the water from the aquarium up to the 2″ PVC filter on the left of box for mechanical filtration – filter floss and course sponge. 

2) Water then flows into the blue container where the chemical filtration occurs – Activated Carbon. 

3) The water then overflows the blue container (oxygenates) into the sump box where bio-filtration occurs – Lava Rock.

4) Water level rises in the box and overflows clean water into the 3 PVC pipes on the right and drains back into the aquarium.

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Side view  and a closeup of the mechanical filter in the sump. The water comes out of the filter and flows into the blue container.

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Top view of the 3 overflows that drain the filtered water back to the aquarium. Overflows are 1″ PVC. The 4th pipe on the far left is an emergency overflow so I will never have to worry about the water overflowing over the sides of the box.


Updates & fixes on my DIY Overhead Sump:

Installed on May 22, 2016

1st Fix (June 2016): Box was bowing out in the middle so I installed a bracket in the center to straighten it out.

1st Maintenance (Aug.2016): Cleaned out entire sump – bio media box was really dirty.

2nd Maintenance (Oct. 2016): Cleaned out entire sump – bio media box and PVC flow pipes really dirty.

2nd Fix (Dec. 2016): Replaced PVC mechanical filter outflow with a plastic trickle filter box – 2″ PVC filter tube was clogging less than 24 hours after replacing filter floss. New trickle filter box increases surface area and keeps filter from clogging and maintains the 560 gph water flow through the system.

3rd Maintenance (Jan. 2017):  Cleaned out entire sump – bio media box and flow pipes really dirty.

3rd Fix (Jan. 2017): Put a more secure collar on  the pump tube connecting to the sump inlet – Pacu are getting big and bumping into the water pump knocking it loose.

4th Fix (Jan. 2017): Moved the heater from the aquarium to the inside of the overhead sump – Pacu are getting big and knocking into it which would eventually break it.

2 thoughts on “DIY Overhead Sump Filter for Freshwater Aquariums

    • The pump in the video is the Total Pond 330gph … You can get it from Home Depot … I had to upgrade since and because I liked the pump so much I bought the 560gph version … these pumps are reliable and easy to clean …

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