Bean Animal Overflow (Stop Overflow Noise)

Image Credit: PxHere
Image Credit: PxHere

Bean Animal Overflow (Stop Overflow Noise)


You may be wondering why your aquarium is so loud or wondering why the saltwater aquarium at your friend’s is gurgling away.

Well, it very well could be because they don’t have the appropriate plumbing overflow system for their tank, or they have a clog.

Either way, it’s recommended that you are familiar with the different designs of overflow so that you not only can get the design that is appropriate for your tank but can address any issues that might arise after installation.

Key Bean Animal Overflow Components

3-Drain Overflow Box

Overflow Gate Valve

Airline Hose

Airline Valve

Overflow Box

First, we should discuss what an overflow box even is as it is the basic concept of what we will be talking about. An overflow box is used for the wastewater being drained from the display tank but before it reaches the filtration system. Think of it as the bouncer that lines the wastewater up for the filtration system or sump to work through. 

As water flows in from the display tank, the overflow box holds it until the overflow pipes can funnel the dirty water into the sump where it will be filtered with whatever methods you have installed there. 

Overflow boxes can have several configurations of drainage pipes. However, you want to make sure you are installing an overflow system that is appropriate for your specific tank. Installing the incorrect drainage system could have disastrous effects on the health of your tank or even result in flooding.  

Durso Overflow

The Durso overflow setup is a single standpipe and is a very basic form of the drainage system. The pipe rests in your overflow box and drains the water into the sump as the water meets the height requirements. 

The only issue with this method is that if something were to happen to the one pipe there can be drainage issues as there is only one pipe. It also can’t do high flow rates compared to other overflow designs. 

On the brighter side, this method is extremely simple and easy to install into your overflow box but take note of the risks when weighing what overflow system is right for your tank. 

What is a Bean Animal Overflow?

Now that we have a basic understanding of Durso and Herbie overflow methods, we can begin to talk about bean animal overflow. Bean animal overflow is a combination of the other two methods and is easily the safest and quietest of the 3 methods.

A bean animal overflow system uses three pipes for draining with two pipes being for main drainage purposes and one emergency drain. The two main pipes are designed like the Durso standpipe and the Herbie pipe respectfully. The emergency drainage pipe is very similar to the Herbie emergency pipe as well.

This design helps aquarists with having minute control over the level of drainage happening in the overflow box due to a valve that controls the main pipe siphon. This level of control also assists

The bean animal style is the safest and most efficient method, but you want to be aware of the space you need for the piece. Since there are 3 pipes, you will need an overflow box wide enough to accommodate the pieces.

Aquarium Overflow Types

Herbie vs Bean Animal Style Overflow

There is no question that a bean animal overflow design for your overflow box is the best method most of the time but remember that you need to think about how much space you must work with. You have a lot of security when it comes to emergencies with bean animal style, but you still have assurance with a Herbie overflow system. The only thing is how much you want to spend and how much space you have. If you have an especially large tank that requires very fast flow you might need a bean animal style configuration. If you can get by with a Herbie overflow that might be your best bet. However, you will need to do more of the work with setting up a bean animal overflow setup.

DIY Bean Animal Overflow

All you need are 2 standpipes, an emergency pipe, and 3 drain holes. You can use ball valves, but it’s recommended that you invest in gate valves for a more accurate level of control. Ball valves also have a tendency to become much more difficult to operate as they age but if that doesn’t seem like it will be an issue feel free to use them. The pipes all are drilled into the overflow box and lead into the sump. To get the most out of your bean animal system make sure that you are taking into careful consideration what kind of piping and connections you are installing as you will be relying on them for the foreseeable future.

A brief overview of material prep for the Bean Animal

  1. You will want to use schedule 40 PVC piping for your bean animal system as it will allow for a better flow into your sump. In the past, people have used scheduled 80 but the inner hole of the piping is much smaller compared to the schedule 40 PVC so it’s best to go with the latter. You can also consider soft tubing for the piping so you can try reinforced braided tubing as it won’t kink compared to other tubings but it might be more difficult (and more expensive) to find these materials compared to PVC. If you are going for soft tubing and not going for a reinforced braided tubing then your need to ensure that you’re checking how the tubing is laid out once set up. If it looks like it is folding on itself then you need to adjust it as it will result in flooding over time. Even after the initial setup, you should continue to periodically check your soft tubing as time goes on just in case.
  2.  The first line of the pipe is the siphon line which is completely submerged in water. This is the pipe that will help to draw the water down towards the sump.
  3. The second line is the open channel, and this is used to help keep a more constant flow of water as needed but it shouldn’t be taking on that much water. Try to have the water resting at the bend of the open channel piping.
  4. The final pipe is the emergency pipe and should be sticking out of the water as it used when the other two pipes fail. When water begins to rise the emergency pipe will catch it and gurgle. The gurgling should alert you that there is something wrong with your overflow system.
  5. Overflow box (without tempered glass) to install the pipes into will require drilling to fit the pipes. Measure and outline a hole with a marker on the glass for the pipe to slot through. Wear gloves run the drill fast and go slowly. You might want to put a small container or towel beneath where you are cutting to catch any shards that might fall from your work. The last thing you want is free-floating glass in your workspace. For best results take your overflow box outside and run cold water over it as you begin to drill. You want to do this 3 times and as the holes will be part of the plumbing you want them to be clean cuts so take your time. If this is too intimidating, you can always get one made for you. 
  6. A return pump is one of the easier things to purchase for your plumbing. You only need to consider reviews on what pump might be the quietest pump for your bean animal

How To Tune A Bean Animal Overflow

You have a few options with how you would like to tune bean animal overflow and what you choose will depend on our setup and personal preference.

  • Use the valve on the siphon
  • Siphon line valve
  • Return pump flow control


Each of these methods can help to better control the flow of your overflow. You will want to make sure that your main pipes are just submerged to the point where the water meets the bend in the pipe. Going over the pipes completely is way too much for instance and means that you should scale back a little bit. If you hear gurgling you know that you do not have a fast-enough flow for your pipes, and you should increase it. It can take a little bit of time to get it 100 percent perfect but just take your time and watch the water levels.

Final Words

If you are concerned about noise and preventing flooding, the bean animal overflow design is the way to go. Keep in mind how much space you have to fit the design as it will require that you are doing more of the work yourself or getting someone else to help you. Herbie is a great design for beginners with larger tanks as it is easier to find premade tanks for it but it isn’t quite as safe controllable as the bean animal.

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