Category Archives: How-To’s

Tuning a Bean Animal overflow for perfect flow

Tuning a bean animal overflow is easy … once you see how it’s done.

While there is a ton of info online about setting up a bean animal overflow. And a lot of written info about how to get it dialed in.

But it’s MUCH easier to understand what is meant by ‘properly dialed in’ when you can actually see one running.

The problem is a lack of videos showing what properly, and improperly, tuned bean animal looks like.

Watch the following videos and you’ll see just how easy tuning a bean animal overflow can be.

Given the incredible volume of information that’s already available online about assembling a bean animal overflow, I won’t go into any detail on it in this post.

If you do need info on setting one up, I recommend starting with this Bean Animal Overflow thread on It’s a VERY long read, but it’s packed full of information.

Now, let’s get ready to tune that overflow.

There Are Three Methods of Tuning a Bean Animal Overflow

The first way to tune the flow of a bean animal is by using the valve on your siphon line.

Gate valves are more expensive than ball valves but they are also MUCH easier to make fine adjustment to. That’s why experienced bean animal users HIGHLY recommend spend the extra money on a gate valve. Ball valves will work but take a VERY gentle and patient hand to adjust. (Turning the handle 1/16″ on a ball valve increases flow much more than on it does on a gate valve.)

The second is by adjusting the flow control on your DC return pump … if you have one.

The third is by adjusting the valve on you siphon line until you get the flow close to ‘perfect’, then using the flow control on your DC return pump to ‘fine tune’ it.

A DC return pump is NOT required for using or tuning a bean animal overflow.

All that is needed is that valve on your siphon line.

Time to start tuning!

Close your valve all the way, then open it up 1/4 of the way.

Turn on your return pump and watch flow in your overflow box.

Your Bean Animal is ‘Under’ Tuned If It Looks Like This:

An under-tuned bean animal. The valve needs to be opened more.

In this situation it is flowing too slow.

Open the valve a little bit at a time until the siphon pipe is flowing without any gurgling or bubbles coming out of it … AND just small trickle of water is running down your open channel pipe. It should be almost silent.

Your Bean Animal is ‘Over’ Tuned If It Looks Like This:

An over-tuned bean animal. The valve needs to be closed more.

In this case it is flowing too fast.

Close the valve a little bit at a time, until the siphon pipe is flowing without any gurgling or bubbles coming out of it … AND just small trickle of water is almost silently running down your open channel pipe.

You’ve Tuned Your Bean Animal Just Right If It Looks Like This:

A well-tuned bean animal. Just one or two ‘gurgle cycles’ at start-up. Then, within a few minutes, it stabilizes and maintains a consistent water level in the overflow box.

Notice how, after just 2-3 minutes, the water level remains even about 1/4 of the way up horizontal section of the middle pipe — which is the open channel pipe on this setup.

Once you’ve got it dialed it in, it’s time to test it…

Shut off your return pump. Wait a few minutes until no more water is draining down your sump. Then turn you return pump back on.

After one or two major gurgling cycles, you BA overflow should stabilize and run steady just like in the video.

If it did, congratulations! You’re done tuning your bean animal overflow and have it dialed in right where it should be.

If not, don’t worry, you’re very, very close…

Fine Tune It

If it takes too long to stabilize, just fine tune it very gently a bit more … using the tiniest of turns to your valve … the same as described above. The slightest tap to the valve handle is all it may take. Be gentle and patient with each adjustment — we’re talking a 1/16″ of an inch or less in some instances.

And if you do have a DC return pump, this is where it can come in handy. Making fine adjustments on the pump controller may be easier than making them with the siphon valve.

Once it’s running with a fine trickle down the ‘trickle’ pipe, test it once more just to make sure it starts up, stabilizes quickly, and flows just the way you want it.

When it comes to overflows, nothing beats a bean animal set-up for safety, reliability, capacity, or silence.

You’ve made a great choice in using one. And now that you can tune it, it’ll be one of the most worry-free parts of your set up.

Filter Floss: When to Replace It for Optimal Aquarium Health

A common question among new aquarium owners is, “How often should I replace my filter floss?”

And one of the most common answers you’ll see on popular reef keeping forums is “every 2 to 3 days”.

There are two slight problems with this rote piece of advice though:

  1. It could cost you extra money. And,
  2. It could starve your tank.

Every tank is unique, including yours. Just because changing the filter floss every 3 days works best on another person’s tank doesn’t mean it will work best for yours.

How often you change your filter floss will depend on your bio-load and the maturity of your tank.

filter floss cut into strips
Filter floss cut into 1 inch strips for placement between sump baffles.

Consider a new tank that is less than three months old…

Changing the filter floss too often could deprive the bacteria and other microscopic critters of the food they need to develop. This may result in your tank taking longer to mature than usual.

Likewise, changing filter floss too often in a established, mature tank could strip the water of too many nutrients causing the coral to starve.

So where does the common ‘2 to 3 days’ come into play?

As a starting point.

Filter floss isn’t needed until you reach your desired nutrient levels. Phosphate of 0.03 ppm and nitrate of 1 to 5 ppm are most typical.

Once your tank is at your desired nutrient levels begin using filter floss.

For the next 4 to 6 weeks replace it every three days.

Be sure to test your phosphates and nitrates at least twice a week during this period.


Let Your Tank ‘Tell’ You When to Change the Filter Floss

If your nutrients continue to rise during the test period switch to replacing it every 2 days – and consider adding additional filtration such as a skimmer and/or granular activated carbon if you don’t already use them.

If your nutrients hold steady or drop closer to zero during the test period, try replacing the filter floss every five days.

Keep testing for 4 to 6 weeks.

If the nutrients continue to hold stable or drop, bump the replacement schedule out to once a week.

Keep testing. And keep bumping the schedule out.

When your nutrients start to rise a little, stop and switch back to the previous schedule. Congratulations! You’ve found your filter floss replacement ‘sweet spot’.

For example, if they were stable when you replaced the floss every 7 days (once a week) but started to rise when you replaced it every 9 days, stop. 7 days is your replacement ‘sweet spot’.

Changing it more often than 7 days would just be wasting money. And waiting longer than 7 days will cause your nutrient levels to rise.

What if your able to go for several weeks without replacing the floss and still see no rise in your nutrient levels?

Well then you may not need to use filter floss at all. It would indicate the other biological and/or mechanical filtration in your system is more than enough to keep your nutrient levels in check.


A Simple DIY Crab Trap for Catching Aquarium Pests

This DIY crab trap is a quick and easy way to remove unwanted nuisance crabs from your aquarium.

Unwanted pests such as gorilla crabs and stone crabs often make their way into aquariums as hitchhikers on live rock.

At first that my not be a problem. They can even serve as a valuable member of a clean-up crew while they’re small. But as they get bigger and their appetites grow, they will often start to eat corals or other more desirable members of your clean-up crew such as porcelain crabs, snails, and even small fish.

Many aquarists will spend hours trying to spear them with a skewer, or a pair of large tweezers. And some will even resort to spending anywhere from $15 to $50 on a pre-made pest trap.

Before you spend that much time or money though, there is an old reef keepers’ trick you might want to try first.

You can make a very simple DIY crab trap using nothing more than a small glass.

Here you can see the quarter-sized stone crab I caught an ordinary shot glass. Two tries with shrimp didn’t work. But it took less than 30 minutes to catch when I used a little bay scallop as bait.

shot glass crab trap
Small stone crab caught in a DIY shot glass crab trap.

A shot glass will work for small crabs that are about the size of a quarter or smaller.  For larger crabs you can use a bigger glass; one that is just tall enough so that the crab can’t reach the lip if it extends its claw.

The only thing you need other than a glass is some bait. Some people have success with a piece or raw shrimp from the grocery store. I tried shrimp twice but didn’t have much luck with it. On the third attempt to catch the little stone crab that was terrorizing my tank, I tried a small piece of raw bay scallop and it worked like a charm.

Simply place the glass in the bottom of your aquarium about 30 minutes before the lights turn off for the night, and lean it at an angle so the lip of the glass is resting against a rock.

Then place a small piece of the bait in the bottom of the glass and let it sit overnight.

The crab will climb down into the glass to eat the bait. But it won’t be able to get back out because the walls of the glass are too smooth for it climb up.

It make take a few tries, but a lot of reef keepers have had great success using this quick and simple DIY crab trap.