Need help with 55 Gal undrilled tank.

I am planning a reef tank around an undrilled 55 gal standard tank. i am choosing this tank because i have it... and the stand already. id like a sump and refugium, but am unsure of howto get the water from the tank to the sump and back... after spending a night browsing posts and searching... i keep coming up with through the tank solutions.

I guess my question at first is.... can i do this easily and reliably without driling holes in the tank.(which i have read that you may or may not be able to.. depending on which thread i read.) I am assuming a little that one reason im not finding the info i want, is because reef ready tanks are so readily available. If i could just get a link or two to some threads on how to accomplish this, or maybe some better keywords to search to guide me in the right direction id appreciate it...

i dont mind building things if thats the solution.

Dr. Reef

Dr. Reef at ur service
RC Sponsor
Welcome to saltwater. U can buy overflow box that will have drain or drains depending on what make model u go with. Attach this drain to ur sump via pvc or flex hose then a return pump from sump to main tank.
Esshops, reef octopus both make good overflow boxes.
Good luck


New member
Why are you against drilling holes? I understand that the glass may be tempered but it doesn't seem like you've tested it so you may be able to go that route. It's extremely easy.

HOB overflow may be an answer but not many people like them.

HOB = Hang On Back
thank you all for your replies... and why am i against drilling holes? hmmmmm not entirely sure.
i guess im afraid of breaking the tank? and yes i have not tested if its tempered or not... i suppose i dont know how to test it. Most of my exp comes from freshwater. If i could feel confident in drilling glass i probably would do it. i plan on making my own sump and or refugiuim and things like that.

Michigan Mike

Freedom costs a buckofive
I would buy a 75g tank & drill it, build a slightly oversized stand & use the 55g for a sump. Or buy a 40breeder for a sump & use the 55g for a QT/hospital tank. Even better.


New member
I have a 55 as well. I use and Eshopps PF-1000 and used 1" PVC and valves to make it a "herbie" overflow. I am very pleased with how it works and would recommend it.
i tried to research the herbie, but found it difficult to find plans for it. i kept finding the same link to the same thread, and half the pictures didnt work :( maybe because im on a android tablet....

i obviously would like to have a drilled tank... and im afraid to drill my tank... one poster said it was very easy... but im nervous. barring that i will look int the eshopps pf-1000.


New member
If you'd like, I can take some pictures of mine... It's actually fairly simple. You put valves on both outputs to the PF-1000. Take 1" PVC and make stand pipes of different heights, one short, which is your "full siphon" and the other tall which is your emergency drain. I keep a slight flow through my taller pipe, like the original herbie plan. Use the valve on the shorter pipe end to tune the flow to your pump.

Let me know if you need pictures and I'll try to get some tomorrow.


New member
A sump is not mandatory to keep a successful salt water tank. I've been running my 77 gallon for 6 years without a sump. Having said that, I'm planning a build with a basement sump that will include a new, drilled tank.

As mentioned, provided your 55 does not have tempered side, back or front glass, drilling is an option & not that difficult. You simply need to take your time when drilling & make sure you use water to cool the bit. There should be plenty of threads on that subject. Many tanks will have tempered bottoms only, but there are some in your size category that are tempered on all sides. If you know the brand of the tank you may be able to go to the manufacturer's web site to find out which, if any, panes are tempered. Another way to check for tempered glass is to use polarized optics, such as sunglasses & look through the glass at a computer screen on the other side. Have a white screen on the computer, or even a smart phone. Computer screens & smart phone screens also have polarizing layers to cut down on glare. As you look at the screen through the glass, rotate it. If you see patterns or bars develop as you rotate the screen, the glass is most likely tempered.


New member
I have a 55 undrilled and I just started with corals a few months ago. I started with fowlr and then I got the idea of mushrooms and then when those seemed happy, I started adding zoos and when those were good I kept going with diff types of softies. I have two HOB filters, UV sterilizer, and two koralia 1050's, two koralia 750's and a misc powerhead. Everything seems to be happy. I am also running single bulb T8 9500K with the ugly black plastic hood. I have a T8 fixture on its way though. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.


New member
If your going to go for a HOB get a Lifereef or Esshops. Avoid the kinds that rely on a pump to maintain siphon because pumps fail and can cause a flood. Also if you set up a herbie I would suggest using a gate valve. It makes fine tuning the main drain much easier. The emergency can have just a ball valve, as it does not need to be "tuned."

Just as point of principle Herbie overflows are safest when there is normally no flow going through the emergency drain, so try to set it up with a dry emergency standpipe that is about 1/4'' above the water level and have all of the flow go through the main siphon drain.
First thank you all for your responses. and dirkomatic id love some pictures some time but im still in the planning stage so when im ready, if you dont mind i'll let you know and if your still willing you can share the pics. thank you much.

so as i think about it more... i do want a drilled tank...
but i think i 'll do the hang on back and save up my money for a drilled or reef ready tank the next step up... like a 75 or 90.

so building a herbie is the best idea? or buy a premade one? im a mechanic by trade so i can build things if i have plans.

i also understand i dont HAVE to have a sump, but i think id like one.. everything i have read says its a good idea. and a sump is something i feel pretty confident in building. and i appreciate being able to make something for cheaper than i could buy it.

and when the time comes im sure i'll be contacting you fishaddict.

again thank you everyone for your input... i'll be asking lots of questions as i go :)


New member
I can send pictures; no problem... Making a herbie of the eshopps is really easy. You just need some 1" pvc and a saw. It's about the easiest thing I've done with my tank so far.
havent been on in a few days. but hopefully this weekend i can do some more research on a herbie. anyone know of a link to a "how to" for a build?


New member
Check with your LFS they may know someone that can drill the tank for you. Mine did anyway. I think you will be a lot happier with a drilled tank.
i hadnt thought of talking to a store... i will look into that.

good to see another Kiss fan ;p

i will also look into the trickle filter... would that be in place of a sump? because im pretty set on building a sump.

So ... no that drilling the tank may be a possibility..... if i do have it drilled... where do i drill it? just the back?
just going to throw this out there.... would two 10 gallon tanks, one made into a sump.... and the other made into a refugium be ... adequte for a 55 gal?