How does that system work?

Larry Feltz - New England Fancy Guppy Association

Hello Larry,

I was looking at fish room photos on the New England Guppy website. In the pictures of your fish room, it looks as though you have some kind of self siphoning system setup using plastic tubing loops. How does that work?

Bill (Oct 12, 2009)

How does that system work?

Dear Bill,

I think it works great it is the best thing since sliced bread!!!!

…I am thrilled that someone might be interested in my "self siphoning system setup using plastic tubing". I would love to share my experiences with you.


I love my "Water In/Water Out Water Change System". I think it had its beginnings with writings of Feroze N. Ghadially that I read back in the seventies

In his book Advanced Aquarist Guide, Ghadially made a small reference to a "automatic leveling siphon"


Ghadially became an inspiration to me. I was bewitched by his idea of an automatic "self siphoning system setup using plastic tubing loops

I loved what I began to call the "Self-Leveling Siphon".

I first experimented with the "self-leveling siphon" in a "circulating system" that I successfully developed in my fish room in the early 1970's

I temporarily abandoned the "circulating" portion of this idea and moved to a system of my own design (I am told this system is properly called a WATER IN / WATER OUT SYSTEM). I add water in to each of the tanks individually. Each tank is provided with its own "self-leveling siphon" which allows a volume of water equal to that incoming to overflow. The overflow (WATER OUT) is directed to a common gutter, in my case PVC pipe to a central drain.

The source of the incoming water can be anything you choose. For a while I merely poured the water in from one gallon jugs. Later I pumped water in to each individual tank from a hose (attached to a barrel of aged water).Still later, I raised the barrel (above tank level) and allowed the water to enter each tank using a siphon (inserted into barrel) and the force of gravity to fill the individual tank.

Currently I have a transfer pump attached to barrels raised above tank level. I have an elaborate system of PVC pipe and Drip Irrigation Piping Plus Drip Emitters that allow me to pump water via the self regulating drip emitters to each individual tank.


In all the above cases the incoming water (WATER IN) "displaces" an equal volume of water (WATER OUT) via the "self-leveling siphon". This accomplishes my water changes. It is not fully automatic. I call it human activated semi-automatic. I believe it could be made more fully automatic. But I prefer to have my own human control rather than trust everything to an automatic controller. Little things can go wrong and they sometimes do. If I am watching the water change I can interrupt it and solve any little problem that might arise. If I am observant and on site I can quickly solve any problems that might arise.



My system, at its base is quite simple. It requires one emitter plus one self-leveling siphon for each tank. Multiply that times the number of tanks that you may wish to add to the system and it can appear to be complicated. At a rudimentary level it only requires a single self-leveling siphon for each tank. It can be designed to require no outside energy other than that of gravity to operate. It can be adapted to include almost any "improvements" and "adaptations" your mind can imagine.