I was unhappy with the noise and bubbles produced by the "Carlson" (Siphon) surge maker.  So I embarked on a new project. Using an old salt-bucket and a toilet flush mechanism, I made the following, far-superior surge maker:

You will need the following:
  • 5 gallon pail or salt pail (plastic)
  • Toilet flusher/flapper mechanism (metal-free)
  • Marker
  • Sharp UtilityKnife
  • Dremel Tool or similar
  • BIG wrench
  • Sandpaper, PVC Primer and PVC Cement
  • Saw to cut PVC pipe
  • 2" FPT PVC adapter
  • 2" to 1" PVC flush adapter
  • 3/4" PVC adapter (modified)
  • 1" PVC pipe
  • 1" PVC elbows to suit your needs
  • 3/4" PVC Pipe
  • 3/4" elbow
  • 3/4" elbow with MPT
  • 3/4" ball valve
  • 3/4" MPT to push on adapter
  • 3/4" ID hose
  • strong pump
  • cable tie
  • nylon screw to fit plastic toilet float
  • plastic toilet float
  • miscellaneous tools and saws

Begin by cleaning and drying an old salt bucket or similar 5 gallon pail.  Invert the pail and trace the outline of the threaded portion of the flush assembly.


Using a Dremel Tool or similar, or a sharp utility knife, create a hole in the bottom of the pail to fit the threaded portion of the flush assembly.


Turn the pail right side up and fit the threaded portion of the flush assembly through the hole.  Ensure the gasket is properly placed. Some sites say you need to make sure the flat part of the gasket is against the bottom of the pail, but I used the angled side with success.


Flip the pail over and thread on the nut.  Tighten. You'll need a wrench with at least a 3" mouth to do this.


Prep, prime and weld the 2" FPT adapter to the 2"-to-1" flush adapter.


Thread the 2"FPT adapter to the threaded portion of the flush assembly.


You may wish to add a 1" pipe extension to the 2"-to-1" adapter..


Use a metal burr grinding attachment on a Dremel Tool to widen the diameter of a 3/4" PVC adapter. This must be done so that the adapter fits over the spillpipe (irregular dimension) on the flush assembly.


Prep, prime and weld the modified adapter to the spillpipe on the flush assembly (if desired -- the added height increases the amount and duration of the surge)..


Take your project to a sink or tub for the first freshwater wet run.  You will now need to adjust the height of your float so that it opens the flapper before the top of the float hits the lid of the pail.  For the testing phase you can use the stainless steel clip that comes with the flush assembly, but you will want to replace it before putting it into service.


Use a nylon screw to fasten your chain to the float ball.  I needed to add a cable tie to tie the chain to the screw.  If the float ball is NOT buoyant enough to raise the flapper, add a circle of styrofoam to the bottom of the float and thread the chain through a hole in the center of the styrofoam.


Take the lid of your salt pail or bucket and trace around your 3/4 inch filler pipe.


Take your Dremel and drill a hole for the filler pipe in the lid.


Assemble the 3/4 inch filler pipe.  You need to make the pipe (on the right) long enough to reach almost the bottom of the bucket.  It is also a good idea to cut the bottom of this pipe at an angle so that flow won't be obstructed.  The elbow (on the left) is threaded so that I can put a 3/4 inch ball valve (not shown) on it to regulate flow into the surge maker.


Here's what it looks like.


Place the surge maker on a sturdy platform above the level of the water surface of your aquarium.  Mine is on top of a home-made light canopy.  Connect your surge maker to a pump. Mine is connected to my Mag 24 and pumps water from the sump under the tank.  You can also pump water from the tank into the surge maker.


Use whatever 1" fittings and pipe you need to plumb the outflow from your surge maker into your tank.  Start the water flow into the surge maker.  Monitor the surge maker to make sure that it flushes correctly.

In addition, ensure that the spillpipe is sufficient to handle the overflow in case your flapper does not open.  Do this by holding the float submerged until water fills the pail and overflows into the spillpipe.  If your spillpipe is sufficient, water will not rise past this point.  If not sufficient, turn down the flow into the surge maker.

Finally, once you have achieved satisfactory placement of your outflow, I strongly recommend permanent joining of the plumbing.  If you do not permanently join them, you risk separation of the parts.  This will probably occur when you are at work or out for the evening and will result in your tank being drained, several gallons at a time, onto your floor.