Aquarium filters can get quite expensive very quickly, so finding ways to DIY a filter for your aquarium can save you hundreds of dollars or more in some instances. It can be intimidating even to consider pulling off a DIY filtration system, but you can do it. Not only can it be done, but there are even some DIY filters that even novice aquarium keepers can make in an afternoon.
If you’ve ever considered trying a DIY filter for your aquarium, you’re in the right place!
The 10 DIY Aquarium Filter Plans
1. DIY Bucket Filter by Aquarium Co-Op
|Materials:||Airstone, 1-inch bulkheads, powerhead, bio balls, 5-gallon bucket with lid|
|Tools:||Drill, PVC cutters|
This DIY filter uses a 5-gallon bucket with a lid to create a powerful and effective filtration system. In fact, these filters are recommended for use with heavy bioload producers like koi, goldfish, and oscars.
It does require a few specific tools and comfort with power tools, so this isn’t the most beginner-friendly project. However, once you’ve got the hang of this project, you might be able to throw one of these filters together in as little as 10 minutes. You could have a whole army of these filters put together by this afternoon!
2. Simple PVC Sponge Filter by Instructables
|Materials:||PVC pipe, PVC caps, multi-purpose sponge, air pump, airline tubing|
|Tools:||Drill, hot glue gun|
This simple PVC sponge filter can be made with things you may already have on hand, and it will likely only cost you $5–$10 to make, even if you have to start from scratch on everything except the drill and hot glue gun.
This is a beginner-friendly project that comes together in a matter of minutes. While it’s not suitable for heavy-bioload producers, this is a great option for low-bioload tanks or small animals that may get sucked into larger filters, like shrimps and fish fry.
3. Easy DIY Filter by Aon Loung AQUARIUM
|Materials:||Small plastic container with lid, PVC pipe, bio balls, filter foam, air pump, airline tubing, suction cups|
|Tools:||Box cutter, safety pin, hot glue gun|
This easy DIY filter is another beginner-friendly option that can be put together in a matter of minutes. Many of the materials may be things you already have on hand. A plastic food storage container will work well for this project, but it’s advisable to use a new container to prevent contamination from food getting into your tank.
This is a good filtration option for low bioload tanks, but it’s not suitable for heavy bioload producers. This could be used in conjunction with a larger, stronger filtration system for heavy bioload producers, though, as it creates a nice environment for beneficial bacteria to thrive.
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4. Aquarium Sponge Filter by Aquascape Faddo & Tips
|Materials:||Water bottle, filter foam, air pump, airline tubing, bio balls, two-way connector, elbow connector, plastic tubing|
|Tools:||Box cutter or scissors, soldering gun, aquarium-safe glue|
This is another beginner-friendly DIY project. This aquarium sponge filter is made with a base as simple as an empty water bottle, which can be whatever size you need for your tank. You can add whatever filter media you prefer, but filter foam and bio balls are recommended.
Like most sponge filters, this is not suitable as the singular source of filtration for tanks with heavy bioload producers. It is, however, suitable to serve as secondary filtration or be used in a tank with low bioload.
5. DIY Aquarium Filter by Fishaholic
|Materials:||Channel drain with caps, PVC pipe, PVC elbow connector, adapters with gasket, filter media of your choosing|
|Tools:||Aquarium-safe silicone, drill|
This DIY aquarium filter is a little more complex than many of the other DIY options. However, it is suitable for a tank with heavy bioload producers and, if made properly, should last a long time. It offers easy access for cleaning and maintenance, and you have the ability to select any filter media of your choosing to use in this.
This design offers a lot of customizability for you to make the perfect filtration system to suit your tank’s needs. You can adjust the length and width of the filter by using a different container to hold your filter media if needed.
6. Flower Pot Filter by Marks Shrimp Tanks
|Materials:||Terracotta pot, PVC pipe, airstone, airline tubing, air pump, aquarium gravel|
|Tools:||Hand saw, PVC cutters, drill|
Although this flower pot filter does require the use of some tools, it is overall an easy and quick project to create. You could have this put together in just a few minutes once you get the hang of the design. It calls for gravel as the base of the filter, but you could also use bio balls or ceramic rings.
The best part about this filter is how cute it looks in your tank. You could even add plants around it to enhance water filtration and give an overall more natural and fun appearance.
7. DIY Hanging Filter by BestAqua
|Materials:||Plastic container with lid, PVC pipe, PVC elbow connectors, bio balls, filter foam, hooks|
|Tools:||Drill, PVC cutters, box cutter|
If you’re a fan of hang on back filters, then this DIY hanging filter is a great option. This filter should be made with a new plastic container, and a snap on lid is recommended for security. You can choose any kind of hooks that attaches to the outside of the container. Otherwise, you’ll need additional supplies to prevent water leakage from the container.
This is a simple design for a DIY filter, but it is still a moderate difficulty level due to the need to use a drill, PVC cutters, and a box cutter.
8. DIY Canister Filter by Fishaholic
|Materials:||Plastic container with lid, aquarium tubing, filter media of your choosing, filter pump|
|Tools:||Drill, aquarium-safe silicone|
If you prefer a canister filter for your tank, this DIY canister filter is a solid DIY project for you to try this weekend. It’s a moderate difficulty level and may take a little more time than some of the other aquarium filter projects. However, it’s a highly effective filtration system that can be used in tanks with heavy bioload producers.
It’s important to make sure you properly seal all connections in this type of filter and use a container that is watertight. Otherwise, you may end up accidentally draining your aquarium.
9. Kaldnes Media Filter by manyhatsofme.com
|Materials:||Kaldnes filter media, water bottle, airline tubing, air pump, check valves, suction cups, zip ties|
|Tools:||Drill, pencil or chopstick|
This DIY Kaldnes media filter is a unique DIY option that uses Kaldnes filter media, which was developed in Norway to help filter sewage. This filter media is available in a variety of sizes and features a large surface area for beneficial bacteria growth. It’s lightweight and easy to work with, although it may be difficult to find.
This is not an overly complex filter design, but it does require some working knowledge of how this type of filter works. It may take anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour, depending on your knowledge and experience level.
10. DIY Trickle Filter by JDO Fishtank
|Materials:||Small storage shelves, filter media of your choosing, elbow joints, aquarium tubing, filter pump|
Do you have one of those little storage shelves sitting around needing to be used? This DIY trickle filter is the perfect use for it. This upcycle project allows you to use any kind of filter media you prefer, and you’ll have multiple levels to put filter media into. You can also customize this filtration system by selecting the size and number of drawers per shelf you need.
If done correctly, this filter can be used for heavy bioload producers, but it’s also a safe option for small fish and invertebrates. You can also use this in conjunction with another filtration system as well if you have an overstocked tank.
We hope these DIY ideas motivate you to create your own aquarium filter. Not only will you save money but making something essential for your aquarium will give you a sense of accomplishment. Good luck!
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Featured Image Credit: Madhourse, Shutterstock