Filter for the aquarium with his hands out of a compressor

Make an external filter for the aquarium with their own hands

Amateur aquarists beginners, aquarists tend to buy small tanks and quickly become convinced that in these aquariums poorly grow fry, adult fish do not feel comfortable, and for the plants is low altitude water. These aquariums have to be replaced by other, more voluminous. In large aquariums the population proliferates evenly, and the aquarium must be cleaned of accumulated dirt more and more often.

As a rule, to maintain the cleanliness of the aquarium using a variety of dirt scoops, regularly remove dirt from the bottom with a hose, and use a special filter. With the filter you can clean the water in the aquarium from particles of dirt (mud,) and at the same time saturate the water with oxygen, which is necessary for breathing fish and other aquatic inhabitants.

As required in the filters put activated carbon, which sucks out of the water, dissolved harmful substances, then to acidify the water, various pharmaceuticals that can have a beneficial effect on the inhabitants of the aquarium.

Mechanical and biological treatment

In the first step the coarse water purification is realized with the use of the filtering materials that retain the suspended particles. This is a purely mechanical function with no biological load. Filter filler used at this stage must be rinsed periodically (at least once a week), under running clean water. As a rule, different synthetic sponges as well as special silicon foam rubber and synthetic veneer are used as a filtering filler.

filter sponges

filter sponges

In the second stage, the water is treated biologically, which is a multistage process in which highly toxic substances (ammonia, ammonium, nitrite) are converted into a low-toxic nitrate. Use a filler with a finely porous structure with the largest possible surface area for the settlement of useful bacteria responsible for biological treatment. The larger the surface area of the material used, the more efficient the filter will be.

Biofilter filler

The first and second filtration steps are closely connected to one another. Firstly, mechanical and biological filtration can be performed by the same filter. Secondly, the challenge of removing organic pollutants from the aquarium is met simultaneously: biologically using nitrification and mechanically by removing the dirt directly from the aquarium.

Thus, an effective mechanical filtration dramatically reduces the load on the biofilter, and vice versa.

Function and principle of operation

An external filter is a container with a purification system inside. The device makes the water suitable for aquatic life. With the help of a pump and hoses dirty water is sucked up and clean water is returned. Fixtures for large volumes are sometimes called canister and are connected to large-sized and densely populated tanks. External filters have compartments for water filtration with a synthetic filler to clean dirt, a compartment with biomaterials to create an optimal balance in terms of hardness and acidity.

  • Through the intake hose liquid enters the cleaner;
  • the pump pumps the water by passing the flow through the filter layers;
  • On the second tube purified water returns to the aquarium.

In different models, the liquid can flow into the external filter from the bottom up or from top to bottom. Thus, the purpose of an external filter for an aquarium is chemical, biological and mechanical treatment of the water, absorbing elements dangerous to aquatic inhabitants.

External filter folk craftsmen assemble from improvised means. Maintenance of the aquarium is considerably cheaper as a result.

The quality of the filtration depends on the choice of the filler. The following materials are used:

  • Chipboard or foam rubber act as biological or mechanical cleaners. Bacteria breed in the pores. The fillers are regularly washed free of slime and sludge that prevent the device from accomplishing its mission. Dense synthetic material will not let even the smallest dirt particles through.
  • Filter wool for the final stage of mechanical cleaning is used repeatedly, rinsed of dirt.
  • Ceramic rings distribute water flows evenly, ensuring the delivery of oxygen to beneficial microorganisms. It is an excellent tool, by means of which the biological balance in the aquarium can be adjusted.
  • Plastic bio-balls that move around help wash the filter fills evenly. In addition, they are a substrate for the reproduction of beneficial microorganisms.
  • Sintered glass balls are valuable because they actively house bacteria that process dangerous nitro compounds in their pores. It is the best material for biological treatment.
  • Zeolite sorbent for absorbing fish waste from the water. A useful property of this group of minerals is the ability to ionic exchange. Zeolites are actively used in aquaristics for the maintenance of a favorable bio-environment.
  • Activated charcoal granules for cleaning the water from impurities in a restarted aquarium. The charcoal must not be used frequently, because it has a limited service life. It must always be combined with other filters. It is indispensable in the case of turbid water. Effective for eliminating medication. Do not reuse charcoal.
  • To reduce fungal growth and to equalize the acid-alkaline balance. At the same time it reduces the water hardness and promotes good plant growth and root formation.

To make an external filter at home, you need to prepare the following materials and tools:

  • a pump with an appropriate capacity;
  • Two threaded fittings with rubber gaskets;
  • Corrugated tube 20 mm;
  • A transparent plastic tube;
  • scissors;
  • Jar with a screwed metal lid;
  • a drill bit and wire cutters to make holes in the lid;
  • sealant.
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Also need a few kinds of filler, at the discretion of the aquarist.

The process of making an external filter with their own hands step by step:

  • In the lid of the bank to make 3 holes of suitable diameter for fittings and pump wire.
  • Screw in the fittings.
  • Insert the cord from the pump.
  • Thoroughly seal all joints with sealant.
  • Connect the pump from the inside to one of the connectors.
  • Put a corrugated hose on the second fitting, which will be lowered into the jar.
  • On the outside of the lid, place the two transparent tubes tightly on the fittings.
  • Fill the jar with filter components.
  • Pour water into the jar, test the device.

One transparent tube will draw water from the aquarium. After it goes through all the stages of filtration, will go outside through the second hose. After a successful test, the filtering device can be put to work.

The best cleaning of the aquarium water is provided by a multilayer filtration system. Ceramic filler is placed first. It ensures an even distribution of the liquid flow. The jar is filled last, just before clean water comes out.

External filters are cleaned much less often than similar devices that are installed inside the tank. If you choose good quality filtering materials, they are not touched for months. Periodically inspect the unit for leaks. Fillers should not be rinsed with running water. They are rinsed in aquarium water. Otherwise the colonies of useful microorganisms are destroyed. It takes time for new ones to form.

The rotor axle of a running pump also needs to be cleaned. The weak point of an outdoor device is the gasket separating the body and the “head”. It is greased regularly with gel or put in a new one. Hoses are cleaned with a mop. It is not necessary to interfere with the equipment frequently in order not to impair its performance.

Aquarium filter is an obligatory attribute of modern home fish. Life in the aquarium, not equipped with a filter, is only possible if there are a large number of live plants.

The main objectives of the filter. is a mechanical purification of the water, removing products of life inhabitants of the aquarium, as well as the movement of water masses and saturation of their oxygen. With proper selection and installation of the device lower and upper layers of water will be constantly moving, which improves the exchange of gas between the aquarium water and ambient air.

Selection criteria

There are several things to look for when choosing a filter. Consider them in detail.

By type of filtration

There are three basic ways to filter water.

Mechanical method. Cleaning is done with a filler, through which the water passes, setting aside in the pores of the material all suspended contaminants. The material can be a sponge or even a bundle of fishing line. This type is suitable for unpretentious filthy fish. cichlids and goldfish.

Biological. Performed with objects or fillers coated with a film of beneficial bacteria that break down organics. Ideally, if the colonies of microorganisms will be taken from this cleanable aquarium.

Chemical. sorbents are used, most often activated carbon. This material absorbs phosphates, nitrates, and other mineral and organic dissolved solids.

Only canister external filter uses all these methods at the same time. Other devices are based on the use of only one of the above methods.

In terms of capacity and performance

Power and capacity indicate how much liquid a filter can pass through in one hour. On the device and the box in which it is sold, always indicate the number, 300, 500, 1000 liters per hour and similar. However, keep in mind that this figure is set in the laboratory on a perfectly clean, in some cases. even distilled water.

So do not be surprised that the actual power will be less than the manufacturer’s stated. Because of this, it is recommended to choose a product an order of magnitude more powerful. Experienced aquarists advise choosing a device with a strong overdrive. For example, for a capacity of 100 liters to take a filter with a capacity of 1000 liters per hour.

How you install it

There are three large groups according to their constructional format.

External, located on the side or rear wall of the aquarium. External aquarium filter is more often used for very large containers.

Internal, always consists of a pump and a glass.

Canister. It is so large that you can only put it on the floor or inside the aquarium cabinet.

Bottom, which has the appearance of an intricate intertwining of tubes located at the bottom of the tank.

Most of the time one internal filter is enough for a small volume tank.

According to the filler material

Fillers are more relevant for units based on the mechanical method of filtration.

Sponge. It is cheap, relatively durable and absorbs mechanical debris well. After a week, the pores of the sponge will be inhabited by beneficial bacteria and it will function like a biofilter. However, this material must be washed every two or three weeks in order to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms.

Activated carbon. When shaking it can return all the substances accumulated for a long time back into the water, than it will destroy your pets. Therefore, it needs to be changed often. Very effective for chemical cleaning.

Multi-porous ceramic. Is a kind of bio-filler, because in the pores of ceramics beneficial microorganisms settle.

The best option in terms of price/quality ratio, however, is ceramics.


The price is right, but the best indicator of quality is the country of origin. For example, Chinese devices designed by American engineers are not inferior in quality to German “average”.

According to the price category brands are divided into three groups:

Inexpensive: Chinese Atman, Resun. On average they cost up to 4 thousand.

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Medium cost: JBL, Sera, Hagen, Tetra (Germany), Aquael (Poland), Ferplast, Hydor (Italy). Brands are of European origin, but assembly is still Chinese. Cost about 6-8 thousand.

Expensive. Due to high quality and reliability, this title is earned by the German company Eheim. Average for a filter for 120 liters.

If you are a beginner, you know. it is better not to rely on expensive equipment, and accumulate experience. No, even the most reliable filter can not replace human care.

By manufacturer

One brand can make products of different price category, but it only affects its quality and popularity for the better. Therefore, it is highly recommended to study the best brands before you go to the store.

Here’s our short review of the best manufacturers:

The ideal option in terms of price/quality ratio. Aquael UNIMAX.

The best silent units are offered by the German leader Eheim.

The latest biocleaning technology will offer a very popular in our country German brand Tetra.

Chinese dark horse, gradually gaining world fame. HAILEA. The devices are very cheap, but their maintenance will require more time.

Inexpensive canister water purifiers of excellent quality offered by the Italian company Hydor.

While the most trusted by aquarists are manufacturers from Germany, Poland and Italy.

Bottom filter for an aquarium with their own hands

The raised-bottom design is good for small-volume tanks. When the soil in a lot of container, there are decorative stones and plants, it is more reasonable and easier to install a system of tubes, directly covered with soil.

Tools and materials

  • PVC-tubes 65 cm. 3 pcs.;
  • PVC-tubes 20 cm. 4 pcs.;
  • PVC-angles. 4 pcs.;
  • PVC tees. 2 pcs.;
  • stainless steel clamps. 4 pcs.;
  • 2800 l/h pump. 1 pc.;
  • hacksaw;
  • tape measure;
  • screwdriver;
  • hose.

Stages of manufacturing

making the bottom filter

Internal fixture

Making an external filter for the aquarium is much more complicated than the internal one. This is due to the fact that the latter is more simple in structure, so even a novice aquarist can make it. To make the device you will need:

  • a plastic bottle with a capacity of no more than 0.5 liters
  • sintepon;
  • A plastic tube whose diameter is equal to the neck of the bottle;
  • Hose and compressor;
  • pebbles.

Follow the instructions for making the filter The last one will be used as a filler. Step-by-step master class on making the filtration system:

  • Divide the bottle into two parts so that one is larger than the other. The smaller piece should have a neck. Guide the bowl with the neck upwards and apply such force to obtain a tight structure.
  • Make holes on the outside of the circumference for the passage of water. Their diameters should be 3-4 mm. The optimal placement is 2 rows of 6 holes.
  • Pass the pipe through the neck of the bowl so that there are no gaps between them.
  • Make the pipe of such length that it is enough to be placed above the surface. The construction itself must not rest on the bottom, preventing the flow of liquid.
  • Pour a layer of gravel on the bowl, and then lay out the synthetics. Insert the hose into the tube and secure it. Place the construction inside the aquarium. After turning on the compressor the device will start. After a short time, live bacteria will start to appear in the device, which are needed to break down ammonia into nitrates.

The principle of the filter is as follows: air bubbles, once in the pipe, move upwards, and then attract water currents. The air-saturated liquid enters the top layer of gravel, then moves downward, entering the aquarium. Cleaning is done by a layer of syntepon, which prevents silt from settling on the gravel.

How to make with your own hands

It is best to use an external self-made filter for the aquarium, because it is much easier and faster to make than an internal type device. We will tell you how to make a self-made analogue of the currently best water purifier of the premium brand Eheim.

Materials and tools

To make a good device will need very inexpensive materials that do not cost even 10% of the price offered by German manufacturers of filters.

To make an external water purifier will need:

  • fountain pump type pump of Chinese brand RESUN with capacity of 30W, 2000l/h
  • PVC-coupling for sewage pipe diameter of 200 millimeters 2 plugs;
  • taps, angles and connectors;
  • PVC pipe with a diameter of 20 mm for receiving and supplying water to the aquarium. 4 meters in length;
  • bulb from a household filter;
  • water treatment fillers.

For tapping and plugging, you can use any material that you know how to work with. However, the use of rubber gaskets is mandatory, so you can eliminate the leakage of water.

The choice of a powerful pump is justified by the fact that because of the many kinks in the tubes, the final performance will be halved, so you need to choose a “motor” with a reserve in advance.

Steps of construction

Make and assemble a filter for the aquarium is very simple, if you have basic skills with a drill.

  • First you need to drill holes in the upper and lower plugs for water supply and pumping. Plugs should be installed with rubber gaskets, additionally you can use silicone sealant.
  • The “seating place” for the inlet fitting must be made at the bottom of the socket. The cut off edge of the socket will later serve to hold the screen.
  • In the bottom plug, you need to install a grid above the level of the socket. A cheap and practical option is the mesh bottom from a vegetable storage and shipping crate.
  • Then the bottom stopper should be installed in the sleeve. Since in this case it is difficult to install the gasket, it is mandatory to cover the entire surface of the plug with silicone. After it is installed it will not be superfluous to additionally treat with sealant all the internal and external joints.
  • Drill a hole in the cover for the power cord and venting. The pump should be secured by a piece of hose and power cord.
  • To seal the power cord it is best to use a fitting like the one used in street lighting fixtures. Install a switch in the place of the broken wire.
  • Under the inlet spigot mount the bracket for fixing the bulb of household filter, which will serve as a pre-filter of coarse filter. It is possible to install a sponge instead, but then the canister or inlet pipe will have to be cleaned regularly, which is better to avoid.
  • To make a pre-filter should use sewage pipe d = 32 mm, in which you should drill a lot of holes at intervals of 2-4 millimeters. You can do with a sponge, but in addition not forbidden to use charcoal and zeolite.
  • Fill the compartment with filtering materials. How you can do this will be explained in detail in the next section.
  • Install all elements and test the operation.
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It is very important that the metal parts are free of grease. Otherwise this harmful component will kill all the inhabitants of the aquarium!

How it works

Cleaning is done by passing the water through a multilayer filter made of materials with different pore diameters.

For a homemade filter, you need to use the following fillers:

  • The lowest layer, placed on the bottom, is designed for coarse cleaning. Large mesh foam rubber or a roll of fishing line is used.
  • The second layer is the ceramic rings. In addition to mechanical purification, they provide redistribution of water current over the entire cross-sectional area of the filter media.
  • The third layer is foam rubber with a fine mesh or sintepon.
  • The fourth layer. porous expanded clay material in which the beneficial microorganisms will settle. This portion should occupy 4/5 of the entire bulb volume.
  • A fifth layer is not necessary. FLUVAL substrate, resembling ceramic rings with a porous structure, can be added if desired.
  • The sixth and final layer will be placed just before the outlet opening (pump) and will consist of sintepon. This material will protect the rotor from debris.

At first, until the bacteria settle in the filter, it performs only a mechanical function. Only then, after 2-4 weeks, the colonies begin to live on the porous substrate.

And then it all depends on whether the process will take over. contamination or self-cleaning. If the first, the filter will continue to get dirty. Not as intense as the first two weeks, but inevitably. When the performance of the filter drops below 30% of the maximum, it must be cleaned and restarted, otherwise there may be a so-called “overturning”. a violation of biological processes, resulting in the production and release into the aquarium of toxic substances.


Water purifier of the external type is placed outside the tank. In our case, the homemade filter turned out to be very large, so it is best to install it on the floor. If possible, you can put it in an aquarium cabinet. But on a large free space. tile or tile, such a device will be placed more steadily and reliably.

It is very important to position the unit so that it is easy to clean regularly. It is equally important to keep an eye on the electrical wires: they should freely lie on the floor or be hidden in the baseboard. In no case the wiring should not hang “tight”.

Inner fixture

Making an external filter for an aquarium is much more complicated than making an internal. This is due to the fact that the latter is more simple in structure, so even a novice aquarist can make it. To make the device will require:

  • A plastic bottle with a capacity of no more than 0.5 liters;
  • synthetics;
  • Plastic tube, the diameter of which is equal to the neck of the bottle;
  • hose and compressor;
  • Pebbles.

Follow the instructions for making the filter The latter will be used as the filler. A step-by-step master class for making a filtration system:

  • Divide the bottle into two parts so that one is larger than the other. The smaller piece should have a neck. Guide the bowl with the neck upwards and apply such force as to obtain a tight structure.
  • Make holes on the outside of the circle for water to pass through. Their diameters should be 3-4 mm. The optimal arrangement is 2 rows of 6 holes.
  • Pass the tube through the bowl’s neck so that there are no gaps between them.
  • Make the tube long enough to be placed above the surface. The construction itself should not be on the bottom, preventing the flow of liquid.
  • Pour a layer of gravel over the bowl, then lay out the synthetic. Place the hose into the tube and secure it. Place the construction inside the aquarium. After turning on the compressor, the device will start. After a short time, live bacteria will start to appear in the device, which are needed to break down ammonia into nitrates.

The principle of the filter is as follows: air bubbles, entering the pipe, move upwards and then attract water streams. The air-saturated liquid falls into the upper layer of gravel, then moves down, entering the aquarium. Cleaning is performed by a layer of sintepon, which prevents the deposition of silt on the gravel.

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