How to build DIY Trickle filter on low budget:

Trickle filter also known as shower filter allows water to flow out of the aquarium & then the water is filtered & it is sent back to the aquarium.

Shower filter lets water flow freely out of the aquarium using an overflow. Overflow is a mechanism that lets water flow out when a certain water level is achieved. Overflows are used in swimming pools & water reservoirs too for controlling the water level because the excess water flows out of the swimming pool or reservoir.

DIY Trickle Filter On Low Budget
DIY Trickle Filter on Low Budget

Supplies required for building trickle filter:

  • 3 x 1L plastic container
  • 3 x short pieces of a spare hose
  • Glue
  • Soldering Iron
  • Aquarium Filtration Media


  • Avoid using recycled containers & hose
  • Mark the length of pipe before cutting it. This step is very crucial.
  • Use sharp knife / scissors for cutting pipe.
  • Do not burn yourself when handling soldering iron

Steps: How to make a DIY Trickle filter on low budget:

Cheap filter is not only what people might be looking for because this video shows it is simple & inexpensive to build a DIY trickle filter at home for your tank. You can use home stuff & put trickle filter on top of the tank which also creates an overhead SUMP or a top tank filter.

Below you can watch how to build a cheap trickle filter for aquarium:

Inexpensive and simple Trickle filter for fish tank

Step 1: Choose containers and select height of hose:

Step 1: Choose containers & select size of hose
Step 1: Choose containers & select size of hose

Choose the container for shower filter. Select the height of the hose because it is very important as it chooses if the water will flow over the top of the filtration media or it would flow through the filtration media. It is easy to make a filter pad tray but it is an optional step. Also you can glue the container to the lid. It is an optional step too but it will make sure you have a sturdy built. Measure before cutting is very useful because you can accurately cut all the pipes.

Step 2: Make holes in food containers & glue hose to them:

Step 2: Make holes in containers & glue hose to it
Step 2: Make holes in containers & glue hose to them

Mark the diameter of hose on food containers for precise cutting. Cut holes in the food containers base using soldering iron. Also cut a hole for inlet. Use silicon glue for gluing hose to container on each side. Glue filter tray to the top most container. Once cured, filter media can be setup.

Step 3: Setup mechanical filtration:

Step 3: Setup mechanical filtration
Step 3: Setup mechanical filtration

I normally use 3 types of foams in my mechanical filtration setup such as coarse, medium & fine foam but now I am using just fine foam as trickle filter will only filter my small aquarium. I have added bio media in this filter for biological filtration. Make sure that you wash everything before using them in shower filter including filtration media, hose & containers.

Step 4: Use 3 containers in Trickle filter:

Step 4: Use 3 containers to setup trickle filter
Step 4: Use 3 containers to setup trickle filter

A pump sucks water from aquarium & sends it to the top of the trickle filter. We are using three containers in this filter. First container holds mechanical filtration media while the rest of the two containers hold biological filtration media. We are using just a single layer of foam for mechanical filtration because this filter is designed for a small aquarium. 

Step 5: Top container holds mechanical filtration while other two containers below hold biological filtration:

Step 5: Add foam & bio media
Step 5: Add filtration media

You can use 3 layers of foam such as coarse, medium & fine foam in trickle filter. First container that holds mechanical filtration has many holes in its base to allow water to flow freely through the foam & into the second container. Second container holds biological media & it has a pipe & there isn’t any hole in its base which means if the container is filled with water to the level of the pipe then the excess water will flow into the third container. 

Step 6: Use concept of Trickle filter in containers that hold media:

Step 6: Use concept of Trickle filter
Step 6: Use concept of Trickle filter

This container works on the concept of trickle filter. Water when fill to nearly 2 / 3 of the second container reaches the height of the pipe & it is drained into the third container which again contains bio media. This container has a drain pipe too but it only allows excess water to flow out of the container if it is filled to a specific level. The excess water enters the drain pipe & it is sent back to the aquarium. 

Step 7: I have finished building Trickle filter:

Step 7: I have finished building Trickle filter
Step 7: I have finished building Trickle filter

This is how I have built my trickle filter. This trickle can provide mechanical & biological filtration, & I have setup this filter in my mini aquarium. It works like a charm in this small tank & I thought that it might be helpful for you guys too so I made a video on trickle filter that you can watch at the top of the article.

You can see all the steps well explained in the video.

Advantages of Trickle Filter:

  • Trickle filters offer low cost running.
  • They are cheap.
  • 2 types of filtration are used: mechanical and biological for complete cleaning and addition of beneficial bacteria in aquarium.
  • Water passes through mechanical filter media before entering biological filter media, hence all debris are wiped out that can clog biological filter media.
  • Mechanical filtration media can run for a long time before it requires replacement. Biological filtration media does not require replacement.
  • This filter runs with lost cost because it only requires power for pumping water into filter. The rest of the phenomena is done automatically.
  • Maintenance of trickle filter is easy.
  • It adds oxygen from air into the tank water.

Any Question / Comment / Feedback:

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