How To Build DIY Pond Filter And Cascading Buckets Waterfall:

Why man made ponds needs a filter? when a natural pond doesn't have one. If you consider a natural pond, there is no filter and no aerator and ecosystem is still maintained. The reason behind this is that in a natural pond the water, gravel, rocks, soil, plants, fish and animals all live in harmony. A pond built with a pond liner will hardly reach a state where a natural ecosystem is established. If no filter is used then pond will get full of algae and the water will get dirty and smelly with in few days. It doesn't mean that fish hobbyist shouldn't build ponds. A man made pond can be well maintained by adding a filter that can keep the water clean and also provide a medium for gasses to exchange. A pond filter not only remove physical dirt but also provide a huge surface area which becomes home to millions of beneficial bacteria and it keeps the water sparkling clean. These bacteria break down invisible nitrogen component which are harmful to the fish. These components are created from decaying of fish waste, dead plants, excess food and all other organic matter that can fall in the pond water. If you can't find a pond filter that fits your pond or if they are too expensive then it is the best time to build your own pond filter.

How DIY Pond Filter Works:

Filtration system made of cascading buckets for the wooden pond looks natural, add filtration, aeration and also provide a medium to grow some vegetables, fruit and plants in the pond filter. Cascading buckets water fall is a self-contained filtration system which comprises of mechanical, biological and plant filtration. The pump carriers the water from basin up to 1.4 meter high and then it pours through a fountain kit attached to the top bucket. Water then cascades down the second bucket and finally back down into the fish pond in a continuous cycle. Water nutrients are absorbed when water flows through both buckets, fully loaded with plants and bio media. Water also receives oxygen during the gravitational lift, water fall through fountain kit and the buckets creates more oxygen for the pond. If you haven't read my article on how to build a backyard pond using a wooden wishing well, then please read it here

How to setup DIY Pond Filter And Cascading Buckets Waterfall:

In video below I will show you how to build a Pond filter & cascading buckets waterfall.

 How to build Pond Filter & Cascading buckets waterfall

Material Used in DIY Pond Filter:

Not much to take into account, pond filter is made using simple stuff and tools
  • 2 x buckets (one slightly smaller than the other)
  • 1 x pond pump (depends on capacity of pond)
  • 1 x 20 mm anti kink tubing
  • 2 x 25 mm barbed threaded elbow
  • 2 x 22 mm small pvc pipe cuttings
  • Aquarium safe silicone 

Cascading Buckets Pond & Water Feature:

Let's discuss how the composition works, 1/3 of the top bucket is fully packed with mechanical filtration and clay pebbles are placed on top of the filter tray. The 2nd bucket has a layer of fine foam which act as mechanical filter media and roughly around 1 kg of bio media is placed inside the bottom bucket. I have also added some bio degradable balls to the bio media bags. These bio balls are slowly dissolved and they slowly release beneficial bacteria into the system. Bottom bucket is then filled with clay pebbles too. Clay pebble is highly porous and offers heaps of surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow and it is also one of the best medium to grow plants in aquaponic and hydroponic.  

Pond Filter And Cascading Buckets Waterfall

Turn Pond Filter into Aquaponic:

For added filtration, i have planted some winter vegetables in the buckets such as snow peas, baby spinach, lettuce and Italian parsley. I have also planted a beautiful strawberry plant which will hopefully fruit in summer. Melbourne winter is very harsh but all these plants can grow in aquaponic in this weather.

Winter Plants to Grow in Aquaponic:

  • Snowpea is well suited for winter and does well in aquaponic. The plant produces flat, sweet, crips, edible pods.
  • Strawberry is the best fruit to grow in winter and it grows well in aquaponic. It produces sweet tasting fruit over 3 months in summer.
  • Lettuce Multileaf: can be grown in aquaponic and produces tasty leaves used in salads
  • Italian Parsley: produces flavored leaves used in soups, fish and chicken dishes
  • Baby Spinach: produces vitamin packed, nutritious leaves used in salad and cooking

Step 1: Let’s Get Started:

Step 1: Let’s Get Started

First build a base for the cascading buckets filter. Cut wood & make a round base by attaching multiple woods & place it on the side of pond. Another base is needed for the top bucket that you can build by cutting wood & attaching them using screws.

Step 2: Drill Holes for Pins:

Step 2: Drill Holes for Pins

The base can fit well on top of the first bucket if you drill holes in the sides of wood & attach pins to it. This way you can easily place it on top of the bucket & remove it when you want.

Step 3: Drill Holes in Buckets Base:

Step 3: Drill Holes in Buckets Base

Drill a 22 MM hole in the bottom bucket & install a piece of pipe in it. Also drill same size hole in the top bucket & install a pipe piece in the hole.

Step 4: Drill More Holes:

Step 4: Drill More Holes

PVC pipe will go through top bucket & timber. Drill a 25 MM opening hole in the top bucket & install a 25 MM threaded elbow in it. Drill another 25 MM hole in the bottom bucket & use same size threaded elbow.

Step 5: Filter Pads Tray:

Step 5: Filter Pads Tray

Filter Pads tray can be used to hold filter media in buckets. Use supporting legs for uninterruptable flow of water. Clean stuff before putting them in buckets.

Step 6: Drill Holes in Filter Tray:

Step 6: Drill Holes in Filter Tray

Drilling holes in filter tray will make sure water flows through the filter media. It is suggested to use heated iron to make holes & then enlarge them using drill machine.

Step 7: Seal Using Silicon:

Step 7: Seal Using Silicon

Seal all the fittings using silicon. Use thread seal for sealing pipe threads. Sealing all pipes / elbows will make sure no water leaks through them.

Step 8: Assembling:

Step 8: Assembling

Clean everything before assembling them. Use a long pipe for sucking water from pond & attach other end of the pipe to fountain kit. This fountain kit is suitable for small bucket.

Step 9: Bio Media:

Step 9: Bio Media

Use bio media in the lower bucket for biological filtration. Putting bio media in bags make it easy to handle. Quick rinse can wash out dirt. Again rinse bio-media in de-chlorinated pond water.

Step 10: Booster Balls:

Step 10: Booster Balls

Booster balls are biodegradable gel balls. Put few booster balls in the bags containing bio media. Beneficial bacteria that booster balls have is released slowly & it is added to the system.

Step 11: Biological Filtration:

Step 11: Biological Filtration

All biological filtration media is stored under filter tray. Still more space is available for storing more bio media.

Step 12: Mechanical Filtration:

Step 12: Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration is used for removing solid waste / dirt particles that can clog the outlet. Put foam above filter tray in bottom bucket. Top bucket is fully loaded with filter foam.

Step 13: Plants:

Step 13: Plants

Baked clay pebbles are used in both buckets. Net pots offer best water flow. Put plants in net pots so that water & fertilizers (fish waste) can reach plants.

If you have enjoyed this article then i would highly recommend subscribing to youtube channel as i will be uploading more videos on the pond filter and will also discuss the growth of plants. 

Thank you

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