DIY Filter For Aquarium:

Filters are costly & you may not find a filter suitable for your aquarium, especially if your aquarium is big. Many people love building their own filters to meet their aquarium requirements. This post will definitely help you to make aquarium filter at home.

After reading DIY Canister Filter tutorial you will learn how to build a tank filter using a plastic food container, vinyl tubing & submersible pump. This filter is like a canister filter with DIY inlet & outlet tube & fully sealed which avoids the risk of leaking. DIY aquarium filter can be built within few hours, however, it needs lots of time for silicon to completely cure before testing it in my betta aquarium.

DIY Fish Tank Filter

Select a tube which is big enough to match the intake valve of your powerhead. When you select a powerhead, then make sure it pumps twice as much water per hour as the amount of water in your aquarium.

How to Build DIY Filter For Fish Tank:

Watch video tutorial for making DIY canister filter for fish tank:

DIY Filter For Fish Tank

DIY Filter Aquarium is made from a plastic food container. Clear vinyl tubing 10 mm is used for flow of dirty water from aquarium to aquarium filter and also to carry clean water from the filter back to the fish tank. Elbow connectors are used to build home made inlet and outlet tubes similar to the one that comes with a canister filter. A vinyl joiner for 10 mm vinyl tubing is used as main source of connection and is silicone to the container to make it leak proof. Submersible aquarium pump is connected to the inside of the diy filter and wire is run through the lid. I have joined the wires following safe basic technique. Coarse foam and fine foam has been used as mechanical filter media and Zeolite bio media is used to grow beneficial bacteria colonies. Let's dig bit deeper and find out in detail how i have built this DIY Filter Aquarium at home.

Step 1:

Step 1: Mark 2 holes for connections

Mark 2 holes for inlet & outlet flow of water. Be gentle while drilling because putting too much pressure can crack the plastic. Sanding can help smoothen rough edges.

Step 2:

Step 2: Splitting Joiner

I am splitting joiner so I could use it in both connections.

Step 3:

Pump wire

Use aquarium pump with following specifications: 4 watts, 280 L / H at maximum height of 65 cm. Cut the power plug of powerhead pump & drill a hole in the lid of food container. 

Step 4:

Step 4: Submersible Water Jump

Sanding is required to avoid rough edges. Install pump inside container & pass the wire through the small hole. Then connect the power plug.

Step 5:

Step 5: Apply silicone

Seal the connections using aquarium safe silicone. Apply silicone gently on both inner & outer connections of container lid. Use thin seal of silicone which can work well.

Step 6:

Step 6: Filter Tray

Filter tray is built from a broken container. I have drilled many holes in the tray. There is a large hole for pipe connection.

Step 7:

Step 7: Setting up filter

Cut a piece of hose. To one end of the joiner connect the hose & to the other end connect the submersible pump. Make holes in the coarse & fine foams, & allow the hose to pass through it & reach the bottom of the filter after passing the filter tray.

Step 8:

Step 8: Filter Media Setup

I have built this DIY aquarium filter for my betta aquarium that initially had no filter. Use coarse & fine foams for mechanical filtration. Trap filter media in between foams.

Step 9:

Step 9: Bio media

It is recommended to rinse bio media, foams, & every component before using them for aquarium. It will remove dirt particles. I am using bacteria bio balls for quick building of beneficial bacteria. Use filter tray which acts as a barrier between pump & filter media.

Step 10:

Step 10: Cut hose for input and output valve

Cut hose for inlet & outlet valve. These connections are installed inside aquarium. Cut 2 more pieces of hose. These connections are the outside connections that are connected to aquarium inlet & outlet, filter inlet & outlet connections.

Step 11:

Step 11: Aquarium inlet and outlet valve

Use elbow connections suitable for 10mm vinyl tubing. Make 2 holes in the inlet tube for suction cups. Attach inlet tube to tank glass using suction cups. Also attach elbow connections to both sides of tube. The elbow connections are attached in a way that it makes Z. Use same procedure for outlet tubes.

Step 12:

Step 12: DIY Aquarium Filter Complete

Aquarium filter inlet is used to allow dirty water to enter filter. Filter outlet is used for clean water to leave the filter.

Fill the filter with water before turning on power. Air bubbles will clear up within few minutes.

Zeolite Bio Media:

Zeolite has a large surface area and has some very important properties such as good adsorption, ion exchange capacity and chemical stability which makes it a very popular biological filter media. It is widely used as waste water filtration and aquarium filtration. Zeolite is one kind of volcanic eruption crystal which not only can remove turbidity but also has absorptive exchange function for harmful heavy metals in water such as chrome, cadmium, nickel, zinc etc., 

Material for DIY Canister Filter:

Material Used In DIY Filter Aquarium:
  • Plastic Food Container
  • Clear Vinyl tubing
  • Vinyl Joiner
  • Elbow Connectors
  • Zeolite Bio Media
  • Coarse and Fine Foam
  • Submersible Pump


Sponge filters do a great job for small aquariums. However, you can also use coarse & fine foams for removing fish waste & other debris. In this tutorial we are using coarse & fine foam.

When you complete building your filter & install it in aquarium then initially it will only collect physical waste particles floating in your aquarium. But with time, good bacteria will be developed & your filter will house it & will perform biological filtration. Biological filtration is crucial & the reason behind death of most of the fish in aquarium is lack of beneficial bacteria. Ammonia is released from waste particles & it is toxic for fish. Good bacteria breaks ammonia into nitrites which is less dangerous as compared to ammonia but still dangerous enough to kill fish. Good bacteria further breaks nitrites into nitrates which can be removed with regular water changes. Hence biological filtration is very important for your aquarium.

If you install an adjustable power pump or powerhead, it is important to note that the output power is configured at a desirable level for the type of aquarium.

The powerhead or pump needs to fit the appropriate size of your aquarium. Make sure you select a pump that pumps twice as much water as what is available in your aquarium.


Regularly monitor your aquarium filter to ensure it is working fine. A malfunctioning pump is dangerous for aquarium inhabitants as well as the hobbyist.

Do not use soap or detergents for cleaning stuff that you would use for aquarium. Even in small amounts, such chemicals are very dangerous & can kill your aquarium inhabitants. Use only hot water, & tank water conditioner if required.

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