How To Build A Canister Filter At Home For Aquarium:

Aquarium filters are expensive & you might not be able to select the right filter for fish tank, especially if you have a big fish tank. Many aquarists like to build their own filters at home to meet the requirements of their aquarium. In today’s article I will show you how to build tank filter at home using house hold stuff.

Selecting the right specifications for a submersible pump is very important because this way you can pump twice as much power in hour as the amount of water of your fish tank. Bigger aquariums need larger pumps.

Fish tank inlet allows dirty water to enter filter. Filter outlet can be used for the clean water to leave the filter.

In below video I will show you how to make a DIY canister filter at home:

How to make a homemade DIY canister filter for aquarium

It is very easy to build a DIY tank filter at home using plastic jar & pump. The idea of this DIY aquarium filter is very similar to a canister filter where water from the fish tank flows to the bottom of a filter container & after mechanical filtration, it enters biological or chemical filtration chamber which purifies water & breaks down toxic ammonia which is released from fish waste into nitrites & nitrites into nitrates. Pure water returns back to the fish tank using a submersible pump which is situated at the top of DIY canister filter container.

I am using an air tight food container for this project. All materials are purchased from hardware shop such as 10 mm vinyl tube, garden tap connector, slip-on connector, elbow connector, tube joiner, suction cups & ratchet clamps. Also you can purchase submersible pump for powering this filter. Use of air tight container is very important so water is not leaked through the DIY home build canister filter.

How To Build A Canister Filter At Home
How To Build A Canister Filter At Home For Fish Tank

Mechanical filtration media contains medium & fine foam. Bio media contains heat treated ceramic rings. Water from the aquarium passes through the mechanical filtration media & then flows through the biological media. If you have used canister filter, then you will know that this DIY filter concept is very similar to canister filter design. There is no need to use silicone because all connectors came with washers which stop leaks.


Homemade Canister Filter Components:

  • Low voltage pump
  • Inlet & outlet hose
  • 2-way snap on connector
  • Garden Tap Adapter
  • Hose coupling
  • Vinyl tube joiner
  • Elbow connector
  • Lock & Lock – 1.4 Liter Air lock container
  • Filter Pump – Capacity 200 liter / hour, & Voltage 12 Volt
  • Suction Cups & Ratchet Clamps


Steps: How to build a canister filter at home:


Step 1:

Remove unwanted labels from the food container. Use 32 mm hole saw for drilling 2 holes in the lid of plastic container. Use sand paper after drilling for refining edges. Use washers or thread seal tape for sealing connections which stop water from leaking through the food container. I am using washers in this project.


Step 2:

Attach inlet & outlet connectors. I am using garden tap adapter on top of food container for inlet & outlet connections. I am using washers on the bottom side of food container to tighten connections.


Step 3:

Then I am adding the 2-way snap on connectors to the garden tap adapter. These connectors can be rotated in both directions. I am using 13 mm spade bit for drilling hole in the top of food container for submersible pump wire.


Step 4:

Submersible pump will be connected to the bottom side of container lid. Connect vinyl tube joiner to the outlet of submersible pump. Attach tube joiner to the garden tap adapter. Submersible pump will run this homemade DIY canister filter.


Step 5:

Cut 5 equal pieces of vinyl tubing. Place all vinyl tubes in sink & use hot water for straightening them. Then use hand to straighten these tubes.


Step 6:

Attach vinyl tube joiner to the garden tap adapter. This tube will be connected to the inner side of food container lid & it will go to the bottom of the container. Connect garden tap adapter to the bottom side of food container lid. Inflow goes to the bottom of filter. Attach elbow connector to the bottom end of pipe.


Step 7:

Connect vinyl tube joiner to the hose coupling. Attach vinyl tube to the tube joiner & extend the length of the pipe. This way you have strong connections & there is no leakage of water through the connections.


Step 8:

Use medium & fine foams for mechanical filtration. Use scissor for making holes in the foams. Pass elbow connector through the holes. Biological filtration consists of heat treated ceramic rings.


Step 9:

Attach vinyl tubes to the snap on connectors. Attach elbow connectors to the other sides of tube.


Step 10:

Use hot nail for making holes in the vinyl tubes for attaching suctions cups. Attach elbow connectors to the end of vinyl tubes.


Step 11:

Attach vinyl tubes to the canister filter. Use suction cups to connect tubes to the glass of aquarium. Adjust the rotation of snap on connectors that allow water to flow into & out of the canister filter.



In this project I am using medium & fine foams for trapping fish waste.

After you finish building DIY canister filter then in the start it will only trap physical waste particles included in the water. But as time progress, beneficial bacteria will grow & your filter will use this bacteria to perform biological filtration. It is very important to have efficient biological filtration for effective cleaning of the aquarium. Ammonia released from fish waste is very dangerous for the fish. Beneficial bacteria can help break it down into less dangerous components. Also you can keep live plants which absorb ammonia & its compounds, & treat them as nutrients.

If you have setup an adjustable submersible pump, then make sure to know that the output power is configured at a desirable level for the type of fish tank.

Use pump that meets the desired size of your fish tank. Ensure you select a pump that pumps twice as much of the available water of your fish tank.



Regularly check your fish tank & make sure it is working fine. A malfunctioning submersible pump is very dangerous for the fish & aquarists. Pump power should be turned off if things are not working well.

Avoid using soap or detergents for cleaning aquarium stuff. If you use these chemicals even in small amounts, then they are very toxic & can kill your fish. Use just hot water, & use aquarium water conditioner if needed.

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