How to Build a DIY Aquarium Filter Box from a Planter:

Filters are very important for aquariums because they clean fish waste, leftover food, dirt & debris otherwise pollutants will be released from the waste. Setting up a store-bought filter is very simple but usually they do not meet the size of your aquarium & the requirement of fish & live plants. If you have too many fish in the aquarium then you will need a powerful filter for cleaning mess. Also, it is recommended to use a powerful pump that is able to pump large volumes of water for efficient cleaning. Many aquarists use aquaponics filters because they are efficient in offering biological filtration. Also, adding mechanical filtration media can help stop physical particles. Aquaponic filters use herbs for cleaning water. Your aquarium might have messy fish like goldfish or crayfish that eat plants so adding live plants in the filter will keep them out of the fish reach. Also, canna clay pebbles are used for planting herbs because they also offer biological filtration.


Video tutorial for making an aquarium filter box using a planter:

Making a DIY Aquarium Filter Box from a Planter

In this video tutorial I can help you in building a DIY aquarium filter box from a spare parts container. 3 compartments are available in this DIY aquarium filter. First compartment is used for holding mechanical filtration media, & the remaining two compartments are used for holding herbs. A washer is used on the tap & hose connector that will help in providing tight seal to avoid the use of silicone glue for sealing connections. This filter is tested for leaks before adding it to the fish tank. I am using a submersible pump for pumping water to the top filter. Water will flow through the mechanical filtration media in the first chamber that will trap physical waste particles, then it will flow through the herbs in the second & third chambers that will wipe out the toxic chemicals released from fish waste, & clean water will flow back to the aquarium from the tap using gravity.


Simplest method of making a DIY aquaponics filter:

There are a number of methods for building a filter but in this tutorial, I have offered the simplest way of making a DIY aquarium filter box from a planter.

Canna clay pebbles are used for planting herbs because they help the herbs in growth. I have added canna clay pebbles to a netted pot. An underwater pump is selected to pump water to the filter box located outside water. Water is filtered using the coarse & fine foams, & then water containing toxic chemicals flows through the potted pots containing herbs that absorb these toxic chemicals using its roots & clean water flows back to the tank using a tap.

Stuff needed to build a DIY aquaponics filter:

  • Spare parts container having following dimensions: 30 cm length x 10 cm width x 10 cm height.
  • Netted pots
  • Underwater pump
  • 16 mm filter inflow hose
  • 20 mm fine threaded water tap
  • Couple of connections for attaching the filter inlet hose to the underwater pump nozzle.



Water will not be overflowing through the filter because I am using a 16 mm filter inflow hose, & 20 mm outflow tap, so water will flow smoothly through the filter back into the tank.


Mechanical filtration media:

Mechanical filtration media will trap solid waste particles & other debris. My advice would be to use two different types of foams such as coarse & fine foams for trapping both large & small particles. Coarse foam will trap every large particle while fine foam will collect every small particle. Hence clean water will flow into the biological chamber. If your aquarium has fish then there is no need to add supplemented CO2 & other fertilizers. Live plants will get nutrition from the fish waste. Plants will use CO2 released by fish along with tank lights for photosynthesis.


Biological filtration media:

Biological filtration media will remove toxic chemicals in the water because they kill most of the aquarium fish. Canna Clay Pebbles & herbs are used for biological filtration. Herbs absorb the toxic chemicals released from fish waste & other debris. They also absorb heavy metals & other impurities in the water. Canna Clay Pebbles offer large surface area for the growth of heaps of beneficial bacteria. Good bacteria can wipe out ammonia byproducts that are released from fish waste.


Steps: Make a DIY Aquarium Filter Box from a Planter:

Follow each step if you want to make a DIY tank filter box from a planter.


Step 1:

I have used a spare parts container for building this filter. Filter box is used for keeping mechanical (foams) & biological filtration media (herbs & canna clay pebbles). It offers 3 chambers for holding the filtration media.


Step 2:

I have used a couple of connections for connecting blue hose to the underwater pump. Connect a tube to the outlet of the water pump. Connect a tube joiner to the tube. Then connect an inflow hose to the joiner. This inflow hose will push water into the filter. Insert the hose in the middle of the coarse foam. Dirty water will flow through the coarse foam that will stop all large particles, & water containing small particles will be stopped by the fine foam that is wrapped around the coarse foam.


Step 3:

Use a 20 mm paddle bit for making a hole in the filter box for outlet tap. Drill another hole using a 16 mm paddle bit for inlet. Use a sandpaper for smoothing the rough edges. Insert the inlet hose in the filter inflow.


Step 4:

I have chosen a 20 mm fine threaded water tap for water outflow & 16 mm hose for water inflow. I have installed the water tap in the filter. I have used garden hose connectors to seal proof the water tap. I have used a washer for a tight seal.


Step 5:

Test the container for any leaks. If your container is leaked then use silicone glue to fix it. I am happy because my container is leak free.


Step 6:

Make a hole in a thick coarse foam & convert it into a filter sock. Wrap a fine foam around the filter sock & keep both in a netted pot. Put the inflow hose in the center of the filter sock.


Step 7:

Fill 2 netted pots with canna clay pebbles. Then wash them with water to remove the dirt or other impurities on them. Wash anything before adding it to the aquarium.


Step 8:

I have added 2 plants to the netted pots. First plant is potted basil & second is potted oregano. Wash the plants to wipe out the dirt & other impurities. Herbs & canna clay pebbles together are used for biological filtration.


Step 9:

Attach filter intake hose to the pump. Fill the filter box before using it. Close the water tap while filling the filter & open it when the box is fully filled with water. This way your filter box will hold more water. My DIY planted aquarium filter is working great. Build yours & share your experience with us in the comments. Thank you!

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