Jump to content

Simple DIY 5 gal bucket/filter setup

13 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_Jdan_*

  • Guests

Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:45 PM

Take a plastic pop bottle and cut in half. Make some slits in the top of the bottom half so they can be put back together. Drill some 1/4 in holes in the very bottom. Put some rocks/gravel, an air stone with airline and established BB floss in. Put the bottle back together and run it to a battery/AC powered air pump through the top. I buy floss/pillow stuffing in bulk and stuff pieces into top of my HOB filter to get established. The bubbles will flow up out of the top drawing water from bottom
dilled hole through filter media. Just like old school sponge filters. I have kept fingerlings in this setup for 2 weeks and water is perfect. They are even eating flakes.
Posted Image
Posted Image

#2 Guest_EricaWieser_*

  • Guests

Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:51 PM

That's a good way to save money.

If you do it with sand instead of filter floss you can filter not just a 5 gallon bucket, but actually a 50 gallon tank. Fluidized sand gives more than 10x the surface area for bacteria to colonize than stationary porous filter media.
If the sand is too dense for the air pump to push, you can use bioballs. They have less surface area than sand, though.
More info: http://www.bioconlabs.com/abtqs.html

Edited by EricaWieser, 17 March 2012 - 12:54 PM.

#3 Guest_gzeiger_*

  • Guests

Posted 17 March 2012 - 06:22 PM

Not really a money saver once you invest in bioballs though. A standard $15 sponge filter will handle at least a 75 gallon tank and probably more.

#4 Guest_jetajockey_*

  • Guests

Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:48 PM

I just run sponge filters on everything. They are usually less than $5 each at most online retailers (angelsplus comes to mind) or you could DIY one out of a piece of 1/2 pvc and a large aquaclear foam filter insert cut to size.

#5 Guest_EricaWieser_*

  • Guests

Posted 17 March 2012 - 11:43 PM

Not really a money saver once you invest in bioballs though.

I'm not sure the air pump is strong enough to move sand, which is why I mentioned bioballs. I agree, they're lame. Sand is better.

There are little $10 water pumps that would move sand. A $10 powerhead, a $4 bag of sand, and a soda pop bottle would be cheaper than a store-made filter for a 100 gallon tank.

#6 Guest_steve_*

  • Guests

Posted 18 March 2012 - 12:47 AM

Wow, I've never transported fish in a 50, 75, or 100 gallon tank before, but for the 5 gallon bucket I normally use, it seems like a typical sponge filter or one of these pop bottle DYI's, if I don't have a sponge filter, would be more than enough. Cool idea.

#7 Guest_gerald_*

  • Guests

Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:46 AM

Great idea for field & travel filters, or emergency back-up / new tank filters. You could jam or tape a 4"+ long piece of PVC in the bottle neck to increase the airlift efficiency and flow rate. My favorite media are small lava rock and old Jungle "bone charcoal" - lightweight, porous, lotsa nooks & crannies, easy to rinse, lasts forever (well, 30+ yrs so far). Past few years I've added Poret foam too. For containers I've used shampoo and peroxide bottles, tall CD and food containers, anything fairly sturdy. One problem with mine is the wide open tops let food fall in. So I like your bottom-draw closed-top design.

#8 strat guy

strat guy
  • NANFA Guest
  • Orland Park, IL

Posted 23 January 2015 - 08:05 PM

Sand filters are easy to build but they lack the mechanical filtration that floss filters have. I've used sand filters for a number of years now and they are awesome, but I would think that for a bucket setup its about detritus buildup and only a bit about biological filtration, rather than having the heaviest duty bio filter you can get. I really like this idea.

120 low tech native planted - Blackstriped Topminnow, Central Stoneroller, Fathead minnow, Golden Shiner, Black chin shiner, Carmine Shiner, Emerald Shiner, Sand Shiner, Spotfin Shiner, Orangethroat darter, Johnny Darter, and Banded Darter.

#9 Stickbow

  • NANFA Member
  • United States

Posted 04 May 2015 - 09:19 AM

Haven't for a while...thought I'd been booted for some reason, but turns out I should read the tech support forum...


I keep cheap sponge filters (~$5 each, bought from Amazon) live/active by keeping them in my extra plant "tank" - a covered container I keep outside.  That way, I have at least three or four ready to go if I need to set up a quick bucket tank or whatever. I can stick them in very little water in a bucket to have them on hand (I have a truck though, so lots of bucket storage space with little worry about sloshing)


I do like the idea of a DIY solution if I were making a long trip and ran out of sponges.  You could pick up the floss at any big box discount store, and I carry extra tubing and pumps (battery and plug in).  A pocket knife could take care of the fabrication...


Edited to add: the little short/stubby 8oz water bottles (Deer Park is the brand that I have in the fridge - given out at conferences and such) are probably a good size for a small bucket, and you wouldn't have to cut it.

#10 don212

  • NANFA Member

Posted 11 July 2016 - 02:37 AM

so, I am thinking of a marine bilge pump ,and pvc frame aerating a 48 qt cooler, could that water pump also power a small filter in a bottle filled with sand, or do I need to use an air pump?

#11 Doug_Dame

  • NANFA Member

Posted 11 July 2016 - 04:16 AM

* Warning: discussion without any data. It would be nice to have data. I like data almost as much as pizza or cheezits. 


It has always seemed to me that the problem with a sponge-filter-based mobile system is that you have to keep the sponge/s "charged up" with the good bacteria, during the dull times between collections. So you have to keep feeding them something with nitrogen content, such as ammonia, whether bio-produced or straight commercial (unscented) ammonia cleaner. And if you want the max de-nitrifying power in your mobile-to-go sponge collection, you need to have them well-fed with the ammonia foodstuff, because it takes time for the bacteria populations to grow. 


Keeping this bacteria colony going takes some work. And there's no quick and easy way to eyeball your sponge-collection-in-training and determine that it's "power is strong, it's ready for a road trip." Then in the mobile environment, to keep the sponge filter(s) going, you need a continuous air supply. Which gets more and more difficult as you scale up your operation in terms of the numbers of buckets and coolers and/or days of the trip. 


All in all, even after a lot of work to use the sponge filters on your collecting expedition, you may or may not get the effects of the de-nitrogen cycle that you want.


In contrast, a dose of Seachem Prime or equivalent is fast, easy, gives reliable consistent performance, is inexpensive, and is essentially foolproof. Unless you forget to dose altogether. 


(Anti-prejudicial disclaimer: I love sponge filters at home. That's how I filter most of my tanks. They work great in a stable situation; they're effective, low-maintenance, and very cheap to operate.)

Edit: where ever I say "sponge [filter]", the same would be true for "[fluidized] sand [filter]", except I think those need more electrical power to keep the sand moving.

Doug Dame

Floridian now back in Florida

#12 don212

  • NANFA Member

Posted 12 July 2016 - 11:01 AM

is prime a bacteria starter, or an ammonia detox product?

#13 Doug_Dame

  • NANFA Member

Posted 12 July 2016 - 06:11 PM

is prime a bacteria starter, or an ammonia detox product?


Ammonia detox product. (I've used the Seachem bacteria starter in aquariums, and I like it, but to my mind that's the long & hard way to deal with temporary containers on the way home from collecting.)

Doug Dame

Floridian now back in Florida

#14 don212

  • NANFA Member

Posted 13 July 2016 - 07:37 AM

thanks, sure beats trying to keep up filters, I just assembled a pvc aerator to fit into my cooler, with a bilge pump, and 12v battery to power it , Eileen has promised to make a compatmented mesh liner to fit on it.

Reply to this topic


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users