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10 DIY Aquarium Filter Ideas To Try Today (With Pictures)

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

aquarium tank with sponge filter

It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of an aquarium filter. It steps in for nature and keeps the water chemistry stable with organic compounds at safe levels. It’s a vital step in the nitrogen cycle, which breaks down fish waste into a form of nitrogen that plants can use for nourishment as nitrates.

Your fish tank needs to go through a complete cycle before you fill it to capacity. That can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks, depending on your setup and filtration system. Your goal after that point is to keep the conditions stable to avoid stressing out your fish and plants from drastic fluctuations.

But the business end of an aquarium, with its filters, tubing, and heaters, isn’t attractive. It’s a distraction to the relaxing environment that you’re attempting to create with fish, live plants, and the décor that you add to your tank. That’s what makes DIY aquarium filter ideas so helpful. Let’s explore the possibilities.

The 10 DIY Aquarium Filter Ideas

1. If One Is Good, Then Two Is Better by BiTEN

The best thing about this setup is that you can customize it to the tank’s size. Swap out different bottles, and add the appropriate amount of Fluval for your medium. This product works well because the porous texture gives it a greater surface area to increase its effectiveness. Brilliant!

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It covers everything about creating the most ideal tank setup and more!

2. Make Your Own Sponge Filter by Ayush Sharma

Make Your Own Sponge Filter- Instructables
Image Credit: Instructables

Sponge filters are a popular option for aquarium enthusiasts. They provide the medium for the nitrogen cycle while adding surface agitation to improve the tank’s water chemistry. We like this one because you can paint the PVC to make it less obtrusive. It’s also durable and easy to clean.

3. Get Creative by Hasnah Kamilah

The great thing about this setup is how easy it is to make and set up in your tank. Not only is it a snap to install, but also it’s a breeze to maintain. These types of filters do double-duty with water quality, which makes putting this one together a no-brainer.

4. It’s a Filter for Any Size Tank by American Aquarium Products

It’s a Filter for Any Size Tank- American Aquarium Products
Image By: American Aquarium Products

We love this DIY aquarium filter because it gives you an option for smaller tanks and fishbowls. The problem with aquariums of these sizes is that the water goes foul quicker. Adding a filter creates a more stable environment for the fish so you can keep Bettas in a bowl.

5. You’ll Never Think of a Water Bottle the Same Way Again by Reef Builders

This is thinking out of the box to come up with an affordable way to keep your tank clean and healthy. The small size of the bottle makes it easy to hide, and replacing it only costs pennies. That makes it a more straightforward solution than buying replacement cartridges.

6. Go Through Multiple Stages by JDO Fishtank

The cool thing about this filter is the multiple stages that you can add with the customization options. Some fish are less tolerant of poor water conditions than others. This setup gives you a leg up on providing a healthier environment with stable water chemistry.

7. Even Small Tanks Can Be Filtered for Free by Fishaholics

If you have a small fish tank, why not filter it using a storage tub lid and a small glass container? It’s a fairly simple DIY project that allows you to use free items from around your home. Depending on the size of the tank, you can use a 40 GPH (gallon per hour) pump to run this filter. It is a simple and fun way to filter your betta or snail tank without having to spend much money. If you already have all the tools, it is pretty much free!

8. Those Lidless Tupperware Will Finally Come In Handy by Creative Useful

Many of us might have a storage cupboard with unused storage tubs because the lids have disappeared, so why not put them to use? To create this multi-filtration system, all you need is same-size storage tubs, some tubing, glue, and a drill. The filter can then run on a pump, and you can choose different filter media to place inside each tub. This filter is completely customizable, and if you already have the materials, it will cost very little to make.

9. DIY Hanging Filters by BestAqua

This innovative DIY hang-on-back filter can be made using simple and even free tools. A tall storage container can be converted into a HOB filter that not only looks great but is completely customizable and cost-efficient. You also won’t need much DIY experience to create this filter. Once it is done, you can hang it on the glass panels of your aquarium, as long as you don’t have a lid.

10. No Electricity is Needed by V Exotics

If you want to save on that electric bill, a zero-electricity filter might work for you. This is a completely DIY and inexpensive zero-electricity powder filter. It is perfect for filtering small tanks with plants or snails in them, although it won’t work well for fish. This is a brilliant filter that uses no electricity and very few materials that you can likely find around your home. Be sure to be quick when getting the suction flowing in the tubing if you want it to work effectively!

wave tropical divider

Final Thoughts

DIY aquarium filters are surprisingly easy to make and use. The best part is that you can put one together with supplies that you have around the house. It’s an excellent use of recycled materials that is also cheap to replace. You can customize them for your tank’s layout too, which makes them an even better option for the enthusiast.

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Featured Image Credit: SritanaN, Shutterstock

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