Friday, 7 August 2015

Plumbing with the fishes - DIY Canister Filter build

Before I got distracted building a gate I was in the middle of building an aquarium. I bought a second hand 90 gallon tank and built an aquarium stand from laminated 2x4s and framing hardware. I'd also built the filter from 4" PVC waste pipe.

Two weeks ago I finally ordered the remaining parts to finish the build. Let's start by looking at the filter media in the canister filter. From top to bottom:

Filter Sponge - 12" x 11" x 0.75" This will catch all the big poops.

Filter Floss Pad - 10" x 12" - 2 pk This will catch all the little poops.


The internet is full of people arguing over the benefits of bio balls vs ceramic media so I chose both.

Loading the media into the canister was easy. The hard part was figuring out how to plumb and arrange the filter.

How not to position canister filter

Initially I had the canister filter mounted vertically with the top of the filter above the water level of the tank. This worked but very quickly filled with air and was really difficult to prime. The first design change I made was to mount the canister filter on a diagonal, behind the tank and below the water level. This made life much easier. Priming was simpler because the water actually wanted to stay in the canister. 

I'm using an Ikea shelf to support the canister and some large jubilee clips to stop if falling off. The return pump is very close to the output of the filter and the tubing is as short and straight as I could make it. The flow rate is remarkable considering the size of the filter.



The jubilee clip in the top left of the picture takes most of the weight of the tube  so that it stays in the tank instead of wanting to fall out.


At the other end we have a 4" PVC Clean-out fitting with a bulkhead electrical conduit  fitting PVC glued in place. A jubilee clip helps create a water-tight and hopefully air tight connection to the intake hose. For anyone looking for parts to use for this, Carlon make a Liquidtight fitting which can be glued with regular PVC pipe glue:


These parts are great although don't expect the washers to be of much use in this application. Just cover everything in glue.

DIY Canister Filter Intake Design

The intake could be as simple as a hose hanging over the side of the tank. It gets complicated only because:

  1. We want to stop fish and debris getting sucked in and blocking the hose.
  2. We need to be able to prime (fill with water) the canister filter using the intake hose.
Usually an intake is just a rigid pipe with holes drilled periodically along its length. The problem is to prime the canister filter we need to fill the intake hoses, the entire canister and the pump with water and as little air as possible. If we drill holes along the length of the hose it becomes a whole lot harder to funnel water into the filter.

My solution, after three iterations, was to use a T connection with an airtight threaded cap at the top:



This is made simply from 1/2" PVC plumbing parts. I used teflon tape around the threaded cap to make an even tighter seal. To prime the filter I can unscrew the cap and insert a funnel. Water will pour down the T, fill up the intake hose, forcing air out. This assumes that the other end of the T is capped off. I achieve this by adding a coupler below the water line which lets me switch between another PVC cap and the regular intake pipe with the holes drilled in it:

This is the piece I use to cap off the pipe.

This is the intake pipe that is used in normal operation. The coupler is below the water line so it can be a push-fitting. There is no need for this to be air-tight. These changes make it much easier to prime the filter.

Here are some more pictures of the finished set-up.




I made this simple spray bar out of the same type of fittings used for the intake




And here are some Tiger Barb that call this tank home.


Suction Cup Zip-Tie fasteners

I made my own suction cup fasteners to hold pipes in place by buying cheap suction cups like these:



And then drilling a small hole through the nipple and sliding a zip tie through it. You can use these to attach just about anything to the side of a tank.

7 comments:

Plumbing emergencies in Cheltenham said...

One of the most critical parts of owning an aquarium is keeping the water as clean and healthy as could be allowed,while keeping a good biological balance inside of the environment.Power filters benefit give filtration; however Canister Filters are basically a better choice,as they take into consideration better mechanical and biological filtration than most power filters.
@Betty Allen.

Joseph Russo said...

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rokn elbeet said...

ما تهتم به شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض هو البحث عن كيفة علاج مشاكل تسريبات المياه التي تطرأ علي المكان فجأة بواسطة اجهزة الكشف الحدية التي تستخدمها شركة كشف تسربات بالرياض والتي تسعي للوصول الي افضل النتائج المثالية القادرة علي حل هذه المشكلة بدون تدمير فالاعتماد علي الاساليب الحديثة يساعدكم في الحصول علي نتيجة مثالية في مصلحة العميل فنحن لا نكتفي بتقديم هذه الاعمال في مدينة الرياض فقط بلا لدينا الفنين المتميزة الذي يقدمون شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام التي تعمل علي حل مشكلة البيت بدون الاعتماد علي ا اساليب تقليدية التي تستخدما بعض مقدمي خدمة شركة كشف تسربات بالدمام فلا تتكايل بشأن هذا العمل بالذات لانه يحل لك الكثير من المشاكل

Anonymous said...

Would you mind sharing where you found the cleanout plug with the lip on the rim? All the plugs I see don't have the lip and therefore cannot hold a gasket and be water tight.

رضا رمضان said...

شركتنا من المتميزون في اعمال الاصلاح بدون هدم او تكسير من خلال شركة ركن البيت التي تقدم الكثير والكثير في عمل اللازم وتصحيح الاخطاء التي تسببها تسريبات المياه فنحن مثلا

شركة كشف تسربات المياه بجدة تقدم خدمة لعمل الاصلاح بدون اي خراب ونقدم النصيحة للعملاء بالابتعاد عن الاعمال التي تؤدي الي هذا الخراب فتعاملك مع شركة كشف تسربات بجدة لديها الخبرة الكافية تساعدك في الحفاظ علي منزلك كما اننا نتمكن في اننا سوف نرتقي بخدمة لاننا نقوم بالعمل السليم لها كما يوجد لدينا خدمات العوازل التي تمنع التسريبات من الاسقف لكم والحوائط والخزانات من خلال شركة تسمي الاولي في مجالها لذلك نحن نقدم شركة عزل خزانات بالرياض التي تعتبر في عل الخزانات الارضية من الداخل بواسطة مواد متميزة كما نقدم لكم شركة عزل اسطح بالرياض لعمل العوازل التي تمنع جميع التسريبات في الاسقف

Joseph Russo said...
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