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.goldfish divider

1. There’s Nothing Fancy Here.

Sometimes, less is more. That’s the case with this DIY filter. The setup does an excellent job of agitating the surface of the water to increase the concentration of dissolved oxygen. As long as you use a food-grade bucket, you’re good to go with this one.


2. Just Add the Right Medium.

This kind of setup creates a biological filter that can speed up the nitrogen cycle. That will provide an ideal medium for the bacteria that can break down fish waste into nitrates or plant food. Using the tubing allows you to direct the water flow where you want it, to avoid uprooting plants.


3. It’s Another Riff on the Biological Filter.

This filter sits inside the tank instead of outside of it, which can make it easier to hide it with well-placed plants. We like the gentle stream of bubbles that creates a relaxing atmosphere. It’s a smart way to recycle materials into something useful.


4. If One Is Good, Then Two Is Better.

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!


5. Make Your Own Sponge Filter.

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.


6. Get Creative.

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.


7. It’s a Filter for Any Size Tank.

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.


8. Sponge It, Baby!

What’s interesting about this setup is that you can get creative with the holes and vents for different bubble streams. That opens up many possibilities for working with your tank décor and aquarium layout.


9. You’ll Never Think of a Water Bottle the Same Way Again.

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.


10. Go Through Multiple Stages.

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.


11. No Water Flow Issues Here.

This use of PVC pipe is brilliant. Not only can you make sure there is optimal water flow, but the diameter of the setup also means it less likely to clog and burn out the power source. It’s durable and can last for the long haul too.


12. Just Plant It.

We love the ingenious concept of these filters. It’s almost as if they’re self-cleaning. The fish waste becomes plant food after its run through the nitrogen cycle. The plants remove carbon dioxide to raise the pH while adding oxygen to the water.divider3 goldfish bowl

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.


Featured image credit: CAT Foto, Shutterstock