Introducing The Perfect DIY Pond Filter System For Your Aquaponics!

Last Updated on November 6, 2021 by

If you’re a hardcore sustainability person like me, you are all about Doing It Yourself (DIY).  Lucky for you, we have created the best guide on how to create a DIY Pond Filter system for your aquaponics.  

We will go over the importance of pond filtration and a few different DIY options. Filters are a very important component of any man-made pond system.  Taking your time and doing it right will be your best path to success.

Why Do I Need An Aquaponic Filter System? 

The main point of a filter in any pond or tank system is to keep the water clean by trapping sediments that have built up inside of your tank water over time.  Water is usually pumped out of your tank and passed through your filter where it collects loose particles.

You could guess that after a while the filter will become saturated with debris, so you will need to clean it out as needed.  Some filters need to be replaced every time it fills up whereas others are able to be physically cleaned and reused.  

As a sustainability expert, I recommend always going with the reusable option.  The more non-biodegradable products we consume, the more permanent waste enters our landfills.  A general rule of thumb is that if it comes from nature, it can be put back into nature.

Keeping the water clear of algae buildup and other particles is a key aspect to ensuring your fish have a healthy life. Some of the benefits of a clean tank include balancing the ecosystem and preventing nitrification in your tank.  

Types Of Aquaponic Filtration Systems

Depending on your needs, you can choose from two main approaches to building your filter.  One option is to use manmade filters which physically trap particles.  In this case, the tank owner has to dispose of it later (can be added to compost or garden).  

The second option is to use the bacteria in nature to do the work.  This is by far the most sustainable choice because it is basically mimicking what happens in the natural environment.  Bacteria and microorganisms will break down and eat particles from the fish tank making it safe to re-enter your tank.  

In both methods, a pump located at the bottom of your pond moves water to the filter which is located outside of your water system.  Most commonly, water returns to your pond using gravity and flows out of the bottom of your filter directly into the tank.    

DIY Pond Filter Designs

If you decide to bypass the purchasing of products and do it yourself you have a lot of options.  Basically, you want to mimic how the earth filters water in nature.  At the very least, you need to provide the same functions a store-bought filter would.  

The first step is to find a container to house the contents of your filter.  The size of the filter container depends on the amount of water your pond system has.  A general rule of thumb is to make sure your filter can run the whole contents of your tank in 8 hours.  

A filter’s Gallons Per Hour Rate should be about 1.5 times more than your tank water volume. So a 250-gallon tank requires a minimum of 375 GPH. Check your pump to make sure it matches your required GPH rate.  

According to Duke University, There is no such problem as filtering your tank water too much! So if you make a larger filter than necessary, it won’t hurt your system.

Filter Layers

Once you have found the container to hold your filter contents you can drill an exit hole. You will need a drain hole at the bottom to allow for the water to go back into your tank.  

The pumped water can enter through a hose that sits on top of the filter.  If you prefer, you can drill a hole on the top side of the container to secure the entry hose.  Make sure to measure your hose size and use the correct drill bit for these holes.  

To prevent the filter contents from falling through the drainage hole, you can place some kind of permeable filter media over the exit.  This could be a used t-shirt, coconut husk, or any kind of semi-permeable medium that won’t get clogged easily.  Please note that if your filter seems to be working slow, this layer could be the problem.  

Once that is set up, you can start to add your contents.  A typical DIY filter includes multiple layers.  There are different options. 

One way you can do it is to use lava rocks and a type of purchased water filter material.  Fill the container with 90% lava rocks and place the water filter cloth on top.  

Filter Option 1

DIY Filter Option 2

Another 100% natural way to do it is to use a combination of Gravel, Sand, and Charcoal.    First, fill one-third of your container with charcoal and put an old cloth on top.  This will prevent the next layer from bleeding together.

Next, put sand on top and another cloth.  Lastly, add the gravel.  The water passes through all layers to re-enter your system clean.  

Doing it all-natural is difficult and you will have to observe closely to find the exact balance that works for your system.  

One really easy container to use as your filter is a 5-gallon bucket.

Homemade Pond Filter From A 5-gallon Bucket

One really easy way to start your DIY pond filter system for your aquaponics is to use a 5-gallon bucket.  You can drill holes on top of the lid and on the bottom for your entry and exit pipes.  Fill the bucket with whichever filter medium you choose and you are good to go.

If you choose to save money and build a DIY Pond filter for your aquaponics, you will have some challenges in finding the correct balance that works for you.  Don’t get frustrated, DIY projects always take time and finesse. 

Most important is to make sure you have your filtration GPH capacity right.  After that, finding the right balance of your internal components can be a fun job! 

Please feel free to comment and ask questions below!

Read more about: Fish Tank Sump Pump Size Calculator- All You Need To know!

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