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"Pond filter" system for the 40B


shakaho

When i decided to order some fish from Raingarden, I bought a dollar/gallon 40B from Pet co and decided to set up a pond-type filter system for this aquarium for the larger two fish. I put three of my HOB filters on the 30 gallon I used for the smaller two fish.

Here's how I set up the 40B.

For my filter container, I selected a Rubbermaid wastebasket. This one is about 6 gallons total capacity. In use, it will hold about 5 gallons. The rule of thumb for pond filters is that they should have10% of the pond volume. Since my "pond" is 40 gallons, my container is a good size.

My fish tanks are in a spare room. If I had them in the livingroom, I would select an attractive flowerpot for the filter container, maybe something like this: http://www.lowes.com...ollow&cId=PDIO1

I put in an outflow spout, using a piece of 1" PVC pipe through a uniseal. http://www.aquaticec...s/1617/Uniseals

You see this on the left here: IMG_0196.jpg

The uniseal is black. The pvc pipe is white. A uniseal is by far the easiest way to put a pipe through the wall of a container. One simply drills a hole of the specified size, pushes the uniseal into the hole, and pushes the pipe into the uniseal. Around the base of the wastebasket is the tubing that will deliver the water from the pump inside the tank to the filter. I used 1/2 inch tubing, which you can get in the pond department at HD or Lowes. The pump is on the right, and all the out-of-focus black stuff around it is the nice long power cord.

The pump is an earlier version of this one: http://www.harborfre...pump-68395.html These pumps are less than half the cost of comparable items at HD/Lowes, and have a very good reputation among ponders.

The white contraption to the right of the wastebasket is the plumbing that conducts the water from the hose to the bottom of the filter. The dark gray piece at the top left is a 1/2 inch barb fitting http://www.lowes.com...%7C0&facetInfo= . The hose will be pushed onto the barb and held in place with a clamp: http://www.homedepot...p&storeId=10051

The lighter gray piece on its right is an adapter. The left end screws onto the barb fitting, and a 3/4 inch pvc pipe fits into the right end. Then you see a piece of 3/4 inch pvc pipe (with some red letters on it) going into a T-fitting: http://www.homedepot...1&storeId=10051.

A vertical pipe goes from the T-fitting at the top to another T-fitting at the bottom. At each end of the T at the bottom, I push in a short piece of pipe and put an elbow fitting http://www.homedepot...1&storeId=10051 on the pipe. It looks like this:

IMG_0198.jpg.

This bottom T and elbows is called a "swirler," since when the water comes down the pipe and out through the elbows, it swirls around the bottom of the filter. This swirling action helps to sediment particles in the water at the bottom of the filter. In all honesty, I'm not going to get much of a swirl in this container, but swirlers are fun to make.

All I really have to do at this point is fill the filter container with media, but I like to have a bottom support for the media, and above the media, a support for plants. The support I chose in this case is the rigid filter pad called matala: http://www.drsfoster...99&pcatid=15799 .

I cut two pieces, one that will fit tightly a couple of inches above the swirler, and another that will fit tightly just below the out spout.

IMG_0200.jpg

I put a hole in the center for the vertical pipe. You can't see it in the picture, but I slit each piece of matala from the center hole to a side so I could put it in and take it off without pulling the plumbing apart.

The bottom pad:

IMG_0201.jpg

A bag of media:

IMG_0202.jpg

This bag has a lot of frayed plastic rope as media. II got some cheap rope http://www.harborfre...rope-90760.html cut it into about 18" lengths, fused one end with a flame, and unwound the rest. Lots of surface area, and lots of work. I also threw in some pieces of plastic junk, some nylon mesh "bath sponges" from the dollar store, and the scraps left from cutting the matala. Later I added some of my current favorite commercial media, pvc ribbon. The filter is sitting in place and you can see a corner of the tank with Adam and Eve wondering what I'm doing and when I will get my act together and feed them. You also get a great view of the toes of my shoes, LOL.

Then I put in the top matala pad:

IMG_0203.jpg

Adam is watching me very carefully.

Now all I have to do is put the pump in the water and connect the pump to the filter with the hose.

IMG_0207.jpg

One end of the hose goes on the barb at the filter, and the other goes on the pipe at the top of the pump. One should put clamps on the hoses, but I didn't. They fit on nice and snug.

Here's the pump end. There are suction cups on the bottom of the pump.

IMG_0206.jpg

Adam and Eve have to get in the picture.

IMG_0205.jpg

I put some plants (in pots of gravel) in the top of the filter:

IMG_0229.jpg

I also moved the pump from the bottom to the side of the tank with the inlet side pointed to the bottom. When it sat on the bottom, debris accumulated under the pump. Adam and Eve look quite pleased.

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very nice! Thank you for sharing, and congrats on your RG fish! they are beautiful :)

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There are a lot of cool things about a system like this. It's super cheap in comparison to anything you can buy. If you get a pretty container and fill the top with plants, it can be gorgeous. The flow of water is gentle, so the fish are more relaxed, almost like pond fish. The water quality is superior. You can put duckweed or other floating plants in the tank and they don't wind up in the filter. Filter cleaning is minimal.

The one shortcoming I find is that the system doesn't do as well as a large HOB filter at sucking up poops and other debris and depositing it in a sponge in the filter box. There is typically a little debris on the bottom near the pump that has to be siphoned. This doesn't bother me, and would be corrected with a slightly larger pump.

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One thing I didn't put in this filter at the time I posted this was a dump valve. This is simply a hose bib (outdoor faucet) attached to a piece of pvc pipe inserted into a uniseal near the bottom of the filter. If you use the dump valve to drain the filter once a week it will not need a real cleaning for months. If the filter is near a door, you can drain the water outdoors through a garden hose. I find draining it into buckets to be less of a hassle.

You can see a dump valve in this thread at post #13. In that case I used a ball valve rather than a hose bib. The ball valve gives a much faster flush of the filter, but it sticks out a long way, so doesn't look very good indoors. There is a lot more information about building a filter in that thread.

Indoors, the most desirable container for a filter is a nice large flowerpot. You want your filter volume to be at least 10% of the tank volume. Of course you don't want holes in the bottom, and you always want a pot that has smooth surfaces where you want to put your outlet and dump valves. The pot should be at least as rigid as a standard 5 gallon bucket if you are using uniseals. Suitable pots can be found at Lowes or Home Depot for $20-$40. I recently scored big when I found a number of these on sale for $5 to $7 at Lowes. I bought four of them. One is now a filter, and others will soon be filters.

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What size pump would you recommend for a 75 gallon tank? 

Is it ok to use a bigger pot than 10%? 

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The bigger the filter the better.  When considering volume for stocking, you can add the volume of the filter to that of the tank.  Technically, you can do this with any aquarium filter, but it doesn't make any difference in stocking level using those little filters.

 

I have had spotty results using flower pots.  Some crack at the outlet holes.  A barrel like this makes a great filter, and I can tell you how to paint it ("plastic paint" will not work).  You can always build a box around an ugly, but serviceable bucket or barrel and finish it to fit your decor.

 

I built my first filter in a flowerpot from IKEA.  

DSCF0070.jpg

 

 

It has had some remodeling, but has been running strong for over 6 years.  I have seen this pot at IKEA recently and would have bought another one except for the neon colors.

 

If you have a flexible flowerpot or rectangular container, uniseals don't work well unless you reinforce the wall of the container.  For these you can get a bulkhead or use a "DIY bulkhead" from the electrical department at Lowes.  You get one of these  and one of these.  Then you cut a hole just big enough to get the threads of the male adapter through, push the male adaptor through the hole and screw on the female adaptor on the other side.  The plumbing fittings that look like this will not work, because they do not screw together all the way and thus won't grip the container wall.   It may be water tight without any sealing, but for safety, seal with this product.  

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Probably too strong, but not a pump I would recommend.  Very poor quality control.  This one will work fine and last for years.  I use it in ponds up to 100 gallons.  With a large filter, you want less flow for optimum filtration. I don't recommend going over 300-400 gph.

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Probably too strong, but not a pump I would recommend.  Very poor quality control.  This one will work fine and last for years.  I use it in ponds up to 100 gallons.  With a large filter, you want less flow for optimum filtration. I don't recommend going over 300-400 gph.

Oh good! I already have a couple of those!yes.gif

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We just built Sharon's pond filter and it's super easy :) one thing we did find by using a much larger container is that we needed to make one small modification.

We went quite big (more out of a lack of midrange options than anything else). As the entire container is not filled with media, we realised there was nothing to support the surface sponge or weight of the plants on top.

We took Sharon's idea for a 'stool' from one of her other pond filter posts. The legs of the stool are about 68cm high. We didn't want to give anaerobic bacteria a chance to build up if water seeped into the legs where there's no air/water circulation, so we constructed the 'inflow' so water flows into the top and then down through all four legs. We put elbows (or knee's in Dutch!) at the bottom of each of the legs to create the swirl. The stool is part of the internal plumbing so no bacteria can build up and we now have full support for the plants.

The only issue is that we have to lift the plumbing out to remove/add/clean sponges and media but it's pretty light.

Depending on how big you go and how much media you use, this may be something to think about.

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What container did you use?

 

I don't know what you used for medium, but the more media the better.  I collect stuff that I can put in filters -- plastic caps from bottles, scraps  of pipe and tubing, other scraps of plastic, scraps of plastic twine or rope, plastic mesh bags that onions come in, etc.  I've cut drinking straws into short pieces.   I put all of these pieces in lingerie bags.  I always have some filter medium when I need it.  

 

I drill holes in the pipe used in stools to let the air out so the stool doesn't float.  What filter did I make that didn't have a stool to keep the biomedium out of the muck at the bottom? I have considered using a second stool to support heavy plants, but I always have enough medium for supporting the plants.  Your swirler-stool sounds little a very clever idea.

 

Anaerobic bacteria get such bad press in fish forums.  The only possible harm these hard working decomposers could do is release H2S, an unlikely event in a clean aquarium and  easily remedied by aeration.  However, to get the maximum nitrification, you need lots of oxygen in the filter.  If you use an airstone, it will do more good in the bottom of the filter than in the aquarium. Aerated water splashing into the aquarium will keep the tank oxygen high.

.

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Can I use pool noodles for media? I just ordered a sheet of matala,  I have about 50 "scrubbies"  But thought cut up poop noodles would work?

 

pool-noodle-300x300.jpg

scrubbies

:Plastic_Pot_Scrubber_MP1002.jpg

 

Poop noodles! :lol How fitting! :lol2

Edited by TikiLola
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If you slice them into thin donuts, the pool noodles will function as any other piece of plastic.  They have closed cells, so no pores for additional surface area.  They also float, so you have to put them in a bag and weigh them down.  Lots of work there.

 

This makes great filter medium.

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I think it's a rainwater reservoir lol. We used your trick of nylon rope and spongs etc. also some ceramic media from a small canister we got with the tank, and the lingerie bags you mentioned but at best it's only half full. That's still a lot of media though!

Once everything is up and running I plan on doing a full update, it really was dead easy to build :)

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No.  I have read people say you can use this product if adequately cured, and others say it killed their fish after a week of curing.   I used silicone once and it peeled off the plastic.  You can try aquarium silicone or use PL roof and flashing.  The latter is used universally by ponders and professional pond builders for sealing.  While it says it takes 7 days to fully sure, people use it within a day.  

 

What are you sealing?  

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No.  I have read people say you can use this product if adequately cured, and others say it killed their fish after a week of curing.   I used silicone once and it peeled off the plastic.  You can try aquarium silicone or use PL roof and flashing.  The latter is used universally by ponders and professional pond builders for sealing.  While it says it takes 7 days to fully sure, people use it within a day.  

 

What are you sealing?  

I don't really know exactly. :hide: My son in law is pretty much making it for me and we couldn't find the unaseal at Lowes, so I think it had to do with that.  He also got this: http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?partNumber=23781-138-30756L&langId=-1&storeId=10151&productId=4750823&catalogId=10051&cmRelshp=req&rel=nofollow&cId=PDIO1#BVRRWidgetID

Please let me know if you think it's safe to use and what we could use instead if it's not. I will be going back to Lowes tomorrow to exchange the silicone.

I'm really excited about finally making this filter, but the last thing I want to do is kill my fish. :(  I wouldn't attempt it on my own as I find it too intimidating. At least the first one! If all goes well, I'll have more confidence next time around. :blush:

Edited by TikiLola
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What are you using for a container?  Your SIL is sweet to help, but unless you know what he wants to change and why, and can communicate that to me, I can't tell you if it will work.

 

You can't buy a uniseal at Lowes or HD, so I gave a link to one place you can order it on line.  Other sources:

 

http://www.aussieglobe.com/uniseal1.htm

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/uniseal-1-9d624e9fd3bd011eb7a8f1d40f457d93.html

http://alliedaqua.com/uniseals-affordable-bulkhead-alternative.html

http://www.jehmco.com/html/uniseals.html

 

You might be able to buy one locally at a pond store, a fish store that includes marine fish, or a hydroponics store.  There exist substitutes for uniseals, but what you use depends on the container.  So I have to know what container you have to help. 

 

I don't use pvc cement on any joint (between pipe and fitting) that is in or above the water.  I just push the pipe into the fitting.  If these leak a bit, no harm is done.  Even if the joint is out where a leak can cause damage, I don't glue until everything has been assembled and tested.  The pvc cement fuses the pipe and fitting together irreversibly.  When I do glue, I don't use the primer.

 

I was scared to death to make my first filter.  I studied filter builds in detail.  The good ones were intended for big ponds and were made from 55 gallon drums.  I needed to scale these down for a 10 gallon container for my little 100 gallon pond.  The people who posted the builds refused to answer my questions, saying all the information you need to make the filter was in the post. 

 

While uniseals existed then, few people used them yet.  The things used to put a pipe through a barrel then did not form a tight seal by themselves, so you had to use sealants.  After using the sealant you had to wait 24 hours before you could test to see if it was waterproof. Of course it wasn't, so I dried it off and resealed, wait another day and test again.  While I only put a few hours of actual work in making the filter, it took a week (and some sealing by my husband) to finish it.

 

The build here, was actually the second filter I made, very easy and fast, both because of the experience and because of the uniseals.

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OK.  Some people make pond filters from trash cans.  They usually last a few years.  One of these is far better and cheaper.  If you search Craigslist for plastic drums/barrels you will find lots of them.

 

I'll go look at that can.  I want to know how thick the wall is and how flexible.  If you go back to post #8, I give instructions for a "DIY bulkhead" that you can probably use with this.  I have used this wastebasket from HD and know it works well.  You can use the conduit fittings on these as well as uniseals.

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I contacted everyone on craigslist who looked like they might be close to here and they are all at least an hour away. :( I don't drive and don't have anyone who would be willing to go for a drive like that.  If you think I should take the garbage can back and get a different one, or something else (similar size) please let me know. I can get to lowes or home depot.

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Here's a pic of the things we got from Lowe's. Hopefully this stuff is ok.

Also, I exchanged the silicone for the one you suggested.

parts%20002_zpsb28kfih0.jpg

 

parts%20003_zpskvq9xz25.jpg

 

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