DIY Canister Filter: How to make Aquarium Canister Filter at Home?

DIY Canister Filter: How to make Aquarium Canister Filter at Home?


A canister aquarium filter is a must-have thing if you have an aquarium to keep the water crystal clear. It’s a crucial part of the aquarium to keep the water healthy for the fish. However, purchasing a canister filter can come expensive, which could go more than a hundred bucks. If you’re not ready to pay that much money to buy a new canister, you can also make one by yourself. It’s also an ideal option to make it yourself if you’re a person with enthusiasm for DIY. With a little ingenuity and a few things, you can make your canister filter yourself. The good thing about making your own filter yourself is that you can make it as large as you want. Stick to the article if making a canister filter is your next plan for your aquarium.

How does Canister Filter work?

A Canister Aquarium Filter works with a straightforward process; it takes in the water and drains it out. Between the process, it filters the water from dust, debris, and germs with some natural and chemical media. The filter sucks in the water using a motor and a hose, pushes the water through a canister, and drains out. All the media of the filter stay in the canister during the filtration process, making a stake on one another. To connect the intake and the outlet of the filter, you can use long tubes for reaching from far away. However, you can also make it onboard where the filter will stick to the aquarium’s body without any clutter around.

Decide what type of Canister Filter you want

Decide Filter type

As I mentioned, you can go for two types of canister filters in the project; you have to choose which one you love. One is a single structure that you have to hang on the wall of the aquarium. Another one is to go with a separate unit with a tank, which is pretty common in the market if you go for purchasing. In this guide, I’ll cover the separate tank system, which is the most common one around.

Things you need to make Canister Filter

PVC pipe parts

Things you’ll need for the project are common that you can find in the local store with an irrigation section. Here are the things for the DIY canister filter you must have:

  • A watertight container with a watertight lead on it
  • An input hose & an output hose.
  • For connecting, you will need two 1.5 male hose connectors,
  • One .5 inch bulkhead, a .5-inch threaded ball valve.
  • For the final connections, you need A 1/2 male riser and a .5 inch by 4 inches male riser as well.
  • To make the connections watertight, you will need some extra rubber O-rings and some plumber’s tape.
  • You need a 400-gallon per hour powerhead as your motor with a threaded .5-inch input and output connectors.
  • You’ll need your drill machine to make holes, PVC glue, or hot silicone gun for extra precautions for water leakage.

1. Get the items for the Hoses

For the input and the output, you need an input hose and an output hose with proper lead on them. You can make them yourself, or use the ones from a scrap filter you may have from a previous filter. To make it yourself, you’ll need

  • 0.5 inch PVC pipe
  • Two 90-degree Street Elbows
  • 0.5 inch Female Adapter
  • 0.5 inch Male Adapters
  • 0.5 inch Hose Connector

For connecting them all, you will need a

  • 5 inch Cap
  • Hose Clamps
  • Suction cup with clamp fittings behind Vinyl tubing

2. Make the Input and Output Hoses

Depending on the depth of the aquarium, cut down the PVC pipe, put in the PVC cap on the down end to seal it. Go to the other end and attach an elbow followed by another, making a holder on the side. Drill some holes for intake filtration, add the suction cup for keeping in place. Attach the hose connector to the female adapter and attach it to the last elbow. Now you can add the soft tubing with the required length.

3. Get the Connectors Ready

Drill a 3/4 inch hole on the lead of the tank and attach the bulkhead, add a rubber O-ring in the middle of the bulkhead. Attach a hose connector to the bulkhead to attach the tubings later on. Next, you have to make another hole, or you can use it if one exists already to make the output hole. Use the male riser with an O-ring and plumbers tape in between, then attach the ball valve on the male riser. Now, take the flex riser and thread it with the valve to finish the output lead.

4. Prepare the Canister Tank


Take the mediums you are going to use for filtration, such as Bio balls, sponges, polyester, and bio media, like lava rock. Start with putting in some lightweight scrubbers; they will keep the output from getting clogged. Then, put some bio-media in a plastic mesh bag with a drawstring to keep the media together and keep them together. Add a bag of Bio balls in another drawstring plastic bag on top, and cover them with another layer of sponges. For the last layers, add some 100% polyester filling and a filter padding, cut from sponges. Close the lead, and your canister is ready to go into the aquarium.

5. Connect the Canister to the Aquarium

Once the connections are all in their places, and the canister is ready, connect the hoses to the input and output hoses. Before you attach the output hose, make sure you attach the intake of the powerhead to the output of the canister. Then, attach the output of the motor to the rest of the input hose of the canister. This order of connection will get you a good input and output ratio for effective filtration.

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Wrapping Up

Making a Diy canister filter yourself that costs less than fifty bucks should be fun, even though the job is a little tricky. You can put in as many filtration levels as you want, which is important for a custom fit for your aquarium. Customizing your filtration system yourself for the aquarium makes you feel more passionate about the aquarium. After making the filter, make sure you keep a close watch for any leakage to resolve with silicon or extra O-rings in the fittings.

Flora is a Fish Parent & Enthusiast for over 10 Years. She has Deep Love & Affection for Fish Keeping. It's become her Passion to Help others. Stay Tuned with her Blog to Know more about Pet Care Tips, Product Reviews, and Guides. If you've anything Interesting to Share about your Fish. She'd Love to Know.