Home Made Pond Filter - cheap

Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

Need to filter your pond water, but want uncomplicated, low maintenance,
with no expensive filters to replace?
Necessity is the mother of Invention.

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Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

15 watt aquarium water pump with female in and out 1/2 inch threaded ports - $20 from pet store or home depot
5 gallon paint bucket - $0 recycled
1/2 inch threaded extension tube from home depot - $1
1/2 inch extension tube or recycled water hose - $1
1 quart shampoo or soap bottle - $0 recycled
1 bag of river rock pea gravel - $3
used carpet - $0 recycled

Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

I originally bought the pump to use as a fountain aerator for the pond. The idea came to me to also use the pump to vacuum the water through some gravel and carpet contained in the 5 gallon bucket, then pump the water upward to the surface of the pond. In theory, the filter material is upstream from the pump, so the spinning impeller stays clean and won't clog with slime or dirt. Our exit pipe is a small fountain, so I can notice if the filter starts getting clogged when the water starts to slow down. This is not a skimmer or a bottom filter, but it seems to trap alot of free floating debris and traps microscopic algae and clay particles. Our pond is 450 gallons and we had a former problem with green and cloudy water, also the pump sprays a small fountain so it provides aeration, beauty, and a pleasant trickle sound. We installed the outdoor electric outlet near the pond with a ground-fault circuit and also a manual on/off wall switch indoors.
#1 Picture shows pump/filter in operation a few days after filling up the pond.
#2 Picture shows water green and cloudy after a few weeks but eventually the water cleared after flushing out the filter materials in the bucket. So far have done monthly filter cleanings. Anticipate fewer cleanings needed.
#3 Picture shows crystal clear water two months later as the pond water fish/plants and microbiology has balanced.

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Phoenix, AZ

I absolutely love that one side is glass! Did you build it yourself?
I have a 3 gallon bucket/filter in one of my ponds around 500 gallons. The pump is 500 GPH, the tube is fed up through a ceramic pot that bubbles over into the pond. It's amazing how clear it keeps the water.

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Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

To make the filter drill a 1/2 inch hole two inches up on the side of the bucket. drill 1/4 inch holes in the soap bottle. Screw the threaded tube one end inside the bottle, and screw the other end through the hole into the pump inlet. Attach the exit pipe to direct the water away from the filter bucket. Make sure the tube is tight going through the bucket so the water won't circumvent the filters. Cover the soap bottle in the bottom of the bucket with pea gravel. Cut several round pieces of carpet to fit the inside of the bucket and spread them like a layer cake with some more gravel in between and on top. Submerge the bucket with gravel in the water and plug in the power cord. The water will slow down when the carpet pieces get saturated with alge and silt. Unplug the power and pull out the bucket and upend the gravel into another paint bucket. Rinse the gravel and carpet pieces until clear and re-assemble. Beneficial bacteria and protozoa will attach to the gravel and carpet, so don't use any soap on the filter materials. I'm a city boy from the midwest, but I call this my hillbilly filter.

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Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

We love the pond too. I built it in the center of our patio. It's a blessing to watch the fish swimming around. We can see it through our glass door from our lazy boy recliner. We hand feed the fish a little twice a day, but the plants are growing so they will also be a good food source. In the summer here in Florida the water temp is 80-90deg because it is on a shaded patio. The one inch goldfish we got are now four inches. Will need a heater in winter to keep the tropical fish alive. We are experimenting with a 55 gallon drum to transfer rain water from the roof gutters into the pond. Also use the drums to settle-out the chlorine from the tap water for a day or two.

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Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

I like the way you think. I have made something similar, but much smaller for my own preformed pond (50 gallons) using a 500GPH aquarium pump. It's been running for 3 years but it gets clogged too quickly. I'll revis my design, incorporating a lot of the ideas you showed.


Decatur, GA

Rainwater from a roof with shingles can cause problems with your pond. There is something from the shingles that is bad for the fish and probably the plants too. My pond guy gave me this advise but did say rainwater is okay if you have a metal roof.
I wish I had more details. I would look into using your roof collected rainwater before assuming its okay. If you find out more details on this subject please share.
I have building a DIY filter for my pond on my to do list. There are lots of examples on YouTube to watch. Yours seems to work well. I love your glass wall! It must be great to see the fish from the recliner inside!

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Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

Cleaned out the filter last weekend as I noticed the water flow from the pump was less than half. New pressure now restored to circulate the water. We have asphault shingles and maybe the tar could have some possible poisons, but I could'nt turn down the free soft water. Only dead fish we see so far are the mollies, and they are hard-to-keep alive in a regular aquarium too. Pic shows method to hand-wash our filter using the water hose from the well, and lots of gunk comes out.

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Decatur, GA

It took me a minute to see your feet! ^_^

Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

This week Texas Water Lillies has my $$ order for: Perry's baby red, Chrysantha, Yellow pygmy, Indiana, Burgandy princess are the mini's said to be good bloomers. Hopefully they will be big enough to bloom this summer.

Been visiting the pet stores to look at more tropical fish to replace the ones that croaked due to the water cooling below 60 degrees. The goldfish thrive in cold water, and also have Australian rainbow fish and Platties are doing OK.

Here are some pics of the pretty fish that couldn't take the cold.

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(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Poor fishies. The fourth one looks like a Killer Whale only smaller. :)

I was thinking poor fishies too....

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Tropical or aquarium fish aren't supposed to be kept outside in Fl. as it gets too cold for them as it has been this week. Son brought over a 1 1/2 foot long pleco but the cold killed it. I knew it would but we didn't have any place else to put it and I'm not setting up an aquarium for just 1 fish.

If I could have aquariums in the house I would. Unfortunately I have no where to put them in the house.

Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

I'm sorry for the loss of your pleco. My 30-gallon pond remainsd quite comfy for my tropical fish by using a 120-watt submersible water heater.


Sylvain - great idea. Question for you - do the tropical fish get larger in your pond than they would in an aquarium? I know when I had goldfish in my pond they did become quite sizeable.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Would love to have a pond water heater but my power company said my elec. bill would skyrocket and its stays over $300. a month now. I am just hoping for the best and they make it through these few cold nights. This morning water temp. was still 30. Now it is up to 40. Poor fish they are staying right at the bottom.

My kids used to bug us to heat the pool. Can you picture heating 44,000 gallons. We just swim summers. First year we lived in Fl. we swam all winter. Hasn't happened since.


Ocoee (W. Orlando), FL(Zone 9b)

I've kept mollies and guppies outside. Guppies bite the dust when it gets colds....mollies hang in a tad longer. I've had several marble mollies that grew to 4 inches and bred like crazy, and they can usually survive one night of cold, but several in a row do them in as well. Because I had blue guppies in there, they bred with one of the marble mollies, so one was black and white, with a blue tail. I was sad that it was one of the ones that died on the last cold snap.

Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

My water feature only holds 30 gallons water. Calling it a pond is an euphemism. A submersible 150 watt aquarium heater keeps the fishies happy. And yes the fish do get bigger than their aquarium friends.



I wondered - I remember the goldfish filled the palm of my hand with their tails going up my wrist. They were quite a bit bigger than their aquarium brethern.

Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

Goldfish have very small stomachs and shou?ld ideally be fed small amounts of food, many times every day. In a pond setting, they are always munching on something, hence their better growth.


They have more room too and generally will live longer than their poor brethern that are in the aquariums.

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