View Full Version : 5 gallon bucket filter idea

06-19-2007, 4:16 PM
I was thinking about ways to make essentially a cheap power filter with a large capacity. I have used these before, so I drew a little pic to illustrate.

The filter in this example is a 5 gallon bucket which is placed on a shelf above the level of the top of the aquarium.

The water is pumped out of the tank into the top of the 5 gallon bucket. It flows through the media of choice, up the stand pipe out sleeve then down the stand pipe back into the aquarium. The stand pipe sleeve forces the water to travel through the media before reaching the stand pipe. Illustrated below:

06-19-2007, 4:21 PM
If a screw on lid with a bead of silicone as a gasket was used and the output directed through the side, it could be a large cheap canister filter.

I'm looking at some drums with clamp on lids as alternatives to the 5 gallon bucket, but they wouldn't be anywhere near as cheap.

I'm wondering about what kind of clamping could be used to secure a regular snap on lid to make it water tight.

06-19-2007, 4:22 PM

I bet it smells though

06-19-2007, 4:22 PM
No different from a HOB filter.

06-19-2007, 4:29 PM
Good point.

06-19-2007, 4:42 PM
Granted, this isn't something you would use in your living room. It's more geared toward racked tanks in a fish room.

06-19-2007, 4:44 PM
...depends on the living room.

When I was in college, this setup would have gone along great with the cinderblocks holding up the 2x4's holding up the TV and the 3rd rte futon in the living room.

06-19-2007, 5:55 PM
it sounds like a good idea

06-19-2007, 7:31 PM
I'll go you one ghetto'r but it works!


Dr Joe


06-19-2007, 7:36 PM
had an idea.

what if you had holes drilled in the tank, much like the one in the link, but lined the media up from one end to the other and then had the exit at the other end, which would be driven by a pump. that would ensure minimal bypass.

for example, the holes would be

here--> [media,media,media]<--and here

(ok so its a sad diagram but im not one for drawing :D)

06-19-2007, 8:01 PM
jm1212 That's very ol' skool. That used to be very common place 25-30 years ago.

DrJoe that's the general idea, but more of a HOB/canister than wet/dry. That filter could be de-ghetto'd if he used a sterlite storage drawer set instead.

06-20-2007, 12:56 AM
man i was just talkin about this a work today with a co-worker this is what i came up with http://i138.photobucket.com/albums/q249/J0NESI/5gfiltersetup.jpg
use a painters bucket that have seals in the lid
drill two holes in the top of the 5g lid
but iam using a old small pool filter for the pump and pvc. the pvc come from and goto the top of the tank no drilling holes in the tank.

06-20-2007, 1:05 AM
That's pretty cool, but there is a design flaw that allows the water to channel along side of your return pipe and bypass all of your media. If you notice on my design, there is a pipe around the return pipe. The water can ONLY go through this path. Sure, it can still form channels, but is less likely to completely bypass the media.

Yours is easily fixed though. Take a piece of pvc with an endcap on the end and put it over your return. Just make sure that it can't move up enough to block the return. This may require shortening the return pipe inside. The other modification would be to pump the water in all the way to the bottom of the media. That's the only two things I'd change right off to make it more efficient.

06-20-2007, 1:12 AM
i figured that the bucket would fill with water and the water would cycle around from top to bottom. passing through the media on the way to the bottom, kinda like the ehiem filter i got

06-20-2007, 1:18 AM
Initially it may, but over time it will channel and find the path of least resistance. Your way will work, but with very little modification it will be more efficient. Overall it's a great design.

I have a design that I'm trying to work out the details on that will cut the channeling out a lot. My goal is to produce this part that could possibly be patented as a kit for making 5 gallon canisters.

06-20-2007, 1:41 AM
is this what your talkin abouthttp://i138.photobucket.com/albums/q249/J0NESI/pvccap.jpg

06-20-2007, 1:45 AM

06-20-2007, 1:52 AM

06-20-2007, 6:24 AM
Can I assume you're thinking about this for your biggest tank? It still seems like a huge amount of filtration but what do I know. I guess if you were pushing stocking limits you'd need something huge.

Anyway for input on this subject... I have a bucket that's Oh... maybe 6 gallons that I got from the pet supply store for storing dog food. It has a screw on top which could be made to seal water tight with the use of a big O-ring.

I've also been tossing ideas around in my head for filtration too and I was thinking about using large diameter PVC with screw on type end caps for the media containment. I am curious about using air for water movement because It'd be cheaper than power heads for a multiple tank set up where each tank has it's own air powered filter.


06-25-2007, 8:55 PM
You'd need an awful lot of air which would require most likely a blower which would consume more power than the powerheads LOL

06-25-2007, 10:06 PM
Here is a idea i have
This is a side view of the 5 gallon bucket basically the water flows down into the bucket then fills the inner pipe and flows over the top then is pumped back to the tank via external pump. below is a picture of the ring that sits below the egg crate and is attached to the return pump

06-25-2007, 10:36 PM
Cool idea. I like the ring on the return a lot. There's these bucket inserts that have legs on them and a grate on top designed for 5 gallon buckets that I'm thinking of using. It would sit nicely on top of the ring.

06-25-2007, 11:57 PM
Call your local Wal-Mart Supercenter bakery (or better yet, stop by in the early evening) and ask if they have any spare buckets. They use these daily to ship cake icing in and they are food-safe (no leeching) and have a lid manufactured with a rubber gasket inside to prevent contamination of the product. I use mine for water changes. I think they would work quite well if you try this DIY.

06-26-2007, 10:48 AM
Cool idea. I like the ring on the return a lot. There's these bucket inserts that have legs on them and a grate on top designed for 5 gallon buckets that I'm thinking of using. It would sit nicely on top of the ring.

Thanks the Design needs a little work still. By all means feel free to criticize and add input .
Do you have a pic of these grates your talking about ?

06-29-2007, 11:07 PM
I'm actually in the process of making a custom canister filter.
I found this guys article, he made one for his small tank.
I'm just going to get a bigger canister and a bigger pump, and that should work for me.

The only thing I am going to change is to get an external pump, not a submersible one.

heres the link (http://www.petfrd.com/forum/articles.php?action=viewarticle&artid=87)

06-29-2007, 11:10 PM
interesting design cheap there are a few things i don't really like but there are things i don't like about my design as well so good luck with whatever you choose to do post some pics when your done

06-29-2007, 11:19 PM
it is a little crude, but it gets the job done.
Lock and lock containers have really good latches.

With some small alterations it should fit my bill.

06-30-2007, 12:47 AM

06-30-2007, 12:53 AM



or something similar would make a good body