Diy Filtration System For My 55g

  • #1

I have a 55 gallons tank running with a Fluval 306, a Fluval U2 and a sponge filter (for the QT tank). It sits on a wood stand with 3 sections...

(this is a photo taken in june)

I'm starting to wondering about diy filtration system (sump, moving bed filter, etc., not quite sure how to name it, been watching a lot of the King of DIY youtube's video).

I would like to come up with a system to run this tank on a pump underneath it, in the wood stand. Am I delusional? Where should I start? What do I need to know? There is so much information, I feel overwhelmed right now.

Thank you!
  • #2
I don't know if you've seen Joey's video on how to do pvc overflows and return. Joey has tons of videos on how to modify your tank and DIY sumps
  • #3
DIY is a great way to save money in the hobby. As mentioned if you plan to get a sump an overflow is a necessity. When choosing the type of sump you have a bunch of options. Joey has videos on the three main options. The trickle tower, the submerged and the fluidized. The cheapest is by far (I think) the trickle tower. The submerged is more customizable and the fluidized with K1 is effective but loud so watch out for that.
Depending on the stocking of the tank you could survive with some sponge filters. My reccomendation for an internal filter would be the corner internal sump or the corner hamburg matten filter.
You could also stack up a bunch of hang-on-back cannister filters if you like the look of it.
Joey has videos on all of these so check them out
When it comes to DIY you have tons of options you just have to choose the one you like better.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Well, I think I have a lot of videos to watch or rewatch (he he)!

Since my tank is already running with fish in it, is there a better choice to replace my actual filters with?


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  • #5
Is there anything wrong with your current cannister filter? or are you just looking for a change?
Because DIY is great for saving money, but if you have a working filter it's not really worth it
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
That is just what I realised. I think, I am going to try to improve my current cannister and then try a sump with my QT tank later.

For my current setup, there is 2 thing that I am trying to improve. First, my ammonia level is always at 0.25 and my nitrates are always high (live 40 ppm). I am doing 30% water change once or twice a week.

This is my plan :

I plan on changing my filtration media to improve my water parameters. This morning, I add zeolite to my fluval 306.
In my fluval, I have sponges, fluval biomax and zeolite. Any suggestion on what I could use as media filter?

I also want to make water changes simpler. Since there is chlorine in my tap water and water is cold, I am not sure what I could do.
I am thinking about building a device to treat incoming water (like Joey did here :

Well, here is my ideas, if you have any advice, I am happy to ear them.
  • #7
No amount of filtration will remove nitrates.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Yeah, I know, that's why the other part of my plan is finding a way to make water change easier
  • #9
Yeah, I know, that's why the other part of my plan is finding a way to make water change easier
I used to use a little pond pump and a garden hose.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
But how do you treat water? Or are you on a well?
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Also, how did you chose the pump? There is so much pumps out there
  • #12
Hello/Bonjour! I currently JUST finished building my own DIY Canister filter for my 30 gallon tank:

Just want to throw my 2c in, so far very very pleased with the results, however the work involved was quite a bit more than expected (and probably ended up costing me a little more than a decent canister)! Also the prices for the parts shown in the youtube video are SIGNIFICANTLY more in Western Canada, so take your expected budget and just double it (assuming it's similar in QC) You'll also need some tools and materials to cut/glue/sand/tighten/screw/seal/drill stuff if you don't have them already. Also mistakes may happen and you may need to rebuild part of whatever it is you make after an accident! I had issues with leaks, vibrations and getting good seals, but I managed to solve them all and for me this was a good learning experience.

One of the benefits of doing your own design is that you can build it to be modular - meaning add a DIY water change system next just by adding hoses with U joints into the plumbing and theoretically with some help from closing/opening the valves at the right time it should easily suck water up and out into the tank or from a bucket or long hose to the faucet... etc!
If you have the time and dedication I really recommend just going for it!

Picking the right pump:
Getting the flow right just involves a bunch of maths and googling. If you have a 55G tank you want to turn the tank over say 5-10 times / hour (other sites have said 4-6) I would shoot for a 500ish GPH pump... once it's plumbed up you'll lose some flow through the system and be right on the money with an ideal turnover rate somewhere in the 400's . If you put a bypass in (see my 3rd picture) you'll be able to turn down the output to the tank while letting the pump keep going at full speed!

Getting the right brand is another story, it'll depend if you're doing a sump, canister and if you want the pump in the sump, or in the tank, or externally. That will narrow down what type of pump you can get. For me after sorting out I wanted a canister with an in line pump I looked for good bang for the buck pumps and settled for an eco264. The pump was "OK"... but a little noisy and needed some DIY work to keep it from leaking out the O Ring for the impeller. I only spent 20$ USD on it though so I didn't expect too much. If I were to do this again i'd splurge on a more expensive pump that has no chance of leaking!

The Right Media:
I'm no means an expert in this hobby but after waaaay to much googling I ended up settling on lava rocks for my Bio media, they're not quite as good as bio rings surface area wise but are about 1000% cheaper (10$ cdn bought me 4 lifetimes worth of lavarocks lol). You can easily crush them with a hammer into smaller pieces to get a bit more surface area if needed.

Nitrates CAN be reduced by being consumed by anaerobic bacteria (no oxygen in their environment) or through being consumed by plants or algae. This is how it happens out in nature, unfortunately this is not so easy to do in a tank.

I've come across some info (I unfortunately no longer have the source) on one of the "drawbacks" of lava rocks being actually potentially a plus for nitrate reduction! This wasn't a scientific study, but merely someone's observation on their own tank: Because lava rocks have craters and such on them they collect "" in the deeper holes. These minI bio caves basically allow anaerobic bacteria to thrive if they're away from moving water. The article basically said that they had managed to greatly reduce the number of water changes needed due to nitrate buildup in the tank after switching to a larger lava rock filter. I'm going to find this out for myself hopefully soon once I get my new tank up and cycled!

Best of luck, hope you're inspired to make something just right for you
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Wow! TobyZ28 thank you for all the infos! I will keep that in mind!

For now, I decided to add some plants, to add some zeolite. Also, I took one of my small pumps to do my water change, it was quite easier and less messy than usually.

I'll keep thinking about it all. Thanks all for the reply.

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