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The DIY gravity filter, From start to Finish. COMPLETED!!!

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Here are some of the parts we'll be working with

As you can see just a run of the mill 5gal bucket, a snap on style lid,  6 packs of the plastic dollar store scrubbies,  3/4"PVC, 1-1/4" PVC,  90deg elbows, some screw type couplers and some t-fittings

Cheap dollar store scrubbies,  I've been using these for years in differant types of filters that call for Bio media.  They have a ton of surface area for the good bacteria to colonize.  Another bonus is that they are cheap, 

What I did next is determine where I wanted my inlet and outlet for water flow.   I know most people will just go and drill holes in the bottom of their buckets and suspend them over their tank which is fine if you have that option.  I always like to put mine up on a shelf slightly above the tank,   So what I do is drill a 3/4" hole for my threaded coupler for my inlet from the pond pump.  I still have to put the spray bar on.  Next I drilled a hole to put my 1-1/4" threaded coupler  through, this is going to be used for the outlet.  I placed it up above the bottom of the bucket b/c I'll be putting on a 90 elbow and a short length of PVC towards the bottom of the Bucket.  This will allow for my bio media to be covered in water at all times and allow the water to be drawn down through the bio media and out though the oulet/drain tube.   Just remember to put some fish safe silicone around the inside rim of your through fittings so it will squeeze out once you tighten it down making a gasket seal so you don't have any unwanted leaks

To see how much bio media I have, I put in the scrubbies, looks like it'll be pretty good.  About 2.5"-3" of bio media.  You could use store bought bio balls, I saw some at the pond store the other day and they wanted around $15 for a pack of 15 or so bio balls the size of a golf ball.   I spent $6 on 36plastic scrubbies at the dollar store that'll do the same thing.  Or your could put cutup pieces of pvc pipe, or take a bunch of plastic banding material that the lumber yard throws away and stuff it all in the bottom of the bucket.  You just want to give the bacteria a place to colonize, and they'll colonize on pretty much anything.

tomorrow I'll be showing the making of the internal spray bar, and drain tube.   Which will then be followed by the fine filter material and coarse filter material. 


Ok,  now for some more pictures of the DIY gravity filter

The spray bar.
I typically use just a single spray bar you could get really fancy here, heating up your PVC into any shape you want to, but I'm going simple on this one.
I used some silicon and made a bead around the lip of my fitting that is getting inserted through the hole I drilled in the side of the bucket.  I ran a bead on both sides of the fittings where it will mate up against the bucket.  I also put thread tape on just to make sure I wouldn't have any leaks.  I then glued in a short section of 3/4" pvc to get my 90 deg elbow out from the side of the bucket.

I then put my 90deg elbow on and angled it off to the side just slightly, this is where a game plan comes in handy b/c if your off with your distance then you'll run into your outlet pipe. I would recomend putting your outlet pipe in first then do your spray bar.   I didn't do it that way b/c I thought I had some 1-1/4" threaded adapters in the shop but I didn't so I just kinda winged it as I did it.

I just held up a 1-1/4" 90deg elbow to check my clearance, it's snug.  But it'll fit.  One thing I'll be changins is the angle of the inlet connection so that it's parallel with the outlet. Its just more asthetically apealing to my eye, and it'll work with the bait tank that I'll be doing for a DIY.

I then cut another short piece of 3/4"pvc for another threaded adapter,  the threaded adapter is what your hose fitting is gonna screw into.

For the spray bar itself I just took some 3/4" PVC and eyeballed it up against the bucket,  I wanted it to be a fairly snug fit.  On one end is a end cap glued on,  I don't glue the spray bar into the female threaded adapter b/c it'll allow you to pull out the spray bar if it clogs up, and also allows for cleaning the filter material.

For the holes in the spray bar,  you can drill a bunch of holes along the bar, and you can angle them to spray water over your entire filter material.  I just used my angle grinder and cut slots along the pipe in a pattern which I felt would give me the best coverage.  I cut into the pipe just enough to make a hole. 

Now for my outlet pipe.   I used 1-1/4" pvc b/c I wanted to ensure that my outlet would be able to handle the incoming water with out overflowing my filter.  I just measured with my calibrated eyeball the height I needed and glued my riser pipe to my 90deg elbow,  Which will allow me about 1.5" up off the bottom of the bucket. Keeping it up that high will keep the outflow riser pipe from sucking up the goo at the bottom of the bucket and dumping it back into the tank.  I then eyeballed another section of PVC pipe so that my riser pipe would fall in the middle of the bucket.  I glued it to the 90deg elbow, but did not glue it to the female threaded adapter that goes through the side of the bucket because itll allow me to pull the wafers of filter material out of the bucket. 

Tomorrow I'll show the filter material (wafers) that I cut up from synthetic blue plastic aircondition filter,  and some pollyfill snow blanket I took from the wifes holiday decorations she put in the house.  I'll also post up the final parts/price list if you were to build it from scratch.  This project won't be finished until it's hooked up to a bait tank and running, so once this filter is finished being assembled I'll be rolling right into a DIY bait tank build out of a plastic 55 gal barrel that if you look on craigslist can be had from $5-$35.  Sit back and enjoy the pictures and maybe get inspired to build one of your own. 

great thread! i have mine up and running and working great so far.....i dont have the spray bar i made dropping on the filter. instead i have it just running out a 3/4 the spray bar necessary for anything other then distributing the sludge/dirty water more evenly over the fine/coarse filters??

Just wanted to tell everyone to keep Senior Chief Boatswainsmate Terrell Horne III.    family in all your thoughts and prayers.  He was killed in the line of duty Dec 2nd off the coast of California.  Santa Cruz island he was part of a USCG boarding team who was attempting to stop a drug smuggling vsl, which turned and rammed his USCG small boat.  He gave his life  by pulling his coxswain out of the path of the collision strike area.

I'll finish up this thread tomorrow once I get back from work.

The spray bar helps spread out the water over the filter material,  it also will help aerate the water some to if your water is that high in the filter. 

Ok here we go the final part of this DIY gravity filter.  Hopefully some of you are making your own. 

Ok Lets finish up the Outlet/overflow pipe.   its made from 1-1/4" pvc a 90 deg elbo,  1-1/4 female and male threaded coupler that goes throught the side of the bucket. 

overflow/outlet pipe assembled,  the 90deg elbow is glued to the outlet pipe.   

the Female and male threaded coupler is screwed together and is sealed like before with thread tape, and a bead of silicone to keep it from leaking.  The outlet pipe on the inside of the bucket will just insert into the coupler.  I don't glue it in b/c I want to be able to take it out so that I can get my filter material out to get it rinsed off.  On the outside of the bucket the PVC pipe is glued into the coupler.

Your outlet pipe needs to be set just about 1/4" off the bottom of the bucket this will allow the water to flow up and out of the out let pipe.  One thing to keep in mind is if you run your tank/filter for a long time you could possibly fill the bottom of the bucket up with sludge and it could possibly either clog up that area of the filter or even pass up and out the outlet pipe. You also want to make sure that its centered in the bucket.   

Next I put the 6 packs of dollar store scrubbies into the bottom of the bucket. 

Next I need to cut my Filter material. 
I use two types of filter material a coarse material to catch all the large debris,  the fine material will catch all the finer material.
the Coarse material is just blue synthetic air conditioner filter I just took out mine from my AC washed it and just bought a new one for the AC for the House.  New it'll run you about $6 at Lowes. 

I then use the 5 gal bucket lid to give me and Idea of my size and I take a large pair of tin scissors to cut out around the blue filter material, I then cut a round hole in the middle for the outlet pipe to fit down through.

I cut out two wafers and stacked them on top of each other, this will give me about 2" of coarse filter material.

Next I need to get my fine filter material cut, this is just 16oz  polyfill type material.  What I grabbed was in the wifes christmas decoration tote out in the garage.  I figured that if she hasn't put it out with the rest of the decorations yet then I can use some of it.  A pack like this can be bought up to some place like wal-mart for around $5 and you'll have a ton left over, or just take a few pieces from the christmas decorations like I did.  I like the mat/blanket type material b/c it tends hold together better and come out of the filter better for cleaning.

unfolded out of the package

doubling it up to cut it to shape

Like before I'm using the bucket lid to give me my shape. 

Once cut into shape I then cut an X in the middle so that it'll fit snug around the outlet pipe and allow it to pass through the middle.

I doubled up on the fine material and fluffed it up a little bit to give me about 2" of filter material, 

Once your coarse and fine filter materials are cut to shape, you'll want to stack them so that the fine material is on the bottom and the coarse material is on the top

Now for the final assembly of the filter. Your scrubbles are in the bottom of the bucket

Then your gonna want to put your filter stack into the bucket,  fine material will go on top of the scrubbies, then the coarse material on top of the fine material.

Once your filter stack is put into the bucket and tucked up under the female threaded coupler, You insert your outlet pipe, a little downward pressure and wiggling to make sure you don't get any scrubbies stuck under the outlet pipe.

Once inserted you just slide it into the female threaded coupler.  It should still be centered into the middle of the bucket.

Next your gonna want to reinsert your spray bar.  I made it so that it was removable, and that it would be a good snug fit in the bucket.

Make sure the spray bar holes are pointing down towards your filter material,  you don't want it spraying up into your lid, as it could cause it to leak. 

The outlet going back into the tank,  I use just a T fitting b/c then I don't have to worry about it getting clogged up, and it seems that the T fitting tends to areate the water pretty good.  I currently just have this kinda mocked up, as I plan on doing a DIY Bait tank following this thread out of a 55gal plastic barrel. 


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