DIY Canister Filter For A Nano Tank
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Old 04-05-2008, 06:33 AM   #1
erthlng
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DIY Canister Filter For A Nano Tank


DIY Instructions for Nano Tank Canister Filter..

I originally started this thread on the Nano tank forum. See:
http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/pl...ano-tanks.html

Several folks asked me for more specific info on building this out, so I thought it would be more appropriate to post them under the DIY forum.

These instructions should help you build a Nano tank canister filter that looks something like this:




You will need the following:
1. One Otterbox 8000. I got mine off of eBay, but here are a bunch of different places to get them. See: http://tinyurl.com/2mugyo
2. One small submersible pump. I searched the Web for a long time to find a good fit. I was specifically looking for a 6 volt DC pump with around a 45 gph maximum flow capacity. The reason for the 6V DC was that I wanted to be able to run it off of a battery pack, a small solar panel or a plug in transformer. I found three sources. None of them are in the U.S. If anyone finds a U.S. source, please let me know.
a) http://tinyurl.com/ytowre (comes with solar panel. and is AU$31 with shipping)b) http://stores.ebay.com/eddiet1716 (same as the above model and comes with solar panel. $24 with shipping)
c) And last but not least, the Skyish TP-180 submersible pump, which is different from the pump mentioned above. This is the pump that I ended up using in the canister filter. The other pump mentioned above works well, but does not have a good flow regulator. This one does and it is very important to have this feature for smaller (Nano) planted tanks. This pump comes in a 120v version and a 6v version. I'm using the 6v version for the reasons stated above. As for the cost, they are a manufacturer or aquarium products in China. They sent me the one I'm using, because they seemed to be intrigued by the concept. If you want to use this pump, you'll need to contact them about the price and shipping from China. Their Web site is located at http://skyish-zs.com/english/encompany.html . There is a question form on their site to reach them. They were extremely helpful and a pleasure to deal with.
3. One small tube of marine epoxy. Don't get the 1 minute version, it sets up too quickly to manipulate. Get the slower 5 minute or if they have something even slower, go for it. If they don't have marine epoxy, just make sure it says waterproof. cost $3.50. Frankly I think they are all very similar.
4. One 1/4" O.D. (outer diameter)Acrylic tubing. This is not the thin wall tubing, you need the thick wall. You can get it at most aquarium stores, but it is also available online from http://www.aquaticeco.com/customers/...Acrylic-Tubing . Cost about $1
5. Depending on your application, you will also need 1/4" I.D. (inner diameter) Vinyl tubing. This runs from the pump to your tank. http://www.aquaticeco.com/customers/...-Clear-Tubing/ Cost about $0.38 a foot.
6. A small piece of fairly thick hard plastic. This is for drilling test holes and check to see how tightly your components fit, before you start drilling holes in the Otterbox. I did this because I found that the advertised sizes are not always accurate. So by test your drill holes before you drill into the box, you can assure a very tight fit.
7. Tools - Plyers, toothpick, electric drill, 1/4" bit, and maybe a small rat tail file.

Assembly-- (Using the TP-180 pump) you may need to modify this a bit if you use a different pump.

Your pump has an outflow port on it that is about 1/4" wide. This is true of both models mentioned above.



Your pump should have come with a black 1/4" O.D barb, that's about 3/4" long that fits into that port. If not, you will need to make at least one from the acrylic tubing you purchased. In my assembly I had two of those small black barbs, since the company sent me two pumps to try out. These were a real pain to align, because there was so little room left on each side of the barb to attach tubing and pumps. after they were mounted in the lid. To save yourself the trouble, you might just want to cut yourself two barbs from the acrylic tubing that are about 1" long. These will go half way into the lid, so that you will have something to connect your tubing to.



Before drilling into the lid of the box, do a few test holes into some scrap hard plastic (1/4" to 1/8" thick would be ideal). Then insert your barbs. They should fit tightly. If not, you may want to try a different drill bit size (maybe metric) or if it is too small, gently enlarging it with a small rat tail file. You want a tight, even fit. Once you've figured out your drilling technique and the proper bit size, it's time to drill into the Otterbox.

The top of the Otterbox has a raised grid pattern. I wanted to drill into this for maximum strength around the barb seals. In the photo above, you can see that I centered each hole where the ridges met. Be sure that you select the same positions for your holes. Once the two holes are drilled, insert the barbs. Again, they should be snug. On the underside of the lid you are going to insert the pump so that the outflow port goes over the barb on the right site of the lid as shown. The surface of the pump should be as flush to the lid as you can get it and the barb should be inserted as far into the port as it will go



On the left side, Insert a 4" section of the 1/4" I.D. vinyl hose over the barb. Give yourself about 1/4" overlap where the tubing connects to the barb, but more is better. Make sure that when the lid is closed that the end of the tube is about a 1/2" off the bottom. You don't want to restrict your intake flow, but at the same time, you want this tube as low as you can get it into the filter medium. Once you are comfortable with the positions of the barbs (you may want to re-adjust the length after position the tube and the pump) it's time to use the marine epoxy and you toothpick.
1. First, remove the barbs from the lid
2. mix up a small batch of the marine epoxy with your toothpick
3. Using the toothpick, spread some of the epoxy around the outside end of the barb that is going to be inserted into the pump outflow. Don't use too much, you don't want to get this glue inside the impellers. Once you have inserted the barb into the pump, make sure there are no gaps where the pump and the barb meet. If there are, using the toothpick, spread some epoxy over the gap so that there is a watertight seal. Remove any excess epoxy. Ideally, you want the barb to look like it is part of the pump. Excess epoxy will keep the pump from sealing flush against the lid of the canister when it is being mounted. Place the pump on it's side and let it dry. Once it has dried you are ready to epoxy the pump assembly with the barb into the lid of the canister. To do this, mix up another fresh batch of epoxy and spread a thin layer along the side of the pump that the barb is protruding from. Then along the base of the barb where it meets the pump, spread a thin layer of epoxy all around it. Now slide the barb with the pump assembly attached into the hole nearest the latch as shown in the photo. If you are using 5 minutes epoxy, you had a bit of time to move things around a bit, but once this stuff sets up, it's not going anywhere. Once the epoxy hold the pump in place has dried, mix up another small batch of epoxy and using your toothpick, spread a thin layer around the barb and the exterior of the lid. For the filter intake barb, repeat the same steps that you used with the pump barb. You can attach the vinyl hose to the filter intake after the epoxy on that barb has dried.

Now you may have noticed that your pump has a wire on it that needs to be threaded through the lid. To do this, you will need to cut the power cord to the pump about 6-8 inches from the pump. Then using your scrap piece of plastic again, find a drill bit that is the exact same diameter as the power cord for the pump. Again, you want the wire to go through the tightest possible hole. Once you have the drill bit size, drill the hole in the location indicated in the photo. Then mix up another small batch of epoxy and spread it around the interior and exterior of the lid, where the wire passes through the plastic.

To power your pump, you can get a 6 volt battery pack, a 500ma 6v solar panel or a 6v step down transformer that you can plug into a wall outlet. The battery pack and the transformer can be picked up at radio shack. The solar panel can be found on eBay. On my pump I attached alligator clips so that I can easily change power supplies. There is a wide assortment of low voltage plugs available at radio shack, if you want something cleaner looking to connect you filter to whatever power supply you choose.

Some notes:
Give the epoxy about an hour to dry. then connect the 4" vinyl tubing to the intake barb under the lid. Add whatever filter medium that you are going to use to the canister making sure that the vinyl tube is not blocked and does not get a kink when the lid is closed. Fill it with water and before closing the lid, make sure that there is no debris on the o-ring seal. Then close the lid. You now need to prime the filter by pouring water into the intake barb until water comes out of the outflow barb. Attach your tubing to the intake and outflow barbs. Depending on how far the filter is placed from the tank, you may need to suck on the outflow tube to clear air from the intake hose. This may not be necessary if the distance is very short. When you turn on the power, it's going to sound noisy until the bubbles have been flushed out of the system. After that, it should be almost silent. The one problem with this design is that the flow regulator is part of the pump and the pump is inside the filter, so you may want to adjust the flow and test everything in the kitchen sink before installing it with your tank.

If you have any questions, let me know. For additional photos of this filter see: http://picasaweb.google.com/Phil.new...CanisterFilter

Phil
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Old 04-05-2008, 12:33 PM   #2
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sweet!
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:48 PM   #3
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very compact and good looking as well. thanks for sharing.

what about maintenance / cleaning?
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Old 04-05-2008, 03:51 PM   #4
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Now that is sweet. Well done. I was waiting for someone to get creative with this idea. Nice job!

You get a

On a side note, you could easily intigrate a powerhead as opposed to a pump in this application it seems. Can save a few $$ doing it to.
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Old 04-05-2008, 05:27 PM   #5
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Thanks everyone,
Otterbox makes a great "canister". The first time I saw one, it looked like it was a canister filter. They also make one that is a bit larger than this one called the 9000, which you could also convert. These things are bullet proof. If anyone tries to convert the larger model, let me know. I'd love to see it.


gmccreedy,

I'm not opposed to using anything as long as it will fit into the lid, moves water and has some type of flow regulation. With this current pump it has a max flow of 45 gph. If I set the flow to maximum, it would turn my 3/4 gallon, cylindrical, natural, Nano tank into a muddy whirlpool.

My other constraints with this design were that I wanted to keep the body of the canister as clear as possible for the filter medium. And I also wanted to run it off of a 6v power source.

Others may not have these same needs. If you were going to run it off of a 120v or 12v source, what powerhead would you suggest?

Phil
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:02 PM   #6
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Just put up a short video that shows it working, see:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=6wU9pyHqWd8
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Old 04-05-2008, 11:00 PM   #7
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Very nice little documentary, thanks a lot! Only thing I would add would be a look inside the canister! But I guess you are happy it works and doesn't leak. Good job on that project.
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Old 04-05-2008, 11:51 PM   #8
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If I were to make one I'd run it with a micro-jet. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...fm?pcatid=4601
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
Very nice little documentary, thanks a lot! Only thing I would add would be a look inside the canister! But I guess you are happy it works and doesn't leak. Good job on that project.
The still photos give much more detail than a video would. I probably should have dropped in a few. But if you are interested, you can see them here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/Phil.new...CanisterFilter
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ummyeah View Post
If I were to make one I'd run it with a micro-jet. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...fm?pcatid=4601
That's a nice pump, but the minimum flow rate looks like 35gph, which would be way too strong for the little tanks I'm using mine on, but might work out for bigger tanks. One other problem I see is that mounting that pump in the lid of the otterbox is going to leave you with a 1" air gap between the inside top of the lid and the water intake for that pump. Ideally you want your intake on the side of the pump, so that it is easier to prime and get the air out.
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:31 AM   #11
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There is also this one http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...m?pcatid=14665 but it probably has the same problem as the micro-jet.
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Last edited by ummyeah; 04-08-2008 at 02:13 AM..
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Old 04-06-2008, 04:45 AM   #12
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Ok I dont want to say mines any better than yours cuz mine is made for a 5 gallon tank. But I am using one of the locking cantainers that are clear, with a water fountain pump from Kmart. Not sure of the pump rate but I know it has a good head hight on it of at least 4 foot. Heres some pics of it when I built it. If yould like some pics of the tank with it in it let me know and Ill get some posted.
Shane

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v6...mini%20filter/
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Old 04-06-2008, 04:22 PM   #13
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Yeah, they have those containers at Target as well. Those containers are very popular for DIY canister filters. I almost used one of the smaller versions of that container, before I found the Otterbox.

You should post your photos...
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:14 PM   #14
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Ok I posted some new pics in my folder. One shows how I have it setting in there and anouther shows the flow its putting out at max flow. I also took a pic of the media that Im useing in it. As well as a full shot of the 5 on the bottom of the stand and my 20 thats on top. Sorry for the mess as these were set up quickly in my garage to give some plants and shrimp a home. They have heaters in them for now till the temps warm up a bit. Hope you like them.
Thanks Shane

Ok since the links are not working out I am just going to post direct links to each image, so I dont lag any slower internet users down. So here they are.

A pic of the bottom of the lid with the pump attatched
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/000_0424.jpg
Anouther pic of the lid top view
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/000_0425.jpg
The wires I cut and spliced back together, after inserting through the lid.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/000_0426.jpg
Pic of the container that I used.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/000_0427.jpg
Pic of the lid on.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/000_0428.jpg
Pic with the media Iam using
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/SANY0344.jpg
How I have my exit and return lines.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/SANY0338.jpg
To show the flow of the input tube
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/SANY0339.jpg
Pic of the whole 5 gallon
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...r/SANY0341.jpg
Pic of the stand with the 20 gallon and the 5 gallon, with the mini filter in a tub on the floor.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...SANY0346-1.jpg

Last edited by littlecobra1977; 04-08-2008 at 04:23 PM..
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Old 04-07-2008, 03:49 PM   #15
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That link takes me to the photobucket home page..
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