Homebuilt canister filter - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Homebuilt canister filter

This is a little project that I have been pondering for a while now - a DIY canister filter. Why, you might ask, if you can buy one in a store?

Well, if you have a canister filter, you often end up building a little CO2 reactor for it. And then maybe an external heater. And then maybe the canister that originally provided a lot of circulation seems to slow down a bit.

So why not build the reactor a bit larger, put some sponge in it, a hole for the heater, add a little pump, and connect it to the tank?

My goal here would be to 1) combine all these components in one unit and 2) save some money. Of course, considering all the tinkering time won't make this any cheaper than buying one... but I enjoy tinkering, so that doesn't count.

First, we need a canister. Here is what I bought @ Target for $8.91:



Conveniently, it has a hole in the top, and a hole in the lower part. Little gaskets along with that. Volume: 2 gallons.

Second, we need a pump. I have a $20 "QuietOne" 1200 laying around which makes an enormous racket, but it might just work for this purpose:



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post #2 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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There are going to be a few questions. I mean besides from "Why in heaven would you...". For example, the placement of the pump. Or, how do we get this thing leakproof.

I have to admit - I haven't really started this yet. I don't need a canister filter right now, I am just trying out this idea.

So, with regards to the pump placement, we have a lot of combinations:

1) inside or outside the container
2) top or bottom of container
3) blowing in or blowing out

That would be 2x2x2 = 8 possible positions. Oh my. WWUD??

1) Inside would make the whole setup more quiet, compact and pleasing, and if the pump leaks a bit it wouldn't matter. But it would add a some heat which might not be good in Summer, take away some space inside the jar, plus I would have feed the power cable through the container, yet another source for leaks.

2) Not sure about that one.

3) Blowing in puts the container under pressure, which might make it more prone to leaking. On the other hand it would provide a nice way to diffuse CO2.

Gotta think about that one a bit more.


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post #3 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-14-2007, 10:50 PM
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Interesting. I was thinking about getting a canister filter eventually for my tank. This is really going to be interesting.
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post #4 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 12:04 AM
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I think I would go with the pump on the outside pulling the water through it. So its sitting on the return side. Also put a large jar inside of your contaner with some hose running from the top to the bottom of the jar. In the jar you could put some filter floss so the water goes from the bottom up to the top of the jar. Then it would over flow like a trickel filter and get pumped out from the openning where the spout is. But now its sounds more like a wet dry filter and not a canaster filter. But that is just some ideas to think of.

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post #5 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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Yep, that sounds good. Maybe pump connected to the bottom hole, pulling water out.

Regarding filter media, I was thinking of a big sponge, connected to the pump inlet inside the container.


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post #6 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 12:27 AM
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there's one shop where i bought my supplies of plants and fish. the owner got lots of used eheim canister filters with dead pump. he modified them and put the pump on the top of the canister. works really well and the sound is almost unnoticeable..


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post #7 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 01:42 AM
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That kind of pump does not react well to restricted inflow, however restricted outflow effects the pump just like 'head'. I might use that particular pump to push into the 'canister'.

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post #8 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 02:51 AM
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Quote:
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That kind of pump does not react well to restricted inflow, however restricted outflow effects the pump just like 'head'. I might use that particular pump to push into the 'canister'.
Agreed, I don't understand the physics, but my understanding is that centrifugal pumps deal much better with restriction of the outflow than with restriction of the inflow. Have the pump prior to the filtration media.

BTW, I built a 4-liter canister filter with that pump just the other day, and so far I'm fairly satisfied. I used a Lock & Lock container, which is fantastic except for being polypropylene and hard to glue and for having latches only apply enough pressure to the seals to hold back ~3 feet of head. I have tie-down straps around it, which seals it to ~8 feet of head. My 1200 is inline, and it doesn't leak.

I know an XP2 would probably be a bit better, and certainly more convenient, but this seems to function quite well so far and cost something like $40. I could post photos if you like, but it's nothing that hasn't been seen before in a DIY canister filter thread before, just better executed.
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post #9 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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Swylie, I looked at the Lock&Lock things, and it seemed that they are a bit on the thin and flexible side, with some risk of leaks due to warping.

Sean, I always hear that sort of thing about centrifugal pumps. But then, if you look at canister filters like Eheims, Renas and Fluvals, they all work by pulling the water through the filter media, rather than pushing.

In a closed circuit like a canister filter, does the pump really "know" that the restriction is before or after it, given that water doesn't compress? Something to think about.


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post #10 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
Swylie, I looked at the Lock&Lock things, and it seemed that they are a bit on the thin and flexible side, with some risk of leaks due to warping.

Sean, I always hear that sort of thing about centrifugal pumps. But then, if you look at canister filters like Eheims, Renas and Fluvals, they all work by pulling the water through the filter media, rather than pushing.

In a closed circuit like a canister filter, does the pump really "know" that the restriction is before or after it, given that water doesn't compress? Something to think about.
Yes, Lock & Lock are thinner than I'd like, but as I said, I tested my setup (with strap clamps holding the lid down) to about eight feet of head, which is more than Filstars are technically rated to. They're apparently not supposed to be placed lower than 4'7". Something with a well made screw-threaded fitting would work much better, though. Your cooler might work great.

I understand your question about restriction before/after the pump, and I'm about as confident as you are in the ultimate answer. I'd really like an explanation from an engineer. Compressibility and pressure are different, though. Not sure if that matters.
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post #11 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-15-2007, 09:02 PM
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Ask and you shall receive. I created a new thread to explain all of it though.

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post #12 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 03:09 PM
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You can't compress water but you can 'decompress' it, it's called cavitation where voids (bubbles) are formed in a liquid. The restriction on the intake causes cavitation and problems for the pump, think air lock, it's not good to have the impeller spinning with no water. The restriction on the outflow causes back pressure which acts the same as an increase in head, the impeller is always spinning in water.

In the quiet one pumps the water acts as a lubricant and a coolant. If you reduce the availability of the water to the ceramic magnet you increase the heat it generates by increasing the friction, reducing the life span of the impeller.

This is not the same as bubbling a gas into a pump, unlike into some canister filters since there is no place for a larger bubble to form under normal pressures.

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post #13 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 04:10 PM
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Now you are getting at why the pump is normally at the top of the filter. It is easier for the sir to escape. If you place the pump at the bottom you want to make sure that there is a path for the air to escape incase cavitation does occur. This is done as easily as making sure the the outlet of the pump is pointing up. If there is cavitation then there is little or no flow and if given a path air will easily escape the system.
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post #14 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all contributions! Very valid points about cavitation... need to think about what to do with the air which might/will collect in the canister.

Regular canister filter "burp" it out automatically, because the pump sits on top. If you look at a canister with the pump on the bottom, like the HOT Magnum, have a little burping straw going from the top of the housing to the bottom. If you open up a ZooMed 501, you will see a little plastic air line for exactly the same purpose.

Since I want to use this as a CO2 reactor as well, I have to think about that. Placing the pump on top gets rid of any gas quickly, but maybe that isn't what I want...

Placing the pump on the bottom will make attaching the filter sponge much easier. Also, it might allow some CO2 to swirl around on top and dissolve over time. I could mimic the HOT/501 and put an airline up top that would suck any excess air/CO2 into the impeller.

Of course, that airline can't be too thick, otherwise there will be too much bypass.

Some filter sponges are on order...


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post #15 of 122 (permalink) Old 11-16-2007, 07:27 PM
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Hi guys
I have started building a modular canister filter almost 2 months ago.
I have all the modules built I am just letting the glue offgas.
The whole unit will be mounted on plywood frame with two side.
It will be filter then pump then co2 reactor, heater module then UVS al a turbotwist.
I put up pic tonight off what I have don so far.
Cheers
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with pressurized c02 jebo 828 , 9w turbotwist uv. up-aqua co2 atomizer16/22
& small yoyo and striata loaches and praecox rainbows.
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