Canister filters are a great choice of filtration for medium and large-scale aquariums, but buying a new filter may cost hundreds of dollars. So here are some DIY ideas of different ways that you can design and develop your own canister filter for your aquarium. 

How does a Canister Filter Work?

Canister filters are a type of external filter that collects water from the fish tank through its inlet valve and return the filtered water back into the fish tank through a spray bar or a spill bar. Inside the filter, there are a series of mechanical and biological filter media that filter out the suspended debris.

Current canister filters use both gravity and a submersible pump to keep the pressurized water flowing through the filter chamber.

Canister Filter Working Principle
Canister Filter Working Principle

How do you make an Aquarium Canister filter at home?

Aquarium Canister Filters can be made by yourself for your aquarium. There are no high-tech mechanisms or complicated theories. Here we have listed some practically tested DIY ideas that you can follow to design your own canister filter at home.

01. DIY Canister Filter With a Watertight Container (Complete Guide)

This is a really simple way that you can easily set up a canister filter with a watertight container and some other household materials.  To construct this filter, you’re gonna need,

  • watertight container with a lid
  • Two half-inch male hose connectors
  • 1 1/2 inch bulkhead
  • 1/2 inch threaded PVC ball valve
  • A couple of rubber O-rings
  • Plumbers tape
  • 1/2 inch by 4-inch flexible male riser 
  • 1/2 by a 1-inch male riser.
  • Powerhead with an appropriate flow rate
  • Mechanical and Biological Filter media

You can get a complete step-by-step guide to making your canister filter by following the below video.

How To Make: DIY Canister Filter

02. How to Build an XL Aquarium Canister Filter with a 5-Gallon Bucket

Eheim-2262 is one of the popular canister filters in the aquarium hobby that can filter out tons of water. Its simple design makes it easy to care for. But it will cost nearly $500 for this filter. It is really worth that price. 

But if you are a DIY hobbyist, you can build your own canister filter of equal size for under $25, so let’s jump right into it. You’re going to need,

  • A bucket and chances 
  • Gamma seal lid
  • Uni seals 
  • Powerhead with an appropriate flow rate
  • Mechanical and Biological Filter media

The first step is to set up the Filter bucket by using filter media.

Part 1 – Setting up the filter bucket

Build an XL Aquarium Canister Filter with a 5-Gallon Bucket – Part 1

After setting up the filter bucket, the next step is to do the piping work from the aquarium to the filter.

Part 2 – Assembling & Piping

Build an XL Aquarium Canister Filter with a 5-Gallon Bucket – Part 2

03. PVC Pipe Canister Filter

Here is a complete step-by-step tutorial on making a canister filter with PVC pipe. This filter design is best suited for small aquariums. The main materials needed are,

  • PVC pipe with a diameter of 140mm
  • 12V Pump and Adapter
  • Acrylic pipe with a diameter of 10mm
  • Pipe glue
  • Pneumatic L-Bow sockets 10mm
  • Mechanical and Biological Filter media
DIY PVC Pipe Canister Filter

04. Convert Home Water Filter into a Canister Filter

This DIY tutorial shows how to convert a household water filter into an aquarium canister filter. It costs between $30 and $40 to make. For big aquariums, it could be possible to link more than one.

How to Convert Household Water filter into a Canister Filter

05. DIY Canister Filter from a Cheap Plastic Jar

Here is another method of making a canister filter using a plastic jar. There you will need only a few tools and materials that can be found in the home itself.

06. Making DIY Canister Filter for Aquarium, Long Plastic Box

Final Words

Here we have listed the most creative and practical design ideas for canister filters. If you are a DIY hobbyist and if you have more creative ideas to set up your own canister filters, let us know down in the comment section. Read our DIY Aquarium Guide for more DIY projects.


I am Prasanjaya who is an aquarium hobbyist for nearly a decade. I wish to help fishkeepers to get accurate and helpful information regarding every aspect of fishkeeping.

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