Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: DIY 55 Gallon Barrel Pond Filter

  1. #1
    koikeepr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    3,542
    Likes (Given)
    50
    Likes (Received)
    65
    Photobucket

    DIY 55 Gallon Barrel Pond Filter

    Building a 55 gallon upflow barrel filter is very easy and you just need some basic skills to get the job done. The rule of thumb for filtration is that one 55 gallon filter will be able to filter up to 1,500 gallons of pond water (with a moderate fish stock level). Therefore, if you have a pond that is greater than 1,500, you would build several more of these barrels and tie them together in parallel (not one after the other) OR use a larger container, such as a rubbermaid 100 or 150 gallon stock tank (Here are instructions for a stock tank filter, which are basically the same as this). Remember, it is better to over filter rather than under filter! Here we go:

    1) You need to get your hands on a 55 gallon barrel. You can find these on Ebay relatively inexpensively, or you can head over to your local carwash and usually get one for free. These barrels are what car wash soap comes in, and they are usually super eager to get rid of these since it costs them money to recycle them. Regardless of where you get your drum, just make sure there was no chemical, oil or other product in it that will harm fish. It must have been used for something that was food grade or a soap that can easily be washed out. This one happens to have a removable top. If your doesn't have a removable top, you simply cut the top off with your jig saw or whatever other cutting tool you have around. They come in many colors, and this bright blue is pretty common. You can spray paint your barrel black or green to hide it in your landscape if you choose.



    2) Next you need to drill three 2 1/4" holes in your barrel with a barrel with a hole saw attached to your drill. PVC pipe is 2" in diameter on the inside, and another 1/4" diameter on the outside, so that is why you need a 2 1/4" saw. The first hole (outlet) will be on the side of the barrel about 5 inches from the top, and the second hole (inlet) will be on the side of the barrrel about 6" from the bottom of your barrel, and the third hole will be your waste exit (can be situated either on the very bottom floor on on the lowest few inches of the barrel).

    This is what a hole saw bit looks like:



    This is what your barrel will like with the three holes in it:



    3) In the photo above, you can see what I call the "swirler." This will simply allow for the water to enter your barrel and swirl around in a circular vortex motion so that the crud/poop will separate from the clean water. Dirt is heavy, so it will stay at the bottom of the barrel, and the clean water will rise and exit from your upper outlet pipe. You've got a couple of choices with how you make your connection fittings in a barrel. You can use what's called a bulkhead (seen in the photo above). Bulheads work very well, but they are expensive and cannot be found at any home improvement store. You can get them at some plumbing supply shops or on the internet. If you want a really cheap connection fitting that works, to the electrical aisle of your home improvement or electrical supply shop and head over to the conduit section. This is where you will find a grey PVC piping. You want to buy 2" female and male adapters. They are only about $2 each and look like this:



    You put the female on the ouside of the barrel (since it's bigger) and the male (left) on the inside of the barrel, since it's shorter. The beauty of conduit adapters is that the threading is such that you can screw them very closely together for a tight fit. You can't do this with regular white PVC because of the way their threading works. Do not use white pvc adapters as you will have leaks!

    Here is the way my barrel looks with my conduit adapters in place as shown in place:



    The black stuff around the fittings is P&L Roofing & Flashing Sealant that you can buy in any local home improvement store in the caulk or roofing aisle. It is fish safe and waterproof. It is much cheaper than using aquarium sealant (which you can also use if you choose). You need to be sure to use latex gloves when using this, as it's highly sticky. But really work it in around your fittings on the inside of the barrel and outside of the barrel so you form a tight seal. Let it dry for 24 hours.

    As a side note, you will notice that in my barrel photo here versus the one on the top, my waste pipe exit is on the side of the barrel instead of the barrel floor. You can do it either way. You typically get a better flush out if the waste pipe is on the floor, however. You just put your barrel up on some cinderblocks to allow for the barrel to stand. With a side flush, the barrel can sit on the ground. Your choice!
    This is my opinion. It is worth exactly what you paid for it.

  2. #2
    koikeepr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    3,542
    Likes (Given)
    50
    Likes (Received)
    65
    Photobucket
    Here is what P&L Roofing and Flashing Sealant looks like for those of you that need a visual:



    4) Next, we are going to build a little stand out of 3/4" PVC so that our media can sit on it, and it's above your swirler. Take a close look and buy the fittings seen here and put it together as such. It's just a cross piece in the middle, 4 elbows and some length of 3/4" pvc:



    Now, put your little stand in your your filter like this:



    5) Now we need to make a little grate for your media to sit on. You can use a lot of different things to do this, but I happened to use a light grid that you can buy at your local home improvement store. You get 'em in the aisle where the drop ceilings are. These panels are sold in a lager rectangle of about 3 feet long and are about $11 each. The downside is that they are brittle, so be careful. I've seen people use dog crate grating and other similar things. You then cut your grid to fit inside the barrel snugly with a pair of snips. This takes some time, so have some patience:



    This is what it looks like in the barrel, sitting on top of the little stand we made above:



    6) Now it's time to think about your media. Really, truly, the options are vast here. First you will need a layer of mechanical media. This will serve to stop the crap/poop from going higher in the barrel and re-entering your pond. I don't like ponges because I feel that they clog easily. That's just my personal opinion, and you can use them if you're on a tight budget. However, do realize that you will need to get new sponges every year or two. My personal preference is for a product called Matala. It is not cheap, however, it will last you many, many years. So, I consider it an investment. Matala comes in rectangle sheets, and you cut it to fit. I like to use the black and green matala pads, since they are not too dense. These pads are also very easy to clean.

    Here is what they look like after I've cut them to fit my barrel:

    This is my opinion. It is worth exactly what you paid for it.

  3. #3
    koikeepr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    3,542
    Likes (Given)
    50
    Likes (Received)
    65
    Photobucket
    Here's what they look like sitting inside my filter on top of that little support grate:



    7) Next we're moving on to thinking about biological filtration. This allows that good bacteria to colonize so that it chomps on the bad things on the water and keeps things clear. Bio filtration is simply a home for your good bacteria to sit on and stay happy. Again, the options are vast here. Some people use floor scrubby pads, some folks cut up tubes of PVC, some use bio balls, on and on and on. I've chosen to use 1/2" poly strapping because it is effective, cheap and easy to clean. The stuff is the plastic strapping that is used to keep a heavy box straped together. You've seen it, but you've probably never thought about it as a form of bio media. Here it is:



    No matter what bio media you settle on, make sure to keep it in a nylon bag so it's easy to get in and out of your filter. You don't want loose bits floating about.

    I got my 1/2" poly strapping on ebay for 9,000 feet for $40 with no shipping. For a 55g barrel, you'll only need around 1,500 feet. I sold the rest to folks on the site here so they could use some in their barrel, too. You can buy smaller quantities. The important thing is that it needs to NOT be the smooth strapping--it must be textured (also called embossed). The reason for this is that you want to give the bio bacteria something to grip onto. They sell the tape in black, which is good, but I decided on white so that I could easily see when I needed to wash it out. It comes in a big roll, like this:



    Here's what the tape looks like up close. Notice the little textured divits on it?



    I didn't have any nylon bags to stuff it into, but I did happen to have some bird netting sheets in the garage. Here it is:



    I just stretched that out on the floor and just unwound my strapping onto it, like this:



    Then I just formed a bag that I tied up with a plastic zip-tie. Voila!



    Now you just stuff that into your barrel as your bio media so your bacteria can hitch a ride! You will put this bag sitting on top of your matala mats or whatever you've selected as your mechanical filtration.
    This is my opinion. It is worth exactly what you paid for it.

  4. #4
    koikeepr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    3,542
    Likes (Given)
    50
    Likes (Received)
    65
    Photobucket
    8) Now you want to put a small elbow on your outlet pipe (that exits back to your pond). In this photo, I've taken out my strapping so you can clearly see the elbow fitting:



    In my case, the clean water heads to my external pump next and then goes out my waterfall back into the pond.

    9) Let's work on the waste pipe. As I mentioned earlier, you've got several options. On this barrel, I have it plumbed on the side since my barrel is buried under the ground at water level (because I have it connected to a retro bottom drain and it has to receive water via gravity). My barrel is sitting on the ground, so I could not plumb it from the bottom. Instead I put a spigot on the side to let out all the crud/poop. Here it is:



    In my case, the crap falls into a lower pink bucket that has a sump pump in to push it up and out. You don't need to to do this if you are not doing a gravity fed situation. You would just have your filter barrel expelling the crap out onto your lawn or a flower bed.

    In the photo below, you can see how this person sat their barrel on some blocks for the waste pipe to be on the bottom:



    You need to put either a ball valve or a knife valve (as the person did here) to stop the water flow until you need it. It's better to use a ball valve, and it's easier to find. You can see the ball valve in my photo with the pink bucket. You just turn that handle and the water opens or closes as needed.

    And that's pretty much it!

    If you need to have more than one barrel filter, do not run them one after the other in succession. Instead, run them next to eachother in parallel. This way, if one of your filters is put out of service, you still have the others running. Here is what that set up would look like:

    This is my opinion. It is worth exactly what you paid for it.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •