Survival Fish vs Joel

So – two items of silliness to touch on. Building my DIY tank cover and my really DIY sand filter for my Tilapia starter tank.

The tank cover is less exciting, but I’m happy with some of the things about it. Since the system as a whole is still evolving, I didn’t want to put a lot of materials or expense into the cover, but I did want to make sure that my fish couldn’t turn daredevil and take a plunge to greener pastures outside the tank only to realize their mistake on that slight lack of water thing… Also, since I had some extra PVC pipe from my other tank build, I diagonal cut the ends of three sections of the 1/2 inch PVC, and then cemented them together. I must say, since I cut the angles by eye, it turned out well. I then took a section of screen and looped it over the now elongated “U” of PVC, and stapled the screen to itself. That “U” is oversized to my aquarium tank, so the screen gravity sits on the top, and allows me to lift up the edge to drop fish feed in. All in all, minus the sloppy look to it and total lack of durability, it functions well.



The sand filter was created to clear up the water to whatever extent I could, as the particulate matter in the water was becoming quite murky. The concept behind this was taking a clear plastic container (purchased at Target for about $1), drill a hole in the center/bottom, and then cover this hole with screen. I also placed a piece of material filter from my in-tank Whisper filter over this piece of screen for an extra filter to keep small pieces of sand from getting through. Then, I filled the container with landscaping sand from Home Depot (again, cheap – about $3), and was rather pleased with the way this was shaping up. Compared to my just completely tank screen, it was actually looking less DIY, and I got the submersible 8 gal/hour pump set to pump the water up to the filter, resting above the tank, with the hole positioned so that it would gravity drain back into the tank, hopefully much cleaner. 🙂


Okay… now… for those of you who have a clue what to do with either fish tanks or aquaponics, you might be wondering if I’m omitting a step in my instructions. NOPE. I didn’t think of the step… 🙁

It is VERY IMPORTANT to thoroughly wash the sand you are going to use for a filter before you use it in a tank setup. I started up the pump, watched the water start to fill in the container, and then had a panic attack with all of the silt that started draining out of the sand and into my murky water. There is a HUGE difference between murky water and mud. My panic was increased when the fish started panicking and trying to run away from this incoming cloud of badness.

So, fish rescue project number, um, well, I forget how many times that is now… Scooping up freaked out fish before the water clouds up and getting them to the ever popular temporary tank (5 gallon pail) was accomplished, and after my adrenaline levels got back to normal, I went and thoroughly washed my sand. 🙂 Then I did re-set up the filter, and it performed really well in cleaning up my now murky tank back to cleaner water. I think in the eventual future, the true answer to my filtering needs will end up being a canister filter, but that is something I have just started researching, and adds a fair amount of cost. The feed mix that I use REALLY dissolves in water and makes it a mess, so I’m not sure I can get to the water clarity I’m trying to get to and feed the way that I’m trying to without that canister filter, if even then, but that is my eventual hope/plan.

All that being said, once I can get my chemistry: ammonium, nitrite and nitrate biological processes on track, I think the particulate filtering should be possible as well, even with just this sand filter on the small tank. The sand filter concept is one that for an indoor application is much more work (especially the jury-rigged way that I currently have it), but it comes down to that $4 cost versus the $100 plus cost of the canister setup.

Categories: Aquaponics

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