Building a DIY 55 gallon barrel filter...need input.


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Love our 55 gallon sand & gravel filter :)
Sand you say? Do you use it as the top layer for fine filtration? I never thought of that. I've always used chic feed myself but this sounds interesting. I have a big bag of fine sand too. Gonna look into this. My only concern is the sand just going down through the layers and clogging my air line.
 
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I like the barrel idea. I am working on an upgraded DIY using a flat-sided trash can on wheels (using bulkhead fittings, the flat sides help with a good seal - I'll switch to Uni-Seals next time for sure) but I had pin-hole leaks around the axle area by the wheels. Full tube of silicone sealant applied inside around the leak area, 72 hours for cure, still tiny leaks. Now two full tubes of another type of clear sealant poured over entire leaking area - but incredibly slow cure rate; still soft to the touch. EVENTUALLY I'll get it up and running. In the mean time the 16 year old filter keeps chugging away...
Why not just pick up a food grade barrel? I paid $12 for each of mine off craigslist. And bulk heads do work but they do leak too so they have to be sealed with a sealer. Uniseals need nothing and solely rely on the pressure of the pipe running through them to keep them sealed and water tight. I'm telling you right now that these are a blessing and cheap too on amazon.

I do recall reading on this site that one person likes to heat up the barrel where their bulkhead will be mounted to flatten out the spot which helps the bulk head seal better. If you are using the bulk head on a flat surface I figure you are good to go.
 
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Sand you say? Do you use it as the top layer for fine filtration? I never thought of that. I've always used chic feed myself but this sounds interesting. I have a big bag of fine sand too. Gonna look into this. My only concern is the sand just going down through the layers and clogging my air line.
Sand is misleading....I too use granite chicken grit......but the plans I used for the filter call it a Sand & Gravel filter :)
 
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Why not just pick up a food grade barrel? I paid $12 for each of mine off craigslist. And bulk heads do work but they do leak too so they have to be sealed with a sealer. Uniseals need nothing and solely rely on the pressure of the pipe running through them to keep them sealed and water tight. I'm telling you right now that these are a blessing and cheap too on amazon.

I do recall reading on this site that one person likes to heat up the barrel where their bulkhead will be mounted to flatten out the spot which helps the bulk head seal better. If you are using the bulk head on a flat surface I figure you are good to go.
Well, the short answer is stubbornness, combined with a heavy Scotch-Irish cheapness that compels me to keep working on this trash can until it's water-tight. The bulkheads were siliconed on both sides and are good. I've used a Dremel to carefully sculpt a plastic milk-crate to fit the weird shape of the bottom of the trash can to support the filter media. If the last batch of sealing material will cure, I'll put it in service...if it leaks again I'll set it all on fire and roast some weenies.
 
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Tula- Do you keep your sand and gravel filter running through winter? (I'm close to Cincy too).

Fyi- the "traditional" sand and gravel filters do work amazingly. I just completed mine not too long ago before the end of summer and it cleared my green pond out in a day. They are so easy to clean as well. I should have made one years ago.
 
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Tula- Do you keep your sand and gravel filter running through winter? (I'm close to Cincy too).

Fyi- the "traditional" sand and gravel filters do work amazingly. I just completed mine not too long ago before the end of summer and it cleared my green pond out in a day. They are so easy to clean as well. I should have made one years ago.

Winters here are mild compared to there but I run my system all year round. I would imagine you would continue to run yours too. Even in winter the pond requires filtering and you don't want the hoses, and pipes to freeze up. Having the water flowing should keep them from freezing I would think.
 
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Firstly I do not use sand. Mine is used with rocks to pebbles in layers. That said it does require a pump. Gravity alone would not do it.

Keep in mind the water enters the filter at the bottom of the barrel and fills up to the top where by that time it is cleaned and sent back to pond.


I have been into aquariums and ponds for years now and in all my experience this filter system is the best. I mean I only clean them once a year and its not even needed. its basically self cleaning. So cool.
 
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To gravity feed into the barrel it would have to be below the pond but then what would force the water up through the filter and then back into the pond? If anything it would partially fill up the filter and then just go stagnant. You would need gravity to push the level up and gravity to get it back to the pond.

Why not just run a small pump?
 

Paul W. Foster

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I was already pumping to get from the pond to the filter. But with a little tweaking I can gravity to a sieve and then pump to a sand and gravel. But does the sand and gravel do about the same thing as a sieve?
 
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Here is a diagram of the S&G filter plans that I ended up using for my set up. The info is all sourced from others... but I like diagrams. You could also have your input and bottom waste port coming out of the side of the barrel and then raise up the air manifold as needed.

Most people talk about having to clean them every week or two based on fish load. This will be the first complete season of running mine so it will be interesting to see how often it needs cleaning. These are so easy to clean though, it's not a big deal. You can do the whole thing without getting a drop of water on you in just 5 mins (plus refill time). The other thing that is great is that the air manifold tube that runs to the top acts like a gauge and tells you when you need to clean the filter. As the filter beings to clog... the pressure then starts to push water up the air manifold. And last... some versions of these filters don't have a bottom drain. I don't have any prefilter in my set up besides a mesh bag around my pump, so with larger particles getting in, having the bottom drain allows you to quickly flush the bigger stuff before you then run the air in to clean the main filter.

I did add a second smaller 35 barrel to the side which has an internal tower of feather rock to act as a shower filter too. It's worked out nice so far.
 

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