Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Simple Homemade Pond Filters

Building simple homemade pond filters can help keep costs down for your backyard water garden landscaping project. Just as effective as store-bought models, do-it-yourself pond filters provide both biological and mechanical filtration to keep pond water clear and healthy.


The correct materials make all the difference in homemade pond filter efficiency and easy of building. Start with a large plastic tub or bucket with a tight-fitting lid. This container can be fashioned into a submersible filtration system. Collect various filter media materials such as small rocks, plastic balls such as wiffle golf balls or purchased bio balls and filter mat or floss. Materials such as loose-pack quilt batting can be used as well. You will also need a piece of plastic screen.

Depending on the set-up of your pond filter and pump mechanism, you will also require various hoses and tubes, such as PVC pipe. Their widths and lengths will depend on the sizes of the opening on the pump and the size of your pond.


Begin by cutting a large hole in the lid of the bucket or plastic tub with a utility knife. This is where the water will flow into the homemade pond filter, so it should be large. Carefully measure the diameter of the pipe or hose you will attach to the pond pump and then cut a hole for it on the side of the plastic container. This hole should be near the bottom of one side.

Use fish-friendly sealant, such as that for an aquarium, to attach the PVC pipe or hose to the hole on the side of the filter box. This hose should be long enough to reach the pond pump when positioned in the water garden. Use the same sealant to attach the plastic screen to the inside of the top lid so it covers the hole completely.

Setting up the Homemade Pond Filter

Before placing the simple homemade pond filter in the pond, add the filter media. Start with a layer of small rocks a few inches thick. The rocks should be angular to maintain good space between them for the water to pass through. Pour the plastic wiffle or bio balls in the filter next. These will provide lots of surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow on. These colonies are vital for removing dangerous chemicals such as ammonia from the pond water.

Finish the filter media pack with floss, filter mat or quilt batting. Close the lid of the container tightly and attach all hoses or tubes if not already done. Sink the container into an accessible part of the water garden and allow it to fill with water completely before turning on the pond pump to begin drawing water through this simple, yet effective, homemade pond filter.

Garden Guides