How do I make a self cleaning pond filter that connects to a pump?

Written by andrew leahey
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How do I make a self cleaning pond filter that connects to a pump?
Aquatic plants such as water lilies will help filter your water. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Creating a self-cleaning pond filter that connects to a pump is an efficient way to minimise the amount of equipment you need to hide in order to create an overall natural effect for your water garden. The best way to make a pond filter that can connect to your existing pump is to house your pump within your pond filter.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Submersible pump
  • Plastic tub to house the pump with 3 to 4 inches to spare on all sides
  • Soap-free plastic scrubbers
  • Waterproof tape
  • Rotary tool
  • Razor blade

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Place the submersible pump inside the plastic tub. There should be 3 to 4 inches of space on all sides, between the pump and the walls of the tub. If your submersible pump has suction feet, press down to adhere the pump to the tub bottom.

  2. 2

    Mark and cut holes in the plastic tub in order to feed out the electric wire and water hose. The water hose will likely be fed out of the top of the pump, thus cutting a hole in the top of your plastic tub will be the most direct route. Use a rotary tool on a slow setting to start the cuts. Finish and clean up the holes with a razor blade.

  3. 3

    Feed the electric wire through the hole you have cut for it, and the water hose through its hole. If you need to enlarge the wire's hole in order to accommodate the plug, do so using a razor blade or rotary tool with a grinding wheel on a slow setting to prevent melting the plastic.

  4. 4

    Pack plastic scrubbing sponges on all sides of the pump, as if you are packing it for shipment. These will be your filters. Ensure that you completely surround the pump on all sides with scrubbers, so that there is no direct path for water to enter the pump without first passing through a scrubber.

  5. 5

    Secure the lid on the top of the plastic tub, with the electric wire fed through its opening, and the water hose passing through the lid. Latch the lid securely, and tape it closed using the waterproof tape. Ensure the lid will not come free when it hits the water, but do not overdo it with the tape, as you will want to be able to access the pump for maintenance and occasional filter cleaning.

  6. 6

    Cut three 1-by-1-inch square holes on each long side of your plastic tub. These will allow the water in the pond to get into your filtration system, and pass through to the pump intake. Additionally, cut two 1-by-1-inch square holes on the shorter sides of the tub, and at least one on the lid. You do not want your pump to run dry.

  7. 7

    Place the entire unit into your pond. Use your hands or a broom handle to slowly submerge it, and move it around a bit in the pond to allow air to escape and let the unit sink. You will want to feed a water hose to your fountain or waterfall, and an electric wire to your outlet.

Tips and warnings

  • This pond filter will be self-cleaning. As debris gathers in the scrubbers, it will decompose and be consumed by naturally occurring bacteria in the water. From time to time, however, check the filter to ensure it has not become clogged with larger items.

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