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Low maintenance filter system for 1 gallon fry container


R Budds
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I am going to try to turn a one gallon pickle jar into a low maintenance permanent guppy growout nursery. Because of this I am not going to have any rooting plants. The anubias, java fern, and chunk of driftwood can be easily removed to get guppies out that have grown to the next stage.

The screen nursery was a good temporary solution but it takes up too much space in the 5.5 gallon (upper right of the tank).

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Below is the pickle jar with a simple undergravel filter. 

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The vinyl uplift tube has a bend that contours to the bottle fairly well. The bottom part of the filter is just a puck shape made out of plastic fabric (7 squares per inch) that's hot glued together. The uplift tube is cut on an angle and hot glued to the back of the puck. It's smaller than it looks, it's just small enough to fit through the neck of the jar. I made sure it was on the bottom and put the substrate over and around it. 

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I put down a 3 inch deep bed of SafeTSorb.

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Above is the flow of the uplift tube. The lamp is a Tetra brand clip on USB led light.

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You can see a couple of the little guppies above. I filled it with tap water and half a cup full from the 5.5 gallon they were born in. 

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Here are some pictures of the tube glued to the puck.

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I covered part of the upper plate, and the back part on either side of the uplift tube, with hot glue to make a funnel effect. An important note. It's not pictured in a noticeable way, but there is a bottom plate as well to keep the substrate out of the puck, since it doesn't sit perfectly as it would in a regular tank.

The numbers are usual for our tap water except the pH is a little lower than before. These are the numbers after putting in the fish: TDS 430, GH 200+, KH 40, ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 40, and pH around 6.2 (it's usually 6.5 to 6.8).

I'm not sure what their load on the tank is, but they grow fast and a lot of their food goes past them. Hopefully it works as well as my other tanks with similar filter systems.

If it does work as well there should be virtually no maintenance required. 

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Edited by R Budds
Added note about bottom plate
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On 4/4/2022 at 7:18 AM, Fish Folk said:

It’s always a satisfying feeling to DIY solutions in this hobby. I hope this works for you!

I use small “bacto-surge” sponge filters in clear gallon jugs cut to allow access on top.

I like your shelf and light setup.

I tried my own diy sponge filter but the curve at the top of the jar kept pushing it to the center amd it was in the way.

On 4/4/2022 at 9:10 AM, drewzero1 said:

I love this! I've got a couple of bowls I'm not using yet because I couldn't figure out a way to put in a decent sponge filter, and I think this is my answer.

The natural curve of the tube really helps it sit back and out of the way. I hope you can work something out using this idea.

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On 4/4/2022 at 12:51 PM, Hobbit said:

Oooo love it! You may consider hornwort if you want more plant material in your jar. It doesn’t root and grows fast.

Where are you and @Fish Folk getting your jugs/jars from?

Lol I just finished The Hobbit audio book last night as I finalized this project.

Mine was just an old pickle jar. My daughter loves pickles and my dad got her this big jar one year for Christmas and the empty jar was just hanging around. It didn't seem necessary to get rid of it. 

I was wondering where to get more too.

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In my experience  hot glue is a quick temporary glue. It has not really done well in the long term. I would also be concerned about the water solubility of the glue. I think nylon fishing line to stitch the plastic fabric would be a better long term solution. Holes could be poked in the uplift tube to attach it to the base. I think that would be a better long term solution. 

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On 4/4/2022 at 1:18 PM, Widgets said:

It appears it is inherently waterproof, but water can cause it to contract too much and break the bonds, causing the joints to fail. It is not considered suitable for underwater use.

That is a concern. I have been using it for a while without any deterioration, it does seem safe as far as leaching (which is my main concern), but you're right about the bonds breaking. 

I'll checkout the link, thanks.

I'll have to pickup some light or medium fishing line for my next project. 

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On 4/4/2022 at 1:12 PM, Widgets said:

In my experience  hot glue is a quick temporary glue. It has not really done well in the long term. I would also be concerned about the water solubility of the glue. I think nylon fishing line to stitch the plastic fabric would be a better long term solution. Holes could be poked in the uplift tube to attach it to the base. I think that would be a better long term solution. 

I think for the next one I can connect the parts at key points and then use silicone to glue and seal it. After it has cured, having smoothed the inside and made sure the tube is clear, I can attach the bottom with a few stitches since it's less critical. I think silicone will stick to the parts.

I just found another guppy so now it's up to 7. I also added a tablespoon or so of substrate,  plus a few ounces of water in the transfer, from their birth tank.

I'm fascinated to see how the cycle will play out in this tiny tank. I probably should have put a betta in there for a week, I'll just have to keep a close eye on the parameters.

They feed well in here too. I put just a few grains at a time of First Bites and the surface agitation pushes them down and a lot are eaten. 

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On 4/4/2022 at 3:42 PM, Patrick_G said:

This is a really nice DIY solution. When I saw the title is was sure that a tiny sponge would be better, but this is way more fun and looks very functional! Good work

Thanks Patrick, I turned it so the tube is at the 10 o'clock position and it almost disappears.

I wanted some stuff for them to interact with in the tank, it doesn't have to be too sterile for them to be safe, imo, plus it looks better with the plants and wood.

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Posted (edited)

Four day update.

The 7 guppies are all eating well and are active. No more have been born.

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Here are the test strips from this one gallon tank (lower) and the 5.5 they were born in (upper). The nitrates are still around 40ppm, and the nitrites have gone up to about1ppm. The 5.5 gallon remains at zero for both. The pH has stabilized around 6.8 for both, with low KH and quite high GH.The cycle has started without any bloom yet.

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This is the ammonia test. It's just above zero, around 0.25ppm.

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Here is one of the babies. It's hard to get a good picture of them.

I am going to do a 25-30% water change and add water from the 5.5 gallon.

Edited by R Budds
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Eight day update. I have seen the first real change in the nitrogen cycle. The ammonia is at zero and the nitrites are nearly zero and the nitrates have dropped to 10ppm. The water has been clear the whole time.

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Here are a few babies. The curve of the glass and their size makes it hard to get them in focus.

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Our females look like they are about to pop, so we should have more babies soon.

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Posted (edited)

The babies have been in the jar for 11 days now. I gave them regular flakes crushed up yesterday and today. My nitrites are up a little to around .50ppm and the nitrates came up to 20ppm. The water is still clear and they are looking very good. We also added 7 more to the jar, so that will really test it in the next few days.

I think the first born one is almost ready to be moved it's 18 days old. I will probably put it in my 20G long with the tetras and betta since he has calmed down a bit and there is plenty of space.

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Here are the ones born today.

Edited by R Budds
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

The jar has had 13 baby guppies in it for a while now. I moved one out about a week ago. Last night I moved 2 into a 20G long I just setup and today I am moving 4 more.

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The nitrates are barely showing and the nitrites are gone. It never had a bacterial bloom, but seems to have cycled. 

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The 7 youngest ones will stay in the jar for now.

Update a few hours later. 9 more guppies were born today and are in the jar, so it has 16 now.

Edited by R Budds
Update for new guppies.
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  • 3 weeks later...

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