Project:Aquarius, the Easy Aquarium Water Change Device





Introduction: Project:Aquarius, the Easy Aquarium Water Change Device

 New From Sam Pask Design - Project:Aquarius, the easy to use Aquarium Water Change Device, Project Aquarius is an ad-hoc solution to the many problems encountered when water changing a fish tank, solving problems like carrying heavy water buckets, starting and controlling siphons, replacing tank water and filling large containers from the sink. Project:aquarius is designed from a series of easy to get hold of components available both on the high street and or online.

Step 1: Containing Water

Project:Aquarius is designed to be fully customisable to suit the users fish tank, the main component behind any project is the water containers, The best i have found are plastic jerry cans, which come in a variety of sizes varying from 5 litres up to 50 litres, ideally you want a container that can hold the amount of water that you need to water change in one go to save you making multiple trips. 

A recommended water change for a tropical or cold water tank is 20% every two weeks so ideally a barrel that holds 20% of the tank contents would be perfect. so for a 60 litre aquarium needs approximately a 12 litre water change and a 100 litre bucket needs a 20 litre. Marine fish tanks require 10% water changes every week so the container size can be worked out the same way but with 10% buckets instead of 20%

The tank i created this project for is a 50 litre tropical tank so i purchased two 10 litre plastic jerry cans, one for tank water and one for clean water. from my local aquarium.

Step 2: Moving Water

A jerry can full of water can be very heavy, particularly in large volumes and over long distance, to counteract this heavy lifting issue, i have included a trolley in my design so you can move the water simply and efficiently through your home or workplace to your aquarium while exerting very little effort.

The product i have found ideal for this purpose is the boot trolley, designed to carry shopping to and from the boot of your car very easily is ideal for the purpose of moving heavy water containers, available in a number of sizes so it can incorporate any size containers comfortably and can be folded flat for easy storage when not in use. i purchased mine at a hardware store although there is lots available online

Step 3: Draining Water

The next component required is a gravel siphon, already used widely as a way of removing aquarium water and cleaning the gravel at the same time. although for inexperienced fish keepers can be difficult to use. Widely available from any decent fish shop. the gravel siphon simply consists of a siphon hose with a plastic tube on the end to mix through the gravel, to save money it is also very easy to make a grave siphon with the top of a coke bottle and some hosing. gravel siphons come in a number of sizes and lengths, so you are able to pick the ideal one to suit your aquariums needs.

The gravel siphon also works extremely well as a funnel and makes filling up containers on the floor at taps very easy and stops the need for precarious balancing and overfilling buckets.

Step 4: Moving Water Uphill

Probably the most difficult part of a water change is the refilling process you have drained your tank with a siphon, but now must lift a heavy bucket, spilling water everywhere and pouring water into the tank too fast destroying you aquarium decor, to counteract this issue i have used a PVC Hand Pump available from any good hardware store or easy to find online the PVC hand pump allows the user to simply pump the water up a hose and into there aquarium exerting very little and effort and in a controlled way, the PVC hand pump can also be used in reverse to start a siphon for inexperienced fishkeepers who struggle.

Step 5: Travelling Water

 To get the water from the container to the pump, you will need some sort of hose i chose the unkinkable pond hosing to fit the outlet dimensions of my PVC pump, this works extremely well as its fairly solid and won't kink causing any pressure build up.

this can be attached to the PVC pump and also with a simple reducer connector can be attached to the siphon hosing allowing the pipe to be easily attached detached and reattached with very little fuss or effort.

Step 6: Connectors

with the containers taking up almost all the space in my boot cart i had very little space for the pump and siphon. so i purchased some velcro tree ties which attached to the side of the cart which allowed me to easily strap the pump and siphon on and off and keeps the project as a neat complete unit. the tree ties are very cheap to buy, but any sort of velcro would work just as well. 

Step 7: Using Project:Aquarius to Fill

The first thing you need to do when using project aquarius is not usually the first thing you need to do when water changing a fish tank, but firstly you need to fill your clean water container at the tap, wheel the project close to the tap and remove the gravel siphon place the hose end into the container and take the gravel hoover and place it under the tap like a funnel then turn the tap on filling letting the water run down the gravel hoover down the tube and into the container, filling the container easily with no mess or heavy lifting, when the container is full to the required level turn off the tap gather up the siphon, add the required amount of dechlorinater to the water (see bottle instructions) replace the lid on the container and wheel your project:aquarius over to your fish tank.

Step 8: Using Project:Aquarius to Siphon

Siphoning is something that alot of fish keepers initially struggle with either struggling to get the siphon started or over siphoning and ending up with a mouth full of dirty fish water, the project is designed to be extremely easy to use. if you are comfortable with siphoning then you can use the siphon as normal but if you are someone that struggles when starting siphons then, you can attach  the PVC hand pump to the siphon hose and draw the handle up pulling the water down the tube and begin the siphon this way, when the siphon has started you can easily move the hose through the gravel waiting for the level in the tank water container matches the level in the freshwater container, when it does remove the siphon from the water to stop the siphon.

Step 9: Using Project:Aquarius to Top Up

One of the main features of the Project:Aquarius is the ease of topping the tank back up, simply by attaching the hose to both ends of the PVC hand pump and placing one end in the container and the other end in tank and by slowly pumping refilling the tank is extremely easy and stress free. When is full again simply stop pumping remove the hose from the tank and connect everything back up to the trolley. Completing the water change

Step 10: Waste Water and Water Storage.

Aquarium water generally contains lots of nutrients that are perfect fertiliser for plants both household and garden so the waste tank water from the aquarium is perfect to water plants and if you don't want to use it all at once can sit in the sealed container for up to a month without going stagnent.

Project:aquarius is also great for marine fish keepers as it is great for taking to fish shops to be filled with RO water or the containers sit neatly under a sink with an RO unit, the sealed containers also mean that you can mix up salt and keep it for up to a month with it still being fine to use in your marine tank.



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    That's a pretty cool ible, but freshwater tanks should have a lot more water than that changed. Between 50%-90% once a week is the bare minimum for a well stocked tank.

    19 replies

    I no longer suscribe to this policy. With plants, and snails, there is no need to ever change the water.

    Eventually your mineral content will go up, since those don't evaporate like the water does.

    However, if you have a deep gravel bed and plants, you shouldn't have to remove water very often at all. Like once a year or so.
    I'm sure that delicate fish liek discus wouldn't like it, but stick with fish that have been bred in aquariums for 20 generations and you'll be fine.

    if by well stocked you mean an under 15 gallon tank with 15-20 fish yes(which is animal abuse basically), otherwise you are unnecessarily exposing your fish to crazy changes in natural tank cycles, as well as possibly removing beneficial bacteria. frequent water changes and changes that large are only required in severe cases of ammonia/nitrite poisionings,

    "50%-90% once a week is the bare minimum for a well stocked tank" Unless your tank is overstocked, that is overdoing it and IMO a waste of water. Freshwater tanks require 25% water changes on a weekly basis when properly stocked. The only time to do a 50% water change is when/if you get a disease or sickness in your tank.

    What is "required" to keep fish alive and what is beneficial to keep them thriving, healthy and spawning are two different issues.

    Water changes cost only your labor and de-chlorinater, To not do them for the health of your aquarium inhabitants is pure laziness.

    This is incorrect but I'm not going to keep spamming this poor person's instructable. You guys keep abusing your pets and I'll keep giving mine the best life possible.

    I've always changed about a third every 2-4 weeks and have no problems at all, it's nice and clear, and my fish live longer than anyone I know. There is absolutely no reason to change that much water, or that often if you're aquarium is properly established. "When in doubt, wait it out" has always been my motto, and I've found that once it's established, an aquarium needs little work.

    20% to 30% per week is the absolute minimum, unless you are keeping sensitive or spawning Discus, then it could be as much as 50% per day.

    Most ornamental fish live in streams with a fresh supply of water constantly surrounding them.

    There is no such thing as a properly balanced aquarium, that is an idea that was disproved long ago. An aquarium is an artificial environment for fish, the more often and larger a water change the better they will do.

    Even an aquarium with the best modern filtration and full inoculated with the proper nitrifying bacteria can not remove nitrites and other harmful organic dissolved solids from the water. These build up and the only way to remove them is by doing water changes.

    Your "when in doubt, wait it out" methodology will, in time, be the death of some poor fish.

    30+ years of owning and maintaining some of the healthiest aquariums I've encountered says otherwise, as does Vierke's book.

    And I guess Douglas Adams was an expert on all of the races that live in space, since he wrote all those books about them. My grandfather has owned fish for over 50 years, but I still know more about taking proper care of fish than he does. Underwhelmed is right, you must be keeping guppies. The fact that you own fish and you don't know about stunting? Crazy stuff, my friend.

    If your grandfather has been SUCCESSFULLY keeping fish for over 50 years then I seriously doubt that you know more about it than he does. Water in retail tanks should be changed more often because stores keep their tanks woefully overstocked. Seriously, can you imagine changing 90 % of the water in a 600+ litre tank every week? Wasteful and subjecting the poor fish to more stress than is necessary. Thanks for all your hard work.This instructable looks fantastic and I can't wait to give it a try.

    Anything over 25% is unnecessarily stressful on the fish but, as I'm sure you guys all know, IT DEPENDS.  If you're running some kind of crazy stocking level, with messy fish then, yes, a big weekly water change is better than just letting them swim around in their own filth. 
    It's much better to keep stocking levels low enough that moderate water changes are better. 
    No offense but both parties here are swinging around the words "Water change" without any context for your argument.
    If Ammonia & nitrite are 0, and nitrate is below 10, why stress the fish?  Have plants to moderate the whole dang thing.
    Seriously guys, don't throw around jabs; point to your evidence and keep the discourse polite.  We're all friends here.

    See my reply above, and I would add that you have either been very lucky, or you keep guppys.

    ......that's ridiculous. The more water changed the better. It's sickening how much misinformation about fish is on the internet. Just because you can't see them stunting doesn't mean they aren't. To me, your organs slowing growing while your body stops growing seems like a painful way to die, but to each his own I guess.

    Tell that to Vierke, he begs to differ. And "the more water changed the better", that doesn't even pass the laugh test. Your "organs keep growing, body stops" junk is what is ridicules.

    Give it a read and perhaps your aquarium can be as healthy as mine.

    Wow, you must be right. I guess all of my coworkers at the aquarium have no idea what they're doing!

    If they're going to disagree with a guy who's written several books on aquarium, some of them having been published for 25 years, then yea.

    Do you even know what you're growing in an aquarium? You do realize what you throw out every time you do a water change, right? apply that to "The more water changed the better" and see what doesn't add up.

    If you're talking about the bacteria, they don't live in the water column. They colonize on the rough surfaces. The filter media, the sand, the ornaments (if any.) What I am 'throwing away' when I do water changes is a perfectly balanced fertilizer that makes my garden grow 10x better than any of my neighbors. I've seen the difference between fish that live with lots of water changes and fish that are left to suffer in a little box with their own waste. It's not fun.