Easy Aquarium Sponge Pump




Very easy and cheap way to make your own Aquarium sponge pump. Perfect pump for small tank, small fishes, shrimp tank, breeding tank ... Using a simple air pump and basic materials, you can create a mechanical/chemical filter for your aquarium!

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: How It Works

Sorry for my very poor drawing, but the idea is there!
When air goes out of the air tube and up the wider tube, it sucks up water at the same time, so water goes through the sponge, up the tube and clean water comes out.
As simple as that!

The sponge serves as a mechanical filter holding big particles in it, and also as a bio-chemical filter. Good bacteria will grow in the sponge and clean the nasty stuff out of the water. You only need to wash the sponge with clean water from time to time.

Step 2: Materials Needed

First, Gather all equipement:
Basically, you will need a Drill, a pair of scisors, a wide tube, air line tubing & aquarium air pump For the outside (wider) tube, i use a rectangular tube i found in my garage. You can use watever is bigger than your air line tubing and that is open on both ends.

Step 3: Assembly

1. First you need to cut your sponge the size & shape that best fits your aquarium, you can go for a corner filter...
(The sponge i used is just a regular cleaning sponge so I was able to cut it with scissors. You can also go for an 'aquarium sponge' that you can find at a pet shop, you might need to cut it using a bread knife. )
2. Cut a hole in the sponge to fit your large tube in it. You don't have to go all the way through. mid-way is enought.
3. drill tiny holes on one end of the large tube to let water in from the sponge.
4. Insert Tube in the sponge (tiny holes in)
5. Plug the air line tube to air pump and insert air tube in larger tube.
6. Voilà! Make sure you wash carefully all parts of the filter before moving it in your aquarium.
To fix it inside, you can either weigh it down with a rock or stick it to the side using a suction valve.

Step 4: Testing

Before installing your new filter in your aquarium you might want to test it in a Jar full of water. You will see the water coming out of the Tube.

Be the First to Share


    • Home Decor Contest

      Home Decor Contest
    • Furniture Contest

      Furniture Contest
    • Reuse Contest

      Reuse Contest

    16 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Alternately, you can heat a fork to make multiple holes on the tube (if it's thin enough) :)


    5 years ago

    I heard sponge filters are not good due to taking the good bacteria away and using sponge from ocean or driftwood you risk bringing parasites chemicals or anything that may kill fish, unless u want to dedicate the time to really clean the driftwood,sponge from the beach or ocean.

    1 reply

    You can actually skip the sponge entirely and bury the tubing in a deep gravel bed.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Is there a size limit for this type of filter? Does it work better in a certain size range?


    7 years ago on Step 4

    Mission accomplished..! i already make it, now i dont have to buy expensive water pump anymore for my second tank...thanks


    7 years ago on Step 3

    Also, an all natural sponge would work (ie: the type that are dried and originally came from the ocean!)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    would using a water bottle work for this instead of tube?


    8 years ago on Step 4

    This is great! I just bought a filter and it seems too big for our aquarium. I'm gonna hack a filter using your instructible.


    9 years ago on Step 3

    word of caution: please be careful using a regular sponge for this... most of the ones you find in the grocery store are labeled "NOT FOR AQUARIUM USE" as they contain some sort of chemical that is not good for the fish.

    best bet is to get a sponge from a pet store that is meant for aquariums.

    otherwise, i like this instructable.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea, thanks! I have a very small setup with a platy fry, a snail, some little red shrimp and some plants. They're all thriving, water chemistry is good, fry is growing. But I couldn't find a filter small enough. This one is working out great. For the larger tube, I used a shampoo bottle from a hotel. I also added a stone so the water would be more still. I burried the sponge in gravel.


    9 years ago on Step 1

    great idea! how this works makes sence. im going to have to make one.  im trying too breed comet feeders and i think this will be just the thing too clean up after um. Thanks!


    first of all its a "sponge filter". its not "bio- chemical" or "chemical" its biological. don't rince it in tap water, the chlorine in tap water will kill the bacteria, rince the filter in old tank water