Skip to content

Mechanical Filter Media Basket
Mechanical Filter Media Basket

This mechanical media basket holds filter floss pads and Polyfil where water enters the sump on my 90 gallon rainbowfish aquarium. It is made from a plastic tupperware container that I up-cycled from a package of lunch meat (after washing thoroughly). I drilled about 30 holes into the bottom of the container using both a 1/8" and 1/4" bit to spread the flow evenly across the tray.

This is a modification to the original design for my DIY 20 gallon sump. The container fits perfectly into the larger basket that houses a coarse sponge and previously held my mechanical media. A smaller media tray keeps the flow of water concentrated into a reduced surface area, which allows me to use less mechanical media. It also facilitates changing the media, because it is easily removed and replaced, as shown in the video below.

The bottom of the basket is stuffed with Polyfil which is then covered by a piece of filter pad media that is cut slightly larger than the aperture of the container. The clear sides allow me to see when the media is dirty and needs to be changed. This is a dirt cheap DIY  mechanical filtration solution for a sump; I covered the use of Polyfil and some other cheap DIY filtration solutions here.


hardscaped 90 gallon
hardscaped 90 gallon
hardscaped 90 gallon
hardscaped 90 gallon

This 90 gallon aquarium has been in the works for a couple months now between other fish room projects. I posted about the sump I built for it last week as well as how I drilled the overflow. I finally have the background, substrate and hardscape in place and I'm getting ready to add fish.

The 3d background in this aquarium is from YourFishStuff. Its a thick silicone material that is coated in crushed rock, so it has a realistic texture and real depth to it. I cut it to fit around my overflow box, and it is held in place by the substrate and a couple of clips at the top of the tank. I'm really impressed with this background and very glad I went for it instead of painting the back of the aquarium black like I usually would. YourFishStuff sells these in a variety of standard tank sizes and the price is very competitive, especially for the quality of the product.

Hardscape in place

The sand substrate is Caribsea Super Naturals Sunset Gold. I got both the substrate and the spider wood on amazon. My first choice is always to support local aquarium stores but none in my area carried this particular sand or large pieces of spider wood.

marked down aquarium plants

I scored some nice big anubias and an El Nino Fern at a 75% discount. I covered how I find cheap aquarium plants in a little more detail in this post. I used super glue gel to attach the anubias to a piece of spider wood. Eventually I plan to have this tank heavily planted, so I'll add more plants over time.

Spider wood with anubias
Spider wood with anubias

The rock I used is 40 lbs of landscaping river rock that I got at Home Depot for $12. Its a little more colorful than I had envisioned but once it grows some algae and the tank is densely planted it should look more natural.

river rock
river rock

I'll post further updates on this aquarium when it's fully planted and stocked with fish. If you want to see more of my fish room on a regular basis follow me on Instagram.