How to Filter Aquarium Water Without Pump: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you been thinking about filtering your aquarium water but do not want to use a pump? Maybe you do not want the added noise or expense, or perhaps you are looking for a more natural option. Whatever your reason, filtering aquarium water without a pump is not only possible, but it can also be quite effective. There are various methods to filter aquarium water without a pump, and each method utilizes a different approach.

These methods range from using filter media to cultivating live plants. However, before choosing a method, it is essential to understand the importance of filtration in maintaining a healthy aquarium ecosystem. Filtration removes waste, toxins, and other harmful substances from the water, keeping it clean and healthy for your aquatic pets.

Without proper filtration, the water in your aquarium can become polluted, leading to various health issues for your fish. In this blog post, we’ll explore some ways to filter your aquarium water without a pump, the benefits of each method, and how you can implement them in your aquarium setup. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced aquarium enthusiast, this post will provide valuable insights into maintaining a healthy aquatic environment without a pump.

Why Filter Aquarium Water

If you’re a fish enthusiast, you know that good aquarium filtration is crucial to keep your aquatic pets healthy. But what if you don’t have a pump? How can you filter aquarium water without a pump? The answer lies in natural filtration. Live plants, activated carbon, and aeration are natural ways to filter your aquarium water without a pump.

For instance, plants serve as natural filters by removing waste and toxins from the water. Activated carbon absorbs impurities, resulting in cleaner water. Aeration, on the other hand, promotes gas exchange, increases oxygen levels in the water, and creates water movement, which helps reduce waste buildup.

By utilizing these natural filtration methods, you can keep your aquarium water clean and maintain a healthy environment for your aquatic friends. Remember, a clean tank equals healthy fish.

Benefits of Filtering Aquarium Water

Filtering aquarium water is crucial for the health and wellbeing of your aquatic pets. One of the primary benefits of filtering aquarium water is that it removes harmful debris and toxins, such as fish waste, uneaten food, and ammonia. Without proper filtration, these contaminants can build up and lead to poor water quality, which can cause stress and illness in your fish.

Additionally, a good filtration system can provide oxygenation and improve the circulation of the water, which is vital for maintaining a healthy environment for your aquatic pets. By investing in a quality filter for your aquarium, you can ensure that your fish are living in a clean, healthy, and thriving environment.

how to filter aquarium water without pump

Types of Non-Pump Filters

If you want to filter your aquarium water without a pump, there are several types of non-pump filters that you can use. One option is a sponge filter, which uses a sponge to trap debris and waste. Another alternative is a hang-on-back filter, which hangs on the back of the aquarium and uses a motor to drive water through a filter cartridge.

A canister filter is another type of filter that doesn’t require a pump, utilizing a motor to push water through a series of filter media. Lastly, a refugium is a unique type of filter that can be used in saltwater aquariums, which creates a separate area for beneficial microorganisms to grow and filter the water. These non-pump filter options all have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice for your aquarium will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

Regardless of which filter you choose, be sure to maintain it regularly to ensure the health and well-being of your aquatic pets.

Sponge Filters

Sponge Filters Sponge filters are a type of non-pump filter that is commonly used in aquariums and fish tanks. They work by drawing water through a sponge-like material that absorbs waste and debris, while also providing a surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. There are several different types of sponge filters available, including corner filters, box filters, and cylinder filters.

Corner filters are designed to fit into the corner of an aquarium and are easy to install and maintain. Box filters are similar in design to corner filters but are designed to fit against the back or side of an aquarium. Cylinder filters are cylindrical in shape and are perfect for larger aquariums.

Sponge filters are an affordable and effective way to keep your aquarium clean and healthy. They are easy to maintain, require no electricity, and provide a gentle flow of water that is perfect for delicate fish and aquatic plants. So if you’re looking for an alternative to traditional pump filters, consider giving sponge filters a try!

Undergravel Filters

Undergravel filters are a popular type of non-pump filter utilized in aquariums. They work through a system of plates and gravel, where the water is pulled through the gravel and filtered as it passes through the plates. This type of filter is ideal for smaller aquariums and can be incredibly efficient in maintaining water quality.

Undergravel filters are easy to set up and use, making them a popular choice for beginners. However, it’s important to note that they may not be suitable for larger aquariums or those with high bioloads. Additionally, regular maintenance is necessary to prevent excess buildup in the gravel bed.

Overall, undergravel filters offer an economical solution for aquarium filtration and can be an excellent addition to any aquatic setup.

Hang-on-Back Filters

Hang-on-back filters, also known as power filters, are a type of non-pump filter commonly used in aquariums. These filters hang on the back of the tank and draw water through a filter cartridge or sponge using a motorized impeller. They are highly efficient and effective at removing debris, chemicals, and other contaminants from the water.

Hang-on-back filters are also easy to install and maintain, making them a popular choice for beginner and experienced aquarists alike. They come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different tank volumes and can be customized with additional filter media for specific filtration needs. If you’re looking for a reliable and versatile filtration option, a hang-on-back filter is definitely worth considering.

Trickle Filters

Trickle filters are one type of non-pump filter that can be used in aquariums. These filters work by trickling water over a filter medium, such as bio-balls or ceramic rings, which allows beneficial bacteria to grow and thrive. As the water flows over the filter medium, the bacteria break down harmful toxins and organic waste, creating a cleaner and healthier aquatic environment for fish and other aquatic animals.

Trickle filters are popular because they are low maintenance and require little power to operate, making them an economical option for aquarium owners. Additionally, the trickling water sound created by the filter can add a relaxing ambiance to any living or office space. Overall, trickle filters are a great option for those looking for a simple and effective way to keep their aquariums clean and healthy.

DIY Non-Pump Filters

If you’re looking for a natural and cost-effective way to filter your aquarium water without a pump, there are several DIY options available. One option is to use a sponge filter. Simply insert a sponge into an airstone and place it in the bottom of your aquarium.

As the bubbles rise, the sponge will filter the water and provide a home for beneficial bacteria. Another option is to use activated carbon in a mesh bag. This will help remove impurities and odors from the water.

You can also create a DIY filter using a plastic bottle. Cut the bottom off the bottle and place it upside down in your aquarium. Fill the bottle with filter media such as sand, gravel or charcoal.

The water will then be forced through the media, which will help remove dirt and debris. Overall, these DIY non-pump filters can be simple and effective ways to keep your aquarium water clean and healthy for your fish.

Using a Bottle Filter

If you’re in a situation where clean drinking water is hard to come by, using a bottle filter can be a lifesaver. DIY non-pump filters are a low-cost option for filtering water without electricity or expensive equipment. The most common type of bottle filter is made with activated carbon and can remove many contaminants like chlorine, pesticides, and sediment.

Simply fill a bottle with untreated water, screw on the filter, and drink up! It’s important to note, however, that these filters are not effective against all types of bacteria and viruses, so it’s still important to boil or chemically treat water if you suspect it may contain harmful pathogens. Nonetheless, a bottle filter can be a simple and convenient solution for filtering water on the go.

Creating a Gravity-Based Filter

Creating a gravity-based filter is a fun DIY project that can help improve the water quality in your aquarium or fish tank. Unlike pump filters, gravity-based filters don’t require electricity or a high level of maintenance, making them a cost-effective option. To create a gravity-based filter, you’ll need a few basic supplies like a plastic container, filter media, and a plastic hose.

It’s important to choose filter media that can trap debris and harmful bacteria while still allowing water to flow freely. Once you’ve assembled your filter, it’s important to periodically clean it to ensure it’s functioning properly. With a bit of time and effort, a gravity-based filter can keep your aquatic pets happy and healthy, while also saving you money in the long run.

So why not give it a try?


Filtering aquarium water without a pump may seem like a daunting task, but it’s surprisingly easy when you take a DIY approach. With a bit of creativity and resourcefulness, you can turn everyday items like sponges, activated carbon, and even live plants into effective filters that will keep your tank water crystal clear. So, if you’re looking to save money, enhance your aquarium’s aesthetics, or simply challenge yourself with a new DIY project, give pump-free filtering a try.

Your fish (and your wallet) will thank you!”


What are some alternatives to using a pump to filter aquarium water?
Some alternatives to using a pump to filter aquarium water include using a gravity filter, a sponge filter, or a natural plant filter.

Can I use a homemade filter to clean my aquarium water without a pump?
Yes, you can make a DIY filter using household items such as a plastic bottle, sponge, and filter floss to clean your aquarium water without a pump.

How often should I change the filter media in my non-pump aquarium filter?
It is recommended to change the filter media in a non-pump aquarium filter every 4-6 weeks to maintain optimal performance.

Are there any maintenance tips for keeping a non-pump aquarium filter clean?
Yes, some maintenance tips for keeping a non-pump aquarium filter clean include regular cleaning of the filter media, removing debris from the filter intake, and performing partial water changes.

Can plants be used to naturally filter aquarium water without a pump?
Yes, aquatic plants can be used to naturally filter aquarium water without a pump by absorbing toxins and producing oxygen through photosynthesis.

How do I know if my non-pump aquarium filter is working properly?
You can tell if your non-pump aquarium filter is working properly by checking the water parameters, observing the clarity of the water, and monitoring the behavior of your fish.

Do I need an air stone to oxygenate the water in my aquarium without a pump?
Yes, an air stone can be used to oxygenate the water in an aquarium without a pump. The air stone creates bubbles which increase surface agitation and improve gas exchange.