DIY Aquaponics Swirl Filter

Aquaponics Swirl Filter

A swirl filter, also known as solids filter are commonly used in aquaculture set-ups. They are also widely used in aquaponics systems to help remove fine particles produced from fish waste. This is especially true in semi-commercial and fully commercial scale aquaponics systems with hundreds of aquaponics fish stocked at any given period.

The filter helps to maintain water clarity for the fish to thrive. Fish’s health deteriorates with murky water suspended with food debris and fish poop. It is a must have for DWC (Deep Water Culture) systems as it helps to prevent clogging in the plant roots. Clogged plant roots are detrimental for the plants growth and health.

In a media-filled system…

In a media-filled growbed system, you would not normally need a swirl filter. This is because the growbeds acts as your swirl filter in way that they help cleanse the system water. So, in a way more growbeds equal cleaner water.

Again, the density of your stocked fish, the fish species and the scale of your system are determining factors to whether you need to install a swirl filter or not. If you find that your system water is often so cloudy that you can hardly see your fish, that’s a good indication that you do.

I have been exploring the easiest way to build a swirl vortex filter that suit a semi commercial or a full commercial scale aquaponics system. Often times, this can be a confusing process especially for someone who is not familiar with plumbing.

DIY Swirl Filter


I found this great information for a diy swirl filter at The main idea behind this is to trap solid waste at the bottom of the swirl filter assembly.

This is achieved by directing water from the fish tank through a pipe. You need to direct this pipe in a way, that when waste water comes in, would swirl at the bottom. This actually ascertains that waste solids do not get into the growbed.

DIY Instructions

  • Get a 200 litre barrel.
  • Drill 2 holes on the opposite ends. One for the inlet line from the fish tank and the other for the outlet line to the growbed (this must be higher than the inlet) as shown in the diagram. An adapter must be used to ensure the pipe connections are water-tight.
  • Get a laundry basket that fits into the barrel (slightly smaller is good), then drill a hole so that the inlet pipe can go through.
  • Next, is to get a porous material to as the filter. This can be any porous material even unused cloth is fine. Line it on the wall of the basket.
  • Now drill a hole at the bottom of the barrel to drain off solids. This can be a small PVC line (1/2 inch) with a valve to control the flow.

There you have it!

Your own diy swirl filter for use in your aquaponics system.

I have also found a video that shows you how to build one, contribution from, The Urban Farming Guys. This video shows you step by step how to build a swirl filter and they make it really simple. Well, they focus mainly on aquaculture, but is 100% workable for your diy aquaponics system as well.

In the video you will find how willingly they share their experience in building the vortex filter, that according to them a similar set-up is selling for USD4000 in the store. And their diy filter cost them only $100 to make.

What I like most about them is their sincerity in sharing. They even demonstrate the obstacles they’ve faced during the built and how they solve the problems they have faced. Which is just great!

Hope you find this blog post informative and please feel free to leave a comment and share this 🙂

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