Here's an idea using a couple different size Maxi-Jet powerheads and drinking water bottles to make effective mechanical aquarium and semi-aquatic filters.

Heavy duty sheers/scissors or a 40 watt or hotter soldering iron

Maxi-Jet 400 or 600 power head
20 oz. Dasani drinking water bottle
(works best with Maxi-Jet 400)
33 oz. Dasani drinking water bottle
(works best with Maxi-Jet 600)
Standard aquarium filter floss
Activated filter carbon (optional)

Note: After this project article was written, sometime around 2013, Maxi-Jet redesigned the intake on their powerheads so they're slightly larger. You may find a different brand of water bottle a better fit. If you'd like help with this project or have found a powerhead / waterbottle combination that works well for you, please consider sharing your efforts/success in the community forums!

Using cutting tools of your choice, remove a 2/3 section of the bottom of the bottle.

This will be the water intake and also where you insert the filter floss and activated carbon.

Thru the cut opening, insert an amount of filter floss that fills about 1/3 of the bottle, then about 2 inches deep of activated carbon. (The amount of carbon is really up to you)

Insert another 1/3 of filter fiber. The idea is to slightly pack the fiber and carbon to keep the media secure and minimize any possiblilty of debris bypassing the filter media.
(zero bypass = good)

By some stroke of luck, the powerhead intake on the Maxi-Jets are a perfect fit for the 20 oz. and 33 oz. Dasani brand drinking water bottles. There are likely other bottle brands that may fit too.

Apply reasonable pressure to insert the powerhead intake into the neck of the bottle. You shouldn't have to push very hard for the powerhead intake tube to fully insert in the bottle. If you're using another brand of bottle and it doesn't insert easily, try a different brand.

Helpful Note:
If used in the presence of very small fish or fry, cut the hole a little higher in the side of the bottle and secure a plastic screen across the hole with a few rubberbands. I found plastic gutter screening is inexpensive and works great to keep the little ones out of the filter. (look for the plastic roll with smaller mesh at your local hardware store or Home Depot.)

Water Bottle Power filter

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welcome to
do-it-yourself aquarium and semi-aquatic background designs beyond the traditional
Dramatic AquaScapes
Disclaimer: Exercising reasonable safety precautions when performing the steps described in this article are the responsibility of the individuals building the background. is not responsible for personal injury or property damage as a result of following steps outlined in this article.