I love the look and benefit of live plants in aquariums, and lets face it -I have too much time on my hands...so i designed and built an in-tank plant bed filter using Acorus Gramineus as my plant of choice because it is easy to grow, loves nitrates and can grow in ponds and marshes. The substrate i used was hydroton on the bottom and a layer of fine pea gravel on top.
I took 2 clear drawer organizers and marked them with a pen where i wanted to drill holes to allow for proper flow through the plant bed.
I used a 1/4" drill bit specifically for acrylic, It's messy but nothing a vacuum cleaner couldn't clean up in 5 minutes.
Here i have added substrate and plants. The bottom layer of substrate is hydroton pebbles and the top is fine pea gravel. I decided on Acorus Gramineus as the plant, because it is an easy to grow pond/wetland plant that loves nitrates and seems to suit my experiment perfectly.
Next i needed a way to mount the plant tray in the aquarium at the right level so the tray was half way under the water line. I cut 2 extra sheets of 1/4" acrylic i had and measured where they needed to be bent to hold the tray at the right level. Using a heat gun i bent the sheets around a slate tile that was the same width as the top of the aquarium where it was going to be mounted.
And they fit perfect!
I built these uplift tubes by melting together acrylic tubing and extra parts from sponge filters. Air is inserted at the bottom which causes it to raise up to the top of the water through the tube, creating suction and bringing the water up with it. This brings water to the plant beds without me needing to plug in anything extra, just run them off the existing air pump that runs all my other tanks.
The uplift tubes work well, bringing water above the surface into the plant bed. Now to wait for the plant roots to spread and establish themselves to see how well the filter really works.
It's been a month and a half since i set this up. The plants have sprouted new growth, as well as grown a few inches to where it grew into the lights and i had to trim it. The roots are also establishing themselves quite well and fastening themselves to the bottom layer of hydroton. So far so good!
Keep checking in for more updates, thanks!