DIY 12oz Waterbottle Protein Skimmer for Saltwater

Have a time tested DIY solution for filtration of your saltwater aquarium? We'd love to hear about it!

DIY 12oz Waterbottle Protein Skimmer for Saltwater

Postby gminor » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:42 pm

Anyone who has ever shopped retail for a protein skimmer knows even a small name brand model can set you back around $50.00. Larger models span a wide price range well beyond that depending on design.

The DIY solution detailed here was designed for a 29 gallon saltwater tank so a smaller skimmer was just fine.

My apologies for the potentially confusing photo content. The 29 gallon tank and skimmer had been in operation for several months until I completed a newer (used) 40 gallon breeder with larger DIY skimmer. I'll share that info at some point. The 29 gallon complete with sump and skimmer were sitting in my driveway waiting for their new owner to pick up and I realized I didn't have any photos to share so I grabbed my camera and seized the opportunity.

I have to say the Dasani line of drinking water bottles has become one of my preferences for DIY projects initially due to the fact that the mouth of the bottles fit perfectly over a Maxi-Jet powerhead intake. ... ilter.html

These bottles also are reasonably rigid when empty and hold up very well for aquatic DIY applications.


Drill & bit for 1/2 inch diameter hole (step drill bit was used)
40w soldering iron
handsaw or other tool to cut PVC
masking tape
magic marker

2 Dasani 12oz waterbottles
5 inch section of 1 inch PVC
4 inch PVC cap
1 inch rigid aquarium tube
some gravel
Oatey Cement or silicone
wood airstone
air tubing

Cut about 5 inches of the 1 inch diameter PVC tube then drill two 1/2 inch holes close to one end. One hole will be for airline, the second hole will be for water intake into the skimmer.

Fill the underside of the 4 inch cap with gravel then cement in place. Allow 24 hrs to cure, then turn cap over and cement the 5 inch long 1 inch diameter PVC section to the other side.

With a section of the 1 inch PVC, use a magic marker to outline the diameter of the PVC tube on the bottom of a 12oz water bottle. Then using a 40w soldering iron, cut out the hole taking care to not make the hole too large. The goal is the PVC tube will fit, but will be tight. Next, use the soldering iron again to make a ring of smaller holes all the way around the bottom edge of the bottle. These holes will serve as the water return.

Using masking tape, connect both water bottle caps together so the tops of the caps are touching. Then use the soldering iron to carefully melt the two caps together. Take care not to burn yourself or melt the cap threads. The melted plastic is extremely hot and stays hot for several seconds. After a few minutes, unwrap the masking tape.


Using the soldering iron, cut out the bottom of the other 12oz bottle. Cut a 3 inch piece of the 1 inch rigid aquarium tubing and cement to the inside of the bottle neck. Set aside and allow to cure for several hours. This assembly completes the collection cup for the skimmer.

This image shows how the completed skimmer can be disassembled for easy cleaning with an old toothbrush (for example)

Assembled skimmer

Assembled skimmer in a 5 gallon sump. A piece of acrylic was cut to allow room for the skimmer. The water level in the sump was regulated at just a few inches below the top of the bottom bottle.

This sump design was simple but effective. Instead of baffles, the sump was filled with Chaetomorpha Macroalgae for Nitrate and Phosphate control and a DIY water bottle pre-filter was attached to the sump return pump for mechanical filtration.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 421
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:39 pm
Location: Lawrence, Kansas

Return to Filtration

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest