Friday, August 26, 2016

DIY - Wine Barrel Ecological Fountain with Bog Filter


Two halves of a wine barrel work as fountain. Bottom tank has fish, preferably ones that can eat mosquito larva to prevent mosquito hatching, and a pump that raises water to the upper part. Upper half is used as tank for bog filter - pvc pipe with holes, through which, water with organic waste from fish in the bottom tank flows in. Upper tank is filled with small pebbles, which collect the waste and on which water plants, such as water lilies grow. Another smaller pump pours the water from bottom tank through a thin pipe into a Champagne bottle with a hole, which sprinkles the water out. Optionally a pipe from irrigation system, can add water to the barrel, controlled by automatic water level control valve, when water evaporates, to keep water level constant.

Bog filter enhancement goes to Ohad Hageby.


  1. Most common question I get is where to get a wine barrel? Get a list of local wineries around you, call them one by one (may take some time) and ask for used wine barrels. If nobody has used barrel for sale, repeat the call cycle in a few months. Wineries use barrels for at most 2-3 cycles, and eventually has to get rid of them. Typical cost in Israel is 50-70$. Best chance to find a barrel for sale, is around time, when wine is bottled, to vacate the barrels for new grapes. In Israel this happens around September-October, but it can be earlier or later depending on the climate region you are in.
  2. Get 2 pumps - one main & one secondary. Main pump should be stronger at least 1500 L/h, 2nd can be weaker 600 L/h. Make sure both are 12V based. Insulating 220V for outdoor location is more complex & dangerous. You can order from AliExpress for around 20$ each.
  3. PVC pipes and connectors - buy in local installation shop or via AliExpress – 40$.
  4. Two IPv68 led lamps - you can get both in AliExpress, for around 10$ each.
  5. You would need a power source near fountain. Best is 12V, if you have 220, get a power adapter.
  6. Photocell - 2$ on AliExpres to turn the lamps on automatically
  7. Audio-speaker wires, to connect pipes & lamps to electricity - they are semi-transparent, less visible. – 5$
  8. Big champagne bottle to put on top of bog tank, and a small bottle for a nozzle
  9. Sillicon RTV for sealing the nozzle – 10$ in AliExpress.
  10. Yacht Varnish & a brush to protect the barrel from sun & rain – 20$
  11. Fish & Plants – your choice – around 30$.
Total bill of materials – around 230$


  1. Disk or jack saw or to cut the barrel
  2. Wood grinder to clean the barrel wood
  3. Metal disk to cut the bottle for the nozzle
  4. Wood rasp to fit the hole for the nozzle
  5. Teflon tape for pipe connectors insulation
  6. 4 heatshrink tubes for insulation of the wires under rain (you can use regular insulation tape instead as well)
  7. Round drill – radius of the bottle for the nozzle
  8. Diamond coated drill for sprinkling hole in champagne bottle

Construction Steps

1. Barrel

  1. Cut the barrel into two halves
  2. In the upper tank, 20cm below the rim, drill round hole diameter of the bottle for the nozzle. Sealing is tricky, so try to make the hole as close to bottle diameter as possible. Better make it a bit smaller, and then widen till close fit with a wood rasp.
  3. Clean the barrels using wood grinder - start with 100 sand paper, then move to 300.
  4. Cover with 3 layers of Yacht varnish outside only.
  5. Don’t cover the inside with varnish – allow wood to absorb the water and be wet, to prevent it shrinking and starting leak water. Wine barrels are made from quality oak, they would not rot even for hundred years.
  6. Put a plank as a horde on top of each tank, and set upper half of the barrel on top of the bottom. Its weight will keep it stable, no need to fix it.

2. Upper tank Water Nozzle

  1. Cut the bottom of the smaller bottle using metal disk. Do it carefully – it can cut glass very well, but make sure you water the bottle before.
  2. Fit the bottle into the hole. For sealing, I initially tried regular silicon, but it didn't held water under pressure and started leaking, leaving an ugly trail on the wood very quickly. RTV silicon was the solution for perfect sealing & no leakage.

3. Electric wiring

  1. Pumps – should be always on – connect their wires to 12V power source. If you have 220V power source, get a power adapter. It is much safer to use 12V pumps (there are 220V pumps), as in case outside temperature or anything else damages the wire, 220V & water is a receipt for disaster.
  2. Leds – put a photo cell, between leds, and the source, so that lights will turn on automatically in the dark. In my garden I already have photocell controlled 12V wiring, around entire garden, so I just connected my leds to it. 
  3. Add electric switch before the photo cell (to turn lights off, when you are away from home for a long time) and separate switch for pumps, in case maintenance is needed. to turn them off, They may get clogged and you need to remove the dirt. It should not happen more often than every few months, if you place them in proper locations inside the fish tank.

4. PVC tubes for bog filter

  1. There are many instructions on Internet how to construct bog filter. For example - 
  2. Build a a think pipe, that will take the water with waster from bottom tank & disperse it in the upper tank, through holes in PVC. A good design is to make a round pvc pipe around bottom of the bog tank, with the big holes, cut with a disk to 1/3 of the pipe, for water dispersion.
  3. It is advised to leave upper end of the pipe above the water closed by cap. You can use it to clean the pipes by connecting garden horse, once a few years, if pipe clogs with waste over time.
  4. You can paint the pipe using color spray to make them less visible.
  5. Connect the stronger pump to the PVC inlet in the fish tank. Inlet should be near the bottom of the tank, where all waste sinks, as it needs to soak the waste and pump it to bog tank.

5. Sprinkling Champagne Bootle on the top

  1. Drill a hole in the champagne bottle with diamond coated drill. Do it slowly. Bottle may break – it may take you a few attempts. Make sure to take a break, between drinking the contents of the bottle & the drilling :).
  2. Connect smaller pump with a thin irrigation pipe and push it through champagne bottle, so that water will sprinkle through the bottle. Put the bottle into a bucket, so that it will create an angle.
  3. Screw the smaller pump to the side of the bottom tank in the middle, farther from the junk sinking to prevent thin pipe clogging, the pump shouldn't soak the waste in. 

6. Lamps

  1. Install a led lamp in each tank. Note that underwater lamps are way more expensive than regular waterproof IP68 ones, so a simpler method would be to put leds above the water inside the barrels, near the rims, with lamp pointing towards the water.
  2. Connect wires of the lamps & the pumps to the audio wires going towards power source. Insulate the wiring with heatshrink tubes, or regular insulation tape.

7. Water evaporation

  1. There will be quite a strong water evaporation from the main pump, especially during hot days. In our climate in the summer it looses around 5l per day. You can add water manually every few days.
  2. An alternative method is a water line (like for fridge kiosk), controlled by automatic water level valve.

That’s it – turn the fountain on, and let it run.

Put the fish, and plant the water flowers. Remember that, when you plant flowers into bog, do remove the plastic pot, to let the roots access the water with waster pumped from the fish tank.

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