IMP micro canister filter
product design
Project summary

When you mention aquariums, most people think of large panoramic tanks exceeding 50 gallons. My obsession is with the teeny, tiny tanks of less than 3.

As with any tank, water parameters are crucial. Tiny is more challenging because of the small volume. There's less room for error. Water quality can go toxic in a heartbeat, costing the lives of your valuable livestock in as little as a few hours.

Tiny tanks have limited filtration options too. Hang on and internal power filters like the Rio Mini 90 are affordable and get the job done for the average Betta bowl. But as an enthusiast who has invested in rare plants and exotic livestock, I wanted more. Canister filters are the way to go. They're more efficient and do a better job keeping things neat and stable.

When you've spent months nurturing your planted tank into a true work of art it goes without saying that having an attractive filtration system designed just for your Tiny can't be too much to ask.

Evidently it is, so I decided to design one myself.


Price: Good canister filters are expensive. Most start at around $100 US and up, with the ADA Super Jet ES-2400 topping out at an eye-watering $1460.00.

Complexity: For the novice user and seasoned veteran alike, a simple, easy to use filtration system is key to consistent tank maintenance.

Filter Media: Many filter systems use their own proprietary media set-ups, which locks the hobbyist into using a specific brand. IMP's brand neutral approach lets you customize your filter media and where it sits in the flow tree. That's more flexible and cost-effective.

Size: Relative to nano tanks, most canister filters are huge. Their flow rates are not designed for small water volumes.

Visual Appeal: Whether its a hang-on, power filter or external canister, let's face it most aren't that pleasing to look at.


• IMP is a compact, affordable filtration unit that's easy to set up and maintain

• IMP provides the superior filtration of a standard canister, with adjustable flow rates designed specifically for small water columns

• IMP lets you create your own media combinations to suit your tank's needs

• IMP is super cute

Planted Nano Tank

canister exploded view

From manufacturing to the end user experience, IMP was designed with simplicity in mind.

The elegant stacking configuration makes cleaning a breeze – just wipe it down and reassemble. The media basket and trays slide out easily for quick filter replacement. Finally, the leak-proof canister components are triple o-ring sealed with a rugged silicone strap that securely holds everything in place.

IMP comes with two durable stainless steel lily pipes with built-in suction cups that firmly anchor them to the glass. The pipes also come with color coded plastic rings for easy in/outlet hose identification.


The Canister Components
canister power head components


Aside from the hoses, motor, and strap, the cap components can be easily prototyped using standard off-the-shelf plastic tubing, or can be 3D printed. The impeller motor is a standard 12 volt unit used by several hang-on filters. They're inexpensive and readily available.

canister filtration components


The clear canister body and media components can also be prototyped using standard off-the-shelf tubing from Tap Plastics. The blue plastic tray screens were sourced through Amazon. had the best price for the canister graphic.

shell photos

The IMP filter is a closed external canister system that provides continuous water flow throughout the aquarium.

The powerful 12 volt impeller motor draws the old water to the inlet port where it travels down the canister body and is drawn up through the three filtration trays.

The filtered water is then returned to the tank via the outlet port.

tank flow
The IMP closed system eliminates water evaporation common with open hang-on filters. Plus the included lily pipes lets you decide where to place them for optimum circulation in your tank.

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