What is the best bio filter media I’ve used?


First off I’m all about saving money. Do not fall to Media Hype! If you use any of these and you have cycled aquarium with 0 Ammonia 0 nitrites and have some nitrates there is NO need to upgrade. You do not “need” to change bio media as all of these worked. ALL WORKED! In fact, if you used any bio media(even those not listed below) and have those parameters there is no need to change. You may want to change for easier maintenance, but if you’re not struggling there’s no reason to change.

Secondly, In general, this is my experience and what I feel comfortable recommending.

If you are too busy/lazy to read, my favorites are Hydroton(expanded clay balls) and Sponges. And you can skip to down below for why.

I am writing this post because many YouTubers with a few exceptions kinda avoid the question “What is the best bio media?”. Joey “The King of DIY” has a video of his favorites. Mike at DIYaquapros has a video of his favorites. Joey and Mike are out to give you an Idea of what is available for a DIY. But others don’t really go in depth about it because quite frankly it all works.

Pondguru talks about Biohome and gives some convincing reasons why bio home is the best media, based on nitrate reduction. But I have heard a few arguments against his science. But I have never used it, the pricing and availability make it an unwise choice for me.

So, what is bio media? Bio media is the primary the home of beneficial bacteria in an aquarium. Beneficial Bacteria is the engine of the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle is the process of converting ammonia to nitrite and eventually to nitrates. This conversion is important as ammonia and nitrites are toxic to fish. While fish will tolerate nitrates in low levels.

So what makes good bio media?

Many will say surface area and I agree; The more surface area the less media you will need. But if you have the room why should this be the only criteria? As mentioned in my previous post I think many have too much filtration devoted to biological filtration. Even though surface area is important, I believe other criteria should be taken into consideration. Setup-if it is a “DIY” media. Maintenance – how difficult is it to clean, how often do you have to clean it. Durability – will it need to be replaced anytime soon. Overall Value – based on cost.

I’m going to be giving an number from 1 – 10 for each of these categories: Setup, Maintenance, Durability,  Value. The medias below I have tested in either a canister, overhead sump, hob, filter sponge filter and cornerbox.


Generic Pumice gravel (I don’t recommend) – There are a few videos that review Seachem Matrix and some of the negatives were this is just pumice gravel. I have not used Seachem matrix. But if Seachem Matrix is not just pumice gravel, it has to be really nice a premium pumice gravel cause it’s nothing like the generic pumice I purchased. Because I’m so cheap I decide to go to my local nursery and buy a bag of generic pumice gravel and try it out. It may be an issue of brand, but I didn’t have success with the brand I purchased. So if you have to search for a specific brand, I feel that I’d rather just buy another media instead of search for a specific brand/type of pumice gravel.

  1. Setup – 1 – this stuff sucks the size ranges in the bag from sand to maybe 1/4 inch at best. I had to sift it to get the sand out and while sifting a lot of the larger parts broke down further. Eventually I had enough to fill a tray in my canister filter.
  2. Maintanence – 1 – It clogged pretty easily trapping poop and food and overall this stuff was difficult to rinse.
  3. Durability – 1 – The only bio media I have thrown out.
  4. Overall Value – 1 –  I only put it in this blog post to warn people to stay clear. This is very different from matrix. I wish I didn’t follow the negative reviews of Seachem Matrix.


Plastic bio balls – I got these with a combo pack with ceramic rings. Used it in with other media in my canister filter.

  1. Setup – 10 – literally the easiest to rinse
  2. Maintenance – 6 – these are designed not to clog and because for this if it gave the best flow compared to other medias. But because these are designed no to clog my concern would be when rinsed do you wash away a lot of bacteria. Would you go through a mini cycle after rinsing this media. The mini cycle makes this difficult to rate.
  3. Durability – 10 – these are very durable
  4. Overall Value – 7 & 4 – I would use these again depending on filtration method. These are perfect in an emerged filtration such as a trickle tower, shower filter or whatever. In a submerged like a canister I would give this a 4. I feel in canister filter there are other medias that have more surface area and have other advantages.


Ceramic Rings – I got Fluval ceramic rings and cheaper chinese rings in a combo pack. The quality control on the Fluval rings were obviously better there were any broken rings. The cheap rings were cheap many came broken. *Sarcasm Alert* Bacteria tend to shy away from broken ceramic rings lol. Reminder: Bacteria do not care what it’s growing on! Broken or Whole it doesn’t matter to bacteria.

  1. Setup – 9 – Rinse and go not much to say
  2. Maintenance – 8 – These were easy to rinse. These get a higher rating than plastic bio balls just because I feel that the bacteria can cling better to the media making it a little less susceptible to mini cycles.
  3. Durabilty – 10 and 7 – The cheap ones broke and the fluval ones didn’t.
  4. Overall Value – 3 – These are pricier than many of the other medias. I did not throw these away. But in general I found other media with similar performance for much much less.


Lava Rock – In the DIY forums I would say that this is the highest recommend bio media. It’s cheap and modifiable. You can use it as tank decor this stuff works. Joey goes over this in depth on his video.

  1. Setup – 6- Requires a lot of rinsing. It can be broken up into smaller gravel to fit into canister trays.
  2. Maintenance – 6 – This stuff is jagged and catch a lot of debris. but with good mechanical filtration it may be a non issue.  The rough edges has potential to scratch your hands with manual agitation lol. *ouch* and it’s heavy.
  3. Durability – 8 – this stuff is durable as durable as any of the other medias.
  4. Overall Value – 7 – Overall this stuff is cheap and there is a reason why it’s the highest recommended. Yes it has lower setup and maintenance scores than other, but if in a proper set up those become negligible. Would I use it again, I highly recommend it and I have not found a real reason to use anything else.


Hydroton (highly recommended) –  This stuff has a ton of names: Leca(lightweight expanded clay aggregate), Expanded Clay, Clay Pebbles and many more. I think this isn’t recommend as much as lava rock because honestly not many people know about it or even tried it. This stuff is inert and is mainly used in hydroponics and aquaponics grow beds. This stuff is cheap. In fact, my first trial of this stuff was free from a hydroponics shop. This media is regular in shape and a lot of it can fit in a canister tray. Because it has such a regular shape and it can be packed tightly in a filter tray, it has potential for higher surface area than others. Per filter tray it probably has more surface area than lava rock.

  1. Setup – 8 – It’s a slightly lower score than ceramic rings, because it’s dusty and needs to be rinsed. But still gets a high number because it’s easy to clean and it doesn’t need to be smashed like lava rock. Some of it does float a first but once water logged it sinks. I found these to be the perfect size for a lot of application right out of the bag.
  2. Maintenance – 8 – very easy to rinse and no jagged sharp edges like lava rock. It’s lighter than lava rock. So carrying a canister filter filled with this. The round shape lead to less clogging and the round shape made it easy to rinse.
  3. Durability – 9 – it’s lighter than lava rock, but still very durable. And it’s a ceramic media. I haven’t thrown any of it away.
  4. Overall Value – 9 – at about a dollar and change a liter a Sunsun HW-304b canister filter can be filled up for about $6 worth of media. Because it’s originally intend as a hydroponic substrate, this stuff inspires ideas like the aquaponics setups in this blog. I have used it in emerged settings, in a corner box filter, in a canister, in a hob, and in an overhead sump. This is hands down my favorite pure biological media.


Sponge (highly recommended) – Wait… sponges are bio media? Yes! There is a reason why many fishrooms and local fish shop use sponge filters; They are very effective biomedia And mechanical filtration. It’s no secret I love sponge filters, but as strictly a canister filter media; I believe sponges have a lot to offer over other filter media. It may not have the as much surface area as the other media but it has some very interesting properties the other media doesn’t have.

  1. Setup – 9 – Sponges can be cut to fit any canister filter tray, hob on back filter, or any other media compartment. Sponges compress to fill in all the gaps of a the tray etc. creating  no gaps. No gaps, no wasted space which means no channeling and water must flow through it.
  2. Maintenance – 6 – It’s advantage is also it’s disadvantage. Because it has mechanic filtration properties sponge will trap a lot of debris. So it does need to rinsed out often, but in general it very easy to clean.
  3. Durability – 7 – compared to other media sponges may need to be replaced more often. but compared to other mechanical filter media polyfil filter floss this last a very long time.
  4. Overall Value – 9 – Pricing varies on sponges, but because it performs double duty as both mechanical and biological filtration. Sponges are at the top of my list. Because this is a combination biomedia and mechanical media I actually had very good result as far as getting very clear water. As recommended in my previous post I highly suggest sponge prefilters. I’ve used them as baffles in overhead sumps. I’ve seen them used as matten filters, and matten prefilters. Because this is a combination biomedia and mechanical media I actually had very good result as far as getting clear water.

Once again these thoughts in general are based on my experience and what I am comfortable recommending. At the end of the day, If I could have give the beginner me instructions on how to setup a filter. I would have told him use a combination of Polyfil(mechanical media), Sponge(bio/mechanical media), Hydroton(bio media), and Purigen(chemical when needed).




How to Save Money in the Aquarium Hobby. Over-Filtration is Wasted Money.

img_2007First off!

If you have a cycled aquarium with 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites it means your filtration is adequate for your bioload! So you don’t need to “upgrade”! So you don’t need to buy another filter.  There I saved you money!

Over-filtration, cost more money and may have unwanted side effects. There I said it!

I am writing this because there are many people on the internet advocating over-filtration and there are very few opposed. As a naive hobbyist I followed blindly and my first “real” setup was a 55 gallon aquarium with two Sunsun HW- 304b filters and a sponge filter. Yes TWO! large canister filters and a sponge filter. And then I began adding even more upgrading an aquaponics system. I was happy. I had clear water, healthy fish, and getting ton of kudos on facebook groups and forums. I thought I was smart and cool!

Then I saw these videos!

“Aquarium Filtration: Can you have too much?” from the King of DIY and then the video “Freshwater Aquarium Filtration Systems Setup Advice – My take Aquarium Filtration setup” from Aquarium Co-op.

I began to wonder do I need all this over-filtration? Was all this over kill for nothing? And over a year I began to slowly remove filters off my aquarium, all of this occurred over a year.

First step: I removed one canister filter. My water was still clear. I still had zero ammonia and zero nitrites. My electricity bill had a subtle drop. what is also interesting my nitrate production rate slowed slightly.

Second step: My running canister stopped working, actually a fitting came loose. Instead of fixing it I decided to monitor and let my sponge filter do all of the work. I noticed a subtle blip in water parameters and water clarity took longer, but eventually all my water parameters evened out and again I noticed the rate of nitrate build up slowed down. And again, my electricity billed lowered.

Basically I went from two canister filters and a sponge filter down to only one sponge.

So what happened?

My thoughts on what occurred.

Canister filters: Out of sight, out of mind…  Canister filters have a nickname of being called Nitrate Generators. Canister filters collect food and poop in the mechanical portion of the filter. The food stays in your filtration system til the next servicing.  As the food and poop rot they become ammonia and through the nitrogen cycle they eventually become nitrates. Combined with feedings, the rate of nitrate production rate increases over time, until you service your filters.

Bio-Filtration: What are the limiting factors of beneficial bacteria mainly surface area, oxygen, and food source(ammonia and nitrites)? I argue that in most aquariums the main limiting factor is food source. But most of us think it’s surface area.  In Cory’s video he says(paraphrasing) that he’s only seen a few case where fish over population over taxed a properly rated filter system. In my opinion, the only time you need to increase bio filtration is if you have ammonia and nitrites in your water over long periods of time.  Yes when you increase the bioload, sometimes you may experience a slight raise in ammonia and nitrites, but eventually your aquarium will re-find that equilibrium.

How can I use this information to save money and time?

My recommendations.

I argue that mechanical filtration is the unsung hero of aquarium filtration. Most of us spend more money and space to house beneficial bacteria, because it’s the most important. But if are easily able to take out poop and uneaten food out of your system, we would not need as much beneficial bacteria. Moreover, having good mechanical filtration leads to clear water in that most of the time micro particulates are the reason your water isn’t clear.

So when choosing a filter system make sure the mechanical filtration is easily servicable and easy to maintain.  Make sure you can rinse(in tank water) out sponges out and replace filter floss easily. How?

Cory recommends pre-filter sponges. When pre-filter sponges trap food the fish are still able to eat it.  I’ve observed both fry and adult fish nibbling on the food clinging to filters. Also, pre-filter sponges are a good haven for beneficial bacteria.

Think about that a prefilter sponge:

1. makes the filter easier to clean.

2. Gives the filter more biological surface area

3. gives the fish more time to eat food. WOW

The Uarujoey uses sumps and replaces the filter floss every 3 days. That’s right every three days. He’s said it on multiple videos.

I recommend a DIY water polisher. They are small, easy to maintain, and you can use them only when you need them. I have this running one night a week.


I will argue that if you are able to take uneaten food and poop out of your aquarium system the nitrate will build up will be slower. Just because the uneaten food or poop isn’t in your tank, it’s still in your filter decomposing turning into ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. So if you can take these out on a more regular basis you water will be my stable. In other words, if you can clean or replace your the mechanical portion more often and more easily, you will probably need to do less water changes.

Over-filteration is a waste of money! 

So back to the main topic.  Over filtration is a waste of money. Less is sometimes more!

  1. Up front cost
    1. The cost of the filters
    2. The cost of the bigger filter
    3. The cost of  the media for those filters
  2. Electricity
    1. Bigger filters use more power (exception air filters)
    2. More filter use more power
  3. Time is money.
    1. In most cases,the time it takes to clean a smaller filter is less than a larger filter.
    2. More filters means more filters you have to clean.
    3. More filters means more trapped uneaten food and trapped poop in your aquarium system, requiring more water changes over time.

So is it possible you have too much filtration? 

How long is uneaten food and poop staying in your aquarium system? How often do you maintain your mechanical filtration? Do you really need that extra filter?

All this information is from my experience. 


55 gallons when I started

  1. Filtration cost = ~$250
  2. Power consumption:
    1. 65+ watts 24/7


180 gallons gallons now

  1. Filtration cost = ~$120
  2. Power consumption:
    1. 35watts when water when polishers are being used  one night a week
    2. 18 watts normal(just sponge filters)

Aquarium *updates*


Long story short I went through a couple updates on my aquarium in the last year.

As mentioned in a previous post I’m just going to post fast track updates.

I had good success with my aquaponic/pothos plant setup test that probably cost more the the final setup. The water was clear and the plants grew well. I basically had my Canister filter return dumping water into a dry goods container with gravel and a couple Pothos plant. and eventually overflowing into the tank.



I wanted to come up with an all inclusive canopy that:
– was able to contain a good amount of plants.
– didn’t didn’t have the bulk of a canopy.
– could help with a little with bio-filtration.
– could help filter out nitrates.
– possibly grow herbs and other edible plants.

So here’s what I came with.

I really wanted to take advantage of the 1.5 inch Top Trim of the tank and I realized that a two board thickness is would mimic the look of the stand. This gave me about 3 inches of media space if I designed it right. The two boards a 1×8, 1×6, 1×2 cost about $15.

Across the top I cut 10 holes to hold 10 net cups. These cost ~ $.50 each at hydroponics shop. The Net Pots a have a height of 3 inches which was convenient.

In each of the net cups I filled them each with Expand Clayballs aka Hydroton, Hydrocorn(which was free 55 Hydroponics really hooked it up) They are ceramic and I assume would have a very similar surface area as other ceramic media and each ball is pea-sized. They float in case anyone is wondering. I put the pothos plant that I had in the previous set up. But I’ll eventually place herbs and maybe fruits or other plants.

In the back is a crazy a spaghetti, but consisted of a very simple network of vinyl tubes both 3/4″ and 1/4″ and I’m taking advantage of the output of my canister filter. I will get details later if anyone is interested.

The most expensive part was the lights. I bought the multi-color led strip lights that Joey used in his diy aquarium light. I ran them back and forth and used the self adhesive and a two screw to attach them to the wood lid.

For the plumbing network I used a 3/4″ vinyl tubing, 1/4″ tubing, and barbed fittings.
I drilled a hole smaller than the barbed fitting in the 3/4″ tubing and pushing the barbed fitting into the vinyl tubing.
next I attached the 1/4″ vinyl tubing.
After that, I pushed the vinyl tubing in the in the net pots
Lastly I filled the net pots with clay balls
This is a better picture of the network

I capped the 3/4 by folding it over to kink the 3/4″ hose and clamping it down with a zip ties. It’s a little ghetto(why I didn’t take a picture), but it’s a cheap solution. It leaks a little into the tank, but does a good job of forcing the water out the 1/4″ lines. Actually even though the pressure is divided into 10 lines, it is still really high. When I first plugged in the pump/canister, I got it squirting water all over. Luckily, my wife was there helping me plug and unplug the pump/canister filter.

Latest Update:

I bought a couple clamp lights from Ikea to put up on top, just to light the plants at night. Give some ambient light while watching tv and hosting party’s etc.


I had a couple issues with the multi-color led strip lighting.

Because the light strips were connected to my hinged lid, the constant opening and closing cause the lights to wear down the electricals. Obviously these lights were not designed to move a lot. I was actually very annoyed that I had to replace these light already.

In general, the multicolor lights were cool, but truthfully I only used two color settings; The pinkish white(the “pure” white was too blue for me) and a deep blue purple for nighttime(rarely used). I never used the dimming, flashing, or other rave invoking modes. I noticed on a local forum that a lot of people used Beamworks lights that were a little more expensive(but still inexpensive) than the hyper color led strip. I decide to give it a try instead buying another set of led strips. I have found out that sometimes diy isn’t always the best or the cheapest solution.

I removed the hinged door and threw the light on top. not as clean looking as the previous designs but oh well.



I was still not completely satisfied with the light quality, it looked too sterile and kinda boring. Then someone posted, on a facebook group, a tank with a dramatic spot light effect from two possible expensive leds lights. He/she asked how they could achieve this effect without breaking the bank.


I fell in love with the look; Someone on the group jovially said you could get two flashlights and hang them above your tank. I thought about this and well maybe if got a couple flashlights from Costco and wired them up so I didn’t use batteries, I might be able to get the effect. I decided to test it so I grabbed my flash light with batteries walked over to my tank. held the flashlight over and thought that’s pretty cool. Then I noticed the Ikea clamp lights right next to my plant. I felt like a moron, I moved the clamp light over the open top of the tank and got this.


I thought not bad, too yellow though and the fish didn’t look the best. I went to turn on the beamworks light and click the switch to night/blue mode accidentally and holy smokes! Over all it was very dramatic and just freaking amazing.


Here’s more pictures at night. I use the day time mode mostly. But when relaxing with my wife I enjoy this lighting mode best. The lights are nicely vibrant on the fish. Strangely overall the tank feels more natural like a pond at sunset. My wife loves this look as far as an interior design prospective.  It has a great feel. 







I’m excited that I’ll be working on a new new tank in the near future.  Just teasing with the words bar and 8 foot.

I’ve done so much!

Hey Guys,

The HUG project sales went very well.  We made a little over $600 in sales and all of it going to Thailand.


Unfortunately, my blog got pushed to the side. I’m unsure who out there is really following me, but I got a little bit of feed back.  Mainly to post more pictures.

Truthfully, I got really busy. Since starting my new hobbies of fish keeping and furniture making, I’ve received a few request for designs and furniture ideas. My wife has really loved having a husband that can build furniture and has put me to work. I’ll be posting a few more post of “old” stuff with lots of pictures without so much text to quickly catch you up. I really want to blog about current work that I am very excited about.

I’ve really done a lot as you can see. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll see next few days:








Coffee table legs

Option one: Hairpin

So in the DIY world, especially with pallet furniture, the generic thing to do is use hair pin legs. They are often used for mid century modern furniture. Pinterest has a ton of homemade tables that use these.  I think they look okay. But sometimes when the table top is too thick the spindly legs look a little too thin. Kinda reminds me of those muscle builders that skip leg day. I will use them on a future project, but for now I wanted to come up with something a little less expensive and more clever.


Option two:

I started looking around the garage and noticed. I had jack stands for cars. I thought it looked fun! But several people didn’t agree with me. I would have finished them so they didn’t just look like I used jack stands. Maybe strip the paint  or just paint them black. But at around $20 bucks a pop and the fact that I’d lose my jack stands. It wasn’t the most efficient. So on to other ideas.


Option three: Threaded pipe.

Just as common as hairpin legs are threaded pipe. Personally I love the look. I have always dreamed of living in a home with exposed pipes. Dream became reality when we moved in to our loft as it has lots of exposed fire sprinkler pipes throughout the place. I thought it would look great. But I’ve used threaded pipe in the past on my fish tank stand and it’s surprisingly expensive.


Option 4???

I did not have an option 4. I flipped through my sketch book hoping there was something I drew in the past, but came up empty. I drove to HD walked down the aisle seeing if there was something that would conjure up an idea. I knew I wanted to incorporate pipe/metal. While walking down the electrical aisle I noticed that electrical conduit was fairly reasonably priced and mildly sturdy. So how do I incorporate this into the design? I sat outside sketching out different ways.  AVKU6399What if I took a 1×4 with drilled a hole in it then stuck the pipe in it, yeah but it’ll pop out the other end. What if I put something behind it so it does not pop out like another 1×4. What if it’s a two 1×3 instead?  What what if it was 3 1x3s ? What if it was 2 1×4 and a 1×3? What if.. what if..  three dozen sketches or so later!  YES!!! That will be sweet!

I walked back into HD with a Mission.

Hairpin legs Photo Credit

Coffee Table: Donkey’s first cut.

As far as this project was concern the design was very off the cuff. I had a basic idea of what size I wanted the table to be, by measuring the area of the space. Also I had a few ideas for key design elements that I wanted to include. One key element was a mitre joints to to minimize end grain.  But not much else was necessary for the design.

The previous owner left a weird shelving unit behind which was made of unfinished 1×4 red oak. To this day my wife and I can’t figure out how it was used. The former owner decorated the home in a very fun yet masculine manner. It had the somewhat modern minimal style, yet used skateboard decks for decoration, and had a eclectic lamp/chandelier made of wine bottles lamp.  The shelf was in the closet, so my a realistic assumption was the owner had a very extensive watch collection.  But I would like to believe that the former owner was a closet Precious Moments collector.


I’m not one for waste and the shelf was made of excellent wood that will make a good coffee table. Dead blow hammer in hand, I quickly got to taking the shelf apart. Constructed with glue and nails, it took a lit bit of effort to dismantle the shelf and keep the wood in good shape. I noticed that the wood broke before the glue broke, this made me snicker a bit. It’s common to hear “the wood will break before the glue breaks”  and it was cool to see the theory in person.

At this point, I had about 14 of 2 foot lengths of 1×4 red oak. I laid out the planks of wood side by side. Redwood is very beautiful, but I was not feeling the top all being the same wood.  I got to sketching out a basic layout and headed to HD to get some wood.  I got some 1×4 poplar and some 1×4 pine.  I cut some pieces to size and laid the pieces randomly.


It was cool cause this was the first time I got to use Donkey! Donkey is the sliding compound mitre saw that my father-in-law gave me. The saw needed a lot work and so he just gave it to me. Moving the head up and down the saw gave a loud HEE HAW, HEE HAW.  The saw had a personality, it deserved a name, and Donkey seemed appropriate. The saw worked fine, just needed some WD-40 and maybe he’ll a get a new blade soon. Along with donkey, I used my unnamed table saw(for mitered cuts), and a finishing nail gun with the compressor to run it.

Laying out the red oak, poplar and pine planks out randomly. I quickly shifted to a pattern that looked like a pack of fruit stripe gum, it finally ended with a “design”. Everything came together rather quickly except for the sanding part. The table is somewhat flat.  The quick process lead to a crudeness that is refreshing and fun. Somehow woodworking seems natural to me. I’m unsure if it was because of watching my dad with his numerous projects around the house, building lots of ikea furniture, or building toothpick bridges from Troy High School.  This is fun, now on to table legs.


**I know a lot of people want more pictures and my apologies,  This blog was an after thought, but on newer projects tons of picture are being taken. Stay tuned!

Precious Moment photo credit

Art Walk – Sept 19th

My community has a monthly art walk/business open house Santiago Art District.  It’s one of the many reasons I love the community I live in.

In the past,  I’ve had different types of artists including Photographers, Woodworkers, and Ceramic Artists.  I like to keep it changing so every month it’s different.  I will also often host swing dancing in the courtyard, which includes a free lesson from me as well.

This month, we will be selling some goods to support the efforts of our friend Heather Askew in Thailand.  My wife met Heather in India while filming a drama/documentary which focused on human trafficking in India.  This was a very difficult film shoot and many of the crew walked away as different people, including my wife and Heather.  Heather left her career in film making to move to Thailand to work with an anti-trafficking organization, The HUG Project, which is part of the Family Connection Foundation. One of the biggest things that prevents kids from being trafficked is education, so the Family Connection Foundation started Education Matters, providing scholarships to the poorest and most vulnerable children in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  The proceeds from this month’s sales will go directly into this scholarship fund. To learn more about how you can give directly to the various anti-trafficking efforts of the Family Connection Foundation, visit www.thaiconnections.org

We have some beautiful goods such as wallets/checkbooks, whistles, t-shirts, pillowcase covers, kick boxing shorts, purses, and fisherman pants.


Here’s a picture of the first time we sold Thai items in the gallery.

To help promote this blog and the HUG Project, the first three people to share this blog on Facebook and tag me in the post, will receive one free item from the sale. (Don’t worry these items will be purchased by my wife and I, feel free to share and let me know you don’t want anything.)

Location: https://www.facebook.com/SantiagoArtWalk?fref=ts

What do I build first?

I was excited to use my new tools, and I had the itch to build something.  Also, I knew my wife thought I’d never use all these tools that I purchased, so I thought, “I’ll show her”…

Weeks ago, my wife and I went to a furniture store to see a coffee table that she liked.  I saw the table and I agreed it was a pretty nice.  I liked the look and style of the table; it was industrial modern. The size was a little wrong for our space and our custom sofa, but in general, the quality was good, the style was good, and the price was $450!

Around the same time that we were looking at furniture, Jeff and I had just finished the aquarium stand.  I already had the creativity bug.  I was already looking into buying tools.  And $450 dollars was enough to buy the many tools I believed we would need.  I felt bad because I had to say no. My wife has very beautiful eyes that always made it difficult to say no to her. But I gave her all the reasons and, because she’s logical, it all made sense to her.  But I knew what she was thinking: “GAH! I’m never getting a nice coffee table!”

I still feel bad saying no to my wife.  She barely ask for anything.  She lives modestly. She only really buys things on sale.  So I had to make her one that I knew she’d love.

Our coffee table…


We gave the old coffee table away to Goodwill. Here’s a picture of it with Louis (in his cone of shame), my wife, and Winnie our neighbor’s Corgi.

Tools! Thanks Dan!

So after working with Jeff to build the aquarium, I got the bug.  I started to research what I wanted and needed to get going.  I searched craigslist and everything was over priced or not in good condition.  Then my wife got news that her Mom and Dad were selling their home.  This was a shock, considering all the hard work her Dad put into build their dream home.  They were doing it to downsize,  as the home was just too big for the empty-nesters that they have become.  As my wife and her Dad talked about the move, he began to talk about selling a lot of their stuff, in particular, his tools.  Next thing I knew, I was on the phone with Dan talking about his tools and made arrangements to pick them up.

It was a win-win situation for the both of us.  I knew I could trust that the condition of the tools were what he said they were, and I also got a good deal on the price.  He knew that the tools were going to a good home and he’d be able to borrow them if he ever needed them in the future. I picked up my new tools, which included an air compressor, nail gun, table saw, mitre saw, jigsaw, and circular saw.

In general, this was a good way for me to start.  I trusted the source of the tools.  There are better tools out there, but these tools were good enough to build a house – a very beautiful house at that – and these are perfect for the “weekend wood worker” like myself.

Dan and Baby

I don’t have good pictures of the tools, nor do I have a good picture of myself and Dan.  So, I offer this picture of Dan, with me in the background caught trying to steal my very cute niece Claire. 😉