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you can use a piece of women's nylon over the filter grate, or they make sponge tip for filter intakes

the only negative of the sponge tips, is they clog up, & require cleaning much more often than the filter does, but they are reusable just like the sponges on a sponge filter or other hang on tank filter... just squeeze them out in tank water... you often find adults & babies alike feeding on the sponges or mesh over the filter intake

I know you're in the UK, but this is similar to what I'm talking about... I sure similar are available there...
I didn't know that, I'll have a look for a sponge tip. Thank you 😊
I do need to buy a sponge filter I think. In the short term, I'll probably attach a mesh around the filter tube. I tried a fabric cutting from a laundry bag but I think it was too thick as the filter wasn't picking up anything and I quickly had to do a major water change last week. Thankfully, everybody survived

You can also use a coarse sponge that you cut to make an intake cover.

It's the best. But even these have to be rinsed couple times a week. To maintain a good flow.
The babies are here! The babies hatched 3 days ago. I'd modified the filter just in time and already did a 30% water change the day before so I'll not have to do another one for at least a week - will just keep an eye on parameters. I didn't add a nursery box in the end. They are hiding in a moss ball so I haven't actually seen them in 48 hours, is this normal? The guppys and ottos didn't bother with them when they were out and about to start with and I've kept everyone well fed so I don't think they've been eaten. Fingers crossed anyway.

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