Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I have been working with air lifts in Aquaponics and wondering if anyone else is trying them. 

We first tried the air lifts to deal with a problem of theft at school locations. Submersible pumps were being stolen regularly. So we put the air pump in the class room, a super quiet model, and ran the air line out the upper window to the fish tank. We had to invent our own pump because we could not find a commercial model.

If anyone is interested I will email them our manual for building several models.

Some of the advantages are....much less electricity. 

The piping does not clog, like the filters on submersible pumps or external leaf filters.

The air lift picks up the fish solids and pumps them to the cinder bed were the Indian Blue worms eat the fish waste.

There is NO electricity in the water.

Since the air pump is located inside the building or a dry location, no GFI outlet is required.

The air pump super aerates the fish water on its way to the cinder. Most of our systems have no additional air pumps or air stones. 

We have never cleaned or had to clear a air lift pump. No clogs. 

The air lift is not bothered by sand or corrosive salt water or gritty water. Since we use volcanic cinder that gets sanded, this is a big deal.

We are pumping 150 gallons of water with 24 watt air pump, 24 inches high.

with a 38 watt, I can pump 300 gallons per hour at 24 inches head, and at 36 inches head only drop down to 200 gallons per hour. 

I will post some pictures ASAP.


Glenn Martinez

Views: 17667


You need to be a member of Aquaponic Gardening to add comments!

Join Aquaponic Gardening

Comment by Le Sellers on July 19, 2013 at 10:54am

Aloha, Glenn!

You may not remember meeting Jacquie and me on the bus in Denver last year, but we remember you fondly.


We finally have our system up; up but not running. The problem (aside from a heart attack in late March) is getting water up 14' from the fish tank (surface) to the grow beds. I recall your saying that you have raised water at least 30', so I figured half that wouldn't be a problem — turns out, I was wrong.


I've tried (obviously poorly) to adapt your air lift system to our REALLY tight situation. All the dimensions are small: height (the water is only 2½' deep; but the lift required is 5 times that), width (we have about 3½' to work with left-to-right), and depth (front-to-back, we have only 4" above the water line, and 2' below it). The fish tank itself is 9'x9'x3'. Above the tank and below the grow beds, we have 3' where we raise rabbits. There are two levels of grow beds, each 11½'x 2¾'x12" with an NFT gutter above that (all duplicated on either side of our greenhouse — it gets COLD in Colorado).


We have two (redundant systems) 100 LpH Matala air pumps, running through ½" garden hose to the bottom of the fish tank and into the 2" pipework/valve assembly. It has failed to raise water more than 4½' in 1", ¾" or even ½" riser pipes. (It does push one huge bolus of water well past the air escape at the top, but that's the last we see of water that high.) Up top, I built your 45° offset air escape assembly per the diagram/instructions. Down below, I used 2" pipe (including the one-way valve), but I had to use 90° elbows because of the limited vertical space. If that means the pump won't work, I can rebuild that section, but there doesn't seem to be any reason my adaptation isn't working. Of course, I can't see how any of it is the problem, but a problem there is.


If you (or anyone else reading this) can give me a pointer or two, I'd really appreciate the help. We are perplexed beyond description and frustrated past breaking. Not saying this caused the heart attack, but, hey!, it could not have helped.  And, naturally, any answer received last week would be the most use...


All the best,


Comment by Chris Carr on March 29, 2013 at 7:38am
Comment by ROBERT RATLIFF on March 29, 2013 at 6:35am

I could not find the drawings on the proposed site - I wonder if anyone can re-send them out or redirect me to where they can be found?


Get back to me when you can. Or if anyone else has the infor please contact me.

Comment by Chris Carr on March 3, 2013 at 6:15pm
Comment by d. salvatore on March 3, 2013 at 10:28am

I could not find the drawings on the proposed site - I wonder if anyone can re-send them out or redirect me to where they can be found? 

I messed up sending a friend request to you, Glenn, I didn't add a message. 

Get back to me when you can. Or if anyone else has the infor please contact me.

Comment by Jose IV Hubilla on February 28, 2013 at 8:55am

can I get a copy of the design? thanks

Comment by Joe Flores on January 25, 2013 at 1:26am

Glen, thanks for the tour  yesterday I wasn't expecting to see and get as much as I did you could say it was a information overload. Thanks for your encouragement and enthusiasm it was contagious, when would it be possible  to get you over for a consultation or would you prefer me come back to learn how to build a air lift?

Comment by Chris Carr on January 19, 2013 at 9:40pm

Any update on selling the plans? 

Comment by Glenn Martinez on November 17, 2012 at 12:56am

I can post some pictures, but we are applying for a patent, and do not want to screw that up.

On the patent we only reserve the manufacturing rights and allow individuals to make their own, and we will be selling plans etc. to make it easy for folks. Should all happen within the next week. We have 14 patents we are going for, so it is a lot of work.


Comment by Dennis Glover on January 6, 2013 at 1:57pm
Anyone have a suggestion as to what I can use on the air connection to a demo air lift setup? This is the point were the water hose connects to the PVC pipes. I can seem to get an it tight connection. I'm using a swiveling fitting in order to be able to take to hose apart easily to move the setup to the actual larger system once I get everything setup. Anyone have any insight or suggestions?
Comment by Glenn Martinez on November 17, 2012 at 9:51am

The air pump is used to LIFT water. It excels in lifting dirty water, full of solids, fish poop etc. 

But we use in in the Philippines to lift clean city water up to water towers over thirty feet high.

If the city water pressure or a small pump can lift the water 8 to 12 feet , our air pumps take it from there to the height desire. If no city or water pressure and no electric pump, we use air displacement pumps to give the 8 to twelve foot of head needed.  This fills the water tank using less energy, smaller pump and quickly in the range of 600 gallons an hour. Once you have pumped the water clean or dirty to a height, then you can use it at will. NFU, fill a bio filer, have pressure to clear fillers, fill reservoirs ...what ever. The unique thing of our air pumps is they can drain a container to zero, and we know on air pump in the world that can pump to zero. 

© 2021   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service