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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

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Comment by Don Stark on October 10, 2012 at 3:13pm


Please send me a copy of your plans for the airlift pumps, they are very impressive

btw, I have relatives in Lanaki, just down the hill from you'all

Be Blessed


Comment by halemart on September 29, 2012 at 7:24pm

I built one of these systems today.   Not exactly to spec, but did lift water up higher than I have had before in my 2 inch pipe.    Used check valve from Lowes and a 40 watt air pump.     I did not drill a hole in the wall as shown in diagrahm but put the base of the pump in the bottom of the tank   I am wondering if the system might be improved by putting a check valve for the air, or perhaps an air tank to smooth out the demand for air.    At present thinking thru if I could take a standard air compressor and regulate it down to give the same pressure for an extended period of time.    Was wondering how long a scuba tank would run the system....

Comment by halemart on September 29, 2012 at 4:14am

I went ahead and emailed the people on this list who requested the file, but again the link below worked for me this morning for others who want Glenns pdf.

Comment by halemart on September 29, 2012 at 4:03am

Ok, guys I could not sleep this morning, so I figured out how to get Glenn's file.

Here is a direct link




Comment by halemart on September 29, 2012 at 2:51am

Posting a picture I found on the net of this setup.     Looks very interesting.   I have built other airlift pumps before but not one that has a check valve.    I hope we can get the file attached here to one of these messages both Silvia's and Glenn's links just take me back to the home page.   

I am wondering what type of check valve you need to use?     I have been looking and there are several listed on Amazon curious if one works better than another.

Heres the pic:

Comment by Terri Mikkola on September 27, 2012 at 5:57pm

Here's a video showing how to make the air lift. It's in French The pvc pipe and fittings sizes are in metric and as far as I know there's isn't a distributor in the US. 

Comment by halemart on September 27, 2012 at 2:38pm

Terri Mikkola,

I am interested in your plans.   Thanks.

Comment by halemart on September 27, 2012 at 2:33pm

WOW,  this is what I have been working on for several months,  yes!   Please send me the manual

Have made 3 airlift pumps but want to see this design.

Comment by Chris Carr on September 27, 2012 at 1:46pm

Yes, makes sense for a commercial raft system if you can get the fish tank and the rafts level with each other. Should be quite efficient too.

Comment by Terri Mikkola on September 27, 2012 at 1:32pm

@Chris, yes, the lift is only a few inches. If I had a way to test it, I would play around with different elevations to see what type of output I could get. I think this is a great option for commercial systems.

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