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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 Leo White Bear on January 10, 2016 at 10:11pm


Could I please get the info you have on the air-pumps.  Sounds fantastic.



Comment by Bill Gann on January 10, 2016 at 1:13pm
I would love the plans!

Comment by Richard Lobwein on December 29, 2015 at 6:10pm

Hi Glenn. I am a newbie but ready to set up an aquaponics project from scratch. I would love to build one of your air-lift-pumps. Would you be willing to send me a copy of your manual? 

Many thanks.


Comment by Glenn Martinez on April 13, 2014 at 5:46pm  

I posted a new YouTube on the subject of Siohons. I will shoot another one on the bottom portion of our siphons, they start on as little as a cup of water, the most minimum flow we have ever seen, and never have runaway, not breaking.....I will try to shoot it later today. The futrie of commercial aquaponics is electrical control. For home systems, or folks with limited electrical....siphons rule.


Comment by Glenn Martinez on April 12, 2014 at 10:44am

I recommend that everyone go watch a FREE webniar that University of Hawaii shot and published on our Olomana Gardens air pumps. Shows many different models......

Comment by Glenn Martinez on April 11, 2014 at 4:32pm

We were in American Samoa, where 1/2 inch water hose was as large as we could get. Had to re-engineer and run 3/4 PVC pipe 50 feet out in the garden and then a short hose to the fish tank and air lift pump. 

Back home we tried a set up of a fish tank on the ground, 20 inches of water depth, a 350 gallon per hour water pump, submersible, ran water in 3/8 tubing, 1/2 tubing, 5/8 tubing and 3/4 inch tubing. Pumped to three feet above fish tank water level. Got 120 gph,155 gph, 180 gallon per hour and finally 250 gallon per hour. We fill a five gallon bucket, and time it. Such that is bucket fills in 2 min. 60 min in hour divided by 2 minutes is 30 x 5 gallon or 150 gph. If you look up the resistance for air lines and friction, it is just as dramatic. As pressure and volume increase, the resistance increases. 

Comment by Alex Veidel on April 11, 2014 at 2:45pm

Yeah, I've followed your advice really is a good way to go. Being able to unscrew the pump and use it for different applications is great :) Hakko pumps seem to do their job, but I haven't compared them to anything else as of yet.

Comment by Glenn Martinez on April 11, 2014 at 10:09am

Hakko 40 and 60 watt pumps are my foavorites.

The 3/4 is the ONLY way to go. Major difference in air and in water pumping. We use nothing else. Trick: when we buy a air compressor or a water pump, we immediately install and adapter, normally 6 inches of hose that will fit the output of the air pump, secure with a stainless steel hose clamp, and at the other end of the hose, we install a MALE hose repair end. On our air lines, they are rigged with TWO FEMALE ends. Whatever air stone, air diffuser or air lift pump we are powering is plumbed with a PVC 3/4 inch slip to HOSE male fitting. Easy to screw on the female hose fittings on to male fixed ends. Hose fitting handle 40 to 60 psi of water, and hold air with no problem. We can change a pump in the dark with NO TOOLS! When experimenting with different size pumps etc, 

Comment by David on April 10, 2014 at 8:19pm

no need to change just modify.  Willing to help, but need to see what you have.


Comment by Leo White Bear on April 9, 2014 at 8:46pm


  You stated that you emptied 25% of the water and still have a reading of 8.0.  Stupid question but, did you replace that 25% of water you removed??  If so I would doanother 25% water change and take another reading.  You only need to have 3 - 5ppm ammonia so you have quite a ways to go.  You may have lost the bacteria that you attracted but for this 5-day period, you didn't loose much.  After you do the changes, let your system run a few hours to "rinse off your media.  If you do a water change and immediatly check the ppm of ammonia you will get a false reading as your system will accumulate the ammonia that is in your media, and drain it into your FT.  Be patient and you will finally get the ammonia levels to an acceptable level.  Now you have learned what NOT to do and next time you will get it right.  A capfull of ammonia goes a long way, don't rush things.

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