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getting water higher using air pumps.

Jon has the right idea, dig a well or resovoir that is capped at the bottom.

We find 4 to eight feet is great. 

It takes 1/2 PSi per foot of depth to get the air lift started. After the air is displacing the water, the water is lighter and it takes less air. A 5 psi pump is the strongest we have ever used. 5 psi will inject air in at 10 foot depth. 

We use TWO inputs on heights over 20 foot. 

Dig the well to say four foot, pump the water to 8 foot, add another air injector.

At the top, you MUST have a air/water separator to get the value of the pump.

If a 1/1/4 inch riser (inside a 2 inch well head) we have reducer, two inch to THREE inch. Extend the three inch pipe up to three feet. Have the 1 1/4 inch riser enter the three inch up above the exit point , such that the water falls down in the three inch and exits out the tee fitting. The three inch just allows air to throw the water to the side, such that it does NOT fall back down the 1 1/4 riser. 

Cut the top of the 1 1/4 ich riser and insert two two inchs of flat plastic (cut from a five gallon bucket) such that the water sprays to the side and fall down.

I can pump 24 foot high with 300 gallons per hour with two 150 watt air pumps.

mostly I just use two 60 watt pumps for a 150 gallon per hour flow.

Depends on what you need. Note, I am pumping VERY dirty water that would NEVER clear a mechanical submersible pond pump. And I am using MUCH less electricity.



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Comment by Randy on August 15, 2013 at 7:42am

I would like to see some pictures showing construction details. Do you know of a good place to look?

Comment by Averan on August 14, 2013 at 4:39pm

fish on the ground, beds on the roof...that's an interesting application!

Did you consider installing pumps externally in locked boxes? If so, why was that not an option for you?

The point about not having any possible electrical current in the water is a good one, especially when you're forced to hire certified outside specialists to install a simple GFCI.

Regarding filters, I was talking more about swirl, radial flow and settling tanks. I've got cinder beds too and the sand they produce is not a problem. In fact, it settles out in several places before it gets to the pump.

If I could get an airlift/geyser pump to move enough water to trigger auto siphons in multiple beds then I might consider it.

Thanks for the additional info! :)

Comment by Glenn Martinez on August 14, 2013 at 4:07pm

Here in Hawaii and many other places, we have bio-filters with volcanic rock, cinder, gravel and material that breaks down causes wear on our pumps. Most of the submersible under $200 pumps using less than 150 watt, have not lasted a year. Excessive wear from the solids. 

Next is folks are putting filters to protect their pumps! The finer the filter, the better the protection, but can result in the chore of daily cleaning....and daily cleaning just does not seem to happen, so folks use filters that let some stuff thru, and we reduce the cleaning to weekly....yet, to often, that does not happen. I keep visiting aquaponic systems with VERY slow flow, and it is clogged pumps!  On our air pumps, I have run for over a year and not cleaned them, and all my fish solids are removed from the fish tank and put in the bio-filter where I want them.

Next is the issue of schools and public places, simply put, we have have suffered pumps being stolen. In many parts of the world, anything left outside is a GIFT. Goodbye.

Safety, We put aquaponic systems in public and private schools, and commercial operations.....triggering the need fro GFI, Ground Fault Interrupers, and the need to hire licensed electrical contractors, often charging as much as the cost of the demo system! 

So now we install the quiet air pump in the classroom, run a 3/4 hose out the window or eve, and switch to 1"PVC if long run, and shallow trench (to avoid the lawn mower and trip hassle), and avoid safety concerns, false tripping and expense. Plus, who needs to see a kid picking up a submersible pump via the electrical cord.

I would make a statement that there is no mechanical water pump in the contest of aeration. All the trickle and falling water slash aeration can be accomplished by either mechanical or aeration, yet we take 3ppm water and increase it to 7.0 in ONE cycle thru the aeration pump. 

We are doing more and more roof top gardens...where the fish are on the ground floor and the aquaponics is on the second floor roof. Air pumps do it, no problem, electric pumps get real expensive, and over 5 amps when you go over 20 foot. 5 amps x 120 volt is 600 watts, and I do it for half the cost of electrical, and move dirty water, and nobody is going to steal my pumps. 

In years to come, aeration / air pumps with make inroads to replacing the mechanical submersible pumps.

Food for thought.


Comment by Averan on August 14, 2013 at 3:15pm

except in extremely dirty water situations, I don't think airlifts are better than a good water pump.

300 watts to pump 300gph!! Ok, granted that is at a 24ft head, but how many systems need to pump that high?

All of the other geyser pump/airlift tests I've seen fail to beat a 50w 900gph Quiet One pump. I can get a lot more aeration moving water (venturi, trickle, etc) with a water pump than with a similar wattage air pump. And without all the noise.

Don't get me wrong, I love that you guys are perfecting this and I think its necessary to have options for off-the-grid low-head setups, but airlifts are not going to replace water pumps in most systems.

The dirty water situation can be handled by setting up your system correctly, adding a filter, etc.

Keep up the great work though as I'd love to be proven wrong about this! :D

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