How to build an aquarium air pump

Updated February 21, 2017

Creating a fish tank pump is a cheap and effective alternative to buying one. Fish tank pumps are necessary to ensure the cleanliness and health of the tank water. Using a few household materials, such as a soft drink bottle, it is simple to create your own aquarium pump.

Wash out the soft drink bottle with water and alcohol so it is fully sanitised. Allow 30 minutes to an hour for the bottle to completely dry out. With measuring tape, measure 7.5 cm (3 inches) from the top of the bottle and draw a line with a permanent marker along the mark. Use a handsaw to cut the bottle along the measured line.

Take the fork and poke holes in the top of the soda bottle along the neckline. Ensure the holes are located right under the harder plastic area where the top is screwed on. Ideally make 10 to 12 sets of holes.

Place the smaller cut section of the bottle, which has the holes, inside the bottle so it fits tightly. Take the toilet overflow pipe and cut it so it is at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) taller than the body of the bottle. Use a handsaw to cut the pipe. Place the pipe in the neck of the bottle. Do not press the pipe all the way through the bottle. Instead, leave a portion of the pipe sticking out the top.

Cut a piece of clean sponge material large enough to fit down inside of the toilet overflow pipe. Place the aquarium tubing in the sponge material and thread it down the tube. Make sure enough tubing is being used to reach from the tank bottom to the air pump outside of the aquarium.

Apply aquarium gravel to the filter and fill it two-thirds of the way to the top. Place a layer of filter wool or carbon wool. Place the created pump into the aquarium and hook the loose end of the tubing to the air pump. Ensure the length of the tube is long enough to reach from the tank to the pump.

Look for small air bubbles to start reaching the top of the water to make sure the pump is working correctly. If the bubbles are not noticeable, the pump was not created correctly or the tube may have a slit. Make sure there is no leaking in the tube and that everything is connected correctly.

Things You'll Need

  • Fish aquarium
  • Fish aquarium filter
  • Soft drink bottle
  • Alcohol
  • Measuring tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Fork
  • Handsaw
  • Toilet overflow pipe
  • Sponge
  • Plastic tubing
  • Aquarium gravel
  • Filter wool
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About the Author

Corey Morris has been writing since 2009. He has been a reporter for his campus newspaper, "The Rotunda" and is the publication's news editor. His work focuses on topics in news, politics and community events. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in political science and mass media from Longwood University in Farmville, Va.