How to Build an Air Lift Water Pump

Written by corey morris
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How to Build an Air Lift Water Pump
Air lift water pumps are commonly used in aquariums. (Aquarium image by crossgolfing from

Air lift water pumps are commonly used in aquarium systems. These devices push air through a plastic tube, mixing together water and nutrients to go into the tank. The air keeps the roots of the plants in good health and recirculates clean air into the aquarium as well. Generally maintenance free, the most common problem associated with air lift pumps is loss of pressure. These systems are easily installed and inexpensive.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Aquarium air pump
  • 1/2-inch thick tube
  • 1/4-inch barbed elbow joint
  • Drill
  • Small knife
  • Epoxy compound
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Cut the 1/2-inch tube with a knife so it extends 1 inch below the water level in the aquarium. This will cause air to be forced to the top of the water. The tank water level should remain at the same level each day, therefore checking the level daily is a necessity.

  2. 2

    Cut a 45-degree slit in the top of the tube so air can flow even if water evaporation is occurring. Drill a 1/4-inch hole through one side of the tube about 2 inches from the tube's bottom. Place the 1/4-inch elbow joint in the drilled hole.

  3. 3

    Empty the water from the tank and dry the area around where the air lift pump will be installed. This is necessary to make sure the adhesive will seal the hose properly. Apply epoxy to the tube bottom and press it down on the bottom of the tank. Ensure the side of the tube with the hole faces away from the side of tank. The drying time of the epoxy varies. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for proper drying time.

  4. 4

    Connect the hose for the pump to the elbow joint. Connect the other end of the hose to the output on the air pump. Make sure the connection is snug. Use a small amount of epoxy, about the size of a dime, on the connection to guarantee a tight seal.

  5. 5

    Refill the tank with water and turn on the pump. Check the pump hose, tube and all connections. If air bubbles are visible, then the air lift pump has a faulty connection. Drain the tank again and check for leaks. Consider using more epoxy around the connections to guarantee a healthy seal.

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