This is an old project from 2000, so please excuse the low res pictures. This is a hydro setup similar to my recirculating hydroponics with the exception that it uses an air pump instead of a water pump.

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Step 1: Parts

You'll need
a pair of buckets, check you local grocer's bakery, they'll often have them for free or a buck.
a lid
an air pump
window screening
a piece of pex tube 3/8ths
aquarium tubing
1/4 inch irrigation connector

barbed hose elbow
clear tubing.

Step 2: The bottom bucket

Picture of The bottom bucket
Optional part
drill a 3/4 inch hole near the bottom of the bucket, insert the grommet and barbed hose connector, attach the clear tubing. This serves both as a water level and as a drain, you can do with out, but draining will require disassembly.

Take the lid and drill several 3/4 inch holes in it, Snap onto the lower bucket and drill a 1/4 inch vent hole in the side of the bucket near the top.

Step 3: The air lift

Picture of The air lift
Using a piece of 3/8ths PEX tubing cut one end at a 45 degree angle, drill a hole in the side of the tubing about 1.5 inches from the bottom and insert the 1/4 inch irrigation connector, attach the aquarium tubing to the connector.

Insert the air lift into the bottom bucket.

Step 4: The top bucket

Picture of The top bucket
Drill some holes in the bucket bottom, slide over the airlift and slip a piece of window screening into the bucket.

Step 5: Finally

Fill the top bucket with perlite, fill the system with nutrient solution by pouring in through the top bucket, attach an aquarium pump, clip the pex airlift so it extends about an inch above the perlite and invert a film canister over the pex. Now you're ready to plant.

skittel1 year ago

I look at it like a percolator for coffee... if you watch the hot air bubbling and rising. Instead of the heat pressurizing it up the tube, it's an actual pump with the air valve below the surface of the water. so the water is always trying to reach it's level inside the tube. instead it's being pushed up the tube through the pressure of the air pump.

If i'm wrong on this, please let me know, but this is how I understand it.

My question is this, how much pressure is needed. If it's not too much I'm thinking you can run multiple unit off one air pump. I guess it would depend on the size of the tube you are pushing the water/air up, right?

So.. You push air into this PEX tube that's in the water, and then water gets pushed up several inches? How does that work?