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Wanted intructable - "Convert an Aquarium Air Pump into a Vacuum Pump" Answered

Hey all -

Wanted intructable:

"Convert an Aquarium Air Pump into a Vacuum Pump"

I know this is pretty simple - probably... as well to add to that a mod...

"Convert a Aquarium Air Pump into an Adjustable Vacuum Pump"

I'm trying to build something else and would like to see how this is done - i have one shot at one Aquarium air pump and don't want to mess it up.

Plus i'd like to know how to regulate the vacuum  - make it with adjustable vacuum pressure if possible - if i even really need to or at least regulate the vacuum pressure so it is not too much if it is after built.

I'm sure i could do a google and find all the parts - thinik tank it out and build it... but if you know already how to do it - makes things a tad easier for me. The instrucable even easier to avoid mistakes.

- chase -


This article will show you how to convert an aquarium pump and make it to a vacuum pump. It also has information on making a seed planter out of the vacuum unit. You probably don't need that part of the article.


You can control the airflow with an air valve. You can get them at stores that sell aquarium supplies. They're typically made out of plastic or brass. Here's what air valves look like:


What you are looking for is a "Tom Aqua Lifter Suction Pump".
If you are in the US, look up this item number on ebay 370359503108. $17.30 for a low volume vacuum pump. You can't go wrong with that. This will also have a bit more suction than the normal fish tank air pump. If the item has ended already, try the user name big-edge. I found this when I was looking for one myself, got one from a local aquarium shop in Adelaide Aust for $34.
Hope this helps

Thanks griffoPB for that ebay number for the Tom Tominaga-Oscar Aqua Lifter Pump.

Found it on Amazon as well for $9.99 for the AW-20 model - seems to have the same specs as the one on ebay so i take it's safe to say they are the same thing.

Amazon lists it as the  "Aqua Lifter AQ-20 Dosing Pump"
They also have the replacement filters and diaphrams for it in case you need them

It looks to be quite promising - though if it were battery operated would make it ideal. I need this to be portable for what i'm building and not too bulky. Though i could make one for in house use as well - and should prove valuable for my needs in that regard.

Also thanks for the tip on the T-valve for adjusting the suction pressure.

Again Thanx for replying,

- chase -

Oh, as far as variable pressure, I put a "T" piece on the hose and off of a small piece of hose on that I attached a screw valve, this way you can adjust the screw valve to "let in" as much air as you want to reduce the pressure from the pump. The pump I suggested is quite sucky! so I needed to lower the pressure by bleeding air into the line.
I hope this helps.

1. Plug the inlet pipe into the outlet nozzle.

2. Plug the outlet pipe into the inlet nozzle.

3. Place small clamp on inlet pipe, tighten or release as required.

You won't get much of a vacuum from most aquarium pumps, though, as they tend to be designed for a reliably-steady pressure on the inlet side and a resistant pressure on the outlet side.  Test your pump's suitability by putting your finger over the inlet nozzle - how hard does it grip your finger, if at all?

.  It's been many years since I was in the hobby, but I never saw an aquarium air pump with an inlet nozzle/port (except for some high-dollar, multi-tank units that required mufflers). The pump inlet is just a hole in the side of the pump (hidden inside the housing).
.  I've never tried using an aquarium pump as a vacuum source, but, considering the fact that they use soft elastomer valves, I'm guessing you are right that they won't work very well. YMMV

Hi - it's been done before - and i'm trying to build what was once built and is no longer being built.

I need a low volume vacuum pump - and the aquarium type were used for this particular gadget.

.  You may be able to glue a short piece of tubing to the pump inlet.

For ideas that suck, just put "vacuum pump" in the Instructables search box.  Lots of ideas there to make vacuum pumps to start.

lol - ideas that suck - lol - bad pun but i guess you had to use it... feel the compelling sometimes myself.

Most all the vacuum instructables consern much larger vacuums
ie: turning a refrig compressor into a vacuum pump or bycycle pump into a vacuum pump or trire inflater into one.

as mentioned above - i need a low volume vacuum.

I did find a few pattens by the person that originally developed one of the better types of the project i'm attempting but it's not for the pump it's self. Only what the vacuum is being applied to.

hence my sucky idea for a instructable. - yeah that was a bad pun too.