So, here’s the thing about collective R&D. It isn’t pretty. Just like science, a lot of times, things don’t work out right at first and sometimes they never do. But you learn a lot as you try to fix them. We are all working through this together and these things will be awesome and foolproof one day, but you are an early adopter. You have my promise that these #%#$%@ things can work, have worked, do work. We just need to find the problem with yours. Deep breath.
It is so much easier to SEE what should be adjusted. If after following these instructions you are still having problems, PLEASE CREATE A NEW POST AND UPLOAD PICTURES OF THE PARTS YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT, TAG IT AIRLIFT TROUBLESHOOTING, & THEN JUST LINK TO YOUR POST in the comments below.
1) Please make sure you have the latest version of the how-to for the airlift system. Updates (like software updates) have been made to the instructions. The updates were made to correct issues that we found people were running into. The file should be called “3plantairliftHOWTO_3_4_10.pdf”.
2) Pump- Get the PETCO Air Pump 2-Way For 13-106 gallon Aquariums Model 9903 http://www.petco.com/product/109838/PETCO-Air-Pump.aspx
Get it at Canal Rubber.
x1 3/8″ OUTSIDE DIAMETER 1/4″ Inside Diameter Reinforced Kuritec Tubing at 4′6″ long
X2 1/4″ O.D. 1/8″ I.D. Vinyl tubing at 2′6″ long
x1 3/8″ O.D. 1/4″ ID Vinyl tubing at 6′ long
4) One-way air valves-You need these. Trust me. If you get the Petco pump, these come with it for free! Otherwise, you need to go to an aquarium store and tell them you want one way check valves for an air pump. They will cost about $3 each. You need to insert these in the line between the pump and your windowfarm. Be sure they are facing the right way (blow thru them to test) and turn on the pump with your valves inserted before you insert the tubing in water. Otherwise, your air tubes might fill with water and your system will not pump as high.
5) Bottom reservoir- You want your airlift tube submerged under the tallest possible column of water. That’s just how to physics work. So, if you use the 1 Gallon Poland Springs bottle, fill it up as high as possible. If you use something else, make sure you have picked a container that is going to create a tall column. By the same token, if your tube is curling so that it is effectively not submerged under a tall column, zip tie it to something rigid to straighten it out and create the max submersion height.
6) Angled bottom to tube- Cut your water intake tube (the Reinforced 3/8″ OUTSIDE DIAMETER 1/4″ Inside Diameter) at an angle at the bottom so that it does not just suck on the bottom of your reservoir.
7) More teflon plumber’s tape at the joints- you may have a leak somewhere.
Bad air valve? We have had a quality control issue with the air valves on occasion. Take the out. Blow through them. Is one harder to blow through than the other? If so, replace or try cleaning/soaking in alcohol.
9) Smoother interior walls for your tube and rigidity- If you’ve tried all of these things and they don’t work, go to canal plastics and get some rigid acrylic tube with a 1/4″ inside diameter and 3/8″ outside diameter. Go to canal rubber and get some vinyl tubing with a 3/8″ inside diameter (for a curved u back into the column at the top). Replace the reinforced tubing with this more rigid and smoother walled tube. It is what we are using for the next generation windowfarms . . . coming soon in kits.